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.


76. Chapter Seventy-Six


The plot to save Harry's parents was the most difficult and complicated thing the dryads ever did, and had its roots in the methods they'd worked out to save Susan Bones' family.

In Susan's case the family had to be believed to be dead, but the child live - fooling not only the wizarding public, but the Death Eaters who'd performed the attack.


It was further complicated by the girl going on to lead a somewhat public life. This was even more tricky, but not insurmountable. The real hard part was getting the child to grow up with her parents without the world realizing it.

Because there really was not much point in saving her parents if she couldn't get to enjoy a childhood with them. That was when one's parents were most useful and needed, setting an example and teaching, playing with the child, forming the relationships that, if done well, last for a lifetime.

Not much point to having parents if they mean no more to you than a couple you met in a receiving line at a party somewhere. "Hi, how are you? Next!"

Once they'd worked that difficult situation out it took not much more for them to realize, "Hey, you know this covers Harry's situation rather well? Why don't we try applying this to him?"

And so, cautiously, they did.

They'd planned four public appearances per year for Susan, luckily they didn't have that burden with Harry, who'd disappeared from the wizarding world for ten years. So on that aspect alone this should be easier.

On the others? More complicated.

The rescue started a little over nine months before Harry was born, when the ghost of Ariana Dumbledore located Petunia Evans, who had managed to find and marry Vernon Dursley after all, and passed on her location to the rest of the dryads.

Bathilda Bagshot, whom everyone ignored because of the decrepitude of her advanced old age, and therefore was an extremely useful agent for getting things done under the radar, so to speak, then paid a visit to the young couple, got herself invited to tea, then dosed Petunia's cup with a potion.

Narcissa Malfoy (or Black, as she preferred to be known among the other dryads, claiming that Lucius' marriage to a walking pile of snow didn't matter for anything save disguise purposes) had whipped up a batch of that potion Draca had once asked for - the one for bearing twins.

This was a more limited version, providing one set of twins rather than a dozen. But slipped into her tea by an anonymous old lady when she was still so early that she didn't even know she was pregnant, Petunia never noticed (except to rave and complain that her delivery took a lot longer).

That accomplished the first stage, setting the scene as it were.

The second stage was a lot harder, as it required more than a deft touch to get it to where it didn't wipe them all from existence. It also required no small amount of cleverness and sneakiness.

Because Harry had always wanted to grow up with his parents, and anything he wanted they wanted, so were determined to give it a try. However this, unlike the fates of muggle political figures, impacted their own backgrounds in the most severe and complicated way, so it had to be done with precision. They would never even have tried it if they couldn't do it right.

Multiple years of performing divinations on this subject had revealed there was a way. Then (it was almost like cheating) they used their fairy powers to test plan after plan. They would start to commit to one, and if it felt like it was too much they would back off and start to commit to another, selecting broad courses of action that first lay within their powers, then refining that, ironing out the details until they had charted a course they knew would work.

They knew it would work because ones that failed felt like it was killing them just to start to progress along those plans.

So, yes, it did feel a bit like cheating. But it would work.

The second stage was to arrange for Harry's mother to protect him while still staying alive to raise him. His father was easy. One snow cone clone and they could pluck him out of there right away, months in advance if they felt a need to. All he had to do was face Voldemort and die.

Harry's mother had to protect him from the killing curse.

Though Minerva swore them all to secrecy, as this must NEVER be told to Lily, her opinion was that if Lily didn't love James there was no point in saving her. Harry would have been better off with another mother, and James with a better wife, IF that was the case.

Luckily it wasn't.

The rather minor fact that Lily started having kids right out of Hogwarts, giving Harry two older sisters, then continued on long after, made that clear. (Although she did warn James that if he wanted any sons they'd better get them out early, because after she hit thirty three the only thing she'd be having would be daughters, because she fully intended to be a dryad.)

There had been some danger of her being shallow enough to enter a marriage for love of the child instead of her husband, as they'd never made any secret to little Lily that her role was to have been Harry's mother. There are some women in that situation who'd go through the motions of marrying the correct man just to have the destined kid. They'd all hoped that she wasn't that shallow, once they'd realized the danger, but some women were.

Once they'd realized that was a potential problem they done what they could to counteract it, introducing Lily to James as children so they could grow up as friends, having that long-term relationship that Lily had shown she was prone to in the first timeline. Only this time they gave her one that wouldn't be betrayed by the other party.

James wasn't like that. Pomona often teased Minerva that he'd been Sorted incorrectly, as the Potter heir clearly had at least as much Hufflepuff in him as Gryffindor. James stuck by his friends no matter what.

In the first timeline he'd met some other kids on the train and struck up a partnership based on that alone, then stuck with it. He'd stuck with Remus in spite of him being a werewolf. He'd stayed by Sirius in spite of his Dark family and the efforts they made to 'reclaim' him from the Light. He'd even stuck with Pettigrew even after it became clear the lying sycophant was a toady and hanger-on rather than the friend and equal he'd been looking for.

It didn't matter what, James stuck by his friends, and what's more he MADE those friendships work! It would have been easy to drift away after some of the things they'd done. Heck, many of the closest school friends simply drift apart after graduation, never truly being close again.

Not so with the Marauders - and that was because of James. He stuck by his friends, and his principles, until the very end.

He was, without a doubt, the very Heart of the Marauders. So long as they had James, they'd be a team. Unfortunately, the Headbastard saw that too, and he had use for the members of that group being fractured and thus subject to manipulations, so tore the heart right out of them deliberately.

Dumbledore could've arranged quite easily for Lily to be home alone on that fateful night. It would have been as simple as calling her husband away for an Order meeting, as Albus already knew when the attack was to take place. It was hard not to, when he'd arranged the whole thing himself via Trelawney dropping a false prophecy he'd composed to a known Death Eater agent.

Besides, no one had ever said James' sacrifice was needed for anything. No one had even claimed that his brave last stand had accomplished anything useful. They didn't even give him credit, despite how a lesser man would've run out the back door and not stopped til he fell over from exhaustion.

He stayed and died, even when he didn't have to; but Lily got all of the credit.

A man like that should not be wasted on a wife who doesn't love him. Harry also deserved better than to have parents in a dysfunctional relationship. He could not be raised the right way if they were.

Children learned how marriage should work by watching their parents, and if he learned a bad way of treating his spouse, all of those who hoped for cuddles would regret it, so it was IMPERATIVE that he learn the right way!

But it was more than just their cuddles on the line. Harry was the linchpin and key of the entire process, the leader of their side in this war. The dryads couldn't kid themselves; while they might be important, and have skills that had been increased, theirs was not the most vital contribution. Harry was the leader, and if they wanted to be the True Light, he had to reflect that.

He did in the mainline, so they did not worry overmuch, as he was almost an anti-Snape, having a sweet disposition and Light personality that triumphed over his environment despite the long odds.

But they didn't want to mess him up, just on principle.

Actually, using the tool of, "if it doesn't work, it will hurt, so we'll know ahead of time not to do that" they were able to parse through a ridiculous number of plots, some of them quite absurd.

Everything the dryads knew about the blood protections was based on the word of one man - Albus Dumbledore, whom they knew to prefer lies to the truth in every instance and circumstance.

Harry would probably know, having Riddle's memories about all things dark and dangerous, but he wasn't there to ask. So it was a good thing they had the tool of 'gee, that hurt, so it must not work' to use to test ideas on.

One of the more intriguing, and astonishingly successful, ploys was suggested by Luna's mother Selene (who'd showed up uninvited one day and simply began participating as though she'd been involved all along), that of substituting a transfigured dairy cow for Harry's mother. After all, she explained, the requirements said *A* mother's love, not *Harry's* mother's love! And cows had to give birth before they gave milk, just like any mammal. Confound it to think Harry is her calf. Then when she dies it has an added benefit that you can reverse the transfiguration and chop her up into steaks and eat her. Maybe even include a transfigured a stag for James, that way you can have beef and venison at the same feast celebrating the Dark Idiot's downfall!

Not a few of the dryads felt completely weirded out by this argument.

A number of far more logical and reasonable suggestions got pounded to death by debate, until finally they went with her ridiculous one just because they knew it would work without excessive risky chances, inventing whole new spells, costing Harry that protection, or actually letting Lily die.

So the event went forward. Voldemort fought two transfigured animals who never got off a spell (because they couldn't) Harry got marked, the spell reflected, and then got quickly spirited out of there leaving a simulacrum baby in his place.

Hagrid would never look too closely, and Dumbledore would be paying all of his attention to the leftover magical traces of the fight, learning what he could of Harry's marvelous power to reflect killing curses by faint magical energies lingering around the site.

He'd never even see the baby until it was time to put him on the doorstep.

Then, once Fumble-more arranged with Hagrid to drop off little baby Harry at the Dursley's doorstep, and once the old coot was gone, McGonagall (who had excused herself to the powder room) simply released the spells causing the rough statue of snow to simulate a child, melted the resulting snow and dried the basket, slipped into the Dursley's house and fetched Dudley's twin, gave him a disfiguring potion to look like Harry, and put him in the basket outside.

A few memory modification spells to the rest of the family, and rearranging the second child's bedroom to look like the storage room it originally was, and the Dursleys forgot all about their second child.

Since the memory modification spells were all performed the evening before, once the family had gone to sleep, no wand magic had to be performed in the area since Albus put up his wards there. So he received no notice of the switch. His spells were not put in place to watch Minerva, the only thing they would check her for was arrivals and departures from the general area, and then only because she was a witch.

So, on being out of there within a reasonable period of time for a bathroom break, NOT carry a child out with her, or any of the usual telltale signs he would think to check for, his wards provided him no alerts at all as to her activity.

So the Dursleys would get to raise their own child as they would have treated Harry - quite the poetic irony.

Of course, it wasn't as simple as all that. They had to do one little thing more, and that was Bathsheba Babbling, their Ancient Runes professor, had to visit the family in the preceding weeks along with Poppy, to open up the skin around the head of Dudley's twin and scribe some runes lightly on his skull. Nothing harmful, merely a variation on the runes used to create a pensieve, storing all of the child's memories magically for later retrieval.

Dudley's twin wouldn't be changed by this, but it would be necessary for later. Because right now Harry was going to be raised in a loving environment by his parents, and have plenty of siblings, and that wasn't the history that led to them all being dryads. So just before his eleventh birthday, most likely on the Dursley's trip to the zoo (which was out from under Dumbledore's wards, so they couldn't report anything) they would switch Harry back in for Dudley's twin, his own memories sealed away and given a fresh upload of what had been recorded by Dudley's twin (they really should have bothered to learn the child's name), who could be relocated to an orphanage in the meantime until they needed him to sub for Harry again the next summer.

So Harry would show up all meek and impressionable, vulnerable and his mind an open book exactly as the Headmaster wanted him. And that way he could live those first two years of Hogwarts precisely as he had before, spending the summers off with his parents and getting fresh memory uploads from his Dursley stand-in before going back to school again in the fall.

Then once they'd reached the future he could be made to recall everything about his new life, raised by his parents as part of a big, loving family.

It was all a bit complicated, but this was a rather tricky operation in a critical field of vast importance to them. Substituting a simulacrum for Sirius just prior to his arrest, so it was a snow clone who went to Azkaban instead of him, was child's play by comparison.

Since Remus was going to drop out of society anyway, the three Marauders could all go live quietly in another country somewhere as neighbors, getting married to nice witches and raising kids just like anybody.

Fairies like Happy Endings, but they'd do with a Happy Beginning or two just fine, too. So they spread the joy and saved Neville's parents so he could grow up with them too, in the same enclave as the Marauders. Neville's incapacity during his first two years of Hogwarts could be explained by just sending a simulacrum in his place, as half the knowledge and power of a strong and wise child resulted in a rather weak and incompetent one.

McGonagall, his Head of House, could cover for recharging the clone.

But when Harry rebuilt the minds of the two simulacrums of Neville's parents lying in St. Mungo's, he didn't quite get the servants he was looking for; the people he'd thought he was rescuing actually having happy lives elsewhere.


And thus time passed.

Looking back on her experience, Sybil had to admit she'd had fun over much of her 'thirty years into the past' experience. She'd gotten educated, she'd saved tens of thousands of British magicals who otherwise would have died, and doing so she'd pretty much accomplished her designs.

Then, on rescuing them, she'd put her teacher dryads to work and trained up her kidnapped magicals to new standards with an eye toward being prepared in case of potential future conflicts with Dumbledore's Britain. It kept people from being bored as they waited for the time to pass, and one could never have too many Healers and Aurors on hand just in case.

Oh, there had been odd bits. That scheme they'd eventually worked out with Harry's parents, and little Harry, far exceeded anything she might've dared going into this. But it all worked out in the end.

Of course, there were also the many off bits no one had planned on, like one of the side effects of training so many magicals to be Healers and Aurors on her little tropical island had produced an unforeseen wrinkle - in that in order to learn, Healers had to practice, and at some point practice required sick or injured people to practice on, and magicals had only so many of those, so the program had been authorized to sneak into muggle hospitals to get some extra work done. After all, muggle got many injuries that wizards shared, cuts and broken bones and things.

They'd thought they'd been able to hide it just as they effortlessly hid so much else.

Not so. Or rather, not entirely. They'd never learned that some things are considered incurable in muggle medicine, so when Cuban hospitals started turning out cancer patients who didn't have a shred of cancer anymore, all sorts of people got interested.

Sybil was able to step in and claim 'state secret' as to the exact particulars, but soon everyone wanted to go to Cuba to get their cancer cured. Mindful of how much goodwill Dumbledore had earned passing out phoenix tears to get people feeling kindly toward him, she'd adopted much the same strategy and said her clinics would cure any cancer patient who could get to their island. They wouldn't even charge for the service.

Soon the afflicted were coming in from worldwide, everyone who could afford travel fare, and services began to be offered specifically to transport them back and forth. Even 'cancer tours' by travel agencies. All they had to do was get there to be cured. No one was turned away.

No matter how malignant, no matter how advanced, or invasive, or inoperable it was, if you had cancer they'd cure you in an hour or less, and do it for free. You'd get sedated, stripped of recording devices, wheeled in (a spell cast by a Healer-in-training) and wheeled out again. That's it, you're done. People who'd despaired of life walked out free and healthy in an hour or less.

This was naturally worth no small amount of global goodwill, although certain sectors of the medical industry had to change focus, as no one else had any market for cancer treatments anymore. The only thing they had against her was that she repeatedly refused to share the techniques for doing it.

One of Queen Sybil's innovative young Healers-in-training had even discovered addictions of all sorts could be gotten rid of by a properly worded Compulsion charm, so soon they were offering that service for free as well. It did not matter what you were addicted to: drugs, alcohol, tobacco, pornography, or daytime soaps - if you got to them, they'd cure you free of charge.

Discovered when they'd cured the same smokers of cancer for the third or fourth time, this treatment got implemented with no less success, and again the world began to bless Cuba as the island of healing.

Naturally this lent Queen Sybil a kind of celebrity status usually reserved for legendary figures like Elvis or Bruce Lee (both of whom she'd met, and liked so much she'd offered to hire both of them. But only Bruce Lee took the job offered as her personal trainer, so long as he got to continue making movies on the side - but she was only too glad to offer him facilities to do so, utterly unaware that in doing so she'd inadvertently saved his life from the accident that had originally claimed it. She was just concerned with him teaching her and her fellow dryads how to defend themselves - although they to wear limiters to get down to human strength to do so, so not to arouse suspicion).

So grateful were the muggles that her reputation for providing free cures to the afflicted even began to eclipse her fame as the mother of space exploration, which was no small feat considering what they'd done with that.

Using Sybil's donations (and the fact that the Soviet Union had been in such a state of turmoil it could not propose the treaty that would have banned the drive) the muggles had given the go ahead to their nuclear pulse propulsion system, starting and receiving Orion nuclear pulse rocket missions out of a new base on a coral atoll in the Pacific Ocean, far enough away from anything in particular, and with prevailing winds such that radiation was not a problem.

One thing that must be understood about radioactive isotopes for that to make any sense: the most dangerous stuff breaks down the quickest. Oh, you might have heard of substances with a half life of a million years or so, but consider: there is only so much material there to shoot out as particles. If it shoots it all off in a second it'll fry anything nearby. If it takes a week or two to fire off one, then several more weeks for another, then it may as well not be firing them off at all. The background radiation from solar energy is already more far than that.

Your microwave oven is a greater threat to world peace.

These particles were like a tiny gun with limited ammunition. Each 'bullet' was too small to matter individually, it was only when taken together were they any problem. So if it shoots off millions of those in a second you're toast, but it runs out so fast that a couple of seconds later it is no danger. And if it shoots off a particle every couple of years it does so little damage as to be ignored. Your body repairs worse than that all of the time. Your television does more harm to you.

So anything with a half life of a million years could as well be a chair. It's the stuff that burns out quickest that is deadliest. And, with a few days to waft before it got anyplace populated, the worst had already abated. So it was no more dangerous than firing off a solid fuel rocket that might go off course during launch and smash into a populated city (China has done this).

This remained the favored launch site up until they'd devised bombs without any of the dangerous radioactive fallout, consuming almost all of them within the explosion to make it bigger, rather the opposite of a neutron bomb. But by then they were already lifting up space stations whole, and proximity to the manufacturers was important.

NASA was only too happy to have other space resources in their collection to go along with that first space station they were so proud of, and were only too happy to expand on it to include necessary facilities for mission support as they probed deeper into the solar system.

A four thousand ton Orion spacecraft had a crew of more than two hundred and could make the trip to Mars and back in four weeks, and Saturn and back in seven months. It could also reach Pluto and return inside of a year. And that was only the beginning. More advanced ten thousand ton designs soon followed on the heels of that initial prototype's success.

Since the money to send them had all come from a sunken Spanish treasure fleet, the names of these vessels were often derived from notable pirates.

(Sybil had also accidentally started 'International Talk Like A Pirate Day' in the 70's.)

NASA had gleefully used these craft to send manned missions to all of the planets of the solar system, as well as the major moons and establishing a permanent base on Luna (Earth's moon). The data they brought back had been chewed on by eggheads the world over, discovering all sorts of nifty things. However the crowning achievement of the space program had been launching (with the accompaniment of endless fanfare, and close to a billion television viewers worldwide) four manned missions to Alpha Centauri and one to Barnard's Star, and a small unmanned Orion probe had been sent on its way to Sirius, the Dog Star.

One of the nuclear pulse rockets sent to Alpha Centauri, and the only one to Barnard's Star, were gigantic eight million ton Super Orion designs envisioned as interstellar arks.

Almost half of the forty four year expected travel time for the first mission to reach our closest stellar neighbor had elapsed, and the data sent back on approach was already the talk of the scientific community, overturning many long cherished opinions even as it offered exciting new possibilities.

Strangely, each time they sent a mission to someplace they hadn't visited before, Sybil would feel compelled to go to her tree, and there she would find another golden acorn, just like the first nine, hanging from her oak with the appropriate Greek symbol for their goal on it. She had presented each of these in turn to the space program controllers, and they gladly took along each one - even once she could no longer pay!

Frankly, there was enough of a sense of tradition about it they wouldn't want to go without one, even if they had to make their own (which wouldn't be the same, honestly! I mean, really! They would have none of the magic tricks that made them special or important!). And her acorns were widely regarded as good luck charms by the spacemen, as no mission carrying one of them ever failed to reach their target.

No, NASA had been semi-officially using a golden acorn as a symbol for a number of years now. And even those secondary or follow-up missions that didn't carry an original one of hers carried a fake, a replica they'd made themselves such was the sense of good luck and tradition involved.

Most of the fakes had been returned after their missions and were housed in places of honor in various museums (after having been studied exhaustively to learn the details of the various effects of the voyage on them).

They also had easily a dozen space telescopes, each one bigger and more impressive than the last, and orbiting around three different planets - the better to triangulate ranges and such with. Also, the telescopes around Mars could observe things that Earth would not always be in a position to see.

The space telescopes orbiting Pluto were particularly prized for that reason.

However interest in space had begun to peter out. It was felt that everything had been done and public boredom had begun to set in since the next great landmarks, reaching the next solar systems over, were all a sufficient time period away for the common people to forget and lose interest. So despite the great work done by the floating space labs and even factories, funding had begun to disappear as focus moved to other things. There was even talk of closing some manned bases and mothballing some of their interplanetary Orion craft. And it looked like the manned missions to Sirius, Tau Ceti and Epsilon Eridani would never take place, as funding for completing the three partially constructed eight million ton Super Orions intended for the missions was delayed indefinitely as people quibbled over the eighty or a hundred year plus flight times. Research funds had also been cut off to the ramjet project despite its excellent strides, and the proposed antimatter rocket research program had been entirely shut down!

It was getting to the point where they could hardly afford a routine trip to Pluto anymore!

Still, NASA had achieved so much while they were out of the race that the Soviets did not even try setting any more records in space. All they ended up doing after their recovery was sending up spy and weapon satellites.

And EVERYBODY was doing that!


Author's Notes:

Go look up Nuclear Pulse Propulsion or the Orion Project if you don't believe my numbers. That project was almost ready to go ahead in the early 60's, and got dumped only due to a treaty banning aboveground nuclear blasts. Otherwise we may very well have had permanent colonies on all planets in the solar system by now.

Oh, and Sybil wasn't able to help herself, and on the probe to Sirius she'd sent along a dog collar that had once belonged to Sirius Black.

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