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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73. Chapter Seventy-Three

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If the decision hadn't already been taken out of her hands Trelawney would never have dared to awaken McGonagall. She simply don't dare do much in the magical world for fear of being noticed by Dumbledore back when he was at the height of his power. Before the champions got in a lucky surprise blow that knocked him down, and then commenced kicking him in the crotch, he was unbeatable - and that time was now.

So she had to walk very softly in the magical realms. Dumbledore could ignore a few people not being as smart, because he liked them as dupes anyway. That played into a blind spot. But he was very, very formidable right then and she don't want to tip him off.

Fortunately he would not notice much that occurred in the muggle world, even major events. Having been born in 1800, Dumbledore was closer to two hundred years old than one, and he'd felt he'd learned all there was to know about muggles in his teens. In truth, at the time he had studied them until he knew them better than just about any pureblood magical. But his feelings of magical superiority over the mundane had led him to stop feeling they had anything worthwhile to teach. Then intellectual superiority set in, and he'd refused to learn any more on the subject from those less educated than himself - which was everyone.

After all, he knew himself to be an expert on muggles and was not about to accept correction or additional instruction from anyone less accomplished! And who could equal the Great Albus Dumbledore? It never even occurred to him that after nearing two hundred years of rapid change his knowledge of muggles was getting a little out of date.

He was certain he was an expert, and that there was nothing worth his while to learn in the field. That's all there was to it. His time was not infinite, and despite his many rituals he could not pay attention to everything, so he focused on that which truly mattered - control of the wizarding world.

The muggles could go amuse themselves in the slime.

The average muggle was not aware of the world of magic by design, but the typical wizard ignored their muggle brethren by choice, and the families of muggleborns were often amazed by how events, major events in the muggle world, would pass by without changing the magical one in the slightest.

Not even the destruction of Moscow flustered magicals all that much, as the center of magical Russia had always been St. Petersburg, and had been ever since Peter the Great. There hadn't been a significant magical presence in Moscow ever since they'd fled the terrors of the Dark Lord Rasputin.

On the muggle side of things the politics were surprisingly straightforward for this sort of thing. Back during the '60's the two superpowers didn't like each other a bit, and competed in everything - including the space race. Sybil had approached the United States because they had a better success rate with their interplanetary probes (during that decade alone, the USSR launched eight Mars probes, NONE of which reached the target active, four of them failing on launch and two breaking up shortly after. Contrasted with the USA, which launched four probes to Mars, three of which had successful missions). Her purposes were best served by the higher success ratio, as no one truly knew how successful the magical safeguards would be. But the communists didn't like her pouring literal tons of money into their rival's program and acted to spike it by taking her country from her and cutting her off at the knees.

During that stage of the Cold War it was fashionable for the superpowers to act through proxies, due to the deniability reducing the nuclear threat for all involved, and the best client state the Soviets had in that area was Cuba, which was nicely situated to act against Sybil's small island country where she presumably kept her treasury with all of that gold.

They gave the order to their vassal state, which acted, the USA felt strongly enough to act directly in turn. USSR tried reprisals, even test firing an ICBM (which, under those circumstances amounted to a statement of 'don't push us or you won't like the results' ie, 'we're going to have our way on this or you will suffer', basically threatening a nuclear war if they did not get their way) which didn't have the results they'd intended because Sybil had them use it to decapitate their own government.

This was about as uncomplicated as world politics gets.

Luckily the Soviet readiness was less than it should have been. Also the KGB obeyed Sybil's command to eliminate anyone with the nuclear launch codes, or else the destruction could have gone further than it did. But the country had declared war on her through their proxy, so she felt no guilt over it. And just like when Dumbledore or Voldemort sent agents out to kill someone, the one truly holding responsibility was the one who'd given the order to attack.

She'd really never have even considered acting against them if they hadn't started it first. Her priorities lay elsewhere, their games didn't matter to her in the slightest, except where they impacted the space race. But, should you start a war, no one has any right to feel sorry for you should you lose it. That would be like shedding tears for Voldemort. Still, for all the catastrophe this was to some, it passed the wizarding world by almost unnoticed.

No, it frequently dismayed the families of first generation magicals to learn just how LITTLE the muggle world mattered to the magical one.

And in this, as in most other aspects of magical culture, Dumbledore led the pack. The man was not perfect. He did have blind spots, and his arrogance was one of them. While he'd kept his attention focused on other things, seeing only the basic overview of the muggles, their underpinnings, culture and major events had become all but incomprehensible to him.

Sybil had every intention of using that to her advantage, and had only ever intended to go to Magical Britain on rescue trips or necessary setup, for the very reason that she did not feel safe tiptoeing around in his backyard.

Then the event with McGonagall had happened.

Of interest to note, Minerva's body was still her human one, and likely would remain so until she died or was remade by the cordial in the future. And they did not think death was a good option, because when they got around to awakening those dryads who had been ghosts they remained ghosts and did not gain the human magical cores that would have come from living bodies.

So even though the software was connected to their trees, so to speak, the hardware was going to have to wait for the cordial upgrades before the links were complete in all of their functions. And under those circumstances nobody wanted to risk dying.

It could be awkward not to have a body when you needed one.

However, having awakened McGonagall to her future memories it was the only thing Sybil could stand to do to go off awakening the other dryads.

Because she couldn't do this alone.

It was too much. Not even with all of the information and resources Harry'd sent back, would she be able to rescue everyone those two Dark Lords killed between them. Heck, some of their victims would just not want to go. Others would insist on taking oaths that meant their destruction. And those reasons were entirely separate from the difficulty of saving them in the first place!

No, she had to have help, and as the Potters going to Dumbledore's most devoted follower to answer allegations about him proved, the only people she could truly trust in this war were her sister dryads. Others would just take too long waking up from the illusions Dumbledore's reputation cast across their world! And, what was worse, if even one of those that they rescued went back to tell Dumbledore, or resume their former life, it was all over.

If nobody learned about the secret rescue efforts, and the dryads all worked together and did what they could to make best use of their information, they could save thousands of people who would otherwise have died (or worse)! However, all it took was one person thinking they could let the 'Leader of the Light' know about this great work, or not taking their warnings seriously about not going back to their former lives, and it would all be over.

And EVERYBODY has compelling things they'd want to go back for!

So it was back to the fairy way - kidnap them and leave enchanted pieces of wood in their places. Steal them right before their deaths and leave animated dummies behind. And, if they proved unable to keep the secret on their own, then either she could construct villages they would be unable to leave, or perhaps they would just prefer to take Draught of the Living Death until the timeline had caught up to Harry's present.

It would be a sad waste of potential, but some people could only handle it that way. But while it would be a sacrifice, she could ultimately leave the choice up to them of which they preferred, house arrest or sleeping through the gap. Because if they were left to do whatever they wanted someone would tell, and because of that thousands would die who might otherwise have lived if only they'd kept the secret.

That was worth a little discomfort, don't you think?

In this particular case, she'd count oaths to one side or the other as death. Because their life as a free individual was over. Although in the case of oaths sworn, she might do well to steal the person, leave the double in their place, then Confound the original to make them think they'd sworn the oath, and switch them back for the copy.

Less disruption to the timeline that way, and the only simulacrums they could recharge were the ones of a dryad that had a wooden heart from her tree. She couldn't do that for anyone else, as the magic was incompatible. So best only to steal people for good when it was right before their demise, and the lack of power of the duplicate would not be noticed.

Either way it was going to be massively tricky and there was no way that she was going to be able to deal with everything alone. For things to work, she had to have helpers that she could trust carrying a part of the load! It was just too big a job to do by herself.

At least she now had a place to move such a large magical population to. It might not be much now, but between all of the deaths she was going to be faking in Britain, there was going to be quite a large population of expatriate British magicals in Cuba soon.

Meanwhile, they could be addressing one other concern.

The magical world had a bare handful of 'heavy hitters', people so powerful they basically eclipsed everyone else around them. Dumbledore was one, Tom Riddle another, Moody probably (though not quite on the same level) and for Britain that was mostly it. If there were any others, they were secretive about their powers.

Bellatrix had been reaching for that status, but there were scores of people in her category, the 'almost there' types. Most never made it - very possibly because Dumbledore culled any that came close enough to reaching that level before they became potential threats.

You don't become King of The Hill without shoving others down off of it.

However now they had a unique opportunity to get their handful of dryads a little closer to the top. All of them had had magical educations at some point in their lives before, virtually all of them at Hogwarts. But different magical schools each had a different emphasis, and one could learn things at one that were not taught at another, and vice versa. Also, the strengths of one school were often enough the weaknesses of another.

It was Sybil's idea to get the rest of the original twenty dryads awakened, then have them all shrink their apparent ages and attend Beauxbatons with her. It being '65 when they started, they could graduate again by '72, and that dual school approach held one more advantage.

Dumbledore was a genius, and tied into every source of information he could, but not even he knew everything. So rather than knowing the specifics of every single case, he had to go with some generalities.

Hogwarts students typically knew a certain set of skills. They might know them well or poorly, but they'd all been taught in the same general manner, and so could be expected to react to some situations out of a limited set of tools. The same with other students. Those of Beauxbatons generally knew their own set, which was different from any other, but if you knew generally what they were taught you had a general idea about how they'd react to all sorts of situations. The same held true of Durmstrang or any other school.

Then, just like bird watchers, you learn to tell which of those categories the people you observe fall into by looking for certain markings. Then, once you had them pegged, could extrapolate all sorts of useful information about range and habits and so forth.

People who are very into sports can tell you "Oh, that team favors a running game" or "they favor a passing game", or short passes or long passes or anything like that. Once you know that information, you know how to respond to their probable actions.

But that 'recognize, categorize and extrapolate', system gets complicated when you no longer know what tool set they are using. And if you throw in two complete sets of education when you'd never observed people with that combo before, all of a sudden your easy predictions aren't so easy anymore.

Back to the sports analogy. The right sorts of responses to some plays are the exact wrong way to respond to other tactics. If you expect someone to play the running game, and guard them close up tight, that means you leave their receivers wide open, and if they pass instead you are out of position.

Every time he guessed their actions, and that guess was WRONG, they were better off. So everything they could do to prevent him from predicting them was effort well spent, and doubly so because right now he knew them as well as he knew anyone. He had them pegged. Dumbledore knew his staff in such detail he could extrapolate their actions like he could a favorite toy.

So it was past time they set some variables he wasn't aware of to work in there, before he realized it was them he was opposing!

And those first few times he thinks he has you pegged, and he doesn't, would be BIG mistakes! So if you can take advantage of those to get even a couple of goals ahead... well, all the better for you and your side.

The only dryad out of the original twenty that Trelawney did not DARE awaken to her powers was Bellatrix, because she confused Harry with Voldemort, and right now Voldemort was about to go on killing sprees that would be bad enough without her assisting him with her future knowledge.

The ghosts could perform a lot of spying for their side, and while they might not have magical cores they could in theory learn to possess simulacrums and that way attend muggle schools.

Everything they knew that Dumbledore didn't (or even that he didn't know they knew) could, in theory, be an advantage. That was how he'd grown to rule that magical world, after all, by knowing so much more than anyone else around him - and controlling what they knew so he'd know what they'd do.

Sybil didn't even think about her appearance, wearing Hermione's face and form everywhere she went because she vastly preferred it to her own. Her own face had not much happiness associated with it. Plain at best and ugly most of the rest of the time, it had kept her out of most of life's joys, and she'd hated her own appearance. It had only been since she'd started to look like Hermione that her life had taken off to become interesting and fun. So that was the one she wore most of the time since gaining it.

Frankly, it was the face she was hoping to get married and buried in. And since she already had someone in mind for her hand, she didn't go looking among the boys at Beauxbatons or Cuba.

But in order to keep Harry safe for future snuggles, she ought to protect his family also. Simplicity itself to accomplish for the Evans.

Easier said than done for the Potters.

As they were a modestly wealthy, well-respected family with businesses and a vote on the Wizengamot he coveted, the Potters fell directly under the eye of Dumb-Old-Dork. He'd marked the family as having things he intended to consume, and right here at the seat of his power was not a great place to keep secrets from him - Particularly not right at the focus of his attention.

No, that was simply more than she could do, more especially so since kids talk, and one of Dumbledore's greatest information gathering devices was to listen in on all of the chatter between students at Hogwarts.

Kids talk. They tell their friends things, and at that school Albus had near-infinite capacity for eavesdropping on those conversations. This, more than anything, was the source of his all-knowing, almost prescient persona. What he did not overhear, he could mostly extrapolate from what he did.

And Trelawney was already feeling at or near her limits for changing her own past. Getting James Potter to NOT go to Hogwarts was one of those things that felt like it would have been too great a jump by itself. But her powers for that were already stretched near their limits, just by getting her past self to study hard.

So, to protect the Potters would require a very delicate touch.

One of the muggle movie picture stories that Professor Myrtle had shown to the school before Sybil traveled back had an archeologist trying to bypass a trap on a gold idol by switching it out for a bag of sand weighing almost the same. Only he'd misjudged the weight and set off the defense measures.

Still, it was a VERY nifty idea (the muggles had plenty of those, she'd learned over her short period of association) and could apply to her situation.

For example, she was already using it to alter her own past. Simply not going to Hogwarts lay outside of her power. That was too big a jump. But sending a simulacrum of herself in her place made it alright. The way it felt was that it bridged a part of the gap so she didn't have to jump as far, and what gap remained lay inside of her abilities.

Similarly, she didn't think stepping in to publicly stop raids would work. Even if she had the combat power to overcome the Death Eaters making the raids, her fairy nature couldn't handle the load of so much changing the past that would result. But by STEALING the victims, it felt as though the timeline had been fooled into going on much the same. She accomplished her change, but the effect on the timestream was not so bad that she couldn't cover it.

Just exactly like how they intended to save the victims of Dumbledore's loyalty oaths: minimum disruption, simply switch them out for a fake just long enough for it to take the oath instead of them. And McGonagall and the other dryads that were staff members of Hogwarts were ideally positioned to rescue those victims of muggleborn testing just exactly the same way - give them a detention out of the castle where they could be safely replaced without Dumbledore's awareness, then switch them for a double. That way events could proceed with minimal disruption.

It was the strategy for her whole little jaunt into the past, or most of it.

So, applying that to this situation, she ought to get the Potters to leave their business and political affairs in the hands of some simulacrums of themselves, which could be programmed to handle them as well as they could, then relocate the family itself to safer pastures.

She just viewed it as an early rescue.

Since Europe lay too close to Dumbledore's seat of power, and was his area of secondary interest directly after control of Great Britain, and Australia lay too far out of the way to coordinate with her, the USA it was.

James and Lily would still be going to Hogwarts, along with the rest of their friends, but armed with a couple of secrecy oaths, things ought to be alright.

Actually, while some disruptions were planned, many were not. Sybil was taking in the sights and smells of Scotland on her way back to safety from a trip where she'd awakened the ghosts of Myrtle and the Grey Lady, passing through a mixed magic/muggle community on her way to a public floo (much less closely monitored than apparating in Britain) when she saw a large grey wolf about to attack a group of small children.

You'd have to be a monster to see that sort of thing and not intervene. A simple Levicorpus applied on the animal had it floating helpless in the air and the children, most of whom would have died, all ran away to safety.

That was when the strain hit.

Trelawney buckled, feeling like she'd made a jump and NOT been able to hit the other side, but was falling endlessly into blackness. Though she did not know the story, she could already tell she had altered history in a fundamental way - and one that affected her own past too greatly for her powers to absorb.

And it felt like that was killing her, like she was bleeding out. Her powers were trying to fix this, but it lay beyond their capacity.

Luckily she was not alone. McGonagall had made the trip with her, and knew what must have happened, and what had to be done to fix this. Most of those children would have died in this attack. That was actually not so much the issue as they could be kidnapped along with their families and transplanted elsewhere (then Confounded to make them think that was their own idea). No, the true difficulty lay in the fact that she'd just inadvertently stopped Remus Lupin from becoming a werewolf.

And that was too big a change to their own histories for Sybil to handle.

The special circumstances created by that child's affliction gave him the friends that would later become so central to his life, and he would in turn affect them and their lives. His being a werewolf was central to their having become animagi, which bit of rule-breaking had been a key to their being so very successful pranksters that they didn't mind going 'against the flow' and joining up on what appeared to be the losing side of a war.

Change Harry's parents too much and they didn't get their Harry, which undid all of their own changes into dryads and this little trip into the past.

It was too big a leap to take, and trying to compensate was killing Sybil. The tax on her fairy powers was so great it threatened to dissolve her essence in a way that would take her and her trees with her.

McGonagall spent a whole moment agonizing over this. Fenrir Greyback liked killing children. But, having glutted himself on so many, he'd have neglected to kill Remus, leaving him only injured and infected. Simply undoing Sybil's act of stopping the attack was unpalatable in the extreme.

Resolving upon a course of action, Minerva transfigured a muzzle and leash for the feral werewolf, hooking him up to a convenient lamppost so as not to endanger anyone (where he would be found by Animal Control not much later, and wake up in a cage - out of which he could unfortunately escape with ease, having had to apparate out of those before).

That was not her plan. No, that was simply a measure to keep herself and Sybil safe while she implemented her real design - using Point Me charms to track down a young and terrified Remus Lupin taking comfort in the arms of his equally frightened parents, who knew what cruel fate he'd only just barely escaped, and offering to teach him to become an animagus.

A wolf animagus to be precise. He could PRETEND to be a werewolf! And with the right secrecy oath, and perhaps a mild Confundus or two to help in the act, ought to be able to pull it off.

No one pretended lycanthrope in much the same way as they didn't pretend cancer - the treatments were miserable and could severely impact your life.

It required a fair amount of convincing, and a bit of subtle magic, but in the end Sybil relaxed from her overstrained condition into mere exhaustion. The cost was still great, but it was no longer killing her colleague and friend.

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