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.


72. Chapter Seventy-Two


Even before taking her offer before the various space agencies, Edmund Evans had pointed out to his sponsor, "You know, they're going to want to see the money before they commit to anything, don't you?"

Sybil had shrugged. "I honestly don't see how that is going to be a problem."

"Okay, but even if you do have it, they're going to want to know where you got it," Edmund had continued. "No one is that rich."

"Why should that matter?" The oracle had honestly been puzzled as she looked up from where Lily and Petunia played around her feet.

Joan had stepped in and offered, "The muggle world is full of accountants. They feel very strongly about wanting to know where money comes from, and where it goes."

"Mostly so they can tax it," Edmund had grumbled. His salary as an office worker was not as high as he'd like, but it kept having uncomfortable chunks ripped out of it by the revenue service.

"Can't I just say I found it?" Sybil had wondered innocently.

Edmund had barked a laugh, shaking his head. "No. They tax 'found' money even more than they do what you earn! You'd lose ninety percent of it or more, depending on where you said you found it and who had jurisdiction. Some governments are more greedy than others."

Sybil had then thought back on Harry's example. "Well then, I don't see why I can't be my own government."

Edmund and Joan's jaws had dropped at the suggestion.

They'd been no less amazed when she'd gone ahead and done it.

It really is no problem for a resourceful person to take over a small country about the size of a Super Wal-Mart. You approach whoever is in charge, pay them enough to make their eyes bulge, and they walk away wealthier than when they were king, while you hold the keys of government.

Simple, straightforward, a little tactless, but honest and legal. Corporations had been bought and sold much the same, and it wasn't much different in practice for countries.

So Trelawney had bought herself a small cluster of anonymous Caribbean islands, declared herself queen, and then a few months later 'found' a large Spanish treasure fleet sunken inside of her waters. Taking every bit of that gold for herself, of course.

Her eccentric botanist story was that she'd been exploring the sea floor on some dives investigating native flora when she'd made the discovery. Any rumors that she'd found the gold before buying the country, and that was why and how she'd bought the place, were politely ignored by genteel parties.

She'd then gone ahead and let the natives run the government pretty much the same as before she'd taken over, and gone to pay for a space program.

Meanwhile, back around her previously anonymous islands, divers had begun to appear in marvelous profusion, exploring her sea floor for miles around, and they even began finding things, much to Trelawney's surprise. However, to her amusement, her government did almost reflexively tax them, so she got a substantial chunk out of those discoveries.

Interestingly enough, when you are a small, insignificant and unarmed nation who has larger, well-armed and belligerent neighbors, your best defense is not to have anything they want. And, with golden treasures being pulled out of her waters all of the time, she no longer had that.

Still stinging from having been made to back down during the Cuban Missile Crisis, Cuba decided to regain some prestige (and cash!) and invaded.

Frankly, Trelawney was happy to let them. To her the islands had been an excuse, nothing more, and if Cuba wanted them they were welcome to them.

The US felt differently.

Feeling rather strongly about the possibility of their space program funding getting cut off should their sponsor lose her home and income, US heavy bombers firebombed Havana, the capital of Cuba, later that same day. Paratroopers landed the day after that, and the first armored regiments hit the shores later that week.

The conflict was over in plenty of time for her to pay them for the Mars launch, and everyone quietly pretended that the US presenting Cuba to her to rule over as part of her now-expanded domain wasn't a blatant attempt to keep her happy enough for the money to continue flowing.

Politics at its best.

Of course, the Soviets tried to annex Berlin in response, but under the 'favor for favor' category Sybil went and used the twin tools of invisibility and the Imperio spell and the next ICBM test launch by the Soviets as a show of force had an actual bomb on board, went off course, and landed on Moscow.


The resulting mushroom cloud nearly ended the Cold War right there. Russia nearly collapsed in the subsequent civil war and lost all of Eastern Europe and most other holdings in the process of sorting things out again. Deprived of secret Soviet backing, the Vietnam War also came to a sudden, successful end; and North Korea collapsed into anarchy as well, ending up reabsorbed by the South. The USSR was lucky not to lose its own provinces in the scuffle, and the world breathed a sigh of relief as it took a decade for them to get back to where they were threatening and bullying everyone again.

During this decade of relative peace, there were no clear threats to unite the world against, so the UN gradually fizzled out until it vanished entirely. Most people neither noticed nor cared when it went the way of the League of Nations before it.

Dead from a supreme lack of interest in paying its bills.

Backing up a step, on a whim before the bombing happened Trelawney sought out the legal heir to Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna, last surviving child of the last ruler of Imperial Russia, and bought from her the rights to the Czarist palaces there, picking them all up the day before the blast using a staff much like Harry's, liberal use of Confundus charms, Notice-Me-Not spells and muggle repelling wards (provided by the Potters) so the muggles would not notice the loss before their absence became irrelevant.

Actually, she bought her rights to the whole country, but only collected the Moscow palaces for now. She didn't have any use for them, but it seemed such a shame to burn them away to ash when they were so pretty. The hardest part was clearing out all of those nasty soviet administrators who had squatted there, but that was quickly enough solved by using Imperio on the KGB to do the clearing for her, putting them all in holding cells she made sure were directly under the blast.

Decapitating a tyranny always results in a power struggle.

Despite the success of these secret actions, outwardly the only thing she did to acknowledge them was to change her title to Czarina. However, the USA politely refused to acknowledge that, and still called her a queen.

Now as everyone knows, one of the best things that can happen to a country is for the USA to beat them in a war. While the USSR floundered in its own troubles the US moved into Cuba and built factories and roads, schools and bridges, throwing up more infrastructure than they'd ever had before and funneling enough money into the country to transform it overnight.

Businesses invested there. Entrepreneurs built resorts and clubs and nice houses. Jobs materialized and manufactured goods became cheap and readily available. People who'd once considered themselves rich for owning two shirts discovered just how different the extravagant joys of capitalism were.

And, of course, they had bases for the space launch and recovery program built there. It was actually a better spot than Florida, as it was closer to the equator, but building there was out of the question so long as that country was a hostile and belligerent neighbor.

When that formerly hostile neighbor instead became the property of the same kind and generous person giving you so much cash to fund that very space program, it seems only neighborly to give a little back in return.

And, frankly, Queen Sybil was happy to let them treat her little country as the 51st state. It saved her the trouble of running it herself, to be honest, and she had other concerns to be taking care of.

Although, here it must be said she was not totally irresponsible regarding her responsibility to rule. She simply took the Fairy Queen's advice to heart and followed Harry's example once again - this time in creating fortified magical villages based on his design for Godric's Hollow and its sister cities. These were not independent of the local government, like his were (mostly because she WAS the local government!) but other than that they were pretty similar - and she would eventually throw up a good two dozen of them to house her magicals, governed by the Cup and Hat combination the Queen recommended.

Of course, Sybil made all of her magicals speak English with the help of a few thousand Language Lozenges so they could work better with those nice Americans, chose from among their muggleborns the best, most honest and reliable according to her unicorn senses, put them under loyalty oath to her, and sent them off to receive training to help her run her muggle government (which those oaths expiring when they formally left her service).

With the aid of copious amounts of veritaserum, corruption vanished virtually overnight. Because of that, organized crime never did get much of a toehold there, and as a direct result of that it became a more and more attractive place to live and do business and the standard of living kept rising.

Cuba had never been what could be called one of the Great Magical Nations, as their primary discipline was voodoo, and that was mostly self-taught. The practitioners did not show much of a tendency toward cooperation, either.

Nobody magical with any education would even come near the place because of the naturally occurring lethifold menace native there. Those creatures also seemed to prefer to prey on magical beings over any other kind of food. So nobody magical with the least clue would even approach the islands. For that reason her Cuban magical population was quite small, less than a tenth the size it should be, as the natives knew of no defense and were frequently preyed upon by lethifolds - or left the country altogether.

Not even Sybil Trelawney would sleep there. They preferred sleeping prey, and though she might be a dryad the idea of being consumed wasn't any fun. Thus it was doubly important to get those special magical villages built, as the same defenses he'd devised to hold off dementors worked on lethifolds.

Still, it was something of a conundrum. Nobody magical with any knowledge or skill would go there because of the lethifolds. But she couldn't protect her magical people from the lethifolds until somebody with knowledge and skill came there to construct the wards.

In the end she'd have to hire an American magical security force to basically conduct an invasion, keeping armed camps and guards on watch at all times while their experts set up the basic wards, then pay extra to keep it secret, because she didn't have anybody native who could do it.

Sybil would fix that, but it would be a slow process and involve very carefully hiring teachers from other countries (mostly muggleborn Ravenclaws moving out of Britain as they ran into a wall of pureblood prejudice after graduation, as it turned out). Given a generation or two, that, along with safe places for her people to reside, could transform the magical community of her country into something halfway decent, even built up from essentially nothing.

But it wouldn't be fast enough for their queen.

Sybil Trelawney, like many students, had neglected her studies in favor of things she'd felt more interesting at the time. And, not unlike most of those who do that, ended up regretting it in the long term.

But it was one thing to not qualify for jobs you might like, and quite another to have your meager, underdeveloped skills being the primary thing holding off a grisly death in a war against evil.

She didn't think her underdeveloped, undereducated magicals could hold off a single squad of British hit wizards, should Dumbledore send them after her. Also, as the many multilayered betrayals had proved, hired help could not be trusted. So it was up to her to defend herself, if she could; and simply put, Sybil was not competent to go off into battle like she was. She knew it. She'd arrived back into the past knowing it. So one of the first things she'd resolved on her arrival was that was one of the things she was going to fix.

After setting the Evans family into motion, and recruiting the Potters the same way (there had been enough proof of Dumbledore's manipulations even now to fully back up her story if you knew where to look - and she did, so not only could she successfully point that out to the skeptical couple to get their support against him, but could also point out what the current rumblings of the Pureblood class was going to lead to shortly), Sybil decided that the best way to learn Potions was to get taught - and pay attention this time.

So, even before getting a country, the dryad simply shrank her apparent age to eleven and went and enrolled herself in the best Potions program she knew of - Beauxbatons.

She did this because, frankly, she knew she was weak on everything, not just potions, having been a giggling gossip during school instead of the serious student she now wished she'd been. So the logical step to take was to get her education all over again. Hiring magical tutors for all subjects would send rumors into the magical community she did not want Dumbledore alerted of, and going to Hogwarts was out of the question as it was his seat of power.

A trickle of emigrating muggleborns getting teaching jobs at a previously uninteresting country was one thing, and not even a terribly interesting one provided you did not know of the cities she planned to build there, or the fact that the muggle queen of that island was, in fact, a witch.

A sudden celebrity appearing to hire all the best magical educators as her own person tutors, however? He'd find out about that and investigate.

So despite Beauxbatons being weaker on Defense than she would like, it was them or Durmstrang, and she didn't think her unicorn nature could tolerate being taught the Dark Arts.

Besides, she'd been to Beauxbatons before. Growing up in Greece it had been a choice: them or Durmstrang, and Beauxbatons had the better Divination program - a class she had sadly slept through half of, having stayed up all too many late nights at parties.

Starting out in '63, she could graduate once again by '70, a full year ahead of Voldemort's rise. Only this time she'd do it right! And, coincidentally, she'd be out of school a year before her younger self started to attend there.

One more student going to a magical school did not set off the same kind of waves as a person with a mysterious background appearing with all the gold she needed to hire all the best tutors on every subject. And they had no reason to associate this humble student with the Czarina of Cuba.

So, taking advantage of the loan of Luna's Time Turner to double days as often as her duties required, switching between schooling and government duties, along with the occasional day out here or there to go give speeches, shake hands, and play prancing pony before the American muggle space program, that was what she'd done. Sybil had gone back to school, studying hard enough this time to score top marks in most of her subjects, not even caring about her lack of social life this time around.

Probably a good thing, as this time she could have had one if she'd wanted one, and that might've distracted her from what she was there for. Besides, she'd had a party life the last time around, and it had not prepared her for real life in the slightest.

So, with that in mind, she tripled her days. One for governing her realm and making public appearances, one for full-time schooling, and the other for additional study, ladening herself with additional tutoring, side research and projects (and, increasingly as time went on, preparing for war).

Things went on this way quite happily along this pattern until shortly after the Venus launch, when Sybil went to go ask something of the Potters, and found them conversing with Professor McGonagall, asking the woman who was probably Dumbledore's most devoted follower to confirm these charges against him.

This would not send rumors through the magical community that he would overhear, this was sending him a telegram saying, "Hi! I am your enemy!"

The Deputy Headmistress was already enraged by the allegations and Sybil could see in that heartbeat the destruction of all of her plans. She would go tell Albus, and he would make all those ugly rumors go away, after tracing them all to their source - which would include killing her.

Then he might hear Sybil'd survived his execution of her, and would look into why, blowing the whole secret scenario wide open, much too early for her to do anything about defending it properly.

The most critical people hadn't even been born yet!

"NOOOOOOO!!!!" Sybil screamed in desperation as she lunged for the Deputy Headmistress, grabbing her in a hug, her primal fear not letting her think beyond holding the older woman back so she'd not destroy their secret.

Contact between the desperate dryad and the outraged Transfiguration Professor created a link between them as their magic struggled to subdue or resist the other, and as their magic mingled like that a link reformed between McGonagall and her tree.

The confusion of accidental magic re-transformed McGonagall into a dryad, reestablishing her link to her tree. This younger McGonagall had never had such a link, but the tree was there, and it was hers, and when touching the other dryad both trees became aware of her, and so McGonagall reconnected with her stately birch, downloading all of her memories from it up until the moment of Trelawney's departure into the past.

In that instant she turned from an enemy about to destroy them into Sybil's strongest ally, aware of all of the duplicitous and murderous behavior of the Headmaster she had so vehemently defended the moment before.

And, once more, she recalled the Headmaster's perfidity in detail - including a large number of murders that hadn't happened yet.

McGonagall did take a moment to stop and explain to the Potters about the loyalty oath she'd been asked to take to join the Order of The Phoenix, and how that had influenced her behavior. She also gave them a long and eye-opening lecture detailing all of the various ways that oath had been abused. That had been eye-opening in the extreme to the older couple, as they could independently verify that, as Dumbledore had once tried to get them to swear to the same thing and follow him against Grindelwald. Hearing exactly what abuses he'd put that to had been chilling, and made them glad of their refusal back then (they'd not seen a loyalty oath as needed - but could see how the old bastard could use a crisis closer to home as greater motivation).

One of the orders McGonagall had been under was to "Pay no attention to Snape's excesses", and the harm THAT had done was worth a small book on its own! It was also subtle enough to convince the Potters of the real danger, exactly because it didn't sound so bad, yet had led to such harm and abuses.

They were now finally convinced enough the Headmaster was an enemy to act against him in subtle ways, beyond just helping to prepare for the war caused by Voldemort's rise to power.

But while the war coming up was a very real danger, McGonagall had been the one telling families about the deaths of their children at school, and could verify more people had died in Dumbledore's muggleborn testing than in all the fights and battles of Voldemort's reign of terror. For one thing, the muggleborn testing had been going on over a much longer time. He'd been actively killing muggleborns for over a hundred and fifty years. They had only the possibility of undoing twenty eight years of that (because two of the thirty years Trelawney had gone back in time had already passed them by).

Still, saving those people was going to be a real problem.

Coincidentally, there were in Harry's notes deaths recorded that McGonagall remembered as blamed on Death Eaters that according to Riddle's memories neither he nor his followers were responsible for.

So yet another thing to watch out for was Dumbledore culling his political or business rivals and blaming it on the opposition during the war.

"The WORST problem, of course, is that I can no longer go on as I have done," Minerva sorrowed before them all. "There is no way I can ignore what he is doing there. Nor am I good enough of an actress to pretend to support him as fervently as I have done! I shall have to resign my position!"

Harry's grandparents began to soothe the woman, offering her comfort and a place to stay, while Sybil was thinking furiously. Then she went quietly off to fetch her knapsack full of supplies sent back by Harry.

Among the things Harry sent her was the spells for creating a simulacrum. There were very few wizards who knew all of the magic involved, but Riddle was one of them, and so Harry was also because of the stolen memories. It was considered a Dark Art, so Riddle had determined to learn it.

Voldemort had never made much use of them, but Sybil had just had a flash of insight as to what Harry would have done in this circumstance. She went to Mars to take a few cuttings off of McGonagall's lovely birch there, then came back to Earth to plant those around a few places. She did this because for her idea to work McGonagall would need to access her tree, and right then her only current one was on Mars. So if she went there she would have a difficult time coming back until she had a tree planted on Earth again.

But Sybil went to all of this effort because she'd just had insight as to how Harry would have solved their little problem.

The reason more people did not use simulacrums was because they were at best limited copies of a person. Thanks to the polyjuice-like ointments they were treated with (that had to be charged with a person's blood to give it that person's shape and form) their appearance was identical to the original. However, they were still just rough snow statues with hearts of stone that were animated with advanced magics.

Even with the original on hand helping a simulacrum had only a fraction of the original's knowledge, possessed minor personality flaws, and in those cases where they had magical power, it was half of the original's at best, but had no capacity to recharge itself. They would wind down like a muggle toy whose batteries had expired. And while it was possible to use a ritual to recharge a simulacrum's simulated magical core, that required time and was not at all subtle, and so required complete privacy.

Pulling out your dolls to recharge them periodically was one of the many flaws of using simulacrums as spies. Also, Imperio and other forms of mind control magics were easier, and gave you a better servant.

In that flash of insight, Trelawney had understood that Harry would have seen those very weaknesses as a strength in this circumstance. McGonagall could not go on with what she'd been doing knowing what the Headmaster was up to. So, since the simulacrum had only a limited portion of the original's knowledge, eliminate those portions of her knowledge that was causing her trouble. The simulacrum could forget the abuses and believe in Dumbledore just like McGonagall had once done. That could also cover a personality flaw, as she now despised him, but her duplicate could still admire and respect him.

The magic could only do so much, and couldn't cover everything. If you tried to create a perfect copy it would slip and uncover something, creating gaps and weaknesses in the copy. However, building in the flaws yourself, they would not appear randomly. And teaching a subject actually required only a fraction of a person's knowledge, since they'd had to take a full course load themselves to pass school, and earn high marks to gain a professorship. So they knew most subjects, yet only taught one.

The reason why McGonagall needed access to her tree was that Trelawney had a brilliant flash of insight, and instead of giving the rough snow statue a heart of stone, they could grant it one of wood - wood taken from Minerva's own tree and formed by her into a proper duplicate heart.

With that link to herself always inside of it, she could recharge it without the need of a ritual, while the simulacrum pretended to sleep at night. Then, in a flash of brilliance, she decided that it could even return information on its day to her via those same spells and enchantments the Headmaster had worked out for the mental communication of his replacement Sorting Hat!

On the heels of that stroke of brilliance, Sybil decided that her own past self would not be going to Hogwarts. She'd send a simulacrum of her own in her place! One programmed to repeat the predictions she'd made, and only them. (Substituting herself for her double on the morning Harry came to collect her, of course.) And that not only saved her from a horrible phase of her life, but it meant that she didn't have to keep secrets from her younger self any longer. So she went and 'woke her up' right away, establishing a connection to their shared tree and all of the memories that came with it.

For her younger self, it felt like a prediction, one yet to come true, and parts of which she was determined to change as she did not like the outcome a bit (well, except for the Harry parts).

Suddenly her younger self was determined to be a brilliant student, and would not waste her time in classes at all, outshining even her always-successful older sister Cassandra (who'd always left Sybil in her dust before) much to the shock of said older sister, and their mother Pythia, both of whom could hardly believe the change in young Sybil, the scatterbrained under-achiever who'd always been such a disappointment to the family before.

Of course they had to do readings to investigate why. But when those came back as the white oak, symbol of the Oracle at Delphi, it calmed them greatly as they concluded that she had grown into her Gift at last.

On the part of the older Sybil, she shuddered as her personal history rewrote itself on the fly, as it were. Her previous past grew a little dim and dreamlike where it contradicted the new. But, now able to recall a past where she had not misspent her youthful opportunities or education, but was an exemplary student, she was able to expand upon that foundation and build up her skills yet further, taking electives and courses she had neglected her previous time around, while going yet further in depth on subjects she had covered.

With all of these beautiful plans running around her head, the older Sybil went off to collect the rest of the original twenty dryads she was aware of! They could all be replaced by these special simulacrums, except the ghosts (who could be taught to use Astral Projection to appear in spirit form periodically).

And when she was done with that, they may as well help her on her tasks!


Author's Notes:

I have seen countless stories where it is the magical world that collapses and it is the muggle one that comes to save it, or feast on the remains, take your pick. But I have never before seen one where that is the other way around - when it is the muggle world that is falling, and if anything is to be saved it is the magical world to be doing it.

Anyway, time travel is always a little confusing, the more so when they change things. And it goes without saying that it gets more complicated when they start tying Time in loops.

Still, their capacity to do so is limited, and just about exhausted. So it should be back to the future with them soon.

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