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.


65. Chapter Sixty-Five


After a mostly sleepless night for all of them, when the group reformed Harry went and confronted Luna immediately. "Luna, I know you said to wait. But with the threats placed against us I feel we need Bella back immediately. We're just too outgunned and need all the help we can get. Frankly I'm certain that I'm going to have to summon the rest of the Death Eaters and proclaim myself Voldemort the Second just to get some experienced fighting units on our side to even the odds a bit. But even that would be easier to do if I had Bellatrix by my side, so we need her right away. I'm sorry."

This proclamation was met by a soft yet bright smile by the blonde. "Don't be sorry, Harry. Today is the day. We've waited long enough, and you can have her back now. Take me to Trelawney's glade and I'll show you."

Somewhat puzzled, travel arrangements were taken care of and they arrived to see a large, full-length mirror leaned up against Trelawney's oak. When Luna stepped up to it Alice of Wonderland came out, deposited a familiar golden vial in her hands, and vanished without speaking back into the mirror.

Luna nodded to Trelawney and the dryad dumped the acorns and other nuts out of the now completed Cauldron of Plenty just as dawn arose.

Harry and Hermione were staring in disbelief at the familiar vial as Luna faced the rest of them and explained, "One month ago, when we were doing that one day of intense time-traveling, I rushed ahead to the place where Trelawney would become a dryad, and getting there before anyone else, I stole her potion before Harry arrived and she could take it."

"But WHY?" Susan blurted.

"Always people ask the hardest question!" Luna smiled aside to Hermione. "Anyway, then I gave it to my Grandmother Alice to take to Wonderland, where time works very strangely indeed. I got her to promise to give it back to me precisely one month from the time I gave it to her for safekeeping. I would then keep it one hour, and return it to her. She was then to take it back to me one month ago, so I could replace it by the pond in time for Harry to find it and for Sybil to become a dryad."

Harry's eyes had crossed, but he bravely surmised. "If I am following this, what you did was to take the potion, move it forward a month, then back a month again to where we found it in order for us to use it as we did. Why?"

Luna's eyes shone brilliant, pleased with her own scheming. She held her head high and said, "This way I could run it through the Cauldron of Plenty! And we would have a hundred doses of that potion, instead of just one! So a hundred dryads to serve Harry rather than only one!"

Jaws dropped all around.

"So truly, it doesn't matter what damage was done to Bellatrix' body," Luna calmly uncorked the dryad cordial and poured it into the Cauldron of Plenty before picking up a stirring spoon and turned a dazzling smile on the rest of them. "Because she is about to get a new one! One without all of the marks and scars, mental or magical, of having served her Dark Lord!"

Harry gasped at the thought of one hundred witches basically unkillable by normal means. Even if they were untrained to start with, they could be taught, and that was quite a fighting force Luna had just delivered him!

"Then, all those enhancement potions..!" Hermione's eyes widened in wonder.

"Exactly!" Luna hopped up and down in place triumphantly holding her spoon. "Applied to this potion is the same as applied to the seed! We can dose all our dryads with plant augmentations in the same dose that MAKES them dryads!"

Hermione's eyes began to grow larger and larger as she ran through the catalog of plant enhancements aloud, "The fire protection ritual makes them immune to heat and flame, at least to those who it gets applied to..."

"But we can finish doing that to them all next year, after the first Summer Solstice," Luna interrupted.

Hermione nodded, already going on, "The potion of plant protection makes them immune to harmful insects. The Essence of Evergreen prevents them from suffering when it gets too cold. The potion brewed from Elixir of Life makes them immune to rot and corrosion, while the one brewed with phoenix tears protects them from poison and disease." Here her face scrunched up, "But why the one for making them continually fruit and blossom?"

Luna was too happy to answer smugly, so it came out cheerful instead as she hopped around in glee, "Because Harry's family controls farm interests, of course! Production is wealth, and wealth is power. We've zinged Dumbledore enough times on that issue you ought to know that! Besides, a major concern for agriculture is keeping food harvested once a year fresh for sale during the entire year as people buy and consume it. Having trees that continually provide fruit all year round gets around that!"

Harry was nodding. "As do those enchantments of Alcinous, where the fruit does not fall or spoil, but remains fresh all year round."

"Exactly!" Luna bounced up and down, unable to contain her glee.

Concern resolved, Hermione continued her mental count aloud, "That potion Harry converted from his family's patent application for that ribbon makes them immune to bad weather. Then his family's Everfertile Soil recipe that enables them to live on any ground, no matter how barren..." She raised her face to the others, having gone over her facts until she'd figured it out. "All of these put together using a Draught of Draughts makes it so the dryads this produces will be all but immune to every form of natural harm!"

"And a dryad lives as long as her tree does," Susan repeated in awe. "That means making their trees impervious to virtually every form of nonmagical harm..."

"Will lead to practically unkillable dryads," Luna confirmed smugly. "Wood boring beetles, blight, bad weather, especially cold winters, running out of nutrients in the soil, none of these are of any concern to OUR dryads!"

Harry cocked his head to consider her. "So their only concern is lumberjacks and other direct acts of men and wizards."

"Which is why I approached the twins for a conversion for re'em blood to use on plants." Luna raised her nose in mock-snootiness.

Harry laughed. Seeing the questioning faces of his two Hufflepuffs (who had good excuse for not knowing, as this material was not yet covered in class), he wiped aside his tears and explained, "Re'ems are magical golden bulls, and drinking their blood imparts great strength - for a short while. But we've already seen other temporary potions like polyjuice and unctuous unction get turned permanent as part of a dryad's transformation. So, while it won't make them quite as strong as giants, I'd say it ought to make these delicate seeming, beautiful wood nymphs as strong as trolls."

"And trolls are plenty strong enough to discourage all but the most powerful woodcutters," Hermione concluded softly, fighting a grin of her own.

"And since she could automatically feel any harm to any part of her tree, and can flash to one no matter the distance..." Luna giggled.

"The first bite of the axe is also going to be the woodchopper's last," Harry concluded, nodding firmly as he agreed with the principle. You protect your people from harm so they can later be around to protect you.

Elementary strategy.

Hermione giggled, bending over to cover her face lest she laugh out loud. "And all of those potions we accumulated that are totally irresponsible to use on only a single plant, because they are so terribly NOT cost-effective!"

"Now we have a hundred plants protected from each, instead of one, because they all got blended in the Cauldron of Plenty," Luna agreed, nodding.

"Oh, but it's so much more than that!" Hermione insisted, still fighting giggles. "We're going to be taking cuttings from all of these trees! We'll have entire FORESTS protected for the cost of one potion blended this way!"

"But..! Who are we even going to use it on?" Hannah blurted, then shrank as gazes moved to her. "Don't look at me! My mother would kill me if I couldn't give her grandkids without a planting box!"

"Same here!" Susan quickly asserted.

"It wouldn't seem fair to use it on people whose lives are just starting out," Hermione hedged. "This is a rather permanent change, after all, and most of us students are kids. It doesn't seem right to take that away."

Harry began grinning. "So you're saying that the best way to use this is as a second chance for people whose lives are already messed up?"

Hermione blinked, considering that. "I guess that does seem best."

"Good." Harry nodded firmly, crossing his arms. "Then I nominate the female staff members of Hogwarts."

Once more jaws dropped all around.

Harry made a gesture to emphasize his point. "Technically they are agents of our enemy. Right now they all contribute substantially to his power, and I'd rather turn them into friends than destroy them. Plus for all we know this potion only works on females, and I'd rather not waste a dose finding out if it works on men. Besides, that's just creepy anyway. But I see this as a rescue. The staff of Hogwarts have all been routinely Obliviated of deeds and things the Headmaster would rather they not know, so most of them are already messed up. Plus, he passes around Compulsion charms more than he does lemon drops in order to get the environment just the way he likes it, with teachers ignoring all of the bullying and so on that goes on around here. I looked into this a bit right after we rescued Trelawney, and most of the staff have had their minds damaged by all of the manipulating he's done to them over the years."

Hermione had begun nodding. "The obliviating of McGonagall seems to have been a biweekly occurrence, according to Dumbledore's appointment book. So not only do they follow our enemy, he isn't treating them right. This both robs him of power, and sees to it they receive better care." She considered another moment, then sighed, "Plus our Queen told us Hogwarts is one of his irreplaceable treasures. This damages his ability to use that."

Susan threw in her two cents, "I agree we should get the female Hogwarts staff with this. I know from my aunt's complaints the more insiders you get on your side, the harder it will be for anyone else to control things. She's had to fight against established power blocks for years, and it's miserable. So if we get half of the teachers in this castle on our side, it will be harder for Dumbledore to control the school or do things we don't like or approve of. They can simply ignore his instructions and policies, if nothing else. Snape has been getting away with it for years. How is he going to discipline them?"

Hermione considered her friend carefully, before adding. "Many are elderly, but if you want to recruit people with skills you'd best aim for those who've had time to acquire them."

Luna instantly began bouncing up and down, clapping her hands. "Harry, you don't get older than ghosts! If Nearly Headless Nick could be administered Mandrake Restorative Draught in our second year to recover from being petrified by a basilisk, does that mean ALL ghosts could be given potions?"

They all met eyes.

"I don't see why not," Hermione answered in amazed and wondering tones.

"And if Myrtle, then the Grey Lady," Luna commanded in soft and playful tones. "She's been hiding out in odd corners of Ravenclaw Tower, afraid of being exorcised."

"I'll have to research it," the boy replied. "And one of the first things I'd like to do is snag Poppy Pomphrey, who supposedly did it the first time. She's bound to know if there are any tricks involved, and having a healer on our side just smacks of all kinds of rightness. Plus, if we can really steal half of the Headmaster's staff out from under his nose, I'd like to try it."

He then rubbed the side of his neck in nervousness. "Plus, I'm really not comfortable with our health being seen to by an agent of our enemy any longer than it has to be."

Hermione scrunched up her face. "As an employee of Hogwarts, she reports to Dumbledore and takes orders from him, and we really don't know what he could've done to subvert her."

The two Hufflepuffs paled, not having thought of that.

"There has to be some limits, or I would've died on my first night in there," Harry sighed, shaking his head.

"Yes, but is it you who are protected, or all of us?" Hermione questioned.

The boy nodded. "You're right. We can hardly take the risk."

"I've got one more candidate."

They all turned to Luna. "Who?"

"Narcissa," she told them simply, with a slight scowl on her face.

The others heaved an immediate sigh, and Harry nodded.

Narcissa had proven herself useful a dozen times over in the political arena and the court of public opinion. Having stood by Lucius' side while he enacted his clever dance had taught her all of the steps, and she proved to be far more popular, only in part because she served a far less odious agenda.

However, she'd also proven traitorous, building up her own power base at the expense of her Luna and Harry's. It was subtle, she hadn't gone far yet, but her intentions were clear.

Luckily, Harry knew how to read minds better than she could defend hers, so it was a simple matter to pluck those plans out of her head at one of her debriefings.

That betrayal made Narcissa useless to them for the only thing they'd had a use for her to begin with. She could NOT be their agent in politics if she would serve her own interests instead of theirs! Nor could they trust such a person to wield their authority on their behalf, not when she obviously wouldn't. So despite how much they needed an agent, it couldn't be her.

Not while she was like this.

The question then became: what to do with her? Luna's answer came just as fast: turn her into a dryad. With that cordial making an unctuous unction permanent in her system, like it had for Trelawney, they'd no longer have to worry about her loyalties.

She would serve them as one fairy to the Queen's Champions, if nothing else. But with a permanent dose of unctuous unction in her system, she'd like it.

Nor, for that matter, would they have to be concerned about their agent getting assassinated. That was always a danger in Pureblood politics, you do something someone doesn't like and they might lodge a fatal objection. But, no longer having to fear that, she could be much more bold in her actions.

One of Narcissa's more minor betrayals had been to divert family funds to pay for a cocktail of potions to give to Draca. Apparently a mother's loyalty to her child was not yet exhausted, because when Draca had sent her mother a letter from Azkaban asking for certain potions to be prepared, the ones to enable her to fulfill her breeding contract quickly and easily, Narcissa had embezzled the funds to pay for it.

Never mind that, had she made the request, she might even have convinced them to part with the funds. A few of them had had second thoughts about what they'd done to Draco (Notably Harry, as the form that punishment took made him nervous every time he stood up to pee. Hermione felt it was just punishment enough, as it wasn't too different from what Draco would've done to her. But Luna, whom the little bastard had tried to kill, was often of the opinion that they hadn't punished him enough).

Still, Narcissa had stolen the money from them instead of asked. That was, sadly, only a minor one out of her several betrayals. She was clearly and unmistakably setting herself up as an independent power, and that was only confirmed by what Harry had read in her mind.

"Alright," Hermione nodded, having thought this through thoroughly along with the rest. "So we turn Narcissa into a dryad."

Then Susan blurted out, "Harry! I'm glad we've chosen out a couple, but we don't have TIME to choose out a hundred women like this!"

"To say nothing of kidnapping them," Hermione murmured, recalling her one experience in that department. That was hard work!

"The debates would take forever," Susan concluded, shaking her head. "I've been with my aunt to a few Wizengamot meetings, and disagreements will happen. It could literally tie us up for years, just discussing who to change!"

"We don't even know that many women," Hannah agreed.

Harry drew in a big breath, then sighed. "Ok then, this is how we'll do it. We'll select twenty women to be dryads. Then, once they've made the change, we give each of them the duty to choose four more suitable girls apiece for us."

Hermione frowned. It was a good idea, but... "Harry, even twenty could take a long time. Do you recall how long it took us to kidnap Trelawney? We could be the better part of a month doing this - and that is if nothing goes wrong!"

Once more Harry sighed. "Okay, you're right. So how about this: we restore Bella, then have HER kidnap McGonagall. She's already proven expert at not only infiltrating Hogwarts but capturing and replacing the staff. So we trust her to do that again. Then once we have McGonagall we have her call together the rest of the female staff, get them out of the castle and changed. That's ten right there, plus Myrtle, the Grey Lady, Bellatrix and Narcissa. If we can find six more we've got our twenty. Then we rely on them to choose the rest."

Luna nodded, firmly agreeing with this plan. "Bathilda Bagshot for another of our original twenty. According to Trelawney we need her help, so this way, transforming her into a dryad, we can be sure to get it."

"McGonagall could also be made to sign more forms authorizing more schools and other such concessions if she was our dryad." Hermione mused. Then she turned to face her favorite blonde Ravenclaw. "Luna, it occurs to me that we can create more copies of Sybil's oak using cuttings, and that she can't die so long as one of those trees or any of their offspring exist. It also occurs to me that you have access to Wonderland and Oz. I wonder if they might not be good places to plant trees."

It was rare to see Luna astonished, yet as her eyes flew wide the other girls giggled and Harry smiled.

This was, needless to say, a positively brilliant idea.

Susan was shaking her head. "I'm amazed. Do you really think we can put Myrtle and the Grey Lady through the dryad conversion process?"

"We're going to try," Harry informed her soberly. "In fact, let's get this potion mixed, because one of the powers of the stone in Slytherin's Ring is you can turn it three times and cause the dead to appear before you. Most of the time they resent being pulled out of Heaven, but I want to try it on a ghost, someone who has not crossed over. And it that works, then we can get two of our dryad candidates to appear before us right now."

They immediately turned to the Cauldron of Plenty. The Draught of Draughts Luna had ordered made everything easy. It was as simple as pouring all of them into the pot, which was soon bubbling with a hundred times the doses of their combined concoction.

A pity the Cauldron could be used to only multiply something once. There was no way to add something more to get another hundred copies of a brew or they could have had a theoretically limitless supply.

But such was not to be. However, apparently they weren't done mixing this one. Hermione caught Luna as she poured in the pale pink contents of a vial no one had agreed on. "What's that?" Bushy hair stood on end as she recognized the color. "Is it a love potion?"

"No, not actually." Luna shook her head, speaking conversationally as she poured the potion into the mix. "This is a potion called Bride's Delight, made about a hundred years ago to make it easier on pureblooded women to accept their arranged marriages. You can key it like a love potion, putting in one of the groom's hairs, or just wait for the wedding night, that serves as well; but it only renders her more sensitive to being attracted to or stimulated by her husband, making it easier for her to feel those feelings towards her groom and magnifying them when they occurred, based on the theory that the more excited a women gets, the easier it is for her to become pregnant."

Luna capped the now empty potion bottle and stood back to contemplate the bubbling mixture, never taking her eyes off the cauldron as she continued to explain, "It worked quite well by all reports, and enjoyed a few decades of great popularity, but it fell out of favor when pureblooded men got disgusted by their wives being randy sex kittens - no matter how easily satisfied. They searched for another solution, and that's when having muggleborn women serve as substitute mothers came into fashion. After that wives stopped taking the potion, because all that attraction got unfulfilled and just led to greater frustration over their uninterested husbands, who'd begun to explore one of the worse legacies of the ancient Greeks: the philosophy that a woman was for duty, boys for pleasure, and goats for ecstasy. Only our Purebloods took that as a starting point and have been getting ever more exotic and bizarre in their sexual habits ever since - a trend that had begun before Bride's Delight got developed, and which it was hoped it might fix."

Capping the bottle, Luna turned to look at her friends. "But since Draca was going to have to 'do the deed' with Crabbe and Goyle, her mother got her a dose to make things easier on her."

Hermione's hair was standing on end, and her fists were clenched and she towered over the distracted blonde. "What on Earth were you THINKING adding something like THAT to our dryad cordial!?!"

Luna smiled serenely as she pocketed the empty vial. "Oh? Well it occurred to me that while having a hundred dryads was good, more was always better. So if they felt, uhm," she delicately licked her lips, averting her eyes, "eager I guess would be the best word, to find a husband, then an otherwise static population could see some rapid growth. After all, our ultimate task is to save the fairies from extinction, and dryads are one of the races of fairy."

Paralyzed by this thought, Hermione made no objection when Luna uncapped the other vial Narcissa had paid for and dumped that into the cauldron with a satisfied smirk. "There! Now in nine years or so we ought to go from having one hundred dryads to having two thousand five hundred or so. To be fair, even if all of our dryads find husbands at once, it will be twenty years before the youngest reach eleven. So in all probability this will have no effect on our current war. But we still need to plan for our future."

The other girls did some quick calculations in their heads. One hundred dryads given the same potion Draca had planned to use to pop out twenty four children in nine years... yup, twenty four babies each over one hundred dryads would be two and a half thousand dryads!

They all blushed furiously.

"They..." Hermione gulped, face a new shade of red. "They won't keep getting pregnant with twins four times every three years, will they?"

Luna calmly shook her head. "No, unlike some potions this one doesn't have a duration that can be extended like that. It's good for twelve sets of twins only. After those nine years our wood nymphs will go back to a more normal rate. But considering for dryads a normal rate of reproduction is one baby dryad every couple of hundred years, and there are so few dryads right now, I think we really need them to have a population boost to start with."

"Well... that's logical... I suppose," Hermione whispered that last part.

Luna turned away, already happily wondering out loud, "Now, all we need is a couple more of these potions to brew into hundreds to give our House Elves. And maybe our centaurs. Hmm, the unicorns could also use a boost..."


Author's Notes:

I love grabbing elements that people have already forgotten and suddenly combining them together into a major change in the balance of power!

I'd introduced the Cauldron of Plenty, and even explained what it does. I'd given them a dryad cordial for Trelawney, and I'd even had that obscure reference in the conversation Luna had with her Grandmother Alice about taking things forward and back a month. You just never noticed my evil plan was building all this time! Not even after I gave you a reminder/hint in all of the plant protection potions that Luna was collecting!

Face it, you'd dismissed them all as yet more extraneous details! Yet here I have forged out of them a substantial power block, seemingly out of nowhere! Yet every part carefully detailed before in ways you hadn't noticed.

Maybe now you'll pay attention when I give you details like that, so I don't get bombarded by people who'd skimmed portions asking questions I'd already answered, in detail, chapters ago (like that horcruxes are more like wands than like potions, in that they are NOT used up when used).

You know, most of this story is along the theme of: Wow! You know, this object (horcrux, sneakoscope, foe glass, whatever) has so much unused potential! I wonder what it would be like to actually take that and project it forward to its logical end. Where would that take us?

So a Dark Lord who USES horcruxes to their logical limits. A town that USES those Dark Arts detectors to maximize their capabilities against the very threats we are told the wizarding world faces! A paper laden with all of the mind control magic AVAILABLE in the series! People who actually USE the stuff they are given in a sane and rational fashion!

So much better than letting all that unrealized potential lie around.

Even stuff you'd winced at and done your best to forget as quickly as possible, like Draca's plans for getting out of her breeding contract quickly, suddenly come back and produce a major change to the balance of power.

YES! I LIVE for moments like those! Well, maybe not live for them, but I do like them a very great deal. It is a feeling like no others, to suddenly whiplash my readers around to something they had never considered, but was building all this time.

And you just can't do it without laying in a lot of detail ahead of time.

Join MovellasFind out what all the buzz is about. Join now to start sharing your creativity and passion
Loading ...