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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31. Chapter Thirty-One

I I I

Taking all that was around him, Harry drew in a deep breath and let it out in one gust. "Okay," he said, now that the stress was partially relieved. "This is what is going to happen: We are going to publish the most scathing paper we can, calling Dumbledore to account for all his crimes we can find out about. Then we are going to destroy this press."

"Harry!" Hermione cried, outraged.

He raised his hands to placate her. "Now hear me out! Since we can't possibly leave it intact for our enemy to continue to use, we must destroy or remove it so he can't just get the whole magical world to forget everything we've done and love him all over again."

"I favor removing it," Luna stated with a glance towards Hermione, who relaxed from her apprehensions upon her saying so, and she followed that up with a fond smile. "Because Hermione would never stop grieving otherwise."

The bookworm pretended outrage, but was seriously happy.

Harry reflected that happiness right back at her. "It does raise our risks, as there is a chance he could trace it to get it back from us, but ok. Before we tuck this into our pockets, however, we do want to issue one last paper, one that will hurt Dumbledore as much as we possibly can."

"Right!" nodding, everyone agreed, and they spun back one full day so they could get enough sleep before starting out on their assignments.

First thing they did on waking was go out and visit Trelawney. The oracle was almost pathetically glad to see them, and told them all about reforging the Cauldron. Harry bolstered her defenses around the Goblet by transfiguring several dozen more six foot tall wooden soldiers, arming them with air rifles based on a French design that had once been considered a terror weapon as they left no smoke and could kill a man silently at long range - of course that was in a day of muskets, but they were still plenty deadly against spiders, which were the worst danger in that forest.

Then they interviewed her.

Trelawney, having had her memory restored, proved to have an encyclopedic knowledge of Dumbledore's worst schemes and most risky ventures over her tenure as his private oracle, as he'd consulted her on almost everything that held even the slightest risk to him or his plans.

Now with those memories restored, she could lambaste him better than any other person alive. They needed several pages for that article alone, making it practically a pamphlet by itself, and entitled it: "Confessions of an Oracle" beginning it with a paragraph detailing how she became enslaved to one of the most respected men of modern times. Then what kind of a man he was under that utterly false mask. The article throughout proved how exactly contrary to the facts that popular impression of his goodness was, and it held enough material to even shock Harry, who'd thought he was beyond shocking.

Clearly, the Trelawney piece was going to be one of the feature articles of the Daily Prophet's last edition.

But there was more. Harry went off prowling the castle invisibly, broke into the Slytherin dormitories to catch Snape early on that day so he could rape the greasy man's mind for details on his and Dumbledore's plots together.

Dumbledore spent most of his time at the castle. His staff knew more about him than some supposed, although less than they thought they did, as most had not yet discovered his foul side.

Or, if they had, they'd not been allowed to remember it.

However, Snape was one of those exceptions. He, as a willing participant of some of the ugliness going on, was allowed to retain those memories, and so by skimming through them, Harry was able to discover a great deal. Doing so he learned several important things, namely about the pair's shared oaths to each other and the horcruxes they used to revive the other - but also the security methods on those horcruxes.

Now, a soul anchor wasn't used up when employed any more than a ship's anchor was. Its purpose was not to bring one back to life but to keep one from really dying. It prevented complete death by keeping a part of the soul 'in the living' so to speak. That way the rest of the spirit could be recovered and embodied through other means.

To use a childish comparison, having a horcrux was like touching 'Safe'. Or, to use a better expression, it was like an old fashioned diving helmet, one with its own tube going back up to the surface. The person could enter the water (or, with a horcrux die), yet still breathe because of that connection to the surface (life). And it was a trivial effort to haul them back out by that attached connection.

And you could use such a helmet again and again. It wasn't used up by this.

So it was vitally important the kids get to and remove those if they wanted this little war to end in their favor. But the security on that room was far more modern than on the nearly-forgotten vaults. It made the Headmaster's office look tame - and that was a place Harry had not yet dared to venture.

Regardless, they'd come up with something. They had to. But it might take a bit of work thinking over the problem, as this wasn't something they could approach with just cards... well, maybe they could. But a failed attempt would be worse than no attempt at all, as that would only serve to put Dumbledore on guard, and that would make things harder.

The real trouble there was their Potions Professor didn't know most of the security around that room - and KNEW he didn't know it. Although, Harry did pick up countless useful insights into the spying methods used at Hogwarts, including one rather special trip down memory lane where Snape had reported theft of his potions stocks, and the pair of pureblooded wizards had come to the conclusion they had been infiltrated by agents of Colonel Sanders.

That was funny, and could be useful. The fact that Dumbles used Watch Skulls was informative too.

Knowledge of security methods used, as well as a fair degree of placement of same, counted for most of the battle in avoiding their attention; although it scared Harry more than a bit at just how extensive those spy nets were.

Regardless, they had to continue, and part of that was this last edition of the Prophet, for which Harry decided to make Snape's contributions another leading article - confessions of Dumbledore's right hand man on murders he'd committed and so on. It was going to be another multi-page feature article.

That ought to smart. When it hit, public opinion of the two ought to drop like rocks. And it deserved to.

Not surprisingly, Snape proved to have a wealth of knowledge regarding Dumbledore's many secrets. But Filch did as well, when Harry got around to checking that bitter man. The angry caretaker had been involved in countless cover ups over the years, and knew where the bodies were buried - in some cases quite literally.

Dumbledore himself was too canny and powerful at the mind arts to check, so Harry didn't bother. However, most of the other teachers knew bits of the puzzle that was Dumbledore's private life. By themselves, those pieces were nothing of consequence, or slightly odd but not disturbing. Once added to the rest of the picture, however, they became downright shocking.

Food for companion articles, if nothing else.

Luna, Sybil and Trelawney were all engaged full time converting the mess of plots and memories Harry uncovered into usable articles, writing at desks Trelawney had grown for that purpose. Oh, and the dryad had taken this opportunity to filch all of Harry's books too. He was too busy to ask why.

What shocked him most, but shouldn't have, was the depths to which Minerva McGonagall and Professor Hagrid had been engaged in supporting the Dark Ravenclaw. Minerva had been engaged in no small number of cover ups of school affairs, like diverted tuition and such, while Hagrid had been a 'fetch and carry man' for Dumbledore over countless schemes. What was odd was how both maintained the illusion that it was all For The Greater Good.

Both still firmly believed Dumbledore was a great and good man, something that blew the minds of Harry and his friends as they went over the material discovered from those two minds. Harry suspected both had something of an unwillingness to see real problems with the man they trusted so much, and he resented that, but couldn't change it.

The next Daily Prophet might though.

They snuck into the newspaper office right after closing, as they needed all the time they could get for resetting the type from what the editors and Dumbledore had wanted to print (one that defended Dumbledore rigorously, and contained retractions of everything bad they'd said the previous day) to this new edition, which did far more damage to him than the one before.

Luckily, Luna knew all of the spells for resetting type and running a press.

Harry set some extra wards so the print staff would be disabled when they came back, so they couldn't interrupt the new paper printing, and the teens began to compose the most sensational magical newspaper of all time.

They had so much to include the Last Edition of the Daily Prophet was going to come out as a small book, and that was crammed as tightly as they could get it, and only summarizing the worst of it. The newspaper would be as thick as the largest muggle editions, almost beyond the ability of owls to carry.

The full details of everything they'd learned about the man were out of the question. It would fill an encyclopedia set and then some. They hadn't finished processing it yet themselves.

Things got so Harry was considering dropping some sections so they could make certain to print the most vital ones. However, when he suggested they didn't need the Draco as Murderer article as much...

Luna's face clouded over in anger. "I must insist we destroy Draco. He tried to murder me. I cannot just ignore that!"

"Agreed." Harry was a little stunned, having never seen her angry before.

By way of apology, he added, "It's just... sooner or later, we're going to have to destroy the Twinkling Tyrant of Hogwarts, as well as Voldieburger and his band of fries. I thought it best to focus on them for now."

Luna smiled and kissed him on the nose. "Of course, Harry. Just don't neglect the enemy pawns, for any one of them could become a queen."

"Yes Darling."

Hermione giggled. "And now we have a name we can refer to Dumbledore with in the entire edition - The Twinkling Tyrant. I'll bet we can have the entire magical world using it by morning."

"All Dark Lords need their 'doing business as' titles," Luna agreed demurely.

So the Draco article got included, plus photo. It even got expanded to include a made-up story about how Luna had been rescued by her fiance, who'd been out doing some late night flying on the Quidditch pitch and seen her fall, then saved her in time - as one might expect so brilliant a Seeker to do!

Printing the truth would've worked, but it also would've exposed how she had really survived. And if your enemy knows your defenses he can work around them. So, depriving Draco of tactical data like 'throwing her off tall objects isn't going to work' they could hopefully frustrate any further attempts.

In the end, they decided two owls could carry each paper, and simply make multiple trips to get the papers out to their full circulation base. Hogwarts and the Ministry would naturally be LAST to get their copies, as those were the people most likely to warn Dumbledore of what was going on.

And that freedom to grow as large as they wanted within the limits of a newspaper allowed them to include extras that would otherwise have been neglected, but that really could be appreciated by certain parties.

On hearing of his belief that Colonel Sanders was behind some of his recent setbacks, a giggling Hermione suggested they run an ad in the personals section: Chicken seeks worm and spider for dinner engagement.

Let Dumbledore think Colonel Sanders had destroyed the Daily Prophet.

Luna and Harry liked it, as it pointed attention away from their antics and put the blame on a muggle who didn't exist anymore. Any attention spent by Dumbles on false targets was not being used to hit his real enemies - them.

Speaking of real targets, Luna reminded and they included the true story of the origin and rise of Tom Riddle, aka, Lord Voldemort - including the fact that this halfblood had personally executed the last pureblooded heir to the Slytherin line. No reason not to destroy his power base at the same time.

One of the last things they did in composing this landmark edition was to title the paper with a headline: Must Read! (which was their sneaky way of getting the magical public to peruse the entire thing, as the headline itself was a subliminal command most people would follow).

In the end, after having used their entire spun back day collecting articles then working the press all through the night, they were ready.

Regretfully, they'd had to use wand magic to get all the work done, and wand use was something Dumbledore was disturbingly accurate at tracking and identifying. So, in response, Harry got a few dozens sticks of TNT along with chemical fuses. They put those in junked cars that he'd collected from a scrap yard, shrunk and carried in to the press building, then placed where the printing press HAD been before they'd shrunken and stolen it... and all the unused paper, ink, and anything else they could find in that workroom that related to printing newspapers, or anything else for that matter.

Hermione wanted her textbooks, so they stole all of the component pieces of the printing art from that place for her new project.

"Why are you dosing the delivery owls with a mild sleeping potion?" Luna asked as Harry was just finishing up.

He grinned for her. "This paper has, on occasion, been late. Frankly, it won't raise too many eyebrows if the 'morning' paper wasn't delivered until early afternoon. I just want to put off post it mid to late morning so I have time for one last vote in the Wizengamot. This edition is going to create a MASSIVE stir, and there is one thing I'd like those geezers to do before their attention gets diverted away from 'Poor Harry Potter'."

Luna thought about it a moment before nodding, then asked sweetly, "I have to wonder if Giant Squid is the sort of animal that Harry Potter might decide to raise."

"Well, yes," Harry responded with a knowing grin. "In fact, let's go there next. I can make a portkey, and have a lake on my family property I'm sure it'll enjoy. I already looked it up, and Dumbledore's family never established any kind of legal ownership of the beast. It's not registered as theirs. So if I happen to find and collect it there's nothing he can legally do - although I'm going to keep it on a Fideliused property all the same, just in case."

"Are the explosives all set?" Hermione asked nervously.

Harry nodded. "Chemical timers. Plus I altered the wards so anyone coming in who DOESN'T set off the old wards will set off my new ones and that will trigger the bombs. One big blast, in what you'll note is a shielded room that shouldn't hurt anybody, and all that'll be left is metal scrap. Maybe he won't be able to identify us by our wand magic after the explosive goes off, but I don't know. We can hope though."

"Do we have to worry about the newspaper staff?" she asked in concern.

Harry's smile broadened in delight. "No. As part of his 'cleanup' yesterday Dumbles gave everyone except the print workers the day off to think about how much they'd upset him, and to sweat and wonder if they were coming back to their old jobs or not. The only people we have to worry about are the actual printers, and I was going to go visit all of their houses and stun them so they won't be in today. That way nobody should bother this place until the papers are delivered, and the bomb has gone off."

Hermione sucked in her bottom lip. "Too chancy. You leave behind too many wand traces that way. Even if he can't detect us by our traces left here, all he'd have to do is go to one of those many houses to see who stunned them."

Harry blinked in shock, admitting, "You're right. I hadn't thought of that."

"What we should do is move the owls and papers to another building so that even if something goes wrong, those still get delivered," the bookworm advised. "Then set off the bombs here before anyone is to arrive."

"Easy to do," Luna demurely supplied. "The owls obey orders. All we must do is send them with the papers to a place of our choosing, with orders to send out them like regular at a time of our choosing. But what place shall we use?"

Harry grinned. "You know, there's a KFC not far from here... One temporarily closed for renovations..."

Both the girls grinned wickedly.

I I I

In the early morning light Harry crept invisibly into the Great Hall, rushing directly up to the chair of the Headmaster. Quickly and efficiently, using a knife of living silver gotten from the LeStrange vaults, he cut the wooden legs so they would collapse outward the moment someone sat in the chair, dropping them straight down. Then he bored a hole in the center of the seat from the bottom up, leaving the wood on top on paper thin. Then, taking out of his pouch a muggle pipe sharpened on one end so it came to a wicked point and coated in tebo grease so it would be invisible for a few hours, he set it up on its stand so it fit directly under the nearly-through hole.

After that, Harry screwed a premade device to the bottom of the table, also coated in tebo grease, then scurried out of there as fast as he could go.

At breakfast that morning, not two hours later, Dumbledore greeted his staff on his way to that chair as usual, and sat down. The legs immediately fell away, dropping Dumbledore straight onto that spike, which penetrated the paper thin layer of remaining wood without pause and buried itself a full two feet into his guts. Triggered by the chair's collapse, two scythe blades sprang out from under the table and carved the Headmaster's chest in half, going right through the heart and slicing off both his arms in the process.

So he died. He died rather quickly, actually. Unfortunately, Snape was there to cover it up, collect all the parts, Obliviate staff and students, destroy all the evidence, and drag the Headmaster off to where he could be revived.

Unfortunately for Snape, he'd incinerated the devices and vanished the ashes to dispose of the evidence rather than try to explain the trap to a recently Obliviated staff. So he didn't know, because he hadn't examined it, that the pipe had actually served a dual purpose, not just to drive a few feet of metal into Dumbledore's guts, but to serve as a muggle syringe of sorts, injecting a full quart of malaclaw venom into those so recently perforated guts - enough venom to equal dozens of bites. And this venom was part of Dumbledore's body when the Headmaster got raised by his servant, so it remained in him.

But nobody there was thinking about the delayed paper, or that Harry had left the castle wards to go call a meeting of the Wizengamot again.

I I I

"Well now who looks like the cat that ate the canary?" Hermione teased as Harry rejoined them just after the hubbub caused during breakfast was dying down. "How did the vote go?" she whispered.

"I got exactly what I wanted," he told her smugly.

"And what was that?" Luna blinked.

"A tiny measure of freedom, as much as I could trick them into giving me, anyway," he responded, in low tones that could not be overheard.

"People are still talking about 'the slap heard 'round the Great Hall'!" Luna gloated in a more normal voice, changing the topic.

They chuckled, and Harry began filling up his plate, seeing as how Dumbledore had been indisposed and the teachers too flustered to ordered the tables cleared yet.

Shortly after, they split up to go to their classes.

I I I

The Wizengamot was just breaking up after some early morning business when the daily paper arrived. Most were shocked at the sheer size of it, and the title of 'Must Read' indeed sat them back down to peruse it, and as they did the atmosphere of that room suddenly underwent a change as though a dementor had entered those chambers.

It was too silent to be called an explosion. Besides, the magic of the many multiple redundant compulsion charms kept them reading long after they would have stopped. So there was no ranting, raving, denials or shouting, despite how much many of those members wanted to.

However, their reactions may have been more intense because they were denied those easy outlets.

Faces paled in stark terror as plot after plot got revealed. Hands shook where they gripped papers as those schemes unfolded. No horror novel had ever caused such reactions. Depictions of medieval atrocities of the work of Nazi death camps had never been more shocking to their witnesses as their illusions and self-delusions got stripped away.

It was like learning that Santa Claus did not dwell on the North Pole, but on a mountain of skulls in a castle of pain and sat on a throne of blood, feasting on small babies and torturing the souls of the innocent to fuel his sleigh.

And, minus some specifics such as the sleigh and red suit, that's almost exactly what it was. No one had been more beloved than Dumbledore, and so it was not possible to measure the depths of his betrayal.

And because of the magics worked into those papers, it was not possible for most people to disbelieve them as the tales of treachery unfolded.

Conversations stopped among those lucky few who had not subscribed to the paper, and they watched first in puzzlement, then in growing amazement, and finally in alarm as the horror of their reading brethren deepened and deepened. Pitiful wails began to emerge, croaking forth from the trembling lips of those whose eyes remained stuck to those papers.

Seeing those headlines for themselves, many of those who had not gotten papers began to go out to find copies of their own to read.

Horror changed to terror as people continued to read, and read, and read. It didn't seem like there was any end to the deviltry exposed. One they had, almost to a man, viewed as the epitome of all that was good in the magical world instead proved to be guilty of worse horrors than Voldemort. And not just a little here or there, but on a continual basis.

Shrieks of terror began as reactions overcame their normal habits, but did not stop their reading. People stood up, still reading, and trembled like leaves in a hurricane unable to tear their eyes from their papers. More than a few members of that august body collapsed, a few in heart attacks, the rest in shock, as the scandals exposed just grew in depth and complexity.

There didn't seem to be any END to them!!

Finally some of the quickest readers finished out those tales of horror, dread and putrid intrigue. Then the vomiting, shouting and ravings began.

Out in houses and homes across magical Britain, husbands already cradled collapsed wives. Children shocked to their cores gazed off in silent dread. Drinks got spilled and breakfasts ruined.

Then the frantic calls to the Ministry began.

The reaction was much the same overseas, where in Ministry after Ministry the august personages governing wizarding Europe stopped what they were doing in wonder as a couple members of those bodies got Daily Prophets and followed much the same patterns as those in Britain.

One member in Brussels, a veteran of wars against Grindelwald, calmly finished his paper, then rose and proposed, to the shock and astonishment of all, a measure to declare war on Britain.

I I I

Author's Notes:

I don't mean to disappoint anyone, but unfortunately this is not the end for Albus Dumbledore. This'll hurt him, but it just won't shut him down (sadly). Because you do not accumulate power for so long only to have it taken away so easily. Dumbledore is a genius who has been deceiving and controlling his world for years. You do not get there without containment strategies for any catastrophes that befall you.

The fear and hate of virtually the entire magical world did not stop Voldy from controlling them in the last book. Nor will it stop Dumbles.

Now, that said, they will destroy him, and this IS one blow on that long road. But I fancy this Dumbledore to be a more epic villain than Voldemort ever was, and Rowling spent seven novels bringing that guy down.

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