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.


36. Chapter Thirty-Six


"Harry, I thought you said slow was best for doing this?"

Harry chuckled. "And I thought you told me how my tactical knowledge was flawed? Perhaps it's time to be bold, like a Gryffindor, instead of sly like a snake - even if only for one day."

"Why only one day?" Her nose wrinkled in confusion.

Luna laughed with a sound like tinkling bells. "Hermione, perhaps you were a bit too accurate with your assumption that Dumbledore is like you in that you both need some quiet time in between emergencies to gather your thoughts. Don't you remember? We spun back, so this is the day the Prophet came out, so the wizarding world is in chaos."

While Hermione gaped an 'Oh' of realization, Harry nodded firmly. "So people who ought to be watching monitors in the Ministry aren't. Nobody has time for normal operations today, what with the Head of the Wizengamot invading those chambers and taking control of everyone in the Ministry by force. So if we sound a few alarms today... nobody will even notice."

Together they moved on to the next door.

Godric's Hollow was a small and sleepy village, a tiny hamlet not much more than a wide spot in a road, lost in the Greater English Countryside. Only a handful of magical families lived there, the rest were muggles who worked in a handful of shops. Too far from anything major to serve as a bedroom community, conditions too poor to make for good farming, it was one of those places where young people moved out of to find opportunity, and when aged moved back to for the peace and quiet. A sleepy retirement community of a hundred or so souls that remained virtually unchanged for centuries.

Harry was buying it all up in the space of about an hour, using a combination of Legilimency to find out people's reasons for living there and filling those as best he could elsewhere. Transplanting them in effect, using house elves to move muggle households nearly undisturbed, and conjured currency to pay them off with a little extra in all cases (actually quite generous. It didn't hurt him to conjure a hefty amount of padding to make their lives easier), and Confundus charms to help the moves go easier (letting the muggles believe they'd moved at a leisurely pace months ago. Or, they'd always lived here - in the new place).

In short, the muggles were all much better off after he'd moved them, with fewer bills, and just as content as before. A handful of other, similar sleepy retirement communities grew by a few households, and everyone forgot the muggle name of the wizarding town of Godric's Hollow.

Then it was time to set up charms to hide the area. Those were odd spells in that there both was and wasn't much call for them. On the one hand, most wizarding households had the basic set. The Weasley family home was not unusual in being obviously magical even from the outside, held up at crazy angles that only magic could sustain. Also, for the odd Quidditch stadium set up for large events, muggles had to be kept away.

But for large, permanent zones of 'muggles don't go here, and don't even realize it exists' there was not much call. A handful of muggle repelling wards and spells to make land unplottable served in most cases. Permanent land grabs, on the other hand, were comparatively rare. But, while the Ministry, which monitors those things, was going through an invasion by Dumbledore rushing through Obliviating everyone, it was the perfect time to do one.

Harry bought up everything he could in town, then for several miles in every direction to establish a buffer zone, then got to work.

Luckily, anti-muggle wards were among the most common in existence. Every student of warding started with them, as most magical households wanted them, and their businesses had to have them. So everyone who could cast the spells got plenty of practice with them - and even young Tom Riddle had seen no end of use for them, so Harry knew those spells inside and out.

Useful, because there were only a handful of people who could ward an area that size, and most of them were unapproachable for one reason or another. They couldn't ask Dumbledore to do the work for them, after all!

"The biggest problem is going to be obtaining proper wardstones," Harry declared. "I can cast spells big enough to cover the area, but they won't sustain themselves, and it's going to be awkward getting out from under Dumble's nose often enough to recast these wards on a regular basis."

"Couldn't we make our own stones?" Hermione asked gently.

Harry sighed. "You two couldn't, as it's all NEWT level Arithmancy and Runes for the simplest of them, beyond that on to specialist grade training for the better ones. I could, because Voldemort got that level of training as part of learning how to break through wards as well as he does. But each stone is a ton of work, and I couldn't do many given the concentration required, and the amount of stuff I'm already committed to."

He chuckled. "It makes me wish I could rob the Ministry right about now."

"Oh?" Both his friends raised their eyebrows.

"Uh huh," he nodded. "There are two ways to use wardstones, the careful and efficient one, and then the way the Ministry uses them." Harry waved his wand to conjure some muggle blocks. "Here, these make a good metaphor. With children's blocks you have the same two general ways to build tall. You can either heap them together in a pile," with a wave of his wand he did so, making a small yet compact mound as if someone had dumped out a chest of blocks. "Or you can carefully arrange them into a cohesive shape."

Another wave of his wand and the blocks arranged themselves into a model skyscraper, which he pointed to. "This is the good way. It functions, you get the most use out of every block, but it requires some forethought and skill. The wards around Hogwarts and Gringotts are done this way."

He chuckled. "But anyone who expects government to be efficient has never met it. And anyone who expects intelligent planning and rational behavior out of wizards doesn't know them. The wards around the Ministry started out like this," another gesture and most of the blocks vanished, leaving behind a small yet tidy structure. "But then they started adding on, and adding on, and someone needed a new department," with each phrase he added some more blocks to the existing structure, each one not quite fitting well with the last until it looked remarkably like the Weasley's Burrow.

The boy pointed to it. "But this isn't stable, and unlike houses you can't hold up an insane structure of spells using more spells, so it collapses," he waved his wand and the structure fell in on itself so the blocks were once again in an untidy pile. "Then everyone starts screaming about 'the emergency' of the wards failing, and before anyone has time to listen to an expert someone comes up with the grand idea of throwing more money at the problem - and that's ALWAYS government's favorite solution to every problem! So they buy a ton more ward stones to get things back up to where they were before."

One last wave of his wand, and a large number of blocks were added randomly atop the heap, making it taller, wider, yet more messy looking. Harry pointed to it with a grin. "This is the way the Ministry does their warding. It is neither efficient nor pretty, and requires a hundred times the ward stones of any other method for the same area covered, and it will always have more flaws. But they have money to burn and not a gram of sense on how to use it. So they add patches on top of patches on top of patches until this is what you get: an ugly, untidy, colossally expensive mess!"

He vanished the pile of blocks. "Besides, it gets somebody's cousin or uncle a ton of contracts for making more warding stones, and some of that money always gets lost along the way, sticking to the fingers of the government employees who sign the order forms."

Hermione saw through to his conclusion before he could state it. "But what it means to us is they have tons of this equipment heaped up there, top of the line everything as this IS government we're talking about, and..."

"With a little careful arrangement of what got left behind, they'd never miss enough to do our job here," Harry finished.

"Bollocks that!" Luna chirruped. "Let's just take it all! That way they get to happily deal with an emergency they can handle, some warding specialists get a well paying job, and it might upset Dumbledore! My grandmother can already bypass those wards there through those same flaws you mentioned. She'd lived there long enough to learn them intimately, after all."

The other two stared, amazed, as Luna hopped over to a nearby mirror and sprang inside of it to go ask her grandmother Alice for a favor - raiding the Ministry building again, this time taking the ward stones and runic amplifiers, and given those to the Fey Trio.

The remaining two were slack-jawed at her audacity.

As far as anyone in the wizarding world knew, someone stole the wards over the Ministry building on the same day as the Prophet Disaster, taking them entirely and leaving the heart of wizarding government helpless.

A nice, tidy emergency kept everyone focused, and Dumbledore tearing out the hair of his beard as a complete set of wards built up from scratch would not have the same weaknesses to prey upon, and he'd never been supposed to be solely in charge of the Ministry's wards - a precaution meant to stop exactly the kind of abusive behavior he'd just used them for.

Rebuilt new as a solid project rather than an infinite series of short-sighted expansions and adjustments, the Ministry's warding scheme would be sane and rational for a few generations - NOT something that it was easy to subvert unlawful control of!

That made blanking the minds of the Ministry again out of the question, as he could not risk an armed assault on an area whose wards he didn't control. It also made a high priority out of the difficult task of regaining that control.

On Harry's part, all sorts of Wonderland creatures began to deliver warding stones and runic amplifiers, all top of the line equipment as Hermione had guessed. Not about to look a gift horse in the mouth, Harry blanked out the previous programs of the ward stones and began setting them to support his own arrangement around Godric's Hollow, crafting the new scheme as best he knew how, including an awful lot of tricks vulturewart had picked up over the years he'd spent breaking through some of the best defended houses.

Even making it three layers deep, he had more wardstones and equipment delivered than he knew what to do with, so for now they just stored the rest.


The Fey Trio had agreed to continue their previous scheme of 'three days for one' as being a schedule they already knew how to keep; and it allowed them plenty of time to keep up the pressure on Dumbledore while at the same time pursuing other interests.

One day for looking normal, or normal enough (they'd still be getting extra study done, seeing the need they were under), one day building themselves or their resources up, and one day to bedevil and bewilder Dumbledore for every normal day seemed an appropriate mix to them.

They'd already had what they considered to be the 'normal' day of this set just by hanging around Hogwarts, directing a mass exodus of the students, faculty and staff in an ultimately failed retreat from Britain.

Apparently, it was worse luck for Dumbledore to get caught red-handed by an international audience subduing his escaping students by force than it would have been for those same refugees to merely get away.

Still, they'd had their normal day, normal enough for their purposes anyway.

The second day was, sadly enough, spent entirely just getting Godric's Hollow devoid of muggles and properly warded. They hadn't even had time to install anything other than a proper ward scheme. The village itself, which they had grand plans for, consisted now of a handful of empty shops and homes. The few wizarding families would doubtless have noticed something wrong soon, except Harry had the brilliant idea of letting Hermione spend the time that he was using to set up those wards reading that book on reversing Obliviation that had fallen on them from Dumbledore's tower.

The magical world had never yet found a spell that girl couldn't learn to cast. By the time the aurors and Ministry Obliviators had come and gone (the trio had hidden so as not to be caught up in this blitz) she was ready, and simply reversed the Obliviation of all of those magical families in Godric's Hollow.

With their memories restored, those families were rightly terrified of their government. Two elected to move out of the country, and Harry helped out by providing house elves to pack their stuff, muggle passports, clothes and currency, and offering to buy their houses if they so desired (giving them cash to get set up in those new countries).

The other magical families elected to stay, but were of the right frames of mind NOT to go ratting out other people to the government, in light of how little that government seemed to care about its subjects.

That made them the perfect core for the kind of magical town Harry wanted to build. But they'd run out of time. The real building projects would have to wait. For right now it was enough that what they'd already achieved seemed safe, for the short term at least.

That made this the day for bewildering Dumbledore by seeing what new fires they could start that he'd be forced to put out.


"The fun part about this," Harry spoke from the top of a combination harvester that was currently plowing through one of Dumbledore's fields, collecting grain and hay in the front, and with a rack of disks churning up the ground behind. "Is that this is fall - harvest time. But muggles harvest their crops early, getting food slightly unripe to maximize shelf life and durability. They call this 'shelf ripened'. But wizards harvest their crops later in the year to maximize flavor and nutritional value. This is called 'vine ripened'. So Dumbledore is a couple of weeks yet before noticing that the crops our world depends on him for have simply disappeared."

Luna was still examining the muggle contraption they were riding, that was borrowed (actually rented, Harry had conjured enough cash to pay off the farmer's loans on this machine. So it was loaned to them quite gladly) from a local muggle farmer.

The anti-muggle wards around farm properties under Dumbledore's control kept any of his muggle farming neighbors from even noticing the place. But if a witch or wizard wanted to drive in muggle equipment... well, there wasn't anything stopping them. The pretty blonde witch looked up to see the many such devices they had driven in and were now busy collecting Dumbledore's crops. Yes, this was trespassing, but the aurors were awfully busy today with more important things.

"You were right, Harry. Farms are too big to easily defend. The wards on this property were extremely light, and whatever alarms they are giving the ones who ought to be responding to them are too busy elsewhere."

Harry shrugged. "It's just an example of the same principle Voldemort used against my grandparents. Farms are big open spaces, and big open spaces are costly to defend adequately, so few people bother. Also, crops can be destroyed in a raid that lasts mere minutes, or stolen like this in a couple of hours, and it takes all year to grow them. So farms are easy targets."

Hermione had been looking out across the field to the adjoining orchards, where scores of House Elves Harry had hired away from Hogwarts were hard at work. "They seem to know their jobs quite well," the girl observed.

Harry felt mirth as he informed her, "That's because they do this every year. Part of Dumbledore's efforts to increase profits on all of the farms he's stolen were to fire all the human workers and use the elves of Hogwarts instead. It takes them a few minutes to move all of the students' luggage in or out of the castle, and that's one of the biggest tasks they have all year. So it is easy for him to get them to spare the time for harvest or planting."

"You said our world depends on him for food?" Hermione ventured, feeling uneasy about that.

"And that's the real beauty of it," Harry confirmed. "What the government gives, government can take away. Right now Dumbledore holds a complete monopoly on food production for the wizarding world. That's a stranglehold market. Everybody needs it every day. NONE of the stranglehold markets were intended to have been invested in a single family. Even wizards are able to notice what a bad idea THAT would be! So, by design, all of the stranglehold monopolies are split up among many families to prevent exactly the sort of manipulation and power mongering that Dumbledore is getting away with. By holding all the scattered parts of that vital monopoly himself, he is actually breaking the law. But he's Dumbledore, so no one cares. And even if they did he's disguised his control by holding them all through proxies."

Luna had begun nodding. "Only when he fails to deliver, they will suddenly care very much. So they will seek for who is responsible."

"And find Dumbledore," Harry concluded. "Those proxies he wields are pretty obvious to anyone who goes looking. He's the one who wields all the power, and he's the one collecting all the money. Even the most incompetent beings in the world, by which I mean to include Minister Fudge and most of those who work for him, are able to tell that on even the most cursory inspection. And though the Ministry may be a startling collection of incompetent morons, even morons care about what they're going to eat. And There Is No Food! Not even the Minister is blind enough to think starving voters are going to reelect him, or that they can be distracted from their gnawing bellies by good press or an article here or there. Something is going to have to be done!"

Hermione looked back toward the great bin on a trailer towed behind them where grain was collecting, suddenly having an epiphany. "And if one of those people Dumbledore has stolen the rights to their own monopoly from have a reasonable quantity of food available for sale..."

"That we'd been intending to sell on muggle markets, since we'd been blocked from all magical ones," Harry intruded for her.

Her grin threatened to split her face wide. "Then it would be simple for the Ministry of Magic to conclude the best fix for this problem would merely be to restore control of those stolen monopolies to their original owners!"

"And Dumbledore gets a great big swift kick in the pants." Harry nodded. "It is assumed that some amount of arm twisting and backroom politics are going to result out of any monopoly; people raising prices for their enemies or reducing supply to others if they're not appeased by return favors. That's standard wizarding politics, and a big part of why no stranglehold market is allowed to be an exclusive one. There's just too much power to abuse there. But even so, politicking like that has limits, and the standard punishment for getting out of line is removal of the monopolies you've been abusing. So the inertia of the magical world's traditional response is even in our favor here."

Luna was now peering closely at the dashboard of the harvester. "And that hurts him dearly, because all monopolies are granted with a certain amount of trust inherent in the one receiving them. Having one monopoly stripped away means that trust was damaged severely, and calls all other monopolies into question."

Harry smiled his agreement. "All monopolies are provisional on certain key factors. Quality must be upheld, or those who use your product will petition the government to move that monopoly over to someone who'd do a better job with it. Normally, unless you are doing a REALLY bad job, a few complaints of that nature can be ignored. All the Old Families are holders of monopolies, and they don't want them to be too easy to take away. So keeping one is a thousand times easier than getting one in the first place."

"But failure to deliver on set minimums of quality or quantity calls a monopoly into question." Luna smoothly purred. "Standards are set when a monopoly is granted, and failure to meet those can result in its removal."

"What we are getting to," Harry added. "Is that once there is no food Albus will lose his farming interests. Those will revert to their original holders, and both Potters, Longbottoms and Weasleys are on that list. Molly has always been eager for her children to get jobs at the Ministry because they'd lost all their own businesses - to learn that Albus had been holding control of one of them from her is going to call that family's loyalty to him into question." He grinned. "Not a major blow, but another small issue for him to deal with."

"But once Albus ALSO fails to deliver on his next ink shipments," Luna stood up with a 'cat caught the canary' look. "The 'pump will already have been primed' so to speak, to take that monopoly away also. And if he then fails to deliver on that magical newspaper only he is allowed to print..."

"His economic empire could crumble to ruins around him," Harry concluded.

"That could distract him," Hermione agreed, impressed. "If you take out some of his support base, he gets weaker. If Hitler couldn't produce tanks, he'd have been weaker. He wouldn't have lost everything. But he's weaker. And that weakness could later contribute to a full demise."

"It will take an enormous amount of work to stop that destruction from happening," Luna agreed firmly. "And the man is already quite busy."

Harry was nodding gleefully, rubbing his hands together. "Oh! This goes so much farther beyond that, though! Did you know that Dumbledore holds the contracts for food delivery to the Royal Family and British Government? The quality of vine ripened food, stabilized by magic so it ships well, is able to trounce all competition. It's also fully organic, by muggle standards. So he had the best product, and with a few spells to ease over any complications and cause any awkward questions not to be asked, or the people asking them to believe they got the answers they wanted, he sewed that up. But as the supplier of food to the Queen and muggle government, Albus was able to lace those with potions that don't show up on muggle tests, or spells as he chose, and gradually turn the muggle government into his puppet show. Mostly he ignores them. To him, they're just another resource to hold secret in case of an emergency. But the moment they're not eating food whose ingredients were all supplied by him, that control begins to wane."

"Making this not a small fire," Luna smiled triumphantly. "But a major one."

"And the more the Headmaster is running around dealing with emergencies and not able to think, the less effort he is able to put toward investigating us, and the more secure we are." Hermione grinned in triumph also.

"The man is a master of subtlety. We've probably already left him enough clues to identify us." Harry agreed. "Or at least start an investigation that would eventually reveal us. But until he gets time to sit down and put those clues together and think things through so he knows where to start that investigation, we're as safe as we're going to get."


Author's Notes:

So, yes, Harry now has everything he needs for a magical village save for people and buildings. And he's about to be getting his farms back.

Isn't that nice?

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