Partially Kissed Hero
Chapter One Hundred and Three
by Jared Ornstead
I I I
"Ok, I've got to admit, the benefits of serving Potter over Voldemort are far better," Tracy quipped, levitating out a basket filled with priceless jewels. "Not like that's any surprise."
"I'd take this over hiding out in a leaky tent any day," Astoria agreed, carrying her own baskets of jewels magically along through the air behind her. "Not to mention the threat of random Crucios and rape-by-purebloods."
"Yeah, working for the dark lord was nothing like how Draco and the others described it," Daphne agreed, pushing along an animated mine cart filled almost to the breaking point with golden coins, smirking down at the fortune, in value greater than her trust vault had been, and her parents had not been stingy. While she was not a sole heir like Potter had been, the Greengrasses were not paupers, either.
As they entered one of those areas where the tunnel was lit by sunlight from a section of ceiling enchanted by Harry, the coins began glinting under the roof light, and she added, "Then again, this is not how I pictured my first day on the job, working for Potter, either."
The trio of Slytherin girls passed a few dozen of their classmates going in the other direction, back into the treasure trove. They were all part of a giant conga line of witches and wizards helping to clear out one of the latest storehouses to be opened. Hundred of people walking in, picking up a load of loot, then carrying it out to a sufficient distance to get clear of the anti-portkey wards, where other parties of witches and wizards waited, busily making portkeys to move the loot away.
All of their pockets were filled with choice bits, of course, shrunken to make room for more, to the point where their robes sagged and the gems and jewelry they'd secreted about their persons rattled as they moved.
And Potter, who'd seen them all like this, just smirked, like he hadn't even seemed to MIND!
It was enough to cause a Slytherin girl's heart to flutter.
"Yes, but he's not just Potter anymore, is he?" Astoria twinkled, meaning, of course, that they all owed him Life Debts now, and they knew it. They'd been sent on a suicidal charge against his walls, and he'd spared their lives. Since those he *hadn't* spared had died, that Life Debt was pretty clear.
Tracy shivered, the jewelry she'd shoved in her bodice tinkling as she did so, thinking of something else entirely. "Yeah! Coming to his mansion was the biggest shock of my life! Who'd have imagined those Boy-Who-Lived books were all REAL!"
Daphne shivered herself, although for an entirely different reason. Licking her lips, she replied, "He certainly did a bang up job of hiding that, these past few years."
VERY Slytherin, though no one present mentioned that aloud. Yet.
"Yeah. But when you think about it, the disguise slipped a few times," Tracy told her close friend, as they all pushed their loads of treasures along the corridor in and among the line of other witches and wizards doing so. "I mean, we all heard those rumors of a basilisk, and that troll, and some other things. It's clear now, looking back on it, he was still having those adventures at Hogwarts."
"Yeah," Daphne sighed, wishing she'd been taken on them with him, like in some of those books. "It's obvious looking back on it, really."
"You know," Astoria whispered, totally serious, "I'm starting to wonder, sometimes, if we haven't been Obliviated."
Daphne and Tracy's attention riveted on her at once, so Astoria sheepishly continued providing information on her theory, shrinking in on herself a little under the older Slytherin's stares. "Well, you've all seen him, how he reacts to us. He treats us like old friends. He's even TALKED about those old adventures we've supposedly been on like they were real! Not to mention how quickly and automatically..."
"... we obey whenever he calls our names," Tracy finished for her in wonder, having been puzzled over that fact herself.
Daphne drew in a big breath and blew it out, fluttering her bangs as her worldview shifted just a bit. "Okay, we've got to agree that it's possible."
Just then a dozen wrackspurts raced on past. Streams of the Dalmatian-like creatures had been patrolling all over, down here, detecting monsters.
It was far safer when the werewolves or left over vampires or whatever could not sneak up on you, and there had been some surprisingly foul critters employed as guardians down here. Wrackspurt patrols had already proved themselves dozens of times over, and everyone felt safer with them down here, as there were enough of them if a dementor or some other foul creature came sneaking up on you, you knew about it before the thing was close enough to be a real danger.
Shortly after the wrackspurts darted into a shadowy section of tunnel, barking from down the corridor told everyone that another foul monster had been revealed, trying to sneak up on the column of treasure movers. Several adults, including the Potter parents, rushed off in response.
The trio of Slytherin girls passed out of one area of light and came around a corner in the rough-hewn corridor, and as they rounded the bend of jagged, dark grey stone they stood in shadow looking up into another semi-distant area of light, and looking up came upon a scene of Harry standing behind his blushing best school friend. Realization came flooding to the trio of watchers as they noticed where his hands were, having snuck up under the bookworm's skirt on the outsides of her legs, apparently taking advantage of the moment of his parent's absence to steal Hermione's underwear.
"No way!" Astoria breathed in awe, her voice both intense and quiet, reflecting both her need to squeal aloud over this, and not interrupt.
"We shouldn't be watching this!" Tracy whirled around so her back was toward the couple.
"But, this is like, a Potter family ritual!" Astoria breathed, again both intense and quiet so she seemed both loud and soft at the same time as her eyes grew round over the scene occurring before her. "They're not *really* engaged until he steals her knickers!"
"Really?" Tracy glanced aside to judge how serious Astoria was by her face.
She was dead serious.
"Uh huh," Daphne's younger sister breathed, feeling both a little shy and very envious. A little guilty over watching this, too, but no way was she going to look away. "All of the dryads have been talking about this. So far the only person whose knickers he's stolen was Lovegood. So this is like a MAJOR deal!"
"Really?" Tracy repeated, glancing now over her shoulder to where Harry's hands had risen to the level of Hermione's hips underneath her skirt, and while the Gryffindor girl was blushing up a storm, she wasn't saying a thing to stop the slow and steady advance of those hands as they committed a slow and sexy case of direct knicker-theft.
"Uh huh," Astoria repeated, really impressed they got to watch this. "Some guys will get down on their knees and give you a ring. Potter men steal your knickers, but it means the same thing."
Daphne, who had been both watching the developing scene and listening to her sister divulge knowledge about its significance, heard this last part and had a very Slytherin moment. Drawing her wand, she very quickly cast a spell.
"What did you do?" Tracy hissed insistently, having caught the tail edge of that spell, while Astoria's gaze had been captured by the sight of Harry's hands now delicately slipping the pair of knickers down off Hermione's legs.
"Wait for it," Daphne beamed smugly.
Hermione stepped out of the panties as Harry at last rolled them off, and Astoria had to shove a fist inside her mouth to avoid her squeal of glee from interrupting this romantic moment for the couple.
Just as Harry tucked the pair of knickers into his breast pocket, Daphne whispered some hasty instructions to Tracy, then stepped out into the light, saying smugly, "Nice moves there, Potter. But you might want to look at the name sewn into the waistband of that pair of knickers you've stolen."
Harry whipped the pair of wet panties out of his pocket, and saw they were both Slytherin green, and had the name Daphne Greengrass sewn into them.
Daphne lifted her skirt to show the couple she was wearing Hermione's knickers, and declared. "I cast a switching spell, trading Hermione's panties for mine. Now you've stolen mine, but you know where to get hers!"
Daphne dropped her skirt hem and posed invitingly.
Astoria's jaw was scraping rock dust from off of the the uneven tunnel floor below their feet over her sister's audacity. But her eyes nearly fell out of their sockets when, after trading a glance with Hermione, Harry actually went for it! He began advancing on her, an intense look in his green eyes.
Tracy cast a spell, then leaned in to whisper to Astoria. "Well, if you want the Gryff, now's your chance. I've already just switched with Daph, so after he steals mine from her, if you want to be next, you know what to do."
Astoria's eyes grew rounder than ought to have been possible in her small face. Getting what they were suggesting was easy, as Harry was after Hermione's knickers, but already two Slytherin girls had worked switching spells so he would steal theirs instead.
So did she want to be third?
Let's see, handsome, powerful, wealthy, already owed him a Life Debt...
Somewhere, Susan Bones and Hannah Abbot shivered, and did not know why.
I I I
Trelawney was a dryad.
That meant many things to her and to others. However, it went one step further, in that she was a dryad in love (although her intended was being annoying chaste), and that meant many more.
Like most other women who have chosen her man, that meant she wanted to be close to him. Unlike most mortal women, she had options not available to just anyone.
Wood from her tree was as much a part of her as her skin. Back when they were all very new to this and Trelawney was a new dryad she had stolen away furniture Harry had bought for himself to replace with her own because she wanted his things to be parts of her, so she could be close to him.
It was a female thing. Hermione understood her totally.
For Trelawney this was deliciously naughty, because when Harry slept in a bed made out of her wood she was, in effect, sleeping with him, and got an all-night cuddle effect without anyone being the wiser. And having him open a drawer to reach for his socks in a chest she'd made out of her wood was like holding her hand.
Better still was when he used her wooden brush to comb his hair, every stroke a caress, and him sitting down to work at a desk she'd made for him was 'together time' as far as she was concerned.
She got more time with her guy just by replacing his furniture than most mortal women could have imagined. Her wood serving as his wand would have been the ultimate expression of this, as most wizards were never without it.
And if she'd been a wandcrafter that would have worked. But that scheme failing hadn't stopped her. What the crew hadn't known at the time was for Trelawney a mere bedroom set hadn't been enough, and she hadn't stopped with the furniture Harry'd bought himself, but hurried off to the Potter house in Godric's Hollow, where she had then proceeded to rebuild the house and refurnish it entirely out of her own materials, giggling in glee over the contact she'd have with him once he finally moved in to his family home.
That was all fine and dandy, only Trelawney wasn't his only dryad anymore.
They'd all want to be pulling the same trick as her, and that would reduce her near-constant presence to a mere fraction. Fortunately, immediately after that problem became apparent, thanks to the miracle of time travel, they'd had about thirty years to fix it, including the direct help of the Fairy Queen, who was immeasurably amused by their request.
The answer was what they called, appropriately enough, 'Hundred Dryad Wood'. Although for perfect accuracy it really ought to be called 'One Hundred And Two Dryad Wood' that just didn't roll off the tongue as easily.
Simply, each dryad created, out of her own wood, exact duplicates of all of the objects, furniture, houses, etc, they would give to Harry, then magically combined them using fairy magic so rather than a hundred copies of each object he got one of each, but sharing all of their essences.
The final product was so rich with magic it was scarcely believable, yet that was not the point of their design. They were produced with the sole purpose of gifting each dryad with the maximum Harry time possible, by not dividing the wood contact he gave through a hundred and two of them. Because if he had a hundred and two beds, or desks, or dressers, then he wouldn't spend much time with any of them. However, if all of his dryads got to enjoy every moment he spent with any wooden object as though she was spending it with him, then you got a large number of very happy dryads.
Which was the point.
An expansion of this whole concept was when Trelawney also stole his books so she could remake them on her own paper, made from parts of herself so it would count as even more 'together time' when he read them. However, no sooner had she begun this than they had the same thirty years from the same time warp to go over Harry's library even more carefully.
She could have just reprinted the library he'd had, only on their own hundred dryad paper. But Dryad Pince, the Hogwarts Librarian, had offered the idea that, while they were at it, they might as well improve them.
After all, Harry's core of dryads was, by design, absolutely chock full of experts. And most of them had the experience to know when those books were wrong about something, or know useful tidbits that hadn't been printed.
So while they were at it, they decided to improve Harry's collection. After all, as Madam Pince had reasoned, there was little point in giving Harry books he'd later upgrade or replace with better versions (leaving those parts of his poor dryads languishing on a shelf somewhere) so since they did not want him to discard their books should he later upgrade to better ones they decided to go one step more and do what they could so there *were* no better ones!
So they had the creatures of the forest edit those books for accuracy.
Countless dryads and small fairies endlessly corrected the herbology texts until they had a 250 volume encyclopedia set on magical plants. Merfolk then provided another 50 volume set covering only underwater varieties. An even greater work was done covering the nonmagical sea life that would have had mundane botanists frothing at the mouth with envy, if only they knew of it.
Herbology taken care of to a greater extent than it had ever been done before among the magical peoples, she then had most species edit their own entries in the magical creatures texts, some writing small books about their race. Then she had the neighbors and allies of those races write more about them, to get the outsider perspective, and include things the race itself might not think to say, and creating such an authoritative, comprehensive whole that a race might learn more about itself from readings its own entry than it had learned in a lifetime of being that race.
So, of course, she had a set done on witches and wizards, too.
Things kind of snowballed from there.
The centaurs edited the works on astronomy, divination and healing, even writing a few books on archery. Other species did similar work on subjects they were well versed in, providing more fodder to the growing library.
Dwarven works on metallurgy, architecture and smithing were kind of short on details, seeing as how Harry's dwarven allies were only now recovering those formerly lost arts of theirs themselves. But it was a start, and got included.
Inevitably, as Trelawney got busy with space or other projects, it was Pince who took over the project of expanding Harry's library. And, as she'd had more time to think on this than Trelawney, took this in a new direction.
After all, if Harry were going to be learning from these books, the one thing a girl wants her subject of interest to be expert on, more than any other, is her. She wants her love interest to understand her, and be absolutely expert at predicting her moods, and the only way to do that is to know so much about her that he knows her as well as he knows himself.
So she put dryads to work writing their own autobiographies, recording their mortal lives pre-dryad. An interesting help they got was they were doing this while nearly thirty years in their own pasts, so it was easy to go and record things they didn't exactly remember precisely.
Then, because while as useful as it was to a girl to record her thoughts and feelings, one perspective was still rarely enough, the helpful librarian also had another set of biographies written about each girl, one by her best friend, and one by a girl who was a stranger to her, to get three separate viewpoints so as to paint a more complete picture of who she was.
It was selfish, wanting him to understand them all like that, but knowing each other was the basis of a friendly and therefore solid relationship, and they got to spy on him as well.
So, while they were at it, they wrote the story of HIS life!
That turned out to be the most popular Boy-Who-Lived book ever, at least among the small and select clientele they shared it among.
Then, having gotten that far, they went about making a copy of the Daily Prophet printing press specially designed to help the reader auto-memorize books, so that Harry could learn about them quickly. Completeness was all very well and good, but they did have to acknowledge there were a lot of them they wanted their love interest to be close to, so saving him time was for the best, as it served for the purpose of avoiding hurt feelings.
Having begun with their own histories, it was a natural outgrowth to just record more of what was going on around them that was of interest.
The lives of Harry's parents, for example.
It was one thing for them to tell him, but there are just some things parents forget, or deliberately neglect to pass on to their children. So, in the interest of keeping them honest, the dryads also wrote biographies on them.
Then, after recording Potter family journals in that format, for fast and easy reading, so Harry could benefit from the tons of experience recorded there, plus their own observations and biographies, it seemed only logical that the next step should be the recording of the acts of Harry's enemies, so he could know more about them, so as to better predict what they'd do.
From that, they ended up writing the comprehensive history of Voldemort's First Rise to Power, and the war, and everything that entailed.
That, of course, got them interested back in their own security.
Seeing just how powerful the Headbastard was, the dryads couldn't exactly feel safe anywhere on Earth. Fortunately, they already had places prepared off of it to take refuge in.
So they set about expanding those.
The dryads even went so far as to build mansions for Harry to dwell in should he ever visit any of the fairy shrines seeded on other worlds. Knowing if they moved there for safety, it could easily be a final choice, they also had great crystal palaces constructed modeled after his greenhouse on Earth, although it was mostly for the purpose of having fresh supplies of potion ingredients on hand in those otherwise barren environments.
Not everything magical could be made from dryad trees, and, should they ever have to leave Earth long term, they did not also want to lose access to certain parts of their magic skills or available healing remedies.
Happily, the Potter family had vast interests in farming, and this was just an extension of that. The spells and experience were all there to make it work, and not just work, but do so splendidly.
Toward that end, they had also begun, in a limited fashion, magical creature farms on those other worlds. They had few living examples so far, along with petrified animals they didn't have the space to ranch yet.
Those animals could always be unpetrified later, when they had enough room for them. But until then they required no care or maintenance, and Harry's new basilisks made petrifying as many creatures as they wanted both cheap and easy.
So, until they needed the animals, they had statues.
Also, this had a pleasant side effect, in that there were plenty of magical creatures that were rare or dying out on Earth. Erumpents were one of the best examples of that, as the large beasts could easily be mistaken for rhinos, and rhinos themselves were dying out. There were no magical ranches for them, per se, but the two leading causes for the race's decline, poaching and the males' tendency to explode each other during the mating season, were both easily dealt with when they were in a garden on another planet.
In the first place, unscrupulous wizards getting there to poach the beasts for their valuable horns or exploding fluid was next to impossible, and for the second, the males only exploded each other when fighting over females, and that was easily dealt with the same way Draco had been, by applying gender changing rituals on the young calves.
One or two petrified adult males meant you always had a backup in place in case something happened to a herd's stallion. After that, extra males served no purpose except being culled for their valuable horns and other ingredients, just like was the case with lots of other species of cattle.
However, since they didn't really need to be harvesting those ingredients yet, and herds expanded faster the more females were there, ready and available to bear calves, a quick application of those same potions little Draca had dreamed up for quick breeding of pureblood heirs, and they could take an endangered magical species from the verge of extinction and make it as common as beef cattle.
Theoretically, of course. The fairy shrines didn't have that much room for the creatures to spread out in yet, but the dryads didn't have all that many erumpents to start with either, and the race reproduced slowly. However, initial farming efforts were going quite well.
And that was not the only rare, yet valuable and wonderful magical species they planned to grow in quantity up in their off-planet sanctuaries.
Common fairies were an obvious choice, as they took next to no room, and, away from poaching wizards or their natural predators, could reproduce quite quickly in all of their varieties. Also, though common fairies were small, the more fairy creatures of any kind they had in existence, the stronger the Fairy Queen became, and she'd been quite a help to them.
Larger creatures were more problematic, especially on Earth where not even Harry's vast land holdings could afford him much ability to grow them there.
Dragons were the prime example of that, as the massive creatures required so much room keeping them secret was a great burden, and so only done on select preserves. And the number of dragon reservations was not high.
Harry could afford to keep a handful of dragons, and had inherited that one subterranean dragon farm the Blacks and Malfoys had collaborated upon. But even that was a small scale operation, and demand for dragon products was vast among the magical communities. Even the dryads could and would gladly make use of a hundred times more dragon products than the current market had available.
Still, despite that, they had high hopes for them on their fairy farms in space. All they had to do was expand their dryad forests to get more livable terrain, and until they had the space to raise dragons, they could keep sets of breeding pairs petrified as statues, ready and available to increase the race the moment they had enough room for them.
And to fit all of those grand plans, they began seeding new forests of their own dryad trees as quickly as possible.
I I I
Not much to say, just glad to be back and glad to have you all reading. Thanks for the responses, as well.