I welcome one and all to the first chapter of my response fic! Since only a few people have told me which of my story ideas they would prefer to see, I'm going to be posting both of them for a couple of weeks and judge which, if either, is being enjoyed more. This will (hopefully) be funny and happy, so please enjoy.
Disclaimer: Did Harry choose one girl at the end, and one of the worst available at that? If so, I don't own the Harry Potter franchise; it belongs to J.K. Rowling, Scholastic Press, Warner Bros., and whoever else she sold the rights to.
"No means no."
"Come on, Harry. Pleeease?" begged a blonde woman, her silver eyes glistening with tears as she gazed into Harry's emerald ones. "We haven't had pancakes in so loooong."
Harry stared at his lover in astonishment. "We had them yesterday!"
"But that was for breakfast, and it's dinner now. You never make us pancakes for dinner." Her point made, Luna pouted at him, cutely of course. She couldn't afford to lessen her chances to make him cave.
Harry, however, was unmoved. "I have enough trouble with you wanting them every day for breakfast, you're not having them for dinner. If you want pancakes that much, you or Hermione can make them."
Her glare was enough of an answer, but she followed it up in case he was being spectacularly stupid. "Harry, sweetie, Hermione may be an expert in potions brewing, but not even starving babies would eat her cooking. Don't you remember what her last attempt was like?"
"Nope." He grinned at her surprise and tapped his temple, "I dislike Lockhart for many reasons, but I do agree with him about Obliviate. It's a handy spell to have."
"What's a handy spell?" his other lover asked as she entered the den. "And what's for dinner?"
"Harry's making us pancakes!" Luna cheered. He could resist Hermione, he could even occasionally resist her, but he would never be able to resist them both.
"What! No I'm not!"
"Really, Harry, pancakes? You have to learn to say no to her eventually. But since you have decided to make them, I won't stop you this time."
He sighed, hung his head, and began shuffling to the kitchen, missing his girls' twin expressions of glee.
"And use some of those blueberries! There aren't many places we can get them, after all."
Whoever said having multiple girlfriends at the same time was a good thing had obviously never experienced it.
Even though they're pains in my arse, I wouldn't give them up for anything, Harry thought as he mixed berries into the batter for the trio's dinner. His time with them had been the happiest of his life, and it would be perfect if not for the conditions outside their manor. War had a way of putting a damper on one's enthusiasm.
Voldemort had not been quite as dead as everyone had hoped. The day before the battle, he had apparently been so terrified by the loss of his Horcruces that he created another, this one a simple stone that he left at the bottom of the Black Lake. Thanks to Lucius Malfoy's assistance, he had returned to physical form in just four years and immediately proceeded to take over the Ministry of Magic – again – and declare war on 'the enemies of all wizards', the Muggles. His first strike was an assassination attempt against the Queen and Prime Minister.
It failed miserably.
No one in the Ministry knew anything about how Muggles waged war. In retrospect, that should have been obvious; after all, their 'expert' was unable to recognize children's bath toys or even pronounce Muggle words correctly. When grenades and bullets rained down on Diagon Alley, there had been no warning and no quarter. Two years later, the magical population of Britain had fallen from its previous 14,000 to only 4,500, and those survivors all nearly worshiped Voldemort as the one man to recognize the threat Muggles presented. Strange how quickly they forgot who it had been who first stirred up that hornet's nest.
The trio of lovers had been more than willing to remain out of this new war and integrate into whatever society was left, and they would have been safe all this time if not for that red-haired, arse-kissing, back-stabbing coward…
Harry took a deep breath as he relaxed his grip on the mixing bowl. The bloody Weasleys were a swift death to the iron control he had to maintain on his anger. After the Horcrux in his scar was destroyed, it became clear that the all-consuming rage he had felt during his fifth year and what should have been his seventh was less the influence of his and Voldemort's mental connection and more his natural temper. According to the portraits of his grandparents he had found while he was restoring Potter Manor following the end of the Second Voldemort War, he may look like his father, but no one could deny he was his mother's son.
The batter was ready and the griddle finally hot, so Harry was about to pour the damn pancakes when he heard Hermione scream. He was out of the kitchen before the bowl had enough time to hit the floor.
The entrance hall looked like a bomb had gone off inside, and for a moment, he feared the worst. A second glance showed him that the room was not damaged in any way, simply covered in soot and ash. He found Hermione and Luna standing against the front door with their wands pointed at the fireplace, so he too aimed in that direction and at the oddest-looking man Harry had ever seen.
Considering that he had met Luna's father, that was saying something.
The intruder was short; four-and-a-half feet would be a generous estimate. He wore red fur pants and jacket, both of which were strangely clean despite the filth covering everything else in sight. His clothing's white trim matched his hair and beard, which fell almost to his knees. Black boots covered his feet, and Harry knew that he would not be inconspicuous even in the occasionally colorblind Wizarding World.
Only after he reached behind him and picked up a bulging sack did they realize exactly who this man was meant to resemble. With a battle cry of "Gimme!", Luna was the first to react, pouncing upon him and wrapping her limbs around his bag with as much force as her svelte body could produce. She bit his hand until he released it, and then scurried over to Harry with her prize.
Her lovers were used to her occasional childishness, and were about to apologize to the man when he let loose several belly-shaking laughs. "You never change, do you, my dear?"
"You two know each other?" Hermione asked, alternating between watching the stranger and glaring at Luna.
The blonde looked up from her spoils at them. "Of course we do. This is Santa." Her contribution over, she crawled halfway into the sack, flinging numerous presents out of it as she progressed.
"And this is the little girl who attempted to take over the North Pole, and very nearly succeeded, too." Santa growled. "Thankfully, that only happened once."
Hermione sighed. "Luna, what did you do?" Harry knew that tone; it meant that she really could not care less what the younger woman did as long as she was not swept up in the shenanigans. Luna impressively contorted her body so that her head was poking out of her new toy and looked at them from between her feet.
"I hid in the sleigh until he returned to his workshop, then bribed the elves with caffeine and snowball fights," she chirped. "But Santa was mean to me after that, so I didn't want to play with him."
Four eyes rolled to the saint, who just shrugged. "I gave her rotten eggs in her stocking. She should know better than to irritate a faery."
Feeling that it was best to move on before his lovers got in yet another row, Harry asked the question that had been in his mind since he first arrived in the room. "Er, not to be rude, but why exactly are you in our hallway?"
"It's the only room with a large enough fireplace for me to use," Santa answered, "though if you mean why am I bothering you in the first place, that is a much more serious matter."
He sat down in one of the chairs in the hall while Hermione conjured a loveseat. Harry sat beside her, and Luna, leaving her prize where it was, ran over and flopped down on their laps like a cuddly blanket.
"The fae are, like phoenixes and unicorns, made up of magic as much as we are flesh and blood. Your Dark Lord has been capturing and experimenting on us, attempting to alter his own body to be like ours. Normally, he wouldn't have even accomplished this much against our combined power, but the conflict that started here has spiraled out of control and drastically weakened us."
"That doesn't make sense," murmured Hermione. "Unless all the world's fae are located in Britain, your people should be safe."
"You obviously haven't been paying much attention to what is happening outside your borders. Once this country's nonmagicals discovered that wizards existed and had attacked them, they sent the information to all their allies. Britain was merely the first country to enter a civil war with it's magicals; now, every country has."
Santa ignored their shock as he continued. "We fae gain our sustenance from joy and humans' belief in us. It is the reason I am so well-known; every child believes in me, and so that belief, combined with the immense burst of happiness from Christmas, strengthens our Queen, whose power, in turn, flows to all of her subjects.
"For centuries, we have lived in contentment with our way of life, but the assassination attempt ignited a powder keg that is harmful to all of us, Muggle, wizard, and fae. The wars are taking an enormous toll on people's lives and therefore happiness, causing us to starve. That would be bad enough, but the Queen has been so weakened by the prevalence of despair that she is unable to create new faeries to keep up with our own mortality rate. Combined with Voldemort's experiments, we are facing our extinction."
"How many of you have… passed away due to Voldemort's actions?" Hermione asked gently.
Santa sighed, then looked her fully in the eye. "Our population is less than fifteen percent of what it was before his second resurrection." The trio gaped at him. "In fact, as it stands now, the war does not matter to us; we will perish no matter how or when it ends. And that is why we need you three."
"We will help however we can," Harry told him.
The small man smiled. "I was hoping you would say that, Harry Potter. You were given a destiny to rid the world of Voldemort for good, and if it weren't for his Horcruces, you would have accomplished that twice by now. This time, the world is too far gone for you to do so again, and that is how we will get around the issue."
"Of course!" Luna shouted, earning her confused looks from the two sitting under her. "Daddy read me stories when I was a little girl, and one of them said that the fae could travel through time however they wanted: backwards, forwards, and even sideways."
"That's impossible, you can't travel sideways in time."
"Humans can't," said Santa, "but we can, and you will too."
Hermione glared at the faery. "Until someone tells me what moving sideways is, I'm not going anywhere."
"Anywhen," Luna offered; getting her lovers to speak like sane people was a challenge, but the reward was worth it. Hermione's countenance showed she disagreed.
"Moving sideways means you will leave this time stream and enter one that is running in the same direction. If we do this, you will, in essence, be going backwards in time, but without the risk of running into other versions of you that would be present if you simply went backwards."
"Wait, if you can do that, why didn't you save yourselves that way?" This was sounding like a good opportunity to Harry, and little good had happened to him that wasn't followed by something very bad. Not even his involvement with Hermione and Luna had been without cost.
Santa sighed again. "By the time we considered it, there were too few of us to make it possible. The only way that we can even offer you this is by sacrificing the lives of every fae in this time."
"No!" Hermione shouted. "We can't ask you to kill yourselves like that! There has to be another way…"
Luna rose from her position to sit in Hermione's lap, wrapping her in a hug. "I know it sounds bad, but it's not as if they will be dead in the time we arrive in. The Fae Queen has the greatest power over time, so much that it's said she exists simultaneously in all time streams."
"Whoever said that was quite correct," Santa said. "And I feel I must correct one of your concerns: you three are not asking us to die for you. We are offering our assistance so you can prevent this series of events from happening again."
Santa had given them an hour to talk the Fae's proposition over and then left them to their own devices. They did not need the full time; it only took Harry and Luna a couple of minutes to convince Hermione that this was the best plan to stop Voldemort once and for all. The rest of their reprieve was spent looking over the 'Treasure Chest', as they had taken to calling it, for necessities.
When the magical Potter family was young, they had built their home in what had been part of Sherwood Forest and took up the trade of their ancestor, Robin of Locksley. They were the nightmares of the old, rich families, robbing their precious manors with a devilish combination of personal charm, polished skill, and pure nerve. Many of the most expensive, useful, or unique items they had taken were still stored in a massive vault underneath the dining room, a collection that had continued to grow until they were granted status as a Noble House and saw little reason to continue with a profession that had long-ceased to be exciting. By the time of Harry's grandfather Charles, the fear their unstoppable alter egos commanded had long been forgotten. Instead, the family became known for the awe-inspiring power they brought to their fights against the Dark.
"Harry! Do you think we should bring the book on making ward picks, or would we be better off with the one on increasing a person's magical capacity?"
And that was the reason for their change in reputation. With a number of ways to become stronger magically, it was really no wonder they would be able to outlast any enemy they crossed wands with.
"Why can't we just take both?" he called back.
Luna's voice interrupted Hermione's response. "Because she already has all seventy editions of Hogwarts, A History packed, and there isn't enough room in the trunk left for anything else!"
"Santa!" yelled out… Santa.
Harry fought to regain his balance after jumping several feet away from the short man who had suddenly appeared at his elbow. His glare was apparently less impressive than he had hoped.
"I'm afraid you can't take any of that with you."
"What," Hermione said in a threatening whisper, "do you mean, we can't take any of this?"
Santa grinned. "Why, exactly that. Since you three aren't fae, it takes more effort to move you through time. All the fae are going to pass on their remaining energies to the Queen, who will then pass them and her own to me. I will only be able to focus that amount of power for a small period before it destroys me, so the easier the transfer is, the more likely we will succeed. So, nothing but your minds are taking the trip." He paused a moment to allow everything to sink in, then ordered, "Join hands with me and each other."
After they had done so, he started glowing, first a dull red, then a blinding white. With a violent shove backwards and an ear-shattering scream, Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and Luna Lovegood existed in the world of their birth no more.
Whenever I think of a war between Muggles and magicals, I think of the American occupation in the Middle East. On one side is a large and powerful military machine, on the other is a small, highly mobile group of fanatics, and in the middle is everyone who would get out of the way if they could. Once enough casualties rack up in the third group, they're going to choose a side; here, it's with their fellow magicals.
I have seen several stories where Muggles get a new name, like "normals", "mundanes", or "nonmagicals". Honestly, I'm starting to think that it's so the authors don't have to type out "Muggle" every time. My shift key hates me now.
I need to make a small distinction that will be present throughout this story. A "faery" is any individual of the fae people. A "fairy" is a member of a particularly vain race of fae that has little power and often adorns Christmas trees in magical households.
One more point, while some events happened the same way here as they did in Deathly Hallows, others did not. The muse isn't giving any hints, so I don't know if the specific differences will be mentioned.
Silently Watches out.