Chapter 1: A Young Pirate Queen Named Hermione...
ESTHWAITE WATER PARK
Come Amuse Your Inner Muggle!
Relive the thrill of your first year as you ride the Bobbin' Bumper Boats!
Sort Out Your Adult Life with a Visit to the Sorting Hat!
Endure a Triwizard Tournament Trial on the Back of a Dragon!
Ride the Beauxbatons Abraxans – NOT Your Everyday Pony Ride!
Tour the Hogwarts Grounds on the Pirate Ship Durmstrang
Bring your Muggle Neighbours along! Introduce Them to the Magic!
Hermione, one of the saviours of the Wizarding world, had single-handedly decided that the main rift between the wizarding and non-magical worlds was a simple lack of communication. She theorized that wizards would become more Muggle-friendly if they could enjoy some good old-fashioned Muggle entertainment. To that end, she'd taken most of her Order of the Phoenix Galleons of Gratitude and insisted that a Wizarding "theme park" be built – but maintained in a purely Muggle fashion. Wizards, witches, and Muggles alike would all be allowed to attend, and in this way, perhaps, the Muggle world would become more accepting of magic – and vice versa.
The Minister for Magic had granted her a three-year contract with the stipulation that she be the one to create, build, and maintain the park. She'd protested at first, thinking a managerial position suited her skill-set better, but then Kingsley reminded her that the Gringotts goblins were still bloody pissed about the whole escaped-dragon debacle, and that, saviour of the wizarding world or no, she was a hair's breadth from trial. Ever so reluctantly, she'd agreed to the three-year deal.
Neville sighed. The "Bobbin' Bumper Boat Ride" had yet to work, and opening day was only two weeks away. Since the only way into the park proper was by means of one of these boats, it was a bit of a sticky wicket. His suggestion that they have some alternative means of getting to the island with the quarter-scale model of Hogwarts Castle on it, such as a bridge over which Thestral-drawn carriages were drawn, had been shot down.
Hermione threw the spanner down in disgust, whipped out her wand, and cast a few intricate spells over the motor, which finally – finally – roared to life and began guiding the boats out into the lake, towards the castle.
"Isn't that cheatin', Hermione?" asked Seamus, oblivious to the death glare shot in his direction. Neville closed his eyes. It had been nice knowing Seamus, really. He'd been a good friend. If he could have just learned to keep his mouth shut…
"No. It's not cheating, Seamus," growled Hermione. "We are on a deadline. Things must be operational. A little magic helps the clockwork run more smoothly, that's all."
"But you told us..." Seamus began, only to have his foot bloom with pain as Neville accidentally trod on it with a steel-toed, dragon-hide work boot. What he was going to say was lost as he danced around the boat house, shouting and cursing.
Neville ignored the entire spectacle and surreptitiously finished painting the wall with a flick of his own wand. "Well done, Hermione, you always manage to find a solution!" He was a bit concerned she might hex him for using magic, but his friend was thankfully distracted. She was standing there with her arms folded, watching the little boats bobbing through the lake towards the miniature castle. She shook her head glumly.
"Why the long face?" asked Neville. He threw his paintbrush over his shoulder into the paint bucket, sending a cascade of Grindylow Green over Seamus's trainers. Since the bloke was currently cursing in pain over his sore toe, he didn't notice. "You've got just about everything ready, don't you? Now that you've sussed out the boats, I mean..."
Hermione shook her head. "The Triwizard Dragon of Doom Roller Coaster Ride needs to be safety-inspected, we need to make a Sorting Hat that works without magic," (at that, Neville bit his tongue) "and I still need to find a cunning, clever person to be the Durmstrang Pirate Ship Lake Tour Guide." She picked up a discarded pirate hat and began to twiddle it. "By my obsessively-organized calculations, the first two are under control, but who can I convincingly coerce to be my pirate captain?"
Hermione, lost in thought, missed Neville's look of relief as he said, "I'd like to help, but I can't. I'm going to be starting my apprenticeship with Professor Sprout." He pondered for a moment. "It isn't a very interesting job, is it?"
She shook her head. "Of course not! It's not supposed to be. This is community service. Now, let me think. Who can I brow-beat into doing it? Ron and Harry are Aurors, you'll be busy teaching, Seamus is too Irish…"
"I have it!" she yelped, gleefully. "We need someone who hung out on the actual Durmstrang ship, someone who knew the students intimately—"
Suicidal Seamus muttered, "That would be you, then, Hermione. You were intimate with one of them at least..."
Hermione glared at the soon-to-be-murdered-if-he-didn't-shut-up Irish wizard and then continued." I have to run the entire park. I can't be stuck on the ship the whole time. No, I was thinking of a former Slytherin. Someone down on his luck. Someone who would jump at any chance to improve his current situation. Someone like… Draco Malfoy."
"Malfoy?!" Neville and Seamus exclaimed in unison. "Why him?!"
"Because he schmoozed the Durmstrang students during our entire fourth year, and he will want to get the bloody hell out of Azkaban. This will be his ticket."
"How did he end up in there, anyway?" asked a sullen Seamus. "I thought he was pardoned after the war."
Hermione shrugged. "Beats me. He's in there because of some incident in a Quidditch locker room, an opposing player's straight razor, and a badly cast Body Grooming Spell of some kind. I tried but never did get any other details."
Neville looked confused.
Seamus looked skeptical. "Ye'll need to sweeten the pot a bit more, me love. Malfoy won't wanna git out of prison just to put his pure-blooded arse to work. Ye'll need to offer him a wee bit more incentive. You know, make the position more enticing."
"Good point, Seamus, but as usual I'm one step ahead of you. I'm also going to offer him a permanent solution to his ‘defamed Malfoy name’ problem. According to an obscure, stupid, yet oddly convenient ancient wizarding law I read recently, if he marries a Muggle-born and the union results in a child, he will be granted instant amnesty as soon as the baby is born."
"A baby?! Who could ya get to screw that git, much less marry him?!"
Neville banged Seamus on the back, as he'd begun to choke violently (on nothing but air, it seemed).
"You?" he said as he slapped his friend. "But I thought you were eschewing children to assert your feminist belief that women are capable of a myriad of things. Not just acting as broodmares and kitchen slaves for the elitist, misogynistic bullies that most men strive to become. Isn't that what you told Molly was the reason why you and Ron broke up?"
Hermione gasped. "No, Neville. I'd never!" She shrugged. "I said it to Professor McGonagall. Anyway, I do want to have children, someday. Just not yet. But Malfoy doesn't have to know that. After we've engaged in matrimony, I'll keep him at hand's breadth, far away from my knickers, until... until he's done his work and I've finished my penance. Then, maybe, I'll give him an heir." She sniffed. "Once we are wed, he won't have a choice. If he insists on a divorce before we have children, he'll have to return to prison."
"What makes you so sure he'll want to stay married to you?"
She smiled a coquettish yet nasty smile. "I learned quite a few tricks during my time on the Durmstrang ship in fourth year. I know enough to keep him interested."
Seamus and Neville shared a look.
"Hermione, I've been wondering. Are you sure you were Sorted correctly?"
TO BE CONTINUED...
Chapter 2: Here Comes the Bride
Chapter by alina290, MiHnn, Misdemeanor1331, modlyrobin, pokeystar, raa, RZZMG, scarlettcat, silverotter1, UnseenLibrarian, with_rhyme
A/N: I give credit where credit is due to The Princess Bride for the “Dread Pirate” reference.
ESTHWAITE WATER PARK
Tuesday Schedule: The Pirate Ship Durmstrang
10:00 AM –Mock Battle
11:00 AM –Adventures in Knots
12:00 PM –Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Scurvy
1:00 PM –The Wedding of Captain Hermione Granger to First Mate Draco Malfoy
1:15 PM –Reception
2:15 PM –Mermaids –Why So Ugly?
3:00 PM –Mock Battle
He certainly wouldn’t be in such a predicament if it weren’t for the She-Weasel.
He’d only called her an ugly, soulless ginger, but her boyfriend, the Chudley Cannons’Keeper, had overreacted and hexed Draco with an unknown curse. He’d woken up, on the locker room floor, with a pelt of alarmingly red hair growing on his formerly smooth and perfect chest. No magic he’d attempted could reverse the spell. When he tried the Muggle technique of shaving, the revolting hair grew back in seconds. After a great deal of Obliviation of witnesses (on his part) and some under-handed politics (on the Ministry’s part), Draco had been chucked into Azkaban for violating his probation for dueling.
Well, and also, perhaps, for calling an Auror a wanker two weeks ago and for crossing the path of a donkey on a Sunday in the magical village of Pighammish last month. Crazy Wizarding laws.
But this wedding really was the She-Weasel’s fault. Unless…well, maybe it was the fault of Diggidus Havarti-Flume.
Diggy Flu, as the press had dubbed him, was heir to his Danish family’s cheese dynasty, but he was also interested in the soul. Therefore, he’d made a study of Dementors, and in the course of his somewhat dangerous experiments, he’d found a way to neuter the dark creatures. The Dementors of Azkaban could no longer suck out a person’s soul. But they still liked to kiss.
If not for this fact, Draco would have gladly served out his one-year sentence in Azkaban rather than agree to Hermione Granger’s absurd proposal. He didn’t want to be married to anyone yet - much less her - and he didn’t want to labour ever, much less as a pirate. But even those horrors paled in comparison to the very real possibility of becoming some Dementor’s girlfriend. The beasts still smelled like death and were damned cold. One of them had grown more and more aggressive in its sexual advances, stroking its rotting, skeletal fingers over his towel-clad bum whenever prisoners were guided from the group shower. Oh, the curse of being fit and irresistible!
Granger might be Muggle-born and as strident as a baby mandrake, but she was female, Draco’s preferred gender for sex, and she was neither rotten nor skeletal. Also, she didn’t smell like death. In fact, her scent was rather nice, like flowers, which had surprised him. He’d thought she would smell like ink and righteous indignation.
Pansy rapped twice on the door before barging into the creaky quarters he was using as a dressing room. (Yes, his mockery of a wedding was taking place on the Fake Pirate Ship Durmstrang.) Pansy had a good laugh at his costume, though she’d seen it several times before.
“Never gets old,”she gasped out before sobering. It annoyed him that she looked impeccable. “So, ready to get hitched to the Dread Pirate Granger?”
Draco was surprised that he was. It had been two months since he’d shagged a woman, and he was more than ready to take these ridiculous vows and consummate them three or four times before dinner. All the while hiding his cursed, hairy chest, of course.
“Absolutely,” he said as he smoothed his leather vest and adjusted his eye patch.
“Don’t you mean arrgh-solutely?”Pansy teased.
“Your humour is atrocious.”
“Don’t you mean arrgh-trocious?”
This poor excuse for a conversation continued through the belly of the ship and up a staircase to the deck, until Draco realized, in bewildering shock, that Granger expected him to walk down the aisle to her. A second later, a string quartet housed up in the crow’s nest began to play The Wedding March.
She’d never been the type to create a lace-trimmed scrapbook entitled “My Wedding Day –One Day My Prince Will Come”like some of her sillier classmates (Lav-Vati, as the Hogwarts’Sneak had dubbed them). Once or twice, she might have imagined a simple, white dress and a long, white veil. Maybe a bouquet of Peruvian Aurora flowers. But honestly, she’d been too preoccupied with passing her O.W.L.s and N.E.W.T.s and saving the world to dwell on romance.
If she had dreamed of her wedding day, however, Hermione would never have imagined this.
Firstly, she was on a pirate ship. A pirate ship modeled after a real ship on which she’d experienced her first kiss, as well as a few other intimate firsts. (Thank God, Viktor wasn’t here.) The Durmstrang’s classic sails had been charmed pink, but its flag still displayed the Jolly Roger. Garlands of roses twined around the ropes that criss-crossed the air. Ship and shore were crowded with curious spectators.
Secondly, she was dressed as a pirate. A pirate queen, to be exact, in a red coat with brass buttons, a tricorn hat, tight breeches, a belt and cutlass, and leather boots. She also wore a little top the colour of her skin and a black corset. The effect was quite sexy and gave the illusion that her breasts were bare and ample above the cinched corset, and for once, she had cleavage. Seriously, she could hold a Galleon between her tits. This out-of-character costume was all part of her Cunning Plan.
Thirdly, there was a parrot on her shoulder. It was named Fernando and kept squawking, “Here comes the bride. Here comes the bride.”
Fourthly, her bride - no, wait, her groom, was dressed as First Mate, and he looked surprisingly handsome. The last time that she’d seen Draco Malfoy, in Azkaban, he’d had a scruffy beard and had smelled like a bag of garlic and dead cats. Now, he had bathed and shaved. He wore a red scarf tied around his white-blond hair and a rakish eye patch. She admired the fit of his white shirt and tight, leather vest. Even his ridiculous, red-and-black striped breeches were somehow attractive, showing off his strong thighs. His look was completed by leather boots, a belt, and a plastic dagger half the size of her real cutlass. Ha!
Pansy Parkinson shoved Malfoy down the aisle toward Hermione, and he stalked across the deck at a speed unbefitting a bride. When he stopped before her, scowling at Fernando, Hermione turned to reveal her aforementioned Cunning Plan (her breasts). Malfoy’s gray eye (the one not covered by a patch) looked down, and Hermione smiled as his mouth fell open. With a small cough, he clasped his hands in front of the red-and-black striped bulge in his breeches. She felt an unexpected flutter in her stomach at the sight of his arousal.
“Malfoy,”she addressed him.
“Granger,”he addressed her breasts.
“Let’s get this over with,”said Kingsley Shacklebolt, the Minister of Magic and their officiant. He stood before them in his customary purple robes, having refused to dress like a pirate. He didn’t talk like one either, as he began the ceremony.
Hermione had chosen traditional, pure-blood vows, which were not unlike traditional Muggle vows. Malfoy had probably attended dozens of weddings, and she hoped the familiarity of the words would lull him, and her astounding display of cleavage would distract him. She needed him to speak one particular vow without realizing what he was promising.
Hermione cast a cautious glance at Parkinson, knowing she was the only person present who might notice the trick and come to Malfoy’s rescue. But Parkinson was too preoccupied, staring at Neville Longbottom’s firm arse. Interesting…
“For richer, for poorer,”droned Kingsley.
“For richer, for poorer,”repeated Draco.
“In sickness and in health.”
“In sickness and in health.”
Hermione held her breath.
“To love, cherish, and obey.”
“To love, cherish, and obey.”
Obey! He’d said it without even blinking. For good measure, Hermione took a deep breath, her breasts rising and falling. Malfoy’s eyes widened. He kept repeating Kingsley’s words mindlessly until his vows were complete. When it was her turn, no one seemed to notice she skipped promising to obey. Of course, the groom always did in a pure-blood ceremony.
Malfoy didn’t realize anything was amiss until Hermione slipped a golden band onto his finger. The inside of the ring had been bewitched with the inscription Obey. A pulse of powerful magic radiated from the band, and Malfoy blinked and stared into her eyes, stunned.
“What have you done?”he demanded.
“You may not take off your wedding ring unless I give you permission to do so,”Hermione said.
“The hell I can’t,”Malfoy muttered, but as he attempted to remove the ring, he found it was impossible. His fingers were repulsed by it, like magnets flipped just right. Or wrong, as the case may be. Hermione wasn’t particularly interested in the science of electromagnetism at the moment. She watched with pleasure as Malfoy struggled to disobey her and couldn’t, his right hand shaking with effort.
Kingsley raised one eyebrow at Hermione, and she answered with a shrug.
“Whatever,”he said. “I now pronounce you husband and wife.”
“Husband and wife!”Fernando squawked, flapping his wings. Cannons boomed and the crowd cheered.
“Oh, and you may now kiss the bride,”Kingsley added. At this point, he wasn’t sure whom he was addressing, and he didn’t really care. It was time for Pina Coladas.
TO BE CONTINUED...
Chapter 3: Training Some Staff in the Muggle Way!
Chapter by alina290, MiHnn, Misdemeanor1331, modlyrobin, pokeystar, raa, RZZMG, scarlettcat, silverotter1, UnseenLibrarian, with_rhyme
It was good that Malfoy understood the fact that no honeymoon period would be forthcoming. Even still, the marriage had definitely been consummated. It not only had to be done because of the inherent magic of the obscure law but also because a consummated marriage was one of the items on her bucket list, anyway. True, marriage to Malfoy had not been part of that list, but she could easily make it one of her most outstanding accomplishments. Malfoy always thought himself above her, but this union proved him wrong.
On their wedding night, Malfoy had fought the will to obey with a magnificent display of power, one that didn’t actually succeed. Poor Malfoy, he kept getting muscle cramps and spasms for his strife and had to pause several times and interrupt his fulfilment of his wife—er, husbandly duties.
The wedding had taken place a week before opening day. Time was getting down to the wire, and there was ongoing training for some of her less less-than-stellar employees and volunteers.
On the Friday before the opening, the Wizengamot had had the privilege of voting on the park’s name. There was a unanimous vote of fifty to zero on “The Fantastic World of Make-Believe”. The other choices had been Voldemort’s Isle, Granger’s Range, The Pirates of Eastern Europe, which several found too tacky, and Harry Potter’s World.
The Muggle company working on the park and ride area finished in record time. The parking lot was estimated to give access to twenty buses, a total of two thousand parking spaces for automobiles, plus seven golf cart multi-passenger shuttles to pick up patrons from the surrounding edges of the lot.
Azkaban. The park was still in some need of repairs and was not able to house all of the Dementor-damaged prisoners, so Hermione approached the Ministry of Magic in hopes of getting more employees that she would not have to pay for—at least, not in the beginning. She promised that, once the theme park made a profit, the money that would’ve been paid to the prisoners as salaries would be given to Ministry to fill the coffers from which monies were drawn to feed, house, and clothe them. The Ministry gladly agreed.
Hermione personally taught Pansy her duties. Even though the two witches had had little contact—and usually volatile ones—during their school years, Pansy had volunteered to help of her own free will. They would never admit it, but deep down, they had developed a grudging respect for each other.
Pansy was the first one to learn to drive all types of vehicles—cars, buses, golf cart multi-passenger shuttles; she even learned to conduct the train. Since most of the prisoners released to Hermione’s care didn’t tolerate her, Pansy was the ideal candidate to teach them to drive the golf cart multi-passenger shuttles to bring Muggles and wizards alike from the farthest reaches of the parking lot. They knew that most wizards would more than likely Apparate to the gates, but on days of high congestion would be a good alternative.
Among the prisoners who were released to be park employees was Severus Snape. By some miracle, Snape had survived Nagini’s bite though he was serving time for killing Albus Dumbledore (even though it had been a planned murder between them). He was not pleased that he had to obey orders given by one Hermione Granger. He felt being left in Azkaban was a better deal, but the Ministry disagreed. Having him at her disposal seemed fitting for a Death Eater of his calibre.
Astoundingly, Bellatrix had survived Molly’s curse and not from lack of trying on the part of Molly, who hexed her three more times after the first blasting one. Somehow, Bellatrix had managed to regenerate herself, although she was not herself anymore. She was more docile—like a newborn child more complacent, and she managed to perfect the driving of the golf cart multi-passenger shuttles even faster than Snape, who always prided himself on being a very smart man.
Even Hermione was surprised with Bella’s learning, but the smart witch quickly seized on the opportunity and updated Bella’s status to second-in-command of the shuttle.
It turned out Regulus Black was still alive. He was suffering from amnesia and was found wandering the streets of Muggle London. The police found him ranting about necklaces and Horcruxes; luckily, the Ministry got wind of it through the Prime Minister and so were able to place him in St. Mungo’s for observation. He was released to Hermione for the simple reason that while visiting the permanent ward with Neville, she had recognized him and discovered that he had regained many of his memories.
Hermione did all she could so that the rehabilitated Death Eaters were not a threat to each other or any of the imminent visitors to the park. She had bracelets and rings made with the same spells and charms that she’d placed on Malfoy’s wedding band. All of them had to obey her. It was very ingenious of her, if she did say so herself (and very Slytherin-like, in Pansy’s mind).
The last three Death Eaters released to Hermione’s care and trained to be drivers were Crabbe, Senior, Goyle, Senior, and Fenrir Greyback. Hermione had wanted to have seven wizards to be shuttle drivers, but the Ministry had only released six wizards and one witch, so she had to make do. Hopefully, she would not need all of them to be on active duty at the same time. She did think it prudent to keep one spare shuttle.
Crabbe and Goyle Seniors shared a bond that few understood, and they stuck together like glue most of the time. They learned to drive at a slower pace than any of the others, but once they got the hang of it, they did well enough to stay out of Azkaban. One unexpected problem that Hermione had to deal with was Crabbe’s inexplicable, non-stop crying. She guessed it was a result of the loss of his son. He did manage to control the crying whenever Hermione gave him a direct command, so the remainder of the time, she pretended not to notice and let Goyle be the one to comfort the distraught Crabbe.
Given his nature, Hermione’s seventh driver was also the most difficult to handle. At first, Hermione was furious to discover that Fenrir Greyback had not died in the final battle. But as she did need a seventh driver, she resigned herself to putting up with the fact that he could not work during the full moon and to designing a muzzle that created a calming effect on him. She hoped to pass him off as one of the “monster” attractions of the park, with increasing feelings of uneasiness of her tentative opening day strategy.
There was one particular Wizard who kept asking to be a driver, but she didn’t want him on staff at all. Stanley Shunpike. On his first visit to get a position with her, he kept openly flirting, which disgusted her. She vowed that she would never hire him no matter how desperate she became. Pansy was of the same mind, for he also flirted shamelessly with her. On one of the occasions that he got past the gates and even managed to board the Durmstrang Pirate Ship, he had tried to manhandle Draco, which had the blond so angry and reviled that he vomited and had to go home to shower repeatedly under extremely hot water and added disinfectant for good measure. The only good thing to result from the assault was that it seemed the ginger colouring from his abundant chest hair had gotten a little lighter. It must have been the bleach in the disinfectant.
Draco absolutely refused to learn to drive “those contraptions”, as he called them. He was happy to stay in his pirate ship, away from all the other people. It was mostly likely that he didn’t want to be teased about his ginger chest hair. Hermione wasn’t disgusted by it, though. She wondered what jinx or hex Ginny’s boyfriend had used to make it so abundant and so ginger. Thoughts of touching that abundance of chest hair had her wanting to disregard self-imposed rules about not sleeping with Malfoy so much. It was so soft to the touch and reminded her of the furry walls from the movie Get Him to the Greek with Russell Brand. Hermione wondered if she could get Malfoy to watch the movie with her so that she could caress his furry, ginger chest while the actors were caressing the furry wall.
TO BE CONTINUED...
Chapter 4: Are You Pregnant Yet, Hermione Granger?
Chapter by alina290, MiHnn, Misdemeanor1331, modlyrobin, pokeystar, raa, RZZMG, scarlettcat, silverotter1, UnseenLibrarian, with_rhyme
Oh, Draco Malfoy was a sly Slytherin. Such a subtle, intelligent, sly ol’ Slytherin. He had devised a fool-proof plan to get what he wanted, and what he wanted was to be out of Azkaban for good.
Imagine how flabbergasted he was when his wife—who acted like the man with the pants—would simply stroll into their cabin day in and day out, start unbuttoning that shirt of hers, and demand him to undress so she could have her way with him. It was completely demeaning! He felt awful and expendable, as if he was nothing short of a toy used for her pleasure and her pleasure alone. Naturally, he couldn’t get his own pants past his hips fast enough. All it took was one look at those naked breasts and he did what she asked, when she asked it of him.
Like he told anyone who would listen, it was bloody awful. He wasn’t enjoying it in the slightest, he would say, as he watched the way her shapely bum sashayed right in front of him. He was being used! Practically a prisoner! And he wanked to the thought of her whenever she spent her days drinking with the crew and away from his bed. Oh, how he would look at her longingly, while telling everyone that he was a poor ol’ sod being used against his will.
So, he did what any bloke in his position would have done: he invented a game!
And, oh, how good that game was—completely intelligent, simple, yet complex, with a tad bit of insanity in order to nudge a pirate queen right towards his bed. The game was called “Are you pregnant yet, Hermione Granger?”
It’s a simple game, really. All Draco had to do was pop out at the most inopportune times, nudge her lightly, and ask her, “Are you pregnant yet, Hermione Granger?”
It was a right laugh! She would glare at him, of course, maybe hit the back of his head once or twice, and there might have been a time when she actually slapped him across his nose. He thought his one main distinguishing feature was broken until Seamus told Dean, who then owled Parvati, who in turn told her sister, who Flooed Neville, who then sent a Hippogriff after Luna, who appeared wearing nothing but a slip so that she could fix his nose with a quick wave of her wand. She then told him that she hadn’t been satisfied for over a year and wondered if Draco could please do her fast so she could make it in time to join a travelling party in search of Frohgrtsjerls.
Hermione threatened to hex him if he said yes, and Draco had to turn her down as gently as possible. Besides, as attractive Luna was, it was Hermione’s breasts he dreamt of at night. (Unknown to him, Hermione Granger, who was now known as the girl-who-should-have-been-Sorted-into-Slytherin, had charmed Draco’s dreams so that all he dreamt of was her—or, at least, parts of her, if one were to be more specific about it.)
And so, the game continued…
“Are you pregnant yet, Hermione Granger?” he asked as he served her meals.
“Are you pregnant yet, Hermione Granger?” he questioned as he swung from a rope across the deck of the ship.
“Are you pregnant yet, Hermione Granger?” he whispered softly when she was busy studying the book ”How to Order Around a Ship Full of Dummies”, which was apparently a Muggle book and a good read.
It took him half a dozen times (oh, all right then, more than a hundred times) before he suddenly stopped mid-sentence to stare at her incredulously.
“Hang on,” he squeaked, as he hung upside down from a wooden pole like thingy. The others who were manning the ship did try to explain to him the different terms, but his pretty head just couldn’t take in such information.
“Why is your name still Granger?” he asked incredulously. “Shouldn’t you be Hermione Malfoy?”
Granger, who was busy actually doing work, walked up to him and thrust her breasts towards him. His nose bumped her flesh lightly and he was in a blissful mood for a moment.
“Sorry, Draco,” she said in a tone that hinted that she wasn’t sorry at all. “I thought you knew. I didn’t take your name. You took my name.”
There were just certain things that one should never tell a Malfoy, and one of them was that he was no longer a Malfoy.
“What?” he squeaked as he stumbled and nearly fell.
Severus Snape chose that time to walk right past them, a feather in his cap and a limp on his left leg (or was it his right?) just because he wanted to be included. “Idiot,” he said with a condescending tone while he threw a piece of rope over Draco’s legs, as if he wasn’t already there. Draco glared at him as he was knotted to the wooden pole-like thingy, his eyes wide when he then looked at his wife.
“When did that happen?”
She huffed in displeasure as she randomly held out three fingers. Draco saw, behind her, Greyback nod in understanding before he went to the other end of the ship to convey her instructions.
“After the ceremony, Draco. Don’t you remember that we signed our names?”
He didn’t, actually. Maybe he remembered her sitting on his lap (straddling more like), shifting her hips, and distracting him gloriously. He remembered feeling something foreign in his fingers just as she whispered naughty things into his ear, her warm breath causing a tingling that ran though most of his body before settling in his lower half.
“I would never!” he said, insisting that the Malfoy name was precious.
“Oh, Draco,” she said sweetly as she stepped forward again. His nose bumped against her breasts and he was happy again.
“Poor, sweet, little Draco.” She ran a tantalising finger up his chin (or was it down his chin?) before she placed it across his lips and shushed him. “It doesn’t matter,” she said sweetly. “You have me, don’t you?”
She raised her chest and his nose bumped it again. He grinned widely, a silly grin because he was so brilliantly happy. Why? Not even he could say.
But there was something more at stake, something important. He had to remember the game.
“Are you pregnant yet, Hermione Granger?” he asked with a silly lilt to his voice.
Hermione harrumphed in displeasure as she stepped away from him.
He missed her chest instantly.
“Are you ever going to stop asking me that?”
He grinned. “Only if you pop out a child who will be called Malfoy.”
His grin faded when she glared at him. “I’m not popping out anything.”
He gasped, rather dramatically, mind you. “You said…!”
“Yes, yes, I know what I said. And I shall keep that promise. But I didn’t say when, did I?”
There was a twinkle in her eye but Draco hardly noticed. Her chest bounced tantalisingly when she laughed.
“How about now?” he asked her. Because he wasn’t the giving-up kind. He had been once, before breasts occupied his dreams. And what lovely breasts they were, too. Perky, just the right size, fit perfectly in his palm…
“Are you listening to me?” she asked him, and for the fun of it, slapped him lightly.
“Ow!” he said, knowing that a tone of protesting was needed.
She rolled her eyes. “I hardly touched you.”
“You touched me lots!”
“Well, I hardly hurt you.”
“I beg to differ,” he said with a pout.
She cocked her head as she regarded him curiously. “Well, if you don’t come down from there, I won’t be able to touch you at all, will I?”
His head snapped towards her, the blood rushing from his brain to somewhere lower (or was it higher?).
“What do you mean?”
“Come down from there, hanging man, and I’ll show you exactly where I want to touch you.” She then turned around so he could have a good look at her bum as she practically skipped away. “If you’re late, I’ll start without you!” she cried over her shoulder.
Draco panicked, the ropes that Snape had placed on him entangled him to the wooden pole-like thingy. He twisted and squirmed, struggling against his binds and calling out for help from any crewmember that passed him. But they all pretended not to hear, simply snickering behind their hands at the poor Draco Granger hanging upside down, the Draco Granger who was trying to get shagged so desperately that he was chaffing his arse.
Ultimately, he gave up, and as luck had it, the rope slid off him and he slipped off the wooden pole-like thingy. He landed with a thud as the rope fell on his face. Severus Snape lifted the rope from his face and shook his head with disappointment before limping away (hang on, it was the other leg, wasn’t it?).
Getting up and cracking his spine, Draco hurried towards his cabin, where Hermione Granger was in.
“Bloody pain,” he cursed to all he passed. “Really don’t want to do this.”
He quickened his pace. He didn’t want her to start by herself.
TO BE CONTINUED...
Chapter 5: And with one day to the Grand Opening...
Hermione was almost—almost—glad that her good-for-nothing—fine, good for some things, especially some things—husband was nowhere to be found on this morning, since that meant that she would not have to hear him snidely ask her, “Are you pregnant yet, Hermione Granger?” at every turn. She had better things to do than to deal with Draco Malfoy—rather, Granger—even when this was made simple by his vow to obey her in all things, his manifestly potent physical lust for her body, and, of course, his ring.
She was sure that he would return in short order, but truth be told, she had grown so used to him popping up randomly, she actually found his temporary absence quite distracting.
She shook her head clear of these thoughts and asked the bus driver to repeat himself, even though she was already late to her meeting with the shopkeepers, including one Diggidus Havarti-Flume, who was eager to show her the newest sample of cheese, which the neutralized Dementors had apparently taken to the the way the old Dementors took to souls.
“As I was saying, it will be much faster if you have the Muggle adults take buses and leave the children to me,” Greyback said, yellowed, pointy teeth showing in a wide, ingratiating smile that looked more like he was baring his teeth. “The lovely little children will love a ride on good ol’ Greyback’s grey back—”
“Your hair looks more white to me, especially in your present, ah, form,” said Snape, who, with some well-placed glowering, had managed to limp past the line-up curving around the deck, onto the gangplank, and beyond. “Fenrir Whitehair has a ring, don’t you think? Granger, it seems that the Triwizard Dragon of Doom is malfunctioning again; it’s been programmed with an unmatched desire to protect all things golden, even watches and—”
“Er, Hermione,” interrupted Neville, who sprinted in, his hero status allowing him to do as he pleased, though Hermione had still managed to bully him into looking over the various magical plants in the park. “Do you really think it’s a good idea to have Venomous Tentaculas growing right at the main entrance? I thought it was supposed to be ever-flowering rose vines? There’s a few that are large enough to—”
Hermione wanted to interrupt and explain that, indeed, she agreed that the Venomous Tentaculas were a problem and, no, of course she had not planned to have them planted there—or anywhere in the park—and, in fact, she had no idea why they were there in the first place (Neville being the first to notify her), but the other two began talking again.
“—just give me the little children, Captain Granger. I’ll be good, I promise. No need for a muzzle, even. I’ll keep them away from Bellatrix, too. You know how she’s—”
“—the glint of spectacle frames and the stray Snitch a young wizard might carry in his pocket. Terrible design. I had thought you were bright, but of course, one can’t expect much from Gryffindors—”
“—attack the visitors right as they walk in. You remember their reach, don’t you, Hermione? I know they’re fascinating plants, and I’m glad they’ve been given such a prominent position, but—”
Just as Hermione was about to silence them all so they would talk one by one, Greyback, Snape, and Neville were pushed aside by a panting Charlie Weasley, who bent over and tried to catch his breath before saying, “Big problem, Hermione. A fight’s broken out between the baby dragons and the poisonous ducks over on the Magical Menagerie’s flight deck, and since we’re not allowed to use magic—”
But even Charlie was no competition for Hagrid, who came blundering up, followed by Grawp, whose every step rocked the ship. “Hermione!” Hagrid shouted. “The shipment has arrived.”
“Which shipment?” she shouted over the heads of the still-chattering wizards.
“The one from China!” said Hagrid with a huge grin. “There’re some rare ’uns in there, I reckon!”
Suddenly, Hermione’s feet were dangling in the air as Grawp, crying “Hermy!” with great joy, lifted her up over the heads of the protesting line. He leapt off the violently rocking ship and began thundering towards the receiving dock. Screams arose from behind her, and Hermione, bobbing in Grawp’s arms, looked back to catch sight of Snape limping (wasn’t he just favouring his other leg?) up—or rather, along—the mast of the ship, which had hit the dock as it tipped over.
But there was no time to go back—indeed, Grawp refused to turn around—so, Hermione resigned herself to examining the tigers, black-necked cranes, crested ibises, and golden snub-nosed monkeys that were filing off the ship from China. Last but not least came the lumbering pandas.
“Oh, aren’t they cute?” Hermione said to Hagrid as Grawp finally set her down, secretly relieved to be away from the mess at the ship.
Large splashes of tears fell from Hagrid’s eyes as he beheld the pandas. “I never thought this day would come,” he said between his joyous sobs.
“Wouldn’t be so overjoyed if I were him,” muttered Regulus Black, to whom Pansy had assigned the task of ferrying animals back and forth between docks and the Menagerie. “Look at their menacing eyes, hidden in those patches of black fur.”
Hermione scoffed. “They’re just pandas.”
“Dark eyes, dark thoughts,” said Regulus, who seemed unaware that his own eyes were quite black.
Pansy patted Regulus on the shoulder. “You know the stories aren’t true,” she said. “Just tales our parents told us.”
But Regulus was not to be comforted. He continued to complain about the animals; it seemed even the beautiful crested ibises concerned him. “Right evil, they are,” he said as his golf cart, loaded with cages full of the birds, took off.
“I’ve got a problem, Hermione,” said Pansy the moment Regulus was gone. “My golf cart rather inadequately shows my excellent driving technique, and I was thinking that I deserve a car with a little more oomph, you know? Neville suggested a Furry-Ree or a Lamb-Or-Genie. Said Harry had bought one recently—”
“No, Harry bought a Prius,” interrupted Hermione. “Look, Pansy it’s just not practical. You’ve—"
Two large, resounding cracks interrupted her—Winky and Kreacher materialized.
Winky began in a soft squeak. “I is reporting from the house-elves that we is feeling left out. There is much work to be done but no one is asking us to do it, and we is not part of Menagerie.”
“Now, Winky,” said Kreacher, “we musn’t bothers Mrs. Granger. She is my master’s good friend.”
Of all the times for house-elves to learn to stick up for themselves...
Hermione knelt down and asked, “How are you feeling, Winky?”
“Well, I never!” declared Pansy, throwing down her clipboard. “She teaches me to drive but won’t let me drive a real car. I talk to her first but get pushed aside for a house-elf! Well, hear this, Hermione Granger: I quit!”
Hermione tried to stop her, but Pansy zipped away in her golf cart.
“I...is feeling the same way as the other elves,” said Winky shyly when Pansy had gone.
“Oh?” said Hermione. “Well, Winky, I consider the Menagerie a place for Magical Creatures, and Kreacher is definitely not a creature, wouldn’t you say?”
Winky looked confused.
“Right,” said Hermione decisively, getting up and looking in the direction Pansy had disappeared. “Oh, and Kreacher, did you know Regulus is alive?”
Kreacher gave a great gasp. “Master Regulus!” He disappeared with a crack.
Winky tugged on Hermione’s robes. “Mrs. Granger, is my master alive, too?”
“Look, Winky, I’m afraid—” began Hermione before she was distracted by a beetle. She waved at it, but with sudden suspicion, she snatched it up and pointed her wand at it. Rita Skeeter! The nerve of that woman!
“Hello, Mrs. Malf—Granger,” said Skeeter smiling, having been forcibly transformed back to human form. “It’s been a long time, hasn’t it? Now, I’ve done some investigations, and it seems that your entrance boats, the Boppin’ Bumber Boats—”
“It’s the Bobbin’ Bumper Boat Ride,” said Hermione with gritted teeth.
“Right,” agreed Skeeter. “Well your Boppin’ Bumberin’ Boats are actually running on magic, and as per Ministry Ordinance Number 1337, the use of magic is strictly forbidden in the—”
“Excuse me, miss!” squeaked Winky, “I is here first. And I is asking Mrs. Granger a question about my—”
“Your master is dead,” said Skeeter waspishly. “As I was saying, magic is forbidden—”
Huge sobs erupted from Winky and were so loud that Hermione and Rita had to cover their ears. In the distance, Hermione could make out a crowd being attracted to the sound and making their way towards her. It was led by a thoroughly-wet Snape, who, magnifying his voice, snarled, “Ms. Granger, the ship’s mast has—”
His voice was soon drowned out by a dozen other shouting voices.
“The ducks, Hermione, the ducks! They’ll kill all the baby dragons!”
“I don’t mind the Muggle children, unlike the other former Death Eaters, Captain Granger. So, I tell you, send them all to me.”
“Do you know what happened to Pansy, Hermione? I saw her driving out of the park in tears. Also, I’ve been meaning to tell you that yesterday I found some baby Mandrakes planted right by the TriCorn Maze of Maize.”
“Laid out the cheese; been there for hours. I have important research to do, Granger, and I don’t appreciate people who waste my time!”
“Inspector for the Ministry here. It seems your Abraxans are—”
And on they went.
“Enough!” shouted Hermione, silencing all the Death Eaters simply by saying that word and rendering the rest of them speechless with her wand—or rather, soundless, for it seemed that some, especially Rita Skeeter, still had quite a bit of speech left in them.
“You!” Hermione jabbed a finger at Snape. “You’re a wizard, aren’t you? Go and fix the problems yourself, since Slytherins are so smart.”
“Diggidus,” she said to the angry, bearded man who had shouted loudest. “Please be at your cheese shop in three hours. I’ll meet you there.”
“As for the rest of you,” said Hermione, “I’m very busy, so report your problems to my first mate.”
There. Let Draco Granger finally do something besides dangle uselessly from poles and misunderstand all her wonderfully-clear hand signals.
Hermione ducked into the bathroom and emerged five minutes later, Disillusioned, to walk about the park in peace. She was struck by a desire to see her husband suffering through what should have been her problems.
She wandered the park in quest of her elusive husband. In a corner of Yesterdayland, Hermione passed by some bushes that seemed to be growling, and so, relishing her freedom and invisibility, she paused to listen.
“—tellin’ you, I can’t. It won’t be seemly! It’s not just that my hair’s turning white. I’m balding! In patches! And you can laugh now, but when the moon comes and I look more like a Dalmatian—”
“—your vanity’s appalling,” said another voice. “Think what I’ve had to put up with these past few weeks, acting like a brainless—”
It was Greyback and someone... someone very familiar, but Hermione couldn’t place the voice. She shuffled the leaves, but she caught only a glimpse before the two were gone.
Hermione set off with even more purpose, thinking that her former-Death-Eater husband would be able to place the voice. But a thorough search—and some crafty avoidance of people looking for her—yielded nothing. She asked the park’s version of the Sorting Hat for advice, but at the end of a long series of questions, it outputted the following: ERROR Unexpected thought process for a Gryffindor at answer 18, character 8.
With an exasperated sigh, Hermione finally headed for Vertik Alley’s shops with only a half-hour to spare before her meeting with Diggidus. She removed the Disillusionment and ordered a Butterbeer—for the heat, she told Madame Rosmerta—but she had barely taken a sip when Rosmerta began complaining about the high rent at this location, Stan Shunpike’s unseemly behaviour, and the general rudeness of the park’s employees. Hermione quickly finished her drink and ducked through the doorway of Ye Olde Cheese House.
Where she found her husband cramming cube after cube of sample cheese into his mouth, looking most undignified.
“What are you doing!” cried Hermione. “That’s the Havarti Diggidus laid out for—no, Draco, stop!”
Draco Granger stopped, but his hands instantly began twitching. He looked, with pleading eyes, at Hermione.
Hermione crossed her arms and lifted them up a little, sure that that would do the trick.
But although her husband’s eyes drifted immediately towards her breasts, his hands continued to twitch. “Please, just another piece?”
Draco immediately lifted the platter and tipped the contents into his mouth.
“Stop this instance!” commanded Hermione.
The platter dropped with a clang!
“No!” shouted Draco. “What have you done?” He took one menacing step towards Hermione before fainting.
At which moment, Diggidus Harvarti-Flume decided to return to his shop. “What’s this!” he cried. “The cheese! Mrs. Granger, you owe me 1,000 Galleons at least for this mess!”
Useless. That was what Draco was. Even charmed as he was to follow her commands, he was easier to deal with unconscious.
Hermione gathered Draco up with a flick of her wand, ignored Diggidus’ complaints, and marched back to the ship.
Everyone else had returned to the still-half-sunken ship when they failed to locate the cheese-eating first mate. Hermione ordered a few in the waiting line to help Diggidus clean up the cheese shop, then handed Draco to Snape. She finally settled into the inner room of her cabin, putting up Muffling and Locking Charms so no one would disturb her; indeed, they began pounding at her door the moment she shut it.
When she awoke midday, she undid the Charms cautiously, only to find there was no sound. The deck of her ship was empty, and Draco and Snape were gone, too.
Silence and a long stretch of lonely beach met Hermione when she got off the ship. She walked alone, finding nobody until she got to Vertik Alley. And then she saw: Death Eaters and war heroes alike, as far as the eye could see, shouting and fighting, all vying over entrance to…
Ye Olde Cheese House.
TO BE CONTINUED...
Chapter 6: I Hate Pandas, And I Don't Care Who Knows It
A/N: Credit to Jay-Z (never thought I’d be typing that…) for the “99 Problems” lyric. And no, I’m not joking about panda porn. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panda_pornography
Hermione slumped down into her cushy captain’s chair, tossed her tricorn onto her overflowing inbox, and put her head into her hands.
The day had been an unmitigated disaster. Conflict after conflict had pushed her to the very edge of her sanity, and the brawl outside of the damn Ye Olde Cheese House was the nudge that sent her tumbling ever so daintily over the edge. It was a blur to her now: a literal flume of the addictive Havarti spanning all three floors, the air sizzling with the smell of flambéed saganaki, the fountain spewing molten nacho cheese upon all and sundry… It was enough to bring a cheese-lover to tears.
And Hermione did so love cheese.
Approaching footsteps prompted a great sniffle and a bout of hurried eye-blotting, though damned if she was going to put that hat on again. She composed herself just as the door opened.
“Are you preg –” Draco’s question died on his lips as he noticed her expression. Eyes wide, he lunged at her, arms extended, mouth open. Hermione braced herself for impact, oddly excited for the comfort that his arms – or any pair of arms, at that moment – would bring. Her disappointment as he stopped short could only mean that she truly had lost her marbles, and it turned to annoyance as he delicately plucked a piece of cheese out of her hair.
“I totally understand why they named it gouda,” he said after munching the morsel.
Hermione was not amused. “A fat lot of help you were today,” she snapped. “I had ninety-nine problems, and –”
“I wasn’t one.” He dropped into the chair beside her and lifted his feet onto her desk. “You told me to stay out of your way, remember?” Draco held up his left hand, flashing his wedding ring at her. “Captain’s orders and all that rot.”
She scowled at the manifestation of her own cleverness. Surely that wasn’t regret she was feeling. Probably just an aftereffect of smelling that rank Limburger.
“I overheard a conversation,” she began, “between Greyback and another employee. I think –”
Draco waved off her concern. “We’ve got bigger problems right now. Panda problems.”
It was her turn to be dismissive. “Draco, we have middle-aged mutant ninja turtles. I’m sure we can handle a few Muggle bears.”
He raised his eyebrows and held out his hand. “Let’s go.”
Hermione allowed herself to be led off the ship and through the park. She needed a moment to take in the nighttime silence, to breathe the cool air and de-stress. As she looked at the hulking structures, eerie black against the deep navy sky, she realized that they were not ready to open tomorrow. No way.
“Clearly,” Draco said with a wry laugh. Hermione flushed; she hadn’t realized she’d spoken aloud. “Not much we can do about it now, though.”
They stopped at the panda sanctuary in the Magical Menagerie; there was not a bear in sight.
“I fail to see –”
“She is smart,” came a voice from the shadows. Hermione jumped as Regulus sidled into the dim light. He nodded to Draco, then turned back to her. “It’s what you don’t see,” he repeated. “The bears. Humanity’s number one threat.”
He hit her with a significant look; Hermione fought the urge to back away slowly. “Panda bears?” she asked hesitantly.
Regulus turned his dark eyes back to the enclosure. “The ultimate economic burden. Muggles have spent millions of dollars on conservation efforts – special diets, special habitats, special pornography. But the bears block them at every turn, declining to mate, refusing to thrive unless they’re treated like kings. And that’s what they want… To be kings. To rule us all!”
“O-kay, Regulus, I think it’s time you head to the dormitories.”
“Hermione, he’s right.”
Her eyes shot to Draco. “Oh, please. You can’t actually believe –”
“I’ve sent Kreacher in disguised as a clump of bamboo,” Regulus said over Hermione’s skepticism. “He should be back any minute now.”
Hermione froze. “You sent him in as bamboo? Pandas eat bamboo!”
Regulus looked at her, surprised, then turned back to the enclosure. “Well, this should be an interesting report then.”
Kreacher appeared before them with a sharp crack. Most of his bamboo was missing and the tufts of hair around his ears looked a little more wayward than usual, but he was otherwise unharmed.
Regulus knelt before him. “Kreacher, what did you find?”
They listened in silence to the elf’s report. By the time he had finished, Hermione’s knees felt wobbly. Regulus sent her an “I told you so” look and left hand-in-hand with Kreacher. Draco watched with crossed arms as she leaned up against the enclosure fence.
“The pandas are plotting to take over the park.”
Hermione shook her head. “That’s impossible. They just got here.” She shook her head again. “I can’t do this on my own.”
Draco took a step closer to her and smiled. “I was hoping you would realize that soon. I have a proposition for you.”
She folded her arms over her chest and sighed. Men. “Draco, I’m really not in the mood right now.”
His smile widened, his grey eyes flicking appreciatively over her body. “Get your mind out of the gutter, Granger. My proposition is only slightly less sexual and will involve very little work on your part.”
Very little work, eh? That sounded promising. She gave him a sideways glance. “I’m listening.”
“Release me from my vows.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. You’d be sent straight back to Azkaban. Is that really better than leading the good ship Durmstrang on its daily tours?” Or being married to her? Though she made absolutely sure not to say that last part.
“No, it’s not, and no, I wouldn’t be. Under Wizengamot Law 1489, Article Q, Section 9, Subheading 1.1.2, pure-blood marriage vows can be altered without the marriage being completely dissolved when the planet is threatened by dichromatic furry beings under four feet tall. So just take out that pesky obey bit, give me my free will back, and I’ll help you get this place sorted. Savvy?”
Her eyes narrowed in suspicion. “You’ll leave me.” Damn, why did that have to sound all… vulnerable?
His expression became serious. “I won’t. You’re still my best hope for amnesty, and I don’t plan to live the rest of my life on probation.”
“Then you’ll make my life a living hell.”
He closed the space between them. “Isn’t that what a husband is supposed to do?” He looked at her, his lips quirked from his joke and his eyes shining with something else, something…
“Besides, you have other assets that are far too entertaining to abandon at the moment.”
And he was back. No need to shake herself out of it and no need for self-retribution. Theirs was unequivocally and inexorably a marriage of convenience, and she had to remember that. No friendship, no romance, certainly nothing that had to do with that forbidden ‘L’ word. Nothing deep or meaningful here. Nope. Just a job to do, an heir to produce, and a fascination with each other’s chests.
She withdrew her wand and aimed it at the ring. A minute of concentration, some mumbly-jumbly Latin whatnot, and it was done. A small pulse of magic radiated over him, and Draco visibly relaxed.
“Thank you, Hermione. Now let’s get down to business.”
He furrowed his brow. “No, she didn’t. She’s just pouting and sex-starved. Apparently, Longbottom isn’t as desperate as she – or anyone else – thought. And park business can wait. We have business business to attend.” His eyes gravitated toward her chest again, and he smirked. “Wizengamot Law 1489, Article Q, Section 9, Subheading 1.1.3: All altered vows must be re-consummated, or else they are rendered moot within two hours of the alteration.”
Hermione rolled her eyes but enjoyed a secret smile as he took her hand and led her back to the Durmstrang. She always did enjoy following the rules.
TO BE CONTINUED...
Chapter 7: What the Cheese is Going On Here?
Hermione was usually an early riser, but on this particular morning, she was having trouble getting out of bed. She felt so warm and cozy with Crookshanks cuddled up to her. In her slumberous state, she petted his soft fur, half-wondering when her cat had gotten a perm. However, as she continued to stroke his silky fur, instead of his usual loud purring, she heard a low moan that didn't sound at all cat-like. Opening one bleary eye, she saw the familiar ginger fur and relaxed again. Until the ginger furball started pawing her. With human hands!
Her eyes snapped open, giving her a very good look at the half-naked man lying next to her. “Malfoy?”
“Are you preg—” began Draco with a yawn until he was interrupted by his face hitting the floor. “Ow! What the bloody hell?”
“Oh, my God!” cried Hermione in shock, standing on the bed, clutching the sheets around her. “Did we sleep together?”
“Well, I think we did a little more than sleeping,” Draco drawled, propping himself up on his elbows and giving her an impish wink.
“Oh, my God! Oh, my God!”
“That's what you said last night,” said Draco, grinning obnoxiously.
“What on earth is going on here?” Hermione muttered, completely confused. “The last thing I remember is eating an entire cheese platter alone in my hotel room after finally coming to the realization the Ron was never going to marry me.”
“You wanted to marry that red-haired buffoon?” Draco asked jealously. Then, remembering his own unsightly ginger body hair, he quickly picked up his discarded clothing off the floor and put them on to cover up his shame.
Ignoring him, Hermione said, “This can't be real. Maybe it's just indigestion from eating all of that cheese.” Letting out a not-quite delicate burp, she looked down at Draco in disappointment. “You're still here.”
“Have you been drinking?” asked Draco, giving her a funny look.
Hermione began pacing anxiously on the bed, trying to puzzle out how she could have possibly ended up in bed with Malfoy. Maybe she had been drinking. She never could hold her liquor. Funny, the only thing she could remember from last night was the cheese platter. Malfoy must not be very good in bed. “Just my luck you're in Fiji, too,” Hermione grumbled.
Now, Draco looked confused. “Fiji?”
“We are in Fiji, aren't we?” asked Hermione, starting to get a sick feeling in the pit of her stomach.
“No. We're in Britain on a pirate ship. At an amusement park you designed to help bridge the Muggle and wizarding worlds.”
Hermione's mouth dropped open. She looked at Draco for a long while before she finally burst out laughing. “You can't be serious. Did the twins put you up to this?”
“Look for yourself,” said Draco, nodding his head toward the window. “Today's the grand opening.”
Warily, Hermione walked over and stuck her head out the porthole. What she saw amazed her. Sure enough, it was a giant amusement park, complete with rides and concessions and everything. “Are those Death Eaters driving Muggles around in golf carts?” she asked incredulously. “How could the Ministry approve such a scheme?”
Draco shrugged. “I don't know. It was your idea.”
“It was not my idea. I mean, an amusement park? That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard of,” Hermione scoffed. “I've been on holiday in Fiji.”
“No, you haven't.”
“Yes, I have.”
“Maybe you're just having Opening Day jitters. Or... maybe you're pregnant.” His eyes lit up at the idea.
“I feel sick,” said Hermione miserably, sitting down on the bed.
“Ooh, that's a definite sign of pregnancy,” said Draco excitedly.
“I am not pregnant!” Hermione snapped. “I'm confused, and I have no idea what's going on here.”
“Well, let me refresh your memory. You got the bright idea to build an amusement park to improve relations between wizards and Muggles, but you needed a pirate captain, and apparently, the only one who could do the job was me, although I was in Azkaban—on a technicality, of course. So, you busted me out with some weird wizarding law you found and bribed me into marrying you. Sound familiar?”
“We're married!” Hermione exclaimed, quickly looked down at her ring finger in panic. Breathing a sigh of relief, she waved her ringless finger in his face. “Nice try. You had me going there for a minute.”
“But we did get married,” Draco insisted, frantically searching the room. “You had a ring that made me obey you, but I asked you to remove it, and you did. We consummated it three times just to make sure it worked.”
“Would you stop talking about us consummating? It's making me feel ill. And it's ludicrous that I would have such a ring because I would never enslave anyone. Unlike you, I have morals.”
“But you did,” said Draco, as much to himself as to Hermione. “And it didn't just work on me. It worked on all of the Death Eaters.”
“Then, where is the ring now?” asked Hermione, hands on her hips.
“I don't know. It must be around here somewhere. It... ah, here it is,” said Draco triumphantly, plucking a golden ring from a candy dish on a nearby table.
Hermione snatched the ring out of his hand and did what every young woman of a certain age was prone to do: she slipped it on her finger. It was a pretty little ring. She couldn't help admiring how it looked.
“See? I told you we were married.” Draco smirked.
Coming to her senses, Hermione yanked on the ring. Unfortunately, it was stuck. No matter how hard she pulled, it wouldn't budge, even after multiple attempts at various removal spells. “I don't remember marrying you!”
“You don't remember building an amusement park either, but there it is,” said Draco, gesturing toward the porthole.
“As soon as I get dressed, I'm going straight to the Ministry and filing for divorce,” Hermione snapped, stomping toward the wardrobe.
“You can't divorce me!” Draco exclaimed. “Not until you have my babies.”
“Babies! I'm not having your babies,” Hermione declared adamantly.
“What do you have against babies? Babies are adorable.”
“I don't have anything against babies.” Hermione huffed, rifling through the wardrobe for something decent to put on. “Argh! Why are there only pirate clothes in here?”
“Because you're the pirate queen,” said Draco, as if that made complete sense.
Hermione gritted her teeth. “Of course I am.” She angrily snatched an outfit out of the wardrobe and menacingly pointed her wand at Draco.
Draco gulped. “You're not going to make me walk the plank, are you?”
“No!” Hermione exclaimed exasperatedly. “I just want you to turn around. I'm going to change clothes.”
“Oh. Well, I've already seen everything—”
Draco immediately obeyed and then let out a groan.
“What's the matter?” Hermione asked, changing into her pirate costume.
“I turned around.”
“Well, that is the gentlemanly thing to do.”
“But I'm no gentleman. I only did it because I had to obey you. You have complete control over me again.”
Hermione looked at him skeptically. “So, you're saying that you'll do whatever I tell you to do?”
Draco nodded glumly.
“Hop on one foot. Do a jig. Mess up your hair!” She let out a giggle as Draco obeyed her every whim. “Go—”
“Would you knock it off?” Draco growled, glaring at her through his messy bangs. “What happened to you being so moral?”
Hermione blushed. “Oh, sorry. I got a little giddy with power there for a moment. I'll try to control myself.”
“I don't understand why I still have to obey you,” said Draco, flipping through his Ministry pamphlet on marriage laws. “We consummated it three times.”
“Shut up about that!” Hermione ordered.
“Besides, that wasn't me. I've been in Fiji on holiday. It was my doppelganger or someone Polyjuiced as me or my evil twin or... something.”
“I don't know,” said Draco doubtfully. “It sure seemed like you.”
“Because building a theme park, hiring Death Eaters to drive Muggles around in golf carts, and bribing you to be my husband sounds so much like me,” said Hermione sarcastically.
Draco was about to retort when they were interrupted by a knock on the door.
“Who is that?” Hermione hissed worriedly.
Draco looked through the peephole. “I don't see anyone. Ooh, cheese!” he exclaimed excitedly, throwing open the door and grabbing a shining, silver platter filled with glorious cheese. “I thought we lost it all in the cheese riot.”
Hermione peeked out into the hallway but didn't see anyone. Noticing the Daily Prophet on the floor, she picked it up and closed the door. Unrolling it, she gasped at what she saw.
“What is it?” asked Draco distractedly, searching for a knife for the cheese.
Draco dutifully read the morning's headline. “‘Cheese Wiz Disappears: Where in the World is Diggy Flu?’” Looking at her, he said, “So?”
“Not that,” said Hermione dismissively. “The date. Is this correct?”
“Mmhm,” murmured Draco, still focused on finding a knife.
“But it can't be,” Hermione protested. “I have no recollection of all these days passing. What have I been doing all this time?”
Draco shrugged. “Building an amusement park and getting hitched to yours truly?”
“Maybe it was a Memory Charm,” said Hermione thoughtfully, “or someone Imperiused me or I'm stuck in some bizarre parallel universe...”
“I've got it!” Draco exclaimed.
“You know what happened to me?” Hermione asked excitedly.
“No, I found a knife. For the cheese. Want some?”
Hermione groaned. “I am never eating cheese again.”
“Suit yourself,” said Draco.
As Draco greedily sliced into the cheese, a parrot flew in through the window and landed on his shoulder. “Draco cut the cheese. Squawk! Draco cut the cheese.”
Hermione laughed. “Who's your little friend?”
“Fernando is not my friend. He's a nuisance,” Draco muttered, glaring at the bird on his shoulder.
“I think he's cute,” said Hermione.
Draco turned his attention back to his cheese. “I wish I had some crackers,” he grumbled.
“Draco wants a cracker. Draco wants a cracker,” squawked Fernando.
“Stuff it, Fernando,” said Draco, stuffing a piece of cheese in its beak.
Fernando let out one last squawk and then fell over dead. Draco and Hermione looked down at the bird now lying stiff on the floor in shock.
“What did you do?” Hermione asked accusingly.
“I didn't do anything,” protested Draco. “I just gave him a piece of cheese to shut him up.”
“Well, you shut him up all right.”
As they stared down at the dead bird, it suddenly began changing shape until it finally transformed into a naked man. Hermione took a closer look at the dark-haired, dead man lying on the floor and gasped.
“Do you know him?”
Hermione blushed. “Um, yes, he was the cabana boy at my hotel.”
Draco raised his eyebrow. “You were doing the cabana boy?”
“No!” exclaimed Hermione. “Ron was being a prat and Fernando was... well, quite attentive. We may have walked on the beach at the same time. Around sunset. Holding hands. It may have seemed a tad romantic. I kissed him maybe. Perhaps let him feel me up a bit. But I didn't do him!”
“This is just great!” burst Draco. “Everyone's going to think I killed him in a fit of jealous rage. They'll send me back to Azkaban. This is all your fault.”
“Well, you were the one who killed him,” Hermione pointed out.
“It was an accident!”
“I wonder how he died?”
Draco shrugged and sliced another piece of cheese. “I don't know, but it wasn't because I was jealous of a stupid bird.”
Draco was about to pop the piece of cheese in his mouth when Hermione snatched it away.
Glaring, Draco said, “I thought you didn't want any cheese.”
“I don't, and you don't want this cheese, either. It's poisoned.”
“Who would want to poison me?”
Hermione shrugged. “Everyone? But this is probably bigger than you. I think this could be part of a major cheese conspiracy that goes all the way up to the Ministry.”
Draco looked longingly at the cheese platter. “What a waste of good cheese.”
Ignoring him, Hermione continued, “Maybe I ate mind-controlling cheese that made me build an amusement park. And didn't you say something about a riot? And now Fernando.”
At the mention of Fernando, Draco started pacing frantically. “I'm going back to Azkaban. I'm going back to Azkaban.”
“You're not going anywhere. At least, for now, anyway. Unfortunately, I need your help in solving this mystery. Someone may be trying to become the next dark lord, and you're the only one I can trust.”
“You trust me? Over Longbottom and that Irish bloke?”
“Well, Neville's gotten a little full of himself ever since he killed Nagini. Smaller power trips than his have resulted in the rising of a dark lord. And Seamus has always been a flip-flopper.”
“But why trust me? I've done some pretty horrible things. I could be the one trying to become the next dark lord.”
Hermione let out a laugh. “Very unlikely.”
“Why?” asked Draco, sounding very put out.
“You're not really dark lord material.”
“Are you suggesting that Longbottom is more dark lord material than I am?” asked Draco angrily, his voice starting to rise.
“Yes,” said Hermione emphatically.
“Well, that's... that's... stupid,” Draco sputtered angrily.
“I don't know what you're getting so mad about. Don't you want me to trust you?”
“Not at the expense of my manhood,” huffed Draco.
“This has nothing to do with your... manhood,” said Hermione, stumbling over the word. “It's just that you're a bit of a coward, is all.”
“Oh, is that all,” said Draco sarcastically.
“Do you want me to trust you or not?” asked Hermione exasperatedly. “If not, there's a cell in Azkaban with your name on it.”
A look of fear swept over Draco's face. “All right, all right. You can trust me. But what about him?” asked Draco, pointing down at the very naked, very dead Fernando. “If anyone finds out he's dead, I'm going to Azkaban for sure.”
“Then, no one can find out.”
“What are we going to do? Stuff him in a wardrobe?”
Hermione thought about it and then shook her head. “Someone might find him. We need to hide him somewhere we can keep an eye on him.”
“What are we going to do? Carry him around on our backs?” asked Draco sarcastically.
Hermione's eyes twinkled. “Not our backs. On your shoulder.”
Hermione pointed her wand down at Fernando and Transfigured him into a stuffed parrot. Gingerly picking him up, she attached him to Draco's shoulder with a Sticking Charm. Needless to say, Draco completely freaked out.
Running around their cabin, he squealed, “Get him off! Get him off!”
“Would you be quiet!” Hermione hissed. “Quit being such a wuss.”
Draco glared at her. “You know, I think I liked doppelganger-Hermione better.”
“Oh, go jump off a tall cliff somewhere,” Hermione grumbled.
Draco let out a yelp and started walking toward the door.
“Where are you going?” Hermione asked, forgetting all about her control over Draco.
“To go jump off of a cliff,” said Draco angrily, fumbling with the door handle.
Disinterestedly, Hermione said, “Well, have fun.”
“Aren't you going to stop me?” asked Draco, starting to panic.
“Why would I want to do that?”
TO BE CONTINUED...
Chapter 8: Screaming Meemees
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Merlin, he could be such a drama queen sometimes.
Hermione sighed as she followed her husband across the island.
By now, they had attracted quite a little audience. Well, Draco had attracted it, wailing all the way from their—her—room to the cliff overlooking the harbour.
Was it any wonder that the thought of shagging him was such a nauseating turn-off? Draco was worse than a girl, working himself into a strop over an eensy-weensy dead parrot and threatening to throw himself off a cliff.
Hermione rolled her eyes. They had bigger fish to fry. She could feel it deep in her queasy gut. The same gut that had kept her and her two best friends alive for seven years of terrible danger while being chased by psychotic thugs.
She looked around her while they walked, taking in the listing mast of the pirate ship, the empty display in the zoo, the water-logged bumper boats, and the merchandise-free cheese shop. Hadn’t Draco said it was the park’s grand opening today? They were nowhere near ready for it. She would be a laughing stock when the press showed up. Her name and reputation would be mud. She was between a rock and hard place. Déjà vu, as usual. She could leave the island and never show her face in public again or stay, perform a miracle to open in time, and get to the bottom of her gut feeling. It was like having to choose between giving up pizza or the internet.
Draco yelped in pain, drawing Hermione’s attention away from her self-pity party and burning intestines. He’d cracked a sign post pointing the way to the pirate ship and was sucking on his thumb as he marched, trying to dislodge a stubborn splinter. His eyes were misty with tears of pain and his chest hair gleamed fiery gold in the early morning sun.
And really, the bright orange pelt on his chest wasn’t helping. Her taste ran more to an abundance of freckles and smooth, hairless, washboard abs.
She definitely needed to do something about that pelage… an extra-strength Depilatory Charm? Fuzz Begone potion? Waxing? She could strap him down, cover him in shaving foam, and scrape it off with a straight-edge razor… She shivered at the pictures in her mind. Or not. Because she wasn’t going to sleep with him again. If she actually had in the first place. She really wasn’t.
Hermione stared at her husband’s pert arse as they climbed the steep hill overlooking the harbour and noticed her breathing was a little heavy. Boy, she was out of shape. All that shagging Draco claimed they’d done sure hadn’t increased her endurance. Maybe she made him do all the work? A bit of drool fell from her lips onto her pirate blouse, leaving a damp spot on the white silk. She yanked her gaze away from Draco’s firm buttocks and glanced behind her at the crowd following them up the hill.
Snape was taking bets.
Hermione stopped, putting her hands on her hips. “Hold it right there!”
Everyone stopped. The Death Eaters groaned in unison, feeling the powerful tug to obey enforced. Snape growled in frustration, leaning on his right leg and avoiding his former pupil’s pupils. Draco nearly sobbed in relief, standing mere centimetres from the edge of the cliff.
“Just what is going on here, Snape?”
Snape shifted his weight to his left leg. “What do you mean?”
Hermione rolled her eyes and huffed impatiently. “Why are you taking bets?”
“Oh.” Snape shifted his weight again, looking relieved. “Well…we lads—”
Bellatrix cleared her throat noisily while aiming a vacant stare into the distance over Snape’s shoulder.
“—are pretty bored in the evenings, what with the lack of plotting and torture at the hands of an evil overlord and such. So, we started a pool.”
“A pool?” Hermione narrowed her eyes at him.
“A pool is when a mate takes a square on a chart, or a date, or a point spread and puts money on it to win. If his pick is right—”
Hermione’s eyes narrowed further. “I know what a pool is. What are you betting on?”
Snape shifted his eyes and his weight to the left. “I’m not betting on anything.”
“Fine.” Hermione gritted out, grinding her teeth. “What are they betting on?”
“Er.” Snape winced, as if dodging a blow. “You’ve married him. Greyback won that bit. You’ve shagged him. Regulus was the winner there.” Snape motioned to his cohorts, who were grinning as if pleased with themselves, until they noticed the scowl on Hermione’s face.
“And now you’re throwing him off a cliff, so…” Snape’s voice drifted off as Hermione’s scowl became thunderous.
‘You all bet on when my wife would throw me off a cliff?” Draco shrieked in disbelief. He was indignant. And hurt. His own mates, betting against him.
“It didn’t need to be a cliff,” Snape muttered. He’d wanted to wring the entitled prat’s skinny neck a fair few times over the years himself.
“I. can. not. believe. this.” Hermione paced, clenching her fists. Her hair stood on end, emitting blue sparks. “One moment, I’m on Fiji, nursing a broken heart with a delightful, creamy Camembert, and the next… I’m in charge of a motley gang of dissidents and thugs, building an amusement park. An amusement park! For Muggles to learn about magic!” She barked out a laugh and a shower of sparks erupted from her frazzled locks. She looked like the Bride of Frankenstein. “And to top it all off? I’m married to a poncey git with a clown wig stuck to his chest and a pert arse begging to be smacked!”
She stopped pacing and crossed her arms, staring Snape and the other Death Eaters down. They shifted their feet and suddenly found the dirt path extremely fascinating.
“Oh! But the best part? The best part is finding out the gormless dissidents and thugs are poking their noses in my. private. business. And are. betting. on it. That just takes the crappy frosted cake!”
She paused to count to ten. In Latin. She was this close to turning them all into cockroaches and shoving them into jars.
“Snape!” Hermione snapped, waiting for him to look her in the eye. “If Draco jumped off that cliff right now, who would win the pool?” She ignored her husband’s pathetic whimpers of dismay and kept her eyes on her former professor.
“Er.” Snape consulted a scrap of worn parchment. “Bellatrix.”
“Ha!” Hermione exclaimed. Her hair sparked in emphasis. “There’s something going on here, and I don’t like it one bit. The odd cheese. Flu disappearing. The Pandas. They have to be dangerous. Hagrid likes them too much—”
“Hey,” said Draco. “You’re remembering.”
Hermione ignored him, as usual. She was muttering to herself at this point. “I would never allow Death Eaters anywhere near Muggles. And Neville Longbottom, a dark lord? Absurd.”
The crowd shifted in place uneasily when Hermione snorted, showering the largest display of sparks yet.
She stared at Snape and the Death Eaters, her eyes more cutting than sharks with frigging laser beams.
“My gut is a raging inferno and that means conspiracy! I’ll get to the bottom of this, if it’s the last thing I do!” She stamped her foot, vibrating with terrific conviction. “Also, if you think I’m letting Bellatrix win anything? Well! All I have to say is: over. my. dead. body.”
One last magnificent shower of sparks twinkled overhead as Hermione’s passionate declaration freed Draco from her previous commands. Just in time for him to push her out of the way as a beam of green light whizzed by, incinerating the parrot stuck to his shoulder.
Everyone froze and gasped as one, staring at the two small claws clinging to a dusty first mate’s shirt and the cloud of grey ash raining on the ground near Draco’s feet.
“That is an ex-parrot,” muttered Snape in shock.
An eerily familiar voice rose up over the crowd, singing,
“There was something in the air that night
The stars were bright, Fernando
Though we never thought that we could lose
There's no regret
If I had to do the same again
I would, my friend, Fernando.”
TO BE CONTINUED...
Shag, Marry, Cliff is a popular meme on social sites in which the players chooses from three of a character set (for example: Giant Squid, Umbridge, Fudge) to shag, marry, or throw off a cliff. You have to choose one character for each option.
Ex-parrot remark courtesy Dead Parrot Sketch, Monty Python.
Lyrics from “Fernando” by Abba. Writer(s): Bjoern K. Ulvaeus, Stig Anderson, Tony Walther, Benny Goran Bror Andersson. Copyright: Union Songs Musikforlag AB
Chapter 9: Ringers
A/N: see end of chapter
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“The Fantastic World of Make-Believe”
(formerly 'Esthwaite Water Park')
OPENING DAY SPECIAL EVENTS!
Opening Ceremony & Welcome Parade (Grand Master: Severus Snape, the Peg-Legged Jape)
Magical Menagerie—Fantasy Football game: The Mighty Ducks vs. The Dragon Army
The TriCorn Maze of Maize, Yesterdayland—Race to the Death! (prizes for all participants!)
The Dread Pirate Ship Durmstrang - Mock Sea Battle
Magical Menagerie—Backstage Tour: "Exotics of the Orient—Cranes, and Monkeys, and Pandas (oh my!)"
Car Park, Section V for Tom Riddle—Seminar & Demonstration: "Prius Envy: You Want To Be Environmentally-Friendly But Sadly Can't Afford It"
The Mad Hatter, Vertik Alley—Seminar & Crafts: "Busbys—Fashion or Foppery?"
Fireworks & Closing Ceremony
Main Street to Nowhere—The Sorting Hat Sings Tom Jones' Greatest Hits
Madam Puttitat's Tea Shoppe, Vertik Alley—"Divining Love in the Dregs of Your Tea" (at the top of every hour)
Ye Olde Cheese House, Vertik Alley—Diggy Flu's Cheese Jam (free samples for all guests!)
The Dread Pirate Ship Durmstrang – Crow's Nest Tours with Fernando
Hogsfeed Square, The Indoor Arboretum—Battle of the Vegetable Giants (sign-ups start today!)
It was simply... inconceivable!
"Right. That's it, we're closing down," she stated, crumpling up the paper and tossing it over her shoulder.
Using his awesome Seeker reflexes, Draco easily caught the trash... only to have Harry Potter swoop down and steal it from his hands, claiming the catch.
"You can't quit, 'Mione," Harry stated, tossing the balled-up paper into the air and snagging it faster than anyone's eye could follow. "You're the glue that holds it all together. We need you to make this happen!"
She whirled on him as fast as a Sharknado. "Why? You're the fecking Boy-That-Wouldn't-Die—"
Harry cleared his throat and held up a finger to stop her. "Boy-That-Lived, actually, but you can call me The Chosen One. I'm good with that, too."
"Whatever! I'm done. I don't want to be the leader of some failed experiment in resort park entertainment anymore. Disney can keep that crown," she shouted. "I just want to be the Dread Pirate Queen," she held her arms over her head and used her magic to create a light show and halo effect all around her, "not dark, but beautiful and terrible as the Morn! Treacherous as the Seas! Stronger than the foundations of the Earth! All shall love me and despair!" She dropped her arms. "Is that really too much to ask?"
Everyone had stopped what they were doing to just stare at her in awe.
"Er—" Draco began, adjusting the front of his trousers, "that was totally hot, love. Do that again."
The rest of the male Death Eaters concurred.
"Gah! Why do I bother with you lot?" she asked, tossing up her hands. She turned at that exact moment and pointed at Greyback, who was literally salivating all over little Dennis Creevey. "SIT!" she shouted at him.
The werewolf immediately dropped to his haunches and stayed there.
She turned to Regulus Black, who had a pair of binoculars fixed on the panda cage in the distance, keeping a watchful eye out. "Hey, Reg," she called, getting his attention.
He turned to her. "You called, madam?"
"SIT!" she commanded.
Down Regulus went—right on his sexy buns of steel.
Double huh and wow.
She glanced at her husband.
Draco dropped to his knees without any coaxing from her whatsoever.
"Doesn't count," she stated. "You're kitty-whipped anyway." She pointed at Pansy, who was hovering at the edge of the crowd, pretending not to be part of it, while secretly straining to hear every word. "Pansy Parkinson, SIT!"
Pansy did exactly as required of her.
"Holy cheese balls, that was—How did—" Harry was at a loss for words as he glanced around observing Hermione making every Death Eater sit in turn. "That's kind of scary, actually."
She pointed at her best friend. "SIT."
Harry didn't budge a smegging inch.
Hermione frowned. "Maybe it only works on Slytherins."
"Greyback never went to school," Bellatrix pointed out.
"For the love of—It's the rings, Mrs. Granger," Snape pointed out, exasperated. He held up his right leg, and around the peg stump was embedded a silver ring with some sort of bizarre etching across its face. "Every former Death Eater had one magically outfitted before taking this deal to get out of Azkaban."
"I've got one, 'ere." Yaxley held up his right hand. He had a garnet-encrusted ring around his thumb.
"We've got them, too," Goyle, Sr. stated, holding up his and Crabbe, Sr.'s entwined hands. One had a jade band on the left hand; the other had an exact replica on the right. They gave each other a melty 'awww' look.
One by one, the rest of the Death Eaters showed off their rings. Immediately, they began betting on who the public would say had the prettiest one once the park opened up.
Hermione ignored them all, staring at the gold band around her left ring finger with dawning comprehension. "You mean to tell me that this—that I have—that this is—"
"‘One Ring to rule them all,’" Harry stated in wonderment.
"Amazing," she said, feeling a bit of her old self returning. "Well, in that case... we might just yet get this park open in time." Hiking up her breeches, she turned to face the small crowd of her employees. "Now, listen up, maties!" she shouted in her best Dread Pirate Queen voice. "Ye've got work ta do!"
Delegating work was her second favourite activity in the whole universe. The first...
She chanced a sideways glance at Draco, her eyes drawn once more to the crisp ginger hairs poking through the vee of his half-opened, button-down shirt.
Diggy's den would undoubtedly be a prime attraction for the vast majority of food pedestrians, especially given their offer of free samples today, so she wanted to make sure everything was in good order to handle the crowds. It didn't matter that Diggy had gone missing under nefarious circumstances. The show had to go on! They'd simply mourn him later (grief was a private thing, anyway).
When she arrived at the Shoppe, Dolohov and Rowle were almost finished putting up the rope lines that extended around the building in a dizzying pattern meant to confuse and disorient the masses that herded through them.
"Are Magic Mike and Square-Head Squeegee-Trousers all set?" she asked, pointing to sets of two goofy-looking cartoon characters that had been built into the walls of the structures between buildings and spaced at various intervals along the rope line. One was a miniature cowboy wearing only a blue hat and matching blue vest, and the other... well, it was a squeegee, literally, wearing a necktie and baggies. The two had been charmed to look like electronic puppets that would randomly pop up into open windows to say something clever and funny to the crowd shuffling through the line below.
The independent marketing research group they'd hired during the planning stage for the park had assured them that the two cartoon characters would be a hit, especially with today's children, who were too easily bored and lacked the ability to self-entertain without an electronic gadget in hand.
"Why we need such drivel?" Dolohov asked in broken English. The man had been born and raised in England but insisted on retaining the traditions of his great-great-grandmother's heritage, saying there was no greater place to live than 'Russia, zee Mother Country'. The fake accent was a bit much, but everyone tolerated it because he was great at parties (he always supplied the best vodka shots!).
"They're vital for crowd control," Hermione explained.
Because if anyone knew from firsthand experience that standing under a hot, sweltering sun for hours didn't seem quite so irritating an experience as long as you had ridiculous puppets and a baffling maze to traverse, it was her. Universal's new expansion world had proved that to her last summer (her feet had still not recovered from the experience).
"Da, they vork fine," Dolohov confirmed. "We play wit this morning already. Rowle get head stuck when trying on cowboy hat. Stupid fashion—as dumb as Busby."
Hermione nodded. "Great. That's... great!"
She stood there, feeling like today's best bucket of chum as Dolohov gave her the elevator eyes and smirked. The two had a somewhat bad history—and she wasn't talking about the time he'd cursed her in the Department of Mysteries.
She'd sworn off vodka forever after that night.
"Right, so keep up the good job," she urged with false enthusiasm, backing away slowly. She flashed him her best bogus smile of encouragement, as all good Managers are wont to do. "Tally ho, and all that! Pip, pip!"
Quickly turning on her heel, she headed back down the narrow alley and into Diggy Flu's Shoppe, stopping a moment, once inside the front door, to take a deep breath in relief at having dodged that AK-47. When she opened her eyes, what greeted them had her jaw hitting the floor, however.
Oh, say it wasn't so!
It couldn't be!
Not with only an hour left until opening!
TO BE CONTINUED...
Ringer = In sports idiom, an impostor, especially one whose pretence is intended to gain an advantage in a competition; in fantasy fandom, the nickname of a J.R.R. Tolkien fan.
AK-47 = A type of Russian assault rifle.
Various quotes and references for this chapter (can you find them all?) originate from:
- "Harry Potter" is the property of J.K. Rowling, Bloomsbury, and Scholastic.
- "The Princess Bride" is copyright of William Goldman, Act III Communications, Buttercup Films, Ltd., The Princess Bride, Ltd., 20th Century Fox, and Lionsgate Entertainment.
- "Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" is copyright of J.R.R. Tolkien, New Line Cinema, WingNut Films, and The Saul Zaentz Company (for Tolkien Enterprises).
- "Sharknado" is copyright of The Asylum and Syfy.
- "Red Dwarf" is copyright of Rob Grant, Doug Naylor, BBC, Grant Naylor Productions, and Paul Jackson Productions.
- "Magic Mike" is copyright of Iron Horse Entertainment and Extension 765.
- Square-Head Squeegee-Trousers is copyright of... me. It's a parody of "SpongeBob SquarePants" obviously, which is copyright of Viacom, United Plankton Pictures, and Nicktoons Productions.
No profit is being made, and no copyright infringement is intended.
Chapter 10: Let No One Put Asunder
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“Regulus! Crikey, what are you doing to Diggidus!?” Hermione croaked. Regulus had a contraband wand (cleverly made to look like a Muggle pixie-stick, a common theme park treat) pointed at poor Diggy Flu, who was hanging upside-down in the air.
“Put him down this instant!” she cried.
Immediately, Regulus obeyed and the Ye Old Cheese Shoppe proprietor fell on his head, knocked out cold.
Hermione glared at the Death Eater. “What in the name of Salazar’s balls is the meaning of this? Why can’t you wayward Death Eaters ever mind your manners?! Why are you so insubordinate?”
“Expelliarmus!” Harry shouted from behind her. Reg’s wand-incognito whipped up and into Harry’s hands. “Look at that! The Chosen One’s still got it.” He smiled with self-satisfaction.
Hermione turned to shoot him a glare, too. “Still full of yourself, I see…” Harry was becoming more and more annoying. Why was he here, anyway? To check up on her, she supposed. Oh, well, she’d deal with that later.
She went to the crumpled heap of a Stinky Cheese Man, sprawled on the floor in the middle of the shop. “Get me some smelling salts. We’re about to open any moment and I can’t have him passed out here—why is he wearing… where are this man’s trousers? Regulus!”
“If you must know, the trousers in question are on their way up the mast of the Ye Dread Pirate Ship. Flu deserves it after what I caught him doing.”
“Which was?” Hermione arched her brow impatiently.
“Yes, my Queen. It happens that while I was monitoring the Panda Cage earlier, I saw him feeding those evil beings through the bars. The sign says explicitly NOT to feed the bears—”
Hermione held up her hand to silence him. “Although pandas are in the same Order as bears, that being Carnivora, the giant panda shares characteristics with both the red panda, which are in the raccoon family, and bears. As a result, scientists have argued on how to classify giant pandas. So technically, pandas aren’t really bears; pandas are…pandas. But go on.”
“Uh… right. So, I sneaked up on Flu and found he was feeding them this!” He shoved out his hand to reveal a crumbly heap of… dust?
“What is that?”
“Freeze-dried oysters mixed with ground rhino horn! He’s trying to get those nasty buggers randy, he is! He wants them to…” Regulus’s eyes slid side to side, and he whispered fearfully, “procreate!” The tall, ruggedly handsome ex-Death Eater actually shivered.
“Oh. Hmmm. Well. Thank goodness, you intervened. Now, go find Snape and get ready for the Welcome Parade. Pansy will be Emceeing the opening ceremony, which begins in thirty minutes. Oh, and get someone to change that sign to read ‘pandas’ instead of ‘bears’. GO!”
Regulus stalked out of the shop, mumbling something about bootleg panda porn. Hermione thought how similar (and as dangerously good-looking) Regulus looked to that actor in the Captain Morgan commercials. Except Regulus had dark eyes, of course.
“Here’s something better that smelling salts,” Harry said, interrupting her thoughts and handing her a small round.
“What’s this?” she asked with irritation.
“Stinking Bishop.” He then proceeded to read aloud the cue card.
“ ‘One of the oldest types of cheese in the world, Stinking Bishop dates back to the time of the Cistercian monks. It’s produced out of pasteurized Gloucestershire-cow’s milk and then washed with Stinking Bishop pear juice, which makes the rind orange and really sticky.’”
He continued, “‘Stinking Bishop matures for six to eight weeks, and after that, it really lives up to its name. Some compare its powerful odour with old smelly socks, so if you plan to buy some, go straight home before people start complaining. The smell is just in the rind, though, and once removed, a soft and delicious cheese is revealed.’ Hmm, just use the rind, then.” Harry grabbed the sample back and peeled away some of the rind, shoving it under Diggy Flu’s nose.
“Uhhhh,” Diggidus groaned, a hand going to his bruised head.
“Diggy,” Hermione spoke softly, “can you hear me? Why were you feeding the pandas?”
He issued forth a moan and whispered, “I felt like putting a bullet between the eyes of every panda that wouldn't screw to save its species.”
Hermione scowled. “What’s that?”
Diggidus roused a bit more. “Oooo, nothing, nothing. Wha’ happened…what’s that smell? Old socks?” He gagged.
“You’re all right, Mr. Flu. Just bumped your head. No worries. Now if you could just find some bottoms. Trousers! Harry! Go take down Diggy’s trousers from the Mast.”
Harry was sampling the Roquefort. “Delicious. Addictive, in fact.”
“Oh, never mind. I’ll do it myself. Just help this man find something to cover up with before any patrons see him.”
“Sure, sure.” She heard Harry mumble through a mouth of crumbles as she took off through the door.
People were already assembling at the amphitheatre, getting ready for the Opening Ceremonies. Everything looked ship-shape and Bristol fashion. She arrived at Ye Lady of the Lake’s Lake, which moored Ye Dread Pirate Ship Durmstrang, and caught site of Draco, swaggering toward her across the deck. He was holding up Flu’s trousers.
“Well, it seems you’ve done it,” he said, smirking. “Everything is ready to begin: all hands on deck, so to speak, and we’ve got a good twenty minutes to kill before I have to stay above-board and you have to ride in the crow’s nest in the parade float.”
“And?” she asked wryly, glancing longingly at the ginger fur that poked out of Draco’s half-open pirate shirt.
“And… I think you should know that W.L. 69 – 4569 states that on opening day of a wizard/Muggle theme park, if a pure-blood has quickie-sex with a Muggle-born before the start of the Grand Parade, the female is sure to become pregnant.”
“You liar.” Her eyes glittered with delight and amusement. She started to salivate when he began twirling his fingers through his chest hair. Had he seen her staring at it?! Oh, dear.
He shrugged, took her by the hand, and led towards their cabin. “The sooner you’re pregnant and have the child, the sooner you can divorce me.”
Hurriedly, Draco drew Hermione down the steps, through their cabin door, and swung round to lock it. Hermione whirled round to face him, her chest heaving, eyes alight with lust. She watched hungrily as he tore open the rest of his shirt, discarding it on the floor.
“Oh, Gods! Look at you!” she moaned. She went to him, encircling her arms round his waist and burying her face in his luxurious ginger pelt. “Oh, ooh! So soft!”
“Pet me, my pet,” Draco crooned. “Ah, yes, that’s it.”
After running her fingers through Draco’s wiry chest fuzz, Hermione drew back and took his hands in hers. She began walking backward, leading him to their bed. Her eyes fell to his privates, and she was pleased to realize he had an enormous, raging stiffy.
At once, a voice yelled from above deck, “Cap’n Granger!?”
“What now?” Hermione sighed.
“I’ll be just a minute,” Draco replied. He pushed and fussed at his crotch, tucking himself to hide his state of fervent ardour. Then out the door he went, leaving Hermione trembling and flushed.
Oh, that wooly chest of his—what it did to her! She was in such a state of agitated arousal that she meandered through the room nervously, yearning for Draco’s return. She was looking here and there, when her eyes fell upon a diary. A diary?!
“Well, now, ‘Dear Draco’ must’ve forgotten to lock up his journal,” she mused. It wouldn’t hurt for her to take one little peek… After all, she was his husband—er, wife. Maybe, he had some naughty fantasies about her scrawled in the pages. She lay back on the bed, cracked open the notebook, and began to read the latest entry:
Malfoy Granger (good grief!)
I cannot possibly go on with this ruse much longer. This SHAM of a marriage will be the end of me! It is incomprehensible how I can continue taking this abuse—being that bushy-haired twit’s whipping boy! I would almost— ALMOST rather go back to Azkaban.
If only the blustering ninny would become pregnant. She’s been storming around, working so hard on this ridiculous undertaking. Muggle Amusement Park, indeed! How can she honestly think she’ll be able to keep the Death Eaters in check?? Don’t even get me started on Fenrir. One thing is certain: I MUST seduce my wife and do it post-haste! IF only she were more attracted to me. I suppose I could glamour my head hair to be as furry and red as my chest… I know she has a thing for ginger boys. Egad! To actually touch her! It makes me feel quite dirty. Though I suppose all boys must get a bit dirty now and again. Mother would disagree. She always said that no Malfoy heir should ever have grit, grime, or a speck of dirt on his person. But alas! For the time being, I am NOT a Malfoy. I’m a Granger, and grangers by definition are filthy, homesteading farmers. So, I can get dirty! Until the divorce, at the very least…
Hermione Granger, Queen of the Pirates. HA! The only thing regal about her is that she’s a ROYAL Pain in the ARSE! But I do so fancy her fine-looking bosoms. Those two creamy mounds sitting proud and high, spilling over her chemise, propped up by her corset. (Bloody hell, for her to wear a corset daily!? No wonder she’s always in a right foul mood). Back to the breasts… yes, so very full… Of course, I know that she knows I’m a boob-bloke. Because she knew I married her boobs and not her. They’re the ones I was speaking the vows to, in any case. Ha! I’d like to undo her too-tight lacings. Uh, gods! If only I could drip hot Cheez-Wiz down…
“Hermione, are you reading my journal?” Draco stood in the doorway, a look of apprehension etched on his fine-featured face.
She looked up and hurled the book at his head. “So! You think me a twit?! A blustery ninny?! A royal pain?!” Her Royal Highness, Hermione, Queen of the Dread Pirates shouted, eyes blazing. “You, Draco Granger, can go straight to Hell!” She jumped up, shoved past him, and raced to the upper deck.
“I said I liked your breasts!” Draco yelled after her in a feeble attempt to still get shagged.
Up top, the merry little scene was in high contrast to her low spirits and churning guts. At least there was a chance she could pull this day off. Things seemed to be falling into line. Hermione sniffed, adjusted her brassiere, and marched off the ship and down the gangway.
“There you are!” Pansy Parkinson said as she squealed the tires of her golf cart right up to the dock. “Get in. The Parade’s about to start and you’re in the main boat float.”
Hermione jumped in. After a bit she spoke. “Sorry to have upset you earlier. I’ve been under a lot of strain, you see…”
“Don’t worry about it. Let’s just get through this day, and then, we’ll talk.”
Pansy sped through the park. “Everything is going off without a hitch. Oh. Except Neville. He’s mad as all Hell about moving those horrible plants from the entrance—having a bit of a rough time with it. And Fenrir. He’s dressed as a clown, trying to entice children to let him make them balloon-shaped dogs.”
“What?! Oh no, we’ve got to stop him!”
“Oh, don’t worry.” Pansy laughed. “The overall effect is really creepy; none of the parents are letting their kids near him. Besides, Harry was going to take care of it. Oh, and Regulus locked down the pandas, closing them from viewing. Hagrid’s on that… Nothing he can’t deal with.”
Hermione seemed to be turning a putrid shade of green. “Ugh, could you slow down? Your driving is making me ill. And for Merlin’s sake, is there anything else?” Hermione moaned.
“Umm, that’s it,” Pansy said.
“Pansy, I have another question for you,” Hermione began, swallowing the extra saliva that was pooling in her mouth, “Earlier, I overheard Fenrir talking to someone. I can’t place the voice, but I KNOW I know it. Maybe you would know?”
Pansy sat up straight in her seat. “Not sure what you’re talking about. In any case, we’re here.” She slammed on the brakes. Hermione threw up a little in her mouth.
“Queen Granger! Thanks to the Gods you’re finally here!” It was Snape, hobbling over to help her out of the cart.
“I’m… not feeling so well…” Hermione said. She took one look at Snape and abruptly puked on his peg.
To be continued…
Food and Drink magazine, Top 10 Stinky Cheeses in the World
Fight Club (movie), Chuck Palahniuk
The Stinky Cheese Man, by Jon Scieszka
Chapter 11: Of Horns that Make Everyone Horny
author: with rhyme
The Fantastical World of Make-Believe was alive and roaring. Muggles, witches, and wizards alike were streaming in through the gates to be a part of what was the most highly-anticipated Muggle-wizard, non-magical theme park opening of the season.
And as the Welcome Parade was due to start in less than five minutes and Snape was the harlequin leading the festivities (evident from his floppy, bell-adorned hat and the clown’s smile he had painted on), everyone was there to witness the five types of cheeses Hermione had eaten earlier in the day (not to mention a few ginger hairs) land all over the former Potions master’s fake leg.
At the sight of a Mudblood’s vomit on his finely-wrought wooden peg, Snape’s eyes grew as large as Draco’s stiffy had been earlier.
“Mordred, Granger!” He gagged, attempting to fling the former contents of her stomach towards Crabbe and Goyle, Srs, who were still holding hands as they dashed the flying flecks.
In fact, Snape was swinging around his little peg leg with such ferocity that it seemed to be… wobbling?
Hermione could not be sure, however, as the world began to swim in front of her.
“The smelling cheese! Get the smelly-sock cheese!” Harry shouted.
“No, not the sock cheese…” Hermione moaned softly from her place on the ground.
Harry waived something under her nose anyways, something that didn’t smell as much like smelly socks as something...fishy? Exotic? The strange powder that had coated itself to the outside of the cheese rind floated up to her nose, tickling it as she sneezed.
“Feel better?” Harry asked as he took her hand, helping her up off of the ground.
“I… I do,” Hermione said wonderingly, feeling the roll of her stomach begin to fade away.
“Oh, good!” Harry exclaimed. “Because… Hermione?” he ventured. “The Mighty Ducks and the Dragon Army are gathered around one of the exhibits. They refuse to start lining up for the game.”
“Why? Gathered? Gathered around what?” Hermione asked suspiciously, narrowing her eyes.
“Well, they’re, erm, rather distracted by something right now,” Harry said, looking both like he was about to start giggling and as though he’d seen something rather unforgettable.
“Distracted by what?” Hermione asked, even as her eyes began wandering towards Draco, who had just entered the room.
“Well, remember when Regulus had Diggy held up in the cheese shop ’cause he was trying to give the pandas the ground rhino horn to, you know, make them horny? I think ‘cheese-man debacle’ would be an appropriate name for it, wouldn’t you?”
“The cheese-man debacle,” Hermione repeated tonelessly, caught in a trance at the sight of Draco’s chest hair pushing out through the top of his shirt, the bottom, and the puffy middle where she knew the rest would be hiding, waiting for her…
Draco seemed to be similarly distracted by her chest, especially with the way it was heaving, caught in her corset…
“Yeah, well, apparently he did manage to give it to some of the—actually all of the pandas. And not just the pandas…”
Hermione sighed, feeling the dread well up in her chest. This was not going to be good. “What? Who else did he give it to?”
Harry shuffled his feet. “Um, all of the animals in the park?”
Hermione barely heard what she said, her desire for Draco growing almost out of control, almost as if it wasn’t in her control… The thought quickly swam away from her as she got lost in the silky shine of his hair and the hard line of his jaw.
“Hermione?” Harry prompted. “What are we going to do?”
“I… um…” Hermione could barely even think, she wanted Draco’s body so badly. He seemed to be having similar thoughts, judging by the state of his trousers and the drool that was slowly making its way down his chin.
She found herself moving towards him, Draco doing the same, until they were wrapped in each other’s arms, not caring that they were in front of the entire park, spectators abounding.
“Let’s get away from here,” he whispered in her ear.
“Yes, oh, Draco, yes please!” she said, laughing as Draco whisked her off in his arms, running to the nearest empty shop, which, as the entire crowd was gathered in along the parade line, happened to be the Ye Old Cheese Shoppe.
“Hermione!” Harry called after her. “The birds are mating with the pandas! The miniature dragons with the pygmy puffs! It’s madness! Simply madness!”
Hermione couldn’t find it in herself to care.
Hermione swam back into consciousness, the smell of cheese all around her as she began to process her surroundings. She was on the floor, on top of a blanket, with… Draco next to her?
A Draco who was suspiciously naked.
And, as she took stock, so was she.
“Dammit, Harry!” she exclaimed as she became fully aware and realized what had happened. “Buggering dried oysters, buggering ground rhinoceros horn, buggering attractive chest hair!”
“He really is a fool,” Draco drawled from beside her. “Mixing the cheese and the powder? A Slytherin would never have done that simply by accident.”
“Shut up,” she snapped as she began pulling on her clothing that had been scattered all across the cheese store. “Isn’t there some sort of disaster I’m supposed to be fixing?”
“When isn’t there?”
“Quite right,” Hermione agreed.
“At this particular moment, I believe there are all manner of animals procreating all over the park. Diggy’s having quite the time of it I hear. His animal porn business is really going to take off with all of this new footage.”
Hermione shuddered. “I do not even want to think about his clientele.”
Finally pulling all of her clothing into place, she stepped outside to face the music.
The music, in this case, being the sounds of about thirty different species of animals all going at it.
At the sight of sight of Crabbe and Goyle, Srs cooing over the sight of the increasingly raunchy pandas (was that a camera she spotted in the bushes?), Hermione abruptly threw up, once again, on Snape’s wooden leg.
“Oh, for—!” Snape swung his leg up in the air (she could have sworn she threw up on the other side of him last time…), and just as the violent swinging was about to make her throw up again, the leg popped off, sailing through the air and landing with a great clunk at Neville’s feet.
Everyone turned to look in shock at Snape, standing perfectly well on his own two feet.
Neville tentatively picked up the now-known-to-be-fake fake leg, carefully avoiding the spots that were still covered in partially-digested cheese flecks, and looked inside.
“Contraband!” Neville shouted, covering his mouth with a gasp. “This is a children’s park!”
“Contraband?” Pansy asked, covering her own mouth with a hand. “How could you! That’s hardly devious at all!”
Hermione rushed over to look inside of the hollowed-out leg and was shocked at what she found. Real wands, more of that blasted rhinoceros powder, cheese that seemed to be glowing with some sort of magic, and other vials of fluorescent liquid.
“Contraband,” Snape confirmed, hanging his head as he shuffled down the boardwalk, arms hanging heavy by his sides. Everyone looked around quizzically as, from somewhere in the park, a certain Peanuts song began to play over the loudspeakers.
“Oh, how the mighty have fallen,” Greyback intoned, still dressed in his clown costume.
“Yes,” Ron shot back, “because your balloon animals are just the picture of terror.”
“They would be if they were made out of dogs,” Greyback threw at him, “but the regulations have just gotten so blasted strict nowadays, you can hardly even use elves anymore.”
At the shocked looks of outrage that came from this statement, Greyback felt the need to elaborate. “No, you see, they make the cutest little gnome figures; you wouldn’t even believe it. Got my version mentioned on Horrible Hobbies for the Horrifically Evil one time, you know.” He sighed, resting his chin on his hand. “I used to be something.”
“Oh great,” Diggy snapped. “Now we’ve got a depressed werewolf on our hands along with everything else.”
“Yes, because none of this is your fault at all,” Hermione snapped. “Meanwhile, Snape is escaping. Go get him!” Hermione commanded the Death Eaters who had gathered around the spectacle. They all unwittingly jumped to attention, shuffling after Snape, scrabbling with, tripping, or flapping at each other.
Hermione rolled her eyes, not expecting them to capture Snape anytime soon, especially now that he had the full use of both legs.
But as she turned back around towards the line of parade floats that were slowly beginning to queue up, she couldn’t believe what she saw.
“What the—” Hermione gasped as she looked out over the crowd of people that had gathered for the Opening Ceremonies. They seemed to be under some sort of…trance?
Just when she thought that this day couldn’t get any worse.
TO BE CONTINUED...
Chapter 12: Pig Latin Pandamonium
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Snape trudged back to the square where the parade was due to start, arguing with himself the whole way.
“Stupid ring. Hate this stupid story. Always the red herring, never the true villain. Just once. Just once, I’d love to laugh an evil laugh, kill someone for breathing wrong, and tie a pretty witch to the railroad tracks.” He put his hands on his hips and stomped his peg legs emphatically in the dirt. “But nooooo! All I do is twirl my invisible mustache and smirk in judgment. And of course, I’m the bad guy.”
He trudged closer to the square. “Well, screw this. I’m done. These idiots couldn’t tell a red herring from a killer whale.”
Snape turned around and laboriously forced one peg leg in front of the other, looking as if he was battling a gale force wind back to the dock and freedom. Three steps later, he was utterly exhausted. He pulled at his hair, raised his face to the sky, and howled. “Oh, come on. You don’t need me. You’ve got Greyback and Bella and Regulus, for fuck’s sake. These peg legs suck. All I want is a cuppa and Marmite on toast.”
You signed the contract.
Snape rolled his eyes. “Yeah, yeah.” A bench appeared near the dirt road, and he sat on it. “Thanks,” he muttered ungraciously. “How long is this opening day bit supposed to go on, anyway? It’s not even eleven a.m. yet, but if I recall correctly, it was eight a.m. about four chapters ago. Are they torturing us all on purpose?”
He pulled off the peg legs and threw them over his shoulder, one by one, in disgust. A cup of black tea and Marmite on toast appeared on the bench next to him. He sighed in relief. "You're so nice to me," he said, taking a bite of the toast. "The others aren't."
Well, you're not the most likable character in the books.
"I know that," he snapped. "But who is, really?"
True. Not exactly the point, however. You agreed to the role you're playing here. And it's better than being dead by snake bite.
"What. Ever." He brushed the crumbs from his lap, took a last bracing sip of tea, and stood up. "I'm not so sure of that," he muttered under his breath. The bench disappeared, replaced by a ghostly image of Nagini in mid-strike. Snape shuddered and the snake disappeared.
“I take back that comment about you being nice,” Snape yelled.
I just wanted you to be sure, since you seemed to prefer the alternative. Now, quit whinging and get on with it.
"What am I doing again?" he asked the sky.
Put your peg legs on and go to the square.
He glared at the sky. "Please,” he gritted out. “Not the peg legs."
All right. But you know the others won't be happy about that.
“Bugger the others.”
You really don’t know when to quit, do you?
Snape ignored the author’s not-so-gentle warning and headed back to the square in resignation.
As he drew closer to his destination, he began to notice the lack of people and noise that should have permeated every corner of the island. What the hell? Where was everyone?
And that’s when he spotted the parade float. It was shaking and quaking under the duress of 523 pounds of terrified man-giant. Hagrid was scared. Hagrid was very scared. Paying attention to his roiling gut, Snape scanned the area.
No sign of a resurrected-from-ash, bent-on-destruction Voldemort. His gut unclenched slightly. No pink-loving, squat Ministry toady issuing a plethora of edicts. No sherry-swilling, half-arsed Seer muttering indecipherable predictions.
He searched out Potter and company. None of them appeared to be alarmed or bleeding their eyeballs out; rather they seemed transfixed, like the rest of the crowd, staring at Hagrid. Despite the island full of silently fornicating animals.
His gut clenched again. That was odd. He bent down and picked up a crumble of cheese littering the square. He sniffed it. His eyes grew wide. He stared at Hagrid, transfixed. Following the man-giant’s sight line, his gut jerked in sharp alarm when he spotted the spider monkeys.
He eyed the monkeys’ expanding bottoms and uttered a Bubblehead Charm in the nick of time.
Granger and Malfoy, he noted with absolute glee, uttered the same charm two seconds too late.
The island was engulfed in a cloud of banana-scented gas.
“Atwhay ethay ellhay asway at-thay?” asked Potter, holding his nose.
Pansy tilted her head at him. “Atwhay idday ouyay aysay?”
Potter stared back at her in equal consternation.
The pandas looked beyond delighted and retreated to their display to celebrate.
Hagrid whimpered and curled into a ball, rocking the float to and fro. Neville jumped onboard, attempting to calm the man-giant down, to no avail.
“Oomed-day!” Hagrid wailed, knocking Neville over with a flailing arm. “E’reway allway oomed-day!”
“Isthay isway otnay oodgay,” said Neville, flat on his back, gazing at the gas-clouded sky.
The Muggle Park attendees snapped out of their trance and, seeing the gas, started stampeding for the dock. Screaming bloody murder all the way.
“Ohway, iteshay!” said Draco, looking around for cover. He crawled under a café table near the cheese shop and admired the glory of his wife in battle mode.
“Owdcray ontrolcay!” Hermione yelled at her employees. “Almcay emthay ownday!” She noted Bella’s evil grin. “Icelynay!”
The Death Eaters milled about in confusion, trying to do nothing and succeeding at it, unaware: the ring’s power was broken.
Snape, completely aware, nearly danced a jig. Nearly, because his path to the docks was blocked by stampeding Muggles, confused Death Eaters, and shocked Ministry officials. He contemplated joining Draco under the café table.
Battle-mode Hermione assessed the situation, taking in the pandemonium, the lack of pandas, the crumbles of cheese, and the inaction on the part of qualified Aurors who had come with the Ministry officials, and decided to take matters into her own hands. She waved her wand. “Initefay Incantatemway.”
Snape smirked at her, safe as houses in his Bubblehead Charm. Silly girl. It was an ingredient reaction, not a spell. Besides, Pig Latin rendered all magic inert. Everyone knew that. They really shouldn’t have let the spider monkeys near powdered rhino horn.
Hermione saw the smirk and her eyes narrowed. “Oday omethingsay!”
“No,” Snape said. He examined his nails. “You forgot to say ‘please’.”
TO BE CONTINUED...
(West Coast version)
Snape’s opinion of this opus bears no resemblance to the author’s. However, he might be right about the torture.
Chapter 13: Blocking Animal Fornication!!!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
She wasn’t the smartest witch of their age for nothing. Quick and logical thinking has kept her alive longer than she could remember. Taking a deep breath after her failed Finite Incantatem, realization hit her smack on her forehead: this was not a spell, charm, or jinx but more likely a potion or combination of simple airborne ingredients. Hermione needed time to find the antidote so all would return to normal—or at least a normal that she could deal with.
If only she could just make everyone fall asleep for a day or so to have time to come up with a solution to the most visible of her dilemmas…
The animals being in heat all at the same time was not something people wanted to see when bringing their children to an amusement park. Unless they had
“You and me baby, ain’t nothin’ but mammals
So let’s do it like they do on the Discovery Channel
You and me baby, ain’t nothin’ but mammals
So let’s do it like they do on the Discovery Channel”
by the Bloodhound Gang blaring out of the park’s speakers. And even then…
Her love of cheese had ruined that aspect of having a family-friendly environment.
“Kuso!” Hermione swore in Japanese for giving into one of her weaknesses. If only she had enough Draught of Living Death with her. Too many people and not enough time to brew it. She felt a pressure that she hadn’t felt in years. Adrenaline rushing through her system had always been her friend, though. Think Hermione!
Snape, being the heartless arse, would not be willing to assist… but wait, he shouldn’t be able to refuse her commands... Damn! The Ring is not working! How could it stop working? I am in serious shit if they’re all failing. No time to test what I’ve come up with. It needs to be done for the sake of all the Muggles, wizards, and animals here.
Not sure how to word the desired spell, the first thing that came to mind was Sleeping Beauty and the curse Maleficent cast. But no: that ended in possible death, and she would be thrown in Azkaban for sure. Besides, it would be too complicated, what with pricking fingers and thorns. Although, there were many rose bushes planted around the park to give character… Then again, this was a great way to have control over everyone, and she needed the former Death Eaters to not find out she’d lost control over them. But wait: she didn’t want to kiss them awake after she’d put everything back in order! Out of the question! Absolutely not!
Closing her eyes, she sighed: she had to Stupefy everyone. She paused a moment for regret about forgoing the Sleeping Beauty spell. Then, she took a deep breath and raised her wand arm, which had her Transfigured-into-a-bracelet wand around the wrist. She saw the words needed for this untested, modified, en masse incantation and prayed to Merlin that it would bear positive fruits. With her and Draco’s Bubble-Head Charms still in place, she began pointing her wand at all the people and animals in the Island Park and thanking the deities that all were in the same location. But just as the word “Stupefy” left her lips, a phrase popped into her head: “Not in death but just in sleep; the fateful prophecy you’ll keep. And from this slumber you shall wake when true love’s kiss the spell shall break.” Oh no! What if—? Hermione prayed she wouldn’t have to be the one to kiss them all awake.
Maybe it was the thought of not wanting to hurt anyone that resulted in her targets falling slowly and gently on the spot when the spell hit them. From the corner of her eye, she saw that Snape had taken off one of his false pegged legs and had used the wooden digit to assist her. This brought a surprised expression to her face. A little spark of delight rose in her chest at the decision she had made in making him a part of her park crew. It surprised her even more since he had originally said “No” to assisting her.
Bowing his head, Snape took a deep breath and then looked up to her with resignation. The look he sent assured her that he would assist her even if she had not said “Please”.
At least now everyone was in a deep slumber, except the two who would no doubt come up with a solution to get the animals to stop fornicating, the Death Eaters back under her control, and the Park guests to wake up without them knowing anything was amiss. The more she thought about it, the more she liked the idea of brainstorming ideas with Snape. She smiled. Then, the grin faded. He’s still a Slytherin! And he’ll want something in return. No! Forget it!
With a quick flick of her wrist, Snape, too, went down for the count. He had been looking so smug, thinking he could pull one over her. Too bad she was not in the mood to be taken advantage of. The only one who came close to doing that was her husband, and even he wouldn’t get that far.
Through the slight distortion from his Bubble-Head Charm, Hermione saw Draco look at her with admiration. He bowed slightly in deference. He sure as hell would not have done that before, but he was afraid she would renew her command to him of jumping over a cliff. He didn’t wish to die yet. For Merlin’s sake, he wanted to get her pregnant already! They had to do something about all these animals and the people. He saw the conviction in her eyes. She knew what needed to be done. He had no problem following her lead. Hang the Ministry. The magical restriction had to be broken.
To his left, Hermione was picking up Snape’s false peg leg filled with wands. She kept one and sent the rest to the special vault in her cabin that only she had access to. She gave Draco the wand and told him to arrange all the animals in a way that looked like they were only sleeping and not post-coital. Then, she magically changed Ye Old Cheese Shoppe into an antique bakery for tea and cakes, Chouquettes. It gave a warm French motif to the atmosphere around her and looked much better with the surrounding rose bushes. She really had to get rid of her cheese addiction.
Hermione woke Harry up—she didn’t mind kissing him, although she noticed Draco’s displeasure—and put him in charge of the bakery. He was competent enough to handle the clientele by himself. The tea and cakes were already at the ready. She could hire someone else to help if need be. Something still nagged at her, but she did her best to put the feeling of queasiness out of her mind. It would do her no good to dwell.
Harry saw how green Hermione’s face became, so he didn’t protest about being put in charge of the bakery. He didn’t want his brand new pirate boots to be dirtied by her vomit.
Hermione had been having a feeling that Harry was hiding something from her, and this was one of the reasons she placed him where he could not sabotage all the hard work that she had put into The Fantastic World of Make-Believe. She did mention to him that she felt there was a conspiracy around her. She felt it was better that he knew that she knew that underhanded and scheming situations were starting to threaten her livelihood. If Harry was one of the conspirators, there would be a lot of balls-breaking.
With a quick flick of her wrist, she reinstated the Master Ring’s power to ensure One Ring to rule them all. That sounded so good. The One Ring to rule them all. Tolkien must have been a wizard. It was comforting that he had never been named in any History of Magic class.
Waking up all the Death Eaters was a snap after that. When they saw that Snape’s false peg leg was gone, there was a collective sigh of disappointment. A lecture was to be endured no matter what. They didn’t notice that Snape was still lying on the ground, soundly asleep in the foetal position.
Once Draco was back at her side, she called them all to order and gave them instructions to assist all the wizards and Muggles once she woke them up.
TO BE CONTINUED...
The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
Disney’s Sleeping Beauty
Song “Bad Touch”, better known as “The Discovery Channel”, by The Bloodhound Gang
Chapter 14: To *BLEEP* or Not To *BLEEP*
A/N: This chapter is dedicated to Monty Python.
Vincent Crabbe's father was crying – again. This time, though, Draco didn't blame him. He felt like crying, too. Hell, he might even join the fellow on a waterworks bender.
All the cheese was gone. Just *bleeping* gone. Hermione had magicked it away.
That wasn't the worst part, though. Not by a long shot.
Apparently, the previously fornicating animals had woken up from his wife's Sleeping Beauty spell and had miraculously been cured of their need to get jiggy with each other everywhere. Now, they were de-toxing en-masse...
...and there were rivers of golden, cheddar-smelling vomit everywhere. It flooded the park, drowning the monkeys and gassing all the parrots (except Fernando, who was already dead and hadn't really been a parrot, anyway, but a sexy cabana boy Draco's wife had *bleeped* before he'd been cursed by some unknown *bleeper* to look like a parrot).
Oh, and one of the pandas had hurled all over Crabbe, Sr.'s boots a lovely chutney of greenish, leafy bamboo cud (hence the man's sobbing).
But still, that wasn't the worst part. Not by a long, long shot.
Rabastan was missing. Kreacher was missing. Snape's peg leg was missing. And Pansy had stolen Potter's Prius in revenge for Neville neglecting her sexual needs and driven off. She was missing.
Bellatrix was the only one left who was qualified to drive the carts – and the woman was an absolute menace behind the wheel. She’d already run over Greyback several times (true, it had improved his looks, but that was beside the point, really), wouldn’t stay within the designated drive lanes, and liked honking the *bleeping* horn a little too much. One would think she'd actually earned her licence through the DVLA.
And still, that wasn't the worst part. Not by a long, long, long shot.
Draco's lovely chest hair was turning fifty ugly shades of grey – which not only defied the traditional Malfoy champagne-starlight-platinum-sugar-vanilla-butter-ivory thing they had going when it came to the colour of their tresses but also guaranteed Hermione would quit finding him hunky. It was a stomach-turning fact that she was aroused only by the colour red.
No more attraction meant no more shagging.
No more sex equated to no pregnancy.
No pregnancy meant no freedom from this marriage (although he and Hermione had agreed the 2 a.m. booty call was still firmly on the table, regardless of any possible divorce).
Seriously, though, that wasn't the worst part. Not by a long, long, long, long shot.
ABBA was on a replay loop over the loudspeakers, and nothing Draco did would shut it off. Someone had magicked it to play ‘Dancing Queen’ over and over and over, ad nauseam. He hated Swedish pop groups more than he hated red hair, Bellatrix’s driving, missing people, ex-girlfriends who were now car thieves, dead animals, no sex, and mountains of puke on his shoes.
Tears stung his eyes. Yeah, he was definitely in with Crabbe this time.
Life *bleeping* sucked.
~.~ ~.~ ~.~ ~.~
Nothing was going right!
How had her brilliant plan to save them all by putting them to sleep and fixing the park’s problems backfired so spectacularly, creating a level-three biohazard situation instead? Chunky bodily fluids and gassy carcasses were lying about everywhere, the offending cheese had been whisked away, creating a massive case of withdrawals, and key members of the staff were outright missing…
…and if someone didn’t turn off that bloody ABBA crap, she was going to add to the devastation, she swore to Merlin, Morgana, and Circe’s teats!
The only thing that could be worse is if the park became ground zero for the zombie apocalypse. Which, given how her week had gone, might very well become a reality before the day was out. Especially if someone didn’t turn off the ABBA and soon.
*Bleepity bleep bleep bleep*
Her husband sauntered over, tears in his eyes.
“What’s your problem?” she snapped at him, at her wit’s end and in no mood to coddle (especially after he’d yelled at her for having been involved with Fernando, prior to the man becoming a parrot and snuffing it – like resisting a half-naked, sun-oiled, fit cabana boy who had pledged to service her every desire had even been an option!).
Draco wiped at his cheeks and sniffed.
His nose was a cute shade of red to match his cheeks...
Not that she was noticing how cute her husband was or anything. Because he wasn’t. Cute, that was. He was a git who was only interested in getting her stuffed so he could get out of this marriage and fly the coop.
Not that she was bitter about that or anything. Because she wasn’t. Bitter, that was.
“What are we going to do now?” He gestured to the mess the park had become. “I think it’s safe to say the schedule’s been shot to hell.”
“You think?” she growled. The opening ceremonies had been an unmitigated disaster, and now they’d have to skip the Fantasy Football Game as the bloody ducks were missing, too. She suspected the rival team had eaten them. “Maybe we can salvage something, though, since the cheese is finally gone.”
“Along with Diggy Flu,” Draco noted. “Wonder where he scurried off to?”
Harry sauntered up, licking his fingers. “Who cares? Guy was drugging us all with that cheese of his. The sweet buns are much better, ’Mione. And thank Godric they turned off the Sorting Hat. Whose stupid idea was it to have him sing Tom Jones’ greatest hits all day, anyway?”
“I much prefer the Hat, actually,” Hermione ground out between locked teeth.
Her best friend paused, glancing sideways at her. A sweat drop appeared on his forehead. “I've stepped in it, haven't I? It was your idea, wasn’t it?”
Yes, it had been, but she wasn't going to tell her insensitive bestie that now.
Hermione stomped off, heading for her quarters on the pirate ship. That's it, she was calling it done! Turning her back. Hanging her hat. Binning the poop. Washing her hands. Let the park straighten up itself. She wanted off this insane ride.
“You can’t just go, Granger,” Draco demanded, catching up. His long-legged stride easily kept pace with her hurried one.
“Why the *bleep* not?” she snarled. “This entire idea has gone ’round the bend, and I’m tired of pulling everyone’s *bleep* out of the fire, savvy? And I’m sick and tired of this *BLEEPING* censor, too! Who the *bleep* came up with this irritating piece of magic?”
Draco sighed and ran a hand through his gorgeous champagne-starlight-platinum-sugar-vanilla-butter-ivory bangs. “The author of this chapter. Her and those ‘DHr Round Robin’ chicks are always fucking with us, you know that. Be careful what you say.” He looked up into the heavens, tossing his sexiest smirk to the sky. “Scary witches, the lot of ’em.”
Hermione rolled her eyes. As if that merry band of fandom miscreants frightened her. In her short life, she’d faced down a three-headed dog, a basilisk, the dangers of time travel, a nasty sensationalist reporter, a pink Cat Lady, erasing her parents’ minds, being tortured by the Cruciatus Curse, a giant snake with a taste for Gryffindors, a Dark Lord who’d seriously needed a nose job, Ministry politics, and years of dealing with Ron Weasley being a total git. And just over the past few weeks, because of this Fun Park fiasco, she’d seen enough to drive a bat batty, too!
Most shocking of all, though: she’d not just kissed
a girl…er, Draco (Granger) Malfoy and liked it, but she’d been enthusiastically boinking the sexy ginger-chested man, too!
At this point, nothing could surprise her.
“Listen, you can’t leave yet.”
“Why the *bleep* not?” she demanded.
“Because you and I have unfinished business.”
He smirked at her and she knew what was coming from his stupid, wanking, sexy mouth next.
“Don’t you dare say it,” she warned.
“Are you pregnant yet, Hermione Granger?”
She came to a sudden stop as a bout of nausea rolled over her, and Draco had to put on the brakes rather quickly and backup to make them even.
Her hand dipped to her belly, rubbing over the sudden, unexpected, wholly terrifying roundness of it. It felt and looked like she’d just swallowed a Bludger. Something inside kicked, nailing her ribs with a hard, little, undeniable foot.
Maybe she shouldn’t have scoffed at the Round Robin authors.
Her and her big mouth!
*BLEEPITY BLEEP BLEEP BLEEP*
“Actually, Draco, that’s something we apparently need to talk about…”
TO BE CONTINUED...
Chapter 15: One Month Later
A/N: see end of chapter
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Ministry of Magic, Defense Subcommittee Record ZZYAB.1205267.LL8
Chapter 455, Section 12, Subsection Q, Paragraph 3
Status: Uber Secret (Or Else)
“The power of the radical Weaponized Cheese experimentations of Doctor Diggidus Harvarti-Flume cannot be harnessed. The end result cannot be controlled. It is therefore our recommendation that this project be terminated, and all records concerning it expunged. The Fantastic World of Make Believe will be destroyed. Burn it down, gentlemen. Burn it down and salt the earth.”
Hermione didn’t believe they'd actually use salt, but they had.
The entire amusement park was gone, eradicated from the planet and most memories, both Muggle and magical.
The Triwizard Dragon of Doom and the Tricorn Maze of Maize. Gone. Her pirate ship and the cheese-shoppe-turned-charming-French-bakery. Gone. Opening day floats sailing down rivers of golden vomit. Gone. Flatulent spider monkeys and sinister pandas with their sick, twisted, ineffectual porn. Gone.
In their place was a vast, empty meadow sprinkled one inch thick with charmed salt from the Dead Sea. Hermione stood next to the only object in sight, a wooden sign that read “Go Home!”
One thing that wasn’t gone was her spontaneously-generated baby bump, and all this salt gave her a powerful craving for her favorite treat: bacon slathered with crunchy peanut butter. She shivered with pleasure at the thought.
“You’re thinking about bacon slathered with crunchy peanut butter, aren’t you?”
Another, different shiver went through Hermione at the sound of Draco’s voice. He had Apparated soundlessly behind her. She composed her face into a cold mask of I-Don’t-Give-A-Bleep and turned. She hated that her heart skipped a beat at the sight of his champagne-starlight-platinum-sugar-vanilla-butter-ivory hair. He looked dashing in jeans and a jumper that matched his silver-pewter-moonlight-storm cloud-mercury-gray eyes.
“It’s 2:00 p.m., not 2:00 a.m.,” she snapped, “so why are you in my presence?”
Draco smiled. “Though I wouldn’t mind a piece of your delectable booty, this isn’t a social call. I was summoned. Same as you, I reckon.”
The message she’d received by owl from Regulus was predictably black and ominous with spidery, white lettering. It used words like certain doom and humanity’s last hope. However, it was in Kreacher’s handwriting, and since she’d seen words like rutabaga and Master Harry's dandruff shampoo on the grocery lists at Grimmauld Place, she found it difficult to get worked up about the threat of certain doom. Regulus was prone to melodrama.
A month had passed since the disaster of Opening Day. Seconds after her baby had morphed into being, Aurors wearing black leather uniforms and posh, reflective sunglasses had swarmed the park. Since Aurors normally wore red uniforms with sissified gold braid, Hermione had known the men and women in black were something different. Something dangerous and elite.
“Protect Asset Granger!” one of them bellowed. “Take her to St. Mungo’s!”
All over the park, people were disappearing en masse, as if some sort of wide-ranging Portkey had been activated. An Auror in black grabbed her arm.
“Agent Malfoy,” the commander said, “begin the cleansing!”
In shock, she watched her husband transform. As he ran into the fray, his pirate costume and eye patch became a black, leather uniform and posh, reflective sunglasses. He whipped out his wand, shouted an incantation and sent a gigantic fire dragon roaring into the sky. His control over the volatile Fiendfyre was phenomenal.
Where was her silly Draco who swung from ropes like a monkey and called the ship’s main mast a wooden pole thingy?
This man flashed mystifying hand signals. He was a stranger to her.
Hermione watched the fiery dragon consume her pirate ship in one gulp. It burped flame and then flew toward the Happy Unicorn Carousel. Seconds later, she was Apparated to the hospital.
Her classified debriefing was long and complex. In brief, the entire Fantastic World experience—from beginning to salty end—had been a government experiment to study the potential benefits and dangers of weaponizing Diggy Flu’s magically- and molecularly-enhanced Super Cheese. They had all been rats in a maze. Except for Draco and Greyback, who had been moles among the rats. Undercover spies. It was their conversation she’d overheard in the bushes that day. They’d been recruited out of Azkaban to serve as agents for H.O.T.T. Hermione had no idea what H.O.T.T. stood for, and no one would tell her, so she settled on “Holey Old Testicle Turds”, which made her feel a bit better. All the other Death Eaters had been hauled back to prison, with the exception of Pansy, whose sentence had been reduced to probation for good behavior and excellent driving skills.
Somehow, Diggy’s mutant cheese had accelerated Hermione’s pregnancy from zero to seven months in seven seconds. Although all pre-natal tests were reassuring, she still wondered if her healthy bundle of fetal joy would morph into a cheese monster and destroy all London. Draco had been at her bedside when she’d woken up the next day. He’d apologized for deceiving her, and she’d told him to stick his head up his arse. When he hadn’t attempted to obey her, despite his amazing flexibility, she realized her One Ring had been confiscated. Damn it.
To make matters worse, Draco had looked so scorching hot in black leather with soot and blood on his sexy face that she’d Floo-called him five days later for their first booty call. By now, they’d met a dozen times. In that time, his pelt of soft, gorgeous chest hair (aka, her Fuzzy Wall of Lust) had turned from mottled grey to pure white to a pale, pretty lilac. She didn’t know why, and she didn’t care as long as he gave her orgasms. She liked it when he shagged her wearing his big, black Auror boots and nothing else.
But she didn’t like him. On the contrary, she hated him with a burning passion. He would divorce and abandon her as soon as their little cheese monster was born. She knew it, even though he’d shown up for every healer’s appointment save those first ones when he’d been torching the theme park. Even though he grinned like a besotted fool every time he said the Malfoy heir, which he said all the time.
Hermione hardened her heart to him and kept her fears secret.
“Looks like we’re not the only ones,” he said as Harry’s Prius zipped through the salted meadow toward them. Only Pansy and Neville climbed out of it.
“You, too?” Neville asked.
“What’s going on?”
“Who knows with Black,” Severus Snape said as he flew down from the sky like a great, smoky bat. His left leg was a wooden peg from the knee down. Soon after, Greyback arrived by dog-shaped balloon-animal Portkey. His fur was a pale, pretty lilac. Regulus and Kreacher appeared next to him with a loud crack.
Regulus stared at Snape's peg leg and raised one eyebrow. Snape nodded almost imperceptibly in answer. What the heck was that about? Mysterious bastards.
“Eight of the nine chosen warriors have been assembled,” Regulus announced in his customary, dark tones. “As foretold by prophecy, we must now travel to meet the ninth warrior under cover of darkness in Fiji.”
“Fiji?” Draco whispered. “Hey, Granger! Granger!”
“It’s 2:00 a.m. in Fiji. Ooty-bay all-cay!”
“Shut up,” she murmured, blushing.
“Ex-say on the each-bay. Et-lay me ouch-tay your oconuts-cay!”
“Shut up!” She turned to Regulus. “Harry’s in Fiji?”
“Harry James Potter was not chosen for this task,” Regulus answered.
“Yes!” Neville cried out, fist-punching the air. “I mean, uh... really? That’s surprising, cocky Chosen One and all. Who’s the ninth warrior?”
“The Dread Pirate Queen.”
“I’m the Dread Pirate Queen,” Hermione said.
“No, Hermione Jean Granger,” Regulus replied. “You’re a bright witch, a cheese addict and a failed amusement park manager who’s heavy with child.”
“Hey!” Draco protested. “Watch it!”
Hermione refused to let his outraged defence affect her resolve to loathe him forever. Mostly.
“Fenrir Wyatt Greyback,” Regulus continued solemnly, “is the Pacific Portkey ready?”
“It is now that someone has stopped speaking in Pig Latin,” the werewolf growled. He held up a yellow balloon animal, shaped like an octopus, and grinned proudly.
“Oh, hell, no!” Pansy snapped. “An international Portkey fashioned from something that can pop if a brat screams at a birthday party? And you have claws? I don’t think so, Ugly.”
“I assure you, all agents of H.O.T.T. are master Portkey engineers,” Regulus said.
“Testicle Turds,” Hermione muttered, too quietly to be heard.
“Mr. Black, are you an agent of H.O.T.T.?” Neville asked. Everyone turned to stare at Regulus, who remained absolutely silent.
Kreacher laughed. It sounded like a dusty, old clarinet playing a sad, Hungarian folk song about death. “They don’t knows anything, Master,” the grim elf wheezed. “How canz they face such fearsome enemies?”
Greyback ignored Kreacher’s gloom-and-doom, holding out his cheerful yellow octopus. “Everyone take a tentacle. Don’t be shy, kiddies.”
“Ewww,” said Pansy, but one by one, they each took a tentacle in hand. Everyone except Hermione.
“Who are our fearsome enemies?” she asked.
She had figured out Regulus’ speech patterns by now. He always waited four, long seconds before answering a question, if he answered at all, to build ultimate suspense. (Also, as a point of interest, Severus Snape spoke at a rate of 1.75 words per second when he was trying to intimidate others due to his own insecurities. Once a wearer of graying underwear, always a wearer of graying underwear.)
Four... three... two... one...
“The enemies are Doctor Diggidus Harvarti-Flume who has refused the Ministry of Magic’s edict to abandon his Weaponized Cheese experiments despite wildly unpredictable results. Also, Bellatrix Lestrange, the Lovers Crabbe and Goyle and ten other Death Eaters who escaped from Azkaban last night. They took with them an estimated thirty-four neutered but very amourous Dementors.”
Draco shivered with revulsion while Greyback giggled.
“And,” Regulus said. The conjunction hung, suspended like a guillotine for precisely four seconds. “All the pandas of the Chinese Pandaemonium, under the command of General Pan Tzu. As you know, their species is endangered, so we estimate they only have an active army of 500 or less.”
“Oh, is that all?” Pansy sneered.
“No,” Kreacher wheezed. “Pandas has wandless magic almost as goods as a house-elf. Almost.”
Could this get any worse? How on earth could they fight such insurmountable odds? There were only eight of them. Well, nine, if you counted the Dread Pirate Queen, whoever she was. But what did one more matter? It was impossible. And I'm eight months pregnant, for Merlin’s sake! I should be home, with my feet up, eating bacon slathered with crunchy peanut butter! Bacon...
But then Hermione thought of Harry facing Voldemort and triumphing despite seemingly insurmountable odds. He’d done it because he’d had to. Sometimes, you had no choice but to be brave and fight for what was right. Sometimes, the alternative was just too dreadful to ignore.
“What if we fail?” she asked.
Four... three... two... one...
“Imagine the Fantastic World of Make Believe. All the world over.”
A wave of nausea rolled through Hermione as she saw a horrible vision of the future. Rivers of golden vomit flowing into the sea, a tropical island on the far horizon, humanity in chains, a dead parrot singing “Waterloo” as throngs of animals fornicated and howled and wept tears of blood. Above it all, on a throne carved of jade, sat a mighty panda in red armour, his eyes burning as black and terrible as an eclipse.
Oh. Hell. No.
They had to save the world.
Hermione grabbed the last octopus tentacle so fast that it squeaked. Draco twined his free arm around her waist and pulled her close. Her heart started to race. In fear of their imminent battle, of course. Not because his scent made her think of glorious, hot, sweaty, exciting sex with nothing but boots on.
She struggled to control her breathing as Regulus spoke the name of their destination.
“Where?!” Draco cried out.
With a swirl of blue light and a sickening hook behind the navel, they were transported to the beautiful paradise of Lucius Bay, Fiji.
TO BE CONTINUED...
Opening quote inspired by this quote from Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
“The demons cannot be harnessed. The end result cannot be controlled. It is therefore our recommendation that this project be terminated, and all records concerning it expunged... The Initiative itself will be filled in with concrete. Burn it down, gentlemen. Burn it down and salt the earth.”
I spelled “Pandaemonium” based on Milton’s name for the capital of Hell in Paradise Lost. “Pan” plus “daemon” equals “all demon”.
Chapter 16: The Dread Pirate Queen, A.K.A. Mum
Even under the cover of darkness, Hermione could tell they had reached their destination. Beautiful Fiji. A place all too familiar to her. A place so ingrained in her memory that not even an entire platter of mind-altering cheese could make her forget this island mecca. The magical way the moonlight glistened on the gentle sea, the warm, fragrant breeze that kissed her skin, and the breathtaking white sands that glowed in the night. This was paradise. The place she had spent her last holiday before completely losing her mind and building an amusement park. Of course, that idiotic scheme paled in comparison to the even more insane lapse of judgment that occurred when she married Draco Malfoy and accidentally got herself pregnant with his little cheese monster. It figured that the one time she screwed up a spell, it would have to be a contraception spell.
Hermione breathed in the salty, perfumed air and looked out at the sparkling lights of the Grand Lucius Bay Resort. The very same resort she had escaped to in an effort to forget about Ron and where she had done some very enjoyable canoodling with Fernando, the cabana boy turned parrot, turned naked dead man, turned stuffed parrot, turned nothing left but gross parrot feet, may he rest in peace. It was also the night she had made that dreaded call to room service that had started this whole mess. Yes, this was paradise all right. Too bad they landed on the only eyesore in sight—a dingy, broken down, miserable excuse for a boat apparently called CAPTAIN DIRTY DAVE’S DINNER RUISE. She supposed it was meant to say cruise, but the “c” was missing, probably worn away a long time ago. Hermione fought the urge to vomit on Snape’s peg leg again. She always did have a problem with sea sickness. As the wave of nausea washed over her, she squeezed the Portkey too tightly, causing the tentacle of the balloon sea creature to pop. At the loud noise, everyone let go at once, and it fizzled off into the night.
“Balloon artistry gets no respect,” growled Fenrir. “That octopus took me a long time to make.”
“I didn’t mean to pop it,” huffed Hermione. “Balloon animals don’t exactly make the best Portkeys, you know.”
“It got us here, didn’t it?” he snapped.
They were interrupted from their squabbling by the sound of clicking heels coming toward them.
“Reggie, dear,” said Narcissa Malfoy, emerging from of the shadows in pure white robes. She greeted her cousin with air kisses to both of his cheeks and then, barely giving the rest of them the once over, drawled rather less than enthusiastically, “This is the team you brought me?”
Hermione turned on Draco. “Your mother is the Dread Pirate Queen?” she hissed.
“Did I forget to mention that?” asked Draco with an impish grin.
“I didn’t make the prophecy, Cissy,” Regulus huffed. “Piss-poor group that they are, they’re our only hope.”
Narcissa pursed her lips. “Fine. I suppose they’ll have to do,” she said, slowly circling the group before stopping at Kreacher. “Your house-elf?” she sneered. “Really, Regulus. If I didn’t know any better, I’d swear you made up the prophecy yourself.”
“Kreacher is my best friend. He’s worth a dozen of them. You’ve never understood our relationship,” Regulus accused.
“Awkward,” murmured Neville.
Narcissa turned her shrewd eyes on him.
“Mr. Longbottom, I presume,” said Narcissa, looking him up and down from top to bottom, her eyes lingering on the bottom. “Or should I say Tightbottom?” She smirked.
“Mother,” Draco reprimanded. “What about Father? And ewww, Longbottom?”
“Your father has his little Dementor friends. Why shouldn’t I have my fun, too?” Narcissa pouted.
Pansy stepped forward. “Because Neville is MY boyfriend,” she declared boldly.
Narcissa’s eyebrows hitched ever so slightly. “Miss Parkinson,” she said coldly. “Such a pleasure to have you aboard. And with the same shrill voice as your mother. Lovely. Mr. Longbottom is a lucky man. Unless, of course, you’re lying. What say you, Mr. Longbottom? Are you and Miss Parkinson... together?”
“Er...” Neville looked back and forth between the two witches, trying to figure out which was the least scary. He finally settled on Pansy. “Yes,” he answered, awkwardly putting his arm around Pansy’s shoulder. Not sure where to put his hand, he let it hover in the air for a moment before slowly lowering it to rest on her right breast. Because why not? He was the frigging Chosen One this time.
Pansy elbowed him in the ribs. “You have to at least buy me dinner first,” she hissed.
“Speaking of dinner,” said Narcissa, addressing the whole group, “you may have noticed that we are on a dinner cruise ship.”
“Don’t you mean ‘dinner ruise’?” said Hermione sarcastically.
Narcissa slowly walked over to where Hermione was standing, petting Fenrir on the head as she passed. “Miss Granger, so thrilled you decided to join us. Clever as always, I see. A dinner ruse is my plan exactly. In roughly seventeen hours, I will be hosting a masquerade ball dinner cruise to lure in the enemy.”
“Your big plan to save the wizarding world is to throw a party?” Hermione scoffed.
“Do you have a better idea, Miss Granger?” asked Narcissa icily. At Hermione’s silence, she said, “I thought not. We need to get the enemy out of hiding, and Bella never could resist a fancy dress ball.”
“But what about Diggy Flu?” asked Hermione skeptically. “Does he love a fancy dress ball, too?”
“Diggy would never miss an opportunity to pull his panda suit out of moth balls. His stupid panda obsession. If it weren’t for his little panda crush, the amusement park would have been the perfect testing site. Thousands of unwitting Muggle and wizard tourists were at our disposal. But it was all for naught. All of my hard work blown to bits. And now I have to start all over again.”
“But the amusement park was my idea,” said Hermione.
Narcissa smirked. “Was it? Or did you fall into my trap by greedily devouring an entire platter of mind-altering cheese?”
“I knew it was mind-altering cheese!” exclaimed Hermione.
“Oh, did you now?” sneered Draco. “What about your doppelganger and parallel universe theories?”
“I was just thinking out loud,” Hermione huffed.
“All of you will work undercover disguised as the pirate crew. Fortunately for you two,” said Narcissa to Draco and Hermione, “I thought to rescue your pirate costumes before they went down with the ship. They’re hanging in your cabin. I did have to bedazzle them a bit. It is a fancy dress ball.”
Hermione rolled her eyes. Just what she needed: Draco in tight, sparkly breeches.
“Our mission is to retrieve Diggy Flu from enemy hands. He must not be harmed.”
Hermione raised her hand. “But isn’t Diggy Flu the enemy?”
“Diggy is the weapon. Whoever controls him controls the entire wizarding world. If it weren’t for that silly panda fixation of his, he would still be mine.”
“Evil creatures, those pandas. An abomination,” said Regulus darkly. “They will destroy the world as we know it. You mark my words.”
“Oh, shut up about the stupid pandas,” snapped Narcissa. “I hate them. They are ruining everything.”
“As is their purpose,” replied Regulus sagely.
Narcissa rolled her eyes.
“So, if Diggy isn’t the enemy,” said Hermione, trying to piece everything together, “it must be Bellatrix who is the one trying to become the next dark lord.”
Narcissa laughed. “Don’t be ridiculous. Bella is a born follower. She’s usually under my control, except when she’s obsessed with a man. Let’s hope this one has a nose.”
“Well, if it’s not her, who is trying to become the next dark lord?” questioned Hermione.
“No one knows,” replied Narcissa, “but get Diggy back, and it won’t matter. My sources tell me that the Death Eaters guarding Diggy will arrive dressed as ninjas. Take them out and Diggy is as good as ours.”
“Pirates versus ninjas,” said Regulus and Snape at the same time, slapping each other a high five.
“Please do try to control yourselves,” scolded Narcissa. “This is a serious mission. And we have a lot of work to do to get this ship into shape for the masquerade ball. I would have used my own yacht, but blood stains are so dreadfully hard to remove from the deck. So, I settled on commandeering this Muggle vessel for our purposes.”
“I’m not working on some crappy Muggle boat,” grumbled Draco.
“You will do as you’re told,” replied Narcissa haughtily.
“There’s still one thing I don’t understand,” said Hermione.
“Only one?” drawled Narcissa.
Hermione glared. “I know you were the one who sent the cheese platter to my hotel room, but who was responsible for sending the cheese that killed Fernando?”
“Such a pity about poor Fernando,” said Narcissa, clucking her tongue. “Dying in the line of duty like that. He was an excellent cabana boy.”
Hermione couldn’t help nodding her head in agreement.
Draco glared at the both of them.
“It was meant for you, of course,” Narcissa told Hermione.
“You sent me a poisoned cheese platter?” Hermione gasped.
Narcissa shrugged. “I didn’t have any use for you any more.”
“You meant to kill me!”
“Well, I certainly didn’t want to kill my cabana boy.”
“I almost ate that cheese!” Draco exclaimed angrily. “You could have killed me!”
“Draco Ignatius Malfoy, you know you’re not supposed to eat cheese. You’re lactose intolerant.”
“Your initials are D.I.M.?” Hermione giggled.
Draco scowled. “Not anymore. I’m a Granger now, remember?”
“You took her name?” Narcissa growled.
Draco looked sheepish. “Accidentally. I got a little distracted during the ceremony and—”
“You were thinking with Little Draco, weren’t you?”
Draco nodded, embarrassed.
“I told your father we should have had a girl. But he insisted. Ah, well. What’s done is done. I suppose I should have known better than to choose her for this assignment. You and your silly schoolboy crush. But Sirius did say that one time that she was the smartest witch of her age, and now it seems to be stuck in everyone’s mind.”
“It’s not a big deal,” insisted Draco. “After she has the baby, I can divorce her.”
“You got her pregnant! I thought she just let herself go.”
“Hey!” exclaimed Hermione.
“Regulus!” Narcissa yelled. “Why was I not informed of this situation?”
“How should I know?” Regulus shrugged. “I specifically told Snape to do so.”
“He is not the boss of me,” boomed Snape.
“You dropped the ball,” Regulus accused.
“I did not. I passed the task off to Fenrir. Clearly, he is incompetent.”
“You didn’t tell me nothing,” insisted Fenrir.
“I gave you a direct order,” growled Snape.
“Must have gave it in my bad ear.”
“Enough!” said Narcissa, holding up her hand. “Draco, what were you thinking?”
“Well, there was this weird wizarding law—”
“Breeding with her was unnecessary and not part of the plan. You know our family is above the law.”
“If our family is so above the law, then why is Father still in Azkaban?” asked Draco.
“Because he vexed me. No one crosses the Dread Pirate Queen. And I do mean no one,” Narcissa threatened, her eyes flashing.
“I don’t know why you’re so upset. Like I said, as soon as the baby is born, I’m free to divorce her.”
“You will do no such thing. Divorce is out of the question.”
“But—” began Draco.
“The subject is closed. My decision is final.”
“Yes, Mother,” replied Draco dutifully.
“Mummy’s boy,” coughed Hermione under her breath.
Draco glared at her.
“I can’t believe she is carrying our heir,” Narcissa grumbled, the subject obviously not completely closed. “Of all the girls out there, you knock up Hermione Granger. Wait until your father hears about this. You know how he feels about frizzy hair.”
“Sorry, Mother,” Draco muttered.
“Don’t I have a say in this?” asked Hermione. “Maybe I want a divorce.”
“I forbid it,” said Narcissa adamantly.
“I don’t want to be a part of this family. You tried to kill me!”
“Well, if you’re going to hold petty grudges.”
“Murder, conspiracy, coercion... You won’t get away with this,” said Hermione. “When the Ministry finds out—”
Narcissa let out a harsh laugh and looked down her nose at Hermione. “Your naivety is astounding.”
“But the Ministry—”
“I am the Ministry.”
“I don’t understand,” said Hermione in confusion.
“The wizarding world isn’t run by a Minister. It’s ruled by a Queen. Me.”
Hermione turned to Draco. “You’re a prince?” she asked incredulously.
“Does that make you want to do me even more?” asked Draco, raising his eyebrows up and down.
“No,” retorted Hermione, shoving him away. Turning back to Narcissa, she said, “So, the Ministry...”
“Is nothing more than my puppet on a string. Kingsley does have some brains. I’ll give him that. He certainly hasn’t been as easy to control as the rest. That is where you came in.”
“What do you mean?”
“The only way to convince him that an amusement park wasn’t the stupidest idea in the world was to have the brightest witch of her age come up with it.”
Hermione stared at Narcissa in disbelief. “You’re mad.”
“Mad with power,” retorted Narcissa.
Hermione turned to Regulus. “I am not working with her. You can save the world without me.”
Regulus pulled out a contract from his pocket. “You’ve already agreed. No backsies.”
Hermione let out a loud harrumph. “How am I supposed to trust her? For all I know, she’ll just try to kill me again.”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” scoffed Narcissa. “You’re family now. I take care of my own. And I expect you to take care of my grandchild. Speaking of which, you don’t look well. Why don’t you eat something?” Narcissa snapped her fingers and a cheese platter appeared. Draco reached out his hand, and Narcissa slapped it away.
Hermione glared at the cheese platter. “No, thank you. I’m trying to quit.”
“Then something else. Some vegetables perhaps.” Narcissa snapped her fingers again and a plate of steaming vegetables appeared. “You need your strength. We have a long night ahead of us.”
“You can’t tell me what to do,” huffed Hermione. “I don’t care if you are my mother-in-law and the frigging Dread Pirate Queen. I am Hermione Jean Granger. The bossiest of the bossy. A war hero. The smartest witch of my age. No one tells me what to do.”
Narcissa arched one eyebrow and then said evenly, “Eat your vegetables, Hermione Jean Granger.”
To which Hermione found herself shoving a forkful of vegetable medley in her mouth. Blech. Whoever thought up vegetable medley should be shot, hung, and then Avada’d. Swallowing the noxious blend of vegetables along with a large portion of her dignity, she clamped her hand over her mouth and turned to the one person she knew she could count on.
Snape let out a long sigh. “You want to puke on my leg, don’t you?”
Her hand still covering her mouth, Hermione nodded.
Snape stuck out his peg leg. “Good thing I thought to add that puke repellant charm. Go ahead. Spew.”
And she did.
“Tightbottom,” Narcissa called. “Swab the deck.”
With a yelp, Neville lunged for the nearest mop. “Why is it always me?” he whined as he mopped up the disgusting medley.
Hermione was left with a bad taste in her mouth. And it wasn’t just from the vegetable medley. Narcissa Malfoy was not only her boss and her mother-in-law, she was also the possessor of one stupid golden ring.
Narcissa looked at Hermione and smiled. “This ring really is awfully clever. Perhaps, you will be of use to me after all... Princess Hermione.”
TO BE CONTINUED...
Chapter 17: Big Balls
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Roughly seventeen hours later, Hermione, Draco, and the others were once again decked-out in pirate garb—only this time, they looked less authentic and more like a Vegas side show. It seemed to Hermione that Narcissa’s Bedazzler TM must’ve gotten a workout.
The H.O.T.T.’s undercover-pirate-crew was all assembled on the starboard side of CAPTAIN DIRTY DAVE’S ship, ready for inspection by the Dread Pirate Queen herself. Oh, how Hermione loathed that woman.
Narcissa was aptly dressed as the Evil Queen. Black satin head to toe, her silver main glowing in a lengthy cascade down past her rump. She paraded before them, eyeing each one up and down until finally she paused at Neville, began a monologue, and continued on down the line.
“Ah yes… and here we have Neville Longbottom, Your Ship’s Captain … Regulus Black, Your Ship’s Bartender... Severus Snape, Your Ship’s Doctor… Draco Malfoy-Granger, Your Ship’s Yeoman Purser… and last but not least, Hermione Granger, Your ’Ruise Director.”
Hermione scowled. How dare Narcissa use Hermione’s own snide comment to insult her! She felt like sticking her tongue out at her or, better yet, punching her right in the nose.
Suddenly, Neville shouted, “Yes! I get to be Captain!” They all turned and stared at him. “I mean sure, sure… whatever.” He blushed.
Narcissa strode toward him, her long, perfect legs peeking out from the thigh-high slit of her gown with every stride.
As she passed by Draco, he hissed, “Mother?! Why are you dressed like a harlot? You’re the Dread Pirate Queen, not a Lady of the Night.” The sour, sulky look on his face suited him perfectly.
“Oh, Draco. Grow up. Really,” Narcissa tossed the words over her shoulder at her son. “I suppose you think your mother should never look at another man since her divorce. Well, THAT’S not going to happen.” Reaching the place where Neville stood, she grabbed his scruffy pirate-like face in her perfectly manicured hand and kissed him full on the mouth. “That’s right, you get to be Captain Tightbottom.” Then, she added with a feline purr, “… and I’ll see you in the Captain’s quarters later.”
Neville went fifty shades of purple as Narcissa pushed his face from her view and walked back down the line of the motley crew. Draco shook his head in ennui.
Hermione leaned over and whispered, “Your parents are divorced? When did that happen?”
“Right after Father went to prison,” Draco whispered back. “Mother’s lawyer spun a tale of ‘forced desertion’. She was awarded everything in the divorce. Poor Mum.”
Hermione was taken aback. “‘Poor Mum’? What do you mean—”
But before she could question Draco further, Regulus piped up. “Oi, bartender?” complained Regulus. “Why should I have to serve up the nasty bits of work!? We should get ’em on the ship and round ’em up like the scurvy panda poop that they are!”
“Patience, Reggie, dear. We need to play this right. Diggy is a slippery bloke. He’ll smell an ambush a mile away. That’s why we go with my brilliant and elaborate plan.”
“What about me?!” Pansy cried. “What am I, chopped liver? Everyone has a job but me.” Her lip quivered and tears flooded her eyes, threatening to spill down her perfectly porcelain-skinned cheeks, which were a beautiful contrast to her jet-black, bobbed hair.
“Oh, fine, you horrid, little crybaby. Last and definitely least, Pansy Parkinson, Your Ship’s Photographer.”
“Photographer!?” yelled Pansy. “What kind of a stupid, lame-arse job is that?! Why can’t I be the Skipper, or First Mate, or something where I can work with Captain Neville?”
Narcissa stared at her with evilly-slitted eyes. “Hmm… Well, no. Besides, haven’t you ever seen Love Boat R ? There is no First Mate or Skipper. That’s Gilligan’s Island, you idiot.”
“What the hell is Love Boat?” asked Pansy.
“Darned if I know,” Neville threw in.
Doc Snape let out a put-upon sigh and spoke with a swift, low-pitched tone. “It’s an inane American-romance-sitcom television series from the late nineteen seventies and early eighties featuring different guest stars from the era.”
Hermione had had it. Maybe it was being eight-and-half-months pregnant (how the hell did that happen so bleeping fast?!), or maybe it was just her, but these people were severely testing her patience. Thank goodness, Draco had kept his stupid mouth shut for once. Probably because he was listening to his mummy. “What in the world has any of that to do with the plan? Can we please just cut to the chase, here, and get down to business?”
“Yes, let’s!” said Narcissa. “Purser Draco, will you load the cannon balls, dear?”
“What for? I thought this was to be a H.O.T.T. Undercover Masquerade Dinner Ball?”
“Don’t question Mummy, Draco, dear. I want to be fully armed and prepared for anything.”
“Uh, I don’t know how to actually load balls into cannons, Mum. I’m only pretending to be a seaman—you realize that, right?”
Narcissa stared without blinking (did she ever blink?) and huffed. “Oh fine! Dave! Dave?! Where are you? Dirty Dave?”
They all looked around. Hermione was astounded. “You mean to say, there is an actual Dirty Dave? As in the Dirty Dave of DIRTY DAVE’S DINNER ’RUISE?”
Narcissa stared at her as if she were daft. “Duh!”
Suddenly, a scruffy looking, dirty-blond pirate joined them on deck. “What it’s be now, ye old hag? Ye insufferable cow!”
Whoa, thought Hermione. Dirty Dave was HOT with a double T! He had scruffy, dingy-coloured stubble, and with his puffy pirate shirt flapping open, she could see his well-chiseled chest full of fluffy, dirty-blond hair! UH! Her downfall—a full chest of fur! Not only that: when Dirty Dave had snarled at Narcissa, she caught a nearly blinding view of his brilliant, white teeth. Nice, she thought. Oral hygiene—always a plus.
“Load those big balls into the cannons, Davy,” ordered Narcissa. “Oh, and do you have the Rum?” she asked coyly.
Dirty Dave smirked. “Do I have the Rum? Of course I have the Rum, woman. What kind of a Pirate do you think I be? Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of Rum, and all that.” Dave waved his hand nonchalantly.
“Good,” replied Narcissa. “We’ll need it for my Knock-Out Rum Punch recipe. A very special Rum Punch for Diggity and his merry band of Ninjas!” Narcissa trilled an evil little laugh and clapped her hands together. “Reggie! Get the Rum from Dave and begin brewing the recipe. You’ll find that in the hold down below.”
Narcissa continued, “The plan is for Reggie to serve Diggity and the Ninjas Knock-Out Rum Punch. See Reg,” Narcissa coddled, “you have the most important part!”
Regulus perked up at that but only a bit.
She went on, “When Diggity and the Ninjas pass out, we will incarcerate them. As soon as this is completed, I’ll contact H.O.T.T. headquarters and report. Now, to the back of the boat everyone, on the Poop Deck. Places, places. The Big Ball starts shortly!”
“Great piles of panda poop…” grumbled Regulus.
The music pumped with a steady bass and back beat. She tapped her foot, feeling like a whale.
[Music] ‘How could you know? How could you know that those were my eyes…Peepin’ through the floor, it’s like they know. It’s like they know I’m looking from the outside and creeping to the door, it’s like they know—’
The Death Eaters had indeed shown up and were enjoying the party, dancing and drinking. They were dressed in a freak-show menagerie of animal pirates and pirate animals. She hoped Diggity would be along shortly and they could get the balls rolling. As if her thoughts had made it so, a loud crack alerted the Ballers that a group had Apparated right onto the poop deck.
In the middle of a circle of stealthy ninjas, she caught sight of Flume in his cheesy getup. He was dressed as a giant mouse-pirate and held a big wedge of Swiss under one arm. It was then that she recognized that the ninjas were dressed as pandas… dressed as ninjas.
“Good grief, that is so freakish,” she said aloud.
“You are soooo right about that, Hermione,” said a voice in her ear.
“Harry!?” She whirled ’round and there he was, decked out as a familiar-looking pirate.
“Bingo. But you can call me Jack. Jack Sparrow, at your service.” He removed his big pirate hat and bowed deeply, chivalrously.
Hermione laughed. “Brilliant! I’d have never recognized you, what with all that black eye-liner and that scraggily beard.”
“Ooo, good song,” Harry said and then sang along: “‘You understand I got a plan for us… I betcha didn’t know that I was dangerous…’”
“Harry, are you… have you been making merry?” She thought she had detected a spicy whiff of rum on his breath.
“Maybe a bit tipsy. The rum in Fiji is delicious. Listen, I really do have a plan. The reason I’m here is so we can stop the Dread Pirate Queen.”
“You mean Narcissa? She’s the one in charge of this fiasco. Speaking of which, I haven’t seen her since she had the cannon balls loaded.”
“Oh crap—she’s loaded the cannons?”
“Well, I know she asked Dirty Dave to do so. So… I suppose they’re loaded and ready to go.”
“Phew! Dave will take care of it, then.” Harry hiccupped—and loudly.
Hermione scowled. “What do you mean by that? Do you know Dave?”
“Sure do. And I know he will NOT have loaded the balls.”
“How would you know that? Never mind. Why do we need to stop Narcissa? I thought we were on the same team here.”
“Oh, Hermione, you are losing your edge. I’ve heard pregnancy makes women lose their smarts for a time. By the way, how’d you get SO pregnant, SO fast?”
Hermione scowled, silently cursing those crafty fan fiction authors. “Don’t ask.”
Harry shook his head sadly. “Look, they’ve been trying to confuse you all along. That ridiculous Theme Park, the marriage to Draco… it was all part of their grand scheme. Just to keep you busy and out of their hair while they came up with a plot to destroy the wizarding world.”
“Harry Potter, you drunk-arse, what are you talking about?! WHO are you talking about?”
“No time to explain it all. Your baby-brain wouldn’t follow in any case.”
“I beg pardon! That was just plain RUDE!”
“Just listen. We’ve got to get the Ring from Narsissy. I have a plan. It’s nearly dark out. In ten minutes, you just sneak forward to the forecastle deck. Hide under the lifeboat—did you know it’s called a cockboat?” He chuckled. “And then… you’ll know what to do.” He hiccupped and turned to go.
“Wait! What does H.O.T.T. have to do with all this? And who the BLEEP is in charge of it anyway? Narcissa?”
Harry shrugged impatiently. “You’ll understand after we get the Ring, get Narcissa, and get Diggity.”
“What does it stand for then?” She seethed. “‘Highly Odd Tittering Twat?’ Or ‘Haughty Old Twisted Tit’?”
Harry sniggered. “Hey, that’s your mother-in-law you’re talking about.”
“Not for long. As soon as this unbelievably fast gestation is over, Draco and I are, too.”
“Speaking of my friend and yours, where is Draco?”
“Damned if I know. He’s probably following his mummy around, considering he’s tied to her apron strings.” She snorted.
“Well. Right. I’m off to the bar for a tick. My rum is gone and I need a refill.” He sauntered off toward Bartender Regulus nattering something like, ‘Why is all the rum gone?’
Pansy stood staring through the window of the Captain’s quarters, disbelieving what she was seeing. She had been told by Jack Sparrow to have Narcissa, the Dread Pirate Queen, meet him on the forecastle deck in five minutes. That directive completely left her mind as she gazed dazedly on Narcissa. She was laid back on the Captain’s cot, Neville at her feet. Her head was thrown back in ecstasy and she was moaning with delight.
“Yes, Tightbottom, that’s just right. Up a bit—YES! Right there. Don’t stop!”
Pansy gagged. She noticed the Ring was now glowing brightly on the BLEEP’s finger. Poor Neville! Pansy was still furious! She began snapping pictures and grumbled to herself, “This has got to constitute as an abuse of authority! A breach of power! I’ll have her brought up on charges for this! Wizarding Law WL 942.869 states that no one impersonating a Pirate Queen may use a Hobbit’s Ring for forced relational favours!” She screamed and threw a nearby buoy at the porthole.
Narcissa sat up and straightened her black evil queen pirate gown. “Yes, who is it?”
Pansy remembered why she had found Narcissa. “It’s Pansy, your ship’s photographer. You’ve got an important meeting on the forecastle deck in five minutes.”
“Very well,” Narcissa called through the door. Pansy could hear what sounded like Neville crying, and then Narcissa’s voice: “I’ll be back to finish this, later, Lover.”
The Queen barged through the door, gave Pansy an innocent smile, and swooshed away.
Pansy rushed in to Neville’s side. He was kneeling on the floor, clearly traumatized.
“What is it? You can tell me, Neville. What did she make you do?”
“Oh Pans! It was awful! I’ve never had to perform such disgusting acts before. Oh gawd! Her skin! It was so rough!”
Pansy threw her hands over her face to hide her own tears. “I’m so sorry for you. Just tell me. Did you…?”
“Yes—I’m ruined!” blubbered Neville. “She made me… she made me rub her feet!!!!!” He fell in a pile sobbing.
Hermione could see them and hear them.
“I’m in disguise, of course,” said Jack Sparrow-Harry Potter.
“Yes, I can see that,” commented Narcissa, shrewdly, her evil eyes narrowed. “You’re supposed to be Jack Sparrow from that silly pirate film series. But who are you really? Are you—Jo—”
“Shhh.” He placed his index finger upon her lips. “Yes, it’s true. I am Johnny Deep,” Harry as Johnny, as Jack, confessed.
Narcissa scowled. “Deep? I thought it was Depp?”
“Don’t say it,” Potter-Deep-Sparrow whispered. “Don’t say my name. It’s frowned upon for these fan fiction writers to include realpeople in their fan fiction.”
Narcissa cocked her head. “Oh, well… does that mean you really are him?”
“What do you think?” Harry stripped fast as a lightning bolt and jumped into the gentle sea, treading water in a come-hither way.
“Hmm… I think I’d like to find out the meaning of Deep,” laughed Narcissa.
Hermione cringed. Poor Harry, she thought. Always taking one for the team.
Narcissa dropped her duds and lastly took off The One Ring. She laid it lovingly on top of the pile of her gown and under-things and plunged into the water to join the skinny-dipping Harry Potter-Johnny Deep-Jack Sparrow.
Hermione sneaked out from under the cockboat, as stealthily as her lumbering body would allow. She crept closer until she could finally grasp it. The RING was on her own finger once again! She sneaked a peek at the night swimmers bobbing up a down in the water like two human-shaped buoys. It was then that Hermione saw the tattoo. In the pale moonlight, against Narcissa’s moon-pale skin, she saw it. A panda tattoo. An evil, ugly, ferocious-looking panda, with cauldrons of glowing fire for eyes—right there above Narcissa’s shoulder blade!!
She’s in cahoots with Diggity! The realization sent Hermione reeling. Nothing made sense.
In light of this realization, a searing pain shot through her lower abdomen. It took all her willpower not to cry out. Her knees buckled and she fell, catching herself with her hands. Hermione froze, panting from the receding pain and shock. Dear lord, she was going into labour! How was she to get out of this predicament? She felt too weak to move. The Ring! She hurriedly slipped it on and willed help to come.
Within seconds, she felt two sets of strong hands on her arms. Looking to her left and then to her right, she was amazed. Two familiar-looking, and very good looking pirates had come to her rescue. One was tall, lean, and dirty blond. The other lofty, hulking, and dark.
“Dirty Dave? But who…?”
“I’m Davy Jones, miss,” Dave whispered. “Let’s get you back to the Poop Deck.” His drawling timber and rum-tinged breath made her shiver. Gods, he was HOTT! “This way, Miss Granger.” And then it hit her. She knew that voice, those eyes, those perfectly-straight white teeth… that apathetic lilt. It was Lucius Malfoy!
“Mr. Malfoy? It couldn’t be.”
“Indeed. And to your left is Kingsley—better known as Blackbeard.”
Hermione studied Blackbeard closely. It was Kingsley. But wait—Lucius was supposed to be in prison. What was he doing marauding as Davy Jones of Dirty Dave’s Dinner ’Ruise with Blackbeard-Kingsley? She could not think! Could not piece things together. Damn those pregnancy hormones and damn those pesky fan fic authors!
Kingsley interrupted her endlessly-looping-questioning mind. “We’ve got to stop the Dread Pirate Queen and you’ve got to keep that Ring on. Let’s get out of here before she sees us. Aft!”
As they made their way back to the Big Ball area, they heard Bella screaming. “Diggy! It’s Diggity! He’s gone to Davy Jones’s Locker!”
“Where’s that?” asked Neville, as he joined the ball. (Pansy told him she’d meet him later; she and Draco had an errand to run).
Bella snarled, “Davy Jones’s Locker is at the bottom of the sea, you daft wanker! It’s a metaphor. Meaning: he’s dead! Murdered! Diggity Havarti-Flume is dead!”
[Collected gasp. Music screeches to a halt. Silence.]
And then Hermione felt another stabbing labour pain. This time she let out a blood-curdling scream.
[Blood curdling scream]
“AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!” And then her water broke.
“Swab the deck!” yelled Neville.
“Oh shut it, you nincompoop!” Hermione ground out. “Draco!!! Where are you!?!?!?!”
“Step. Aside. I am a doctor.” It was Doc Snape.
“Urgh. You’re not a real doctor, Snape, you idiot.”
Snape sneered. “Well, you don’t really have your choice of OB/GYNs, as it would seem, do you?”
Hermione felt panic begin rising in her gullet. “Oooo, Draco?! I need you!!!” The Ring glowed with a burning blue.
As if on cue, Pansy and Draco drove up in an enchanted car and landed neatly on the starboard side of the main deck.
“Where in bloody hell did you two get that enchanted car?” cried Hermione while she clutched her huge Little Cheese Monster bump.
“No time for questions, my love,” said Draco with a roguish grin. “Just let me help you into the back seat. Don’t forget to buckle up.”
“But Kingsley… Your father! Do you know your father is Dirty Dave?”
“Of course. I am H.O.T.T., you do realize this, right?” He gingerly handed the lumbering and dripping Hermione into the back seat.
“AHHHHH!” Hermione cried out.
“No time to lose, Pans. Let’s go!”
“Right!” Pansy floored it and the enchanted-mystery-car-that-was-employed-from-who-knows-where (i.e. Deus ex machina: from the Latin, meaning "god from the machine”, is a plot device whereby a seemingly unsolvable problem is suddenly and abruptly resolved by the contrived and unexpected intervention of some new event, character, ability, or object; often employed in fan fiction, and not done very well at that) zoomed into the sky.
Pansy tossed her camera out the window to Neville on the deck below as she sped by. “Get those developed. There may be proof against Narcissa on there.”
The remainder of the ship’s crew stood on the deck, captivated, as they watched the car get smaller and smaller until it was just a speck on the horizon and then completely out of sight.
TO BE CONTINUED…
*Cue silly background music from the sitcom “Soap”*
Will Pansy be able to navigate a flying Muggle car?
Why is Lucius out of prison?
What happened between Harry and Narcissa?
Is Neville going to be the same after his forced encounter with Narcissa’s hammer toes and nasty corns?
Will Hermione have the baby?
Will she and Draco divorce?
Who killed Diggity?
Find out all this and more in the next few chapters of The Terrible Tale of Pirate Granger and her Snarky First Mate/Soon-to-be Ex-Husband Draco Malfoy as They Travel Six of the Seven Seas Fighting Deadly Cheese, Chest Hair, Wacky Wizarding Laws, Muggle Traffic, Creepy Pandas and Each Other
Song lyrics by Big Data from “Dangerous”
References to Love Boat, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Soap.
References to the ship from the following illustration: http://rcbcp.files.wordpress.com/2007/04/ship-map.jpg
Chapter 18: The Beginnings of a Bow
Gentle morning light filtered through curtained windows. Hermione shifted as the rays struck her face, and she turned away, searching for darkness, grasping for the Zs she so keenly needed. She had no concept of the exact hour, only that it was far too early to wake. Her body – her nether bits, particularly – ached something fierce, and her mind felt downright worn. She had been having the most ridiculous dream of Fiji and carnival plots and pandas and pirates… Her brow furrowed; maybe sleep wasn’t what she needed.
Something cooed to her right and, though Hermione was no ornithologist, she knew it wasn’t a dove.
“Oooh, look at his wee toes!” Regulus. By gods.
“A little angel!” remarked Pansy.
“A little Malfoy,” Snape corrected.
“No.” The babble silenced for a moment, then Draco continued: “A little Malfoy-Granger.”
It hadn’t been a dream, then. She had wanted it to be one so much. She didn’t want to deal with the threat of ninjas who were pandas, or pandas who were ninjas, or her soon-to-be-ex-mother-in-law trying to enslave the world with the One Ring and a not-so-underground Swiss cheese cartel.
Hermione moaned and rubbed the sleep from her eyes. The room quieted again.
“Please tell me I didn’t give birth in the back seat of a plot device,” she muttered.
“Everybody out!” Neville shouted. “Captain’s orders!”
A chorus of “Aye, aye!”s, several pairs of booted feet tromping away, a door being shut. Hermione chanced opening her eyes. Draco stood before her, blond, be-hatted, and bedazzled, holding a bundle swaddled in green blankets. She looked from him to the bundle, back to him, but mostly at the bundle.
“That’s an actual baby, isn’t it?” she asked quietly.
“Aye,” Draco replied. “Our baby. And it seems now that you have some choices to make.”
“Can I…” Hermione reached out her arms, but Draco hesitated, drawing the bundle toward his chest ever so slightly.
“You can,” he hedged, “but once you hold him, you’ll be useless as far as rational thinking goes.”
“If one more person makes a crack about pregnancy hormones –”
Draco interrupted her with a soft laugh. “No, no. It’s just that, well, he’s distracting, is all, and you have questions.”
Oh ho, did she ever have questions! Her life had gone so thoroughly off the rails as of late that it was difficult for her to remember all the bits and pieces. She felt like a shitty juggler, unable to track all the balls and flaming torches and chainsaws she had thrown.
She took a deep breath. “Very well, then. Questions.” Draco settled himself in a chair. “Aren’t you going to put him down?”
Draco smiled at her; he had his father’s teeth. “No. I’m already addled – it’s my natural state now.”
“Fine,” she said with a huff. She gave the blanket another fleeting look then steeled herself. “Did I give birth in the deus ex machina mobile?”
“No. You delivered here. Doctor Snape –”
“He’s a professor!”
“ – And Captain Tightbottom attended. Snape was thrilled to finally do something useful, though I believe you shattered his peg legs.”
“Right or left?”
“Both. I know you put Tightbottom off women for a while. That just as easily could’ve been my mum, of course, but still, Pansy won’t thank you for it.”
“Your mum! Draco, she’s in league with them! The pandas, and Diggy –”
“The ex-Diggy, you mean. The ex-pandas, too.” The bundle squirmed beneath its blankets; Draco adjusted his hold and began to rock back and forth slightly. “Calms him,” he said in response to Hermione’s wondering look. “So much time on a ship, I reckon he got used to the rocking.”
Hermione swallowed thickly. “Ex-pandas?” she prompted, trying to stay on task.
“Diggy’s minions, as we may or may not have already established. He was controlling them with his mind-meld cheese. Once he died, his power over them broke. They lost whatever ninja fighting skills they may have once had, remembered how much they hated this reproduction nonsense, and jumped ship. Of course, the dolts only then realized they couldn’t swim.”
“Hardly a loss,” Hermione said with a grim smile.
“Aye,” Draco agreed. “The sharks ate well last night.”
“We found enough of him to confirm his death, but not enough to discover who killed him.”
“Well, that’s convenient.”
“Too convenient, one might say.”
Draco shrugged. “I assume Potter was able to fight her off. Though he hasn’t been seen since. Maybe they absconded together.”
“Love takes many forms,” he said in a supercilious sort of tone.
“We need to find him.”
“Whatever you say. Literally.” Draco nodded at her left hand, and Hermione jumped in surprise. She hardly remembered putting the Ring on. It felt so natural on her hand now, and maybe that was part of the problem.
“That Gandalf was on to something,” she said darkly. “This ring is too powerful, and in the wrong hands… No one, especially someone you care about, should be forced to do anything. You should do it because you want to.” She met Draco’s eyes. “We need to destroy it.”
“Wait.” She took off the Ring and placed it on her bedside table. “I want to destroy it.”
Draco smiled at her and placed his hand over her own. “As do I.”
She gave him a watery smile, and he scooted his chair closer. “Would you care to hold your son, Mrs. Malfoy-Granger?”
Hermione nodded and held out her arms once more.
“Why is it,” she asked, as Draco bent over her, “that whenever we get ourselves in these fantastical situations, one of us winds up pregnant?”
“What better way to bring people together?” replied Draco, slowly handing the infant off. “I’m just happy it was you this time.”
“Everyone get all that?” The group assembled behind her nodded, then, as if they had planned it, began to ask questions, indicating that they had, in fact, not gotten all that.
“Does this mean we’re a fellowship now, not a crew?”
“You don’t suppose we’ll have to change costumes, do you? I don’t fancy wearing tights…”
“If we are a fellowship, does that mean I’m not captain anymore?”
Pansy’s lips turned down in an annoyed frown: they were good questions. She took a stab at answering.
“I think that technically makes us a fellowship, but I’d prefer if we stayed a crew. I’m hardly desperate enough to want to see you” – she shot a look at Snape – “and Lucius in tights.”
“What about –”
“You can remain captain, Longbottom, as long as you shut your gob about it,” snarked Snape, clearly upset at the stockings jab. His new legs weren’t so bad, actually, though Pansy couldn’t figure out why he had chosen to decorate them with flames and skulls. “And where is Lucius?”
Pansy looked about her. She could have sworn he had been present for the birth. Kingsley, too. Strange…
“That’s not important right now,” she said with a careless wave of her hand. “What we need to figure out is how to destroy that ring.”
“There are a few active volcanoes in Iceland,” Neville offered.
“There’s only one volcano that would do the trick,” said Regulus. The hospital lights around him flickered forebodingly. “Mount Erebus.”
The group was quiet for a moment. “Erebus…” Snape whispered. “Isn’t that –”
“In Antarctica,” Regulus finished for him.
Pansy’s arms broke out in gooseflesh at the mere thought. Neville wrapped his arms around his chest.
“Must we?” squeaked Neville.
“Do you have a better idea?”
They fell silent once again. Several minutes passed, then Snape spoke.
“They’ll need a babysitter,” he said, nodding toward the hospital room door.
Another long silence followed, this time broken by Regulus.
“What are they calling him, anyway?”
TO BE CONTINUED...
Chapter 19: Of Tights, Werewolf Babysitters, and the Cold Making Things Smaller
Captain Tightbottom was marching up and down the corridors of the hospital, back straight, knees locked, arse firm, as he and his team contemplated their next move.
Pansy watched from the sidelines, in awe of his raw power. If a little bit of drool was forming a spit-bubble from her partially-opened mouth, well, she would never know.
Well, Neville guessed team was the wrong word now. He and Pansy had lost the fight (one which was nearly—and Snape now had the real hobble to prove it—to the death) over what their band of merry men (and two women) were to be called.
A fellowship, they were now.
They had lost another fight as well. Snape had begun complaining about how he’d been wearing the peg legs for this whole adventure, and about how uncomfortable they were, and that—was it really too much to ask?—he deserved a little bit of comfort in his overall miserable life.
Neville had himself asked the fateful question. “All right, Snape,” he had said, sighing. “What would make you most comfortable on this perilous quest to destroy The One Ring?”
“Tights,” Snape had answered simply and with a smirk.
“Indeed,” spoke another voice. A flash of lightning had struck a weather vane nearby as it lit up the sky with electric purple, thunder crashing and the lights in the hospital flickering again as everyone had turned their attention to the lone figure at the end of the hallway, tall and ominous as he loomed in the shadows.
Regulus was the only one of them who dared to speak up. “Um, who the hell are you?”
“I am Lucius!” He had drawn himself forward into the light, a cloak—no, a cape—pulled up with one arm to cover his face as “Toccata and Fugue in D minor” inexplicably began to play over the hospital’s loudspeaker.
“Where the devil did you come from?” Neville had asked.
“Not important,” Lucius had said with a wave of his cape. “What is important is my comfort. If you don’t want to hear me whining all the way to Mount Erebus, you had best make the official costume of the fellowship tights and tunics.”
“Tights and tunics…” Neville had said, faintly, as his vision had begun to swim in front of him. He had felt his face begin to pale as he began to imagine Snape and Lucius in tights, and he had thought for a moment that he might be sick.
“As I said before, indeed, young Tightbottom.” He had winked in Neville’s direction. “They will also make my junk look quite…delectable, if I do say so myself.”
“Delectable…” Neville had echoed.
“I must win Narcissa back from that wretched Potter one way or another,” Lucius had muttered.
Now, he could really feel the vomit coming. First Hermione’s somewhat…exploding lady bits and now a face-to-face with Lucius’s bits?
He had begun to think that being captain was kind of a crap job.
All the eyes of his fellowship were on him, and Neville had felt a sigh escape him as he considered his decision.
“Fine,” he had said eventually, after a torturously long moment. The last thing that he needed were two of the most, well, formerly, evil Death Eaters cranky and complaining on a trip that was bound to be a nightmare anyways.
His decision had been met with howls and cries as Snape and Lucius wasted no time in transforming their previously modest trousers into quite tight, quite revealing tights.
“Ah…” Lucius had sighed as he began to shimmy around, enjoying the freedom of movement.
Snape, to the astonishment of everyone, performed leap after perfect leap up and down the corridor. “What?” he had said when he made it back to them. “I was classically trained.”
Pansy was, literally, sobbing in the corner, screaming, “My eyes, my eyes!”
Crabbe and Goyle, Srs, who had just stepped off of the elevator holding hands, had grinned at each other as they took in the sight and said, “Delicious.”
All Neville could do was shake his head. Now, who on Earth were they going to get to watch the Malfoy-Grangers’ baby?
Hermione’s hair was far bushier than normal. Which was to say, they were hardly able to see her face amid the poof and tangle of her curls.
Snape and Lucius, the two biggest proponents of the tights-and-tunics movement, were now deeply regretting that decision as, in the fierce cold of the Antarctic winter, what had once seemed so large…now seemed quite small indeed.
Everyone was cold and hungry, and Neville was yelling at him and Hermione about child safety or some other such nonsense.
“How could you let that—that monster—go anywhere near your child? Near little Hercules?”
Draco sighed for the umpteenth time. Hermione seemed to feel the same, for the hair around her mouth area moved out slightly, as if with her breath.
“As we have already explained to you, Neville, Greyback came with the highest of qualifications!”
“WHAT QUALIFICATIONS COULD A RABID WEREWOLF POSSIBLY HAVE THAT WOULD LET YOU GIVE HIM YOUR CHILD?” Neville screamed at them.
“He’s quite shrill, isn’t he?” Hermione remarked to Draco. She had to yell, since the wall of hair was so thick.
“He had, like, CPR training and stuff,” Draco said. “And he’s watched loads of kids before.”
“Eaten!” Neville corrected, still shrill. “You mean he’s eaten loads of kids before.”
“Oh Neville, don’t be silly!” Hermione laughed. “He doesn’t eat them; he just bites them and transforms their lives into ones of misery, pain, and prejudice. Really, you should get your facts straight before you go accusing people of eating children.”
“Anyways,” Draco said pointedly, “can we get back to the matter at hand, please? We have a Ring to destroy and a volcano to find and no clue how to get there!”
“Well,” Regulus said as they neared the top of the valley, “we could follow this trail of blood that seems to lead to the rising pillar of black smoke in the sky?”
“Eeep,” said Draco.
“Why is it always a trail of blood leading to black smoke?” Neville whined.
“It almost never is, Tightbottom, and you would know that if you were truly the Chosen One,” Lucius shot back.
Hermione sighed. “I wish Harry were here,” she said, missing the jealous glance from Draco.
Wait, no, Draco wasn’t jealous. He simply couldn’t be jealous. Not of Potter. Not of anyone over Hermione. Because otherwise, that would mean…
Crabbe and Goyle, Srs, were whining something about second breakfast and first lunch as Draco noticed something that appeared to be looming over the horizon, halfway between the fellowship and the rising pillar of foreboding black smoke.
“Quiet!” he said as he raised a hand, straining his magnificent silver eyes to the shimmer before him.
“Oh, crap,” Draco declared as he finally realized what he was looking at. “Dementors.”
Chapter 20: Did it just get warmer in here?
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
No one said anything. Captain Neville Tightbottom followed Draco’s mercurial gaze. He, too, saw what Malfoy-Granger had seen – a shimmering, swirling dance of randy Dementors, coming towards the Fellowship.
“Bloody hell,” he said. “Look at all those randy Dementors coming to molest us.”
The Demented kissing sounds were quite audible now. Every few seconds, you could hear the spritz of breath spray.
The Fellowship began to panic. Neville instinctively threw himself in front of Pansy to shield her from the imminent attack. She seized the opportunity to stick her half-frostbitten hands under his shirt onto his warm, muscular stomach, causing him to shriek like a banshee.
Crabbe and Goyle, Srs., gripped each other tightly and started snogging each other, thinking that that would save them from the amourous attentions of the Dementors. (Little did they know that amourous, neutered Dementors are very into group activities.)
Lucius and Snape, the frozen-balled poncy twins, tried to hide inside one another’s tights. Surprisingly, there wasn’t much ball room after all, even with their recent reduction in size, and they didn’t get anywhere fast.
Draco the Courageous ducked behind his lioness wife’s huge mane of wind-whipped hair, but that did nothing to hide him and everything to give him an enormous case of the sneezes as the strands tickled his pointy, aristocratic nose. Hermione began to scold him for getting snot all over her robes, and honestly, why didn’t everyone just whip out their wands and fire up some Patronuses?
“Regulus! Don’t just do something! Stand there!” shouted Neville through his chattering teeth.
Regulus stood there, tall and unbowed, and watched the approaching silken, rotting horrors. “They…” he intoned, four seconds later, “are coming.”
“NO SHIT, SHERLOCK!” screamed Captain Tightbottom. He finally succeeded in peeling Pansy’s paws away from his pecs. He clutched them tightly in his own hands.
Regulus rolled his dark, sinister, panty-wetting eyes and pointed in a direction quite different from the Dementors’ angle of attack. “THEY,” he intoned again, “are coming!”
Everyone who wasn’t busy sucking face turned to look where his finger was pointing. Snape gaped. Neville gasped. Pansy ooo’ed. Lucius raised an eyebrow. Hermione clapped her hands. Only Draco spoke.
“Oh, for fuck’s sake. Not them.”
Flying toward the Fellowship and quickly overtaking the dance of Dementors, powerful wings beating against the wind, was a large, multi-hued, hauteur of Hippogriffs.
“Bloody hell,” Captain Tightbottom said. “Look at that heroic hauteur of Hippogriffs coming to save us!”
“I always thought it was a pride of Hippogriffs,” Pansy wondered aloud, as the Hippogriffs arrived and began to tear into the Dementors with hungry gusto. Hippogriff cries of triumph mingled with the Dementors’ minty fresh, raucous death rattles.
“No, it’s a pride of lions,” corrected Hermione, raising her voice to be heard over the feasting animals. “It’s a hauteur of Hippogriffs. This is wonderful. It’s a little-known fact that Hippogriffs are the only known creatures to prey upon Dementors. They love them, even more than ferrets.” Draco pushed her hair out of his face and scowled at her. She smiled back at him and kissed him on the cheek.
Harry Potter, clad once again in his Captain Jack Sparrow outfit, was riding the lead Hippogriff, who happened to be Draco’s old friend, Buckbeak.
Draco groaned theatrically. “Bloody marvellous. My arch-enemy AND my arch-nemesis.”
Hermione elbowed him in the ribs and waved. “Hi, Harry!”
Harry and Buckbeak both nodded heroically at everyone before joining the feeding frenzy. The Fellowship stood knee-deep in the snow, clinging to each other for warmth but also warmed from within by the knowledge that they weren’t going to die. Such joy they felt! Such giddiness! Such hope!
“Hey, what’s that sound?” asked Pansy.
“What sound?” asked Lucius.
“What the hell’s that?” yelped Draco. He pointed up the mountain. Everyone looked at where he was pointing (Except Goyle and Crabbe, Srs., who stared at Draco’s finger).
Snow was rumbling down the slope above them, placing them in certain danger of imminent death.
“AVALANCHE!” yelled Neville.
“Ah, bollocks,” groaned Snape. “Where the hell IS my wand? We all have wands, so why aren’t we using them?”
“I don’t know about you,” shouted Lucius, his teeth chattering wildly. “But my wand’s frozen to my wand, if you know what mean!”
“Whatever, Luci. I don’t need any sort of erectile dysfunction product to keep MY wand stiff,” Snape retorted with a sneer.
Hermione’d had enough. She had her wand drawn, as did Draco, but neither of them seemed to be able to move their fingers very well. Pansy was distracting Neville with… with… whatever the hell she was doing, and the nitwit galoots Crabbe and Goyle were, well, they were Crabbe and Goyle. As for Regulus, he was too busy looking majestic to do anything actually helpful. Everyone was either too frozen, too self-centered, or too stupid to cast an effective spell. Some Fellowship!
Stupid Fellowship. Stupid Antarctica. Stupid Ring. They were going to have to get out of this some other way. They needed a hero.
“HARRY!” she yelled. At the sound of her melodious shriek, Harry expertly wheeled Buckbeak around to face the Fellowship, his raven-black hair and the red scarf tied around his head whipping heroically in the wind. Hermione pointed at the encroaching Snow Wall of Doom and cried, “Winter is coming!”
Harry “Johnny Depp Wannabe” Potter spoke to Buckbeak, who screeched at his companions. The entire hauteur of Hippogriffs turned on a Knut and swooped down toward the half-frozen Fellowship. Remains of dead Dementors rained down from their claws onto the adventurers’ heads. One by one, each of the heroic creatures scooped up a wizard or witch and flew high above the carnage and snow.
Draco tried to cling to Hermione, but she was gently plucked from his arms by a giant black Hippogriff. He fell back into the snow, cursing, and floundered to his feet just as two golden claws closed around his arms and yanked him to safety. One glance upward was enough.
“Salazar’s salty sac,” he snarled. “Why is it always you who saves us, Potter?”
“Don’t worry, Malfoy!” Harry called over the roar of the crushing, churning avalanche below. “I’m not Hermione’s Chosen One!”
“That’s Malfoy-Granger to you, Potter!” shouted Draco. But what Potter had said was true. Hermione was the mother of HIS child, not Potty’s. Draco brightened up. He felt manly again and then shivered in the Antarctic wind and thanked Merlin for his extra-warm layer of lilac-coloured chest hair.
Buckbeak was clutching Draco’s manly shoulders a little too tightly in his talons. “Watch it, Chickenwing,” he grumbled. The creature’s claws clamped even harder. He squirmed a bit but decided not to make an issue of it, since the ground was many yards – er, meters – er, a bloody long way below him. He just hoped the ride wouldn’t take long.
= = =
“What was that about?” Harry asked.
Draco shrugged, wincing, and went to find his wife.
“Aside from it being bloody cold, that was a great idea! Why didn’t we think of flying to Erebus earlier?” Pansy was chirping at the others.
Regulus brooded silently nearby while Snape and Lucius compared wand sizes post-flight. Neville averted his eyes in horror and caught sight of Harry.
He glared at Harry. Harry “The-Bloke-Who-Is-Still-Alive” Potter. Harry “The-Driver-of-Priuses” Potter. Harry “The Tamer-of-Hippogriffs” Potter. Harry “The-Rescuer-of-Neville’s-Fellowship” Potter. Harry “The-Upstaging-Hero” Potter.
Captain Neville Tightbottom secretly hoped that Narcissa Malfoy had given the heroic Harry Potter crotch crickets.
Hermione was standing at the lip of the caldera of Mount Erebus, looking down at the lava lake. Draco joined her, relishing the warmth on his face.
“It’s going to be friggin’ hot in there, Draco,” she muttered.
He shrugged. “It won’t be hotter than you, my dove.”
Hermione looked at him and then down at the Stupid Ring in her hand. “Are you feeling residual effects from this stupid thing?”
“Noooo,” Draco hedged. He felt like himself. He didn’t feel influenced by external forces. Then again, he’d been under her spell for so long now… He smiled at her.
Hermione frowned. “Then, does that mean – ”
Captain Neville came up, pushing past Hermione and dragging Pansy along behind him. “Come on, everyone, let’s get this show on the road! Time’s a-wastin’!” he bellowed. “We’re heading for that overhang halfway down. Even Hermione ought to be able to throw that Stupid Ring into the lava from there.” Amid general nods and murmurs of agreement, along with protests from Hermione, he muttered under his breath, “Bugger this for a game of Quidditch. I want to get the hell out of here, see some gods-damned trees again, and get laid without freezing my bollocks off.”
“I can help you with that,” declared Pansy.
Everyone filed along behind Neville, grumbling and stumbling and generally making a hiking nuisance of themselves. Hermione was in the middle of the group, followed by Harry, who was followed by a disgruntled Draco. She rolled her eyes. Honestly, that husband of hers could really sulk. Those sexy lips of his were perfect for pouting and did he make the most of it? Boy, did he ever. Didn't he realize what he meant to her?
A thought occurred to her.
“Harry? Where did you leave Narcissa?” she asked as they drew closer to the halfway point.
“Last I saw her, she was floating blissfully in a blue lagoon,” Harry said smugly. “Fully satisfied. She’s a real MILF.”
“That’s my mother, Potter,” Draco growled.
“And my wife!” snarled Lucius.
“EX-wife, as I understand it, Luci, and ILF your mother, Draco. Though technically, I guess she’s a GILF now, eh?” Harry smirked. “Don't worry, it was a one-time thing.”
Draco gagged and stomped off ahead of them, catching up to Captain Tightbottom.
“You shouldn’t goad him so, Harry,” remarked Hermione.
“Who was goading?”
“We’re here!” shouted Neville from the front of the Fellowship.
“Thank Morgoth!” snarled Snape. His tights were beginning to chafe in the warmth. Things expand in the heat, you see. “Throw that Stupid Ring into the lava so we can go home, Mrs. Malfoy-Granger!”
Hermione stepped forward, nearing the edge of the cliff. She looked down into the orangy-red, boiling, roiling lava. She looked at the golden Stupid Ring in her hand. It was so pretty. It was so precious. It had given her such sway and power over others. Too much power. It was time to end it. She pulled her arm back, ready to throw...
But wait. This was her wedding ring. What if… what if her marriage to Draco fell apart once the Stupid Ring was no more? Could she handle that? Could she and little Herc find their way in the world without Draco by their sides?
She looked back at Draco, who was standing behind her, his manly arms folded over his manly, lilac-furred chest. He gave her the “get on with it” sign with one of his manly hands.
Everyone was cajoling her to throw it – and yet, she hesitated.
“MY PRECIOUS!” shrieked a cultured voice, just before Hermione was tackled from behind. She rolled with her attacker, over and over, coming much too close to plummeting to their deaths. Who was trying to steal the Stupid Ring from her hand?!
Hermione pushed hard against the person’s shoulders and was able to get a look at her assailant. She was blonde. She was haughty. And she was stark naked.
“Get off me!” screamed Hermione, pulling Narcissa’s hair. Narcissa sneered and pulled Hermione’s hair in retaliation. Hermione managed to get to her feet but Narcissa was right there with her, up in her face. They began to slap at each other fast and furious.
“Sissy fight!” yelled Goyle, Sr.
“Sissy fight with Cissy!” chortled Crabbe, Sr.
The two idiots high-fived.
“Give me the Stupid Ring! I must have it to finish my plan!” naked Narcissa hissed.
Hermione shrieked, “Never! It’s too dangerous!”
“I don’t want to be alone, ever again!” raved Narcissa. “I will have minions! I will have worshippers!”
They continued to slap at one another, panting.
Harry finally asked in a weary voice, “As fun as this is to watch, isn’t anyone going to do something?”
“Don’t look at me,” said Neville, grumpily.
Lucius huffed and strode forward with his ivory hair blowing in the heated air. He looked mighty impressive in his tight, sparkly tights. He laid a hand on Narcissa’s shoulder, pulling her away from Hermione. Her breasts heaved as she lunged forward, but Lucius held firm.
“Look at me, Cissy,” he commanded.
She turned to look at him, wild-eyed. Then, she looked him up and down, wide-eyed. She smiled. “Luci,” she breathed.
“Cissy,” he whispered.
“Is that a wand in your tights, or are you just glad to see me?”
“I’m always glad to see you, Cissy. I’ve missed you. Marry me. Again.”
“Oh, Luci. That’s all I really ever wanted. Yes. We should never have divorced!”
Luci smirked and pulled her into a scorching kiss.
“So romantic,” sighed Pansy, taking Neville’s hand.
“Praise Merlin,” breathed Neville. “No more corny foot rubs.”
“D’awww!” sighed Crabbe and Goyle, Srs.
“Whatever,” said Snape. He adjusted his stupid tights. Whose idea were they, anyway?
“Definitely a GILF,” remarked Harry.
“Get a room,” muttered Draco. “Geez.”
“Hermione,” Regulus said in a reverberating (echoing, resonant, sonorous), measured (four seconds long) tone, “Throw. The. Stupid. Ring!”
“Oh! Right!” She turned to the cliff’s edge and threw the Stupid Ring. She, Draco, Harry, and Regulus watched it fall.
Pfffft, said the Stupid Ring as it melted back to its elemental beginnings.
Everyone (except for Lucius and Narcissa) sighed with relief.
“Is that it? Is it over?” asked Pansy. Neville whispered in her ear. She giggled and nodded.
“Yes. It is over. The Stupid Ring has been destroyed,” Regulus declared. He stopped and looked at his watch, his lips moving as he counted to four. “Everything that was wrought with its power is no more.”
“Damn it,” said Hermione. “I was afraid of that.”
“Afraid of what?” asked Draco. He slipped an arm around her waist. Her hair had bushed out into an afro with the heat and humidity. It tickled his nose and he sneezed again.
“Gross, Draco.” She handed him a handkerchief. “It’s just that… it’s... well, we’re no longer married.”
“Because it was the Stupid Ring’s power that coerced you to marry me,” she said.
“Well, your breasts played a big part, too. Two big parts, in fact,” he replied, staring at her cleavage and licking his lips.
“You’re just saying that to make me feel better.”
“Au contraire,” he told her chest.
“Well, the fact is we are no longer married, and we have a child together. Your son and heir. I guess you get everything you wanted, Draco.” Hermione sniffled.
With effort, Draco raised his eyes to her eyes. Her breasts could wait. “Marry me,” he said.
“Marry me,” he insisted. “I may have wanted to be unmarried to you at one point, but now…” He ran the tip of one manly finger along her womanly decolletage. “Now, I’ve decided I want to be un-unmarried to you. Please. Marry me, Granger.”
Hermione stared at him. “You mean it.”
“I do,” he said.
She smiled. “You may kiss the bride.”
They embraced. They snogged. Draco would have gone farther, right then and there, but Hermione pushed him away and reminded him that a) they weren’t alone and b) she was only three days postpartum and there was no way in hell he was getting near her nethers.
The Fellowship prepared to Apparate home. Harry kept flirting with Narcissa, who blushed all over. She was still nude. Lucius finally got fed up with Potter and conjured his wife a toga out of a strategically torn scrap of his tights. Harry hurriedly stepped away from them.
Neville held up a hand. “Hold on a minute,” he said. “Malfoy, you and Hermione left your three-day-old son with Fenrir Wyatt Greyback.”
The happy couple nodded.
“WHY?!” he yelled, waving his arms in the air. “WHY would you DO such a thing? I’ve got to know! This is the one thing left that is driving me spare!”
Draco looked at Hermione, who nodded. He grabbed hold of the front of his shirt and ripped it open, revealing his lilac-coloured chest hair. Hermione sighed and ran her hand over his pecs.
“This is why,” Draco said.
“What?! Purple chest hair? What does that have to do with anything? Does it make you immune to werewolf taint? How does that help your son?!”
“Didn’t you notice that Greyback’s fur is also purple?” Hermione asked Neville.
Neville shrugged. “Yeah, but I thought it was just a new shampoo he was using.”
“Nope, that’s his natural chest hair colour. It is a werewolf trait.”
A pin dropped. Then another.
“Sorry,” mumbled Crabbe, Sr., putting away his sewing kit.
“So, if purple chest hair is a sign of being a werewolf,” said Neville, “then that means that you, Draco… YOU’RE a werewolf, too?!”
Draco smirked. “Yeah, I am. I was bitten during the War. It’s kind of like Bill Weasel’s situation. I don’t fully change, but I do grow the chest hair. And get randy with the full moon.” He leered. “When my chest hair turned red last year, I thought it was a curse. It turns out it was my wolfy nature starting to show itself.”
“And,” added Hermione, “because Hercules’ father is part-werewolf…”
“That means baby Herky is part-werewolf…” said Pansy.
“... and thus, he’s safe being left with Greyback. I see!” finished Neville. “Well… that’s… just… fine. I think.” He rubbed his temples. “I have a headache.”
“I can help you with that!” exclaimed Pansy.
“Good. Glad that’s settled. Now, let’s go home,” Hermione ordered. She winced and hugged her chest. “These bubbies are full of milk and I know someone who needs a drink.”
“Okay!” agreed Draco.
She punched him in the arm.
Narcissa glided up beside Hermione and looped her arm through hers. “Hermione, darling. Please forgive me for my transgressions earlier. I was grieving. I wasn’t right in the head.”
Hermione patted her future mother-in-law’s hand. She was feeling tired, happy, and magnanimous. “Of course, Narcissa. It’s all over and done with. It’s in the past.”
“Oh, thank you,” trilled Narcissa. “Now, darling. What do you say to having a double wedding?”
Hope you’ve enjoyed the ride, folks! It’s been a wild one! Nods and thanks given to J R R Tolkien and George R R Martin. :)