She was beautiful. That was the first thing the man in the Royal Navy’s uniform thought when he caught sight of the bushy-haired, brown-eyed woman. With her chestnut hair looking like the waves of some chocolate sea and her skin lovingly kissed by the sun to a pale golden color, he had no doubt that this woman was born to be on the waves. What could such a fair creature be doing with these damned pirates?
“Lass, please. Unlock my bonds and I can…”
“You will not speak until asked to,” she cut in, the faintest whisper of a prim and proper accent edged around a voice like steel. “And I am no lass,” she added.
“Apologies, my lady. I only…” He swallowed his words carefully past the thick blade of the cutlass that was suddenly at his throat.
“What. Did. I. Say?” the woman asked through gritted teeth.
“Easy, Hermione. I’m sure our guest meant no harm,” a softer voice intoned. Hermione slowly removed her sword from the captive’s throat, but her eyes never softened in their regard of him.
A new figure walked into view from above deck. His coat hung over a leather vest and loose cotton shirt that was tucked into a set of earthy brown pants and dark boots. A set of green eyes caught the filtered moonlight above the captive’s cell as they peered at him. Dark hair, mussed and tousled by years on the waves and in the wind, did nothing to hide the infamous scar that the average sailor learned to fear seeing up close.
“Captain Scarhead,” the captive sneered, as if the venom in his voice could render the bearer of that name dead. Captain Scarhead merely gave a wry chuckle of amusement, as though this were all a game to him.
“Most sailors stutter the captain part,” he mentioned offhandedly before adding, “but you’re no ordinary sailor. Are you, Captain Malfoy?”
“No, I’m not, traitor.”
“How original,” Hermione sighed, the steel in her voice replaced with a bored and aloof tone. “Harry, why are we wasting our time with him? We already know what he’ll say.”
“It’s a matter of principles, love,” the pirate replied. “Besides, weren’t you the one who recommended we build up our forces before we make our play?”
“By rescuing the conscripted. Not the whelps like him, who were raised by daddy dearest to captain their ships from comfy quarters,” she bemoaned exasperatedly.
“Whelp!?! I am no whelp, you whore,” Malfoy objected. Harry backhanded him for that remark.
“Might want to remember who’s shackled and who isn’t, Malfoy,” Harry growled. “Didn’t daddy-dearest teach you any manners?”
Malfoy bit back his retort, his jaw still stinging from the unexpected blow.
“That’s better,” Harry confirmed. “Now, let’s try this again. You do know how His Majesty came to power, right?” Malfoy nodded. “Tell me, then.”
“King Thomas of the House Riddle ascended to power by staging a coup of the old Dumbledore regime. He gathered all the governors and generals and exiled them to Hogwarts Port, while he captured the royal family and put them on a public trial, whereupon it was decided that the royal family was to be executed for not serving the people.”
“Straight out of the history pamphlets,” Hermione sneered. Harry merely frowned.
“Half-truths, Captain Malfoy. No better than lies.”
“Yes, lies. Riddle did stage a coup, but only after he had fomented discontent among the people by gathering a force of his own followers, dressing them up as royal soldiers, and setting them to raze towns and burn cities. When enough discontent was sown that the people were calling for Dumbledore’s head, he did send the governors and generals away, only to have his secret fleet waiting to sink their ships before they ever made it to Hogwarts Port. And he did host a public trial, only after he had planted some of his followers into the crowd to stir up more discontent and call for the royal family’s execution.”
Malfoy’s eyes widened, and Harry felt a bubble of hope well in his chest. Maybe there was hope. Maybe not all of these captains were in on the secret. Maybe, with enough converts like Malfoy, they could stage a less bloody coup of Riddle.
That hope was shattered when Malfoy’s shock transformed into an impressed, but mocking sneer.
“Clever, Scarhead, very clever. Not many people have been able to piece together even a portion of that. Tell me, then, as this dead man’s last wish, how did you figure it out?” Malfoy inquired, his silvery-blue eyes locking with Harry’s green. Green eyes that flicked to the woman now leaning on the frame of the door to the cell.
“Where are my manners?” Harry began, seeming to come to an obvious realization. “I have the rare opportunity of introducing two people of noble birth to each other, and yet I have been remiss in that honor.” Hermione stifled a giggle at the man’s theatrics, but a satisfied smirk did worm its way onto her face.
“Mister Malfoy, allow me to introduce you to Miss Hermione Potter nee Granger.” Draco Malfoy felt his blood run cold at the name Granger. “You know, her father was the Governor of Intelligence under King Albus. Funny how small the world is, considering your father captained the fleet that ambushed us on our way to Hogwarts Port.”
Draco gulped as the girl he once tormented when they were kids slowly approached him, hatred shining in her eyes.
“She’s been dying to find your father. To bring him to justice,” Harry spoke softly, coming to stand right next to her. He handed her a dagger from his belt. Taking the offered weapon, Hermione slowly began to circle Draco. She eyed him, as though weighing the damage she could cause with but a single strike of her new blade. “I guess we’ll just have to make do with what we have on hand.” Harry trailed off and backed away from his wife and their prisoner. Without warning, Hermione seized Draco by the hair and brought her knife toward him.
Lucius Malfoy reclined in his chair, breathing in the atmosphere of his study. Charts and maps lined the left wall, dotted with flags and pins marking ports, fleets, and ships. A shelf full of books on navigation and sea-faring strategy occupied the right wall. Behind him, the floor to ceiling windows bathed the floor with the evening glow. And on the far side of the room, above the door and paintings, rested his most prized possessions.
There were mermaids, angels, men, and animals of all kinds. All carved from wood or stone. Some painted gold, others varnished to a shine. The figureheads of all the ships he had defeated in combat. At the center of this collection was mounted his most prized figurehead of all. The swimming otter of the Maiden’s Tome, Spymaster Granger’s personal ship, and the only thing salvaged from the devastating attack that sealed the new government’s rise to power. There was a space below it for one more figurehead. If only he could find that pirate’s ship and sink her, then he could finally report to his king of his true success…
A knock brought him out of his musings.
“Come,” he called briskly. A man entered, garbed in the uniform of one of his many servants. In his arms, he bore a small, simple box wrapped in a parchment. Setting the parcel on his desk, the servant bowed and left as silently as he had come, knowing that his master loathed speaking more than simple commends to the servants he didn’t feel like tormenting.
Lucius barely paid the man any heed, instead looking curiously at the little container. Picking it up, he felt that the contents were noticeably light and either well packaged or lacking much mass, as he neither felt nor heard any shift or rattle. Untying the cord bound around the parcel, he unwrapped the parchment to reveal writing on the inside. The box momentarily forgotten; he began to read the dual penmanship of two authors.
Lord Admiral Lucius Malfoy,
Your master’s plan was well thought out and well executed. Few suspected his true intentions, and those that did were swiftly eliminated. And now, you reap the benefits of your plan. As well as the consequences of your failure.
What do you blame for your failure to sink all the ships in that convoy? Who did you throw into your brig as one ship outpaced your cannon-fire? As those sails outmaneuvered your vessel, did you, in that moment, lay the fault at feet other than your own? What were their punishments, I wonder? What will yours be when your master learns the true depth of your failure?
I was but a cabin boy when we joined the convoy. My father believed that all future captains should earn the position by knowing all the others he would command. It seems that you were too bold in your approach, for as we saw your ship making its way toward our convoy, my father ordered the men to make ready for evasive maneuvers and swift departure. He suspected you from the first.
Your task was to eliminate the Lord Spymaster, Arthur Granger, and you were successful in that. Now reap the consequences. For in his death, you broke the heart of his daughter. That daughter now sails on the seas, intending justice for her beloved father’s murder. She writes to you, so that you may know exactly who it is that has taken that which you would value more than your accolades. I have taken your legacy, and that is only the beginning.
He will be treated well, Lord Admiral, but you will not see him again. This token is all you shall have to remember him by, as we turn your highest achievement into your most profound failure.
Lord Harry Potter, Captain of The Sea Stag,
Lady Hermione Potter, heiress of the late Lord Arthur Granger.
Hands trembling in fury, Lucius gripped the parchment so tightly it began to tear in the middle. His eyes snapped to small box, and one hand wrenched the lid open. There at the bottom of the small vessel, lay a lock of platinum blonde hair.
She trembled in delight, as waves of pleasure rocked through her. The warm afterglow began to settle about her, as her breath recovered the oxygen her body craved. He settled beside her, his sweat reflecting the candlelight by their bedside. As Hermione basked in the afterglow of their union, Harry reverently cupped her cheek and kissed her. Her breath recovered, she returned the kiss of her husband, and lost herself once more in the ocean of their love. When she finally resurfaced, she lay her head on his bare chest, the thumping of his heart a lullaby to rival any siren’s song. A warm hand, rough from years at sea, stroked her naked shoulder in a caress that no garb could mimic.
Though she would forever mourn the untimely death of her father, she would be forever grateful to have been on a separate ship when his end had come. Though she had grieved for weeks and months, she would never regret the following thirteen years. Dearly she would miss him, but she would never think to part with the man beside her. Her thirst for justice was tempered and cooled by her love for Harry.
“And so, it begins,” she sighed, her breath ghosting over his chest. A chest that heaved a deep sigh through his nose.
Harry nodded at the words his wife spoke. They had smuggled their declaration aboard a ship bound for Diagon Harbor. It would arrive in a week’s time, and then the real fight would begin. The ships they had been accumulating and retrofitting for thirteen years would be put to the test. All the men and women they had rallied would take their vengeance on the tyranny that had supplanted the old regime. And hopefully, by the end, Harry and Hermione would have seen Tom Riddle, Lucius Malfoy, and all the traitors that had ruined their home country either sunk below the waves, buried in the ground, or joined with Draco Malfoy in prison cells and iron chains.
As the couple lay beneath their soft sheets, and as Harry gazed up at the roof of their cabin, he worked his mind for the words he felt need to be said. When all had been laid in place, he rolled over. Trailing kisses onto the wondrous form of his wife, he spoke.
“And so our fight begins, with arms acquired,
Our sails are set, the riggings are strung,
For the end of this journey, we’ve desired
To see unto traitors, justice be done.
For my love, in whom I pledged unfailing loyalty,
Has lost her sire the unfeeling waves below.
Our nation’s king, a fair and ordained royalty,
By a deceived people, was brought low.
We stole their ships, for ten years and three,
Their guns and cannons, we took for our own.
Sailors and soldiers conscribed, we set free.
And to them, the deceptions were made known.
Our hulls are ready, our cannons set to fire
May God grant us skill, and protection gift his Son.
To these traitors and devils, let fly our ire.
Give the word, my love, and let justice be done.”
“You always did have a way with words, Harry,” Hermione giggled beneath the peppering kisses he lavished upon her.
“You inspire me so, Mrs. Potter,” he replied, capturing her mouth in another deep and heady kiss. As they kissed, Harry and Hermione let the waves of rapturous love wash over them and carry them in new currents of pleasure and romance.
We will avenge your father, Hermione. And in the world we make after, I promise to love you always.