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...