You catch a plane to Brazil. Bill tells a good story or two.
Chapter 4 - Scoff a the Monkeys
"So that was the infamous Luna Lovegood." Bill says from his seat next to you. Takeoff wasn't too bad, a little unnerving though.
"Yup." You feel a little uneasy. Bill forced you to explain everything as you boarded your plane. You were a bit reluctant. It was a tense moment, but then he reminded you how much he was risking by agreeing to help you. Sometimes it isn't all about you, Harry. You relented and hoped that she would forgive you this breach of her trust.
"And she's not barking mad like everyone thinks?"
"Apparently, she is 'crazy like a fox'." You say smiling back at him.
"Wow. I gotta admit, it's one hell of a prank! Beats the pants off anything I ever heard of while I was at school! I don't even think Ginny suspects anything and she's supposed to be one of Ginny's best friends."
Your mood darkens, " I thought I was supposed to be one of Ginny's friends too."
"Shit. I'm sorry for bringing her up. Try not to think about it. The flight to Rio is eleven hours long. Just relax. Soon we'll be far away from here. I don't want you to get upset during our flight."
"I saw what your little outburst did to Fred and George's. It was rather impressive. We're on a plane full of people that will be several miles in the sky. So needless to say, stay calm and don't lose control of your temper. I'm in no mood to die."
You sober up pretty quick on that note. Too bad you were obliviated, it would be an interesting memory. "Good point. What exactly did I do at Fred and George's?"
"Well one of them is sporting a nice shiner. The other one had one of their imitation sorting hats floating around him calling him a 'bloody git' over and over. He asked me if I could disenchant it. I told him I didn't have the time. George tried destroying it, but whatever you did seems to have made it fairly indestructible. Don't rightly know how you managed that, but it was nice, very nice. There were scorch marks all over the walls and the front counter was kind of melted. The absolute best part was they had to take the mannequin out of the front window. She kept exposing herself to people passing by. You also seemed to have destroyed a good chunk of their inventory. It will cut into their profits big time."
"Yeah, of course I gave Tweedledum and Tweedledumbass their start up money. Apparently, that was money wasted." You mutter.
"That was you! Of course, your prize money from the tournament! Mum read me the riot act, when she thought Fleur and I did it." Well you'll just have to make sure she finds out exactly where they got their money. Maybe if ickle Gin Gin decides to start an exotic dancer service, you'll fund that to just to piss off 'Ma' Weasley. Maybe you could buy Flourish and Botts and ban Funbags from the store, or Ron and either the Quidditch store or Honeydukes.
"I should have just donated it to St. Mungo's. Oh well easy come, easy go. I am sure if they beg Dumbledore, he'll fix it up with my money anyway." You're not bitter are you?
"Good thing you aren't bitter about this." Bill adds echoing your thoughts. Bill's pretty perceptive.
"So what can you tell me about where we are going?" You ask looking for a new topic.
"Not too much until we land. We, my friend are going to Rio De Janeiro. One of the most beautiful cities, you shall ever see. Sadly, it's their winter there, which means we have to bundle up, as the temperature gets as low as 13 or 18 degrees Celsius at night and usually in the 20's during the day. It's rough weather compared to winter in Scotland, but you'll manage." Bill says chuckling. You can't help but smile. "We'll be there for a couple of days before while we meet up with the rest of the expedition. So, you'll have some time to shop for some decent clothes and ogle some of the locals."
"I've never been to a beach before." You add absently looking out the window at the clouds pass by.
"Har- um James when we're not working, make a list of things you've never done before that you want to do. If it's within my power, we'll do it. Does that sound okay?"
You smile again. Bill's a good man. Maybe there is hope for Ron, then again maybe not. "I can honestly say that's the best offer I have ever had."
The beverage cart comes by. You get a ginger ale. Bill selects a German beer. You both enjoy the light snack. Flying first class is very nice. You relax for a little while and read a copy of the Sun, Bill brought with him. Gotta love those Page 3 girls! You've got an hour to kill before they show the first in flight movie, 'Toy Story'. You remember Dudley went to see it in the theaters last year, most likely to annoy the kids who were actually trying to watch the movie. Mentally, Vernon, Petunia and their spawn skyrocket up the list to rest just behind the lemon drop sucking swindler. The other one is a movie called 'Leaving Las Vegas'. Never really heard of it, but hey you'll watch it anyway. It's not like you ever really got to the movies and after Dudders got his telly and VCR in his room he stopped watching rented movies where you might possibly catch a glimpse of them. Hell, the fat pig probably would just watch his porn in his room. You've caught him a couple of times. It was good blackmail material. The threat kept him from bothering you for two whole weeks last summer. Should have just ran and let the Dementors kiss his sorry behind. Must have been your 'saving people thing' again. You'll have to be a little more selective in the future about who you go around saving. Have you put Umbridge on the list yet? Damn that list is getting pretty long. You should write it down. You wonder if Luna would like to read the list. Maybe she can help you out with it?
You decide to see if she has written you yet. You fish the enchanted journal out of your bag in the overhead bin. Sure enough there is a letter waiting for you on her page.
Well, that certainly was a surprise for both of us! It's a little cramped in coach, I keep trying to convince Daddy to fly first class, but he insists that we would be monitored if we did. Apparently, armpit odor of many people crowded together must prevent this type of monitoring. Ignore my horrible handwriting.
So, what can you tell me about the latest predicament you have gotten yourself into? Seems like you have gotten off to an early start this year. Normally, you wait for the school year to start. Ha! Ha! I'm just trying to lighten the mood.
I guess while I wait for your explanation, I should give mine. I didn't handle my Mum's death all that well. Daddy was even worse. Things were bad. Some of our relatives brought in some specialists. The people at the Quibbler were really concerned. That said, some rumors started going around that the both of us were completely nutters. You wouldn't know anything about stories and rumors tainting someone's reputation? Would you?
Right about that time was when I went to Hogwarts for my first year. Some of my fellow Claws apparently heard some of the stories. Our first night, we sit around our common room and introduce ourselves. When it was my turn, well one of the older kids took it upon themselves to inform everyone that I was crazy and his mum treated me and my Dad at St.Mungo's. They say you never get another chance to make a first impression - mine didn't go so hot. I made a few attempts at making friends, but you and I are both aware of how cruel magical children can be to each other.
To make a long story short, I started playing along. It was tremendously funny! Plus by that time the Heir of Slytherin was out and about. I don't know how it was in your classes, but all of us ickle firsties were scared witless. My dormmates watched me like a hawk for a week straight when someone smarted off and said 'Hey, it could be the crazy girl'! Well, in the end it was my old childhood playmate Ginny. After I found out, I befriended her again. She had been so withdrawn through most of the year that I hadn't really approached her. The one or two times I did, she must have been under the influence of that book. She was both rude and dismissive. By the time we became friends again, my 'Looney' persona was well established. We hadn't really seen each other too much since Mum's accident. I guess she had heard the stories too and wrote it off to me losing Mum. She was happy to have any friends at the moment and Looney can make everyone laugh. I probably could have stopped, but I decided to keep on. My Mum used to tell me stories about all the pranks that went on while she was in school. Apparently your father and godfather made an impression on Mum. She helped with some of their activities. To honor her, I decided to keep the prank going for as long as I could. I think she even dated Mr. Black for a brief time before meeting my Daddy. I didn't really get a chance to know him, but I know he was important to you. I'm sorry we couldn't save him.
Anyway, enough of this depressing rubbish! You wouldn't believe how much self-control it takes not to start laughing, when I am on a roll. I can't believe some of the things I have gotten away with saying over the years. Here's one that should put a smile on your face. One day in Potions, I asked the ghoul if poor hair care was an effective defense against nargles, both the standard and the yellow striped variety. It took a minute for the ghoul to get it and it cost twenty points plus a night of scrubbing cauldrons, but it was damn funny! See I bet you are laughing now aren't you?
That's enough for now. We are on final approach. Daddy's eager to get out after his creatures. Did you know that Snorkack tracks look a great deal like deer tracks? Good thing I like the outdoors and the smell of fresh air. Sweden is great this time of year. I hope wherever you are headed is nice.
So that's the orgin of Looney Lovegood? I'm probably going to let the Headmaster in on it at the end of my sixth year and see if he will make me Head Girl in my last year.
Okay, so what is the deal with James Black? It's your turn. Spill it!
You put the notebook down and find yourself smiling especially at the Snape jab. It's impressive. It takes a lot of willpower to follow through with such a plan for several years. Wherever Dad and Sirius are, you suspect they approve of her multi-year prank. You get the feeling that there is more to it than she is leading on, but if she wants to open up, it will be on her timetable. You have enough experience with people demanding that you talk about your feelings. Plus it isn't like you are exactly an open book now is it? Bill asks about the journal and you tell him. He explains he has one as well to report back to the Order on the progress of the expedition.
"The first couple of times I make an entry, I'm going to ask if they have found you yet? Should be good for a laugh or two."
Setting the journal aside, you relax for the next twenty minutes before the first movie starts. Toy Story is funny. In a sad way you can relate to Buzz Lightyear, when the poor guy discovers he really is just a toy and not actually a Space Ranger. It strikes a familiar chord in your soul. So there you are the hero of the bloody wizarding world getting a big old lump in your throat over an animated movie! Hell, the little cowboy toy's jealousy is even familiar. All he needs now is the red hair to go with it!
You calm down and enjoy the rest of the movie. It really is a good movie and the chair reclines pretty far. You're glad you aren't back there in coach as you think of Luna's armpit comment. You get served again after the movie and sip on your second ginger ale. The only fizzy drinks available at Hogwarts are generally the nastier tasting potions. Maybe muggles can't regrow your bones, but they figured out how to add cherry and grape flavoring to medicines.
Well you should probably write Luna back. How much can you tell her?
Thanks for writing so quickly. My response will probably take longer. I'll try to tell you as much as I can, but I have to leave some details out. I'm headed across the Atlantic to the Americas. The weather is supposed to be really nice there and I may even be able to get a decent tan. My traveling companion is doing some work in the area and has agreed to take me along. The nice part is that wherever I am going, no one really checks to see if you're old enough to do magic, so I can get some practice in. I may even be able to convince him to teach me how to apparate! You would think given my ability to attract trouble someone should have already showed me. Nah of course not! There's only a Dark Lord after me. Why would I need a means of escape? My guess is they didn't teach me because they were afraid I would escape them.
So, I wake up yesterday morning with a throbbing head and my girlfriend, Ginny telling me that I took a spill on my broom. That's right Ginny was my girlfriend yesterday. Hermione was a few days before that, but stay with me I'll get there! Ginny and I have a good old time until we go down to the bench by the dock. Hey just to satisfy my own curiosity, would you call that a pond or a lake? So anyway, we get down there and she wants to do what girlfriends and boyfriends do. I'll spare you the details, but then I start to remember doing the same thing with Hermione there! By the way everyone was telling me that yesterday was July 1st. You guessed it, I am now not only the Boy-Who-Lived, but now I am the Boy-Who-Lost-Ten-Days.
I get back inside and go up to my room. I find out the pain potion isn't a pain potion. It's an 'I wuv you' potion in a charmed flask. I only wish I was making this up. I fake like I drank it and act like I fell asleep. Later I sneak out and listen to Ginny and Hermione discussing the master plan. Dumbledore is convinced that I am his little weapon to kill Voldemort. He believes that I need to be in love to do so, thus instant girlfriend. He bribes everyone to go along with it. Ron got to go to Quidditch camp and Hermione is going to be the first 6th year to ever be Head Girl. Apparently, Ron couldn't stand me and Hermione snogging and blew the whole plan. I don't remember all this because I was obliviated - several times in fact. From what I could learn, Ginny decided this was her chance to have me and jumped in to be a replacement. Needless to say, I got the hell away from my friends and met up with my traveling companion. I showed him the whole sordid mess in a pensieve and he opted to take me with him to get me out from under everyone's thumb.
I just want to thank you for coming with me to the Department of Mysteries. Thinking back on it, you were an incredible fighter there. You've obviously been holding back during the DA. I'm sad about Sirius. He was a good man. Everything I said in the Quibbler was true. He was innocent of the crimes they accused him of. That's one of the other reasons I am so pissed right now, one of the days I was obliviated was the day his will was read. I wasn't allowed to go, but it is almost like they stole my grief from me. I don't know, maybe I am just being stupid.
That's all for now. Write again soon. Thank you for trusting me with your secret. I had to let my traveling companion know, because he saw the two of us talking, but he is trustworthy and honorable. He will keep both our secrets. I hope you do not feel that I have betrayed you in any way. It was not my intention. Had my situation not been as desperate as it is, I would have flatly refused to tell him. I don't have many friends left, so please don't be too angry with me.
You hope she isn't mad that you had to tell Bill what was going on. You also feel bad that you can't tell her who Bill is right now - eventually maybe, but not right now. You close the journal and grab some reading material. It's tempting to take a nap, but Bill had a point about your wild magic. It wouldn't do for the Dark Wanker to trigger a nightmare several miles in the sky with only some flimsy metal protecting everyone. You've decided to stay awake.
You and Bill chat. He tells you stories from his time in Egypt. Sadly half the stories he has to stop in the middle, when he realizes that he can't exactly tell a story about how an irate sphinx was chasing him through an ancient Egyptian temple seeping in old magic in the middle of a bunch of muggles. He whispers a bit of the details in your ear.
"Well to make a long story short. Trust me when I say you'll enjoy the long story when I can tell it. Even though I answered her riddle, she didn't appreciate the way I was staring at her, ahem shall we say large endowments." You try to think back to the one you encountered during the Tournament. She had very pretty eyes. That's all you really remember. You never looked beyond them. Probably the adrenaline and terror, not to mention it probably was a good thing that you didn't if some of them are self-conscious.
"Big ones huh?" You query hoping for some more elaborate details. You're crude, but no more than any other male teenager you suppose.
"Massive, but in my defense I was twenty-one, in a strange country and it's not my fault that particular sphinx happens to dislike the confinements of clothing." He adds wistfully.
You look forward to hearing more about Bill's wild adventures. The life of a cursebreaker seems pretty cool. Too bad you took divinitation instead of ancient runes. For a moment you wonder if there ever was a time when the subject was just runes. You think to yourself how weird it would be, last year your course was just runes. This year they decided it's now going to be ancient runes. Shouldn't they have a course in modern runes? You decide to ask Bill.
"Is there a course for modern runes?"
"Not at Hogwarts. Warding is essentially modern runes. Temporary ones can be drawn in the air. If you want to do the permanent stuff, you need to paint, carve or otherwise inscribe the runes onto a surface."
"Sounds straightforward." You say.
"Anything but." He replies. "Much of the time when you come on a group of runic wards, the biggest problem is determining the order in which they activate. In the trade we call it the progression. Negating one in the wrong order can cause a cascading activation. You don't want to be around one of those! If you are the one that triggered it, odds are you won't live to see another one."
"How do you tell?"
"Subtle shades in the aura they give off, complex detection magic, use of deductive reasoning and more often then I would like to admit, a half-baked guess backed by your gut feeling." Up until this you figured that all the Weasley males were crazy about something. Pa Weasley has his muggle objects. Charlie's got his Dragons. Percival has his need for order. The backstabbing twins have their obsession with pranks and jokes. Turncoat Ronnie is a quidditch fanatic. You have just come to the conclusion that Bill is just as crazed. He seems to get his thrills from trying to fulfill a death wish in some forgotten tomb. Well from last night's antics, you suppose he also gets his thrills from Fleur, or at least that's what you've heard!
"Here I thought Charlie was the one with a death wish?" You add wondering if your little hand on Ma Weasley's clock would have just shifted to 'finding a creative way to get himself killed'. Good thing you ripped it off the faceplate before you left the place formerly known as your friend's family house. No more calling it the 'B' word.
"Oh hell no. Dragons are fairly predictable and straightforward. It's whatever is lurking in the next room or the disillusioned trap waiting in the next hallway that gets the blood pumping." You notice the slight gleam in his eye. You get it when you are right behind the snitch.
The next couple of hours go by. The flight attendant is very nice. She gets you another ginger ale and you get three bags of peanuts. Mr. Cursebreaker only gets two. The second movie is downright depressing. As much as you identified with Buzz, you hope you never hit the absolute rock bottom that this tosser hit! Elisabeth Shue is still pretty hot! She looked better in that Cocktail movie. Aunt Petunia used to watch that one a lot, the old weed had a thing for Tom Cruise.
They offer you a meal. It's not bad, not great either. Looks a bit tastier than the crap they are taking back to coach. The chicken's a little tough. The prison cook at the Weasley Family Detention and Reeducation Center could do much better. So could the House Elves at the Dumbledore Institute for Advanced Student Manipulation. That said, the chicken even as tough and dry as it is tastes like freedom.
For the rest of the flight, you try to relax and read what you have available. Bill is jotting notes down on a pad of paper. You anxiously check the journal to see if Luna has replied. You are a little worried that she will just tell you to sod off.
The plane finally lands in Brazil. Eleven hours is a long time to be cooped up in one place. On the other hand it was better than double potions, normal potions or just plain five minutes with Severus. Seriously, what does the man have on the Chief Manipulator? Pictures of what he does with all those socks? Romantic trysts with Minerva? She'd probably be offering monotone instructions for improving his technique. Ewwww! Why do you persist in giving yourself images like that?
'Harry, I trust Professor Snape implicitly.' You think in a mock Dumbledore tone.
'Oh yeah, considering how trustworthy your staff selections have been over the past five years! One of them was an actual Death Eater and the other had the Bloody Dark Wanker hiding in his head Mr. Twinkling-Eyes-I-know-what's-going-on-in-my-school. You can track down a kid in an invisibility cloak, yet somehow miss the bloody sixty foot snake moving around the castle!' Your inner Harry answers. You leave the Fool, the Werewolf and the Sadistic Toad Bitch out of your make believe fight.
You wonder what an interview with The Old Coot Who Continues to Live is like. 'Have you killed anyone this month? You have, oh dear not good. What's done is done though. Best not to dwell on that. You're not planning on killing anyone else anytime soon are you? You are, oh dear also not good. Here, try a lemon drop. Could I convince you to hold off killing anyone until you get a chance to kill Harry Potter? I can. Excellent! Allow me to offer you the Defense Against the Dark Arts position. Do you have any spare socks you'd be willing to part with?'
Those thoughts and others entertain you as you go through customs and baggage claim to get your fake luggage. Bill has everything important shrunk down to size in his carry on with notice-me-not charms on everything. Bill explained that people flying internationally without luggage attract attention almost as bad as wizards and witches trying to dress for blending in with muggles. A short while later and James Andrew Black is officially in Brazilian Hotel overlooking a gorgeous beach. You stand on the balcony and listen to the sounds of the Atlantic Ocean and the street below. The air smells wonderful! It is calming and soothing and does a better job clearing your mind then Occulmency ever did. It's earlier than it should be, but your body will adjust to the jetlag. Bill says that he will take you shopping for both magical and muggle things tomorrow. You shake off your borrowed clothes and climb onto your bed. You close your eyes and think about the three extremely attractive Canadian girls you saw in the lobby as you drift off to sleep.
Author's notes - Full discussion up on Darklordpotter. One clichÃ© that always bugs me is when Harry watches the Star Wars trilogy and ends up comparing everyone in the Trio to the characters. Seriously, Ron as Han Solo - you've got to be kidding me! Here I had Harry watch some popular movies from 1995 that should have been available to airlines in 1996. Next chapter, you get to go shopping and spend some money. Way to stick it to the man! Oh wait, it's your money anyway. Are you sticking it to yourself? If so, join the crowd. You also get to meet the rest of the team. I need to warn you faithful readers that I have a professional exam to study for in June and July. This will cut down on my writing time.