How much trouble could you possibly get into just by going shopping in a Brazillian marketplace?
Acknowledgements - You'd acknowledge IP82, Sirius009, ChuckDaTruck, Smeagolita and FairyQilan if one of them would help you get to the bathroom or kill whoever is trying to wake you up.
Chapter 6 - Down by the Waterhole
"Oh looks like somebody had a rough night!" A voice says laughing. You really wish it and the person behind it would go away.
"Guess you didn't pay attention when I said that you probably should avoid drinking any alcohol? Bet you wish you had listened?" The voice is attached to arms, which are shaking you. You pray Voldemort will just come and finish you off now.
"Go away!" You protest in vain. The shaking continues. Your head is throbbing. You try rolling away from the infernal shaking - right off the bed onto the floor. Your highly trained professional grade seeker reflexes fail you as you impact with a nice thick sounding thud. One of your eyes manages to open. You groan. There is no immediate escape. The bed frame goes all the way down to the floor otherwise you could roll under there. The arms are no longer shaking you. They have been replaced with a foot that is prodding you.
You decide to face the music and pray that it isn't too loud. The other eye has managed to open - it's the little victories that are important. Things look more blurry than your piss poor eyesight usually provides. You roll over and use the palm of your hands to push yourself upright leaning back against the nightstand. There in front of you is a blurry, but obviously amused Bill Weasley.
"So how does freedom feel this morning?" He's taunting you. Who the hell does he think he is, Malfoy?
"My head hurts." Three words strung together correctly, it's an improvement.
"I'm sure it does."
"Can you do a sobering charm?"
"I could, but that would be ruining today's lesson." Bill says as you fumble for your new glasses.
"What lesson is that?"
"It's called 'just because Bill is a cool guy, doesn't mean I should go out and get shit faced - especially if I have something to do for the expedition the next day.'"
"Okay, so what's next?" Damn, no sobering charm.
"Well you get your sorry ass up off the floor, get into the shower and get rid of that stench. Then we go down to get breakfast. Maybe some nice greasy sausage, mmmn tasty." He says watching you turn green. "Then after you suffer through watching a Weasley eat a large breakfast, we head to the marketplace and along the way I may just let you off the hook and do a sobering charm."
"Would be quicker to just do one now." You mutter.
"Ah, but if you want to be treated like a man then, you'll face the consequences of your own stupidity like one." Oh crap, Bill just called you out and you're in no shape to really argue.
There's only one thing to do, stagger to your feet, grab some clothes and stumble towards the bathroom. Bill tells you he'll be back in twenty minutes and says that you should drink some water for your headache. It doesn't help all that much. The shower helps a bit. You feel about the same as any time you've ever woken up in the hospital wing at school. You bet Poppy would give you a sobering charm. She's got a sweet spot for you. Of course once you were sober, you'd have to listen to a lecture so maybe this is for the best. On the other hand it probably wasn't as bad as her sex-ed lectures at the end of the fourth year. You didn't pay that much attention, still being a bit upset about an incident in a graveyard, but what you do remember was it was boring as Binns, creepy like Snape and stern like Professor Kittycat.
Feeling slightly refreshed, you bumble your way through brushing teeth and donning your clean clothes. You still feel like 'Death Warmed Over', but you at least look like 'Death Freshly Heated and Ready to Serve.' You start to lie back down, but one good whiff of the sheets makes you realize the error of that idea. Instead you settle onto the couch by the window and desperately try to grab five more minutes of sleep.
Not thirty seconds after you close your eyes, Bill comes into the room. "And I guess you are ready for some tasty breakfast?"
You stand up still a little wobbly.
"Curious to know how I knew you were ready?" Bill asks. For the sake of not arguing, you simply nod. "Okay, turn on your glasses and look down there." He says pointing at the doorframe to the bathroom about ankle level.
You humor him and turn on the glasses, with only a brief pause to remember how to do it. In the empty space is a thin line of reddish string-like material suspended between four squiggly lines floating in the air.
"The first thing I am going to teach you when you are capable of learning something today. It is a temporary intruder alarm. Here hold my wand while I cross it. There, feel the wand vibrate slightly. That lets you know that someone or something crossed your ward. Since it was drawn in the air, it won't last but maybe forty-five minutes. Later, I can show you how to carve it into stones and they last much longer. It's also one of the basic triggers to a trap. The runes date back to when the Tigris was the 'Cradle of Life', instead of sending a signal to a wand; it could activate a second set of runes that could make what few seconds of life you have left utterly miserable."
Damn, now Bill is driving the guilt home on you. You're out here to learn things not get falling down drunk. You give him a knowing nod and lean down to get a closer look at the runes in front of you.
"How do you get rid of one?"
"Temporary ones can be cancelled like any other spell. Ones that are carved into stone are a bit harder. The hardest ones to beat are scribed into metal, gemstones and bones of magical creatures. Move your hand through the field a few times. Close your eyes and feel the tingle of the magic as you pass through it. It's faint, but you should be able to feel it. There is no other magic around here, but eventually you can train yourself to sense a ward even in some place like Diagon Alley, which has magic everywhere. Even if you don't have your glasses on, you need to know when you trip a ward. It may save your life or give you time to shield yourself."
"We'll do this again later, after you do the grocery shopping." Bill said canceling the ward in front of you with a wave of his wand. "Come on lets go get some food in your system. Did you at least eat anything while you were drinking last night?"
"Nachos." They were pretty good actually.
"Well every little bit helps." He says guiding you towards the elevator. Once inside he takes a look at you and waves his wand. Your head clears. You feel closer to human than you have all morning. The sobriety charm is actually a derivation of the cheering charm. The gifted instructors at your school refuse to teach it before the seventh year. The seventh years hoard that knowledge like it was their last knut, though the buttnugget twins seemed to be quite proficient with it ever since their fourth year.
"Thanks. I thought you weren't going to do it until after breakfast."
"Nah. You should have gotten the point by now. The girls you went out are probably down there. They'll expect you to look like the walking dead. When they ask you how you are doing, you can tell them about your amazing ability to 'bounce back'. This way, you'll save a little face and boost your reputation. Consider this a gift, next time I won't be so forgiving."
Sure enough you get three very surprised looks from the blonde trio. You give them a smile and a quick wave as you go to fill up your plate. Bill purposely chooses a table next to the girls. You shake your head as you head on over.
"Well if it isn't the 'Dancing and Drinking Machine'? We weren't expecting to see you at least until early afternoon." It was one of the twins, Heather or Melissa. All three were laughing. You wonder if you could get away with pranking them.
"Good morning." You smile.
Amy looks up. "I have to ask, you were pretty hammered last night. What's your secret?"
"I exercise a lot. It helps, I guess." Pretty lame excuse, but even now you are nowhere near one hundred percent. "So what trouble are you ladies getting into today?"
"Well corrupting innocent British boys was fun. Today, we are going to do some shopping and some of this and some of that. Sadly, we have to go to a dinner for Dad's business, so no dance clubs tonight. How about you? Shopping for your trip into the jungle?" You wonder exactly how much you told her. You can see Bill thinking the same thing.
"Yeah. We're going to see some of the ruins. It's Bill's specialty. We're probably heading out tomorrow."
"Oh too bad. We're coming back in the middle of August if you are still around. I liked your story last night about fighting Dark Wizards much better, but Archeology is cool too."
"Apparently James gets very imaginative when you give him a little alcohol. We'll be in and out between now and October. You can leave a message for us at the desk." Bill says looking at you rather sternly. You wonder if he is going to cancel out the sobriety charm. Can that be done?
"Yeah that's a good one, Dark Wizards. Imagine that?" You mumble.
Breakfast continues. The girls were already almost done. They leave. Amy waves and one of the twins blows a kiss at you on their way out the door. You look over at Bill's disapproving face.
"Do I even need to say how badly you fucked up last night?"
"No, I think I get the picture."
"Good. I'd hate to obliviate them. If this was England, I would have done it. You might still have a chance with one of them when they come back in August. Just remember this next time someone offers you alcohol."
"I will Bill. I will."
After breakfast, the two of you head over to the magical village. Bill stops you and tells you to activate your curse breaking glasses. You see concentric bands of yellow and blue emanating almost ten meters from a pair of stone columns.
"Muggle repellers and notice-me-not charms to keep away the normal folk. Diagon alley and most magical places use these."
You nod taking a close look at the runes on the two columns. You see a small cluster of runes sending out the yellow and blue. Above them is a different rune with little silver lines running to each one. Six identical runes channeled silver energy into it.
"Bill, what's that one?"
"That's the controlling rune. The six around it are the charging runes. This keeps the wards continually powered."
"How do the charging runes draw power?"
"Most magical sites are on what are called ley lines. The charging runes draw magic out of the ley line. People can also use their own magic to power a charging rune."
"So Hogwart's is on a ley line?"
"Yes, so are most of the magical schools - Diagon Alley and Azkaban as well. Do you want to know a secret? You ever wonder how come students are so tired coming out of Muggle studies or history of magic?" You wonder where he is going with this.
"Because History is boring and Muggle studies is taught by a pureblood who acts like he knows how they live?"
"Partly, but those two classrooms, most of the dorm rooms and where the house elves sleep have runes carved into them that tap into the magic of the students in the class or sleeping in the dorms. They siphon off a bit of everyone's magic and power the wards, along with the main power drawn from the ley line. Azkaban works pretty much the same way, with the prisoner's own magic helping to power the wards that imprison them. Ironic isn't it? Fortunately, the siphon runes can't draw that much power from a person. Arthimancers and Rune Masters have tried coming up with a rune that would draw more power, but no one has ever succeeded. I know it sounds sinister, but it's not really. You're not supposed to be using magic in those classes and during your sleep. It's just taking a tiny bit of magic that you rejuvenate quickly anyway, but a tiny bit of magic from four hundred plus people adds up after a while."
It's a lot to take in. All the students, who are running around through the year are helping to power the wards of the castle, like little batteries. At this point, you wouldn't put anything past Albus Dumbledore like 'borrowing children's magic'. In fairness to the old geezer, it sounds like everyone else does it.
"So these are what siphon runes look like?" You ask point at the six.
"No those are the charging runes that can draw power form the ley lines. They're similar, but not completely the same. Charging runes don't need a ley line to draw power, they will just charge slower based on what ambient magic they can absorb. Most magical traps are powered by charging runes. Ones that aren't directly around ley lines can be overwhelmed, when their discharge rate exceeds their charging rate."
"How many runes are there?"
"Thousands though some are repetitive. Most of the ones you'd see at school are the Norse, Celtic and Egyptian variety, but the Americas, India, Eurasia and the Orient have a whole bunch of different runic types as well."
"You're right. Your job does sound cool."
"Well it's not all fun and games. You spend most of your time carving runes, designing a runic scheme or looking up unknown runes and trying to figure out what they do. Hell, for the first two months I was in Egypt my main job was to set the 'critter wards' up on the bulk transfer system every time they moved large quantities of money from other branches with rodent infestations. I was Bill 'The Better Mousetrap' Weasley."
"Bulk transfer system?"
"It's a portal to move money between branches. For the longest time Singapore and Calcutta had rat problems. It's taboo to kill a rat in some cultures."
"So tell me, what's the best part of being a cursebreaker?"
"Opening a tomb that no one has been in for a long time. The feeling you get when you know that you beat, the wizard or witch that set the wards there. You think quidditch is competitive? Try curse breaking! Some warders leave a signature rune as a trophy, for the day when someone beats their scheme. One of the witches I trained under showed me a signature rune that she had from a tomb she had beaten and I shit you not, she beat Rowena Ravenclaw."
There's Bill's competitive streak! Originally you thought this might be up Hermione's alley, but the more you think about it your traitorous male ex-best friend would enjoy it too with his love of chess and all that.
"Okay, what's the worst part?"
"Well working for Gringotts, it has to be everyone thinking I am some kind of effing accountant. Sure, I have picked up some along the way and I know how to run my own finances, but that's like saying someone who works in a quidditch stadium selling refreshments knows how to manage the team! The twins wanted me to run their books for their business for them. I warded their shop for them, but Merlin I don't do the books. That's what the Goblin's do. I'm a ward crafter not a bean counter. The only reason I know as much as I do, is all my work for Dumbledore. It's a running joke among us Gringotts cursebreakers; the moment you tell someone you work at Gringotts there is some kind of compulsion that forces whomever you are talking to, to start babbling about their investments and finances. My version of estate planning is how to protect your bloody home from people getting in, not how much to leave to your irritable nephew with the body odor problem. Sorry, didn't mean to go off on a rant. It's just a sore spot with me."
Come to think of it, you always thought Bill was some kind of super wizard accountant. You wonder how many other people suffer from that misconception.
"No problem Bill. If you could do all that and balance the books, why would we need goblins anyway?"
"See that's exactly what I am talking about!" Bill says glad to have someone agreeing with him.
You turn off your glasses, after starting to feel a twinge of pain at having them on for the five or ten minutes you have been standing here looking at the perimeter wards. Bill shows you the tiny siphon rune on the glasses where it draws on your power to make the glasses work. You add it to the list of things that someone probably should have explained to you long before now. The two of you head into the town to do some grocery shopping and pick up some additional last minute supplies. Bill said he would start working on apparition with you this afternoon. Walking the last five minutes, he begins explaining the theory behind apparition. It doesn't sound so hard and you have already felt what it is like from the side-alongs you have been doing. With any luck, you'll have it mastered fairly quickly.
You pull out your shopping lists. It's easier to do most of the grocery shopping here rather than in the muggle world. You don't have to keep doing all the currency conversions. Plus there are lots of ingredients that they just don't have in the non-magical world. The economy must be better in England. Your galleons are going much further than you imagined.
Bill shows you how to cast a basic translation spell. It's not prefect, but you can now understand a bit of what is being said around you. Bill tells you to turn on your glasses and look at his ears. You see a faint shimmer of magic around them from the translation spell. Bill goes over to some of the other shops while you do your shopping in the market. There's a good deal of fish and meat. You think of last night's meal of feijoada, a hearty meat and black bean stew. It was very good. You managed to get a recipe for that one and are picking out the ingredients needed to make it along with the other dinners for the first week in the jungle. Bill explained that every weekend, when they weren't moving camp you would be able to portkey or apparate (once you learn how) back here to restock on your provisions. You asked him about being out until October. He said that Dumbledore requested that if there was no real progress by the middle of that month that Bill return to England. You immediately ask him what he is really after out there. Bill told you 'not here and not now', but promised you an answer in private.
"Please Paulo ..." A young woman pleads with the merchant. She is pretty, with straight black hair and bronze skin. She looks like she is in her early to mid twenties.
"I am sorry Karina. I cannot extend you a tab. I know that you are in a bad way, but the Colastos would not be pleased with me if I did."
"Fine, you are the same as all the rest! Begging the favor of that family. I will find another way to feed my boy!" The woman's angry words cowed the merchant slightly. You wonder about the back story to all this.
"Karina, come back later tonight when I have to get rid of the fish that will spoil before the weekend. It is all that I can do without risking their anger."
You don't know why you do half the stupid shit that you do. Funbags calls it your 'saving people thing'. Hooknose calls it 'your constant need to inflate your bloated ego'. Nevertheless, you reach into your pouch and pull out a dozen or so galleons. You think about some boy out there, who has a mother willing to beg to get him food. As the young woman turns away from the counter you touch her arm. She looks at you confused with a face flushed full of anger and embarrassment. You press the coins in her hand and see her eyes open wide.
"Take this. Feed your boy." You say quietly.
"I.... I cannot accept this." She stammers in English.
"I know what is like to be hungry. Take it."
She looks into your eyes for a moment. Girls at school always talk about your eyes and how much they like them. You've never seen what the big deal is. They're green. You certainly never have seen the 'windows to your soul' crap they babble on about. Maybe this woman does. She nods, smiles at you, pockets the money and leaves in a hurry.
The merchant regards you carefully as you step to the counter to pay for your goods. He is surprised at the sheer amount of goods you are purchasing. Your bill comes up to a little under nine galleons. From the looks of things you probably gave her about two months of grocery money if she spends frugally.
"You should be careful how you spend you money." The shopkeeper says quietly while bundling and shrinking you packages.
"Why is that?"
"Karina had protection. She does not anymore. She has displeased a very powerful family with great influence. You are a foreigner, so our ways are unfamiliar. It would not be good for you to meddle in things you do not know about and should not concern yourself with."
You want to be angry at the man, but his tone is without malice. It's not like Malfoy spouting his usual hate and venom about muggleborn not being allowed in school. He is stating a fact. The man is actually giving you a warning. You slide the sickles and back towards him and drop a galleon on top of it. You smile at him.
"Then it would be best if no one learned of my meddling, wouldn't it?"
The merchant smiles at you and sweeps the coins into his hand before wishing you a good day. You leave market and catch up to Bill, who is waiting for you. He takes the shrunken food parcels and tells you to go down to the magical only beach while he apparates back to the hotel and stores the food.
You walk down to the beach and sit watching the waves crash in. Some of the local boys are playing football on the beach. Dean Thomas would probably have joined in. You were never that good. Too bad you don't see a quidditch pitch around, but then again the Dragonfly is back in your hotel room, so it's just as well. The fresh ocean air does wonders for clearing the last reminders of the previous nights tomfoolery. Your peaceful relaxation is interrupted.
"I wanted to thank you again. You are most kind." Karina says kneeling next to the rock you are sitting on.
"You're welcome. I don't like the thought of children going hungry." You say distantly.
"What is your name?"
"I am Karina Machado."
"Mama! Mama!" A young boy maybe four or five, comes half running half stumbling across the sand towards the two of you. The neutral expression on Karina's face melts into a smile as the boy falls into her arms. You watch as she hugs the boy and ruffs his hair.
"Are you having fun out here today, Chico?" You follow her speech though you can tell by the slight delay that the translation spell is now working again.
"Yes! Mama! I am building a sandcastle! It's going to have a quidditch pitch and a dragon pen! It will be better than the Colastos's house." You see her smile falter a little. She removes one of your galleons from her pockets.
"Francisco, go to the ice cream vendor. You may get a scoop of chocolate. I would like a scoop of vanilla in a cup. Make sure to put the change into your pocket. Mr. Black would you like some?" She says switching to English.
"No thank you." You answer politely. Ice cream sounds good, but your stomach isn't really up to something sweet. You watch the little boy run to the Ice Cream stand like he is recklessly chasing a snitch. He falls twice and you hear Karina's warm chuckle as she watches him.
"He is such a handful." She says sighing.
"Do you think your ice cream will get back intact?" You ask certain that if you had placed an order, at least one would not make it back.
"Oh, Chico is very careful when it comes to his ice cream. He takes his desserts very seriously."
You watch as the young boy comes back carefully across the sand. Delivering the paper cup containing his mother's dessert proudly. She rewards him with a kiss on his forehead.
"Francisco, this is Mr. James Black."
"Mama! Only you can call me Francisco. Everyone else has to call me Chico!" The boy protests causing you to laugh.
"I promise I will only call you Chico." You say and the boy gives you a toothy grin.
You watch him attack his chocolate ice cream cone with a vengeance. He reminds you of a miniature Ron Weasley, except Chico seems to be more mature. You look back out at the waves and see swimmers splashing while a pair of dolphins leap into the air.
"They are from a large family of animagus. They go down to the regular beaches every now and then to play with the tourists. They are also sources for some of the local legends about shape changing dolphin people, in the freshwater rivers inland." Karina says. You turn and watch her. For some reason, you are drawn to the vanilla glaze around her lips as you watch her eat her ice cream. You normally like chocolate, but suddenly vanilla looks very tasty. You shouldn't be thinking about some boy's mother like this. You're a bit of a pervert, aren't you.
"Did I get some on my face?" She asks. Shit you're busted!
"A little right on the corner there." You lie as you watch her tongue sweep across her lips removing the glaze. She touches the spot with her finger and asks if it's gone. You nod like the idiot teenager you are.
"So what are the magical schools like here?" You ask, more interested in trying to look casual than really wanting to know the information.
"We get three years from our government. After that it is up to us to either learn on our own, find someone to teach you, or go to a private school. How about you?"
"We go for seven. The first five are mandatory. You have to pass exams at the end of the fifth to take your sixth and seventh years. At the end of your seventh you take NEWT exams, which help you get a job."
"What year are you in?"
"I'll be starting my sixth year this fall, err in September. I guess the seasons are different down here."
"When does Chico start school?"
"Not until he is ten. I'm counting the days though. I'll be able to catch up on my sleep then." She says smiling. Chico had devoured his cone and now had a wide rim of chocolate ice cream on his cheek. "Chico, let me get a cloth to wipe your face."
The boy responded by taking the front of his shirt and wiping his face with it. "I got it Mama!"
"Oh Chico, you always do that!" Karina said pulling her wand out and using a twisting curling motion. The boy's shirt peeled itself off of him forcing his arms up into the air.
She then uses a water summoning charm to rinse the stain out of the shirt. The giggling boy makes her spray him with her wand. For the fun of it, you pull your wand out and spray Chico with a jet of water from your wand. Karina's is a small steady stream. The one from your wand is a strong jet. You pull it away for fear of knocking the boy to the ground. Instead you shoot it into the air and let it rain down on him.
"That is a powerful water charm you have there. You must be a very strong wizard."
"Sorry, I didn't realize it would come out that strong."
"Oh, it would have knocked poor Chico back ten feet and he would be begging you to do it to him for the rest of the day. Trust me. Francisco, go back to making your sandcastle. Stay where Mama can see you."
"Yes, Mama." You watch Chico run off while Karina lays his shirt out to dry. You ask what charm she used to take his shirt off. She demonstrates it for you and helps you with the wand motions, explaining that it her grandmother taught her this and many other 'Nanny Charms'. You smile knowing that it has great prank potential. After five minutes you have it mastered including the incantation.
After a minute of silence you ask, "Please forgive me for asking, but the man in the market. He said that you had made some very powerful enemies and that I should be careful?"
"Until two months ago I was the Colastos family governess. The youngest male of the family was named Renaldo. He was Francisco's father. There was a dispute with some of the other families and Renaldo was killed four months ago. Renaldo's wife barely tolerated my presence when he was alive. After his death, the family decided that Francisco and I no longer had a place there. They also ensured that no one else would want to employ me. I returned to the small house my grandmother left me and have been there since. The Colastos's maintain much of the magic that makes Rio such a magical destination for the normal people. They place charms throughout the city to make the tourists feel more enjoyment. The family is well compensated by those in the city that are aware of our presence."
It's a sad story. You could probably top it with the whole Boy-Who-Lived spiel, but this isn't about who has had the worst deal, is it? "That's awful." You are not sure what else to say.
"It is reality." She says simply.
"Hey James." Bill says coming out onto the sand. "Making more friends I see."
"Bill Weasley, this is Karina Machado. Bill is my cousin." You say introducing the two of them.
"Are you ready to try apparating?" Bill asks.
"Sure. Where do you want to do it?"
"How about right over there?" Bill says gesturing to an open area that no one seems to be using.
"Do you mind if I watch?" Karina asks. You wonder if she knows how to apparate. You get the suspicion that she doesn't.
"No problem," Bill answers.
Bill begins explaining the theory again and using a stick, he draws two circles about 3 meters apart. He then demonstrates apparating as slowly as he possible can, back and forth between each circle. Next, Bill takes you side along back and forth about five times instructing you to concentrate on the sensation of apparating. He informs you that you need to recreate the feeling, while focusing on your destination.
Finally, he lets you try. You clear your mind, as best you can. It never really worked for Occulmency, but what the hell! You concentrate on finding your magic and recreating the feeling to move yourself from one circle to the next. For five straight minutes you concentrate with nothing happening. Bill interrupts and does side along with you again three more times, before turning you loose to try it again.
Fifteen more minutes in the warm sun and you feel something, a grinding crack followed by pain.
"Shit. You splinched!" Bill says running over to you. You are missing half your left forearm, but at least most of you is over in the destination circle. You stagger over back to your starting point as Bill starts to work on reattaching your arm while you enjoy the feeling of shock coursing through your body. Reversing a splinch is rather painful, but considering the variety of curses you have experienced, it's not too bad. Karina helps him by holding you steady while he reverses it. It doesn't help that Chico has moved closer and is laughing at you.
"Mama! He forgot his arm!"
"Chico, quiet! Hold still Mr. Black."
After reattaching your arm, Bill asks Karina to go get some drinks. She walks off with her son. You sit kind of dumbly on the rock opening and closing your left hand like you just got a new one. Well, technically you just got it back.
"So what's her story?" Bill asks.
"She worked for a powerful family. One of them fathered her kid. He died and they didn't want her around anymore. They also decided that no one else should hire her. Reminds me of certain families back home. I'm guessing she doesn't know how to apparate. She was in front of me begging the man in the market for a way to feed her boy and I ..."
"You gave her some money." Bill says smiling and shaking his head.
"Yeah. Sorry, I probably should have minded my own business."
"You've got a big heart. That's what I like about you, Harry. Just be careful that people don't use you." Bill stops for a second. "Actually, make sure that more people don't use you."
"If she invites us to dinner go ahead and accept. I'll stay for a bite and to make sure it isn't some kind of scam, but I have to go and meet our hitwizard escorts."
You look confused. A scam? How would that? Why would? That's not possible, is it?
"Different places, Harry. Different rules. This isn't even close to some of the shitholes I have been in before, but the real world is a beautiful and dangerous place. I'm going to put a tracking charm on you so that I can locate you." Bill says sagely.
"Okay." You feel the tingle of magic as Bill places a spell on you. "You'll have to teach me that one."
"I promised to teach you as much as I can. Thundercloud looks like he will help. I wouldn't bother asking Sanchez. As for the hitwizards, I'll do my best to convince them. That said, they may not want to have anything to do with you."
"I can live with that. I take it you don't care for Sanchez either."
"She came highly recommended."
"Maybe the person that recommended her hopes she gets killed? Did you say this was a high risk assignment?"
"Good point. Oh looks like your new friend is coming back. How do they keep all the girls off you at school?"
"Mostly through all the rumors and lies that are spread about me. Speaking of which, we should pick up some snakes."
"My language gift." You say hastily as the mother and son return.
Bill obviously gets it. "Oh that's right. They can get in through cracks and scout ahead. I think I'm going to like having you around."
"I was thinking about using them as guards at night too."
"That would work."
Karina looks confused as she only caught the last bit, but she quickly lets it drop. The drinks taste good. Bill has you wait twenty minutes before trying again. In the meantime the three of you chat and spray water at Chico. Finally, you try again. You make significant progress. If only taking a minute to splinch yourself counts as progress. You fall over in the destination circle and try to hop back to the missing right foot, spitting the sand that got into your mouth out on the way back. You suffer through a second reversal and the pain that accompanies it. Third times a charm isn't it? No, it's not as you turn around to fetch both of your hands. Even Karina is laughing openly at you.
"That's enough for today. I thought you were making progress, but losing both your hands is a definite sign to stop for the day. We'll try again, or maybe I have our guide work with you after we make camp." Bill then plays an inappropriate game of keep away with your two hands. He then asks you if you want to play catch or watch him practice juggling. After torturing you, much to Chico's delight he reattaches your hands.
"Would the two of you care to join us for a home cooked meal?" Karina asks looking at you. Bill's eyes do a Dumbledore like twinkle as if to say, 'I told you so'.
"That would be nice."
"Francisco, take Mr. Black and Mr. Weasley back to our house. I will go get something to prepare for dinner."
"I won't be able to stay," Bill says. "I have another obligation I must attend to."
You watch Karina walk away. She has a nice way of walking, doesn't she? After a moment Bill and you follow Chico towards a small group of what can only be described as hovels. The house that shall no longer be named, but belongs to Bill's family would be a veritable castle. None of them look 'pretty'. Chico manages to lead you to one of the worst looking ones. You notice Bill checking with his wand and shaking his head as Chico leads you in.
"What?" You have to ask.
"Exactly. Nothing! Not a single ward at all. No visitor wards, no identifier wards, no wards at all. I'm not even sure the place has any preservation charms on it."
The inside is clean and appears well kept. The furniture is old, crude and in the case of two of the chairs - about to fall apart. It has one main room, which serves as a living room, kitchen, dining room and master bedroom. There is a small bedroom, which appears to belong to Chico and a bathroom.
Chico insists on showing you his toys. Some of them look new and somewhat expensive. It was probably all they were allowed to take when the Colastos family kicked them to the streets. You wonder how long before Karina will be forced to sell them. Bill steps outside while you entertain Chico. About fifteen minutes later Bill and Karina come inside. She seems embarrassed about her living conditions, but launches into some serious cooking charms almost immediately. She's making a fish dish. It already smells pretty good.
Bill hands you a smooth shaped rock with a big grin on his face. "Portkey back to the alley behind the hotel. The activation phrase is Splinch Me."
"Oh that's hilarious. You should have been a comedian."
"I'll come over when you get back and we'll talk about the expedition and what we are after when you get back. Okay, I've got some wizards to meet. Let me get some coins from your pouch. I'm a little short right now." Bill says taking your money pouch and removing most of the currency. He raises his voice, "Karina, Chico it was nice meeting you."
Bill apparates away and you watch Karina work the kitchen. She is quite good. She offers to show you some of the charms. You take her up on the offer and almost immediately regret it as she slides behind you hooking her arm around your waist and holding your wrist. Somehow it seems a bit more intimate that whenever any female has assisted you with spell casting. Then again, the people assisting you usually consisted of Hermione and Professor Kittycat. You've only recently started thinking about Hermione that way and hell will freeze over before you entertain those kinds of thoughts about your transfiguration teacher. It's hard to concentrate.
"No. That is not quite it. Here switch with me." She says sliding around in front of you. You try and stand awkwardly behind her. You remember during some of the DA meetings that some of the girls, namely Lisa Turpin, Hannah Abbott, Ginny the wonderslut, and a fourth year Claw named Marcia would freeze every time you were behind them and touching them. You think you know the reason why now.
Karina grabs your arm and puts it around her waist. Her shirt is a little short and a portion of your hand ends up on bare skin. "You have a very strong grip, James."
You lean into her to avoid pressing your waist into hers. There are things going on south of the border that you don't want to think about right now. After a couple of tries, you stammer that you are pretty sure you know how to cast that particular charm now, even though you don't exactly know the incantation, wand movements or what the purpose was to begin with. Is it warm in here or is it just you?
Recovering your dignity or at least a tiny portion of it. You sit at the table and watch her continue to cook. Two meters is a much safer distance to watch from. You make small talk about the types of spells she was taught. Apparently, nothing really destructive is taught in their basic schooling. She does know the patronus mist, to drive off lethifolds and her most offensive spell is the basic cutter diffindo.
Dinner consists of fish on a rice bed and steamed vegetables. It is very tasty. Karina whips up a lemon butter sauce to drizzle over the fish. You feel a bit guilty that she is going to all this trouble just to feed you with money that she should be hoarding to feed Chico. You make certain to compliment her on everything. She smiles at the flattery and thanks you for helping clear the table. After dinner you and Karina play a board game for an hour with Chico, who seems to be having a wonderful time. After three games, Karina sends him off to the bathroom and then to bed. She kisses the boy goodnight and puts him in his little room. After shutting the door, you watch her use a silencing charm on Chico's door.
"Would you show me some of your spells?" She asks.
Her expression makes it hard for you to refuse. You transfigure a paper plate into a target and show her the arrow curse. She struggles with it. You realize her wand is second or third hand and probably doesn't suit her well. Even with a proper wand you doubt she would ever give any of the DA members a run for their money, but she is enthusiastic in her efforts. When she manages to cast the curse successfully and hit the target she jumps up and down excitedly and pulls you into a hug. You ask to see her shield and her form and the result were awful. You work on correcting her stance and her form. At first, her spell doesn't work at all; it was almost like tearing down what she learned and starting from scratch.
It takes about thirty minutes and you seem to forget your discomfort around her. You're in familiar territory, teaching someone how to defend herself. She's a willing student, but with very little to work with. Still, her shield is much better by the end. It should actually block something now. She has a bit of sweat on her forehead from her efforts.
"That last one was much better. I think you have it now. We should stop. You look worn out. Coming from a guy who managed to splinch himself three times today, that is saying something."
Karina envelops you in a hug and whispers into your ear. "Thank you so much!" You feel the caress of her lips across your cheek. She moves across your frozen lips. You're not imagining this. Hot Mama is kissing you! Still a bit creepy, but no time to worry about that. Stop standing there like a statue and do something! You start kissing her back and feel her hands moving up and down your back. Your arms start working on autopilot as you concentrate on kissing Karina. You start wondering if she sent Chico to bed early or if this is his normal bedtime. She's grinding against you and breathing heavily. You don't want her to feel how you are responding, but her hands pull your waist into contact with her and press your naughty bits into rather close proximity.
She breaks away from you and steps back. "James, use the charm I taught you this morning."
What charm did she teach you this morning? How in the hell is she expecting to you to remember something like that? The only thing you remember is when she showed you the charm to take Chico's shirt... . Oh that charm! You start to point your wand at her and stop.
"We shouldn't do this." You can't think of a real reason why at the moment. You are pretty sure that one of you is required to make this lame denial.
"Please. The last year of Renaldo's life, he tried to make nice with his precious Nina and he would not touch me. He wouldn't let anyone else touch me, either. Now that I have been cast out no one will touch me. I liked to be touched. I want to be touched. Please touch me."
Now that's what you call a convincing argument! You cast the charm and watch her shirt rise off her body. She's not wearing a bra either. She should really have cooling charms in this house, well actually certain parts of her look like they are cold.
"Now for your next lesson, use the same charm, but focus on my skirt." It's not the Imperius curse. You could resist that. This is something completely different. You cast the charm again with a lump in your throat. Well there are other lumps elsewhere too! She raises her wand with a wicked smile on her face and your shirt lifts off your chest. She casts again and the shorts remove themselves.
"I'll show you another charm I know." She moves her wand across her lips and they glow slightly. Her lips tingle when they touch yours. The feeling is, well you are sure that if you had some time to really think it through, you could come up with something really descriptive. For now you just have to settle for good, really good, damn good or don't stop doing what you are doing good.
She's touching you all over. You should reciprocate, shouldn't you? Holy Merlin! She just touched you there. You nearly jump out your boxers. Her hand is not moving away from that area either. She brings her wand to your lips and says the same incantation. You the same tingle across your lips and she pulls your head down to her breasts. Your new name is Harry "The Funbag Inspector" Potter. She pulls you down onto the couch.
The next three hours pass in a blur as Karina show you things. You don't last very long from just her touching. She apparently expected that. The spell she just taught you is called the Icy Lips charm. She asks you to apply it and shows you how to kiss her down there. You follow direction well. Karina seems to really enjoy it. She's getting very descriptive about how much she likes it. This must be what the silencing charm was really for! Turnabout is fair play and she doesn't last very long either. She reapplies the spell to her lips and start kissing you - down there. This is starting to sound like one of those stupid articles Dean and Seamus would read from their periodicals. They usually start with, 'I never believed it could happen to me...'
It's about one am when you finally get back to your hotel. You shared an awkward goodbye with Karina. She told you, that it would be okay if you came by to see her again. She thanked you for 'touching her'. You've got a stupid grin on your face, don't you? You left the rest of your coins on the counter, while she was in the loo. They'll do more good there.
You knock on Bill's door. He opens it and looks at the clock on his nightstand. "Just getting back, Harry?"
"Did you have - fun?"
"Come on in. Grab a seat"
You see Bill was still awake. There are several maps on the table and more than a few books open. You sit down. Bill looks over at you grinning.
"She rode you like a cheap broomstick didn't she?" Your cheeks flush and you can't seem to get rid of the stupid grin.
"Uh, yeah. I guess you could say that."
Bill's smile disappears. "Did she use the contraception charm?"
Your stupid grin disappears. "I don't... I don't know."
There's a pause. Bill looks at you with concern. You're pretty stupid aren't you? "Relax Harry, I made her do it before I left. Right before the two of us came inside."
"You knew what was going to happen?" Suddenly, you realize why Karina seemed a bit flustered when she came in with the groceries.
"I had a good idea. I've been around. You're not stupid Harry. You are ignorant. It's a wild world beyond Hogwarts. Some good things, some not so good. I'll do my best to show you - not just magic, but show you things about life."
"How did you know?"
"She was eyeing you like a side of beef. You'll have to learn how to pick up on things like that."
"I guess I'm a bit thick, when it comes to that."
"No worries. Hell, for the amount of money you gave her she probably would have done us both."
"What? She isn't a ..."
"No. She's not. She's a very grateful mother. Did she say she wanted to see you again?"
"Then it probably wasn't just about the money. You gave her the rest of your money didn't you?"
"I left it on the counter, while she was in the loo."
"That's why I took most of it before I left." Damn! How does Bill know all these things?
You are hit with the realization that you pretty much just paid for sex. It's a sobering moment. You don't feel young and innocent any more. It's a lot to digest.
"Lets change the topic, Harry. I'm going to tell you why we are here. Harry, have you ever heard of a Horcrux?"
Author's notes - As always join the discussion thread up on Darklordpotter(dot)net. I have to take a break from writing to study for a very intensive professional certification exam. For you computer geeks out there it is the CCIE Written, so you know it's not a walk in the park! I have to be done with it before July 24th. So, the regular updates to both my stories will recommence at that time. If I get some free time from studying, you may see an irregular update before then, but I am making no promises. Sorry, but Network Engineering pays the bills. -- Jim