A mere summary won't do this chapter justice. Read it and see for yourself.
Acknowledgements - The most excellent crew of IP82, Nukular Winter, ChuckDaTruck, Sirius009 and Nonjon provided their usual talented commentary making this a far better work than I alone could manage. Beta by the always talented FairyQilan.
Chapter 13 - Well Let's Bungle in the Jungle
You often wonder about your decisions in life. How different would things be if Mum and Dad trusted someone other than the rat? What could have happened if Sirius had thought about his godson's well being first and his need for revenge second? Why did you always talk yourself out of poisoning Vernon's food? You won't even go into all the stupid crap at Hoggy Hogwarts. There's too much to cover and it always makes your head hurt anyway. This summer has been one of violent change for you hasn't it? Maybe you should have just hung out with the redheads from hell and continue to exist in blissful, potion induced ignorance. Then again, you wouldn't be having all this fun now would you?
Your current 'fun' is best described as a bizarre waiting game. Let's call it 'Cursebreaker Dinner Party', shall we? As soon as Thundercloud returned and told the group that the three injured trolls met up with four additional trolls and some goblins near a cave complex to the west, Bill started asking what nasty tricks everyone had stockpiled. You felt proud of your three little fletcher wards that you were still carving for practice. Your pride quickly changed to self-consciousness as soon as everyone else started pulling out their nasty single use wards and other assorted implements of torture out of their trunks. Collins each had a set of runes he liked to call 'a whole lotta whupass' and described them as the equivalent of muggle land mines. Thundercloud quite literally had 'lightning in a bottle', though he called it an old moonshine jug. Kwan had these little pieces of folded parchment origami animals with tiny intricate runes painted on them. They grow to ten times their size and run or fly up to their target and blow up. Bill was impressed enough to ask the name of the person that created them - Kwan's uncle.
Finally, the two cursebreakers tried to out do each other with their little stashes of nastiness. You could only look on as Sanchez and Weasley pulled out various sets of runes. Bill's were violent enough ranging from the simple 'Three Reductors in a Can' and one he called 'Fun with Severing Charms' to the complex 'Firewall' and 'Plague of Locusts'. Sanchez, however, was the clear winner with her bizarre six-rune collection that combines to create a twenty by twenty-meter patch of carnivorous plants. She also had a little group of three runes, which she gave a hag-like grin and asked Thundercloud if he would like to see Old Faithful in the Brazilian Rainforest. Bill muttered that he used his coolest stuff at Karina's house. Bill is a bit of a sore loser isn't he? Then again, he is a Weasley.
Somehow your little arrow wards didn't seem that impressive anymore, but Bill still wanted to use them anyway. Okay, so you've got a bit of 'runic trap envy' going on here. In your defense, you didn't exactly get a chance to prepare for this expedition anyway! No one will look down on you for your wards performance. The power of the ward doesn't matter. It's how you use it! Right?
So now you're out there waiting for the 'Dinner Party' guests to arrive. Not having much else to do, you draw a few temporary fletcher wards in the air with your wand and power them up. They will only last for thirty minutes, but you're not doing anything at the moment. You've got to learn some more impressive wards. No wonder Bill called the book you got them out 'practical, but uninspired.'
"Okay. If they break through the last line of wards, everyone get airborne. We'll pick them off from above. The trolls won't be able to get up to us, but the goblins might have their poisoned crossbows. Keep your bezoars handy. If this is indeed a rogue clan, you should expect to see them using Worg. They may even have a golem siege engine. Too many and we bail."
You listen to Bill's cautions as you scan about the camp. The real tent is packed up and disillusioned up in a tree. A fake decoy one has been set out. The original wards are still there, but now there is a hastily erected set of last line wards.
Amazingly enough, you actually have Binns to thank for knowing what Worg is! One of the few meaningful details in his class was how goblins fight their battles. The potion allows a goblin to temporarily assume the form of either a jackal, wild boar, small bear or a flaming bat for roughly fifteen minutes. For extra credit, Granger owled the goblins at Gringotts to ask what determines the shape taken. The goblins responded that if she kept asking questions about Worg, they would report her to the Ministry per the treaty they were forced to sign. You feigned sympathy at her outburst when she received that letter.
Naturally, Wizarding society has banned Worg from the goblin clans, but they always seem to have a large stockpile when the next uprising begins - fancy that! Surprisingly enough, the beater bat in quidditch was often used by flying wizards and witches to beat away the firebats that would swarm broom riders and try to ignite their brooms or magic carpets in addition to biting, clawing or burning the rider. Ron awoke long enough to learn that some of the early quidditch tactics for beaters were based off of lessons learned in the goblin wars. On the ground, the jackals are small and fast, boars and bears are a bit slower but more powerful. They use swarm tactics to bring humans down. In addition, the potion raises their innate magical resistance.
Goblins aren't particularly tough fighters in their natural form. After all, they leave all the warding to the cursebreakers. The trolls, dragons, chimeras and various other nasty critters serve as guards. To make up for it, they are dangerously cunning and ruthless. One of your history teachers, back when you still took real world history joked about Napoleon and Hitler having short man's disease. Goblins seem to have it even worse. To complicate matters, they breed like rabbits. Overpopulation fuels revolts amongst their kind and rebellion against the magical ministries.
You idly wonder how your animal form would stack up against bears and trolls? It's an option, though Thundercloud has already warned you against such an action. "Giving in to your animal in the middle of an area filled with lethal wards is a recipe for disaster."
As you power up your fourth temporary fletcher ward, Thundercloud lands and shifts back to his human form. "They are coming. They follow roughly the same approach as before, but if I know them they will split into smaller groups and attack on many sides at once. The trolls have crude shields now. They are supported with over a dozen inferius, mostly goblin and troll bodies, and I spotted two constructs. I will disable the animated catapults from behind as they come into range. I can out fly a firebat. I've had to do it more than once in my lifetime. If I do it quick enough, I can apparate back here."
Five tense minutes and one additional fletcher ward later, the perimeter wards activate you summon a trio of snakes and instruct them to wait by the tent until the creatures come into the clearing. Goblins can't create the undead, at least from what you know. They had to have a human make the inferius for them.
The deterrent layer wasted it's energy on the trolls and undead. Dozens small dots of light could be seen hovering above the tree line. The firebats would wait for the wards to go down and the main forces to engage and then try and swiftly flank your group to overwhelm you. In the darkness the glow from the wards discharging, reminded you of the stories Thundercloud told you of watching the Northern Lights. The crackle of explosions reaches your ears as the eagle animagus executes his ambush. The distant lights of the firebats turn like an angry swarm of insects and head towards the explosions. You toss a couple of exploding curses out into the darkness, hoping to add to the confusion. You try and line up a shot, but the jungle obscures your line of fire. Feeling a little insecure and outnumbered you summon two more snakes and tell them to wait with their brethren. The last summoning made you feel a bit lightheaded, probably not a great idea in hindsight. You really need to get some real snakes. This is Brazil for crying out loud! They've got the bushmaster, one of the most deadly snakes in the world. You should get one of those!
The trolls continue to stagger forward against the wards. They reach the edge of the incapacitation layer. The ropes and chains spring out of the ground, but rebound harmlessly against their rough-hewn wooden shields. Time to see how well you can spellchain. Kwan taught you a simple three-spell spellchain to use, blasting curse, severing charm and bludgeoner. All the movements basically flow into each other.
"Tonare!" Swish high, swish to center, jab directly at target.
"Lacero!" Wand pointed directly at target, slash upwards, twist and slash downwards ending near the waist.
"Impactus!" Flick upwards towards target twice, finishing incantation on second flick and raising wand high and maintaining eye contact with target. The high point is exactly where you begin the swish high for...
You continue to cast as your spells slam into the trolls shield. The first exploding curse cracks wood. The severing charm carves a deep chasm into it. The bludgeoner sends pieces of wood debris spraying into the troll like daggers. It screams in fury. The anger turns to pain as the next exploding curse catches it in the upper thigh ruining the flesh and causing the monster to stumble. The troll's stumble buys it a moment of relief as your severing charm misses high and to the left, but the following bludgeoner strikes it dead center in the face like a cricket bat. It falls as your snakes slither towards it. If it isn't dead now, it soon will be.
Casting six spells and completing two full links that quickly takes a toll on you. If you felt lightheaded before, you're a bit dizzy now. A second troll was tripped either by the wards or someone's spell and landed in the middle of the carnivorous plants and is now screaming in agony. The plants, which are munching on said troll and various animated goblin corpses that continue to walk unconcerned through them regardless of the chunks of missing flesh have an almost rhythmic quality to their thrashing. Sanchez is picking the inferius off one by one with her blasting curses and severing charms.
Two bears and a boar come charging through the perimeter towards you, but hit one of Collin's runic landmines and are tossed into the air in a gory mess. The next group is a jackal and a bear. You manually trigger two of your fletcher wards. With a flash of insight, or the old thinking on your feet thing as it were, you cast an engorgement charm at the arrows speeding away from you. The charm causes the two out of the six arrows to swell to three times their size. Instead of an arrow striking the bear, something the size of a javelin impales it. Pity, the other one missed, but the bear is already convulsing in death throes. One quick reductor curse crushes the skull of the limping jackal with an arrow through one of its hind legs.
More and more creatures are pouring into the clearing. You banish a boar followed by a jackal into Sanchez's field of screams. Do those plants ever get full? A quick glance at Kwan makes you realize that he is more than adept at using unforgivables for purposes other than training you. You expected the green light of the killing curse. Instead, you see two trolls locked in mortal combat - one clearly under the imperius curse, while the Korean man fights around them. Yet another troll lay in a smoldering heap from ten of the origami mobile bombs. You begin casting your spellchain again as Collins moves up on your right flank. The green light of his killing curse drops a bear in its tracks.
"Some fun, kiddo! It's going to get worse. Weasley's firewall and that damn plant thing are steering them towards us! Here little piggies! /Avada Kedarva!" /One charging boar dies instantly and blows up a second later. The second is sliced viciously by your severing charm and falls with a squishy thud as your bludgeoner hits it. You trigger another fletcher ward and are quicker with the enlargement charm as three spears instead of arrows fly outbound. Collins is morbidly singing the 'This little piggie' nursery rhyme in between his castings.
"Nice engorging there kiddo! Here I thought those things were useless. This little piggy got cut in half! Lacero! And this little piggy went 'wee wee wee' all the way home. /Pello Hostis! /Hey, when pigs fly! When I tell you release your last two wards. You grow em and I'll set em on fire - Flaming Spears of Death!"
The Hitwizard from Texas is a bit unbalanced and sadistic isn't he? On the other hand the idea is perfectly sound. Seconds later six fiery spears fly out into the night causing more than one howl of pain. Mental note, find engorging runes, ignition runes and pair them up with the fletcher ward. Wonder if Bill will like it? You never even noticed when your snakes died. If you got a real one you could engorge it too!
"Congratulations! You have a Zambrano Markowitz Hammer between you legs - the broom of champions. Nail your opposition every time with the Zambrano Markowitz Hammer. The ladies will all look at you, when you have a Hammer between your legs!" Well listen to that. Bill's on his broom now as the slogan continues in Spanish then Portuguese. A swarm of firebats is headed towards him. He's got Thundercloud's moonshine jug. Uh oh! This is going to be loud.
What firebats weren't electrocuted instantly are scattered to the winds by the thunderclap. Hell, it knocked you, Collins and most everything else off their feet too! Mental note revised, learn how to make lightning in a bottle - much more important than Flaming Spears of Death! You cast a few more quick curses at some of the changed goblins that are slow to their feet and hop on your dragonfly. With no wards left the rest are mounting up as well.
You stop to banish a boar charging the sluggish Collins. The delay proves to be your undoing as a pair of jackals blindside you and knock you off your hovering broom. The thrashing mongrels fall on top of you. With your gauntleted left hand you push one off you and reductor it point blank. The other jackal bites into your right upper arm causing Holly and Phoenix feather to fall away as you punch the jackal in face. That made it let go. Spinning on the ground you kick it and scramble for your wand.
The good news is its two meters away on the ground in plain sight right next to your broom.
The bad news is both a boar and a jackal are in between you and your wand.
The bad news for them - you are one angry badass jaguar animagus! Forget naked Fleur! Forget sex with Karina! Forget Lauren's massive Indian breasts! Your next patronus is the look in those fuckers little eyes when you shift into your form and charge them. The crack of the boar's spinal column is music to your ears. The little mutt nips at your injured foreleg. Pain! Your other foreleg rips its entire left side open. The rush of excitement consumes you. Hunt them! Stalk them! Toy with them! Kill them! Your jungle! Yours!
The creatures scatter from you. You are master of the jungle. Another mutt, another dead mutt! They are all meat, small meat, big meat, and tasty squealing meat. Those first! Into the darkness of the jungle they flee. You chase them. Smells like blood! Smells like fear! You growl with pleasure. Small meat changing. Taste different. Not like taste. Meat no good. Look for better meat.
Can't find better meat. Find more bad meat to kill. Pain! Bad meat behind tree? No. Bad meat hiding in bush? No. Bad meat running through jungle away from you? Yes. Pounce. Kill. Bad tasting meat hurt you with little shiny thing! Hurt it! Knock to ground! Crush skull! Scream bad meat, scream! Quiet now move away. More bad meat over there. Bad meat sees you points little thing at you. Pain. Bad meat hurt you from over there. Go over there and kill. Bad meat drink something turn into big meat. Other bad meat stings you while you fight big meat. Circle big meat. Go faster than big meat. Pounce on big meat. Big meats claws hurt you while bad meat tries to sting you. Sting misses you. Claw doesn't. Dodge big meats claw! Claw big meat's face. Rip big meats throat open! Now kill bad meat. Another sting. Run away from bad meat! Tired. Getting tired. Find place to hide from bad meat. Get away from bad meat. Hide under bushes. Go to sleep.
Hours later you come to. You're on a bed. It's not one of the hammocks from the tent. How long have you been out? It's dark outside. Last thing you remember is running into the jungle after the fleeing goblins. You were in your animal form. Oh crap! Thundercloud said that was a really bad idea didn't he? Poppy would have a fit, wouldn't she? There is something gritty in your mouth. Tastes like ... Tastes like ... Tastes like something you would find in the stomach of a goat, Potter! Yum. Bezoar Crunch, it's the tasty part of this nutritious breakfast. Try Bezoar Crunch! It really does taste like the inside of a goat's stomach.
"Oh look, you're awake." Bills cheery voice says as he holds up a pot next to you. Why is he doing that, anyway? "I have just one question for you? Does goblin really taste like chicken?"
You spend the next minute or so puking you guts out, while idiot cursebreaker howls with laughter. You really need to hurt him sometime. He deserves it. It's justifiable isn't it?
He hands you a nausea potion, vanishes your vomit, and a can of root beer to wash it down with. "Drink up. Gave us a bit of a scare there, Harry. You had quite a bit of goblin poison in your system. We pulled two poisoned crossbow bolts from your body and you must have run into one of the bears and got roughed up a bit. I'll spare you the usual 'you should have been dead' spiel. Thundercloud says an animagus of your caliber is much more durable than the rest of us mortals, so we can dispense with that. I'll simply say, next time focus on your own safety a bit more."
Bill helps you get out of bed and you shuffle over to use the bathroom. You're sore in a lot of places. Harry Potter has definitely seen better days, but you've seen worse ones too.
"You've been out for almost a day. Since it is after midnight, allow me to be the first to wish you a happy sixteenth birthday. There probably won't be a cake later, unless we get one from the hotel. My idiot cook got himself injured. We're at a hotel in the magical side this time. Couldn't exactly drag you into our usual place looking like this. Instead of look what the cat dragged in, we had to drag in the cat to look him over."
"Oh, funny. Don't quit your day job. Is everyone else, okay? Where's my wand? My broom?"
"A few bruises and bites. Thundercloud is nursing a broken leg. He's out of commission for a few days until it magically heals. Sanchez's nose is broken, actually distracts you from her hideously ugly face. Collins told her to keep the look. Crazy bitch grabbed him by his balls and squeezed till he screamed like a little girl. Kwan and I had to keep them from killing each other. He threatened to blow her arm off and she cast a sticking charm on her hand and said, 'Go ahead. Blow you cajones off. See if I care.' So, you've missed some good times. Your wand is right here and the broom is stored in the tent. Other questions?"
You take your wand back. You put on your best 'dejected' look and ask, "How long am I stuck here?"
"Do I look like Pomfrey? You're a big boy now, Harry. You've proven you can take care of yourself to me. I wouldn't go play a dodgespell tournament or anything, but if you think you are ready to get out of bed, I'm not going to argue unless you can't function as part of the team. Just take it easy for a day or two. Go see Karina, if you feel like you need some tender loving care. Kwan did the healing work on you. He's a pretty decent healer, by the way. You might ask him for some pointers as often as you end up like this."
You stare at him a bit gob smacked. You were ready for some kind of Pomfrey or Molly Weasley speech. This was definitely not it. "Um, okay." You wonder if he took that 'acting like his Mum' comment before you left for the US as an insult. Then again, you keep saying how you want to be treated like an adult; maybe this is his way of granting your wish? "What about the goblins?"
"I took the clan insignia and a few doses of Worg off of a couple of the goblins we killed. They're rebels just like we suspected. The local goblins have granted me a private audience tomorrow. Since we still want to get into the ruins, we are probably going to have to root out the goblins first. To do that, we need some muscle of our own. Goblins out in the open are tough, but you see we did well against them. Goblins dug in to a tunnel complex are much tougher. I've got a bit of a reputation that I can use here. They don't want rumors of goblins using Worg to get out to the ministries. I need to convince them to help us with the rebels. I think we can come to an accord."
You smile at Bill's grin. "I am guessing that we are going to leave it up to them to dispose of any Worg that we come across?"
He laughs and replies with a sarcastic voice, "Oh, of course! They're treaty bound to destroy the stuff. Oh here's your trunk. Your carving material is in there too. Collins told me about Flaming Spears of Death. It was very inventive on your part. You've got good instincts. Golden rule - Avoid being a Cookbook Cursebreaker at every opportunity. If the scheme you are using is in a book, anyone can and will buy that book. Hell, most quality books list a scheme and then right after it discuss how to go about breaking it. Warding from a book will stop the untrained, but if you are going to go up against a pro, or someone willing to do some reading - you need to create your own schemes. It might be a bit complex for just a single use ward, but I threw a book on manipulation runes in your trunk. You should find runes for enlarging an object and making it ignite in there. Try and make it all on one piece of carving stone, but don't charge it until I'm around. Incorrectly charging a brand new scheme is dangerous. Plus the runes may be incompatible. Why are there like five or six different runes for the same concept? Simple, some runes won't work with other runes in a scheme, but creating your own disposable rune is NEWT level work in Ancient Runes."
Bill finishes and gets up to leave. "There is a touchstone on the dresser. Tap it to summon the hotel house elf. It will bring you food. You're in room six. I'm across the hall in seven. Thundercloud is in ten. The rest are on the second floor. I'll let Thundercloud know you are awake in the morning. He wants to do some more animagus stuff with you. Let one of us know if you leave the hotel. I've told them the same thing."
Deciding you've slept enough for the moment, you open your journal to catch up with Luna. You hum happy birthday to yourself.
In the line below the letter you will need to fill in your animagus form. I distinctly notice that you avoided disclosure of said form in your last letter. Failure to comply will be grounds for reprisals, if you know what I mean?
I'd love to hear the full story behind this animagus ritual you were talking about. It sounds completely wicked! If you play your cards right, I'll allow you to teach me, though you might be distracted by my scorching blonde hotness!
You asked earlier about Ancient Runes at school. Much of it so far is memorization and translation through third year. It's more like a languages course. The emphasis is on Celtic, Norse and Germanic runes with a smidgeon of Greek and Egyptian thrown in. Last year, they let us make some basic runes. Nothing offensive mind you. It was just a bunch of rocks that glowed, dinged, or radiated happiness. Looney's end of term project was a combination of four runes that caused temporary purple hair growth and a tickling charm. I was shooting for magenta, but it came out more purple. I called it 'The Joy of Hair'. Professor Thorton found it amusing enough for best in class. A shame I couldn't make the hair last more than five minutes, otherwise everybody would have gone to dinner with long purple hair.
From what Padma and Lisa were saying about the OWL, the written one was just more translating and usage. The practical consisted of a charging rune, controlling rune, two tempus runes and two different lumos runes. The goal was to construct a basic nightlight, which would turn off a regular light spell at a certain time and turn on the weak light spell. Sixth year, we're supposed to do more basic household stuff, size expansion, air freshening and such. Only in the seventh year do they teach defensive warding like what you are doing. From what I heard, the house elves are instructed to check for wards and such in the fifth year and above dorms and if the students are caught setting up wards that could injure a student, they are disciplined.
So, in summary, you haven't missed too terribly much unless you really wanted to read Beowulf in the original script. I thought the 7th century one was better, but the original 5th century one written in Early Norse has much more magic in it. Did you know that there is at least one theory that Merlin was really Beowulf's last apprentice Wiglaf? Daddy rather likes that one. One of our part time writers on the Quibbler put out a very well thought out story linking the two from what little is known about them.
I'd love to hear more about the wards you are doing. Ginny once told me that you had your heart set on being an auror. Is that still true? They left for that other place already. That's all for now, please fill in the blank with your form below.
A second short entry is below it.
Now on to a more serious subject - the box I received today from a certain he-who-must-not-be-found. First and foremost I love the shirt with the squirrel on it. It is by far one of the coolest presents I have ever been given. Thank you very much. The other knickknacks are great too! I do have to ask you about some of the brochures you sent me. One had a little game of Dodgespell being played on it. I had to use a magnifying glass to watch it, but it was as interesting as you described.
I was particularly interested by the pamphlet for the Live Nude Review and Veela Follies. Although several of the pamphlets indicated 'What happens here - stays here ... or gets obliviated,' I have to ask, 'What exactly did you say you did in Vegas, again?' I can't recall.
Anyway, I barely managed to get that one out of Daddy's view in time along with several others that were shall we say different. I'm not sure even Looney would have a use for some of those products or services!
Unless of course, you did want me to order some of the things from a few of the more interesting catalog brochures? If so, it is rather presumptuous on your part! If that was flirting on your part, you might want to refine your technique. What exactly are you trying to say with this?
Oh shit! You remember grabbing a stack of brochures of things to do in Vegas at the Portkey terminal to fill the box up! You figured that they would have all kinds of 'Looney' material in them. Shit! Shit! Shit! What the fuck did you send her?
I am so sorry for not looking at the brochures. I was at the Portkey terminal and had some room left in the box. I grabbed one of each off the shelf and tossed them in figuring they had a whole bunch of weird things you could use as 'Looney'. I really didn't look at them, but I probably should have. I am sorry and I hope it did not offend you more than you let on. Please forgive me!
I swear I was not flirting with you. I have no intentions of flirting with you.
My Vegas experience consisted of hiding in a bathroom stall and listening to two bounty hunters talk about the good and the bad of not finding me in Vegas. Someone knows I am not in England. Right now I am recovering from my wounds in a battle with some rogue goblins and trolls. They are in the valley where the second site we are checking out is. I got banged up, but I'm okay now. So did a couple of other people. We're back in town and safe. So don't worry. The fight made the whole DoM thing look like playtime. I was all angry and afraid that night. Yesterday, I was more in control, but it was chaos. It might not make sense, but I hope you never have to understand what I am talking about.
I'll end this letter here and hope I haven't ruined our friendship. If it were safe for me to do so, I would go get an International Portkey and offer my apologies in person. You deserve no less.
You close the book angry with yourself. Luna must think you are some kind of deviant pervert! You try some mind clearing exercises. You feel like splinching your leg and charming it to kick your stupid asre! Five hours until you can even get an answer. Two and a half hours for your message to get there and the same to get back. You don't feel like eating, but you ring the house elf and get some food anyway. Keeping an eye on the time, you dig out the 'Enhancing Wards With Other Wards' book that Bill gave you and start looking for growth and flammable runes. You eat lightly and get three different runes for growth and five for fire - fifteen different variations. Time to start carving lots of fletcher wards. You're probably going to need to get out and get more base carving stone tomorrow.
You've managed to three fletcher runes by the time five hours elapses. You're getting much quicker at them. Each one took about an hour. You keep looking over at the journal to see if it will glow to signify that she is writing. You ruin a block of stone because you're too anxious. You're out of stone. You start to grab some Dragonbone, but decide against it. No more carving for you right now. You pull out a book and sit at the small writing desk and keep one eye on the book and one on the journal.
The book glows twenty minutes later.
I understand. You don't like me like that. I had hoped
You watch each letter form on the page almost like watching her write it. You reread it a couple of times to make sure it says what you think it says. The words stop for a full minute and then smear a bit. Why would she think you don't like her? Suddenly it hits you like a castle wall, her writing is all smeared because she is crying - was crying. You watch as the sentence is scribbled out, but is still barely legible. Finally a big black blot appears and spread out. She must have poured ink on it! Holy basket of house elf eggs! Luna likes you! What do you do now?
I just got your apology. I was in such a hurry to write back that I spilled some ink on the page. Oh clumsy me! It's still early in the morning. I got up to get a glass of water and saw that you had written. I accept your apology. I'm glad you and the rest of the expedition are okay. Please be careful out there. I didn't think poorly of you. You're special Harry. I am lucky to be your friend.
Just a quick note for now. I do want to hear more about the battle and the warding you are learning. Right now, I'm not feeling so good. I'm going to go back to bed.
What a mess! She likes you! You reread your letter to her looking for what set this off. Your eyes settle on the line where you say you have no intentions of flirting with her. You were just trying to reassure her that you weren't a perv! You really know how to follow one fuckup with another dontcha? Okay Potter, deep thinking time - what are you going to write back? You're probably her only real friend and look how you treat her! No wonder she pretends to be someone else!
So, what do you want to do here? You could ignore the whole ink thing and just write her friendly letters. She's a strong girl. You could make it up to her. Everything would be fine, wouldn't it?
No, it wouldn't. She'd feel like shit and you'd be a Malfoy. All right, Potter make this right. Fix this now! You always talk about how your friends fucked you over. Step up and be a friend. Do what is right and if this means groveling, then grovel.
I find I have a new talent - creating messes and causing problems. I was so worried about my screw up damaging our friendship, that I wrote something that hurt you even more. I'm sorry. I can't say that enough. I was waiting for your reply and hoping that I had lost one of the few friends I had left. I watched your 'ink accident' happen.
I didn't think in a million years you might like me and here I am saying I would never flirt with you. You have every right to, hell I don't know - hate me, call me an insensitive prat, draw animated pictures of my getting beaten by Malfoy and his goons. I deserve it.
What this idiot is trying to say is that you are a good friend. I hated the idea of you not wanting to be my friend. You are special too, don't forget that! I don't think I am boyfriend material right now. Things are just too complicated. Two of the most powerful wizards in the world want me. One wants me dead and out of the way. The other wants me under his thumb. I don't have much to offer and you deserve better than that. Bollocks! I don't even know if and when I am coming back to England.
That said if I do come back and things are less complicated, or I'm better equipped to deal, I wouldn't mind trying to get to know you in that way. Right now, I can't picture myself being serious about a girl who isn't already my friend. At the moment, I am still discovering my new wonderful friend Luna. I've heard she is a scorching blonde Hottie! She's witty, funny and apparently able to put me in my place at a moment's notice.
I'll fix my previous statement. I'll never flirt with you if it is going to ruin our friendship. I am sorry that I hurt you and hope you forgive me.
Hoping you mended a fence or at least stopped if from collapsing further, you close the journal. After a light breakfast, you head over to Thundercloud's room.
"Good morning, Thundercloud. How's the leg?"
"It hurts. I was trying to get away from the firebat swarm. I attempted a rather risky maneuver. I came out of my form right before landing, so I could apparate away faster. Twenty years ago, it wouldn't have been a problem. My leg was still changing shape as I attempted to put weight on it and the bone broke. Now, how is it you ended up in your form last night against my advice?"
You mutter your apology, "Sorry about that. I stopped to help Collins and two jackals knocked me off my broom. I lost my wand and didn't have any other choice."
"Your actions are understandable, but now you know why it is important to make peace with the animal with in you. Today, we are going to meditate. We are going to try to get to the memories of you in your animal form. If we succeed, we will put them in William's pensieve and view them. It is a very effective tool to watch yourself function in your animal form. Seeing the way you move and fight will help you to achieve clarity sooner. Do you understand?"
"Yes. Show me what you want me to do."
For the next four hours, Thundercloud walks you through a meditative hypnosis. The mug - err norms call it regression techniques. Your actions as a Jaguar are much less hazy now. Gah! How many times did you play snack on the goblin anyway? Withdrawing the memories, you put them into Fleur's family pensieve. Watching it was an experience in itself. Parts were still hazy and seemed to skip, but now you have seen your animal form in action. The eagle tells you that when clarity comes, you will still feel the animal urges and you may even feel them at times in your human form.
"You speak like your human form is just another form?"
"They are equal. The human body does not define you any more. Your animal body does not define you. You are more than the two of them. The sooner you accept this, the quicker you will start on your path that leads to the truth about yourself?"
"What is the truth about you?"
"I am still on the path. Perhaps in my final moments, I will reach my destination. Go and get some rest. We will work more later."
A reply is waiting for you in the journal. You wonder how badly you've messed up this time.
Thank you for replying. It cheered me up. I did read too much into your statement and I accept your apology, but only if you accept my apology for being a bit too sensitive. I'll take you up on that becoming better friends thing. If anything happens after that we'll see. I am going to pretend you never saw that little ink accident and SO ARE YOU! How's that?
I did notice that you neglected to fill in the blank with your animagus form. Feel free to complete it at this time.
On a whim, you scribble Crumple Horned Snorkack in the blank she provided and draw a couple of smiley faces next to it. Telling her now would be too easy. She's going to have to guess.
The next two days pass in a blur. The goblins agreed to Bill's ideas. You are taking thirty goblins and four trolls with your attack group. You feel much better. The letters from Luna have returned to their playful chattiness. There has been no mention of the ink incident since. Her last guess on your form was flobberworm. She spent two whole paragraphs telling you how cool you could be as a flobberworm. Borrowing from someone you met, you respond that you might be or know an alpaca animagus, being able to grow your own wool is cool! She's a little worried about you going into a goblin den, even with all this back up. You told her about the battle finishing with 'and then I turned into my supercool animagus form. Who'd have thought that goblins on Worg would be scared of a firecrab, but my claws really chased them off!" In response she drew a little animated drawing of a half-ferret half-Malfoy smashing a firecrab with a mallet that looked a good deal like the squirrel on the shirts.
Thundercloud and you continue your training. Unable to perform your usual destructive and mostly painful training, Kwan instead starts teaching you basic first aid and wound closure. He's cut back on the stupid comments merely reminded you that having a great power, but not the ability to use it is - stupid. He knows occulmency as well and shows you a few of his techniques for meditation.
On the cursebreaking front, you helped complete the two Sappers. They are ready to go. Bill spent more of your money getting additional overpriced, premade wards to replace the ones used at the campsite. Between the store bought ones and the carvings they've done in the meantime, the expedition is capable of defending the camp again. In what little spare time Bill's had, he has looked at your work on Flaming Spears of Death. You've got all the fletcher runes and the growth runes carved. Seven of the fifteen incinerating runes are now done. Of the first five you tried so far, one scheme worked, but the flaming spears weren't nearly as large as the ones created by you and Collins. One sputtered out a single arrow and a lot of smoke. Two, of them did nothing at all except discharge a magical aura and crumble into dust. The last one exploded violently. Bill shielded you from the results - good thing too! Even with a successful scheme, Bill insisted you try the rest to see if any of them give better results than the single working scheme. Designing a new rune is meticulous and repetitive work. There is a good deal of trial and more than a bit of error. Luna is fascinated by your rune design. She asks for the titles of the books you are using.
So here it is Friday, August Second. You never made it over to Karina's. Let's just keep the female messes to a minimum for the time being, shall we? You are standing in a conference room with dozens of goblins, your companions and four trolls. The war party is set to go. Thundercloud provided the location of the lair and they are discussing how best to attack the entrance and the possible layout of the goblin warren below ground. Not being the strategist, you mill around trying not to look fidgety or anxious.
"Puny James!" A massive troll hand thunks you on your back. You're not really in touch with your feminine side, but he could use good washing, perhaps a manicure, even better, gloves or best of all a different place to put his hands!
You smile despite your sudden bout of the woolies. "Hey Hack, it's good to see you. How's your game of Plunk? Are you getting all the troll girls?"
Hack smiles. His toothy maw turning into a big grin. Add a toothbrush and a case of toothpaste to Hack's Christmas gift bag. "Hack win plunk. Hack gets all the troll girls. All of them want Hack now!"
"That's good. I'm glad you'll be out there with us."
"Hack glad to be fighting. Need to get away from troll girls. Hack glad to fight with puny James! Crush lots of skulls."
"Wouldn't you rather stay here with the troll girls?" It seems like a good question. In Hack's place you'd rather stay with a bunch of females who can't get enough of you.
"No. Hack's dick hurt."
Well you asked - and you think you have girl problems!
Author's notes - Hope you enjoyed it. Full discussion on Darklordpotter; see the link in my profile. I hope you didn't get busted at work or school laughing.