(Highlight to View) Warning(s): AU, Crossover, Same age Severus and Hermione, Crackfic.
(Highlight to View) Prompt: Prompt yourself for fic!
Note: Characters belong to JKR and situations to William Goldman — only my warped mind has put them together.
Summary: Familiar characters acting out a familiar story.
Asteria led her father-in-law into the room where her son lay sulking on his bed. "I'll leave you two alone" she said, closing the door behind her. There was an awkward silence.
"So, Scorp. How's things?"
Scorpius turned a face covered in brightly coloured spots towards his grandfather and frowned. "How do you think?"
"Look I know it's hard on you, but it's only for a week, two at most. They can treat spattergroit quite easily now and you don't even have to stand naked in a barrel full of eels' eyes."
Scorpius frowned again. "Look Grandpa, why are you here?"
"Your mother thought you needed cheering up."
"Well, you're making a right pig's ear of it so far."
"Less of the snark, young man." Lucius pulled a book from out of his robes. "How about I read you a story?"
"What do you think I am, a little kid. I'll be starting Hogwarts in September."
"I know, but bear with me. It was always one of my favourites. It's got pirates and giants and high adventure."
"Oh all right. Just get on with it."
Lucius opened the book and began reading...
The Prince's Bride.
Long ago in the Kingdom of Twosickle there lived a Prince who's name was Sevvy, but whom everyone called Buttercup. Sevvy never knew why they did this and no one would ever tell him, so eventually he just came to accept it. He was a striking young man with sleek dark hair and piercing black eyes, and was generally considered to be, if not the handsomest, then certainly the most eligible in the Kingdom.
Sevvy grew up on his family's country estate. He spent his time learning how to brew potions since there were few neighbours and little else to do. His closest companion was Miony, the girl who worked on the farm. She was a lively girl with wild hair and a wild spirit, and she doted on Sevvy. For his part he enjoyed nothing as much as being in her company and constantly found reasons for the two of them to be together.
"Farm girl," he would say. "Fetch me some hippogryph milk."
And she would reply, "As you wish." Then she would go off to fetch it for him, coming back covered in cuts and bruises and with a pitcher of fresh milk.
Or he might say. "Farm girl, stir my cauldron while I consult my potions book."
"As you wish." And she would take over stirring the potion, ignoring the choking fumes, while he admired her technique.
Then he would say. "Farm girl, walk with me and carry my basket while I go to fetch ingredients."
"As you wish." And they would spend many hours walking together across the hills and meadows, stopping only for him to gather the occasional flower or for her to wrest some small part of anatomy from an unwilling creature.
Again he might say. "Farm girl—"
"Can't we skip this, Grandpa? It's getting repetitive."
"You're right, Scorp. God knows what the author was thinking when he wrote this bit, but it does get better. I promise." Lucius flicked through half a dozen pages. "OK, try this."
Then, on Sevvy's sixteenth birthday, he realised that for all these years Miony had been doing whatever he asked of her because she loved him and, when he thought about it he loved her back. So after lunch he called her over to him. "Farm girl," he began. "Will you marry me?"
"As you... What?"
"I asked if you would marry me?"
"Oh Sevvy, there's nothing I would like more, but you are a Prince and I am but a lowly farm girl."
Sevvy was crestfallen.
"I know," said Miony. "I'll disguise myself as a cabin boy and go to sea. And when I've made my fortune I'll come back and we can be married."
"But what of the Dread Pirate Rowlings? They say no ship is safe while she sails the Seven Seas."
"I fear no pirate. My mind is made up. Goodbye Sevvy, my love, I sail at dawn."
Two months later news came that the ship Miony had sailed on had been taken by the Dread Pirate Rowlings and all hands were lost.
"So that's it? End of story?"
"No, it's only just beginning. Listen."
Some years later, when he was twenty-one, Sevvy's mother came to him with some news. Agents of the Crown had spotted him when they were hunting in the area and taken word back to the Old Queen, who had decided to marry him. Having already lost the love of his life, Sevvy reluctantly agreed.
So it was that Sevvy was taken to the capital and, after a parade through the streets so that the people could get their first look at him, to the Old Queen's castle. Dumbledick, the Old Queen himself, stood at the gates to welcome him."
"Hang on, if Sevvy's supposed to marry the queen, how come she's a man?"
"Well sometimes... that is... why don't you ask your father? All you need to know is that Dumbledick was a right old queen and no mistake."
That night, while Sevvy lay in his luxury bed trying to get to sleep, he heard a noise from the balcony outside. Quickly donning his robe over his pyjamas he went to investigate.
"Is anybody there?" He asked softly, only to be answered by two large arms grabbing him from behind while a second attacker pulled a dark hood or bag over his head. A final kidnapper administered a light but perfectly aimed tap on the back of his head and he lost consciousness.
His three kidnappers carried Sevvy to a nearby creek where they had a boat waiting. They carefully bound and gagged him, for fear that he might use wandless magic, then laid him in the bottom of the boat and set sail.
The boat made good speed and soon the Twosickle coast was flashing past as they headed towards the border with the Muggle Empire. The shouting of a man with a bad Spanish accent finally woke Sevvy from his enforced slumber.
"Hey, Weazzini! Don' look now but we're being followed."
Weazzini, a short, balding man with clumps of red hair sticking up from behind his ears, peered out behind the boat. A black sail was just visible far astern. "Inconceivable!" he exclaimed. "It's probably just some fisherman out for a moonlight pleasure trip. Nothing to concern us."
A little later the Spaniard spoke again. "Hey Weazzini. Ee's getting closer!"
"Inconceivable!" The shorter man got out a telescope to study their pursuer. A young woman dressed all in black and wearing a black mask and bandanna stood in the prow of the boat, steering it with a rope that went over her shoulder. "Make that a she not a he. Anyhow, she won't catch up before we reach the Cliffs of Insanity."
"Dun, dun, dah!" Came a deep rumbling voice.
" Fezzgrid, I've told you not to do that."
The boat pulled in at a small jetty at the foot of an enormous cliff. The lower portion of the cliff was almost glass smooth, affording no hand or foot holds. A single thick rope hung down from the top.
Sevvy felt himself being hauled out of the boat by a giant hand and was dumped on the ground.
"Once we scale the cliffs, "said Weazzini, "it's only a short hike to the Muggle border. Then we can dump his body and everyone will think the Muggles did it."
"That sounds like we're goin' to kill him," boomed Fezzgrid.
"Of course we are."
"Oi don't think Oi want to do any killing."
"That's why I don't pay you to think. I'll do the killing, you just get ready to do the climbing."
Fezzgrid, the giant, put on a strange harness and strapped Sevvy into it on his right side while the Spaniard strapped himself to the other side and Weazzini strapped himself into a seat at the back. Then Fezzgrid began to climb the rope.
* * *
The black boat pulled alongside Weazzini's and the Girl-in-Black nimbly leapt from one to the other and then onto the jetty, watched only by the Spaniard.
"Hey Weazzini, she's climbing up after us.".
"Inconceivable!" Weazzini muttered through a mouthful of the giant's shirt. "Only Fezzgrid is strong enough to make the climb. She'll fall."
"I don' think she weel. I think she's getting closer."
"Inconceivable! Faster, you oaf."
Fezzgrid said nothing but kept climbing.
At the top Fezzgrid deposited Sevvy on the ground while Weazzini and the Spaniard unstrapped themselves from the harness.
"Hey Weazzini, she's steel coming."
Weazzini drew a wicked looking dagger and started hacking at the rope. It parted quickly and went tumbling over the edge of the cliff. The Spaniard peered down. "She didn' fall."
"Inconceivable! Stay here and make sure she doesn't make the top alive while we go on."
The giant hoisted Sevvy onto his shoulder and followed Weazzini. The Spaniard waved down to the Girl-in-Black.
"You theenk you could hurry? Hi haf to keel you."
The Girl-in-Black stopped climbing and looked up at him. "I'm sorry if this is inconvenient, but it's not easy scaling an unclimbable cliff."
"Hi haf a rope."
"But what would stop you from dropping me once I grabbed hold? No thank you, I think I'll come up the slow way."
"Hi swear by the wand of my father, Diego Monpotter, you hwill reach the top alive."
"Throw me the rope."
The Spaniard threw the rope then reached down and helped the Woman-in-Black to the top of the cliff. "Thank you," she said, and lay exhausted on the ground.
"Ees all right, haf a rest. Hi wouldn' wan' to keel you when you ees tired."
"Thank you again."
They each sat down on one of the many boulders that littered the top of the cliff. "I don' suppose you haf seen a Man-with-no-Nose haf you?" asked the Spaniard.
"No, sorry. Why do you ask?"
"My father hwas the greatest wand-maker in all of Spain. One day the Man-with-no-Nose come and ask for a wand. My father show heem his finest wand, twin to his own. The Man-with-no-Nose 'ee take the wand but 'ee will not pay and keels my father. Hi grab my father's wand and challenge heem. Ee beat me of course and leave me this," he pointed to the scar on his forehead, "to remember by. Hi was ten months old. When Hi am older Hi study and train so that when Hi find the Man-with-no-Nose Hi can say to heem 'Hello, my name ees Inigo Monpotter, hyou keel my father, prepare to die.' But nobody knows where the Man-with-no-Nose goes."
"I see. And you've spent all this time training for revenge?" Inigo nodded. "What a sad life you've led. Still," she got up, "It's been nice talking to you, but I must get on and see where your friends took that young man. Oh..."
The tip of Inigo's wand was suddenly digging into her throat.
"Hi really don' wan' to keel you but ees business."
"That's OK, I really don't want to die."
She drew her own wand, they saluted and started their duel. They fought with grace and skill, trading hexes and matching curse with counter-curse. Eventually it became clear that the Girl-in-Black had the upper hand. Inigo rolled to avoid the Girl-in-Black's Petrificus totalus and sprang up laughing. "Hyou know, hyou ees a leetle better than me and if hwe fight too long hyou weel wear me down, but Hi know something hyou don'; Hi'm not left handed."
"Well, I had sort of gathered that by the way you use your right hand."
"Bugger, Hi meant to fight hyou left handed."
"That's OK. Do you want to start again?"
Inigo put all his fury at her goading into his next spell. "Expelliarmus!" Her wand flew from her hand but she deftly performed a series of backflips and a double somersault to catch it before it hit the ground.
"By the way, I'm not left handed either. Wingardium Leviosa."
"Seriously! Hyou theenk hyou can beat me with a floating feath—ugh"
"That all depends on if it's still attached to the ostrich!"
The Girl-in-Black untangled Inigo from the ostrich and made sure both were comfortable. Then she ran off in the direction taken by the others.
Weazzini put down his telescope. "Inconceivable! She's still following. Put him down and hide behind that rock, then when she gets here you can do your thing."
"What, tell 'er all about the matin' song of the Abyssinian fwooper; Oi heard it once y'know an'..."
"No. You jump out from behind the rock and kill her." Weazzini pulled out a long dagger and slit the rope binding Sevvy's legs, then used it to prod him in the back. "Now you, walk."
Fezzgrid watched them follow the trail between the rocks. 'Kill 'er?' He thought. 'Oi don't think that's moi thing at all.'
The Girl-in-Black ran across the open ground between the cliff and the rocky outcrop. Here she moved more cautiously as it would be the ideal place for an ambush.
Suddenly, something flew past her head to impact on the ground behind her with a loud and smelly SPLAT.
"Oi could've 'it yer, y'know."
She looked round and up, and up, into the face of Fezzgrid as he stepped out from behind a rock.
"Yes. I'm sure you could."
He pulled off a rubber glove and dropped it into a pouch. "That was Peruvian Molstarker dung, that was. One touch on bare skin leads to instant unconsciousness an' a slow but certain death if you don' get the antidote. So Oi could've killed you like Weazzini wanted, only that's not moi way."
"And what, pray tell, is your way?"
"More loike this," he said and dropped into a wrestling stance.
"OK," she said, charging him with a shoulder butt. It was like running into a brick wall. She tried punching him, but he put his hand on her head and held her out of reach. Then he smiled at her and with a speed belying his great size grabbed her, lifted her over his head and slammed her down into the ground. He stood back to let her get back up and shake some of the ringing from her ears.
"That's your way?" She gasped.
"Oh yes, that's how yer get an omnocerous cow to lie down so yer can milk 'er."
She charged again, feinting to the left, but he brought both hands down hard on the back of her shoulders, knocking her to the ground again. "And that's how yer get a omnocerous bull t' lie down when 'e don't like yer milking 'is cow."
She got up again expecting the giant to try to finish her off but he waited patently for her to make the next move. Unwilling to wait to find out how you helped an omnocerous give birth she charged again, then ran behind him before he could react and jumped on his back. Throwing her arms around his neck she tried for a sleeper hold but he was too well muscled for her to get an effective grip.
Whumpf! Fezzgrid threw himself backwards, crushing the Girl-in-Black between himself and one of the rocks and nearly knocking the wind out of her. She took a deep gulp of air as he stepped forward again.
"And what does that do to an omnocerous?"
Whumpf! "Don't be silly. That's what yer do t' dislodge a Tasmanian Thornmuckle what's getting a bit too amorous."
Gulp! "And that happens a lot does it?"
Whumpf! "More often than most people realise."
She knew that she couldn't take much more of this punishment and her own attacks were proving futile so she tried a change strategy. Gulp! "Say, isn't that a rainbow plumhover? You don't see many of them around here!"
"Where?" asked Fezzgrid, looking up into the sky.
The Girl-in-Black took advantage of his distraction by kicking off from the rock against which she had been sandwiched. Fezzgrid stumbled forward, tripped over a loose boulder, and fell face first into a brown, smelly puddle.
His body went limp. She rolled off of his back and lay panting while she caught her breath. Then she crawled over to the felled giant and, carefully, went through his pockets. Sure enough, amongst the match boxes with things moving around inside and bags of dragon treats she found a small phial labelled " Molstarker Dung Antidote". Carefully she rolled him over. Fortunately his beard had stopped any of the odious, odorous poison from reaching his mouth so she parted his lips and poured in the contents of the phial.
The effect was instantaneous. He sat up spluttering. "What? Where?"
She hit him on the back of the head with a large stone she had picked up in case something like this happened and he slumped back down again and started snoring.
"Sleep well and dream of large women," she said, glancing back as she started up the trail after Weazzini and Sevvy. "Although judging by the bulge in your trousers you already are. I do hope it's that and not the Thornmuckle."
"Inconceivable! She's still following!"
Weazzini put down his telescope and poured himself some wine. He had found a convenient picnic table overlooking the rocky plain below, and was having some lunch while Sevvy, still bound and gagged, sat beside him in silence.
Soon the Girl-in Black jogged up the path and stood before them. Weazzini raised his goblet, a nice silver one decorated with a mortar and pestle, in salute and pressed his knife against Sevvy's throat.
"One more move and I kill him. Drop your wand."
"But that would mean moving." Replied the Girl-in-Black, staying perfectly still.
"Alright, no moving except to drop your wand."
She drew hew wand, saluted Weazzini with it and placed it on the table in front of her.
"Now, you obviously defeated my Spaniard, so you have skill."
"And you defeated my giant, so you must be strong, while my strengths lie in my great intelligence rather than physical prowess."
Again she nodded.
"So I would be a fool to fight with you, and since I am not a fool we are at an impasse."
"May I suggest a battle of wits? Your brain against mine, winner takes the boy."
She sat opposite Weazzini and slowly drew a phial from a pouch on he belt. She uncorked it and handed it across the table. "Smell that but do not touch."
Weazzini sniffed, shrugged and handed the phial back.
"What you do not smell are pellets of iocane. They are odourless, tasteless and dissolve immediately in any kind of liquid. Iocane also happens to be the deadliest poison known to man. Do you have more goblets?" she asked. Weazzini nodded. "Good. Pour us some wine."
Weazzini produced another silver goblet, the twin to his own, and a crystal chalice that he had liberated from Dumbledick's palace when they were doing the kidnapping. Sevvy stared at the wine hungrily.
"If you would pass me the goblets."
"Get them yourself, my knife doesn't leave his throat."
Ignoring the fact that Weazzini had put the knife down when he fetched the cups, the Girl-in-Black took the two silver goblets and turned her back on Him. After a few moments she returned them to the table, made a show of switching them around several times and finally place one before Weazzini and the other before herself.
"The battle of wits has begun. It ends when you choose and we both drink and find out who was right and who's dead."
"It's all so simple,"said Weazzini. "All I have to do is deduce, from what I know of you, the way your mind works. Are you the kind of woman who would put the poison in her own glass or into that of her enemy?"
"You're stalling," said the Girl-in-Black.
"I'm relishing what I'm doing. No one has challenged my mind in years and I love it. Now a great fool would place the poison in his own goblet, because he would know that only another great fool would reach first for what he was given. I am clearly not a great fool, so I will clearly not reach for your wine."
"That's your final choice?"
"No. Because you knew I was not a great fool, so you knew that I would never fall for such a trick. So I can clearly not reach for mine either."
"I intend to. We have now deduced that the poisoned cup is most likely in front of you. But iocane comes from Australia and Australia is peopled with criminals and criminals are used to having people not trust them, as I don't trust you, which means I clearly cannot choose the wine in front of you. But, again, you must have suspected that I knew the origins of iocane and therefore I clearly cannot choose the wine in front of me."
"Truly you have a dizzying intellect."
"Wait until I get going. You've beaten my giant which means you are exceptionally powerful, maybe too powerful even for iocane, so you could have put it in your own cup trusting on your strength to save you; thus I clearly cannot choose the wine in front of you. But you also bested my Spaniard, which means you must have studied, and if you can study you are aware how mortal we all are and would not wish to die, so you would keep the poison as far from yourself as possible, therefore I clearly cannot choose the wine in front of me."
"You're just trying to make me give something away."
"You've already given everything away. I know where the poison is."
"Only a genius could have deduced as much."
"How fortunate for me that I happen to be one."
"Stop dragging it out. Pick, choose and let's drink."
"Of course," he pointed behind the Girl-in-Black. "Isn't that a rainbow plumhover?"
"D'you know, I thought I saw one earlier... Oh, you want me to look for myself." She slowly and deliberately turned her back on Weazzini. "No, I can't see one."
When she turned back he had a goblet cradled in his hand. "Oh, well I'm sure I saw one. No matter." He began to laugh.
"I don't understand what's so funny."
"I'll tell you in a minute, but first, let's drink ."
The Girl-in-Black picked up her own goblet and both drank.
"You guessed wrong." said the Girl-in-Black.
"You only think I guessed wrong, that's what's so funny." His laughter grew louder as he opened his hands to reveal the crystal goblet that he had drunk from. "Everybody knows that only the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true!"
There was nothing for the Girl-in-Black to say.
"Fool!" cried Weazzini, his laughter becoming hysterical. "You fell victim to one of the classic blunders. The most famous is 'Never get involved in a movie deal with Warners,' but only slightly less well known is this: 'Never go against a Devonian when death is on the line.'"
His laughter reached a fever pitch, then he keeled over and fell dead into Sevvy's lap.
The Girl-in-Black coughed and spat out the bezoar that she had been holding underneath her tongue. She wiped it on Weazzini's shirt and dropped it back into her pouch. Then she cut Sevvy's bonds and removed his gag.
He hurriedly shied away from the dead man and stared at the goblets. "But how?"
"Oh I'm sure you'll figure it out soon enough, but right now we must get away from here."
The Girl-in-Black led Sevvy through the mountains onto a ridge looking down into a deep valley. Here they stopped so that Sevvy could catch his breath. He scowled at her.
"I know who you are, you're the Dread Pirate Rowlings!"
She gave a small curtsey. "Guilty as charged."
"You bitch, you killed Miony, she was my True Love."
"True Love? But here you are rushing into marriage with the first, er, man who asks you."
"This isn't love. I don't have any choice. Besides, that doesn't alter the fact that you killed Miony!"
"Miony? Miony? Oh yes, I remember a Miony. She was on a ship disguised as the cabin boy. You know, she begged for her life. 'Please,' she said. 'Please don't kill me.' 'Why not,' said I. 'Because of True Love,' said she. 'True Love?' said I, 'I kind of like you so I'll give you a chance as cabin boy...girl on my ship. I'll probably kill you in the morning though.'"
"And in the morning I gave her to the crew to have their fun with and we threw what was left to the shrieking eels."
"Bitch," yelled Sevvy through his tears. "Then you can die too!" And he pushed the Girl-in-Black over the edge.
"Miony?!" Sevvy ran to the edge of the ridge, lost his footing and tumbled after her.
The pair rolled down the rock strewn slope and landed in a heap on the floor of the valley below, at the edge of the Fire Swamp. The Girl-in-Black's mask and bandanna had fallen off revealing the face and bushy hair of Sevvy's True Love. The pair embraced and started to make up for lost time.
"Can't we skip this, Grandpa. It's got kissing in it."
"Some day you won't mind so much, but OK, you're sick. Now where were we?"
"The Fire Swamp."
The pair finished their embrace just as a group of soldiers in the livery of Twosickle appeared on the ridge. They hid behind a rock until they had passed.
"Your Queen has his men looking for you. We should find some cover."
"He's not my Queen! But you're right, we need to get away."
They looked around for somewhere to hide.
"The Fire Swamp!" they both exclaimed and ran towards it.
Now the Fire Swamp was no mere patch of bog with a bad reputation. It was a great swathe of rich peaty soil that was high in sulphur and bubbles of explosive gasses which would ignite at irregular intervals. The rich soil encouraged the growth of huge trees which left the swamp dark, and made the flame bursts particularly dramatic. It also had pockets of Lightning Sand, which could drag a man under and suffocate him.
And then there were the R.O.U.S.
Miony and Sevvy made good progress through the Fire Swamp. They quickly learned that the flame bursts made a popping sound before they erupted and so could easily be avoided. Sevvy found the first patch of Lightning Sand, but used a simple levitation charm to glide free of its embrace. Once they had seen it, it too could be easily avoided.
And both of them knew that the R.O.U.S. didn't really exist but were just a story made up to scare children.
"So how are you the Dread Pirate Rowlings? Sevvy asked. "She's been the scourge of the sea for over ten years but it's only three years since you left."
"Now there's a funny story to that," Miony replied. "I was telling the truth that I said 'Please don't kill me' to Rowlings. And she took me on as cabin girl. Every night she would say 'Good night girl. I'll probably kill you in the morning.' Fortunately she was a very bad shot and never tried more than once a day. Eventually she gave up altogether."
"Then, one day she told me her secret. She wasn't the Dread Pirate Rowlings. Her name was Morgenstern, but it wouldn't do to have a Dread Pirate Morgenstern while everyone was going around terrified off the Dread Pirate Rowlings. It is the name that is important, you see, not the person. Her predecessor wasn't the original Rowlings either, he was a man named Galbraith who liked to dress in women's clothes. The original Rowlings retired long ago and now lives in a castle in Scotland."
"Anyhow, Morgenstern had decided to retire. So we put into port and dismissed our crew. Then we took on a new crew and Morgenstern introduced me as Rowlings while she stayed on as first mate. After a couple of trips she left and I have been Rowlings ever since. Who's there?"
A rustle in some nearby bushes interrupted Miony's monologue, which Sevvy had already decided had been going on for too long. A short, stocky man with a distinct overbite emerged and greeted them.
"Hello, we don't get many strangers here. My name's Peter."
"Miony, and this is Sevvy. Do you live here? Are you some kind of hermit?"
"No. Well yes, I live here, but with my family. Are you two lost?"
"Not exactly. In fact we're considering moving in permanently."
"Oh well, our place isn't far from here. It'd be unneighbourly if I didn't ask you to come round for dinner."
"That would be wonderful," said Sevvy, who hadn't eaten since he was kidnapped the previous evening.
"Good. Well follow me."
The man turned and stated to head into the swamp. Sevvy went to follow but Miony stopped him.
"Sir. You seem to have a long rat-like tail protruding from the back of your trousers. Are you sure you're not a Rodent Of Unusual Size trying to lure us back to your lair so that you can eat us?"
"What? Not again?" The man cried. "I'm training to be a manimagus but I always forget my tail." And before their eyes he transformed into a giant rat, bigger even than those found in Sumatra, and leapt at Miony.
She had neither the time nor room to draw her wand so grappled the foul creature in mid jump. It snapped at her arm, tearing her sleeve. She threw it to the ground hoping to stun it but it was recovered fast and scuttled back for another attack. Sevvy threw a rock at it but only succeeded in hitting Miony on the leg so that she dropped to the ground. In an instant the R.O.U.S. was upon her...
"Maybe we should skip this in case it's too scary for you."
"Oh just get on with it."
In an instant the R.O.U.S. was upon her, and they rolled back and forth across the clearing in a life or death struggle. Suddenly from one side came a familiar sound."Pop, pop, pop pop, pop!" Miony found an extra reserve of strength and hurled the R.O.U.S. towards the noise just as a huge gout of flame shot out of the earth. There was a strong smell of roast rat.
"That wasn't very nice. What have I ever done to you?."
"You were trying to eat me."
"Well, I'm only a dumb animal. It's just nature's way. Besides, I'm an endangered species!"
"You certainly are now." And she kicked the smouldering R.O.U.S. into a patch of white sand where it quickly sank.
* * *
They made good time through the rest of the Fire Swamp and emerged on the Twosickle/Stirling border. (Stirling was the country of the Muggle Empire that bordered Twosickle in this area.)
"Once we cross the border, it is but a short way to where my ship lies in harbour, and we shall be free to spend our lives together."
No sooner had Miony said these words than a host of Dumbledick's men descended upon them, hovering on their broomsticks, wands raised to attack. Two more brooms approached. On one, riding side-saddle, was Dumbledick, resplendent in his purple hunting robes. On the other, the dreaded Count Volden, Dumbledick's right hand man, dressed in his usual black with pink trim.
Volden turned to the two lovers. The man had no nose!
"Well look who we've found. What do you want to do with them, sire?"
Before Dumbledick could answer Sevvy stepped forward. "Let her go," he said. "Promise me that she shall be unharmed and escorted back to her ship, and I will come back and marry you."
"Agreed." said Dumbledick and lowered his broomstick for Sevvy to mount up behind him, then flew off back towards the capital.
Miony considered her options. She might be able to take a couple of dozen before they overpowered her but..
"Come, madam," said Volden. "We must get you to your ship."
"We are both men of the world. Well, I'm a woman and you're whatever you are. Lies do not become us."
"Well said, madam." And as one the guards let lose Stupefy spells and she fell senseless to the ground.
Miony woke up chained to a slab in an underground dungeon. All around her were wooden arms ending in wands, all pointing at her. The arms seemed to be connected to a device at her feet. It was a wooden box topped with a large ruby that gently pulsed with light. On the front of the box was a dial numbered from zero to ten. The dial currently stood at zero.
A scruffy albino sidled over to her and ran his grubby finger over her cheek. Grinning inanely he left the room only to return a few minutes later with the Man-with-no-Nose.
"Thank-you, Black. I've been looking forward to this."
The albino nodded and stood out of his master's way.
"I hope you intend to kill me now," said Miony. "It will be much the worse for you otherwise."
"Oh you will die —eventually. But before then you will be begging me to end your life. Allow me to introduce you to the Cruciatus Machine."
Volden turned the dial to one. The ruby started to pulse faster and the wands began to glow as they filled with magical energy . Suddenly, one of the wands fired and Miony's body was filled with agony beyond anything she had felt before. Her back arched and she writhed against her bonds. Then it eased. A second wand fired restoring the pain. As it diminished a third wand. Then a forth, a fifth, a never ending sequence of pain, relief and more pain.
Volden turned the dial back to zero and the wands ceased firing.
"Ingenious, isn't it. I designed it myself. Now here's the clever bit."
He set the dial to two. The ruby pulsed a little faster than before and the wands started firing again. Suddenly, just as Miony was beginning to be able to brace herself against the incoming bolt of pain, two wands fired at once. The pain was excruciating, greater than double that of a single wand. It started to ease and another wand fired. Then another and another, then two, then one then two again.
"It's totally random when the double burst will come. You could be under it for hours and only get single shots, or you could be subjected to a constant barrage of double attacks. You would never know which would come next. Setting three introduces random triple bursts into the mix and so on. A strong man might be able to endure level five. Nobody has ever managed to survive level seven. I'll just leave it on two for the moment but I'm sure we can try the other settings later."
* * *
Sevvy was firmly escorted back to his suite by an honour guard of elite palace soldiers. It was clear that he was now a prisoner as much as a guest. Dumbledick was waiting for him.
"Hurry and get cleaned up and changed, my boy. I've had the wedding brought forward so that there are no risks of further upsets."
Sevvy ate a little of the fruit that had been left on his table and then bathed. It wasn't as if he had anything else to do at the moment and besides, he still stank from the Fire Swamp.
When he came out he found that a new set of bright orange robes had been laid out ready for the ceremony. He dressed and then transfigured the robed into his more usual black. He might have no choice about this wedding but he certainly wasn't going to let Dumbledick have it all his own way.
* * *
Inigo lay in a drunken stupor using the ostrich as a pillow when he thought he heard someone calling his name.
"Lheave me alone." He slurred.
A splash of cold liquid hit him in the face and he sat up, instantly alert, to find Fezzgrid about to empty the rest of his bucket over him.
"Ees OK. Ees OK."
Fezzgrid threw the rest of the bucket anyway,
Inigo spluttered. "Hyou deedn't haf to do that. I deedn't need a face full of water."
"Oh, that wasn't water. Oi always find fresh niffler urine to be the more refreshin' when you need to wake up in a hurry."
Inigo turned somewhat green and was promptly sick.
"Oi shouldn't have said that, should Oi," mused Fezzgrid.
"Hwhat do hyou want?"
"Oi thought you'd like to know, Oi've found the Man-with-no-Nose."
This got Inigo's attention. "You haf, where?"
"'E works for Dumbledick. Dumbledick's 'avin' his wedding to that nice young lad this arfternoon an' the Man-with-no-Nose is actin' as 'is best man."
"So close! But they will haf extra guards at the palace, too many for us to take at once. Hwe need a plan."
"Oi could make a plan." Inigo scowled at him. "Or maybe not."
"Weazzini is dead so hwe need the person who got the better of heem. Hwe need the Girl-in-Black."
* * *
Volden was sat watching Miony writhing in agony when Dumbledick entered the dungeon. He had the machine set to level four but she stubbornly refused to cry out or beg for release.
Dumbledick walked over to the machine and turned the dial back to zero.
"I just wanted to let you know what's going to happen to your precious Sevvy. Within the hour he and I will be married and there will be great rejoicing in Twosickle, since he has become well loved by the people. Then this evening, after I have consummated our relationship, he will be unfortunately murdered by spies from the Muggle Empire. This will cause outrage and when, in my grief, I call for revenge, not a wizard in the realm will gainsay me and I will be free to invade the Empire and put the Muggles in their place once and for all!"
Miony managed to form a gob of saliva and spat at Dumbledick. She missed but insult was taken.
"Bitch." He yelled and spun the dial on the machine so hard that it passed the ten setting. Instantly all of the wands started firing in unison, again and again and again. Meanwhile, the ruby started pulsing faster and faster until the room was filled with a strobing red light. Volden appeared to move in slow motion as he tried to reach the controls, at which point the ruby exploded and the wands stopped.
Dumbledick looked over the smoking remains of the machine. "Oops!"
"You killed her," said Volden dejectedly. "Now I've got no-one to play with."
"Well, we both knew she would have to die sooner rather than later," Dumbledick replied. "Tell you what, as a special treat I'll let you be the one to kill Sevvy later, but right now I need my best man."
* * *
Never had such crowds been seen as those who gathered for the wedding of Dumbledick and Sevvy Prince. Those fortunate enough to be near the front could just about see him, surrounded by guards as he was, as he made his way to the cathedral.
The ceremony was presided over by an elderly wizard in a green bowler hat, and at the moment he pronounced them 'man and er, man', all the bells in the kingdom began to ring out in celebration. Dumbledick presented his bride to the crowd and then the whole wedding party Apparated back to the palace for the nuptial feast.
* * *
Fezzgrid and Inigo arrived in the woods at the edge of the palace just as the albino was finishing digging a grave. The Girl-in-Black sat slumped in a wheelbarrow to one side. Seeing the two men, the albino dropped his shovel and climbed out of the hole. The air shimmered and he was replaced by a huge, snarling, white hound.
Fezzgrid reached into his pouch and pulled out a couple of bludgers. He waved them in front of the dog. Then threw them into the woods. "Good boy! Fetch!"
The white hound wagged his tail and bounded after the flying balls.
The pair crossed to the wheelbarrow and began to examine the Girl-in-Black.
A white blur and a crashing through the undergrowth announced the return of the dog. He reared up on his hind lugs and planted his fore paws firmly on Inigo's shoulders before dropping two slobber covered objects at his feet.
"'E wants you to kick 'is balls." Fezzgrid observed.
The air shimmered once again and the albino dropped to the ground clutching his crotch in obvious agony.
"That weren't what Oi 'ad in mind, but it seems to have done the trick!"
Inigo stilled the albino with a sharp tap to the back of the head and turned to Fezzgrid.
"Oi'm sorry. She's dead. Oi think you need to give up on this revenge idea."
"No my friend, " Inigo replied solemnly, "what Hi need now ees a miracle."
In a small hovel on the edge of the woods lived Miracle Min. She had held the post of Great Panjandrum in the court of the old king, before Dumbledick came to power, and had been known as a wise and kindly soul who thought only of the good of the people and advised her king to do likewise. Naturally Dumbledick had had her banished. Now she eked out a living providing small cures and charms for those too poor to go to the traders in the city.
It was to Miracle Min that Inigo and Fezzgrid brought the Girl-in-Black.
After some arguing Min opened the door and Fezzgrid carried Miony in and laid her out on the kitchen table. Min examined the body and cast a couple of spells over her. Then she turned to the others.
"Well, there's good news. Your friend isn't dead. She's just mostly dead. The question is why should I help her?"
"Hi need her to get me into the palace," said Inigo.
"Sure you do," replied Min. "But would she want to come back just to help you? I mean, what's in it for her?"
Min fetched the bellows from the hearth and pushed them between Miony's lips. She pumped air into her lungs, removed the bellows and pressed lightly on Miony's chest."
A low gasp escaped from Miony's throat along with the word 'Ruelov.'
"Did hyou hear?" Asked Inigo. "True Love. Surely the most noble of causes."
"Pha! True Love is very over-rated. She'll need more than that." Min pressed down again.
"Revenge. That's more promising. Revenge on whom?" She went to press again but Miony was already speaking.
"Revenge on Dumbledick. Why didn't you say in so the first place. We'll have you up and about in no time." Min went over to the fireplace and started beating an old armchair with a cushion, "Horace! Wake up! We've got work to do."
The chair stood up and changed into a portly old man.
"What is it, Min?"
"Girl on the table. Mostly dead. Need a restorative."
Horace nodded. "Ah, I'll get my cauldron. You fetch the niffler urine"
The two worked together over the potion while Inigo and Fezzgrid waited in silence. Later Horace came over to them.
"I don't suppose either of you has a lobster?"
"No, sorry. Do you need it for the potion?"
"Well it would make it taste better, but really I'm just getting hungry. Never mind." He went back to work.
Eventually Min brought a steaming vial over to the table, opened Miony's mouth and poured the contents down her throat.
"This should take about an hour to work and she'll be very weak when she comes round so don't let her get excited or anything."
Inigo pumped her hand "Thank hyou, oh thank hyou. What do we owe hyou?"
"If it'll hurt that bastard in the palace then it's paid in full. Otherwise three chickens."
"Hi haf an ostrich, would that do?"
Min nodded, dumbfounded.
* * *
They had just reached the palace gate when the Girl-in-Black started to wake up. Quickly, Inigo outlined their position while Miony nodded sagely (and not because she was having trouble keeping her head upright at all). "Please," he added, "will hyou help us?"
"What resources do we have?" She asked.
"My skill, Fezzgrid's strength and hyour brains."
"Hmm, not much to go on. What about the guards?"
"At least forty inside the gate. I could handle maybe twhenty, Fezzgrid another dozen but the rest..."
"Then gentlemen, I fear there is nothing we can do. I cannot even hold a wand, let alone take on the remaining eight guards. If only we had a wheelbarrow and an invisibility cloak."
"But you're sat in a wheelbarrow," put in Fezzgrid.
"And I haf an invisibility cloak. Miracle Min gave eet to me. She said she borrowed it from Dumbledick when she had to leave in a hurry. He was given it by the Man-with-no-Nose who had brought eet back from Spain, so we think eet may haf been my father's."
"Well why didn't you say so," said the Girl-in-Black and painfully lifted her arms to draw the others into a conspiratorial huddle.
* * *
By the time they were ready Miony was able to sit up in the wheelbarrow without help and was starting to get back the use of her arms. Inigo had tied her wand in her hand to make sure she didn't drop it should she need to use it and she cast a Silencio over the three of them for practice. Then Inigo threw his cloak over them, and with Fezzgrid pushing the barrow they made their way unheard and unseen passed the assembled guards in the courtyard.
They soon found a door into the palace, but were unable to get the barrow through it. Fezzgrid was all for carrying Miony, but she was determined to try to stand. Her legs were still weak but held her weight and, with occasional support, she was able to walk again.
The three companions rounded a corner to find their way blocked by a squad of Dumbledick's elite guards. Inigo leapt forward, drawing his wand as he went. Before the guards could react, he was among them casting Stupefy after Stupefy in such rapid succession that all but one lay on the floor before any had had a chance to draw his own wand.
Inigo chased the remaining guard around another corner and straight into the Man-with-no-Nose.
Inigo stopped dead in his tracks. His lifelong search was over. He raised his wand in salute to his foe.
"Hello! My name ees Inigo Monpotter! Hyou keel my father. Hyou keel my mother. Hyou keel our cat, hyou keel the house-elves, hyou keel the postman on hyour way out and you keel... He's buggered off."
* * *
Fezzgrid led Miony to the apartment from which Weazzini had kidnapped Sevvy. The guards at the door soon saw the advantage of sleeping over fighting and the door itself was surprisingly unlocked. They opened the door, and Sevvy would have smashed a chamber pot over Miony's head had not her legs given out as she stepped into the room.
She got back up and the two lovers embraced while Fezzgrid went off to look for Inigo who they had last seen running off down the corridors in pursuit of Count Volden.
The pair sat on the bed and Miony reached out her hand to stroke his cheek and nearly put his eye out because she had forgotten that she still had her wand tied to it. Sevvy didn't seem to mind though but just sat looking dejected.
"Oh Miony," he said. " I fear you are too late for I have been married to Dumbledick."
"That was no true marriage," she replied. "Why, the very stones of this castle would crumble away rather than play host to such a crime against True Love."
"Bollocks!" Came a voice.
They turned to see that Dumbledick had entered the room carrying a large pot of lube. He dropped it and went for his wand.
"Not so fast!" Cried Miony, more glad than ever that her own wand was still tied to her hand. "Don't start a fight that you can only lose."
"Oh, a fight to the death is it?" He taunted.
"No. To the pain. First I cut off your feet to stop you running away. Then your hands so you cannot use a wand. Then your tongue, just in case."
"And then my eyes and my ears. I get the idea. Look, I killed you once and I can do it as many times as I have to."
Miony got shakily to her feet and waved her wand at Dumbledick. "I will not let you kill Sevvy just as an excuse to start a war with the Muggles."
"What?" Yelled Sevvy. "Well sod you, you old bastard!" And he grabbed his own wand from the bedside table. "Avada Kedavra!"
Dumbledick was surrounded by a nimbus of green light and fell dead to the floor.
Miony looked at Sevvy.
Sevvy looked at Miony.
It was at that point that Fezzgrid and Inigo burst into the room along with the wizard in the green hat who had presided over the wedding. Inigo was clutching a heavily bleeding wound on his side but was smiling the satisfied smile of vengeance managed.
The three looked from Dumbledick to the pair and back again.
"Um," said Sevvy. "He tripped."
The wizard in the green hat examined the corpse. "Totally dead," he declared. "Too much excitement for someone of his age, no doubt. I'm afraid there is only one thing I can do now." He cast a Sonorus charm so that his voice could be heard across the entire kingdom.
"DUMBLEDICK IS DEAD! BY RIGHT OF MARRIAGE, LONG LIVE KING SEVERUS THE FIRST OF TWOSICKLE!"
* * *
So it was that Sevvy became king and, after a short period of mourning, married his True Love.
At their wedding feast Inigo, now healed of his wounds came to speak to the happy couple. "Fezzgrid and Hi are leafing in the morning. Hwe are men of action and the soft palace life does not suit us."
"Where will you go?" Asked Sevvy.
"Hi don' know," he replied, "but Hi sure hwe find something."
"You know," said Miony. "There does seem to be a vacancy for a Dread Pirate Rowlings at the moment. I think you'd look good in a skirt!"