Author: Faust VII PM
A series of crossovers, all featuring Harry Potter in some way, shape, or form. Various genres including romance, adventure, drama, and so on. Sixteenth Story; Harry Potter/Ranma 1/2Rated: Fiction K+ - English - & Harry P. - Chapters: 18 - Words: 61,061 - Reviews: 272 - Favs: 514 - Follows: 495 - Updated: 02-22-13 - Published: 10-17-10 - id: 6407181
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Ukyo Kuonji gave a nod to herself as she swept the last of the dust on the doorstep up. Dumping it in the garbage she took a moment to lean on her broom and enjoy the early morning sun. It would be a warm day today with the sun shining and a slight breeze in the air. She glanced about the street as she set her broom against the door and wasn't surprised to see very little people out. It was still early and most people would be at home either getting ready for work or school. There was only one person currently out in the street with her.
The man wasn't very tall as far as she could see, but he was also sitting, making only hints of height through arm length and torso size. He was wearing well worn clothes that looked as if they had been worked in and washed a few too many times. A hole or two here in the jeans, a scruffy shirt that was missing a button and was colorless at the elbow underneath a ragged emerald sweater that was loosening at the sleeve, a well worn pair of sneakers that looked quite tattered, and to top it off a red toque that looked as if it had never been made well to begin with. The man had dark hair that curled about his head, peeking out under the toque and covering his face in a scraggly beard. Glasses shielded his eyes and looked to have been broken in half by the tap in the middle.
All in all the man looked quite down on his luck sitting on a bench this early and just looking at the rising sun as if he had nothing better to do. Ukyo felt a pang of sympathy for the man. She herself had been down on her luck like that once or twice. After Genma had swindled her and her father and she had set off to regain her family honor, she had been penniless. Only her skills at cooking and martial arts had saved her from the streets most of the time. And even that hadn't been enough at times. She could remember one harsh winter further North when she'd found no one in a village willing to bet on a fighting match for a meal, or who wanted her cooking skills in return for a warm bed.
And she could not make fun of him for his shabby clothing. Though hers were in better condition most were quite old or second hand. She just took meticulous care of them. So she smiled at him and gave a wave of greeting which he returned hesitantly. She made a note, as she stepped back into her store, to invite him in and give him a discount on some okonomiyaki if he was still there when she started cooking.
He was back on the bench she noted. The man she had taken to calling Scruffy in her mind was once again taking residence on the bench out across the street from her shop, as he had been doing in the past five days. He stayed there most of the day, watching the people around him, watching her shop, and just relaxing it appeared. Ukyo felt she should be creeped out but it was hard when the man didn't give off anything more than just a relaxed air.
That and the fact she had watched him shoo some vandals away from her store the other day. Well he had just stood there and glared at them before she could smack them with a spatula and they had run off before spray painting a wall. He didn't seem to have any bad intentions and really, she could tell he wasn't a martial artist so if he meant any harm she could whoop his ass. Konatsu had already offered to deal with him too but Ukyo had waved the ninja away easily enough.
"Hey!" She yelled at Scruffy.
He started, as if not expecting that and glanced around.
"You." She snapped. "Are you going to come in or just continue watching? I don't care how broke you are, I'll give you a discount."
He blinked at her revealing startling green eyes that marked him as having at least some foreign blood. No one in Nermia had eyes that brilliant green. Slowly he stood and gave he a look of askance, to which she crossed her arms impatiently. He crossed the road and she waved him in. When he was seated and she was frying up an Okonomiyaki he finally smiled at her. And for a moment she paused surprised. It was such a youthful, happy smile that she felt herself smiling back.
She had been right. This man meant no harm.
"So Scruffy," She asked after the third day of his hanging out in her store, eating okonomiyaki at the pace of a snail, "How did you stumble upon your string of bad luck? Fired? Never had a job to begin with."
He blinked at her around a mouthful and tilted his head as if confused. Konatsu hovered behind her, trying to act subtle but obviously listening in.
"Bad luck?" He asked.
And she was quite startled to hear him speak in fact. He hadn't said a word to her yet but then again she hadn't actually questioned him. But now that he did she could hear the thick accent in his voice marking him more easily as a foreigner. What country he hailed from she couldn't quite pinpoint.
"No bad luck." He shook his head. "Travel."
His words were short and clipped showing he had very little knowledge of the language. That might explain why he hadn't spoken before this point.
"So, seeing the world. You must work hard for your tickets and then travel a lot on foot."
He scrunched up his nose, a few crumbs falling from his beard at the twitch and then gave her a thoughtful look.
"Yes?" he finally agreed, as if unsure of his answer.
"Do you even know what I asked?" She chuckled
"Yes." He nodded more surely. "Understand well. Talk not."
She smiled at him and he smiled back.
"Well, for however long you're staying here you're welcome to come to my shop every day!" She beamed giving him a hearty smile.
He smiled and set a precious few coins on the counter to pay for his meal. It was much cheaper than her usual fee but it must have been precious money for the man. And he came every day without fail and hung around for a long time. She was getting used to his presence. Her cute little ninja assistant was too, his offers to deal with the man not reappearing.
"So what's your name Scruffy?" She asked as she flipped an okonomiyaki.
It had hit her just last night when she waved him away for closing that she didn't know the man's name. It had almost made her feel ashamed to realize she'd not thought to ask. But what was forgotten was remembered and so she asked now, not letting the feeling of guilt make her forlorn. She had remember and that's all that mattered in this situation. Besides, he didn't seem to mind.
"Harry." He grinned at her, showing pearly white teeth all set straight.
She supposed he was either blessed with perfect teeth or had at one point had work done on them. She was betting on the former. She snapped from her observations of his teeth and raised a brow.
"Hari?" She asked.
"Close." He nodded.
"Well, if you don't mind I'll continue calling you Scruffy." She said. "I've grown fond of the name."
And she really didn't want to be mispronouncing his obviously foreign name every time, even if only slightly.
"You may call whatever you want." He beamed at her.
She blushed slightly at how happy he seemed that she had a nickname for him. He was such a kind man and she suspected most others would have snapped at her for calling them such a ridiculous, almost offending name.
It was nice having Scruffy around. It truly was. He stayed most for the day, nibbling on the food, picking at it like a bird and stretching one plate of okonomiyaki over a good hour or two. Since speaking with him a few days earlier she had started to chat at the man constantly. When there was those periods of emptiness between customers she would find herself nattering on and on, sitting on a stool across from him. It was mostly meaningless stuff, telling him about Japan and the town, and random battles. She told him a bit of herself more in the form of her martial arts training and her plans to snatch Ranma from the Tendo's. She even nattered on about okonomiyaki at times, giving him detailed instructions on how to make it.
"Sauce, home-made?" He asked her curiously as she showed him how to apply it.
"Of course." she grinned. "Here, spread like this."
She showed him and then handed him the brush. He pushed his stool back and stood to take it, peering down at the sizzling okonomiyaki with a look of supreme concentration. He hesitated over the food, the brush pausing before he pressed it to the food and slowly drew it over. She held back a laugh at how concentrated he was on the task and how carefully he did it.
"Whatcha doing Ucchan?"
She gave a near scream and spun, throwing a small spatula automatically. Ranma caught it and handed it back to her grinning.
"You lout!" She laughed slapping him good naturedly. "I'm showing Scruffy a few things if you must know."
"Scruffy?" He asked raising a brow at the man behind her.
Scruffy frowned at Ranma, the brush in one hand and ignoring the okonomiyaki.
"Ran-chan, this is Scruffy. Scruffy, this Ranma, my fiancé I was telling you about."
She pointedly ignored Ranma's wince at the word and how a slight tension rose in the air.
"Well, I was just stopping to tell you you didn't miss much at school today." Ranma said flipping over the counter. "I'd better be off though."
She nodded to the school part. Working four days a week to make a good income meant skipping at least two days of school a week which wasn't too bad since she didn't need to go to learn how to make a living, as she already did.
"Stay!" She ushered. "I'll make you some super special Okonomiyaki."
He crumbled at the promise of food and she got him to stay for close to an hour. He was soon poking fun at Scruffy and Ukyo, and laughing with her as he told Scruffy stories of battles. But he did leave in the end, like he always did leaving them alone again. She watched him go, sighing.
"Fiancé? Marry?" Scruffy asked, slowly.
"Yes. Hopefully. Maybe." She said looking down, feeling tears in her eyes.
"You love him?" Scruffy stumbled over the words.
"I suppose." She said. "His father promised his hand to me when I was a child in return for our livelihood. But then he ran off. I tracked them down here and I expected Ranma to accept me. But he hasn't. Not yet anyways. He will. He has to. To restore both our honor."
Scruffy watched her with a solemn face.
"Don't look so serious!" She laughed. "It'll work out."
The look he gave her made her shiver. It said he didn't believe that for a moment. It also said that he knew that she also knew, somewhere deep down, that it wouldn't either.
"In here!" Ukyo smiled, stepping from the back room and wiping her hands on her apron.
Her expression tilted just slightly at the sight of Akane. Without Ranma. That was rare. Akane usually didn't come to her restaurant unless Ranma dragged her with him.
"Hello." She greeted civilly. "What can I get you?"
"Ah! Whatever you're making right now I guess." She said glancing at the frying Okonomiyaki.
"Sure." Ukyo nodded pouring the batter onto the frying plate beside the ones simmering for Scruffy. "Did you want something?"
"Huh!" Akane jolted form her thoughts, having been glancing about. "Oh, nothing really. Ranma just said you were hanging out with a guy last week."
And that was her concern why? Was she hopeful that Ukyo had her sights on someone else?
"Sorry to burst your bubble but I'm still aiming for Ranma." Ukyo said cheerfully. "He was probably just speaking about Scruffy."
"The man in the corner?" Akane asked lowering her voice.
Ukyo glanced at Scruffy who was sweeping for her. She'd bullied him into doing a few chores a day ago, and for some homeless traveler, he was very adept at cleaning it seemed.
"Yes." She said. "He's nice."
"Looks a bit…rough?" Akane asked, worried.
Ukyo snorted her anger out in the form of a laugh. How dare Akane judge someone just because they didn't look prim and perfect? She didn't know Scruffy.
"And half of us don't?" Ukyo asked instead of voicing her thoughts. "Ryoga looks just as bad when he gets back from his trips most of the time. Even Ranma's pretty close. It's probably the beard throwing you off."
Akane gave her a look that said she didn't agree, but she must have seen some of Ukyo's thoughts cause she kept her mouth shut for the rest of her brief stay.
"How long are you staying in Japan, Scruffy?"
Scruffy looked up from where he was putting up a chair.
"Don't know." He mumbled. "Until I get what I stay for."
"Get what you stay for?" She asked confused at the odd wording.
"I come to see." He grinned. "But I find something I like. I stay to get it."
"Why not just take it and go?" She asked. "Don't you have anyone waiting for you?"
"People waiting yes. But they understand. I cannot take, must wait."
"Why?" She asked.
"Not nice to take people. Called kidnapping."
"You want to take someone home with you?" She gaped. "As in a person."
"Yes." He nodded eagerly.
"Why?" She asked again.
"Love at first sight." He said, his smile getting dopey.
She blushed at the announcement, feeling as if she were prying suddenly.
"Love at first sight?" She squeaked. "You fell in love with someone."
"Yes." He said, suddenly serious. "I do not wish leave without them."
"And they won't go without you?"
"Have not asked."
"They don't know." She blinked.
"No." Scruffy said, with an almost disappointed lopsided grin.
"Oh." She said, feeling a bit embarrassed to have made him say that. "Just tell them."
He stared at her for a long time.
"I will. One day."
And that was the end of that.
"So…" Ukyo said swinging her legs as she sat on the stool.
Scruffy glared at her as he wrapped a wound on her arm.
"What?" She raised a brow. "It's just a scrape. I gave that bitch worse."
Ukyo gave a silly grin at the memory. Some big fight had started over something small like usual, Ranma at the center, and somehow most of the fighters in Nermia had been dragged into it. That bitch Shampoo had tried to take a cheap shot at her back but Ukyo had been ready for it and smacked her a good one.
"You are good fighter." Scruffy said gruffly. "But you still hurt. Dangerous."
"It's my life." Ukyo pouted.
His face softened at the words and she realized they held sympathy.
"Your life." He agreed, letting the subject drop as he disinfected another wound.
Konatsu meanwhile hovered anxiously around them and Ukyo relaxed as she realized she felt at home with these two oddballs surrounding her in an empty dark okonomiyaki restaurant, their worry echoing in the air for her.
"Scruffy?" She asked quietly, not wanting to disturb the peace about them.
Scruffy had been sitting on the bench outside of her shop all day, not coming in even when she waved him in or tried to tempt him with free Okonomiyaki. He just sat like a stone, staring at the shop with a look of thoughtfulness. And every time she came into view he would switch that look to her. It was getting a bit unnerving.
"You didn't come in today." She said. "You've come in everyday for the past three weeks, but not today?"
He blinked as if waking and stared at her with clever green eyes. They seemed to spark behind his smudged glasses as he stared into her own eyes. She refused to back down and soon they were engaged n a staring contest.
Finally Scruffy blinked and broke into a wide, soft smile that spoke of compassion and gentleness. He patted the bench seat next to him. She sat slowly knowing he had something to say. He leaned back though and gazed at the setting sun over her rooftop.
"Is not beautiful?" He asked. "Pretty and wild."
She nodded wondering where he was going.
"I see sunset all round world." He smiled at her. "India, America, Russia, Africa, china, Britian. But here most beautiful. You know why?"
"Why?" She asked wondering how Japan could be different then a mountain in India or the plains of Africa or such.
"Because you with me."
She blinked, taken back. She had not expected that answer. She stared at him, mouth opening to say something and coming up with nothing. She snapped her jaw shut and stared at him. He smiled at her, beaming that wide youthful smile full of happiness and freedom. Then he took her hands and squeezed them gently, kissing the backs of them. She blushed wildly at the intimate gesture.
"Love at first sight." He smiled. "I see you fighting and think beautiful. Then I see you cooking, smiling, and think nothing could be more beautiful. I see you, and I feel love. I do not go home because I wish not to go alone."
She stared at him, wide eyed. And for a moment she forgot to breathe. Her face felt on fire. Never had she heard such words from a man. She had heard them from a woman once, but they had not been half as sincere and she had thought Ukyo male.
"You…you love me?" She blinked. "That's why you stayed? You love me?"
"Yes. I love you." He murmured, looking at her with such hopeful wide eyes.
And she stared at him, unable to comprehend this for a long few moments. She thought on it hard and tried to come up with a response. This kind, compassionate man, who was hard working and caring and just all around gentle, was admitting he loved her. He knew she loved Ranma, knew she had a finace, and still he told her.
"I'm sorry," She muttered, feeling horrible about the blunt response about to come out, "I have a fiancé, you know this."
"I know." He said simply. "And I know you will follow him. But I will wait for you. Should it be years upon years I shall wait here at your back, ready to pick you up or to hand you your flowers for your wedding to him. I will wait and I will never stop loving you."
"You…" She said at a loss, tears rising in her eyes.
This man had just preached his eternal love for her, and in the same breathe said he loved her enough to let Ranma have her if that made her happy. Never had someone been so unselfish when regarding her. She had never had such a person come and give her love and compassion and listen to her and never expect something in return. Her father expected her to regain their family honor at any cost, hell, even Ran-chan expected something from her be it a sympathetic ear or free okonomiyaki.
And she had turned him down flat. She felt something burn in her at this, something that made her want to cry. Instead she gently pulled her hands from his and
"You'll be waiting a while." She tried to joke, but it came out flat.
"I'm fine waiting." He smiled. "I'll wait forever."
So she left him waiting on the bench, feeling his eyes on her back and knowing he was being completely honest with his words. He would wait.
It was a bit awkward for the first few days after Scruffy's confession. She was hyper-aware of him and more than once jumped to put distance between them. But he just gave understanding smiles and made more distance himself. He was respectful of her and the new widened boundaries. And in the end that was all that was needed to make her relax again.
She wouldn't forget his words, they rung in her ears almost every time she glanced at him. And because of this she saw the more tender looks he threw her and the gentle way he seemed to treat her. She hadn't noticed before but he was a bit… rougher, more blunt with others. He didn't bother to talk to them or soften his voice and move more delicately like did with her. And it made her smile each and every time.
So it wasn't quite a surprised to her when one day she thought she could love this man back. Ranma was still at the front but Scruffy suddenly rose from friend to more. She became much more comfortable around him, even had the courage to ask him things like 'why did he like here' and 'what did he see them as'. She asked him all manner of questions, much more intimate then previous. And still he gave that soft smile and stayed a comfortable distance away, never stepping over the boundary.
And so the days continued. And he still waited and she still held out for Ranma. Actually it sounded kind of depressing like that when it really wasn't. It was fine.
"Where am I now!"
Ukyo snorted at the familiar cry and brushed her hands on her apron, popping out the door to find Ryoga looking around confused, map in one hand, gifts in other.
"Nermia, Ryoga." She said, making him jump in surprise. "Want some okonomiyaki?"
"Oh, it's you." He scowled.
Scruffy, who had followed her, glared at him for his tone.
"You be polite. She polite, so you should be." He said waving his broom sternly at the man.
Ryoga blinked and stared at the man. Then he burst out in heaves of laughter, doubling over his huge heavy pack.
"Y-you found a boyfriend!" He giggled.
Ukyo grabbed the broom from Scruffy and leaned back before swinging full tilt at the man. Ryoga flew back and hit the wall, almost unconscious and swirls in his eyes. She huffed at him.
"You strong." Scruffy grinned at her, looking at her with this awe she had never had directed at her.
She blushed, knowing a compliment when she heard one. Some many people around here were so freakishly strong no one every glanced at it anymore. And as grudging as she was to say it, Ukyo was not near the strongest. But the look Scruffy gave her of respect and awe, even after he had seen battles she had got her ass handed to her in, made a warm pleasant feeling burn inside of her.
"Drag him inside please." She told Scruffy. "I'll call Ranma. He knows where the piggy lives."
"Curse?" Scruffy grinned, obviously remembering the tales.
Ukyo nodded grinning and handed him a bucket of cold water. A moment later scruff was setting the piglet down on a stool, his stuff about him. Ukyo just fried him up some okonomiyaki knowing Ryoga probably hadn't eaten in a while. The moron tended to go lengths without doing that for the sole reason he was usually too busy trying to figure out where he was. That and Ukyo tended to see Ryoga as one of her few friends, so it was okay to let him mooch once in a while. Besides, there had been a lull in customers and it would give the pig time to wake up and her time to talk with Scruffy like she did so often these days.
"So you are the presence I have been sensing."
Ukyo hissed, leaping up at the familiar voice. That stupid old mummy was sitting on one of her stools poking a confused Scruffy with her staff.
"What do you want hag?" Ukyo scowled.
Ukyo could respect the old Amazon for her knowledge, her skill, and her strength, but the woman just pissed her off. Not as much as Shampoo, but still enough that Ukyo was never friendly with her.
"Ranma and opponent make hole in Cat Café roof. Mousse is fixing but I wished to be somewhere dry while he did that." She shrugged.
Ukyo glanced out at the rain outside and knew that Mousse would be quite a while fixing the Café, probably already soaked and in duck form.
"Okonomiyaki then?" Ukyo frowned, pulling out a spatula.
"Yes." The elder nodded. "What's your name sonny?"
"His name is Scruffy." Ukyo spoke for the rag-a-muffin man who was peering at the woman confused.
"Hmm. He feels powerful." She said looking right back at him.
"Scruffy can't jump higher than a foot." Ukyo snorted.
"Not physically strong. Strong Ki, but not quite Ki. Too thick and potent. I sense such a thing only once before when a sorcerer come to Amazon village."
"Neat." Ukyo said, half not caring and half not believing a word the old woman sported.
Besides, Scruffy looked uncomfortable with the train of conversation and she wouldn't pry.
"Hmpf." Cologne grumped at being ignored. "At least he is stealing your attention from Ranma. Less competitions."
Ukyo scowled at the woman but said nothing knowing Cologne was goading her. Scruffy looked glad at the subject change and beamed at her as she asked him to pass her the sauce.
Ukyo sobbed into her hands as she curled in a ball behind the counter. She tried to stop, she really did, but it was hard. She had given up her femininity long ago and as such she should have given up such easy tears, but they kept coming. The soft crunch of footsteps alerted her to the fact someone had joined her in the darkened restaurant. She knew it was not Konatsu, his steps were as silent as a ninja's of course.
She covered her mouth and tried to stifle her whimpers hoping whoever it was would realize they were closed and go away. Or perhaps Konatsu would deal with them. But the steps didn't fade away and instead headed around the counter until she was looking at the silent figure, peering into bright green eyes. Just the sight of the familiar man sent a jolt through her and she suddenly couldn't hold back the torrent. She gave a wretched sob and threw herself in his arms.
"Why couldn't he pick me?" She sobbed gripping at Scruffy like a life line. "What's wrong with me?"
"Nothing." Scruffy said smoothing her hair. "Nothing wrong with you. Love just funny."
"It's not fair." She sniffled clenching her eyes as she remembered Ranma looking at her with serious dark eyes and telling her it was the end.
"No. Is not fair." Scruffy said. "Love never fair. Life never fair. But we live and move on."
"How can I?" She asked. "I loved him for years, followed him for years. And then one day he just says it's over, that he can't love me like that and leaves for Akane? I was ready to give up everything, even cooking for him and yet he doesn't even look at me!"
"Is okay." Scruffy said softly, brushing her hair from her face. "You will be okay. You are strong."
She chuckled burying her face in his chest and trying to stop the flow of tears. Somehow it was easier then when she had first tried. She breathed in the scent that clung to Scruffy, noting it was like a clean summer day for all his clothes looked worn and grubby at times. She remembered his once upon a time offer to take her away. He had promised her anything but she had said no. Said she was waiting for Ranma. And so, unlike Ukyo, he had accepted that and said he would wait or her. She had, when Ranma told her he didn't want a fiancé a few years back, had charged on. Hadn't accepted that he didn't want to marry anyone at that point and did everything she could to sabotage his relationships.
And when she looked back on that she felt ashamed.
Scruffy who had said he loved her let her go, waiting for her to return, and she who told Ranma she loved him, had grabbed him by the throat, trying to make him say he loved her. And Ranma had slipped from that grasp and left her and went to the woman who didn't try to hang onto him. Now Ranma was gone forever and even though she cried and mourned she knew it was truly over. She had no hope of getting to Ranma any longer. She had to, as Scruffy said, move on. If she didn't she would become a pathetic wretch.
But moving on was so hard. To give up on a life's effort, to give up a whole life of chasing one man, was hard. So hard she was sure the next she saw Ranma she would break down or immediately grab him again. And she really did love him, and because she loved him she would try to let go. Or else she would just hurt him. She had already ruined his wedding and she had never felt worse.
"Scruffy." She said. "No. Hari."
"Yes?" He asked, surprise at his name seeping into his tone.
"Take me away." She whispered.
He pushed her back slightly and stared at her with those deep green eyes that seemed to have a fire behind them.
"Away?" He asked, and she heard a thread of hope in his voice.
"Take me away." She repeated. "Take me to your home. Show me London."
"You sure?" He asked softly standing and pulling her to her feet.
"Yes." She said.
And she was. He broke out into this beautiful childish smile. She needed to forget Ranma and Scruffy would help her do just that. He loved her and she knew one day she could love this man too. She just had to try.
"Go pack." He whispered.
She smiled back at him and hurried off, running through what she would have to pack and what she would have to do to close the restaurant. Permanently. She had no intentions of coming back.
"Konatsu!" She shouted. "Pack up, we're heading to London!"
"A letter?" Ranma asked confused, flipping the envelope over.
It was addressed to the Tendo dojo, but had 'Nermia Wrecking Crew' instead of a specific name.
"It's from Ukyo!" Akane said surprised as she pointed to the return address.
"England!" Nabiki said just as surprised as she read over their shoulder. "So that's where the okonomiyaki girl ran off too?"
Ranma relaxed slightly a she analyzed the handwriting more and recognized it truly to be Ukyo's. When she had disappeared three months ago after the wedding with only a small note saying 'Gone; most likely for good, will try to write' nailed to her door, Ranma had panicked a bit. For all rejecting her as a fiancé, she was still a friend and he had worried. His worry was only slightly eased at the thought of her personal Konoichi with her, but Ranma had worried about the man named Scruffy.
Well not really 'worry'. He had a suspicion the man had something to do with the abrupt trip but he hadn't suspect foul play considering he knew Ukyo could whoop the strange man's ass up and down the street. It was more Akane who had worried that the man had done something to Ukyo and who had asked him late at night if he thought she was in trouble. For all Ranma wondered the same they could never check considering he knew she had left Japan but had no idea where she had headed from there. He had had to trust that she could take care of herself, and it seemed like she had.
Ranma opened the letter calmly and pulled out the only item inside, a single picture. He looked at it and blinked. Then he smiled even as Akane's mouth dropped open. He had never considered that when someone said a picture was worth a thousand words that it truly was. But looking at this single picture it summed up everything for Ranma much more than a long heartfelt letter could. All his worries and concerns were eased in a single moment as he relaxed back and chuckled to himself.
In the picture was Ukyo, he hair brushed in long flowing waves over her back, her bangs held form her face with sparkling pins. She wore a dark purple evening dress that looked absolutely amazing on her, showing off all those curves she hid behind men's clothes and an apron. Decorating each pierced ear were small studs and around her neck was a beautiful necklace that matched the earrings, the pins, and even matched the ring on her left ring finger. She had her head tilted back slightly, palm near her mouth as she laughed that evil diabolical laugh a woman made when she knew she had won and won big. In her hand was a glass of what looked like wine. And right standing next to her was an English man in a suit and tie that matched her dress, standing close enough to show intimacy. The man had wild short black hair and a clean shaven face, glasses sitting on his nose as he smiled out of the picture with burning green eyes. In the background were people dressed just as elegantly milling in a huge hall set up for what was obviously a banquet.
Everything, and Ranma meant everything, from the glasses to the drinks to the clothes to the platters, looked hellishly expensive, and Ranma knew expensive after having dealt with Nabiki. And if Ranma wasn't mistaken, all of Ukyo's jewelry looked like precious stones. And the ring looked quite like a wedding ring.
Ranma was quite sure he knew who the man beside Ukyo was too, standing beside her and looking at her with a look of adoration and respect that spoke of love. Ranma knew of one other who looked at her like that, and Scruffy had disappeared with her.
"Holy fuck." Nabiki gaped. "She struck it rich! If I had known that homeless bum was actually some rich lord I would have seduced him myself."
Akane was gaping at the picture still.
"There's something on the back." Ryoga noted having been peering over the picture.
Ranma flipped it over and a smile twitched wider on his lips till it was a full out grin.
"Ah, seems Ucchan is doing fine." Ranma said laughing himself silly.
There was only one sentence on the back of the picture and it said just as much as the picture itself:
'Screw you Nermia!'