A Witch and an Amazon Walk into a Bar...
A response to Blood Brandy's Vegas Vacation Challenge.
A/N: This idea originated as part of my Harry Potter Story Fluffle fic, a collection of first chapters of possible stories, and it's the first to graduate to become a full story (the original draft is still there, if you want to go back and compare). This fic will be 24 chapters plus an epilogue and will be about 170,000 words. I started it back in February, 2016, and am happy that I finished in time to start publishing as the Wonder Woman movie is being released!
It's important to note upfront that this is an AU Wonder Woman who isn't precisely like any of her canon incarnations, though I try to incorporate as much relevant canon as possible. She's younger and less experienced than any of them, though perhaps closest in age to her incarnation in the New 52 continuity. Her origin story (as well as that of the Amazons generally) is mostly from the Modern Age comic run after Crisis on Infinite Earths. In my own mind, I've modelled her after the large, strong, Amazonian Wonder Woman drawn by nebezial (stjepan sejic) on DeviantArt. Look for the images "Morning Warmup" and "Death by Snu Snu."
Despite being AU, though, I'm writing Wonder Woman as a typical superhero: she's not someone who changes much internally, but rather inspires others to change. Consider Captain America in the recent Marvel films — his goals and values are constant from beginning to end.
As always, thanks to Bonnie for beta reading this and making it much better than it would have been had I simply been left to my own devices. Thanks also to Nicolás Farinasso for giving permission to use his work for the cover image. This is only a cropped version; you can see the full image on his Deviant Art page: nicofari deviantart com/art/Wonder-Woman-561744120
You can also find more of his art on his Instagram account: nicofari art.
Recommendation: Dahlia Evans & the Broken Bridge, by Forensica X. There is no "Girl Who Lived" because everyone believes that Lily and James' daughter died that night. Instead, she was taken to an orphanage where she languishes for years before finally being adopted by the Grangers. And that's just the start of many, many changes from canon! This is well written and different from most fics, so it's worth reading. Dahlia/Hermione.
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter, JK Rowling does. I don't own Wonder Woman, DC does.
Chapter 01 - Beginner's Luck
Friday, August 2, 1996. Excalibur Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada.
Rose paused outside the casino bar and scrutinized herself in one of the many mirrors, self-consciously running her hands over her face as she made sure she still looked like a woman in her mid-twenties. She did, though the bright neon and flashing lights did absolutely nothing for her skin. Between the glamors and her magically created fake ID, she didn't expect to have any trouble being served alcohol. That didn't mean she wasn't nervous, however. The laws in magical North America were generally less restrictive than in magical Britain — for example, they allowed people to use magic outside of school starting at the age of fifteen, not seventeen — but she didn't want to run afoul of muggle laws.
A glance over her shoulder confirmed that Remus was still at the craps table, tossing back another free drink while some bimbo in a barely-there red dress blew on his hand for luck. Rose was tempted to be annoyed that he was doing such a lousy job watching over her, but that would defeat the purpose of getting away. She wanted to drink in peace and maybe forget about the past year — especially how it had ended.
It wasn't Remus' fault, and she tried not to blame him, but it was hard. They'd come to America to get away from the pressure in Britain, yet ever since their arrival he'd been hovering over her, almost smothering her, which wasn't much of an improvement.
Sometimes she wondered what would happen if she took off and never looked back. She knew she shouldn't, but the temptation was there. And growing. Let them solve their own problems instead of dumping everything on her.
He needs this vacation as much as I do, she thought, straightening her back and squinting as she entered the dimly-lit bar. And if that's his way of letting off some steam, who am I to complain? We'll see who's in better shape in the morning. Besides, I just turned sixteen! The dinner and cake Remus organized were nice, but I'm old enough now to do something more adult. I deserve to enjoy life while I can. Who knows how much longer I've got?
Her attempt to act like an adult hit a major stumbling block — literally, when Rose started wobbling on heels that were much higher than she was accustomed to. She'd only chosen them to help reinforce the impression of being older; certainly nobody wore them for comfort. Without Remus' arm to steady her, though, they threatened to undermine all her efforts.
Suddenly her ankle twisted out from under her, so she lunged for the nearest stool at the bar and sat down with barely hidden relief. It was only when the bartender approached her with a questioning look that she realized there was someone sitting immediately to her left. Rose froze for a second, weighing the propriety of sitting right next to someone in a mostly-empty bar against the propriety of getting up and moving after having already sat down.
She nearly did move, but a painful twitch in her ankle stopped that cold. How did I even make it down here from my room? She reached down to rub her ankle, but the bartender clearing his throat drew her attention back to why she'd left her room in the first place.
"Uh..." She cursed silently at not having planned ahead for what to order. What did she know about drinking at a bar? After a much-too-long pause, she finally said, "Piña Colada?" She had no idea what it was, but Petunia had sung a song about them more than once when she thought no one was listening, and it was the only cocktail she knew by name. Once she sipped it, the creamy, sweet flavors surprised her. Wow! I thought alcoholic drinks were harsh or something, but this is yummy! Rose sucked it down in just a few seconds, eagerly ordering another. She drank half of that in one gulp before slowing down enough to taste it again. And play with the little paper umbrella.
"You keep that up and you'll be drunker 'n me," came a voice from her left. The rich alto was a bit slurred but unmistakably female. Frowning, Rose turned towards the stranger and was surprised that she had to look up to see the woman's face, she was so large. Rose's glamor spell only affected her features, not her height, so she was still quite petite — that was why she needed the stupid high heels. Even so, the woman next to her was impressively big.
"Maybe that's the point?" Rose retorted, earning her a slight smirk she interpreted as condescending. As if I don't get that already from the rest of the adults in my life, she thought sourly. Why can't anyone let me make my own decisions for a change? They expect me to fight and die for them, but they don't give me enough freedom to make any choices for myself.
"Yeah?" the woman asked, and Rose nodded once. "Well, then, here's to getting drunk," she continued, turning slightly on her barstool and holding up her own drink, a short glass of dusty-brown liquid. Rose hesitated for a moment, then mirrored the gesture, clinking glasses and downing the rest of her drink while her companion did the same. The woman, who looked as though she was barely old enough to drink herself, wasn't just tall, but large all over: broad shoulders, strong arms, thick chest, everything. Yet she didn't look masculine at all, even if having her dark hair in such a tight ponytail made her face a bit too severe. No, Rose thought she was quite beautiful and feminine, yet also powerful and dangerous. It was a combination she'd never encountered before, and she found herself unexpectedly attracted to the stranger.
After the way her fifth year had ended, she'd sworn that she'd never allow herself to experience such feelings again, but her hormones were refusing to follow orders.
"Two more!" the woman called out as she plunked her glass on the bar, and the bartender efficiently replaced their drinks.
"Thanks," Rose said, but the other waved her hand dismissively.
"Not a problem. You look like you need it as much as I do."
"Yeah, kinda," Rose said softly, then she gathered up her courage and turned back to the woman, holding out her hand. "My name's Rose — Rose Potter."
The brunette smiled a bit blearily as she held out her own hand. "Nice to meet you, Rose-Rose Potter. I'm Diana Prince." Rose wasn't surprised at how strong her grip was, nor at how her own hand was practically lost in the other woman's. No, what surprised her was how warm and comfortable Diana's hand felt — so comfortable that Rose felt a pang of regret when she had to let go.
As she sat there and drank, she kept sneaking looks at the woman, wondering what her story was. How did she come to be so incredibly fit? Why did she want to get drunk in a Vegas bar? It can't be as bad as what I've been going through, can it?
It wasn't until she'd nearly finished her third drink that she got up the courage to ask. "So, uh, what are you looking to get away from? Or forget?"
Diana gave her a measuring look, and several long moments passed in silence. Rose started to fidget in her seat and began to regret the question when Diana finally seemed to come to a decision. "I killed a man," she said shortly.
That wasn't what Rose had expected to hear. She was sure that her surprise showed on her face, but Diana didn't seem to notice. "But it's not the killing that's the problem, even though I abhor death. Max needed to die for others to live."
"Then what is the problem?"
"The problem is how others have reacted, including those I saved."
"You mean, they weren't grateful?"
Diana snorted. "You'd think they would be, wouldn't you? But no, pretty much everyone turned against me — including friends I thought I knew well. Even Bat— well, Bruce, one of my closest friends. I've become a pariah, all because I made the hard choice to end the life of one evil person to save the lives of so many innocents. How does that justify people who don't even know me calling me a violent killer? Saying that I can't be trusted? Saying that maybe I'm as bad as the villains I've been chasing down?"
Rose gazed at her drink, knowing that she should say something. As strong as Diana looked, she'd heard the woman's voice come close to cracking a couple of times.
"It's not easy, taking a life," she eventually managed.
"No, it's not," Diana agreed. "Don't get me wrong — I don't regret my decision. Not only was he going to kill others, but he was already a murderer. That doesn't mean I don't still wish there had been some alternative." She stared grimly into her glass. "Because if there had been, I'd have taken it. Every death is a waste — even his." She finished by taking a deep swig.
"But you did what was necessary," Rose countered.
Out of the corner of her eye she saw Diana turn towards her, and Rose could hear the surprise in her voice as she said, "You know, don't you? What it's like to kill?" When Rose met her gaze and nodded, she went on softly, "What happened?"
Rose gulped, then finished her drink and called for another. "It's... it's not something I like to think about. A man attacked me. Tried to kill me, in fact, and once he was through with me he'd have gone on to kill others if I hadn't done something."
"Then I'm sure you did the right thing," Diana responded as she finished her own drink. "How long ago was it?"
"I was eleven," Rose said, her voice barely above a whisper.
"Great Hera!" the woman exclaimed, putting one hand on hers. "No one that young should be forced into such a situation!"
"No arguments here," Rose agreed with a shrug, "but we don't always get to pick the problems fate throws at us. Or the battles we'll have to fight."
"Wise words," Diana said as she sipped from her new drink. "The gods never ask our opinions when they decide to test us, or to use us to test others. I hope that your friends at least stood by you."
"That time they did," Rose replied. When Diana gave her a questioning look, she provided an edited version of how so many had turned against her during her second and fourth years at Hogwarts, though the necessity of leaving out everything that would point to magic or her age made it rather disjointed.
"That may be worse than what I'm going through," Diana admitted when she finished. "But at least your one friend stood by you, staying loyal no matter what everyone else said or did."
"Hermione," Rose said wistfully. "Yeah, she did..."
"Well, it's just that..." She trailed off, not sure how to explain recent events, or even if she should. Diana was patient, though, giving her time. "In June I thought my godfather was in trouble. That he was being tortured by... by a terrorist. The same terrorist who killed my parents when I was a toddler, in fact. I went to rescue him and several friends came with me, even though I said they didn't have to."
Diana had leaned in a bit closer, showing more interest in her story. "Hermione, too, I take it?"
"Yeah, she was the first to volunteer, even though she was convinced that it was a trap. Unfortunately, she was right: my godfather wasn't there. Most of us were injured, Hermione worst of all. And on top of that, my godfather and his friends were forced to come rescue us, which led to my godfather getting killed." Rose paused for a moment before adding softly, "It seems that every one who gets too close to me gets hurt, sooner or later."
Diana put a hand on her shoulder in an effort to comfort her. "And Hermione blames you for her injuries?"
Rose shook her head and dabbed at her eyes. "No, that would be simpler." She swallowed hard and went on, "I was so scared when I saw her go down. She was always important to me, but it wasn't until that moment, when I thought I'd lose her, that I realized... Well, later in the hospital wing I spent a lot of time sitting by her bed, worrying about her. And when she finally woke up, I was so happy, I... I couldn't help myself."
Rose looked up at Diana, whose expression was mostly confused. With a sigh, she said, "I confessed my feelings for her. I confessed that I like her as... as much more than just a friend."
"Oh? And she..."
"And she doesn't feel the same way about me. Or girls generally."
"Yeah, oh. Fortunately she doesn't hate me or anything — Hermione doesn't have a bigoted bone in her body. But things will never be the same between us now." She looked up at Diana, seeing the sympathy in her face. "You... you don't have a problem with that sort of thing, do you?"
Diana smiled broadly and gave Rose's shoulder a squeeze before picking up her drink again. "Not in the slightest."
"Thanks," Rose said. "I appreciate it."
The two fell into a comfortable silence again as they continued to drink, and Rose didn't notice that they were now sitting a bit closer, nor did she think about how Diana's arm brushed against hers every so often. She did notice her warm, friendly smile every time their eyes met, and the brightness in those eyes was hard to miss.
After a while, Diana said, "I know we both came here to forget our problems, but it occurs to me that neither of us will feel better from just sitting here and drinking."
Rose looked around and slowly nodded in agreement. It seemed like a nice place (not that she had much experience to go by), but like so much in Vegas it was all cheap. No, it was superficial. Shallow. Fake.
"I'm sure we could find some more interesting and fun places to forget our problems," Diana continued, spinning on her barstool to face Rose fully, "if you'd like to come along?"
Rose looked at the other woman more closely now and found herself drawn again to Diana's extraordinary blue eyes — eyes that seemed to radiate kindness and warmth. She only gave Remus a moment's thought before tossing back the rest of her drink and saying, "Sounds like a great idea — I'm in!"
She'd been unsteady on her heels when she walked in sober, but after four drinks she was far more wobbly than she'd realized, and when she stood she immediately lost her balance. It was only Diana's strong arms that kept her from sprawling to the floor.
"Thanks," Rose mumbled. "Guess I've had a bit more than I thought."
"No problem," Diana replied, keeping one arm around her as they walked out to the street. "I'll keep you from falling."
Rose looked up again into Diana's smiling face and wondered about that. She hadn't had much luck with others keeping her safe, especially adults. For some reason, though, Diana seemed different. She wasn't sure why, but she felt safe and secure with this relative stranger. More so than she had in... well, ever, probably.
Maybe I'll give her a chance. She can't hurt me any worse than I have been already.
Coming to full consciousness was a slow and painful process. For the longest time, all Rose was aware of was the pounding in her head, followed closely by the sensation that her mouth was stuffed with cotton. Despite being no stranger to pain, it took her a while to fight back the headache enough to focus on her surroundings.
Along the way, a series of images drifted through her mind, none entirely clear or coherent. There were flashes of dancing, some of it fast and some of it slow. The latter group of images seemed to be dominated by a sense of comfort and security as she was held close by someone tall and strong. There were even more flashes of all manner of sweet, colored, alcoholic drinks, thus explaining the pounding in her head.
The strangest of all were images of a smiling Elvis next to a pink cake topped with two little white figures, but she chalked that up to alcohol-induced hallucinations.
Once she could focus on her surroundings, she became aware of the fact that she was in bed and naked, judging by the soft feel of a mattress under her as she lay on her left side. This good news was quickly followed by bad news: she couldn't move. She wiggled a little to figure out what was restraining her, only to feel her restraints tighten further, followed by a low murmur of pleasure that came from just behind her right ear.
Rose froze as her eyes shot open. She was immediately thankful that the room was dim, because what little light there was still hurt. Looking down, she confirmed that she was indeed naked. There were four arms and three legs in sight. Two of the arms were her own, but the other two, one of which was wrapped around her torso and the other under her head, were far thicker and more muscular than hers. The same was true of the extra leg that had been thrown over her hips, holding her own legs fast.
Please don't be a bloke! she pleaded. Please don't let me have slept with some bloke!
With effort, Rose managed to free her right hand and place it over the larger one holding her breast, confirming that not only was it a female's hand, but also that the size was about the same as the hand of the woman she'd met in the bar the previous night.
Wait, what was her name? I can't remember her name!
"Mmmm, you're awake early," came a familiar voice, and the warm breath against her ear caused her to shiver. When the hand at her breast started to move gently, she bit back a gasp. "I expected us to sleep a bit longer, considering the workout we gave each other, but I wouldn't mind a repeat of last night."
Repeat? That means we actually... and I'm no longer a... Cool! Except... except I don't remember it! No fair!
Rose felt a blush that started in her face and went down most of her body as she realized that the woman behind her was as naked as she was. When the woman's arms and legs tightened, she became acutely aware of the large breasts pressed up against her back. Somehow, she knew that there was a tremendous amount of strength in the arms wrapped around her, enough perhaps to crush her; yet rather than endangered, she felt protected.
"First, though, I need to use the bathroom," the woman said with a sigh as she rolled out of bed. Rose turned in time to see her briefly as she entered the loo, and even though it was only from behind, the sight of the other woman's naked, muscular body almost caused Rose's brain to shut down completely. She shook her head to clear it, instantly regretting the move as her headache pounded so hard she wondered if the woman could hear it through the door. Gingerly, she forced herself to sit upright.
Clutching at her head in a vain effort to stave off the pain, Rose looked around. Fake stone walls. Paper-thin doors... yeah, this is my room in our suite. She then noted the way clothing had been tossed everywhere and that none of the furniture was where it was supposed to be. Some of it was even overturned. Someone's knickers were hanging from a blade of the slowly-spinning ceiling fan — and come to think of it, she was pretty sure she didn't own any red, white, and blue thongs. As she ran her left hand through her red hair to pull it away from her face, she felt something catch, and upon disentangling it she discovered a strange ring on her finger. It was a gold band covered with intricate runes and had a smooth, black stone at the top.
"What the hell is this?" she asked softly as she held it close to her eyes, not noticing the exclamation of "What the hell is this?" that came from the loo. As she looked at the ring, a distant memory from the previous Christmas started to form. Sirius was showing her some of the treasures of his family, including family rings. Among them were the Black family's enchanted wedding rings, which her current ring looked awfully similar to.
Before she could follow that line of thought any further, the bathroom door banged open, pulling Rose's attention away from her hand. This time her brain did freeze as she goggled at the tall, muscular, and very naked body of what she could only describe as a goddess standing there, one hand in the air and the other on her hip. The brunette goddess was speaking, and seemed to be annoyed about something, but all Rose could do was stare.
She might have drooled a little, too — not that she would have ever admitted it to anyone.
Eventually, the goddess in the doorway got tired of seemingly being ignored and walked closer to Rose, which only made the younger girl's reaction worse. It took another minute of this for the goddess to notice the glazed-over eyes and finally realize what the problem was. She huffed as she yanked the sheet off the bed and wrapped it around herself before snapping her fingers in front of the dazed redhead.
"Huh?" Rose asked, blinking hard and trying to figure out what was going on.
The woman rolled her eyes and held out her left hand. "Do you have any idea what this is or where it came from? I can't get it off! And Hera knows I tried."
"Oh?" Rose asked again, looking down at the hand and seeing the ring. A very familiar ring. "Ooohh..." Rose said in a low voice as she lifted her own hand to compare. As expected, they matched.
The woman bent down to get a better look and frowned. "How do you have one, too? I don't remember seeing you wearing it last night."
"You'd remember something like that?"
"I honestly don't remember much about last night, at least not until we got back here. What happened then, I'll never forget!" the woman said with a self-satisfied grin; yet it faded almost immediately. "But I know I checked your hand before we left that first bar, to be sure you weren't married or engaged. I don't go dancing and drinking with just anyone, never mind go to bed with them afterwards."
"Yes," she replied, frowning again as she toyed with her ring. "These look a little more like engagement rings, come to think of it, though they're not like any I've ever seen."
"They're not," Rose whispered, trying to quell the sudden panic over what she feared she'd gotten herself into.
"They're not engagement rings. They're family wedding rings."
"The Black family. Sirius Black, my godfather, named me his heir. Technically, my name is Rose Potter-Black."
"That explains why you're wearing one — you must have taken it off before coming to the bar," the woman said, looking angry as she started tugging on her ring. "I don't appreciate being used to cheat on your fiancé or husband, by the way. But why do I have one? And why can't I get it off?"
Rose looked up at her and shook her head. "They can only be worn by married members of the Black family."
"Married?" the woman asked, clearly confused. "I'm not married! And I'm certainly not married to anyone in the Black family!"
Rose stood up from the bed, heedless of her nudity, and started desperately searching for something that would help explain their predicament. On the dresser, underneath her bra, she found several pieces of paper — including a piece of heavy parchment with the words "Marriage Certificate" in big, bold letters across the top.
Diana? Rose read as her heart skipped several beats. Now I know her name, at least.
"Suffering Sappho!" a pale Diana said when Rose handed her the certificate. "This can't be genuine. Two women can't marry — it's illegal!"
Rose herself was focused on a flyer from someplace called "Elvis' Magical Wedding Emporium and Espresso Bar." She grimaced at the dim memory of a smiling Elvis before handing the flyer over. "I think these are the people who did the ceremony. Maybe they can explain?"
"They'd better be able to explain!" Diana growled, snatching the thong as it passed by her head before hunting for the rest of her clothes. While they got dressed, it dawned on Rose that they wouldn't be having that promised repeat of the previous night's activities now — and judging by Diana's attitude, they probably never would, which meant she might never learn what her first time had been like.
Typical Potter luck, she lamented while struggling with her bra. My first time was with an insanely beautiful goddess, and I can't remember even the tiniest bit of it! And how in Merlin's name can I be married? Married! It's not possible!
By the time she was dressed, Diana had calmed enough to try calling the place first rather than storming over there and throwing people through walls. "The last thing I need right now is for my temper to get me into trouble here," she muttered as she dialed the number, while Rose tilted her head against Diana's so they could both listen.
A woman answered, her voice occasionally punctuated by the sound of her gum cracking as she spoke around it. "Hello, Elvis' Magical Wedding Emporium and Espresso Bar, can I help you?"
"Yes, hi, are you open right now?" Diana asked the woman.
"Sure thing, hon, we're open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week! But I'm afraid we're pretty booked for the rest of the morning—"
"No, no, I don't want to make an appointment. I, um, it seems that I was already there last night..."
"Well, congratulations! No refunds, though — all weddings are final."
"Uh, yeah, thanks. Is the person who was performing weddings last night still there, by any chance?"
"Sure, hon, I think Reggie's taking his break now. Just a minute."
After a lengthy pause, a deep, resonant male voice came on the phone. "Can I help you?"
"Yes, it seems that I was there for a wedding last night, but... well, to be perfectly honest, I don't remember it."
The man chuckled lightly. "Well, you're certainly not the first, ma'am. I suppose you'd like some of the missing details?"
"If it wouldn't be too much trouble, yes."
"Not a problem. What's your name?" he asked.
"Hm, let me see here. It was a pretty busy night for us." They could hear him flipping through papers. "Prince... Prince... no, I'm sorry, there's no Prince wedding here. Are you sure you have the right place? Maybe it was a different chapel?"
The two women heaved a sigh. "No, I doubt it — your flyer was here with the alleged marriage certificate."
"It must have been a prank my adopted uncle played on us," Rose put in.
"Exactly," Diana agreed, smiling in relief. "I knew it couldn't be real. There's no way you'd marry two women."
"Women?" the man asked. "Oh, you mean the Potter-Black wedding? Why didn't you say so? Yes, I did that last night — I remember you now."
"But... but..." Diana stammered.
"Yes, right here," the man continued. "Rose Potter-Black and Diana Potter-Black née Prince. Sorry, I was looking for the married names before. What is it that you need to know?"
"It's illegal for two women to get married!" Diana protested.
"In the mundane world, sure, but this is a magical wedding emporium. Our name lets people know that we handle magical weddings too, and same-sex marriage has been legal in magical North America for quite a long time."
"That's right, we've got all the magical paperwork here," he answered. "We got drops of blood from both of you, proving that you were authorized for a magical marriage. Heh, we needed three drops from each of you, your blood alcohol levels were so high — no wonder you can't remember! Then we needed another three to get the requisite blood for the binding marriage certificate."
Both women looked down at the document Rose was holding, finally realizing what the two reddish-brown spots were.
"We also have a copy of the signed permission form from Rose Potter-Black's magical guardian."
"Guardian?" Diana asked sharply. Rose winced.
"Yep, let's see... here it is. It says, 'I, Sirius Black, hereby give my amazing goddaughter, Rose Potter-Black, permission to do whatever the hell she wants, because I'm such a devilishly awesome godfather and she bloody well deserves it. And if some meddling old coot with an overly large nose tries to stop her, hex him in the bollocks for me.' I have to admit, it's a little unorthodox for a guardian's permission form, but the magic checked out, so we were legally obliged to accept it."
"Sweet Merlin!" Rose exclaimed, suddenly remembering the note Remus had found among the gold Sirius had left for them. This whole trip had been his idea, even before the fiasco at the Ministry...
"You also signed the waiver acknowledging that once you consummate your marriage, it's impossible to get an annulment, and divorce isn't possible for at least three years."
"That's... interesting," Diana said. "Thank you. Thank you very much." She then hung up and fixed Rose with a hard stare. "Guardian?" she said again. "How old are you?"
Rose sighed and ejected her wand from its invisible wrist holster, then cast Finite! at her face. She couldn't feel it, but she knew that various small lines disappeared, her cheeks filled out, her red hair lengthened, and a dozen other little things changed that returned her to looking like a teenager. When she and Remus had arrived, they'd been informed that anyone over fifteen was allowed to perform magic, just so long as it wasn't in front of non-magicals. She'd originally assumed that Diana was a muggle when they met at the bar, but if she was authorized to have a magical wedding, that must have meant that she was authorized to see magic performed.
"How old?" Diana asked again, looking more than a bit horrified.
"I just turned sixteen," Rose said a little defensively as she crossed her arms. "I'm not that young. I'm not a child!"
"Merciful Minerva!" Diana exclaimed as she got up off the bed and started pacing back and forth. "Sixteen! Back home on Themyscira that wouldn't be a problem. I mean, when I was sixteen... but here in America..."
"How old are you?" Rose demanded.
"So not that much older than me!" Rose said, torn between thinking it cool that she'd been with someone older and more experienced, and upset that not only was she married, she was married to someone old.
"That's not the point!" Diana complained. "You're a minor!" She stopped at that, then sat heavily back on the bed and put her head in her hands. "Artemis shield me! Forget about the marriage, we had sex last night! Multiple times! I'll be thrown in jail!"
"How do you think I feel?" Rose retorted. "I came on this vacation to get away from the pressures back home. To get away from adults who want to use and control me. I went off on my own last night because even the adult who brought me here hovers over me. And now I'm tied down in a marriage when I don't even remember the wedding?"
"You at least aren't facing jail!"
"Somehow, I think that if that were an issue, it wouldn't have been possible for us to get married in the first place," Rose said. "I don't know what the muggle laws are, but apparently magical laws allow for sixteen-year-olds to marry eighteen-year-olds. Even when they're blind drunk. I mean, it did allow two women to get married, even if that's illegal for muggles."
Diana lifted her head from her hands and looked at Rose, blinking hard several times. "What is that, 'muggle'? And what do you know about magic?"
"Muggles are people who don't have magic," Rose explained. "At least, that's the term used in Britain. I guess you use a different term here. And magic... well, it's magic. Like, y'know, with a wand?" She pulled out her wand again and waved it in the air, creating multi-colored sparks.
"You cast magic... through a stick?"
"It's a wand," Rose corrected, frowning. "All witches and wizards in Britain use them. Don't you?"
Diana stiffened and seemed to pull back slightly. "You're a witch?"
Rose rolled her eyes. "It's not like in the cartoons or movies. Well, not exactly. I do have a cauldron. And a pointy hat, come to think of it. And... I do fly on a broomstick. ...OK, I guess it is like the cartoons, but I don't cackle! And I don't have warts, either. Really, every magical female is called a witch, and every magical male is called a wizard."
"Sorry," Diana replied, visibly relaxing. "I know someone who is considered a witch. Circe is her name, and she's caused so many problems. So much pain and suffering. She believes she needs to kill me in order to prevent me from killing her, even though I honestly don't wish her dead."
"Yeah, I know what that's like," Rose muttered. "I can assure you, I'm nothing like that."
Diana nodded. "So, do all witches and wizards use wooden sticks... er, I mean, wands?"
"Powerful witches and wizards can do a few spells wandlessly, but otherwise, yeah. You don't?"
"No, nothing like that."
"Then how do you cast spells?"
"I don't," Diana admitted. "One of my friends, Zatanna, does, but she doesn't use a wand. And she doesn't call herself a witch. I've never seen Circe use one, either."
"Then... are you a squib?" Diana looked at her questioningly, so she clarified, "A squib is a non-magical person born to magical parents."
"No. I'm nothing at all like that." Sighing, she stood up, stepped back away from the bed, and put her arms straight out before launching into a spin. Rose was briefly blinded by a flash of light, and when she could see again, Diana Prince was gone. In her place was an even more gorgeous woman wearing what looked like leather and bronze armor which was... incredibly form fitting. And revealing, which didn't seem to Rose to be quite appropriate for armor, but she was much too entranced by the sight to object. The woman also wore large, metal bracelets with swords etched into them and a gold tiara on her head, and there was a golden rope hanging from her waist.
"Diana?" Rose asked, and when the woman nodded, she added, "You look great — amazing, even — but it's a strange outfit. And what does it have to do with magic?"
Diana frowned at the unexpected reaction. "You mean, you don't recognize me?" Rose shook her head. "Huh," Diana said before sitting down again. "That's surprising. But... kind of nice, actually."
"Should I recognize you?" Rose asked before she was distracted by the sight of Diana's ample cleavage.
"I go by the name of Wonder Woman," Diana explained. "I'm an Amazon warrior who was sent by my people as an emissary to help teach the world about our ideals — love, peace, justice, and equality. I'm famous all across the world, to be honest, which is why I'm surprised that you don't recognize me."
"Amazon, huh?" Rose said softly. "That would, um, explain how buff you are."
Diana turned to look at the distracted girl. "You like strong women, I take it?"
"I've, uh, never seen anyone like you before," Rose said, licking her lips. "But yeah, I sure do."
Diana put a finger under Rose's chin and gently lifted her head. "My eyes are up here."
Rose was immediately lost in the woman's deep blue eyes. "Yeah, they sure are."
Diana sighed and shook her head. "You need to focus."
"Sorry," Rose said, blushing. "You're... well, you're pretty fantastic. After Hermione rejected me, I was sure that I'd never find someone I could be with romantically. I mean, one of the things that attracted me to Hermione, aside from her being pretty and smart and all, was the fact that she treated me like a regular person. She accepted me as just plain Rose."
"Why would that be an issue?"
Rose grimaced, then lifted her bangs to reveal the scar on her forehead. "It has to do with this, and the fact that I'm known as the Girl Who Lived. I'm famous too, but I'm famous in a small, closed community of witches and wizards." Rose then proceeded to give Diana a more detailed biography than she had the night before, starting with the murder of her parents and ending with the fight in the Department of Mysteries, not long before her pseudo-uncle Remus came to her with a bag of money and a letter from her godfather, telling them to take a vacation outside Britain.
By the end, Diana was holding the younger girl close. "There are a lot of things in that story of yours that don't make sense," she said when Rose was calm again. She held up one hand to forestall Rose's protest. "I don't mean that I don't believe you. Quite the opposite, in fact — I completely trust you."
Rose lifted her left hand and touched the ring. "I wonder if it's because of these? Sirius told me there were all sorts of special enchantments on them to help the married couple be closer, but I didn't ask for any details. I didn't think they'd ever be relevant to me."
Diana frowned, looking at her own ring. "We do need to find out more — those details could be important. But no, I trust you because I can tell when people lie to me. What I meant when I said that things in your story don't make sense is that some of the things that happened to you strike me as suspicious. I think you've been without proper support for far too long."
"Yeah, no one has cared much about what happens to me, even most of the adults," Rose admitted as she stared at her lap. "Only Hermione cares, and she can only do so much for me."
Diana reached out with both hands and cupped Rose's cheeks, forcing the younger girl to meet her gaze. "Well, now you have me," she declared. "I shall return with you to your world and aid you against your foes." For a moment, her voice took on a depth and resonance that hadn't been there before.
"What about your job here? You can't simply give that up to follow me!"
Diana appeared troubled as she dropped her hands and looked away. "I... I'm not sure about my mission here anymore." When the silence wore on, Rose touched her arm gently, and Diana reluctantly turned back to face her.
"You remember that I said I killed someone?" she began, and Rose nodded. "Well, Max Lord was someone whom everyone trusted, but his heart was as black as pitch. He insinuated himself into the lives of heroes like me because he wanted to destroy us, claiming that because of our powers, we are a threat to the rest of humanity. He almost succeeded."
"How?" Rose whispered.
"His most recent plot involved taking control of the mind of Superman." When Rose looked at her in confusion, Diana shook her head ruefully. "It's easy to forget how little you know of us. Suffice it to say that Superman is the single most powerful man on the planet, perhaps only a little more powerful than me, if that. Under Lord's control, he nearly beat to death Batman, our closest friend and a leader among us heroes. Then the two of us fought, but I was at a disadvantage because I didn't want to seriously hurt him; he, in contrast, was fighting to kill."
"Oh, no!" Rose gasped, reaching out to take Diana's hand.
"He injured me, but I managed to create a diversion long enough to get to Lord to interrogate him. I can force people to tell the truth, and when I asked him how to free Superman, he had but one answer: 'Kill me.'"
"That was the choice you had to make?"
"Superman was nearly upon me by that point. I had mere seconds to choose between killing Max Lord, trying to kill Superman, or letting Superman kill me so he could then start killing the rest of the earth's heroes. With me gone, the others wouldn't have stood much of a chance, even working together. That's how powerful Superman is."
"I'll bet he would have moved on to witches and wizards, if Lord ever found out about them," Rose observed.
Diana looked thoughtful for a moment. "You're probably right. He seemed to fear and hate anyone with more power than him. Regardless, I made my choice. I didn't know that he was broadcasting the fight to the entire world, not that that would have changed anything. So everyone watched me break his neck. I didn't kill a mighty opponent in the heat of battle, but a bound, unarmed man in cold blood."
"And your friends turned their backs on you?"
"Yes, even though it should have been clear that I saved their lives as well as the lives of countless others," Diana said, shaking her head slowly. "Superman and Batman believe that there are always alternatives to killing." She stopped for a moment, and Rose could see that she was struggling with what she wanted to say. "I respect them both, not only for their skills and courage, but for their moral characters. I respect their refusal to kill, and their insistence on trying to bring in criminals alive so they can be rehabilitated. It's what I was raised to do as well. However..."
When she trailed off, Rose continued the thought: "However, sometimes killing is the only viable option." Diana looked her in the eye for a long moment before nodding. Rose went on, "I said that I killed when I was eleven, but I didn't do it intentionally. I didn't even fully realize what I'd done until months later." She paused as she tried to gather strength for what she needed to explain. "So I've never deliberately killed, but I don't have that luxury anymore."
"Why?" Diana asked, shifting a little closer.
"When I told you about the fight in the Ministry, I said that the prophecy sphere broke. What I didn't say was that it smashed to the floor of the atrium of the Ministry of Magic. With Voldemort, the Minister of Magic, and a whole slew of aurors, reporters, and Ministry employees watching."
"And after such a horrible year, too?" Diana exclaimed in sympathy. "What did the prophecy say?"
Rose closed her eyes, allowing herself to return to that night in the atrium, and recited the words that had been seared into her mind: "The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches... born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies... and the Dark Lord will mark them as his equal, but they will have power the Dark Lord knows not... and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives... the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies..."
"So, it's you or him. No wonder you said you understood my problems with Circe," Diana concluded. "Only you can stop Voldemort, but if you don't, he kills you and takes over your world."
"And then the rest of the world, too, I suspect."
Diana nodded. "Such people are rarely satisfied with just a little power. Like Maxwell Lord, they always reach out for more and more, caring nothing for those they hurt or kill in the process."
"What's worse, everyone knows it, too," Rose said. "It's bad enough that Voldemort knows, but now everyone in wizarding Britain is looking to me to be their savior. I'm only sixteen... well, I was only fifteen when this happened, but that didn't matter. Lots of people back home are calling to have me pushed out into battle, regardless of how little training and education I've gotten so far. That's one reason why I agreed to this vacation in America: I had to get away, even if only for a little while. I can't stand everyone trying to control me, telling me what to do. People who care nothing for me are trying to make decisions about my life — not for my sake, but for their own." Rose's voice grew plaintive. "All I want is a chance to live a normal life. To have the same problems that other, normal teenagers have."
"You've been given a terrible burden. It would be difficult for anyone to bear, never mind someone as young as you. What are people doing about it, though?"
Rose shrugged. "A lot of them seem to regard the prophecy as permission to not do anything themselves. They say it's my job, and my job alone. I'm expected to kill and to win — to deliver peace and safety to everyone else, no matter what it costs me." She let that hang in the air for a moment, then exhaled heavily. "I don't know how I'm going to do it. Sometimes I'm not even sure I want to bother, and most of the time I doubt that I'll succeed. After all, the prophecy doesn't say that I'll win, only that one of us has to kill the other."
"Well, you won't have to face him alone," Diana said firmly as she put her arm around Rose's shoulders and pulled her close.
"In the end, though, it's him or me," Rose said in a small voice. "And I don't know how I'll be able to win. To kill him."
Diana shook her head. "Like I said, you won't be alone. When you decide to return, I will be with you, right by your side. And I'll stay by your side until the end."
"Really?" Rose asked, her voice betraying how hard it was for her to believe that. It wasn't the first time someone had promised to support her.
"But... why?" In her experience, it was only her friends — people her own age — who'd ever followed her lead, who'd gone along with her decisions. Adults only ever tried to push her down paths of their own choosing, often without bothering to explain themselves.
"I told you that my closest friends, as well as the public, have turned their backs on me. One of the reasons I was in that bar last night, aside from just feeling sorry for myself, was that I was trying to decide what to do next. I can't easily continue my mission as I have been because the people no longer trust me. It makes me wonder if I'm even up to the task; yet I don't want to return to my home in disgrace. Helping you will let me continue my mission, albeit on a smaller scale."
Diana paused for a moment, then added, "But even if that weren't the case, I'd still come with you."
Rose looked at her in surprise. "But... you hardly know me."
"You didn't know Hermione well when you jumped on the back of a mountain troll to save her, and I'm much more capable than you were at eleven," she said reasonably. "Besides, I can hardly let my new wife march off into battle by herself, now can I?"
"Wife? I mean, sure, technically we are married, but... how can you think of me that way? You can't be happy about being stuck married to me. I'm just a kid, compared to you, and I'm not exactly a great catch. I'm too skinny, I hardly have any hips, my chest is practically flat — especially compared to yours — and I... I..."
Diana smiled reassuringly and reached out with her free hand to gently stroke Rose's hair, calming the girl down. "I wouldn't have walked out of that bar with you if I hadn't felt a reasonably strong attraction to you. I wouldn't have made love to you all night if I weren't expecting — or at least hoping — to start a long-term relationship of some sort with you. Amazons don't simply jump into bed with strangers for casual sex, no matter how good it is. The age difference is a surprise, but as an Amazon warrior I was considered of age at sixteen, so it's not a deal-breaker for me. And as for the marriage... while I admit I can't remember the ceremony, I know I wouldn't have agreed to it if I didn't have strong feelings for you and weren't serious about our relationship. We Amazons do not treat marriage lightly, and that ties back in with why I insist on returning to Britain with you to help you confront the growing evil there."
Rose's expression shifted from hopeful to happy, then slowly slid to disappointment.
"What's wrong?" Diana asked, confused.
"About the sex," Rose said. "You've mentioned more than once that last night was good."
"Mind-blowing," Diana corrected. "Never in my wildest fantasies did I imagine that it was possible for a woman's tongue to do such things — and I know something about the subject. I didn't realize at the time that you were magical, but that explains a lot. If all witches are like you, I have to wonder how your men compete." The grin that had begun to spread across her face at the memory fell suddenly. "Why? Wasn't last night great for you?"
"I have no idea!" Rose exclaimed, close to tears. "I can't remember it! Any of it! And it was my first time, too!"
Diana's eyes widened in surprise before she chuckled. "Well, that means that we'll have to make some new memories. And in the process, maybe I'll manage to remind you of a couple of things." Rose's breath caught as Diana leaned in to kiss her, but just before their lips could meet they were interrupted by a loud buzzing from Rose's shirt pocket.
"What is that?" Diana asked.
Rose yanked out a small mirror and looked at it in alarm. "Oh, shite, it's Sirius! He's going to kill me when he finds out about this! Or prank me. Or both." She bolted for the bathroom.
"Sirius? ...Um, isn't he supposed to be dead?" Diana called after her as the door slammed shut.