Potter Yojimbo Chapter 7 - Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy
I Disclaim. Everything. Everywhere.
When last we were interrupted, Luna and I were about to explore new dimensions in our relationship. Possibly horizontal ones.
This boded ill for whatever interrupted us, even if, on the whole, it was probably a good thing; at least in the considered opinion of the senatorial chamber-of-sober-second-thought part of my brain. Which maintained that a distracted bodyguard isn't a good body guard, and that it would be best to slow things down with Luna lest our relationship become about the physical, rather than encompassing the physical.
Other parts of my mind were making outraged barbaric yolps demanding smiting of doorbells and/or visitors with large swords, large guns or both and then indefinite continuation and extension of previous activities.
Oh, the mind is overlaid with a thin veneer of civilization indeed!
The more irritating part was that they only people who could have got close enough to ring the doorbell without triggering any of the other wards outside belonged to a small and quite select group of people.
And I didn't want to talk to any of them right now.
But given the brand spanking new and still steaming hot magma rock garden out front, I can't really choose not to open the door, as it will cause more problems than it will solve.
So I give Lu a quick smile and shrug, and we wander off to be social.
Social in this context means I check outside and then jerk the door open with wand drawn.
I surprise Ginny and Ron in the midst of examining the shell casings and Luna's discarded AK-47 on the doorstep.
I resolve to give Mr. Murphy one or two sharp kicks somewhere soft and Mister-y, and then burn his laws. Smartass.
I'd forgotten that they lived close enough that they would have felt the magical discharge from the fight.
Ron stares at me like an unexpected brussel sprout in the middle of his steak and kidney pie.
Ginny looked at me with surprise, adoration, embarrassment, and anger, in that order, in the space of about 1 second. The anger, of course, is a direct and continuing result of the adoration.
Let me explain in a quick digression.
We leave the four (or five) of us in an amusing comedy tableau and journey back in time to when doo doo was hitting the fan on an almost industrial scale on a daily basis.
I was still young and naïve when I dumped Gin to go off and do the suicidal "I shall confront the evil dark lord" thing. Blah, blah, Griffindor, blah blah, noble suffering and so forth.
Through several years of limited scale, no holds barred, magical conflict that tempered me into the badass, superficially amoral creature of incredible smexy that I am today, Gin basically stayed at home. Gasping and no doubt bursting into tears at appropriate times, waiting for me to get things done and then return to her in order that we might embrace in front of the setting sun, while the cameras zoom out and pan up to the sky.
"The evening is getting dark, we should return home, my love," says she in a slightly suggestive but in no way prurient tone.
"There is always light where you are, dear heart," says I, in an improbable baritone voice as the breeze whips my untamed hair around and ruffles my inexplicably unbuttoned shirt.
Instead, I made a spectacle of myself by conspiring with the aid of Draco Malfoy to shag everyone in the magical world that we wanted to. Luckily this didn't involve too many of our former classmates, because that would have created ongoing humiliation. I think it's because dating within the tribe… it could have been serious, and at the time that was the last thing we were looking for.
For a while, Gin altered her narrative. I was out being 'naughty' but I would inevitably return to her once I'd got it out of my system, and then she would 'tame' the 'bad boy' and we would live happily ever after.
So one Christmas at the burrow I was 'confronted' in a planned 'intervention' on the part of elements of the Weasley clan.
I was unnecessarily clear, and probably graphic about where the intervention could go and get shoved.
Jelly molds came into violent use.
I left, and didn't go back.
Since then, Ginny has garbed herself in an attitude of upper-middle class priggishness and become a priggish society columnist in a priggish paper.
Apparently she has a wide following in the magical world.
Not as wide as mine, of course.
Hello, I have a freaking Action Figure?
Anyway, sometimes I feel a bit sorry for it all, but it's a tiny little bit of sorry that gets smaller all the time.
I do admit that Draco and I should NEVER have hidden a couple of those inflatable dolls of us in her office closet where they'd fall out and be seen by everyone. You know, the ones for adults?
That was disrespectful.
I also poked myself in the eye with my wand I was laughing so hard and it smarted for days.
Moving on, Ron is also there on the doorstep.
During our little war he used his tactical genius to coordinate defense against the Death Eaters. Free to strike wherever they wanted on a moment's notice, there's probably thousands of people alive now because of his strategies, and Hermy's research.
So he got his fame and fortune, and rightly so.
But for the most part, he stayed off the front line.
Of course once in a while the Death Eaters got through, and people died. But it was easy to keep things in boxes; they were bad, we were good. Moral system solid and unchallenged.
I went and killed people and saw people killed, and got screwed up.
Not to retroactively self-angst or anything like that, but let me tell you that while muggle humans are creatively horrible to each other all the time, creatively horrible in the hands of a wizard or witch… well it's best not to think about it too much really.
So years later when Hermy had done her research, and figured out why I was messed up, and after I'd toned down the really, horribly offensive behaviour, and after she'd given me a patented almost-but-not-quite-bone-breaking-hug, we chatted.
She'd gone out with Ron for a while, but he hadn't "bloomed" in the way she'd hoped, or at least that's what she said. So she stopped.
I'm less polite, so I'll say that he's sexist, and a bigot and anti-intellectual, and thus not a 100% awesome-tastic match for Hermy.
Still a good sort, but only if you want to talk quiddich and drink butterbeer and fire whiskey.
Basically the same as he was in school.
Except sort of swelled.
I think I've just depressed myself in the course of my inner expository monologue, which is not cool.
"What the bloody hell is going on here," shrieks Ginny, "and what is that pervert doing here?"
I look at Luna, and she looks at me.
"Harry! What is Harry doing here?" she asks again.
"Ohhh… well, sorry he hasn't done anything perverse yet. At least… well, no, not that. And that certainly wouldn't count," says Luna, tapping her chin while she thinks. "Anyway, wouldn't we have significant latitude in establishing boundaries for perversity given that he's my boyfriend?"
"Boyfriend?" gaped Ginny.
Ron took a moment off from gasping for breath to also gape at us.
"Yes," said Luna, "I asked him out, and he said yes. So really, it wouldn't be perverse even if we did something involving…"
"Just about anything at all," I quickly cut her off before Ron's eyes actually drop out of their sockets, "in the privacy of Luna's house."
"Yes, anything at all. Like Harry says," confirms Luna.
My new and more sensitive Luna radar suggests to me that she was gaily looking forward to making up something outrageous, precisely because she wants to see if she can make their brains shut down.
"Oh Luna," says Ginny, calming down with a deep breath, "Harry is just telling you that so he can get in your pants, you know that, don't you? You shouldn't trust him! You know he doesn't go out with girls like you."
"Ginny, I don't think Harry will fit in my pants, but he's welcome to try them if he wants. He wouldn't need to be my boyfriend for that."
"Luna! I mean, you know?" Ginny makes a complicated gesture that suggests two jellyfish with their tentacles tied together trying to dance a rapid two-step.
"Ohhhh, fucking. Well, he can do that too if he likes. Have you seen his ass, Ginny? It's fabulous. I could bounce a galleon off it."
Ginny and Ron are driven back into catatonia, and I cough. Whatever happened to nervous Luna from day 1?
I look at her faintly pink cheek, and realise that she's still there, but she's fighting back against being dismissed as not my sort of girl.
"Maybe I haven't gone out with girls like Luna before because there is only one Luna, and it took her a while to figure out how to abduct me," I suggest. "At the moment though, I'm experiencing Stockholm Syndrome on a scale previously unprecedented in world history."
"What?" ask Ron, thoroughly confused.
"You're both loony," says Ginny, her voice rising in volume, "Make sense, and don't use muggle language we won't understand."
Luna laces her fingers together with mine and gives a squeeze. She gets it.
I pull her over in front of me, wrap my arms around her stomach, and peer at them around her head. She's a bit too tall to put my chin on top of her head.
She lets out a breath, and gives a tiny shiver.
"Anyway, I think that Harry and Luna are so special together," says Amy, floating out from behind us.
There are several seconds of silence.
"I think you broke them, Ames," I suggest.
"Wha… what… have you enslaved some succubus spirit to slake your passions on, you monster?" shrieks Ginny.
It takes several minutes for us to stop laughing.
"Oh Merlin," says Luna, wiping her eyes, "that was brilliant."
"Oooohhhh… my ectoplasm hurts," Amy complains, holding her stomach.
"Gin, well, aren't succubi a little more, you know, ooommmph?" asks Ron, making the internationally recognised sign for "I wish to buy two watermelons".
"Will you just shut up, Ron," says Gin, still actively fuming.
"Anyway, we've missed the important point here," I state, authoritatively. Or at least as authoritatively as I can with Luna's hair tickling my nose.
"Yes, what the hell was that magic going on here? We could feel it all the way from the burrow," says Ginny, "We rushed here to help, and we find you cavorting with…"
I interrupt by shaking my head and holding up a hand.
"No, not that," I say, while pulling away from Luna, and digging in my pocket for my wallet. "Clearly, there's some lingering disbelief here that needs to be dispelled by a practical demonstration."
I pull out a galleon, hand it to Luna, and stick my butt out.
"Go on," I say, "bounce me."
"Oh! Well, maybe we should use multiple trials, to establish a baseline?" Luna says, brightly, "I'll go and get a measuring tape and a clipboard."
If we were in a cartoon, there would be steam coming out of Ginny's ears.
"Stop it! Stop your offensive idiocy, Harry, and just shut up. Luna, now tell me what is going on, and no beating around the bush, or any of those stupid animals."
"Oh poo," says Luna, with a pout.
"Don't worry, we can do the testing later," I murmur, theatrically sotto voce, and waggle my eyebrows broadly.
Luna nudges me back, and winks. "Say no more, Harry Potter, say no more!"
"Anyway," says Luna, "It wasn't a big deal. Just some Death Eaters attacking. You know, evil wizards, werewolves, giants and such."
"Bloody hell, Harry!"
I wince, and sigh. Really, Ron? Really?
Just then, and things start to calm down a little bit, we're interrupted by a scream from the basement. Something about bats, if I heard correctly.
Ginny's eyes widen, and she pushes past us towards the back of the house where she knows the stairs are, with Ron following.
Luna nudges me.
"Bloody hell, Harry!"
"Bloody hell, Luna," I reply, and grab her hand again.
We're interrupted by Ginny's scream, coming from the basement.
And Ron's scream, coming from the basement.
Standing at the top of the stairs and looking down, I can see, objectively, that they have a point.
A carpet of body parts wriggled and squirmed on the floor like an H.R. Giger set design brought to life. Dismembered faces and mouths screamed in terror.
Ginny looked up at us, her face so pale that the freckles showed right though the foundation makeup.
"Harry, I don't know what the hell you're doing, and I don't care," she said. "I'm going to go home, and then I'm going to take the floo to the Ministry of Magic. I'm going to lodge a formal complaint, and you're going to get arrested. You're sick. Now get out of my way."
"Gin, maybe there's a reason for…" Ron trailed off, as his mind obviously isn't capable of supplying a good reason for what's on the floor.
"If you want to go without listening, Ginerva, then do watch out for the wards," Luna said, with an airy smile. "Maybe you could walk to the edge of the property before you apparate? You'll need plenty of power, and skill to apparate safely through them."
"Power? Skill? Let me past," Ginny snarled, pushing me roughly out of her way, and with a snort, walking straight through Amy.
Then she stopped, concentrated, and…
"Ronald, you may wish to return home now, and rescue Ginerva," said Luna with a sigh.
"Well, I expect she's spilched in bits all over your house, since that's what the wards seem to do."
"Spilched? Ohhh… is that what happened to…"
"Yup," I say.
"And now Ginny is…"
"Yup," I say.
"She's going to do her nut," said Ron, going a bit pale.
"Yup," I say. This time with a smile.
"Harry, that's my little sister you're smiling about being in bits now," he says, with a bit of a growl, stomping towards the door.
At the door he sighed, and turned back.
"Look, Harry, if you need any help with those Death Eaters," he says, clasping my hand.
"I promise I'll give you a call if I need your help," shifting my grip to transform the hand shake into one of those awkward man hug things.
He leaves, reassured by the sincerity of my man hug.
"Don't worry," I say, turning to Luna, "won't be calling him up. You're worth four of him in a fight, and we don't have the supplies laid in to feed four Ron's for the rest of the week."
"Harry!" says Luna, trying for disapproval, but the effect is ruined by her snortle of amusement.
"Maybe if the giants challenge us to an eating contest," I consider, and Luna laughs.
I use a warming charm on our interrupted breakfast, and we sit down to eat.
After several minutes of munching, Luna sighs.
"I do feel a bit bad about taunting her into apparating through the wards," she says. "That wasn't particularly nice."
"Nicer than the things that I was considering," I say with a grin. "She can say what she likes about me, but you're off limits."
"Harry, we're both off limits, ok? Next time I'll just ask her how her inflatable 'Magic Wand' Harry is doing. That will shut her up."
I snort uncontrollably, and look away so that I don't have to meet her eyes.
"Harry," exclaims Luna, "that wasn't you that put that… wait, what am I saying, of course that was you."
"And Draco," I say, "it was mostly Draco's fault, really. Well, probably. If you squint."
She shakes her head with a bit of a smile.
"Of course," she adds, "that won't stop me from asking her about it."
"She was a bit of a… a… mad cow, wasn't she," says Amy, with a bit of blush.
Luna and I look at each other.
"Bloody hell," I say with a laugh.
"Gin isn't going to cause any problems, is she?" Luna asks, contemplatively as she has some bacon.
"Well, she'll have to pull herself together first," I say with a grin, "and then she'll have to find someone who'll actually listen to her ranting in the auror offices. We'll be done here before anyone even files any paperwork."
Luna, still in obvious pain from my joke gets up to do the dishes.
By 10:00am we're snuggling on the couch together, ready to start phase 2 of our movie marathon, Amy hovering over us.
Life, at this moment, is pretty good.
I'm guilty of slight misuse of the 'Stockholm syndrome' tag… but it sounded good, so I'm going with it.
This is actually the second time I've written this chapter… I had it basically finished, but then the memory stick disappeared. I think it may have been better the first time, or at least probably more consistent in tone with the other chapters of the story?
Sorry about the long delay… not due to the absence of interest, but due to the presence of 2 small children who have had a disruptive effect on life similar to a 'shock and awe' military campaign.