Insert standard legal disclaimer and boilerplate notes here. Special guest stars appearing from the Tenchi Muyo! universe are not mine.
Also: Their Majesties, the Emperor and Empress of Japan, the Prime Minister of Japan and the British Ambassador to Japan are real people (or so the Internet claims) and I use their real names. The odds I got their personalities right are about eleventy billion to one.
Also also: Tenchi Muyo isn't mine. It belongs to someone else. Don't be so shocked.
Violence Inherent in the System
Chapter Thirteen: Something Completely Different
December 26th, 1996
A young blonde wearing full length sleeping robes and a pair of velvet slippers padded her way outside. Her trek over the well traveled floorboards of the Tendo Dojo's halls and porch this morning was silent until one step met fresh snow.
Luthien Greengrass spun around at the surprise greeting.
"Hi… Who are you?" She asked.
Luthien spied a pink haired girl her age hovering over the fish pond on a broom.
"Daddy calls me Cuteness! What's your name?"
"I'm Lulu. Is this your mummy's house?"
As Luthien allocated one slim finger to search for crusty dragons, Cuteness giggled and shook her head.
"Nope. Just here for Christmas." Cuteness glided forward on her broom and hopped off right in front of her new friend. "Do you know how to fly a broom?"
Lulu shook her head.
"Want to learn?"
There was a short pause before the blonde slowly nodded yes.
"Great! I love flying! Daddy gave me a broom and books on flying and now I can fly and it's really fun and you can see soooo much from way up high! Come on!"
"What's that noise, Love?" Harry groaned out from his new favorite pillow: Usagi's tummy.
Her grumbly reply didn't make sense in English or Japanese. The strange noise got louder. Damn. It was making sleeping in much more difficult than it needed to be and Harry wanted to take advantage of the last late morning he got before a series of funerals would begin messing with his sleep schedule.
Harry chose to sacrifice personal comfort to satisfy curiosity and slowly got up to satisfy his curiosity. Sheets fell around him as he braved the cold of a late December morning and padded over to the bedroom window. Behind him, Usagi sat up. Covers fell to her waist; she was too sleepy to be modest. Harry opened the curtains, momentarily closing his eyes in the glare.
The noises stopped.
Harry opened his eyes. Oh, shit.
Cuteness and Lulu were floating within arm's reach of the window; faces scarlet and eyes wide with shock. Cuteness's eyes kept switching between her topless mother and fully starkers father but Lulu's gaze was locked onto Harry's...
Harry stepped back and jerked the curtains shut. "Bloody..."
"What's wrong, my Harry?" Usagi noticed Harry trail off but she was too busy rubbing the sleep out of her eyes to understand why.
A big breath in... and then out again. "I should apologize to Hermione. Giving the broom to Cuteness may have been a bad idea after all."
Usagi just tilted her head in confusion. "Whatever... I'm hungry. Want some waffles and fried chicken?"
Waffles and chicken did sound good. Maybe Harry could prove to himself that he just imagined it all after getting cleaned up. Lulu? In Tokyo? Not likely.
Lulu. In Tokyo. Shit.
"No really," Harry said, "She had a tough night, didn't she? I'd hide behind my mum's skirt too if I could."
Harry found himself standing in front of all four Greengrass ladies in the dining room downstairs. Melian held Harry's attention while her two eldest looked about the Tendo family room with interest. Luthien hid from Harry behind her mum's skirt.
"I'm sure she'll come around, Harry." Melian replied. "Might I trouble you for a tour of the house? We got in rather late and pretty much went right to sleep in the outbuilding. A rather excitable elf managed to find some beds on short notice and went back for our sleeping attire, but we still don't know where things are."
"No trouble!" Harry flashed a grin at his guests. "Let's get the important bits out of the way then. If you ladies would please follow me..."
The Greengrass ladies would clearly have to get used to the differences between their very Victorian English home and the updated-yet-traditional dojo they found themselves in. There were several glaring differences.
"There's no toilet!" Astoria squawked.
"There is. It's a traditional Asian style one. You erm... you squat over it."
A ring of scandalized British pureblood witches looked at the Tendo family facilities with concern.
"Oh!" Harry just remembered some rather important advice. "When you think you're in the right spot, take one more step forward. Important, that."
Daphne and Astoria looked at each other, faces whitening. What's next? Were they supposed to wash up before getting in the tub?
"Next, the furo! You're going to like this bit. Very relaxing." Harry turned to the next part of their tour and opened a pair of sliding wood doors off to one side. "It's important to clean up before going in for a soak, but the hot water can really loosen your muscles and wash away tension, so it's worth it."
It turns out that a lot of things were done differently on this side of the planet and the changes had little to do with the magical/non-magical split so prevalent back home.
"Breakfast is ready!" Usagi called out, proudly carrying a tray laden with waffles in one hand and another holding carefully sliced sections of fried chicken in the other. She had on a cotton Hello Kitty pajama set covered by a very frilly apron that she found in the pantry.
"We might have to set the table twice, Love." Harry commented as he set down plates in front of each witch. "This table isn't big enough for everyone anymore."
"'Mione took Luna to the local market for some Pocky, iced coffee and a few new magazines. Ranma and Shampoo aren't up yet- or I should say that they are up but not out of bed yet." Usagi called after returning to the kitchen. "Guess they're on their Honeymoon now, huh?"
"Just like us, Love!"
"Yes, yes!" She sing-songed back.
Melian and her girls sat quietly and tried to take it all in. The Chosen One and the Crown Princess of the Moon were serving them breakfast. Her Highness and a younger lunar royal introduced as 'Cuteness' were cooking. Something about Usagi being really good in Home Economics class, not that the Greengrass ladies knew what that meant either. Where did the house elf go? Maybe a discrete inquiry to Hermione later in the day would clear things up.
Ginny opened her eyes.
She, Ron and Neville had all landed in an outdoor courtyard with a light covering of snow around a small pond. In front of her stood a two story wooden building unlike any other she'd ever seen before.
"Bloody hell. Why did Harry drop us off outside then?" Ron complained as he shivered in the cold.
Ginny pulled out her wand.
"Oi! Don't get us in trouble!" Ron barked.
Ginny only glared at him and cast a warming charm on herself. "Did you forget already, Ron? There are no restrictions on doing magic here."
Ron pulled his wand out and followed his sister's lead. Neville was already dressed warm enough to stay as he was. Before the three of them could get into any mischief, one of the rice paper doors in front of them slid open.
"Come in, come in you three!" Harry called out. "Shoes will have to come off, mind you. I'll find some indoor slippers for you…"
"Dobby has slippers for Harry Potter Sir's friends!" Dobby summoned three pairs of slippers before turning on Harry. "And why did Harry Potter Sir not call for Dobby or Kreacher to being making breakfast this morning? Is Dobby's cooking no longer good enough for Harry Potter Sir?"
"No, no. Dobby, that's not it at all." Harry held up his hands in a warding gesture. "You should have seen how happy Usagi was to get back in a kitchen again."
"Dobby spends morning chasing pixies out of Harry Potter Sir's island home while his Princess labors in kitchen? The shame!"
Before Harry could defend Usagi's domesticity, Dobby –pop-'d out of view.
Harry, Neville and the two youngest Weasleys all listened quietly as a house-elf and a Crown Princess began to fight each other for control of the kitchen. A high pitched giggle from the same direction told them what a little girl thought about the argument.
"I really don't think Dobby knows how to make sushi rolls." Harry started again, "Anyway, have you three had breakfast? Might as well get some food in you before I show you around town."
Deep in the heart of Tokyo, a small egg lying forgotten and unused these past few years was about to be disturbed. The seed was originally hidden halfway down a back alley in preparation for an ambush that never happened. Kaolinite lost this particular creation of Professor Tomoe long before Mistress 9 awakened, and it has lain dormant ever since. The evil seed sat behind a succession of dumpsters and trash cans day after day until finally one local employee felt enough pride in his job that he would clean even the rocks and grime from behind his employer's newest restaurant for the grand opening.
"This alley is disgusting!" Konatsu exclaimed to no one in particular. "Ukyo-sama will be so impressed at my cleaning efforts that she will finally, finally, finally... finally stop obsessing over Ranma and get on with her life!"
Konatsu failed to see the irony in that statement. The love challenged cross-dressing genius kunoichi set down his bucket full of cleaning supplies and put on a pair of heavy rubber gloves. After smoothing out his skirt (and checking his makeup) he began grabbing random bits of refuse off of the ground and chucking them into a trash can. Eventually, Konatsu made it all the way to the abandoned daimon seed.
As soon he picked the seed up, it awakened. Dark power surged out of the seed and up Konatsu's arms before the kunoichi could even register a threat. By the time he realized that something was wrong, it was already too late to escape. A sentience forged in the darkness of Professor Tomoe's lab fed off of Konatsu's spirit and took control of his body. He went slack.
The young man's face, still 'cute' in that bishonen way he never quite lost through maturity, began to shift from healthy looking to a waxy reddish complexion. Expertly curled lashes and light blue eyeshadow became highly pronounced against the new flesh tone. A modest swell filled out his chest, one that would have pleased the boy had he been conscious of what was happening. The silver lining to this possession was that all daimons were female. Konatsu had lived as a girl all his life, and though he was smitten with Ukyo, actually having girl parts would have made him much more content.
The daimon growled in glee for being active after such a long time.
Behind the newly born daimon, Ucchan's back door opened.
"Hey, Kon-chan! The new girl needs help taking orders up front. What are you do-"
There was a time when Kuonji Ukyo could fight Shampoo to a standstill, back when the girls fought over Ranma's affections day in and day out. That time was years ago and the okonomiyaki chef was a little rusty these days. Rusty, and she never expected her most loyal and devoted employee to turn into a monster and attack her.
With a scream, the daimon kunoichi spun in place and released a cloud of ropes at her target. Ukyo stood there dumbfounded as rope coiled around her body, pinning her arms against her sides and binding her ankles tight.
"Hrrmmmph!" A ball gag materialized in her mouth.
"Your heart will finally belong to me!" Perhaps the daimon got more than just a physical body from Konatsu after all.
A black beam of energy shot from the monster and struck Ukyo in the chest. All of Ukyo's passion, her burning need to be the best okonomiyaki chef she could be was sucked out of her in the shape of a Pure Heart Crystal.
"Ah, there it is." Nabiki looked across the street at her lunch destination.
She wasn't usually the kind to eat someplace new but then she was getting a week of free lunches for her and her crew out of the deal in exchange for an on screen name drop… and it was Ukyo's new place… so she felt like making an exception this time. Still, since her magical girl interview just shot Nabiki's popularity through the roof, maybe she could squeeze Ukyo for a little more than just a few free meals.
As she waited for the light to change, something odd happened. Two young girls opened the Ucchan's door and tried to run away. At first, Nabiki thought she was just watching a couple of kids try to skip out on their check until she saw the girls' faces. Sheer terror. Right before the two could make a break for it, ropes shot out through the door and bound one of them tight. She was slowly dragged back inside. The other one, a girl with exotic light blue hair and pink eyes screamed like a demon was biting her and ran into a nearby alley.
Experience led Nabiki to laying odds on that one being magical or an alien or both.
She pulled out her cell phone.
"Hey, Kaji." Nabiki paused. "No, we're not going somewhere else; pull the van up. Yes, there's a story. Yes, hurry up. See you in five."
Nabiki quickly dialed another number after ending the call to her tech.
"Hey, Ranma-baby. I didn't know you'd still be- No! Don't hang up!" The reporter had to hold her phone away from her ear for a moment to let Ranma calm down. "Believe it or not, I'd like to report a monster sighting to Sailor Moon if she's still at the dojo. I caught it early. Yesssss, it's a real one. Get here quick enough and she'll be able to save the day and everything. Meet me in Ginza, two two eighteen... it's the new Ucchan's location. That's right, your dear friend Ucchan just opened a new place only to have it overrun by monsters. Tooddles!"
Nabiki put away her cell phone and waited. Her next big magical girl story was just about to happen and all she had to do was stand there and look pretty.
Maybe she wouldn't have to wait so long? A young girl with two long streamers of light blue hair, a frilly dress and an over the top scepter-ish looking thing in her hands rushed up to Ucchan's door and opened it wide.
"Misa-chan! I'm coming!" The girl shouted into the darkened restaurant beyond.
"Who do you think you're kidding?" Nabiki muttered to herself, "I clearly remember you running out just minutes ago. Your costume sucks, kid."
"My name is Pretty Sammy and in the name of fr- ack!"
The girl calling herself Pretty Sammy didn't even get to finish her intro speech before another mass of ropes shot out of the darkness and engulfed her. One coil of rope snaked around her all the way from ankle to ass while a second started at her wrists and spun up both arms, stopping just short of Pretty Sammy's shoulders. The would-be heroine wanted to yell that such an early attack wasn't fair, but then it's hard to complain when your mouth is full of napkins.
Good thing Nabiki got the word out to Sailor Moon when she did. This is right up the girl's alley.
"Yo! Usagi!" Ranma yelled from another room, "Can you come here?"
Usagi looked at Harry for a moment before shrugging her shoulders and moving to see what Ranma wanted. They were both confused about the slightly off tone in the ki-master's voice but neither worried overmuch.
The Moon Princess disappeared around a door jamb leaving Harry to turn his head back to the crowd of pureblood magicals around him. Every one of them was staring at the family room television with rapt attention. Even Lady Greengrass. Even Luna. None of them had ever seen a gameshow before, let alone a Japanese gameshow involving scantily clad young women contorting themselves to fit through odd holes in a moving wall to make it to the other side.
"Your foot! Turn your knee a bit more!"
Ginny shouted instructions to each contestant in turn. It didn't matter that she didn't speak Japanese or that the people inside the black box couldn't hear her anyway. She was hooked. So was her brother… Ron hadn't stopped drooling since the contestants were introduced.
One pureblood was missing. Cuteness abducted Luthien early on in the telly watching phase of the day go up to Nabiki's old room and listen to CD's on her stereo system. Little Lulu was getting introduced to J-pop and boy bands. Squee.
"Moon Crisis, makeup!" Usagi shouted from the next room over.
That got more attention. Harry stood up immediately, as did Hermione and Ron. In the rush to stand, Ron dropped his soda (loads better than pumpkin juice in his eyes) and gave Harry a magic sex change. Others began to get up even as a blonde Harry jogged into the next room.
"… so we need to rush over! ...What do you mean 'I don't know where that is'? Whatever, just follow Mercury in. Moon out!" Harry stopped just in time to see Sailor Moon close her communicator and turn around. "Hey, guys! Who want to go kick monster ass?"
Ron raised his hand immediately. Others soon followed.
Sailor Mercury stood upon a third story balcony and scanned Ucchan's from across the street and two storefronts down. To her right, Sailor Mars visually searched the streets and rooftops around their perch for signs of approaching allies. Behind the two, Venus and Jupiter were pouring over a girls magazine with a twelve page spread on Usagi's return and public reveal. It was quality control, for the record. Gotta check these magazines for spin, right? The full page image of Harry carrying a distraught Usagi out for a mid-interview break was pretty steamy what with how it made Usagi look extra vulnerable and made Harry look extra beefcake.
"Hey guys, what's up?" Sailor Moon's voice caused Sailor Mars to look up in surprise. Straight up.
Harry and a silver haired Sailor Moon (Bandai is going to love this, ka-ching!) were riding tandem on his Firebolt. Immediately above and behind them were Hermione and Shampoo on one broom with Luna and Ranma next in line. Other brooms and their riders were just coming into view as they dove into the cityscape from above. Moon and Harry dismounted.
Mercury spoke up. "I'm detecting a daimon inside the restaurant two doors down on the other side of the street. Ucchan's. It seems to be a remnant of forces we've dealt with before… possibly created by Professor Tomoe before we assaulted Mugen Gakuen."
"Hostages?" Harry asked.
"There appear to be nearly one hundred unmoving humans inside the building… and one more unidentified energy source which I haven't encountered before. Right as I showed up, a police officer got too close to the front doors and ropes of some sort shot out and caught him, dragging him inside." Mercury looked up from the micro-computer in her hands. "The police just finished clearing this block and the media was here before I arrived. We'll be on camera from start to finish this time."
"No pressure then, huh?" Sailor Moon giggled. "Not that this creep should be any trouble after everything we've fought before."
"How about I just go down there, step inside and break the thing in half?" Ranma was getting antsy. His best friend… well, former best friend anyway… was in there and he wanted ol' Ucchan out of harm's way yesterday.
"That's not a good idea." Mars stopped Ranma from jumping to the ground below with a hand on his shoulder. "A daimon wouldn't think twice about using the people in there against us. And we don't want to break it in half. There's an innocent person in there somewhere and Sailor Moon will exorcize the evil from his body."
"And I don't want to smash up the building if I don't have too. I like okonomiyaki a lot and I refuse to smash up a perfectly good restaurant!" Sailor Moon absently ran her hand over her stomach while thinking about thankful business owners and free meals for life. Mmmmmmmm. "Ideas? Anyone?"
"We need to get it out of the restaurant." Jupiter offered. If they went inside, she would tear the place up just like Ranma.
"Can we set a trap for it?" Hermione asked. Sitting in the background doing nothing just wasn't working for the Gryffindor witch. The other Gryffindors were getting rather fidgety on their brooms as well.
"Sure, but who gets to be bait?" Jupiter returned.
The being once called Konatsu looked down at the little girl struggling before it.
Technically, its primary function was already complete. Daimons were originally designed to take Pure Heart Crystals and follow their master's orders. This daimon already plenty of crystals... but there was no master around to give it further instructions apart from repeating step one. Sure, step three was 'profit', but there seemed to be no step two today.
"You taste different to my senses. Perhaps your Heart Crystal will yield a sweet reward?" The girl who identified herself as 'Pretty Sammy' moaned into her napkin-gag at the daimon's threat.
Just as the daimon was about to call on its powers to rip Pretty Sammy's Pure Heart Crystal out of her chest, a wave of raw life energy washed through the building. The daimon looked up hungrily.
"Surely my master would want a Pure Heart Crystal from that human." Ignoring the crying would-be heroine on the floor, it stalked forward.
Outside, Sailor Moon watched as Ranma and Shampoo stood in the middle of an abandoned street. Above them, a group of broom riding wizards and witches were casting an ever-widening pattern of muggle-repellers and magical traps just in case the police present couldn't hold crowds back. Across the street from Ucchan's, the Senshi were deployed in two groups. Moon and her Inner Senshi were immediately across the street in a loose line. The Outer Senshi (less Setsuna who didn't answer the call) held themselves in reserve on the balcony that Moon and Mercury first occupied. Chibi-Moon was in the air next to her Daddy and Hermione today though she did wear her Senshi uniform under her favorite cloak.
The Greengrass ladies remained at the Tendo Dojo. Melian absolutely refused to let her babies risk themselves, not that the girls were feeling at all courageous... just a little curious. Lulu didn't want her new friend Cuteness to play a new game without her.
Ropes shot out of the restaurant entry door at the ki master. They missed.
"That the best you got, pussy?"
Ranma smacked her ass and blew a raspberry. Her female body may be weaker and smaller than her male one but it had speed aplenty.
Ropes shot out of the door twice more in a failed bid to catch the redheaded aquatransexual. Two more attacks aiming to drag Shampoo into the building failed. That's right Mister Bad Guy. If you want this, you have to come outside to get it.
After another minute, a form began to emerge from the depths of Ucchan's. The trap was working.
"Woah, Konatsu-chan! It's been a while! How's Ucchan these days?" The ki-master addressed the exposed daimon. "And what's with the red facepaint? You look like some Kabukicho whore."
Ranma continued to taunt the possessed kunoichi. She didn't know how much of Konatsu's skill the monster in front of him got to keep, but to Ranma's senses the magically cloaked broomriders sneaking in behind Konatsu were dangerously exposed.
Why were two broomriders being so Gryffindor as to be almost within arm's reach of today's baddie? They were silently casting unbreakable charms and locking charms on the Ucchan's storefront. Mercury assured them that there was only one bad guy today after a thorough scan of the area. It may not yet be safe enough for a rescue attempt, but they could keep the daimon out of Ucchan's too.
The spells were set. Magically speaking, the daimon was in a closed box now unless it could fly. Next was casting spells against the monster itself. Unfortuantely, Neville couldn't get 'Incarcerous' off completely silently and the daimon heard something behind it.
"Warrrrgggh!" The daimon spun and shot a stream of ropes towards Neville before his incantation was done.
Surprised he fell off his broom and landed on his right shoulder, wand falling to the wayside. Almost immediately, three red bolts from stunning spells shot towards the daimon. Now alerted to its predicament, the daimon dodged every spell as well as two ki balls. The attack still served its primary purpose; the other cloaked broomrider was thirty meters down range before he had enough self control to spin his broom around and continue the fight.
"Accio Neville's shirt!" Harry called from his new safer position.
As the hog tied wizard was pulled to safety by invisible hands, two martial artists closed to engage the enemy.
Harry motioned for the broomriders to pull back as not to spell the wrong target now that Ranma and Shampoo were getting up close and personal with the daimon. The beast did indeed keep some of Konatsu's skill with a bit more speed added on for good measure; the three of them were little more than blurs to anyone else.
Sailor Moon and the other Senshi had waited long enough. This diamon was in their home territory and they'd fought these things before. Moon gave her girls the signal to start their offensive.
"Mercury Aqua Mist!"
The shout caused scores of civilian witnesses to cheer in support, though Nabiki and her boys cursed. You can't film through a dense fog.
"Ranma! Shampoo! Please fall back!"
Unlike with their advantage over wizarding barriers, the ki users were as susceptible to Mercury's mist as anyone else. Ranma and Shampoo both moved back as well as they could after losing sight of the daimon and each other. Shampoo was especially wary of turning into a little cat mid-fight due to cold mists. Soon, the daimon was standing alone in the middle of a thick fog bank, confused. Its original programming was short on adaptability.
"Venus Love-Me Chain!"
Golden glowing links flowed around the daimon and pulled its arms against its sides. Mercury's mist began to dissipate.
If this were a normal daimon, Moon would pull out the big guns right here and finish things but the daimon had one last trick to play that came from manifesting in such a highly trained ninja. It brought both hands together and formed a series of seals with its fingers.
"Duplicating Body Technique!" The daimon yelled.
Ranma cursed from the sidelines and sped forward again. He had heard about Konatsu having a technique like this, but the kunoichi never seemed serious enough to use it before. Of course the damn monster would use it.
Venus's eyes began to widen as four copies of the daimon she had tied up appeared beside the first. Each of them noted the direction her chain pointed into the mist and released a barrage of throwing knives. Just as Venus was about to become a human pincushion, Ranma appeared between her and the cloud of steel blades.
Ranma's hands became a blur as he caught each and every knife thrown at Venus. Venus was too shocked to do anything but blink repeatedly.
"Jupiter Oak Evolution!" Jupiter had enough.
A pair of energy balls raced over the street immediately blasting two of the extra daimons out of existence. A third exploded when a ki ball tore through its chest. At least the clones seemed marginally slower than the original.
While the last daimon clone did manage to evade a ki ball of its own, it backed right into an Impedimentia Jinx. Shampoo's foot found and destroyed it a half second later. Ranma spied the original daimon trying to perform its hand seals again and grabbed its hands.
"Ranma! You might want to get out of the way!" Sailor Moon called. It was grand finale time.
"No way. She'll just make more clones again! You're just gonna use that white moon magic, right?" The redhead called back. Sailor Moon nodded. "Come on, Moon. Hit me!"
Moon looked towards Mercury with a troubled expression. Mercury pointed her computer in Ranma's direction and did her best to answer Moon's silent question with a quick scan.
"The Kaleidomoon Scope can and will clear the daimon from its victim. Ranma will be safe from harm." Sailor Moon nodded to Mercury. She didn't think someone like Ranma could be harmed by her high end magics, but she also didn't want to risk a spectacular mistake without a second opinion.
The last vapors of Mercury's mist dissipated. Every Senshi, wizard, witch and martial artist were now visible to the world at large. And it was the world at large... Nabiki and her crew weren't the only news team on station anymore and the crowd must have grown by several thousand in the past few minutes. Well... it was lunch time and street traffic was high. Getting a crowd of several thousand was easy in Ginza under most circumstances.
Showtime. Sailor Moon drew back and prepared for her attack, silver hair trailing behind her in shiny, eye catching streamers. Then she lunged forward.
"MOON GORGEOUS MEDITATION!" Sailor Moon unleashed her most potent focused spell right into Ranma and the possessed kunoichi.
The attack manifested just as it always had before, a thick beam of prismatic energy heading unerringly towards the target of Moon's ire. Due to the size of the beam, Ranma caught just as much of it as Konatsu did.
In the crowd behind the action, several people cried out at what looked like a bad case of friendly fire.
As the attack subsided, the destroyed daimon egg fell free of Konatsu's right hand and the male kunoichi fell onto his own backside.
"Woah..." Ranma stumbled off to one side before putting her hands on her knees and starting a deep breathing exercise.
"A-Airen?" Shampoo asked nervously.
"I'm fine. Really. Better than that actually. I feel great!"
Ranma punctuated that sentence with a surprise snog for Shampoo right in the middle of the street in full view of anyone watching.
"Shampoo. You may need to keep Ranma out of trouble for a day or two." Mercury warned the purple haired Amazon after using her Mercury Computer to run a scan on the redhead.
"Why? Moon beam not as innocent as you thought it would be?"
"It wasn't harmful, I promise!" Mercury didn't like the look in Shampoo's eye. It meant pain for anyone who harmed her man. "Your husband (Shampoo had to grin when the Senshi called Ranma that) was hit with a purifying, love based magical beam. Hi- her life force and body are supercharged. You should expect her to be very fertile and affectionate for hours… maybe days."
Shampoo rather liked hearing this news.
"Unless the two of you are planning on becoming parents sometime soon, you should be extra careful for a while."
"We are always careful."
Venus walked up next to Mercury and looked over her shoulder at the palm sized supercomputer. "Perhaps you should use two condoms at the same time… or have him put it somewhere else?"
Mercury went scarlet at Venus's suggestion while Shampoo seemed to consider things. The Amazon leaned in closer to Venus.
"Do not make my husband any offers, little girl."
Venus paled and backed away. In truth, her close call with the knives really turned her on something fierce, but Shampoo's throaty growl was an excellent mood killer. As Shampoo turned to deal with an increasingly horny female husband, the combined international magical rescue coalition converged on Konatsu and Ucchan's.
Ron and Neville undid the spellwork on the Ucchan's front door allowing the Senshi and other magicals to stream in. Once inside, the girls began to perform a task they had plenty of experience in doing before… returning Pure Heart Crystals to their owners. It would take time for all of the victims to recover, but they would eventually.
There was one victim that would need to be handled differently from the others…
"Moon! Over here!" Mars called out.
One bound young girl had been conscious the whole time… and bawling her eyes out for most of it. As Moon stepped up followed closely by Harry, Mars pulled a ball of napkins out of the light blue haired would-be heroine's mouth.
"Tennnnchiiiiiiiiii! –hic- Big sister! I'm scared!" Pretty Sammy continued to cry as Harry pulled a wand out and magically undid her bindings.
Usagi pulled the girl into a tight hug and began to reassure her that it was over and that she would be with her Tenchi and her big sister as soon as the Senshi could find them. Chibi-Moon came up behind the young magical girl and hugged her from behind. While staring at the odd display of silver, light blue and pink hair in front of him, Harry collected his thoughts and looked over to his group to see how things were going. The wizards and witches were done unbinding victims and were now using magic to clean up the dining room.
Daimon attacks can be messy affairs when the victims try to get away.
"Hey, Gin. 'Mione. Could you go outside and drop the muggle repellers? We should let the locals back in." The witches looked back at Harry and nodded. On her way out, Gin snagged Neville's hand and pulled him outside with her. The more the merrier, yeah? Ron's eyes narrowed and he followed the others out. Luna picked up Pretty Sammy's discarded scepter and began to study it intently. She wanted to make one of her own just like it.
Usagi's stomach growled.
"Hey, hun." An unsteady voice called out from behind her. "I don't know why I feel like crap or why my restaurant is full of magical girls, but if you want something to eat then you came to the right place. For you, today's lunch is on the house… what do you say?"
Kuonji Ukyo just made a friend for life. Sailor Moon looked over the menu board.
"I'll have two Ran-chan specials with extra sauce, please!"
Things were going to be okay. After learning that Sailor Moon was serious about her two Ran-chan specials, Harry apparated over to the dojo to collect the Greengrass ladies and bring them back to Ginza for lunch. Soon, the whole Senshi-wizarding party was sitting down to eat.
Ucchan's may have to eat one lunch rush without full compensation, but if the crowds and the news crews outside were any indication then getting attacked by a daimon was the best kind of advertising money could buy. If Ukyo saw her ex-fiancé Ranma and ex-rival Shampoo enter Ucchan's arm in arm, she didn't show it. The shock of this morning's excitement left her with just enough control to get Konatsu up and moving again so that Ukyo herself could get behind the grill. She could deal with ex-fiancés after the magical girl lunch rush was over.
Tenchi and big sister Ayeka showed up halfway through lunch to pull Sasami 'Pretty Sammy' Jurai aside to fuss over her and deliver a stern lecture on calling for help and not scaring her big sister half to death. Yes, Jurai. Yes, Sasami and her family were the very same aliens Pluto said would help evacuate the Earth if the worst case scenario ever came to pass. She's even a princess, just like Cuteness, and has the potential to grow into a very powerful young woman one day. Eventually, Tenchi and Ayeka calmed down enough to let Sasami have some lunch with the Senshi.
Harry and Usagi introduced themselves to the Juraians to be hospitable and to find out more about this alien empire Pluto mentioned the other night. Tenchi once thought he was a normal boy only to discover fate had it in for him in epic fashion. That sounds familiar, doesn't it? He started amassing a rather impressive collection of exotic, powerful and opinionated females in short order. That sounds familiar twice. Tenchi was apparently one quarter Juraian (on his mother's side) but still royal enough to be considered the odds on favorite for Emperor when his great-grandfather steps down. Okay, so Harry was marrying into an alien royal line whose influence was restricted to a single star system… pretty damn good by local standards even if the Juraian royal family runs a galaxy spanning space empire which makes the Silver Millennium look tiny in comparison.
Tenchi and his girls were invited to the wedding, of course.
Upon discovering another girl that was both centuries older than she looked and would likely live many thousands of years longer, Cuteness immediately started giving Sasami pointers on how to be a magical girl without getting killed- or worse, grounded. Seeing that curiosity was eating Lulu alive, Harry took pity on the girl and let her borrow his translator ring. After a quick thank you hug, she slid around to where Cuteness and Sasami were sitting and joined the magical girl training program.
"…today in Ginza when the Senshi and Sailor Moon's new English allies came to the rescue of a younger magical girl that had stepped in over her head…"
Setsuna continued to sample a bottle of wine from her rather extensive collection as she watched Nabiki's special report on prime time news. She originally wanted to watch through the Gate, but there were three Jusenkyo victims involved, so all she got was static. Setsuna was forced to watch from afar and then look for Miss Tendo's report to air that evening. If the Senshi of Time and Space wanted to keep any kind of control over events as they unfolded from here on out, it was obvious that she would have to spend more time involved in the day to day activities of her Princess and her Princess's chosen court. Very well… it was always a foregone conclusion that she would do exactly that one day, but the Gate historically pointed to her switch from part time to full time participant as being sometime after Sailor Moon's next great enemy rather than before. This was the penalty for allowing not just one but three Jusenkyo cursed people to have daily interactions with her future Queen. It couldn't be helped.
At least she could still make adjustments to the players even if the future was less clear and the Gate was keeping more secrets from her. The alien princess Pretty Sammy was a good example and one that Setsuna was quite proud of.
Sasami Jurai was a difficult girl to influence if for no other reason than the obscene number of high-powered alien sensor arrays that one of her housemates managed to pack into local space as well as several nearby sub-space pocket dimensions. As a result, Sasami was most vuler- err... accessible when she went out on weekly shopping trips. A little Senshi sleight of hand later and Sasami 'accidentally' purchased a magical girl fan magazine rather than the cooking journal she originally wanted.
Setsuna just sat back and watched from that point as Sasami Jurai became a rabid Senshi fan and then begged for a magical girl costume for Christmas. As one of her close family friends (the super-scientist one who owned all of those sub-space pocket dimensions) felt that a fake magical girl outfit was way too boring, little Sasami got her very own genuine magical girl uniform complete with energy-beam absorbing silk, silly bows, girlie-girl hair ornaments and one fully functioning Juraian power focus set inside of a faux magical scepter.
Luckily, Setsuna was able to get even closer when the Juraian Princess took a trip with one of her close school friends into Ginza for the day. A little nudge here and there led to Sasami just barely escaping the daimon's first grab when they went for lunch at Ucchan's. Equally as important, Pretty Sammy was too new at the whole 'saving people' thing to call for help and she was also too slow to pull the trigger on that scepter of hers. Sasami needs to learn how to use that thing before she ends up killing someone intends to save.
Nabiki just happened to be in the area and just happened to know how to get the word out to Sailor Moon when little Pretty Sammy got her first failing grade in Magical Girl School. Coincidence? Not likely.
The Senshi of Pluto let out a huge breath of relief when Ranma stepped in to save Venus from a very painful near death experience. That was unexpected. It's also what you get when you try to control the flow of time when Jusenkyo's local influence is too high.
In the end, it all worked out for the best. Harry and Usagi met the future Juraian Royal Family under very favorable conditions. This ensures a friendly relationship with alien royals who could make Usagi's planet hopping dreams much easier to achieve. Sasami now sees Sailor Moon as a role model and Cuteness as a friend and equal. These were good indicators for the future. Yes, it was time for Setsuna to take a more active, day to day role in things than she had before. She picked up her phone and dialed a number.
The phone rang twice before someone picked up. "Hello, Mamoru… No, no. There is no Senshi emergency. I don't need to wait for the world to be on the edge of collapse to call you, do I?"
Setsuna looked at the open bottle of wine in front of her and silently considered which vintage would be a better match for the rest of her evening.
"You're absolutely right, Mamoru. Usagi and Harry are looking to make some pretty big changes and I'm going to need your assistance in smoothing out some details that teenagers can't be bothered to consider. Just you and me- Usagi and Harry promised to attend some funerals back in England and the first one will be starting in an hour. Harry's Divination Professor. No, she didn't see it coming. Perhaps we can discuss things at your place tonight? I'll bring the wine..." Setsuna smiled impishly at his response. "I knew you'd say that. No, Mamoru I haven't been using the Gate just to stalk you… I've been using the Gate to stalk everyone. It's my job, you know."
Setsuna concluded her phone call with the Prince of Earth with a bit of small talk, a few kind words and a promise to be at his door in ten minutes. She smiled to herself. She could knock on his door while still on the phone but timing was important. Make him wait.
If Setsuna was finally going to step out of the wings and take a front line position, she would have to get her hands dirty, right? Chiba Mamoru was about to learn that when Meioh Setsuna chose to get her hands dirty, she got them very, very dirty.
Two slender hands slowly worked their way through a selection of album covers. They were old and worn, but they had just what she was looking for. One record was singled out for a closer inspection before being set down on an antique record player. The speed was set and a needle carefully lowered onto pressed vinyl.
Myrtle Merryweather backed away and began to sway her hips as the first track on a big band record started.
"Oh honey…" The Ravenclaw sang along, "Picture me upon your knee, with tea for two and two for tea…"
"I see you found Gran's records." Her boyfriend called out as he leaned against a door jamb and watched her dance.
"Yes! Thank you very much for pointing them out earlier!"
A long curtain of black hair fanned out behind the witch as she spun in circles. After spending fifty years with the same twin tails, that one small change felt heavenly. And then for Christmas- for Christmas, Mister and Misses Creevey took Myrtle into town and got her some contact lenses! Oh, she felt like a completely different person already!
Today, the Creevey family was spending time with their family patriarch in the old family home up near Thames Head. There was a time when the whole family (save Grandad and his brothers) waited out the London Blitz here in the countryside.
"I love it here. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with your house… but being here just reminds me so much of my old home." The ex-ghost bumped up against the back of a straight backed chair, giggled and continued dancing. She was getting better about that.
"I don't doubt it." Colin replied, eyes firmly locked on Myrtle's lower half. He could care less how many times she forgot that walls were solid as long as he got to help her get back up each time she bounced off of one. "Grandad hasn't changed a thing here since he first got married. Even the boiler is old… you have to stoke the fires by hand if you want any hot water."
"And the stove is a wood burning one too. I learned how to cook on one just like it."
Myrtle finished her dance as the track stopped.
"So she has an ear for fine music and knows how to cook, eh?" Colin's Grandad spoke up, having just come up from the cellar with a fresh bottle of whiskey. "She's looking more and more like your Gran, God bless her soul. Now if only she'd get this old man a clean glass then I can leave you two alone 'till your Mum has supper ready."
"Yes, sir." "Yes, Grandad." The two teens replied.
Unfortunately, Myrtle didn't think things all the way through. She remembered right where the glasses were kept in the next room over, but she had a bit of a relapse as to how best to move between rooms.
"Myrtle!" Colin ran over to the girl who had one hand on the wall and one covering her nose. Walls were not for walking through.
Grandad just shook his head. "The eye doctor got her prescription wrong, Colin. I'll tell your father to take her back again in the morning."
As the old man went to get his own whiskey glass, two teens began to laugh.
Kreacher appeared in the middle of the Tendo Dojo and shuddered. He had been given what was supposed to be a simple task by Lord Potter. Get a copy of the Prophet and check up on all of Master's friends and acquaintances in England. It sounded easy... and really should have been except for one thing. Some things, once seen, cannot be unseen.
The two slick, sweaty rutting humans never even noticed a house elf POP into the next room over at their flat. Not expecting visitors, Tonks and Moony hadn't even made it as far as the bedroom before going hard core.
As the magical servant reached out for a copy of the Daily Prophet sitting on Moony's kitchen table, he heard the metamorph yell 'Who's a bad wolfie? You are!' and looked up. Through a doorway into the living room, he spied a pink haired red-riding-hooded girl pinned to the floor by The Big Bad Wolf.
Would Master want to be informed of their activities? Kreacher hoped not.
Once the paper was secure, the house elf POP'd out again. Lord Potter never actually said that Kreacher had to pay for the paper, did he?
ALBUS DUMBLEDORE LAID TO REST
By Terry Nesbitt-Pepperpot
Professor Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, Grand Sorcerer, Order of Merlin - First Class, Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards and Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot was laid to rest on Hogwarts grounds yesterday in a ceremony that was attended by wizards and witches from across the United Kingdom as well as dozens of representatives from I.C.W. member nations.
While the Wizarding World is still recovering from the night he was brutally murdered within Hogwarts walls along side Professor of Divination, Sibyll Trelawney and four unidentified students. The attack by dark wizards coincided with an attack on the Ministry Yule Ball in which Minister Rufus Scrimgeour and thirteen other ball attendees died at the hands of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and two dozen of his followers. The Chosen One, Lord Harry James Potter and his Lady, Crown Princess Usagi Serenity Potter were able to prevent the Dark Lord from capturing and enslaving Wizarding Britain's upper crust en mass.
At the funeral, a somber congregation listened to eulogies by Interim Minister Pius Thicknesse, Professor Griselda Marchbanks and Lord Harry James Potter among others. Lord Potter surprised many by speaking warmly of Dumbledore's tireless dedication to light causes. Many expected the Chosen One to use the occasion to criticize his Headmaster and former Magical Guardian yet he did nothing of the sort. Crown Princess Usagi followed her husband's example and extolled the virtues of Love, which Dumbledore considered to be the controvercial 'power he knows not' of prophecy. The Moon Princess asked everyone present to believe in Love as Albus Dumbledore did.
As official proceedings drew to a close, a phoenix, thought to be Dumbledore's familiar Fawkes, flashed above the crowds, sang notes of sadness and comfort before flashing away to parts unkown. Wizards and witches of every social caste and background remained for hours after the funeral was officially over, waiting in line for as long as two hours to pay their last respects at the foot of Albus Dumbledore's monument. The monument, built directly against the castle wall, was erected at the very spot where Albus fell in magical combat when a portion of the Headmaster's tower collapsed with him inside. Lord Potter himself repaired much of the tower and what remained of the broken stone and timbers he could not return were used to entomb a wizard many claim was the greatest man to be born on these isles since Merlin himself.
For more on Black Christmas, see page 2.
For more on the state of the Ministry and Hogwarts, see page 5.
For more on Crown Princess Potter, Mortal or Divine?, see pages 3 thru 5.
"Good morning, Your Highness!" Setsuna's seemed rather chipper this morning.
Usagi thought it was too early, herself. It felt like she had just barely gotten any sleep at all last night before hearing the green haired woman's call. Usagi let out a snort or two followed by some incoherent mumbling as she slowly fell to the Sandman's influence once again.
"Why, Your Highness..." Setsuna seemed to gently scold, "How can you be so unprepared for your own wedding? Up! Wake up!"
Crown Princess Sleepyhead groaned and rolled over. Why was she alone in bed? What was that annoying woman talking about?
"I understand, Your Highness. It was a big surprise to all of us… such a big change… but you did the right thing yesterday and now Crystal Tokyo is guaranteed."
Setsuna must have opened the curtains because more light entered the room. Ugh. What happened yesterday, anyway?
"You should clean yourself up now, my Princess, and get a bath as soon as possible…" Footsteps seemed to move away from the window on a path back to the bedroom door. "… mustn't keep your groom waiting at the altar."
"Unngg –snort- married… soooo soooonnn?"
"I know, but you were quite insistent last night. Thank you, Your Highness. The sacrifices you make for the good of the future will not be forgotten." The footsteps paused right about where the door should be. "Congratulations, Misses Ronald Bilius Weasley!"
Usagi shot up in bed, eyes wide.
Downstairs, several people flinched at the sound of Ultimate Suffering.
As a panicky Harry -pop- went to save his Princess Buttercup, Prince Humperd- er, Setsuna Meioh hopped downstairs and into the family room. Setsuna counted half a dozen witches staring at her. "I'm sure she'll find it was just a horrible nightmare."
She looked a bit like Gred and Forge after a particularly difficult prank succeeded beyond their wildest expectations. Ginny smiled. The redhead may not have been the one to make Usagi scream like that, but she felt loads better about her summer and fall now that someone got the Moon Princess good.
"Soooooo… How long until breakfast is ready?" Setsuna inquired to no-one in particular. She could afford to not-know-everything for another half hour before her talents would be called into play elsewhere.
"Dobby be making breakfast to order, Miss. What does Miss wish to have?"
You see? She didn't know that would happen and the world isn't crashing down around her. How novel.
January 3rd, 1997
"You still haven't told me how it went with the twins." Usagi muttered as she batted her eyelashes at the mirror, looking for a flaw in her makeup to correct. She looked back at her mother, who gave her a thumbs up. Putting on a formal kimono was not easy.
Beside Usagi, Ami was pulling her obi into proper alignment. To the other side, Daphne and Melian were subjecting Hermione to that most heinous form of torture set aside for traditional European women's fashion- the corset. The sacrifices one made for a meeting with the Emperor of Japan.
"Nothing happened! Fred and George just wanted my advice on a few of their projects. Harry helped me get to their shop in Diagon Alley. We talked shop for an hour or two. They showed me how to travel by floo. We had lunch at their mother's house. I met Mister and Misses Weasley as well as their older brother Percy. We went back to the shop. Harry brought the three of us back for the party and we celebrated the New Year with you. That's all there is to it." Ami sounded perfectly at ease, but there was a hint of blush under her makeup.
"Did Molly hug you? Was her hug painfully tight?" Hermione broke into the conversation once her pureblood handmaidens for the night were done robbing her of breath.
Behind her, Melian smoothed out the formal dress robes Hermione could now shimmy into. Daphne moved her wand up to spell a complicated braid pattern into the Gryffindor witch's hair. Hermione may not be pureblood, but she was representing Magical England today and they wanted her to look her very best. All three English witches were wearing enchanted jade hoop earrings and were thus able to follow The Inquisition.
"She hugged me but not tightly. What would that mean?"
"Hmmm." Hermione paused. "She usually goes to extremes. Misses Weasley smothers family and those she considers family… I think she envisioned Harry and I joining her family through marriages to Ginny and Ron. I got bruises from her coddling last Christmas. On the other hand, Molly practically ignores Fleur Delacour in spite of the fact that Fleur is engaged to Bill, the oldest Weasley son."
"I may not be part of Molly's social circle, dears," Melian offered, "but I have seen her meet and greet along Diagon Alley over the years. It's always one extreme or the other with her."
"She did comment on how polite and quiet I was. She didn't expect that from any girl Fred and George would bring home. I think she felt safe that there was only one of me… It's not like they're going to share a girlfriend."
Hermione took a moment from surveying the lotions and makeup options Daphne had out. "That's actually the kind of thing I would expect from them. Ever the pranksters, bringing one girl home instead of two... and I've never seen them show any witch in Hogwarts the kind of respect they show you, Ami. They didn't even consider pranking you once."
Usagi had a giggle fit as Ami blushed almost hard enough for her cheeks to match her lipstick.
With only five minutes to go before a limo from the Imperial Household Agency was scheduled to arrive, the girls finally made their way to the living room in full regalia. Melian and Ikuko came down first; the Tokyo mother had a digital camera in hand.
Harry knew the girls were going formal thus his own choice to wear his formal black robes from the Yule Ball, after fixing the battle damage, of course. While he did consider all three girls to be quite stunning, he simply did not know what was about to come around the corner.
"Oh, Sweet Merlin... I must be dreaming." Harry was doing quite well, all things considered. He was able to speak without picking his jaw up off the floor. Sailor Pluto stood beside him, Garnet Rod in hand. Cuteness and Lulu both sat on the floor with scorecards and fat black markers.
Ami's kimono was a work of art, a sea scape in silk with stylized cresting waves crashing back and forth in lighter and lighter shades of blue as they progressed from toe to collar. Her obi was navy blue with narrow silver chords near the top and bottom edges. A pair of silver enchanted kanzashi pulled her hair into flowing blue waves rolling around a tight bun. With all of the blue around them, Ami's bright red lips were almost as hypnotic as her softly glowing sigil.
Pluto assured everyone that between Ami's elaborate formal wear and a light application of Mercury Power, they would not have to worry about her identity being discovered.
Ikuko's flash went off. Cuteness gave Ami a ten. Lulu, a five out of five. Harry gave her a compliment nice enough to burn her cheeks yet again.
A witch stepped up beside Ami.
"Daphne, when is OH MY GOD!" It wasn't Daphne that Harry saw enter the room even if it was the kind of dress you might expect a pureblood socialite to wear in good company.
More flashes. Cuteness held up another ten. Lulu gave six out of five with a small note stating 'Mummy does good work.'
Hermione's skirt was an elaborate series of rose colored satin and white lace ridges pulled into a long ribbon at the small of her back. Smooth satin and rich velvet coiled tightly around her waist which seemed quite a bit narrower than he remembered it ever being before. The rose tinted fabrics gave way to pure white lace from just above her chest to a high neck line with matching lace at her wrists. Hermione was also wearing a Greengrass family heirloom, a cameo of Queen Luna of the Moon over a soft pink background. Her hair was a pulled into a series of braids and loose ringlets which Harry had already seen Daphne wear on more than one occasion, thus the confusion.
"'Mione? Is that really you?"
Ami and Hermione looked at each other and sighed. They both owed Usagi five hundred yen after her bold declaration that Harry would need proof that Hermione was really Hermione and not a secret Greengrass sibling come out of hiding.
"Honestly, Harry. Do I really look all that different?" She huffed, or rather she tried to. The whalebone corset was really making things difficult for her. No wonder girls used to faint regularly.
"Hermione, dear. You look every bit the pureblood princess... a Victorian goddess in that dress. You make me feel common in comparison." That was the effect that Daphne and Melian wanted and it worked marvelously.
Harry heard more footsteps approaching and turned his head. Okay, there was Daphne and with her was... was...
Flash, flash, flash, flash... Lulu's sign read 'Lots!' Cuteness claimed over nine thousand.
"Bunny! Oh, you make me so proud!" Ikuko had to stop taking pictures so she could get a handkerchief out and take care of those pesky tears.
Setsuna may have assisted in Ami's search for a good kimono, but she ordered this one custom for her Crown Princess a long time ago. Above and below a bright red cherry blossom patterned obi was a silk field of gold, yellow, blue, white and pink in such a dense pattern that it was nearly fractal in detail. Pluto had to go back in time to get this one hand stitched by a true master of the craft… after she personally stitched an example of a pattern she once saw Queen Tranquility wearing a long time ago in a ballroom far, far away. Ruby red lips and a golden moon sigil sat high up on a pedestal as Usagi's silver tresses were pulled and twisted above the neck in their entirety. A pair of golden kanzashi did the impossible by channeling her hair into a wide bow resting on top of a bun which supported chin length bangs in the front and dozens of narrow looped braids to the rear.
Harry couldn't find the either his jaw or the words to describe what he felt.
After a few dozen more shots of her precious Bunny were taken, Ikuko turned the camera on Harry. Speechless? Sure, but his was a good face to have when words failed.
"I think you broke him." Cuteness stage whispered to her Momma.
Giggles rippled through the room.
"Is, um... is the makeup mess resistant?" Harry managed to squeak out.
"Of course it is." Melian replied. The Ravenclaw really, really liked her new earrings. "Her makeup and dress are spelled against damage so heavily now that she could take a cutting curse in the face and not get a scratch!"
Harry took two quick steps forward and pulled his Love into a deep kiss.
Flash, flash, flash, flash... Lulu's sign showed thirteen out of seven, a magically powerful combination. Cuteness's sign now had a fat panda holding its own sign proclaiming 'Now the schools will finally be joined!'
The front door bell rang.
"Your Highness," Pluto spoke up, "the limo is here. It is time to meet the Emperor."
Harry made another visual sweep of the room with his eyes. He and the girls were sitting on one side of a long banquet table in the Imperial Residence. Tea with the Emperor; until a few minutes ago, the occasion had been as stiff and formal as Harry expected it to be.
While Aunt Petunia was almost always stiff and formal during those rare occasions when Harry was permitted to help her entertain, that was about the only detail that he could relate to past experiences. Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon worked hard to put up a front of wealth and influence when they had neither.
Their Majesties, the Emperor and Empress of Japan worked hard to set aside their positions once protocol allowed and began to dote on Usagi and Ami as if they were favored grandchildren. Emperor Akihito then turned to Harry and explained how he expected the young Lord to treat Usagi lest there be a reckoning in the future. Before Usagi could come to his defense, Harry swore a magically binding oath to love and honor Usagi for as long as he lived.
Harry's use of magic opened the door to a discussion of avatars like Moon and Mercury and how they differed from the wizards and witches that Harry and Hermione represented today. Harry gave a brief explanation of how every witch and wizard had a magical core and how genetics seemed to play a role even though magic was known to simply appear in normal bloodlines, Miss Granger being a good example of the latter. Empress Michiko asked if any studies were underway looking for recessive genetic markers related to magical cores.
For the first time that day, the subject of the magical-muggle separation was breached.
"So the Inquisition was after genuine witches from the beginning? That does put European history under a new light." Emperor Akihito mused.
"If only the light weren't so dim, Sir." Harry added, now comfortable enough that he hardly remembered his host was an Emperor. "Since the secrecy statutes were enacted, the magical population of England has made no attempts to study the impact separation has on either population. The Wizarding World is completely divorced of the non-wizarding world as far as I can tell. Well… I take that back. There must be at least some way for the Ministry of Magic to interact with muggle England or Sirius Black would never have never become the subject of a nationwide manhunt."
"Are you suggesting, Lord Potter, that the separation has done more harm than good?" The Empress asked.
Harry caught her use of titles and vowed to pay more attention to his own speech. "I believe it has, Your Majesty. One need only look at the lives saved by our beloved Senshi to see the impact even a handful of magically capable people can have on the world. Wizards and witches may not have the same power as Sailor Moon or Sailor Mercury, but they number in the tens and hundreds of thousands when you only have nine Senshi… or ten if you include the Senshi in training Chibi-Moon."
"Eleven, my love. Don't forget yourself!" Usagi and Ami giggled as Harry's face flushed.
"But are you so sure that these wizards will use their powers for the benefit of mankind once the magical and non-magical worlds are re-introduced?" Emperor Akihito does make for a good devil's advocate, something that Harry will never get out of Usagi. For that matter, Hermione is also prone to ignore constructive criticism when she's up on her pulpit.
"That right there is one of the best reasons for magicals to study non-magical world history. Wizarding England is fully two centuries behind their own neighbors at all levels of society and technology. Why I doubt even half of my classmates at Hogwarts realize that modern man has set foot on the Moon, and did so before my generation was born." Harry's been borrowing Hermione's pulpit a bit more often recently. Having the President of S.P.E.W. and Sailor Moon as his two closest confidants has certainly made its mark on him.
"We are not suggesting that the schism be repaired overnight." Ami added. "As evidenced by Japan's own troubled industrialization and the upheaval of the nineteen forties, it's clear that the modern world must be very careful when making connections to a society that is so radically different from itself in so many ways. We don't claim to have the solution yet. We are willing to put our best effort into finding that solution."
Since Usagi's welcome home party, the Senshi of Mercury has been spending less time pondering the mysteries of physics and biology and more time considering politics and human behavior. Her short term conclusion is that far more research and planning needs to be done.
"You wish to make the world a better place for the greater good of all mankind."
Whether the Emperor was setting a verbal trap or not, Harry had felt more than enough heartache due to those words to ignore them.
"That phrase needs to be clearly defined ahead of time. Headmaster Dumbledore was willing to let terrible things happen to me and Usagi both, all for the Greater Good. I never did get to ask him what he thought the Greater Good was supposed to be."
"You have an excellent point, Lord Potter." The elder ruler looked to his wife who nodded slightly in his direction. A decision was made. "Michiko and I believe that your ideals are to be commended, and if anyone can achieve them certainly you will. Crown Princess Serenity… Lord Potter… I offer you my support and the support of my family in achieving your destiny. Even if you need only the ear of an old man who understands what it means to deal with politicians day in and day out. Perhaps now we should invite Prime Minister Nakasone and Ambassador Sir Wright into the discussion?"
Harry and the ladies soon learned that meeting the Imperial couple first was about the best thing that could have happened. While Minister Nakasone did initially thank Sailor Moon and Sailor Mercury for their service to Japan, he quickly switched to backhanded compliments when the few reporters invited were sent away. He also made several oblique criticisms of vigilantism and delinquency while completely ignoring the British magicals present. At least he was more polite about it than Snape was in Hogsmeade. Ambassador Sir Wright's problem involved two British Subjects suddenly popping up in Japan after completely vanishing between primary and secondary school. Harry wasn't sure at first, but the man seemed to think he had found evidence of an international cult. With permission from Their Majesties, Harry and Hermione put on a magical demonstration that left Akihito and Michiko giddy (under their reserved countenances, of course), Nakasone unsettled and Ambassador Sir Wright thinking that the sky might actually be green after all. A quick apparation to Sir Wright's childhood home to nip a bottle of single malt scotch and bring it back to Japan in less than ten minutes was a rather impressive feat by any measure. With the shock of magic being real after all, he wasn't the least bit ready to discuss magical terror cells and secret Ministries. He did promise to report back to Her Majesty the Queen Mum and recommend an audience with Lord Potter and Miss Granger.
All that time Hermione spent preparing defenses for their future plans regarding something akin to world or interplanetary conquest was wasted. Bother. At least by the end of the meeting only one person in four wanted to burn them at the stake. Harry and Usagi could work with a seventy-five percent approval rating.
Of course, the Imperial family was invited to Usagi's wedding. Michiko promised to bring the entire clan with her. It was possible that Prime Minster Nakasone's invitation might get lost in the mail or something.
By the time four magical teens said their goodbyes to Akihito and Michiko, Usagi absolutely refused to return to the dojo. She was high on life and wearing the most gorgeous kimono she'd ever laid eyes on. Usagi retrieved her Senshi communicator and called all her girls together. They were hitting Asakusa to celebrate the holidays and she wasn't taking no for an answer. Yes, wear your uniforms. No, Ami, keep your kimono on. Yes, bring Usagi's family and Harry's friends... and Ranma and Shampoo as well if you can pry them off each other. In that limo, Usagi really felt like a Crown Princess and she did not want it to end. By Royal Decree, it would continue at least for one evening of public fun, friends and family. Even better, Pluto didn't try to shut her down... instead she changed into the Moon Kingdom equivalent of a Little Black Dress and invited Tuxedo Mask to meet them for dinner.
Thank Merlin for muggle repellers and notice-me-nots as they would be vital for crowd control.
Let the spectacle begin.
Chapter Notes: And another chapter passes in which neither Makoto nor Luna find a way into Harry's bed. Blame it on the depressing events of Black Christmas and the a need to rest and recoup.
My flower girl list now includes Cuteness, Luthien, Gabrielle and Sasami. That's a lot of uber-cute little girls.
ariel stormcloud; Hanzo of the Salamander; god of all; SomeGuyFawkes; The Bellmaker; boomwarrior13 – Thank you for reviewing.
Deathless Insanity – Cuteness's change was reversed when Setsuna got the time stream back on track (mostly). Santa didn't get Voldemort what he wanted for Christmas, so the Dork Lard will sit and stew for a bit before making his next fiendish move. He might just survive long enough to attend the wedding after all.
Fire From Above – Culture shock indeed. If I were into writing those super detailed plotless chapters that some authors get off on, then I would need another 20-40k words for Luna and the Greengrass women reacting to Japan. As I do eventually want to finish this story, I can't do that.
Twylyte – And a bit more politics. I figure even if the Emperor wasn't being genuine to Usagi (tho I like to think he was), the Imperial family would want to network with Crown Princess Sailor Moon. I expect Setsuna and Mamoru will lead the political charge, not Usagi and Harry.
deitarion/SSokolow – No specific elements, huh? I'm gonna have to try harder then.
Soraskage Sama – Herb done the deed.
Memories-of-the-Shadows – The alt-Cuteness upset Pluto enough for her to want to do something about the Juraians. Now, if worst comes to worst, the Juraians would at least show Usagi and her daughter a bit more respect for having saved Sasami before.
ChronoBlade – Even at it's most specific point, the prophecy is open to interpretation. Harry has plenty of powers Voldie knows shit about and he could easily appoint someone to be his 'right hand' for a nasty task. I want Voldie to understand just how big the universe is and just how powerful some non-wizarding sentients are right before he gets his ticket punched.
Cloud Dancer1014 – I haven't forgotten Makoto, she's just the victim of bad timing. What I had planned for a New Year's Eve party is getting pushed back to the Going Back to England party. She might get hers next chapter.
WhiteElfElder – I'm not setting Nev up with a harem, but he's now got more than one girl interested in him. Pluto, Uranus and Neptune are always portrayed as the more violently aggressive Senshi where the Inners are the more defensive love-conquers-all types. I bet that if you portray Pluto from certain perspectives or with a bit of spin then she could be a rather effective Dark Lady.
Wonderbee31 – Ranma may still be forced to appear before an altar... his mother may demand it. Having Nodoka show up at the Dojo in a snit about Ranma being in town and not saying 'hi' could be good for next chapter.
nate – Yes, Nev has options, but he won't be saying yes to all of them. He strikes me as a one woman kind of man. In school, I had spelling/grammar problems. Four hundred thousand words of fanfiction did more to fix that than all the years I went to school/college combined. Go for it.
Lerris – I'll look into that archive. Never heard of it before.
jgkitarel – Umbridge is an evil bitch. Luckily, she only thrives when the system is tolerant of her crap. Thicknesse doesn't like her and Damien likes her even less. Her days are numbered.
TrowGundam – You could call it a background plot thread – make as many anime and manga character sets real at the same time as possible while not overloading the system. I may or may not have Skuld, Goddess of the Future, give Pluto a stern talking to at some point. Pluto's been shitting all over mankind's free will, hasn't she?
cross-over-lover232 – I'm doing Veela and Violence alternately by chapters. Each story gets updated on average once a month although I always hope to speed it up a bit more. It's about time I do another future scene isn't it? The final epilogue will definitely be in the distant future, just like the one in Girl Who Loved.