"Son of a fucking bitch, and all her pups." Yusuke woke up, rolled over, and held his head. "I'm awake ... sort of." He rolled one eye, looking for his personal attendant.
That waka was awake and ready. "Here you go, Oojisama, hang-over potion. Pain potion for the muscle aches ... and tea to take away the taste."
Yusuke gulped the potions, still halfway flat on his back; he sat up to drink his tea, the kakifuton still wrapped around his shoulders. The waka politely refrained from saying that he looked like death warmed over, even though he did.
The waka brought breakfast and more tea. Yusuke grunted, drank tea and suffered. The hangover potion had done its job, but the amount of sake Yusuke had drunk had dehydrated him. The tea would help, but it would take time.
While Yusuke was waking up, the rest of the drinkers were doing the same.
Neville woke up much the same way Yusuke did. His waka also gave him potions and tea. After taking the potions and drinking the tea, Neville simply threw the kakifuton back over his head and went back to sleep. The waka chuckled to himself and went away. He'd come back in a couple of hours and wake the No Wakai Omo again.
Hermione, on the other hand, was attended by several women; whores, actually. "Come! Up!" The woman shook Hermione by the shoulder. "You have to have potions, tea, bath. Come!"
Hermione grumbled in bad Japanese and fragments of English, but she got up and shambled into the bathroom. There, she was showered, soaked and primped. She submitted with good grace, drinking the potions and settling in to soak and drink tea. She was glad to see that the clothing she was given was appropriate to her age and station, and her makeup was too.
Remus, werewolf stamina coming to the fore, poked Sirius. "You awake?"
"Kutabare, asshole." Sirius pulled his kakifuton back over his head.
"Not fuckin' you, you're too ugly. Get up." Remus pulled the kakifuton back down.
"No. And stop shouting." Sirius sat up, scowling at Remus.
Remus just handed over potions. "Here. Drink."
Sirius did. He shuddered, moaned and reached for the tea pot on the small table at his elbow. "I hate you."
"Werewolf. I woke up hung over, but it's already faded. Wonder how Yusuke's doin'." Remus smirked at Sirius, who just rolled his eyes and drank his tea.
Yusuke, it seemed, was doing fairly well. He ordered a bath and finished another pot of tea while he waited for it to be ready. This wasn't a bath down at the big bath house, but one in a smaller tub here in the Miyamoto compound. The tub held three or four men at most and wasn't kept full. So he had to wait for it to be filled and heated. Since they had magic available the heating was fairly quick― never mind that their form of Aquamenti took four seconds to fill it; heating it took nearly five minutes.
He settled into the tub and sighed. "Oi, someone!"
A gaki poked his head into the bathroom and said, "A? Nani?"
"Where's Nebiru-kun? And Hāmainī-chan?"
The gaki shrugged. "Don't know, Oojisama, I'll go find them. You want them here?" The gaki hoped not but they'd be here, if the Oojisama wanted them.
"No. Just want to make sure they're ok. We did a lot of drinking last night." Yusuke finished his tea. "New pot, please."
The gaki picked up the pot, saying, "I'll go see about your friends then bring more tea. Okay?"
"Fine." Yusuke waved the man away and sank into the bath up to his chin.
He was soon joined by Sirius and Remus.
Remus snickered as Sirius moaned his way into the tub. Sirius splashed Remus. "Shut up, you mangy wolf." He mumbled, "Hate wolfy recovery times," then took a cup of tea.
Yusuke grumbled, "Shut up, both of you. Noisy assholes."
The waka came back with a pot of tea and told Yusuke that he had not yet located the two Engrishu. The tea pot made several rounds before they all decided that they were human, and hungry.
Sirius splashed out of the tub, grabbed a towel from a stack on a stool nearby and announced, "Yusuke, we have to decide what to do about the remaining Death Eaters. Food."
Yusuke, used to this sort of thing, just grunted, exited the tub himself and dried off.
Remus shook his head at their antics and said in a mild tone, "Ok, Death Eaters at breakfast. There'd better be nattō."
They settled at a western style table in the kitchen and demanded food. Kuma grinned at them and provided. "Okay, food. And some advice."
Yusuke zeroed in on Kuma. "Sure."
"You're not going to get close to Fart until you trim all the fat. I know you've been whittling the death-eating fools down, but you have to make a major hit soon." Kuma plunked bowls of soup, rice and dumplings on the table along with nattō, smoked fish and a huge tea pot.
Yusuke grumbled, "Well, sure, tell me something I don't know. Like how to find a big meet."
Remus nodded. "We've taken a few prisoners, even gotten a couple of the second tier, but no one knows more than five others. All we need is one top-tier officer― that would get us the location of their new HQ. If we find that, we've got it made."
Sirius agreed, "Exactly. But we're still looking."
Yusuke sighed. "All I want is to find that idiot Riddle. I'll off him, Father will be happy, and I can come home. I hate Scotland. Fucking cold, damp, barren wilderness. They don't even have good tea. It's all red."
Remus grumbled, "As if red tea was the epitome of your worries. Please."
Yusuke poked at his smoked fish, a discontent expression flitting over his face. "It isn't but then ... finding that jackass Riddle is. So ..." he glowered at his godfather and honorary uncle and his 'big brother'. "Fucking find him, damn it. Or at least find me some targets with a bounty worth the trouble."
The waka finally returned again, with a new pot and the information that Neberu-san was still bathing, but the Honorable Lady was walking in the gardens.
Yusuke grunted, poked at his fish again then asked, "Either one of them want breakfast?"
"I asked Neberu-san, he said later. The Honorable Lady had breakfast with the ... women."
Yusuke groaned hollowly. "Fucking hell. They'll be giving her all sorts of ill-advised advice."
Remus snickered at that, got a filthy look from both Sirius and Yusuke and subsided to finish his tea.
They continued to discuss the possibility of finding a good target; at least Sirius and Remus did, Yusuke just bitched bitterly about this whole fuck-up.
Hermione wandered in just as Yusuke was bemoaning the fact that no one seemed to be able to find him a target.
Sirius agreed, remarking sadly, "We can tag them with tracking charms and get a direction, but how the hell do you know how far to go? You can go until the charm points behind you but that's still not that useful."
Hermione picked up a cup of tea, sipped then said, "Triangulation."
Yusuke made a disgusted sound. "Fuck me. Stupid idiot. Of course." Yusuke let Hermione explain it, he wasn't that patient.
Sirius and Remus asked all sorts of questions, most of them intelligent, but Remus asked the most pertinent one. "Why doesn't the Auror Corp use something like that?"
Sirius shrugged. "No idea." They turned to look at Hermione.
She just shrugged and said sourly, "Because British Wizards are idiots? Inbreeding at its best."
Yusuke blinked, "It's really that bad?"
Sirius snorted. "Take a look at my family tree sometime. I'm related to about half Magical Britain, you included."
Yusuke gave that up, just making that noncommittal sound usually written as, 'Hn.'
Remus returned to the subject at hand. "So, we catch a Death Eater, tag him and let him go..."
Hermione sighed. "No, you don't. You tag him from ambush, then track him. You draw a line from where you tagged him straight across the map. Then you get another, in a different location and do it again. The more tags you have, the narrower your search parameters. Muggles can do it with electronic bugs and find someone within about 5 inches."
Sirius grumbled, "And that just sucks."
"What does?" Hermione snagged a fish.
"If a Wizard uses Muggle weapons, he's usually just hexed outright. It's JUST NOT DONE." He made a face.
Yusuke snorted. "In Britain. I use guns all the time. It depends on what impression you want to give. I don't think I'm going to get away with dropping a JDAM on Malfoy manor. Beside the fact that I don't have one, nor the jet needed to launch the thing."
Hermione blinked once then said, rather mildly, "No, nor the five million dollars one costs. Never mind the cost of the plane."
Yusuke snorted and waved a negligent hand. "Money isn't the problem, accessibility is."
Hermione broke into giggles. When she calmed down, she said, "I can just see you walking into a military base and asking, 'Excuse me, sir. Where would I go to buy a plane and some bombs?' Give 'em that, 'Who, me? I'm innocent,' Duo Maxwell look."
"Yeah, and spend the next two weeks explaining myself. Thanks, but no thanks." Yusuke grinned at her.
They went back to trying to explain the finer points of tagging and triangulation to Sirius and Remus. Yusuke wondered if the British stupidity was catching.
Finally, they managed to grasp the concept and started making plans to tag every Death Eater they could find. This meant that they would have to put off collecting bounties for a bit, but they had high hopes of finishing the assignment and collecting the Potter fortune before summer's end.
Neville, meanwhile, was pondering the third task. What, he wondered, was with the mess the Tri-Wizard officials had made of the Quidditch pitch? He closed his eyes and tried to envision the magically flash-grown Yew hedges. His eyes popped open and he exclaimed, "A labyrinth. But ... well, I'll tell Yusuke and let him figure the rest out." He realized that he was turning into a prune in the hot water, clambered out of the tub and dried. He allowed one of the waka to act as dresser―he was never sure he'd gotten everything crossed and tied properly.
He ambled down the corridor, taking his time and enjoying the sound of the nightingale floor. He understood that the original had been installed in the early 1700's.
Neville flopped gracelessly onto the floor by the table, scrambled around to get seated then announced, "It's a labyrinth."
Yusuke shoved food in his general direction and demanded, "What's a labyrinth?"
"The third task." Neville helped himself to this and that. "Don't think it's all that dangerous."
Hermione rubbed her face, she now understood a few of Hagrid's remarks. "It is if it's stuffed full of Hagrid's pets."
Sirius' eyes widened. "Well, shit."
Remus blinked for a second. "So ... that's what he was rambling on about. Full moon madness and what not all. Idiot. Not a fucking chance in hell I'll go without my potion for any reason. And most especially not to provide some ... jackass." He shook his head.
Yusuke patted him on the knee. "Maa-maa. No way I'd approve, no matter what Hagrid or Grandfather Longbeard says. Calm."
"Workin' on it." Remus sipped tea and did breathing exercises until he was calm.
Yusuke thought. "Ok, I don't see anything much to complain about in a labyrinth, no matter what critter Hagrid sticks in it."
Hermione grumbled, "As long as it isn't a basilisk or a naga."
Yusuke chuckled, "I think I spiked those guns with the ICW order that endangered species couldn't be moved unless they were in mortal peril or creating a danger in and of themselves."
"You are totally evil and I love you." Hermione patted Yusuke on the shoulder.
He patted her back. "And I love you, too, ane."
Hermione grinned, she loved it when Yusuke called her 'sister'.
"Ok, so, what do we know for sure?" Hermione waited for a good answer.
"Not much. Just that each contestant will probably go into the labyrinth, or maze, in turn. But what are you supposed to do in it?" Sirius rubbed his chin as he considered that.
Remus wrote a note and handed it to a waka. "See that Masa-sama gets that as soon as possible." He settled more comfortably. "We'll just have to wait and see. So, last task is in May, just before school is out. And I'd like to see this whole cluster fuck done by July at the latest."
Hermione, meanwhile, was pondering the task. "Okay, please let me talk this out." She grimaced, "If I don't, I'll be chewing on it forever."
Yusuke just shrugged. "Hurry up. We have to get back to school in ..." he glanced at his watch. "two hours. Shit."
Hermione frowned. "That really doesn't make sense. I know that Dumbledore made it a rule that all champions have to be on grounds during weekly class hours but ... since you don't actually have to be in class, what's the difference?"
Sirius thought about that for a moment. "The old duffer wants to keep the champions at Hogwarts as much as possible. Not sure why ... unless ... he wants to separate Yusuke from his family and turn him into Harry Potter again. Not that it will work, but I'd bet real money on it."
Remus considered that idea from all sides; it only took him a couple of seconds to agree. "You're probably right. He has no idea. Really? I know he's as fickle as a bag of butterflies but ... bushido? Anyone?"
Hermione snorted, "That old dufus hasn't got a clue. Everything is for his 'Greater Good' ..." she made quote motions with both hands. "Only thing is, he can't see the people for the populace. He does things that anyone with some common sense wouldn't even consider." She realized that everyone was looking at her very oddly. "What? I grew up. Get over it."
She then changed the subject. "Okay, anyway ... we have a labyrinth or maze. The difference being a maze has dead ends, a labyrinth does not. So ... one, I think it's a maze. Two, there's going to be something nasty at the dead ends. Three, finding the middle gives some reward. But ... what are the nasties and what is the reward? Outside of the obvious." She frowned into her teacup.
Neville sighed. "Sorry about misleading you. I ..."
Yusuke interrupted him with a wave of his hand. "Never mind that. You did good. We now know what questions to ask and where to start asking them." He stood up. "We need to be on the move in thirty minutes. Go!" Everyone scrambled to go get packed and ready.
As they were in the family compound, several waka and gaki helped with this task. Not that it was that much to do. Yusuke hadn't brought anything, as most of his things stayed here; Hermione was the same, she'd had to send a woman out to buy her something. Neville was satisfied to borrow a clean yukata from one of Yusuke's brothers, while Sirius and Remus were like Yusuke and had things there. So all the dansei had to do was find their dirty things, shove them into a bag and find the owner thereof.
Yusuke looked around. "Ok, that was good. Ten minutes. I'm impressed. Let's go." And with that, he took Hermione's arm and folded back to Ken No Ie. The rest followed quickly.
Sirius glanced around. "We should all walk up to Hogwarts."
Remus picked up on Sirius' discomfort. "What?"
"Don't know. Just ... back of my neck is crawling." Sirius knew it wasn't Rita Skeeter spying on them―she was still hors de combat―so something wasn't right.
Most of the dansei went into Ken No Ie at Yusuke's signal. They would wait until something happened or they were summoned.
It didn't take long for something to happen. The pops of apparition alerted everyone that something was going down. Yusuke immediately grabbed Hermione, shoved her into a gaki's arms and barked, "Ken no ie! Imasugu!" The gaki took one step and disappeared, with Hermione protesting all the way.
Once Hermione was out of the way, Yusuke turned his attention to matters at hand. They were surrounded, sort of, by six DE's in full regalia. They had some problems; one problem being, between Remus, Sirius, Yusuke, Neville and the five remaining yakuza, they were out-numbered.
The other problem was: they were neither civilians, Aurors, nor Order of the Phoenix.
The first volley of hexes flew wide on the part of the Death Eaters. The answering volley took its toll; only two DE remained standing; the others fell to blasting hexes and a curse that Sirius claimed to be a Black family secret. The two remaining men were stupefied and taken to Ken No Ie to be interrogated. It wasn't that surprising that Remus and Sirius made an incredibly effective team. Sirius played on the reputation of his family; Remus just let his eyes bleed gold and snarled. If one or the other didn't work, both did. They never actually resorted to true torture, just the threat or a few slaps or punches. Real torture usually didn't work; a person in real pain will tell you what they think you want to hear, just to make the pain stop. Not usually that helpful. A well used Imperio would do the job just as well. The only thing a session of torture would do was give you a bad reputation, not that bad a thing as far as Yusuke was concerned.
Yusuke settled his clothing and announced, "See what they know. Send me a report. Where's Hermione?" The young lady in question hurried up to him. "Ok, good. Neville?" Neville also straightened his robes. "Excellent. We go now." and Yusuke led the way to the gates of Hogwarts and up the path to the great front doors.
Neville kept his place at Yusuke's left and one step behind, while Hermione also kept her place one step behind Neville. This had nothing to do with her sex/gender and more to do with her ability and willingness to fight. She was quite willing to defend herself, or someone else, but she wasn't of the mind set to start anything, so she was eyes behind.
They swept into the Great Hall and sat down at the Gryffindor table. They started breakfast, only to be interrupted by a squad of Aurors who charged into the hall, wands drawn. Why they did that was anybody's guess, as they'd all attended the school and knew better.
Headmistress McGonagall stood up and barked, "What do you think you're doing? Put your wands up! Now!"
After they'd put up their wands that formidable lady demanded, "Now, what do you think you're doing? And don't try to feed me any ministry twaddle."
The lead of the group managed, "Attack. The men came here. We're here to arrest them."
"Oh, you are, are you?" Headmistress McGonagall, well aware of what had happened at the gates, glanced the room over. "Anyone have any idea what this bampot is blathering about?"
Heads shook all over the room; most of the students had been in the school when the attack happened, and the rest had been either in the Great Hall, catching up after the long weekend, or in their common rooms. It also didn't hurt that none of them cared if there had been an attack at all.
Headmistress McGonagall nodded her head in satisfaction. "There! Now, out! The lot of you. And inform whoever is in charge that I'll not have you idiots charging in here, wands drawn, again. If you do ... well, you'll find out why I was called Quickwand in the old days. Out!" The Aurors fell all over themselves to get out the door. She snorted. "I'll be in my office, speaking to ... someone. Behave yourselves." and with that, she marched out the door to go to her office and have what was politely called 'words' with Madam Bones.
Madam was not best pleased either. "Damn it! I swear nepotism will be the death of the service yet. You have no idea what kind of jackasses I'm lumbered with. I'll have a word with their boss, and his boss. I'm also going to have a few words with Fudge. I'm done with this stupidity. We're supposed to be fighting a war, not diapering a bunch of wet-behind-the-ears new recruits." She shut down the floo and left to speak to a few people, then bearded Fudge in his office.
This produced results that she wasn't expecting. Fudge had been on the receiving end of several howlers from citizens and an unexpectedly nasty letter from the ICW. He'd been told by them to keep his war within the borders of his country or the ICW would intervene, and no one would like the results of that. He'd also been told to bring the British educational levels up to global standards, again, or else. So, when she started to complain, he just told her to submit a new budget and to remove anyone she pleased. All she had to do was replace them with better men, or women.
Yusuke led his friends up to the common room and got them settled. He knew that Neville was a bit shaken; Hermione too. They'd tried to eat, but the two had only pushed their food around on the plate.
"Okay. Neville?" Yusuke waited for Neville to speak.
"Well ... I should be really upset. I think I really hurt that man. Hit him with a Bludgeoning Hex. But all I can feel is relief that it was us instead of some innocent citizens of Hogsmeade." Neville picked at his cuff for a moment, then forcibly stilled his hand.
Hermione sighed. "Not a problem for me. I'm just sorry that I was in the way."
Yusuke plucked a cigarette from thin air and handed it to Neville. "Here. You're good. You did very well. Remember that those men would have killed us, if they had a chance. And we stopped them from hurting us or anyone else. If you choose to attack someone, expect to be hurt in return. I start fights because I'm an asshole. You don't because you're a nice man. But you defend yourself and your friends, even strangers at need. Don't feel bad about knocking that ass in the head. Doesn't have enough brains for you to scramble 'em anyway." He grinned at Neville's relieved expression and turned to Hermione. "You were not in the way. The second I told that waka to take you away, you went. Some idiots would have protested, gotten in the way and got someone hurt. You just went. Well done." He nodded once, finishing the conversation. "Service." An elf popped in and Yusuke ordered snacks and tea.
When the service came, he poured tea and put an assortment of tiny sandwiches on plates and handed them around. They spent the rest of the evening drinking tea, eating snacks and reading.
The next morning was going to be one of those days. Hermione woke up a bit early, so she decided to do something 'different' with her hair. This resulted in an explosion of frizzies which made her look like she'd stuck her head in a wind tunnel. Her shriek of fury woke both her roommates.
"Oh, damn it! Merlin's bloody wig. Lav! Wake up." Hermione shook Lavender by the shoulder. "Wake up!"
"M ... m' up. Wa'" Lavender looked at Hermione. "Oh, hell. What on earth have you done to yourself?" She scrambled out of bed and grabbed her robe. "Parv, wake up! Wait 'til you see what Granger has done to her hair." She eyed Hermione for a moment. "Um ... what have you done?"
Hermione told them about the pamphlet she'd picked up in Diagon Ally. "So ... it had a really easy spell for smoothing hair. At least ..." she handed the pamphlet over. "It seemed easy."
Parvati looked at the pamphlet. "Um ... no ... just, no. Oh, fiddle. This is one of those damn things that Lockhart wrote. See? Lady Lockerby? Really."
Hermione started to tear up, she'd been taken in by one of the oldest tricks in the book. The one where the pamphlet was free but the fix was expensive.
Lavender patted her on the shoulder. "Lucky I got taken in over the summer. Mum knew just what to do and she taught me. So ... but we're going to be seriously late to breakfast."
Hermione thought for a moment. "Well. Um ... don't take advantage or you'll spoil it. Okay?"
Both girls agreed so Hermione called, "Service, please," and an elf popped in. "Would you mind terribly bringing us some breakfast?"
The elf looked at her for a moment then hid her face in her hands. Hermione blinked. "I'm sorry, it is not possible." The elf's shoulders started to shake, then it mumbled something. "Excuse me?"
"Tippy is being sorry, Miss. Tippy is being trying very hard not to laugh. But Miss is ... Oh, dear." the elf popped out and returned with a tray covered with bowls of scrambled eggs, gravy, cottage fries and tomatoes and platters of toast, ham, bacon and sausages. There were also small bowls of jam. The elf snickered once, then popped away.
Hermione sighed, then said, "That's really bad, when the elves laugh at you. Please, fix me?"
So between stuffing their faces and messing with Hermione's hair, it took the girls nearly two hours to get ready for their day.
Neville dragged himself out of bed in time for a quick shower before working out with Yusuke, but Seamus had done something to the showers and the water was ice cold. He swore, got out and tried to figure out what the hell that idiot had done. He couldn't, so he took the path of greatest resistance and hexed the Irish idiot. Seamus, needless to say, was not amused to be awakened by a stinger to the ass.
Seamus, for his part, was already sorry he'd tried to put an extra heating charm on the showers. He'd found them a bit cold, so he'd thought he could put a warming charm on the shower floor. Unfortunately, it had rebounded and, being badly cast in the first place, put the water heating charm out of order, so the showers ran ice cold. Neville's hex put his Irish up and he took after Neville with a couple of ill-advised hexes.
One of the hexes hit Dean's curtains and set them on fire. Another hit Ron, who woke up with a yelp. The third hex bounced around the room until Yusuke dispersed it.
"Oi! What the fuck is going on here?" Yusuke had just finished his early run and was not in the mood to deal with the usual squabbling. "Neville?"
Neville sighed and rubbed his face. "Seamus messed up the showers; they're cold as ice. On top of that, he didn't tell anyone. So I hexed him. Just a stinger to the ass, but he decided to ..." Neville gestured to where Ron and Dean were putting out the fire.
Yusuke eyed Neville for a moment. "A stinger? Seriously?"
Neville sulked, mumbling, "Well, I didn't want to really hurt him."
"Hn. I see. You'll be running around Hogwarts' outer ... excuse for a wall ... ten times. And then, I'll see you at Ken No Ie, doing kata under Remus' tutelage. Go." Yusuke was not happy at all. Neville knew better than to get into a squabble with the boys. He was much too powerful and too good to mess around like that.
Neville just bowed, said, "Hai, sensei." and turned to get dressed. As soon as he had on his gi, he took off.
Ron eyed Yusuke for a moment then said, "I don't see why he obeys you like that. What'd you get on him?"
Yusuke snorted. "Nothing. He just knows who's Kumicho here. As for you..." he turned to Seamus. "What did you think you were doing? A cutting hex? Really?" He went into the showers to see what the damage there was, calling an elf to him on the way.
He fixed the shower and instructed the elf to report the whole thing to McGonagall; as Head of House, she needed to be informed. He wondered how she was managing to do three jobs at once, then realized that she'd been doing it for years. He assumed that she had help from someone.
He was wrong. Headmistress McGonagall managed by long hours and delegation. She had one of the prefects help her by grading the multiple-choice quizzes, and all the meals were planned by the head house elf and just submitted to her for approval; she didn't bother to look at them, she just signed off and didn't worry about it. After all, the elf was twice her age and had been head elf since before Dippit took over. She eyed the elf with annoyance but asked, kindly enough, "Yes, did you need something?"
The young elf just relayed Yusuke's message then waited.
Headmistress McGonagall thought for a moment then said, "Tell Miyamoto-san that his punishment of Mr. Longbottom stands. Also tell him that Mr. Finnegan is to clean the showers for the next week, without magic. He is to oversee it. Thank you."
The elf sighed and popped out to deliver the sure to be unpopular message.
Yusuke listened, then turned to Seamus. "Any questions?"
Seamus allowed that there were not. He was just glad that he was cleaning the showers, instead of being subjected to the same punishment as Neville.
Neville, for his part, was just glad that Yusuke had decided to be lenient. He could have been sent to run around Black Lake. He'd done it once, with Yusuke, just to see if they could. It had been a hellacious experience. The path was up and down hill and included one area that was decidedly cliff-like. It was also a lot farther than they'd expected. He wasn't eager to repeat the experience. The kata was sure to be hell; being matched with a were was not something to look forward to. He was just glad that Remusu-aniki liked him.
Then, to top it all, the Daily Prophet arrived. It included a few articles about the task, but mostly there was an above-the-fold full spread of pictures of Yusuke, Hermione and Neville in Japan. It also included pictures of Remus and Sirius, drunk off their asses. Yusuke eyed the paper that one of the other students showed him. He just shrugged, saying, "So? It was New Year's Eve. Why shouldn't they get drunk, if they want? They are adults, you know." Privately, he was pissed as hell and was going to let the whole of Wizarding Britain know it.
Hermione, catching a good look at his face, just sighed. "I do wish some people would catch a clue."
Yusuke overheard that and snarled, "Some wouldn't get it if you hit them in the head with a clue-by-four. I'll deal. Just don't say I didn't warn them."
Hermione simply offered to bring marshmallows to the party.
The rest of the day was quiet, mostly because the three locked themselves into the juku with the intent of studying all day. Yusuke received a report from Shiriusu-oji that made him swear. It seemed that none of the Death Eaters knew where Voldemort was; he communicated with them via floo, untraceable due to several spells on both ends of the connection. The men they had questioned only knew their immediate superior, but Remusu-aniki had run that man down in Knockturn Alley and managed to follow him and listen in on a conversation he'd had with someone Remusu-aniki didn't know.
The gist of the conversation had been that there were plans in motion to bring Yusuke to Voldemort. If this could be done, it would happen at the end of the last task. After due consideration, Shiriusu-oji had advised a waiting game. They'd follow up on the leads they had on the mid-level minions and take them out of the game, more as a clean-up in advance than anything else. Besides, it would annoy Fudge; the bounties were still in effect.
Yusuke passed the report to Neville, who was half-asleep; the rigors of running around Hogwarts ten times and an hour under the tutelage of a were had left him exhausted. Neville read, then remarked, "Okay, so you just keep hunting minions until Lord Thingy grabs you, sometime during the last task? Simple." He chuckled darkly. "Hope they're ready for you."
Hermione was not amused. "So, you're just going to sit around, doing nothing, until the third task, when you'll allow yourself to be kidnapped and taken to who-knows-where for who-knows-what? Are you insane?"
Yusuke eyed her for a moment. "I'm quite sane, I assure you. I even have papers to prove that I'm a sociopath rather than a psychopath, and I'm lazy. But I'm not going to sit around doing nothing; I'm going to spend the next ... six weeks? That's how long until the next task? Anyway, I'm going to be whittling down the numbers of supporters active. There's still bounties on all of them. Every mark I send in will bring a bounty. And annoy Fudge." He smirked at that. "Oh, and I'm going to deal with the Daily Prophet. Perhaps a donation to the Quibbler?"
Neville just fell out of his chair, laughing.
Hermione snorted, despite the slight smile that curled her lips. She returned to her book.
Neville returned to his nap.
And Yusuke began to plan his evening.
At 7pm Yusuke went down to Ken No Ie. He let Headmistress McGonagall know via elf. She sent back to say that he wasn't supposed to order the elves. He just winked at the elf, who giggled back. Then he folded to Ken No Ie.
"Tadaima! Shiriusu-oji, where are you?" Yusuke kicked off his boots and ambled around the waka who bent to collect them.
"In here." Sirius' voice came from the back of the house somewhere.
Yusuke went back and found Sirius and Remus in the kitchen, standing at the huge farmhouse table. They had a collection of wine bottles, rags, corks and petrol and were happily using them to make petrol presents: Molotov Cocktails.
"Looks like you got the jump on me." Yusuke eyed their efforts with a pleased smirk.
Remus nodded. "No sense in wasting time. You'll have supper here, then we'll all go and express our displeasure."
Yusuke nodded. "Too bad we can't use a pound or two of C-4. Nothing like expressing your displeasure with a bit of C-4."
Sirius shrugged. "Can't contain the explosion enough. We really don't want to piss off the neighbors. They didn't do anything wrong."
Yusuke agreed, "Too true. A good shield will contain a fire but not an explosion of that magnitude. Got a sledgehammer?"
This seeming abrupt change of subject left Sirius with an arrested expression. "Well, bugger. Never thought of that. What you want it for?"
"Ah!" Remus' wise nod was followed by a bellowed, "Sledgehammer! Now!" a gaki hurried to find one. Everyone was pleased when he came back with three. "Good man."
Sirius had one additional question. "And why are we doing this ourselves? We've got waka and gaki to do it instead?"
Yusuke shrugged. "Bored. And I'm not going to ask my men to do something for me when it's more of a personal thing than business."
Sirius agreed, "You're right. It's not their place to deal with a personal vendetta. But they're all sulking at being excluded."
"Tell 'em it's a punishment for not finding information on Voldemort's location. Spur 'em on." Yusuke dismissed this whole thing with a wave of his hand. "Supper?"
A waka replied to this. "Not until you're all done with that," he pointed to the mess on the table. "Not cooking around that. Not sanitary. Go now." He waved them off, so they gathered up their bombs and the makings and went up to Yusuke's quarters to finalize their plans and clean up. No sense in trying to eat with the stink of petrol on their hands.
Supper was served in typical Yakuza fashion and eaten with the same. It was decided that, in order to provide the bored junior men something to do, they would organize a distraction. They happily left it up to the senior men to figure out what that should be.
After eating Yusuke decided to take the time to clean out his mallet space again. It was becoming a real irritation that he couldn't seem to keep it clean and organized. He spent several minutes smoking and sulking. Then he collapsed the space, letting all the contents fall out. He wondered how many spaces he could maintain without weakening himself so he created one, then another; a third left him feeling a bit tired so he sat down to see if it was continuous or a result of using a significant amount of magic in such a short time. He found that he recovered quickly so he kept it. Three should do the trick, he decided, so he stuffed his weapons in one and the other got school things. The third got foodstuffs and extra clothing. He decided, from now on, he was just going to banish his trash and garbage. Who the hell cared where it wound up?
He sat around for the next three hours, gossiping with Remus and Sirius, eating snacks and drinking tea. They also made some tentative plans to deal with the third task. Sirius was of the opinion that some prize would be in the middle of the maze, a prize that was booby-trapped in some way.
Remus frowned, "But how? That's what I really want to know. What's he got up his sleeve?"
Yusuke shook his head. "No damn idea. We'll just have to ..." he stopped dead, a strange expression on his face. "I'll bet you big money it's a portkey. He's going to turn the prize into a portkey and bring me to him. But who, and how? There's a spy in our ranks, we all know that. But who is it?"
Sirius thought about that. "Snape?"
Remus shook his head. "No. He's way too smart for that. He declared himself, you know. He hasn't left Hogwarts since."
Sirius nodded. "Didn't think so, but now it's out and said."
Yusuke thought carefully. "So, we know there's a spy. And we have a good idea who it's not. McGonagall, Flitwick, Sprout, Snape ... in fact, all the Hogwarts staff are out. Beauxbatons only brought three professors, and they're all vetted, as is Maxime. Durmstrang? Karkaroff? That's a good prospect. Check him out."
Remus shrugged. "I could do it. All I have to do is get close enough to smell him. If he smells of polyjuice ... well, that's a dead giveaway."
"Right. So ... getting you near to him might be a problem." Sirius considered that for a few moments. "But, for another day. We've got a present to deliver."
Yusuke issued his orders. "We'll fold into the alley behind the offices; the rest of you do whatever it is you're going to do. When you get the diversion set up, let me know. We'll need about ... how long?" he glanced at Remus.
"Between us, Sirius and I can have the presses beyond repair in ten minutes. That includes breaking all the main gears into pieces." He nodded at Sirius, who lifted his tea cup in salute.
One of the waka asked, "Okay, Kumicho, but why not do it with a few hexes?"
"Because I don't want to leave any magical traces that someone might use to identify us." Yusuke didn't mind explaining a proper question. He wouldn't tolerate insolence, but the man had been properly deferential. "So, we go."
Sirius glanced around the alley with disgust; it was full of trash. Some of the things that had just been dumped were what were called end rolls. These were the middle of the massive rolls of newsprint that came from the muggle world. They were what was left on the core that the presses couldn't run.
Yusuke examined them then said, "Unroll as much as we have time for; don't use magic that will leave a trace. Just wad it up and stuff it around things."
"Right. But..." Remus ran a hand over one. "there's so much magic on them already that there's no chance of anyone sorting out who did what and when."
So they spent the time until the diversion quietly picking the lock on the door and stuffing unrolled wads of paper under and around the presses.
The diversion started; a bar brawl was always guaranteed to attract the attention of everyone within earshot. After all, who doesn't like a nice fight to watch?
This covered the noise of Remus and Sirius using the sledgehammers to destroy the main gears on the presses. Yusuke used his to smash bottles of ink, cleaners and anything else that would suffer from a nice hard whack with a hammer.
After creating as much damage as they could, they took turns throwing Molotov Cocktails into various rooms, starting in the press room and working their way up as quickly as they could run. It only took them a few seconds to complete that final task and fold out for home. They sent a waka back to end the brawl and bring the brawlers home too.
They all did a quick cleanup, then, well aware that no Auror would realize anything, went back to watch the fun.
They folded in in twos and threes, except for Yusuke, Sirius and Remus―they folded in alone. The groups joined up in the street around the Prophet building. They scattered among the other gawkers, hoping to overhear something useful. This wasn't as helpful as you might expect, since only one in three spoke enough English to understand anything.
However, this was offset by the fun of watching the Fire Brigade try to put out the fire. This was interesting, as the first thing they did was spray the whole thing with water using Aquamenti. This only spread the fire, as petrol mixed with paraffin floats. Then they did a bit of running around, trying to figure out which hex was used to start the fire.
By now the whole building was totally engulfed in flames and way beyond saving. But it was pretty. The ink and cleaning solvents made the flames different colors, blue, green, purple and violet. There was a bit of ooo-ing and ah-ing from the crowds over that.
It was well past midnight when the fire finally burned out. Yusuke and Remus went back to Ken No Ie then, but Sirius decided to hang around to see what he could overhear. He returned around one, disgusted that all he'd overheard was that the fire was a spell that no one recognized, so surely it was Voldemort's work.
They all went to bed, well satisfied with the evening. Even Yusuke, who had to fold back to the dorm.
The next morning was interesting, in that the morning Prophet didn't come. Instead everyone who had a subscription got a broad sheet explaining that, since the Prophet building was ashes, publication was suspended for the foreseeable future.
Hermione eyed the paper then opined, "Well, darn," in a flat tone.
The only one who seemed to have any idea what had actually happened was Snape. He stopped behind Yusuke to murmur, "Petrol is very hard to wash out of your hair. I'd be a bit more careful in future. Not that it makes any difference to a bunch of wizards. But still."
Yusuke, startled, snickered into his tea. "Just so, Snape-kyoju."
Neville glanced over his shoulder at Snape. "We have an essay due ... Thursday?"
"You do." Snape wondered where this was going.
"Hermione wrote it down but I'll swear the date is wrong." Neville picked up his planner and showed the page to the professor.
Snape shook his head. "It's right. If you haven't started it you better get going."
Neville shrugged easily. "It's done. I just have to proof it and redo it on parchment. Thank you, sir."
Snape bowed slightly, acknowledging the thanks and walked away.
The conjecture and gossip were rife in the halls that day. Everyone had an opinion of what hex, curse or jinx was used. Students drove Professors Flitwick and McGonagall into hiding between classes as they nearly assaulted the two in the halls, questions and opinions flying faster than the two could answer.
No one thought to ask Professor Snape what he thought, not that he'd have told them anyway. He was serenely satisfied to know just for the satisfaction of knowing.
Karkaroff was infuriated; his master was just beginning to realize that he was in real trouble unless they got rid of Potter. His plan to capture the brat and turn him was still their best bet. He was sure that, once they got Potter away from his gang, they had it made. All he had to do was hang on until the last task was complete; his reward was sure to be something special. He just wished polyjuice didn't make everything he ate taste like dragon dung. His fury was because he hadn't managed to be alone with the little shit long enough to portkey away sooner.
He was sick of trying to remember his fake Russian accent, the robes itched, the fur made his skin crawl and the food was ... Russian. He wanted his own home, his own things and some good old-fashioned English food. But his Master ordered and he obeyed.
Karkaroff stormed down the corridor to his quarters and ordered tea. At least the Russian tea was good, it was even sweet enough. He drank his tea and worked on his plans to get to the Tri-Wizard cup. All he had to do was alter the portkey destination and wait. There was no way that twit Potter would let someone else claim the prize.
Sirius and Remus went over the information they'd managed to get out of the two Death Eaters, trying to figure out where Voldemort had his headquarters. All they could do was guess at this point, although their guesses were very good.
Remus postulated that the hideout had to be off the beaten path, by a significant degree. Sirius was inclined to agree. This meant that the Riddle mansion, decrepit though it was, was out as it was too close to a village. The Gaunt shack was also out, for the same reason. Malfoy Manor was off the grid, closed up and sealed to all but the house elves who were doing repairs. The Dower House was investigated, but turned out to be clean. They went through the list of supporters, but found a reason to cross them all off the list; reasons that ranged from too close to snoopy neighbors to too small to already destroyed by His Pissyness. There were only three places left on the list that were possibilities but there was a big problem with all three; they knew of them, they even remembered knowing where they were, but they couldn't remember. Remus finally lost his temper and smashed the kotatsu to bits.
Sirius sighed. "Feel better?"
"No. I want this over. I want to go back to Japan and shake the dust of this country from my feet permanently." Remus fell into a black sulk and refused to say another word all evening.
"Okay, talk about Black tempers. Damn." Sirius mended the table, waved the staring gaki away and settled in to just be with his friend.
The report he sent to Yusuke made him swear and storm out of the room to run for an hour. The cold didn't soothe his temper any either. After his run, Neville met him at the great doors.
"Damn it, Yusuke, you'll catch your death. Come on. I got the elves to make a tub." Neville knew that the season was winding down, but it was still cold here in the highlands and Yusuke, while used to Hokkaido, wasn't happy in the damp cold. "You'll be bitchy all day."
When they reached the dorm, they found that Dean and Seamus were already in the tub. Seamus was happy to inform them that the elves had insisted that they wash thoroughly before getting in.
So they settled into the tub and spent twenty minutes getting Yusuke into a better mood. Seamus told stories of his Irish Grandmother and the clashes she had with their milk goat. Dean told stories of living in the Jamaican neighborhood he'd grown up in. He even told them in patois, which, he informed them, his Mother would murder him for.
But they got out of the tub in a generally better mood and went down to eat lunch.
Hermione was in a good mood, as she had managed to get all her professors to accept their essays when finished, which meant that all their essays were now handed in.
Neville was also in a very good mood, as he was now finished with the extra classes Professor Sprout had assigned and gotten an O. His Gran had sent a letter praising him and promising that he could go to Japan over the summer to 'solidify' their relationship with their counterparts there.
All in all, everyone was happy, for now.
JDAM - Joint Direct Attack Munition. Your basic satellite-guided, jet-mounted munition. Or, in military parlance, huge fucking bang.
Aside to G Fawkes - Get an account, man. And no the story isn't abandoned. I just have a hell of a time with the last two or three chapters of any story. Sorry.