Sirius Black looked at his godson in disbelief. "You want me to what?"
"I want you to find me a hooker."
Sirius couldn't help himself. "Oh, Harry! I'm so proud of you! I didn't start hiring hookers until I was almost 16. This was definitely worth being called back from my tropical paradise."
"Mfoff me, oo mayee muh!"
Sirius put Harry back down and dusted off his shoulders. "So, what are you looking for? Big tits, right? All teenage boys like big tits. An older, more experienced hooker with big tits, to guide you."
"No! You didn't hear anything I said except 'hooker', did you?"
"Of course not. 'Hooker' is the only important part. That, and big tits."
"I'll tell you again. Listen this time, okay? They're making me go to the school's Yule Ball because I'm a tri-wizard champion and I'm supposed to uphold the honor of the school and I have to have a date and all that rot. I was going to just blow it off and not go and maybe even go join you wherever you were, but then I thought of something better. I want to take the nastiest hooker I can find, to show what I really think of the tournament and the ball and the school. That's where you come in. I figured that if anyone can find a nasty, old prostitute with missing teeth and oozing sores, it'll be you."
Sirius was conflicted between pride that his godson was coming to him for something important and a vague sense that he'd just been insulted somehow. "You can count on me, Harry. I'll even get you some germ-proof gloves for when you have to hold her hand when you dance."
"Good. Thanks. There's something else, something that may let you stay here and not have to hide from the ministry."
"Really? I'm all ears!" Sirius changed to his large-eared canine form to make the point. Harry didn't seem to get the point, but also seemed disinclined to be slobbered on, so Sirius changed back.
"How would you like to be adopted? As a married man whose wife has unfortunately been unable to give me an heir, it's up to me to find a suitable child to bring up in the proper tradition. I can't think of anyone more childish than you, so how'd you like the job?"
"Married? You? Since when?"
"More than three months ago. I owled you before it happened. Didn't you get the message? I wondered why you didn't come running. I figured you were too busy checking out babes after ten years in prison."
Sirius vaguely remembered an owl delivering a letter about three months ago, but he'd just discovered a nude beach on his tropical island paradise and needed the parchment to make a telescope to check it out before visiting it. It would have been a disaster to discover that it was a vacation spot for old, fat naturists. But he was still annoyed by that "most childish" remark and wasn't going to admit to any of that.
"So who's the lucky girl? Does she have big tits? And no children yet. That's too bad but don't give up hope. It's only been three months. And shouldn't you be taking your wife to the ball?"
"Pansy Parkinson, no, and hell no. We'll never have any kids if I have anything to say about it. I can't stand her and will never get anywhere near her. And my wife won't be going to the ball, with me or with anyone else. I've put her in time out for a few weeks for trying to kill me."
Eventually Sirius got the full story of the marriage and the tournament out of Harry.
"Dumbledore again. Does it seem to you that every time we turn around and find a problem, Dumbledore's in it somehow? Sometimes I think we need to do something about it."
"Yah, but don't worry about that right now. What I have in mind will help with an earlier Dumbledore mistake. The way I figure it, the ministry is illegally trying to kill you. That is, the ministry is trying to kill Sirius Black. That's a problem. And I have another problem. The marriage contract says I have to have an heir within two years of being married, which was three months ago, or else Pansy and I both get penalized. The problem is, I don't plan to ever 'touch' her. Not that way, and not at all if I can help it. So we have two problems, but maybe we can use them to solve each other."
"Now just one minute there, Young Man. You're not expecting me to sleep with your wife, are you? Sure, I've been in prison for most of your life, but I'm not that hard up yet. And how would that help me with the ministry?"
"No, you horndog! You're going to be my heir. Sirius Black-Potter doesn't have a kill-on-sight order on him and I could insist that my heir be kept with me safe at Hogwarts. And I'll bet we could set it up so that you're Pansy's heir, too. She's the Parkinson heir because her older brother messed up a contract and now he'll never be able to have kids."
"Are you sure about this? This will be legally and magically binding if we do it and it could cause problems for your real kids when you have some."
"We can worry about that later, yeh? Let's worry about us both surviving the next year first."
"Okay, if you're sure."
"I am. Oh, and don't worry. I won't make you call me Dad. Not to start with, anyway."
Sirius just happened to have the materials necessary for a blood adoption. He'd been planning on adopting Harry and making him the Black heir, but this was better.
After the ceremony Sirius conjured a mirror and looked at his new self for the first time. "Holy smackeroly! I look like you!" The green eyes were the most significant change, but the shape of Sirius's face showed that he was clearly Harry's child. Except for his face being twenty years older than Harry's face, of course.
"Here's what we're going to do. Your next Potions class, I'm going instead of you. I'll tell Snivellus that I invented a permanent aging potion. Want to bet I can push him into a heart attack before the class is over?"
"Miss Delacour, Mr Diggory, Mr Krum, you have all figured out your clues, yes? You are aware of your goal at the lake today?
"Mr Potter, because you didn't have a clue following the first task – and it was not your fault at all, but I'm sure no one has cheated by giving you any help – so I'm sure you're wondering why we are here. Well, I'll tell you. The one who is most precious to you has been taken from you and placed under the lake. If you ever want to see your wife again, you'll have to rescue her within one hour."
Ludo Bagman was not happy. His status as a free man – and not a slave of the goblins – was riding on Potter's winning the tournament. He'd gotten very lucrative odds from the bookmakers right after Potter's name had come out of the goblet.
But then Potter's golden egg had turned out to be defective – tampered with, no doubt – and the foreign judges refused to allow him a replacement egg. Cheating foreign bastards, giving their schools' champions a leg up. Ludo would have to even the odds for Potter and Britain. And help himself in the bargain, but that was merely a nice side benefit of doing the right thing.
But the little brat wouldn't listen to him! When Ludo tried to give him some friendly advice at the Champion's Table at the Yule Ball, Potter had sicced that foul old hag on him. What was he supposed to do now?
"Let me get this straight. You've taken Pansy Parkinson, my wife, and placed her at the bottom of the lake?"
"Yes, that's right."
"And if I don't figure out how to rescue her within the hour, she'll be gone forever?"
"And I didn't have anything to do with her being put there and didn't even know about it?"
"Of course not!"
"Are you completely insane?"
The other judges looked affronted. Percy Weasley huffed, "Now see here, Potter," but Potter cut him off.
"What makes you think I'd lift a finger to save her? The one I'd miss the most? Ha! Never see her again? I might just have to take back all the bad things I've said about you, Percy! Most of the bad things. You're still a moron."
This was a disaster! If Potter didn't do well, Ludo would lose his money, and shortly his freedom, for sure.
"Potter, you'll have to at least try to go get your wife, or you'll lose your magic." Ludo was sure that this threat would motivate any magical being. And once he started, a naturally competitive person like Potter would charge into the fray at full bore.
"Try, right? I love that word, 'try'."
Ludo wasn't the only one who was upset with Potter now.
"Harry, I'm sure you don't mean what I don't think you didn't meant to not to mean to say." Dumbledore wasn't coming across quite as clearly and forcefully as usual. He'd passed around a bottle of brandy in his office before all the judges came out into the cold and wind half an hour ago. It was cheap stuff and Maxime had declined with a sniff. "More for me! Lucky for me it's a day without an S," Dumbledore had said before killing the bottle.
"Oh, I meant it, all right. I got stuck with a wife I don't want, partly because you dropped the ball, and don't think I won't be thanking you properly for letting that slip through. And then I got entered into this tournament and you didn't do anything to help me get out of it, and don't think I won't be thanking you properly for that, either. But it's like I've already figured out, one problem is a problem, but if you have enough problems sometimes they solve each other."
"If you don't recover your wife, Harry, I may be forced to expel you from Hogwarts."
"Oh, beat me, whip me." Even Ludo, a childless bachelor, could recognize teenage sarcasm when he heard it. Not Albus Drunkledore, whose eyes lit up in sudden interest.
Another grown wizard elbowed his way in between the judges. "Potter! Why aren't you rescuing my daughter? Your wife?"
"Why should I? You're a businessman, Mr Parkinson. Look at it this way: there is a cost to having Pansy around, and no benefit. There is a cost to going to rescue her, and no benefit. I couldn't get rid of her before because of the contract, but Dumbledore's gotten rid of her for me, and I didn't break the contract. So tell me, why should I go get her?"
Parkinson looked about to attack Potter, but then held himself back. Ludo understood. The boy was a vicious monster, if the stories that made it out of Hogwarts had any truth to them.
"A house. I'll give you a house for you and Pansy to live in after you graduate."
"Four bedrooms, in the suburbs or a small town. Nice but not too fancy – I want a house to live in, not a showpiece. Buy it and furnish it now, so my son can live there while I'm at school. My wife and I will join him over the summer."
With the drama out of the way, Ludo started the task. Three of the champions immediately dove into the water. Potter, always different, waved his wand and conjured half a dozen water snakes. Big snakes. Ludo flinched from the sight as a repressed childhood memory came up. If those snakes had emerged from a pair of trousers, he'd have run screaming toward the hills.
The snakes swam off after Potter whispered to them, much to Ludo's relief.
And then everyone sat back and waited for the return of the champions.
Potter broke first. He wandered over to Mr Parkinson and said, not making any attempt to keep his voice down, "I'm bored. Whoever's in charge of the Tournament sure came up with a boring task. Let's talk about what we should do to them for kidnapping your daughter. I'll help because they dragged me into this tournament that I didn't want to have anything to do with."
Ludo, and some of the other judges, listened with increasing dread. All of Potter's ideas, such as hiring a giant to put them over his knee for a well-deserved spanking, were childish and not terribly threatening, but each of Parkinson's ideas, fine-tuned by Potter's son – And what kind of madman would name his adopted son after the criminal who murdered his parents? A cold, unfeeling dark-wizard-in-training, that's what kind of madman! – Each of the ideas from Parkinson and the younger – elder? – Potter was worse than the one before. Lawsuits: bad. Criminal charges for sending a grown man to kidnap a 14-year-old girl: worse. Hiring the goblins to send a war party to capture the judges and hold them for trial: disastrous!
Before Ludo or young Weasley could become upset enough to disrupt the vile planning session, Potter's snakes returned with his wife in tow.
She was spewing invective at Potter before her shoulders were out of the water. "I hate snakes!" Ludo sympathized completely with the girl, but then she continued with "If you were any kind of real man you'd have gotten me yourself! You're not getting any sex until you're older than Dumbledore!" He sympathized completely with Potter when the boy turned to Parkinson and asked, "Are you sure you wanted her back?"
"She's my daughter, Mr Potter, and my heir."
The task's points having been awarded, Ludo watched as Potter foisted his still-fussing wife off on her father and then wandered off with his son. Despite Ludo's best efforts and despite one of the other champions not retrieving her hostage, Potter was dead last in the tournament. It was time for Mrs Bagman's favorite son to plan his escape.
Severus Snape had let himself develop an addiction. He didn't know how he'd missed it; warning signs of addiction were taught to every competent potions student. This meant that the Hogwarts students for the past fifteen years hadn't learned the signs, but it would be good if any of the little incompetents managed to kill themselves.
But Severus Snape had an addiction. He had to admit it to himself as he fumbled with the stopper of yet another extra-strength pain potion – the magical world had never thought of easy-open potion bottles for a man with no thumbs. His addiction was likely to kill him, and put him through much pain before it did.
Sighing in dizzy bliss as the potion worked its magic, Severus quickly checked that he was carrying everything he needed for his shift of patrolling the school's hallways. Cloak charmed to billow dramatically, check. Wand, check. Contemptuous sneer, check, and even better than his former best because of the scar tissue from when the left side of his face had been burned off. Six vials of extra-strength pain potion, check.
Limping through the halls on his half foot, Severus was pleased to have found his prey so quickly. He knew it was bad for him, but he just couldn't not abuse the brat. "Potter! What are you doing, walking with two witches who are not your wife? How much did a pathetic, ugly dwarf like you have to pay for their affections?"
Oh, this was going to hurt…
Ron hurried to catch up with his friends. He'd had to eat one last piece of pumpkin pie before heading to class; it would have been against the law to leave that one lonely piece in the pie tin when everyone was done eating.
Up ahead he heard a familiar sound: a high-pitched, whining voice. Not Parkinson – er, Mrs Potter – er, Pansy Parkinson. Ron paused in his contemplation of pie for a moment. He'd been horrified when Harry had told him and Hermione about the marriage contract. He was sure he would lose his best friend in a week, two at the most. But it had been months now and Harry was still alive, so maybe it was all right.
Ron couldn't get back to his contemplation of pie because of the worthless, whining snake who wasn't Parkinson.
"… much longer until you're nothing but a squib, Scarhead. Then you'll see which of us is better."
"Didn't we go over this already? Your mother has the best ass I've ever seen, Malfoy. You win."
"Damn you, Potter! See if you can stop this!" Malfoy whipped out his wand and cast what looked like a high-powered something-or-other… but only a few sparks dribbled off the tip of his wand.
Ron was already ready for the next step of this regularly-repeated drama. When Malfoy waved his two goons forward to grab Harry, they went crashing down, taking their boss with them. Those hours he'd spent learning to cast the shoe string-tying jinx with just a whisper had not been wasted after all.
"Does it seem to you that Malfoy is even more pathetic than before?" Hermione was asking Harry when Ron came up. "Ron, you saw that, didn't you? Do you know of any kind of sickness that makes one magically weaker? Do you think it could be going around the Slytherins? I've noticed several of our Slytherin classmates are doing more poorly in class."
"Yah, there's a couple things it could be. Let's get away from here. We don't want to catch it, whatever it is."
As they walked off, 'Mione babbling something he didn't catch about giving a report to Madam Pomfrey, Ron thought again about his pumpkin pie. And then, for the first time, he noticed how 'Mione's robe curved in back, round and firm, like a pumpkin. And then Ron was thinking about pie again.
Pansy fumbled her charms work yet again. She'd been having trouble all week and today she simply couldn't do anything. It was probably because she hadn't been getting much sleep or doing her homework. She had better things to do than stupid homework. She didn't have to worry about making a living; between Daddy's money and stupid Potter having to take care of her, she didn't have any worries and didn't have to actually do anything or even be able to do anything.
And if she didn't have to study, why should she? There were so many better ways to spend her time.
She'd dated around a bit last year, if you could call kissing and a bit of groping "dating", but hadn't been ready to go beyond that. Now, a year later and with the permission of stupid Potter, her so-called husband, to spend time with other boys… Well. She'd be a fool not to.
"Is there a problem, Mrs Potter?" Flitwick's voice interrupted Pansy's reminiscing about last night.
Dammit! Dammit three times! First, because Flitwick had interrupted a really good daydream. Second, because she'd been caught daydreaming instead of practicing.
And third, because her name was Parkinson, dammit! She wasn't a stupid Potter and never would be a stupid Potter.
"No, Sir. I mean, yes, Sir. I can't get this charm to work."
"Let me see you do it. Hmm. Your movements and pronunciation seem correct. Try a sticking charm. Its motion and intent are rather similar and you learned it last year, so once you perform a sticking charm, as practice, you may say, you should be able to do today's work."
It was a good idea. But it didn't work.
"I don't understand this, Mrs Potter. I distinctly recall you casting the spell last year. You should have no trouble now. Cast lumos. Perhaps your problem is in your wand."
Pansy's light spell barely lit the tip of her wand.
"There's your problem, Mrs Potter. Your wand must have been damaged somehow. Ask your head of house to escort you to get it repaired this weekend."
And so it was that Pansy found herself with Professor Snape in Ollivander's shop on Saturday.
"There's nothing wrong with this wand, Miss Parkinson," the old wand maker said.
"That's 'Mrs Potter'," Snape said with vindictive relish. He'd probably trapped small animals and tormented them to death as a child, and ever since losing his thumbs the ex-potions master been even more poisonous.
"Oh? Well, be that as it may, the wand is in perfect condition. It could stand the attention of the cleaning kit, but that would not affect its performance. You might wish to see a healer to check for illness which may be affecting your magic, or perhaps a charms specialist to check for blocks that someone may have put on you. There is nothing I can do for you."
And so it was that Pansy found herself in the Hogwarts infirmary that afternoon. Madam Pomfrey hmmphed and hemmed and waved her wand and had Pansy get undressed – the stupid, fat, old pervert probably wished she were young and trim like Pansy – and then waved her wand some more. Then she frowned and told Pansy to get dressed. "Stay here, Mrs Potter. I have to summon the headmaster and your husband."
Pomfrey ignored Pansy's increasingly worried demands for information, saying only that she'd hear soon enough.
And eventually, but not nearly "soon enough", Dumbledore and stupid Potter were in the infirmary.
"Right, then. There's no easy way to tell you this, Mrs Potter, so I'll just tell you. You have an infection. A loathsome infection which consumes and reduces your magical ability. Left untreated, it will render you a squib."
"What? Me, a squib? I'd rather die!"
"Calm yourself, Mrs Potter. I'm sure Madam Pomfrey will be able to render you right as rain in no time."
"I'm afraid not. There's no cure. We've found the infection before it finished its work, so you will not be a squib, but your magical ability has been permanently reduced. What you have now is all you'll ever have."
Not giving Pansy time to get over the shock, the old hag continued, "The reason I asked Mr Potter in here, aside from him being your husband and entitled to know about your health issues, is that your disease is spread by intimate contact. I need to check Mr Potter, and no doubt give him the same treatment as you'll be receiving. I'm sure the infection was brought to the school via Mr Potter's date to the ball. I'm also aware of your recent activities, Mrs Potter. I will also need a list of every young wizard you've been with because I'll be needing to check them as well."
"Every one?" Pansy asked a small voice. "I don't know if I can remember all of them. And only wizards, or the witches, too?"
Pomfrey looked a bit disgusted while stupid Potter looked a bit intrigued.
"All of them, Mrs Potter. Anyone you might have exchanged any body fluid with, even from, ah, what do they call it? Frog kissing, because of the way frogs stick their tongues out of their mouths?"
"French kissing. Get a big pot of ink. You'll be needing it."
As she gave them name after name, Pansy gradually went from embarrassed to proud. She'd managed to be friendly with more wizards than anyone else, even Dumbledore. She even noticed stupid Potter looking rather impressed and maybe even pleased, but who knows what went through his stupid head?
Pomfrey was shaking her head and frowning at Pansy. Jealous much?
"Headmaster, I don't have nearly enough Garraghty's Gargle to treat a fraction of these students. Blythe's Blight is very contagious and we can expect that most of the students on this list will be infected, along with anyone they may have passed it on to. You'd best notify Severus. He won't be able to brew it himself, I'm sure you realize, but I'm sure the upper-year students will be able. You will need to find some money for ingredients. I'm sure we don't have enough of the rarer items on hand. I'll also be commandeering all of the school owls to notify the parents, and St Mungo's as well."
"I'm sure we don't need to go to all that trouble. Once any infected students are cured, they'll be right as rain."
"If you forbid me from notifying the authorities, you will also need to find the money to pay the fines the ministry levies. The fine is currently one hundred galleons per missed report, I believe."
"Mr Potter can pay for any ingredients, fines, and other expenses. He is the one who brought a diseased woman into the school and started all this mischief."
"Hey, Katya was a very nice girl with a hard-luck story like you wouldn't believe, and I didn't touch her and neither did any other student, at least not as part of the Yule Ball. As for paying, I have a better idea, Old Man. How about my so-called guardian pay it. He's the one who saddled me with a diseased wife. What were you trying to do, kill me off so you could steal my money? There's rumors floating around about orphans of rich families finding themselves broke once they grow up. You wouldn't know anything about that, would you?"
Pansy, lost in her own misery, tuned out the squabbling between the stupid old man and the stupid young man. She had more important things to think about, like herself.
"Potter! What do you think you're doing with that potion?"
"I'm about to add the diced Thinsdang Thistle, Professor."
"That's not Thinsdang Thistle, you imbecile. That's a common thistle. And I see you have frog livers, not newt livers, on your tray. Detention tonight, Potter. You will inventory the potions supply room until you can recognize the ingredients."
Ron felt bad for his friend. Detentions were bad. Detentions with Snape were a nightmare, and this one looked to be a … Ron had to stop and think. What was worse than a nightmare? "A really bad nightmare" didn't sound fancy enough. Too bad Hermione had already run off to her next class. She'd have been able to tell him a smart-sounding word. He could ask her at lunch.
Row wandered off, thinking about lunch. Maybe he would pace himself today, like a distance runner, instead of cramming in as much as he could as fast as he could, like a sprinter. He didn't notice that Harry had joined him until his friend spoke. "I'm really not looking forward to tonight's detention," Harry said as they walked to their next class. "Is it too much to hope that some disaster will strike so I don't have to go?"
Just moments later, a thundering boom! shook that part of the castle. Catching his balance, Ron cast his eyes about wildly. Even from up here he could see the poisonous-looking smoke cloud filling the corridor back the way they had come.
Ron looked warily at his friend. "I guess it's not too much to hope." It seemed there were an awful lot of accidents around Harry lately.
Ron's concern was only increased at dinner that evening. Dumbledore got up and announced the tragic news that Potions classes would be canceled for at least the next week because the classroom and storeroom were destroyed and – and this was the tragic part – the professor had been killed in the accident.
The Hogwarts students accepted the news quietly. Not so the Beauxbatons students, all of whom burst into excited twittering. Ron had heard that all of the Frenchies were failing Potions this year. Normally he might have held his head up in pride at this further proof that Hogwarts was the best and toughest school, but he'd also overheard a couple of Slytherins talking about how their head of house was showing the Frenchies their place.
Could Harry have done it? Or could one of those foreigners have blown up the Potions classroom just to get even with Snape? That seemed likely. Ron wasn't sure how he should feel about that. It was good that Snape was dead and it was good that he had a free period when Potions was. On the other hand, it was bad if some foreigners had blown up a good English wizard, or even a bad English wizard. Even if some of the foreigners were good-looking girls, and wasn't it interesting how every single Beauxbatons girl looked very good. Was it some charm they taught over there or was it just that French girls were all pretty? Ron thought about girls as he ate another piece of pie. Those were the only two things worth thinking about, food, girls, and chess. Ron couldn't be concerned about his poor school grades with his head full of the only three things for a healthy young wizard to think about: food, girls, chess, and quidditch.