Chapter 2 : The Sea Princess
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Disclaimer: I am eternally grateful to JK Rowling, the creator of Harry Potter, for allowing her fans to write fanfiction such as this story.
A cloaked figure walked cautiously through a seaport in South Hampton. Unauthorized persons weren’t supposed to be near any of the shipping containers, but no one seemed to pay any attention to the man. Even on sunny days with cranes clanking in the background and the noisy roar of boat engines, no one seemed to notice the oddly dressed people who occasionally made an appearance at the ship yard, but today was a miserable, drizzly day, and even normally sharp-eyed observers were less inclined to pay attention, preferring to huddle indoors where it was warm and dry.
Which is where he ought to be, Percy Weasley thought to himself. Not about to board some ship, a cruise ship, no less! He had tried to convince himself he was doing this for his job, but really, he hadn’t had a holiday since Audrey died, and as department head, he’d been able to give himself this assignment. He paused, leaning against a faded red shipping container, and adjusted the hood of his cloak, grateful for the water-repelling charms embedded in the fabric. He was having second thoughts about the whole thing, but it was a bit late now to re-assign the job.
If anyone with any familiarity with the place had been paying attention to him, they first might have noticed that the shipping container he was leaning against had been in the shipyard for decades, and despite the rust and faded paint, the container scarcely seemed to age. The next thing they would have noticed, if they were able to believe their own eyes, was the cloaked figure suddenly vanishing, as if he’d melted through the walls of the container. Of course, Percy hadn’t really melted . . . he had just been able to pass through, for to a wizard like him, the barrier wasn’t quite solid.
The weather on the other side of the barrier was just as bad. Percy stopped a moment to get his bearings and fish out a handkerchief. The noise from the Muggle area of the shipyard had faded. On this side, teams of wizards had wands out, levitating cargo rather than using those big, clanking metal contraptions.
Docked down at the opposite side of the pier was a large ship. Unlike the others, it wasn’t a cargo ship, and this was Percy’s destination. His feet found the boardwalk marked for passengers such as himself, and he followed it down to the end, where he stood looking up at the hulking ship. He knew cruise ships were large, of course. But knowing wasn’t the same as looking up at the actual thing. Percy gave his cloak a little shake to knock of some of the water and then started up the gangplank.
At the top, he was met by a wizard in navy blue and white uniform robes. Percy fished his ticket out of an inner pocket of his cloak and presented it to the man.
“Percy Weasley, Head Transportation Department Inspector,” he announced himself. “Captain Tosun is expecting me.”
“Mr. Weasley, of course. Welcome aboard the Deniz Prenses, the Sea Princess,” the uniformed wizard replied smoothly in slightly accented English. He waved his hand, and a little mustachioed man hurried forward. “Mustafa, show Mr. Weasley to his quarters and then take him to see the captain. He is a very special guest on this voyage.”
A wide grin spread across Mustafa’s round face. “Right this way, Mr. Weasley,” he said in a heavier accent. “I take your luggage.”
“Yes, thank you,” Percy said, relinquishing his trunk and threading his way across the crowded deck following the little man. It wasn’t as crowded as the Ministry’s atrium at a quarter to eight on a weekday morning, but it was close. He followed Mustafa into a hallway (were they called hallways on ships?) that had many doors on either side—the cabins, he supposed. His own room was number 57, and he knew they must be getting close when he spotted #51 to his left.
Sure enough, a few moments later, Mustafa pulled a wand out from somewhere and opened the door to #57. He pushed it open wide, deposited Percy’s trunk beside the bed, and flashed that wide grin again.
“Your cabin, Mr. Weasley. You make so door answer to you, yes, before you come out again? Instruction card on inside of door. Very simple, very simple. In half hour, I return, take you to Captain Tosun. Captain very busy right now, many passengers coming. And you want make clothes dry, perhaps? You need anything, you pull bell. I come fast as I can.” Mustafa dipped in a little bow and hurried away again.
Percy closed the door and removed his cloak. There was a hook on one wall, so he hung his cloak there, frowning at the puddle it immediately started making on the floor as it began to drip dry. He took a quick glance in the mirror, but thanks to his cloak, the rest of his clothes had stayed dry, and they weren’t even rumpled. No need to change clothes then.
Instead, Percy turned to his trunk and opened the lid. He pulled out a couple sets of extra robes and the rest of his personal luggage, stacking everything neatly in a dresser that was bolted to the wall. He then began to organize his work tools, moving them over to a small desk, which was also bolted to the wall. At least the chair slid freely, he noted. Spare parchment, quills, and ink all found a place in the top drawers. His other equipment found temporary homes in other drawers.
When he was finally finished organizing his things, he checked his watch for the time. He still had 10 minutes before Mustafa would be back. The next order of business, he supposed, would be to figure out the locking mechanism Mustafa had referred to. He began reading the instruction card. Right enough, it did seem simple. It seemed to be a variation of the Alohomora charm, but primed so that only the room’s occupant or the ship’s staff would be able to open the lock. He followed the instructions and was satisfied with the lock briefly glowed green, as the card assured him it should if the spell had worked correctly.
After that, Percy took out a special bag which his sister-in-law, Hermione, had given him for Christmas one year. She had one like it, and she said it was called a Muggle briefcase—improved of course, with a few small magics to ensure that the papers within it never became stained, torn, or wet, nor read by the wrong person. The latch unlocked at his touch, and he drew out a parchment roll.
He unrolled the parchment and scanned it quickly. The Ministry of Magic required all ships sailing in and out of British wizarding ports to be licensed and to renew the license every two years. The licensing process for cruise ships was quite vigorous, as they made stops in tourist areas where passengers may encounter Muggles. Many complex spells and policies had to be in place to ensure the International Statute of Secrecy was not breached. The Deniz Prenses was a fairly new ship, and this was her first licensing renewal inspection. Percy hoped he’d be able to knock out most of the inspection by tomorrow, have the paperwork done by the day after, and spend the remaining time taking in the sun.
There was a knock at the door. “Mr. Weasley, Captain Tosun ready to see you now. You come with me now?” Mustafa said. Percy stuffed the scroll back into his Muggle briefcase and went to the door.
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