Chapter 1 : Jeopardy!
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As he flung out an arm for his glasses, I handed them to him, for old times’ sake. His vision was a perfect 20/20 now but he always said he couldn’t see quite such a rosy tint without them. I told him he was a fool, but that those specs made him a handsome fool, so it was a win-win situation.
“Here’s the case. We got another young couple who are floundering a bit, need us to step in to get them solid together.”
“Are they in love yet?” Jimmy might pretend he didn’t like these mushy assignments to the rest of his buddies, but it was questions like this that reminded me how much better we were as Cupid’s workers than as some sort of supernatural MI6 backup. Sirius might be badass, but Mary McD liked to tell me on her fifth G&T just how much of a whining little baby he could be if he didn’t beat the baddies.
“Sure are, but they’ve not got round to saying those three little words, and aren’t like to.”
“Unless we intervene.” Jimmy sits up properly, shoving the duvet off the bed, and stretches. It shows his abs in a really nice light, and I lean back to admire them for a minute before he winks at me and cracks his knuckles. “Hello, world. We’re coming to getcha.”
An hour and two sausage rolls later, we’re sitting on the roof of the motorbike garage and looking again at that case. We’d already dropped in on a few of our best contacts – Lupin, Old Al, and Mary McD – to gather some info about these young’uns. Turned out, they were our boy Harry’s best friends.
“Two-thirds of the Golden Trio? If you can get them together and make those imaginary kids exist, you’ll be getting wings of honour,” Mary had told us, impressed.
Lucky for us that we might be able to spy on our son at the same time as getting these kids together. There weren’t many opportunities to venture back into the living world, especially not for pleasure, but we’d managed to strike gold a couple of times. Our last assignment where we saw him was getting Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour to finish up all their domestics.
He must be close to the Weasleys. That would make sense if this Ron Weasley is his wingman, although…
“Hey J, if our Harry’s matched up with Ginny Weasley, does that make Ron Weasley his wingman or his enemy?”
Jim thought for a minute, staring into the middle distance like he was a tall, dark, handsome stranger. “Well I dunno. Probably just a mate.”
I will never get the man hierarchy. Probably for the best; I already got me a husband; he wouldn’t take kindly to my practicing any new moves on new meat. When I need to advise these guys, I gotta be making them think like ladies, so it’s not usually a roadblock.
“If they’re the same age as Harry, aren’t they a bit young?” Jimmy asked me now, nose wrinkling adorably – I mean, in a manly way. We were both tough as treated Kevlar and there was no space for a blancmange attitude to our line of search-and-rescue. That included in how I was describing stuff in my internal soliloquy.
“C’mon Jimmy, has your brain conked out already? They’re eighteen – going on nineteen – and this is the wizarding world.” I nudged him. “Weren’t we the same age when we got engaged?”
“Truth.” Hell, wizarding world romance started this early because we were around to take care of the proceedings. The magical gene was rare enough already; without us match-making, things might slow down too much, and we couldn’t have the witches and wizards doing like the muggles and leaving it too late to start procreating.
“So, how d’we want to approach this?”
“Let’s try jeopardy. Or is it romance first?”
“Romance, always romance. Every nice girl likes romance.”
“I believe this is my cue,” Jimmy proclaimed, reaching into his jacket and producing a battered rose. He held it out before me with a winning smile, and I took it with a grin. “You’re a nice girl, and I know you like romance. O, my love for you is like a red, red rose that sweetly wilts in tune… or whatever.”
“You ladykiller you.” I’m already smiling, kinda coy, ‘cause Jimmy doesn’t like things that come easy. He likes his snitches, coffee, cases, Fakers (“All the kick, none of the kill!”) cigarettes, and wife hard-to-get.
So I lean down towards him and tease open my jacket a crack, before whispering sweetly in his ear, “we’ll stick them in the unexpected romance tomorrow night.”
I’m pretty sure Jim has some slightly more expected romance for me tonight. We just gotta remember to not overdo the Basilik’s Bane when we’re down Daisy’s, or we’ll not be awake in time to conjure whatever mushy love scene this Ron and Hermione deserve to have.
Three on the clock and we were all dressed up in our leathers and shades, humming ACDC together, ready to do a bit of recon before showtime. Then Tonks shows up, interrupting Jim in the middle of his air-guitar solo, and tells us that Big G wants to see us.
Big G? I look over at Jimmy and he shrugs, just as confused as I am. Godric Gryffindor usually ignores all mentions of ‘that dirty word’ – which can actually be romance, bleach, or bioethanol, depending on the context – since his love life is in such tatters. He’s a better mentor for the go-get-‘em bad-guy-haunting missions. Last time he tried to help with a romancing situation, three couples broke up. And that was only up here.
Still, we tramp through the Seven Levels to get to Big G’s office. I stick a hand on my hip, Jim pushes his glasses up his nose, and we wait for him to pay attention. Whatever you want to say about Big G, he doesn’t take his time accelerating to the point, but that’s only when he’s got started.
Sure enough, after a couple of minutes of his arsing around with a freaking fax machine, he turns to us and skips all the usual politeness. “You’re about to have a problem with your newest assignment.”
I look at Jimmy and Jimmy looks at me. “Beg pardon, sir, but would you mind giving us more details?”
“Of course, Potter.” He sends me a dark look, then gets down to business. “There’s a rogue band of Anti-Potterists about to kidnap your two heroes. They’ll arrive for Mr Weasley and Miss Granger at around 5:30, and before they can be ransomed back, a different group of traders will come and break them out, only to be sold somewhere deep in Asia.”
“Is this case being called off, then?” Jim’s words sound offhanded enough but I’m pretty sure that he’s not very happy about it.
“No siree. We’ve decided that you should prevent these two from being kidnapped by the Anti-Potterists. You have two hours from now before the kidnappers arrive in the Burrow. What are you waiting for?”
We practically fly back through the Seven Levels this time, back out to the garage we call our crib. I fix us both a calming shot of whiskey and some BLTs for this evening, while Jim heads on over to Skinny Boy Fred’s. I’ve got a feeling that tonight’s gonna be a long night, and Skinny Boy Fred can do some underground investigating while we’re in the first phase of the plan we haven’t worked out yet. Fred’s good like that, even if his taste in confectionary is crazy.
When Jimmy’s back, we put our heads together over a half-pack of Fakers I found under my old thigh-high Doc Martens. Jim’s already practically blowing steam from his new idea.
“I’ve got a complete Big Al of a legend of a plan, Lil Marie.”
“Alright, hit me with your best shot.” I snatched the cigarette dangling from my partner’s lips and took a long drag, wondering how best to solve this problem. Hopefully, the solution would involve the bike. I liked the bike. Problem was, the bike didn’t always like us – or so it seemed.
“We kidnap them first.”
I considered this, attempting smoke rings of the purple stuff these Fakers let off. Not bad, if we could do if muggle-style. I told him as such, and we had a deal: we’d go flesh-solid and steal these kids before the Anti-Potterists could.
There were a couple of potholes I could see in this plan, though; if these two were such good friends of our boy Harry’s, then surely they’d notice how I had his eyes and Jimmy… well, he was the spitting image of our boy, except for the eyes.
I pointed this out to Jim, and he snatched the cigarette back while he thought about it. “We could go stealth, go solid to set a trap, then once they’re in a cell, see where we go from there.”
Sounded good to me. We dropped in on Skinny Boy Fred to get his input for the plan, then set off to sneak around the Burrow with some fancy personalised triggers. Since the anti-apparition wards that all decent people put up are also anti-angel-apparition, I argued for the bike. Jim didn’t like it though, said it was too loud, so we ended up just appearing in a chicken coop instead and hiking from there.
Feathered chaos aside, we set up a few voice-recognising ropes to lower the camouflaged portkey that we wanted our couple to grab. When they were both touching it, they’d get transported to a room we set up. Pretty much all of that was Skinny Boy Fred, but then he is the goon for it round here.
Jimmy was all for having the portkey disguised as some kinda joke object, like lacy underwear or a glitter rose, but after I pointed out that our two were a nice two, we decided on an old broomstick. That was interesting enough, right? And not very normal to come home to one hanging out in the living room like a pet cat.
After we sorted that all out, we still needed a holding cell where they could describe their ardent love and all that. We decided on it being inside the hill next to the Burrow, so there was less far for us to travel and come up with some place shiny new, but then there was the trouble of hiking up and over it. I wasn’t very happy about that, because there were not enough charms to keep my hair Seventies-straight in the gale we ended up walking in. Jimmy might like the ‘wind-tossed’ look, but everyone else just ends up looking like we’ve been dragged through the Forbidden Forest, into the acromantula lair, and back again. It’s a good thing that one of us looks darned sexy like that, anyways.
“How d’we want to do this? Shovel it like salt, carve it like a turkey, dig like we want to holiday in Australia?” Jim was marking dimensions in his vision with his fingers, but I didn’t really fancy making mud pies, so I let him make the unconnected hole in the hill just how he liked. I’m sure these two didn’t need a Jacuzzi as well as the single bedroom and (pretend) chain-rack-and-dagger room, but we liked a hot tub as well as anybody, and I hadn’t the heart to vanish all those fancy synchronised jet and lighting settings that my sweet husband had worked out.
Now all that was left was to link the portkey and watch it unfold.
I checked my watch – a present years gone from Sirius with Jimmy’s face on it. The hands were his glasses, and they were currently magnifying 4:38. Twenty minutes til showtime. I flashed a look at Jim and smirked in the way he liked. “If you don’t mind appearing in that chicken shit again, we’ve got twenty minutes and a hot tub.”
“I am in.”
We were a little late, in the end, but it didn’t matter because Hermione wasn’t in yet. A lot of the fam were bustling around, but the semi-repellent charms we’d stuck to the broom seemed to keep most of them accepting it like a twelfth guest. Our boy Ron – I’d already mentally adopted him, and Jim seemed to be feeling the same way, because he kept muttering ‘nice one, son’ – wandered around getting het up for ten minutes or so before Hermione walked in.
It didn’t take long before the two of them were standing underneath it like freaking mistletoe, and as they tried to get some of the others interested, our charms kicked into effect and lowered it to sit pretty in front of them.
Unfortunately, Hermione looked to be too smart at first, ‘cause she avoided touching it completely. Our couple seemed to be arguing about the past again. I rolled my eyes at Jimmy, and he rolled his back; by the time we switched back to proper surveillance, the two of them – and the broomstick – had disappeared out of sight.
“Ah crap,” Jim muttered. “C’mon Lil, we’ll do a bunny-pop into the middle of it.”
I leapt onto his back in a piggy-back, and Jimmy Apparated us to the middle of our little jail.
For some reason, when we appeared in the little holding room (still invisible, although our My Barbie Binoculars seemed to be a bit too fluorescent for our post-mortem charming to hold properly) the two were already arguing. Eh? We’d not had them banged up long enough for them to start having domestics already!
“- not the first time you’ve done stupid things with a cursed broomstick!” Hermione was saying heatedly, her brunette hair frizzing up like a bristling hedgehog.
“Hey, if I remember rightly, that was from Sirius and it didn’t hurt Harry at all!” Ron argued back. Jimmy and I both perked up at the mention of good ol’ Siri and I slid off my husband’s back to quickly charm my hair blonde. At an appropriately terrible time, I’d flesh-solidify right in front of them and add an element of danger. Jimmy liked me being the bad cop, and I’ll admit it was more fun than having to put a damper on the manic threats.
“But it might have!”
“He wasn’t actually a criminal, y’know!”
“But clearly, whoever planted that broom was, because here we are – kidnapped into a cell we can’t Apparate out of!”
I watched Ron for a second, but he didn’t look like he was about to comfort his girl. She was definitely out of the mad zone now, and just looked frustrated and a little upset, but being a bloke, he probably thought she was about to hex him into next Wednesday.
I decided that this was my cue. Shades on, gloves off, and…
I popped into existence between them, smiling devilishly as they both jumped back. “Well hello there, boys and girls. How’re things?”
“Who are you?” Hermione looked shocked enough that you’d think we’d stuck them both in the middle of a Burlesque street fair, but she had her wand out too. I hoped Jimmy was behind me sticking the anti-human-magic wards up. I’d forgotten, and we’d be in a Phil Pickle if they blasted their way outta this hill to get snatched by those Asian slave-traders due to kidnap them from the kidnappers.
Ron, however, hadn’t got his wand out, which was probably a bad idea in his girl’s eyes. I liked him though, ‘cause he’d moved to be standing in front of Hermione and shielding her from me. Good move, son.
“Well, I’m Deadly Marie.” Neither of them misheard my street name, thank Big G. “We’ll be keeping you here for a little while, just til we can get a little bitta information we’re after.”
“Whatever you’re after, we won’t give it to you,” Ron said fiercely, moving to stand even more in front of Hermione, and belatedly pulling out his wand. I looked pointedly at it and raised an eyebrow.
“We’re playing really nice here. There’s a Jacuzzi, and a bedroom, though we’ll be doing all the cooking if that’s all right. We just want to ask a few questions.”
“Marie here does a mean chicken salad if you’re interested,” Jimmy told them as he shimmered into view. “And I’m J-fizzle.” Our two stared as though he’d just announced I was the reason for an incoming apocalypse by paragliding.
“Hermione likes chicken salad,” Ron muttered, half to himself. I couldn’t help but chuckle at that, and he gave me a nervous half-smile back, the tips of his ears turning a brighter shade of red than his hair was orange.
“What is it you want to know about?” Hermione asked, alternating which of us she pointed her wand at. I resisted the urge to conjure a little girl’s fairy wand (glittering, bejewelled, and pink-fluff-adorned) and poke her wand out of the way with it.
Instead, I leant forwards and gave my best manic smile, the one with the extra canine showing. Good thing I’d reapplied blood-red lippy post-Jacuzzi, it added a nice touch of vampire. This predatory style seemed to be threatening, which was the aim, so I whispered (for added drama, of course): “We want to know about you.”
I turned around, flung my scarf over one shoulder, and prepared to make my exit. Jimmy ruined it slightly by adding, “that’s why we kidnapped you and not someone else.” But then he seized my arm and we made a nice dramatic arm-in-arm exit with our two lovebirds gaping.
They could really learn a thing or two from us about how to work in a team.
It was two hours later, and Jimmy and I were glued to the little peephole-thing into the bedroom that we’d locked Ron and Hermione in. Jimmy was already calling them ‘Romione’ (having ruled out ‘Heron’ which I’d been in favour of) ‘cause he was into pet names, although some of his couple names weren’t so good – Bleur, for instance, had made me think he was barfing instead of talking about Bill and Fleur.
Unfortunately, these two were going round in circles. They were too fired up on adrenaline, trying to figure out who we were, what we wanted (though we’d told them that), where they were, how to escape. They needed to get more bored, cling to each other a little more. They needed a little jeopardy.
I passed the My Barbie Binoculars back to Jimmy. “I’m getting a little bored of watching Hermione circle,” I whispered. “Can we intervene before I make use of those chains?” From his wide-eyed shock, I hurriedly explained: “To start making over this jacket with chain accessories!”
“Oh,” he sighed, running a hand through his hair. “Yeah, I’m deader than a shot doughnut. Last time you got bored you ended up picking the studs outta my good jacket, so I’m all for stirring things like scandal soup.”
“In fairness, that was more because I was angry you’d forgotten our anniversary,” I pointed out.
“It said PUTTER for months!”
“What kind of distraction did you have in mind?”
Jimmy immediately grinned wickedly, in that way that made me want to ride him like a demon motorbike. Dammit, my hands needed to be in that sexy hair.
No, my hands needed to be in my pockets and concentrating on Jimmy’s words, dammit!
“… everyone loves a sexy swimming pool scene,” I managed to hear. I gathered from this that Jim wanted to flood them out, just a little. It was an old favourite.
I considered this (and not his smattering of freckles across his nose, and definitely not his wonderful lips), and thought that this was a good idea. They’d need to change after that, right? It’d be mighty helpful if the only clothes we had on us were leathers or lycra.
I chuckled darkly at the thought. Jimmy took this as approval and quickly sealed up the door to water, before proceeding to cast a strong augamenti charm. I joined him in the water; I could’ve just cast an amplifying spell on Jim, but since we wanted to ramp up the jeopardy here, that might defeat the purpose and just surprise them instead.
I could hear Ron give a shout, as he’d been sitting on the one single bed pushed against the opposite wall, where our wands were aiming. The eight foot square room we had them in wasn’t going to take too long to fill, though we hardly wanted to drown them like goldfish in a toilet. We’d leave a foot of space at the top, get it slipping over their heads for a few seconds, then slowly let it trickle away.
It was really a good thing we had so much time to practice handy spells on our missions, because a couple of decades ago, I would’ve had less clue than a hinkypunk about how to perform a draining spell. Now, it was just another household staple.
Below us, Romione were panicking. Ron was insulting us and swearing worse than Big G when he runs out of Fakers; Hermione was shrieking and attempting use her redundant wand to carve them an exit.
Unfortunately, as the water level rose higher, Romione did not perform any brilliantly romantic acts that induced passionate love declarations. The closest Ron came was trying to wrestle Hermione onto his shoulders when the water was up to his chest; Hermione merely splashed him in the face crossly and continued to take deep breaths.
As they began to paddle, their feet being lifted off the floor with the rising water, I whispered with Jimmy. “Dagnabit, why didn’t she kiss him?”
“Why didn’t they passionately declare love?” Jim whisper-demanded back.
“What more do they want?!”
Still, we didn’t accidentally drown them or something rubbish. Neither of them seemed too panicked when they were in the last ten centimetres of air – at least, there was no hysterical crying or screamed cursing – although there was a teensy bit of moving romance when the water rose over their heads, and Ron and Hermione just looked into each others eyes underwater. Then she held out her hand, and for a moment Ron looked at it, before realising that she wanted him to hold it. At least, that’s how I interpreted the look of revelation on his previously slightly-gormless features.
Before the touching scene had any time to develop, Jimmy’s draining charms cranked into action, and the pair were pulled downwards as a giant plughole spell took effect and turned this slow swimming pool into a dangerous whirlpool. It was a good thing that this didn’t last very long, because when the water level dropped enough for us to potentially be able to see their faces, we realised that they were still getting swept around horizontally.
Oops. Still, worse things happen at sea (particularly if you’re stupid enough to sail near to Charybdis) and when we strolled on into the room casual-like five later, Ron had stripped his soaking top off. Hermione was eyeballing him – unsubtly, too – but didn’t seem to do anything about it. If we’d not already appeared flesh-solid to them, I’d think it was better for Jim to go angel-smoke and whisper helpful ideas in her ear. It was really a shame that Hermione was wearing jeans and a thick cardigan; Ron wouldn’t have been able to keep his hands off her if they’d been more figure-hugging, adorable bumbler that he was.
But no. This was why we existed; to make the romantic kiss-in-the-rain scenes happen! It didn’t even take much effort to persuade both of them to get changed into dry clothes which Jim and I’d decided on beforehand. This being one of my few close-up chances with Hermione, I tried to get her to open up. Course, since she wasn’t familiar with either of us yet, that was a dead end before we’d even started.
Still, she could have said something other than “oh bloody hell!” when I showed her the lacy bodycon dress and leather jacket. She didn’t have a choice about it, and she knew it, but that outfit looked damn good on her. She’d tied her hair up too, and in a big wet bun on top of her head, it made her eyes look real doe and cute. Plus, this beautiful outfit I’d conjured for her would keep Ron goggle-eyed all night long, and probably all of tomorrow too.
All Hermione did was stare down at herself, though, and glanced in the mirror really briefly before walking back into their room. I hoped Jim had wrestled Ron into those skinnies by now, or he might get more lurve than he bargained for.
Jimmy and I stayed glued to that little peephole until about midnight. We went angel-smoke, of course, since if we were flesh-solid we’d have to whisper, and I still stank of the stir-fry dinner I did for us all too; we would’ve been sniffed out in minutes. Our assignment had taken an unexpected peak: Ron had told Hermione how beautiful she looked as soon as we’d locked their door, and started kissing her.
Well. That was easy.
But then, of course, it wasn’t.
She pushed him off after a couple of minutes and said that she couldn’t deal with this wishy-washy kissing-whenever-you-feel-like-it business. Course, in girl talk, that screams ‘ASK ME TO BE YOUR GIRLFRIEND OR TELL ME YOU LOVE ME!’
Ron’s translator was probably a little bit busted though, since he just backed off and let her pace for hours. Once they’d both fallen asleep on opposite sides of the bed, and accidentally rolled up to each other so they were spooning like four-week-old puppies, Jim and I left them to it and decided to pull a few winks before the morning, when our new phase of the plan would come into action.
Unfortunately, we hadn’t banked on Hermione getting up at the crack of nine o’clock. Really, who rises at such an unsociable hour? By the time Jim’d blearily sorted our breakfast (cappuccinos all round, no arguing) I’d managed to reapply the hair charms. My wand had managed to disappear into a fishbowl, which I didn’t notice til I located Jimmy’s wand and got it to point to mine (you can’t summon wands, duh).
It took a bit of chaotic whispering with Jim and personality switcheroo for me, but eventually we managed to sort it out so that I talked to Ron in the rec room and Jim talked to Hermione in their room. There was a bit of struggling, but with some Good Cop sweet-talk from Jim, both of them came easy enough.
We sat down with Ron adjacent to the nasty wall with chains on. Those things creeped the hell out of me, and I’d never use them, but they kept up the front that we were kidnappers. They added weight to whatever we wanted our couple to do.
Once we’d sorted ourselves into a psychiatrist-and-subject position, I rested my chin on steepled fingers and gave Ron a thoughtful look. “So, how’s your relationship with Hermione?”
“Huh?” Hadn’t expected that one, clearly.
“I mean, she’s obviously waiting for you to ask her to be your girlfriend.”
“What? No. Really?”
“Yeah. You should snag your girl before anyone else does.”
“How am I s’posed to do that? She’s too good for me. She’d never say yes to a guy like me.”
I definitely hadn’t expected him to trust me so easily. This was more Beatles than expected… perhaps talking like our boy Harry was sweetening him up?
“She totally would! You just need to ask her out. Tell her you love her. Pick a good time, of course, but we could arrange a romantic meeting for you two, you tell her then.”
Ron nodded thoughtfully, then suddenly gave me a blank look. “Why d’you want me to do this?”
“So you can snag your girl,” I patiently reminded him. His frown deepened.
“Why d’you want me to get with Hermione?”
I was on thin ice here. Better turn up the cucumber demeanour so I didn’t burn right through – I’d almost ruined stronger couples before, by having too much fun. I was supposed to be an enemy. Think Black Sabbath, they always put me in a grump.
So I reached for my inner Moriarty (my inner Adler was too fond of fishnets to be a good model to draw inspiration from) and smirked dangerously, leaning in close to whisper, “oh, we’re not talking long-term here. After all, you two are unsuited enough that you’d break up the second we let you out.”
“Hermione and I aren’t together,” Ron said, half-fierce and half-sad, I thought. But that might just be my romantic bias running around. He was staring at the corner of the room, so it wasn’t as easy to see his expression.
“Well that makes our job helluva lot easier! If you two don’t fight to stay together when we sell you on, we can make quite a bit more. It’s just that, when you’ve got two unsuited prisoners like this…” I lay down on the table in front of him so he couldn’t avoid looking at me. “Hey! Okay, when you’ve got two unsuited prisoners like we do, it’s so much more fun to try to get them together for a short while, before fate takes over.”
In truth, we were the only forms of fate, but that was the lesser of several things these two weren’t going to get to know about us.
Ron was frowning, about to argue back now (good, I’d got him riled up), when Jimmy popped his head in and smacked his gum. It was our signal for summoning to something important, like being down to the last bottle of something strong.
“Excuse me, Ron.” I smiled sweetly, peeled myself off the table, and went out the door before turning angel-smoke so we could talk without worrying about being heard. Jim’d done the same.
“What is it?” I asked. “Hermione too clever for our plan of action?”
Jim shook his head. “Nah, not yet, though I’m trying all those subtle tactics we talked about. It’s mostly just getting her to panic, anyway, to drive them together.”
“Then what is it? Old Al forget to change our license plates for the bikes again?”
“We got a notifier from Big G,” J said, unnaturally serious and producing a hoity-toity type cream envelope from his inside jacket pocket. I took it and looked at the wax seal (which had a roaring lion’s head pressed into the rose-coloured wax, although only mewling noises came out). I hated these things usually, since they were always long, boring and relentless.
“What’s this about? A new mission? We not doing well enough for him?”
“Nah. It’s just about ‘outside circumstances’, which probably refers to – ”
“ – those kidnappers?” Jimmy nodded grimly and I kicked at the wall. “Alright. Shall we hear it out now, or d’ye want to sort those two out with a little quotation-marks scenario first?”
Jimmy considered the question for a moment. I considered what their children would look like. “Romione first, then Big G. Big G’s got all of eternity, our two don’t. And neither do we,” he added.
True enough. I nodded decisively and put my hands on my hips, looking around the room. “Okay. I just gotta remind him how evil we are, maybe show him the torture room again while talking about how we’re gonna break them up, then we can fly on up.”
“Alrighty. See you here in fifteen.”
So I went all evil for Ron, but not enough to permanently warp him – just to scare him a little, to get him all protective of Hermione and clinging to her. I ended up having to wait for Jimmy, but then, he’d taken the harder nut to unscrew.
We didn’t hang around before ripping open the pretty paper, since the lion seal wouldn’t stop its roaring, and I coulda sworn on Iron Maiden that it was increasing in volume.
I could ken straight off that McLaggen FcSlaggen, one of Big G’s minions, had been the one to lay down this purple prose – it was more like violet verse, it was so blinking fancy. It took Jim and I twenty-five boring minutes to give the supermassive thick scroll a once-over; then five for fetching more coffee, dunkable biscuits, and cleaning up the mud our boots left on the desk; and another fifteen to read it again, this time aided with highlighters to work out what the Highway To Hell he meant.
Unfortunately, it was probably another ten after that when Jim realised what Big G had been trying to tell us.
“Lil Marie – oh no, oh no, oh – ”
I quirked a brow. “Hey Jimmy, spit it out.”
“I think what FcSlaggen means to say is that our Asian slave traders, in all their world-leading-expert-espionage glory, are coming by at about noon, and we should protect against them.”
“But that’s…” I leaned over to where he was monkey-crouching on the chair and grabbed his wrist, checking the watch face there. “That’s twenty minutes ago.”
“Yeah, I know!” I looked up at Jim, wondering at his panic while the cogs began to turn. Then –
Holy moley. “We’ve lost Romione!”
I sent Jim out to make our one emergency floo. It was all we had time for as I dragged out the bike. Thin Lizzy was her name, on account of the featherweight charms we cast to keep her fast to respond and fast on the miles. Jim refused to call her by her proper name in front of Sirius, but he was just trying to buy back some of his pride at losing to Siri in last year’s motoracing fest, so I didn’t pay notice.
By the time Jimmy returned with the news that he’d not been able to get through to anyone useful, I’d primed the bike, our helmets, and my clothes (not to mention the quick homenum revelio to double-check). Some agents might’ve decided on brooms at this point, but we needed to stay muggle-safe and off-roadable. The agents with Romione were probably going muggle-safe so they could pick up extra booty on the way.
As Jimmy jammed on his matching red helmet, I ran over my memories of Ron and Hermione so far; a young couple in love, who just needed a little push to reach out and seize happiness together. Our boy Harry’s best friends, a trio since they were kids. Young and lucky and strong.
And those greedy thieves had taken them.
Oh boy, was I getting Rammstein-angry now.
“You take handle,” I told Jim, my voice hard. My riding gloves snapped on, and I swung up back on Thin Lizzy, impatiently motioning my husband on before me. He didn’t even hesitate, just slapping me a high-five as we lifted our feet and gunned away.
We zoomed around the hill and headed straight for the nearest road, where suddenly Lizzy’s speed tripled, being back on tarmac and all. I kept carefully checking with my wand where we were turning, and within ten minutes, a child-snatching white lorry came into view up ahead. ‘Magic Haulage’, the oh-so-original lettering read, and I shouted in Jim’s ear that very soon there would be major haulage of magic ass back to where Romione belonged.
He grinned, and as we gained on the lorry, I stood up on the spokes, knees clamped on the seat. I took my aim, then fired an unlocking spell at the back doors, hoping that we’d be able to get in and haul out.
No such luck. There must’ve been a protective layer, ‘cause the spell fired straight back and I only ducked down just in time, cursing the mouth off us both. That wasn’t even the end of it; some sort of siren up top went off, flashing obnoxious lights, and suddenly our quarry was doubling speed and weaving like it was in the business of selling straw hats.
Jim growled like the bike, leaving our speed as it was, and fixed our path to the middle of the country lane we were cutting through. Or at least, he fixed our path until we started getting curses shot at us. Then we joined this weaving business, and I leaned around Jimmy, my head on his shoulder, to shoot more spells at whoever was firing at us.
The spells came thicker as we whipped round corners, dipping so low my hair nearly touched the ground before we swooped back up again. Jimmy was such a natural at this after so many years of riding a broomstick, that it was difficult to faze him when we were teamed up like this; him doing the steering and me doing the fancy work up top suited us both.
In fact, we were so close that I was preparing to yank open the van doors manually when the van suddenly screeched right around a hairpin bend.
Distracted by my slow movement out to the side of the bike, I was thrown back down to my seat as Jimmy worked out what he needed to do. As we railed the corner, I realised what was coming a second earlier than Jim, and shrieked. “NOT THE PAINTWORK!”
Too late. Thin Lizzy screeched a long way along the tarmac, bypassing the vastly deccelerated van, and slowing to a stop in a smoking mess that made the Great Fire of the Leaky Cauldron look like a s’more-worthy blaze. Oil covered the road, a slick slide for the van coming up behind, and if we’d not catapulted off that bike like we were trained the second the fender touched base, we’d have been pancaked three times over.
Barrelling along as he was, the Asian kidnapper up cab (even from here, I was guessing at Sri Lankan heritage) didn’t see the spillage until they were spinning on top of it like a ballroom dancing class. My thoughts immediately jumped to Ron and Hermione, trapped in the back like rats as they were thrown like Big Al’s flaming jugglers on All Saint’s Day.
Slower, slower, the van managed to stay on its toes right up until the ditch gaped beneath them and toppled sideways like my sense of control. There was a lot of ominous banging from inside. Jim and I wasted no time in giving chase, shedding our bike helmets along the way, since we’d had to wait long enough for the stoppage. There was even a chance that the defences had dropped and Romione could tumble out into an awkward embrace on the tarmac…
Sadly, this romance did not bloom in the midst of our excellently-executed jeopardy. The unpredictable element reared its Viking helmet instead.
When we were approximately twenty (sexily-leapt) strides away from the back of the lorry, the doors burst open and two magic carpets shot out like oriental pinballs. Each held two traders and one half of our couple; without saying a word, Jim and I halted, whipped out our wands, and took one each. We were probably rather too used to danger.
Ron’s purple carpet was shot out of the sky by the expert aim of yours truly; Jimmy’s red one swerved early, and only succeeded in swooping low enough for Hermione to throw herself off with her hands tied. Four people smacked down, heads a-clunking, while the purple carpet shot off to grab the driver – or so I presumed. I was too busy running towards Hermione, heating up my wandtip early to sever the bonds.
She was feverish, pulling away from me as I sawed through the muggle rope tied to her wrists, but she didn’t shove me over as I pulled up Ron and freed him too. Jim had chased after the purple carpet, but from a single glance up when my threat-radar kicked in, he was chasing the Sri Lankan driver towards me.
Faster than reason, all five of us with wands had pulled them out and pointed them at one another. The advantage was to the hustlers, with their 3-2 team numbers. But they didn’t have the skillage we did.
I took a deep breath, mentally running over my repertoire one last time, but before the action happened, Hermione did.
She was dressed in my nightclubbing clothes, covered in engine oil, and bruised like an old apple. But she pulled herself up from the tarmac and attempted to exit the circle of death. Then she paused on the fringes.
“You are all CRAZY!” Hermione screamed, scuttling backwards with her ropes outstretched. Ron retreated slower, guarding Hermione, and glaring at us all as he flicked shield charms up to defend from the slave traders’ spells.
“Glad you noticed,” Jimmy muttered, but he didn’t pause for breath as we took down the other two men. It wasn’t much of a fight, Team Potter versus a rabble of traders, but by the time we’d incarcerated them and my boot was stuck up under the driver’s chin, we glanced back to see Romione kissing. Passionately.
“At last!” I couldn’t help grinning widely. Jim and I slowly walked towards them, observing from thirty metres’ safe distance.
Then the magical happened.
Ron pulled away from Hermione and said softly, “I love you, Hermione Jean Granger. You’re perfect, and I love you.”
She smiled widely, a massive great big face-splitting grin, and I imagined that she was getting all teary as she kissed him again, even more enthusiastically this time, and declaring her own love against his lips.
J moved closer behind me and looped his hands through the gaps my hip-planted-hands had left in my elbows. We watched for a moment longer, just enough to see them break apart and run off in all their youthful, leather-clad glory.
“They’ll be okay,” Jimmy murmured into my hair. I nodded slightly and sighed contentedly.
“Rather a quicker mission than I was expecting, to be honest.”
“Might even be a new record.”
“Memorable twenty-four hours, though.”
My husband nodded again, before wrapping his arm around my shoulders. In the distance, Ron and Hermione halted and kissed again, then Apparated away with a resounding crack!
We followed their path up to the smoking remains of Thin Lizzy, gazing down at the beloved wreckage. We’d be okay on the bike front; Old Al had the blueprints, and we could get him to shake up a new motor in no time. This incarnation of Lizzy had served us well, though.
“Bye, bike,” Jim muttered beside me. “We’ve been through a lot of jeopardy together. Staged jeopardy, mostly, but we’ve all been good for the couples, haven’t we?”
“Oh, definitely.” I smiled up at him, drinking in once again my wonderful partner’s expression. “Jeopardy always works, doesn’t it?”
“Sure does, Lil Marie.”
So we went Angel Smoke once more, heading back up to the Seven Levels, where we’d time out with some Fakers before reporting to Big G with wide, smug smiles on our faces. Then maybe there’d be time to find Old Al, sweep up Mary McD and Siri, before heading down Daisy’s for old time’s sake.
It was like this every time we sorted out a couple. But I’d never get used to it, and I hoped I never would.
After all, what would love be without the jeopardy to bring it out?
A/N: after a nine-month-long absence… hi! I have broken my hiatus to post this for an excellent challenge (brithewriter’s Make Me Laugh challenge) and without her, this piece probably wouldn’t be here in all its 7K glory. It’s been superfun, though. I've always loved my Romiones and my Jilys (see two of both on my author's page!) but this was the first one to combine them. The dodgy tenses and disintegrating narrative will be cleared up at some point!
Because I didn’t want to make this easy on myself, I decided to include a whole bunch of references to shiz I don’t own:
- “Oh, my love for you is like a red, red rose that sweetly wilts in tune… or whatever,” is a reference to the Robbie Burns poem, ‘O My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose.’ He owns that.
- MI6 own themselves
- ACDC and the labels Albert, EMI, Columbia, Epic, Atlantic, Atco, Elektra and East West own ACDC and “Highway to Hell”
- Doctor Marten owns Doc Marten shoes
- Barbie is owned by Mattel
- Black Sabbath are signed by Vertigo, Warner Bros, IRS and Sanctuary
- Iron Maiden belong to the labels EMI, Universal, Sanctuary, Columbia, Portrait, Epic, Capitol, and Harvest
- Moriarty and Adler are characters who belong to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
- Thin Lizzy is signed by Decca, Vertigo, Mercury (US), BMG, EMI, Deram, and Warner Bros. (US)
- Rammstein is owned by Motor Music/Universal, Vagrant, and
Whew. All those classic rock references were very fun! As a side note, most inspiration came from the film “A Life Less Ordinary” (and the above bands). 'Daisy's' also refers to Daisy Dodderidge, who built the Leaky Cauldron in the 16th century.
If you liked this, or have any thoughts at all… please do drop a review. It’s been so long that I’ve forgotten what they look like :3