Harry stared at the dusty lower shelves of the Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes storeroom and fumed. Here he was, a year after defeating the most powerful Dark Wizard ever known, trussed up in a Full-Body Bind like a hapless first-year. The greater shame, however, was that this had not been done to him by an enemy.
No, he had been hexed and bound by his soon-to-be brothers-in-law – Fred, George, and –
The muscles in his jaw clenched.
‘They had their reasons,’ they assured him as they panted from their efforts of subduing him. He was ‘too unstable’ to seek out the photographer and the reporters and editors who had splashed his and Ginny’s picture all over the papers. They would handle it so as not to bring on any more ‘bad publicity.’ They were her brothers; it was their job to protect her.
Anger surged through him as he recalled that last reassurance. Ginny was not theirs to protect. She was his. And they were depriving him of the pleasure of hexing each and every person in the wizarding media who had leant a hand in dishonoring Ginny’s name and reputation.
But his first pleasure – once he wriggled out of this curse – was going to be hexing the traitorous Weasley brothers into oblivion. This lot and then Percy and Charlie and Bill, too – just because he was in that unreasonable of a mood.
He tried to tilt his head so he could locate his wand, but of course he couldn’t move an inch. Fortunately, while Ron had taken sides with Fred and George in the fight, he at least had had the common decency to leave Harry’s wand next to him.
It had been a while since he had performed wandless magic, but after much struggle, he managed to ease a portion of the curse that was paralyzing him. Now he could lift his head, he had one finger that worked and he had a belly full of rage.
It would do.
He collapsed his head back on to the floor, tired from the ungainly fight that had landed him here in the first place. He would have escaped if he hadn’t fallen for Fred’s ruse.
His face flamed as he realized he should have used a full-strength Squid Hex on Fred and let those tentacles wrap around Fred’s throat until he blacked out. That’s what he thought had happened when Fred clutched his neck and stared at him with wide-eyed horror. George had quickly gone along with the trick. Harry! You’re choking him. Call it off.
Of course he had lowered his wand. And then Ron caught him in the face with a Stunner.
Ron. That muscle in his jaw twitched. What kind of a friend kept you from seeking revenge?
He struggled to throw off more of the curse, but he couldn’t. He was under three different versions of the Full-Body Bind. Knowing Fred and George, their version would be making him sing soprano for a week if he tried to fight it.
Then he realized, with grim satisfaction, that while he couldn’t use this time to seek revenge on the media, he could at least cause trouble for Fred and George. He was in their storeroom and he had a wand. He could mess with their products. That would serve them right.
The only problem was that the storeroom was practically empty, since they were selling most of their merchandise as fast as they could make it. Only boxes of the Patented Day Dream Charm were available to tamper with.
He would have to give one of those Charms a go first. That way he could figure out how to use it against them. With great difficulty, he extended his free finger and touched his wand, concentrating on activating the Charm.
A tiny gnat silently appeared in front of his nose. He stared at it cross-eyed until it winged its way to his ear. “Are you alone or in public?” the gnat asked.
“Alone,” Harry murmured.
A white light appeared in front of his startled eyes and then expanded so that Harry was surrounded by misty white. It looked like he was standing in a dry cloud.
“What do you want?” a voice asked.
“Revenge,” he answered promptly.
The white cloud thinned so that colors and shapes began to appear – a dark sea under a full moon and the wooden deck of a ship. Then he saw himself dressed like a pirate in tight leather pants and a ridiculous puffy white shirt. He was so impatient for the revenge part to begin, that he didn’t bother to correct the magic that had him wearing that. Although, now that he thought about it, pirates did dress in this manner – albeit their clothes were probably never that nice nor had any pirate’s hair ever looked that good.
His hair had never looked that good. This Daydream hair wasn’t at all messy – the dark locks sort of flowed over his head. The minute he wondered if his hair would stay like that throughout the daydream, a balmy breeze made the sails flap, but his hair stayed put.
Why a pirate ship had its sails up in the middle of the night – and why the ship wasn't moving – didn’t take away from the feeling of the daydream. He was Captain Potter of The Firebolt – with perfect hair – and no one was going to mess with him.
His euphoria was interrupted when he heard a giggle and small splash. Looking over the side, he saw that it was Ginny, treading water and wearing nothing but a smile. “Swim with me,” she invited.
In his Daydream he could swim like a Merman. He shucked off the spotless shirt and noted that he now had a well-defined chest and more muscular arms. No wonder he needed the easy fit of a puffy shirt, he thought proudly.
Ginny-in-the-water also looked impressed with his fine physique and his noiseless dive into the sea.
“Beat you to that island,” he challenged when he came up for air.
“Okay.” Her eyes glinted with fun. Then she put her arms over her head – which made both Daydream Harry and real Harry moan with appreciation – and dove out of view, her iridescent Mermaid tail swishing seductively.
Ginny had an iridescent Mermaid tail? His brain really was playing tricks on him, but it was a nice tail – all curvy and smooth and pretty …
Ginny was racing ahead without him.
Daydream Harry put his powerful muscles to good use and managed to reach the shallow lagoon of the island at the same time Ginny did.
Her tail had conveniently dissolved so that she was standing in the chest-high water on two legs – two legs that she effortlessly managed to wrap around his waist.
Stupid Full-Body Bind was confining everything, real Harry thought, wincing. Daydream Ginny was oblivious to his problem since she was busy trying to mess up his perfect hair. “What happened to your hair?”
“Um – ” He tried (and failed) to look sufficiently modest about his perfect hair.
“I don’t like it,” she declared. “It looks fake.”
“It is fake,” he retorted. “This is my daydream, you know.” He then had two fleeting thoughts – that Ginny, even in a daydream, was going to do and say what she wanted – and that discomfort that he had been feeling earlier was effectively diminished. He had to give Fred and George grudging respect for that feature of the Charm.
“Can you change it?” she asked, moving away.
“Yes,” he answered hastily, wanting her to wrap those legs around him again. In the blink of an eye, his hair was at its unruly worst. “Can I keep my chest?” he asked, annoyed.
“Can I keep mine?” she answered, looking down.
He was just about to reply that in his daydreams her chest always looked like that, when Ginny’s eyes widened. Whirling around, he saw that a black ship had skulked into their lagoon. Its gun ports were open and its photo canons were firing with blinding flashes.
“It’s The Paparazzi!” Ginny shrieked.
The Pirate Paparazzi, with evil Captain Skeeter at the helm, had intruded into their private moment.
Providentially, Daydream Harry kept his wand in his hair and was able to simultaneously set the Pirate Paparazzi’s sails on fire, Side-along Apparate both of them back to the ship (where they both appeared fully clothed) and caused the noon day sun to shine.
“Fred–George–Ron!” He barked out. “Paparazzi Pirates on the starboard side!”
His crew didn’t look ready for any kind of a fight. “Which is the starboard side?” George asked sleepily. He, like Fred, was still wearing his night things and rubbing his eyes. Ron was holding a steaming mug of coffee.
“The left?” Ron hazarded. “I can never remember. Just like I can never tell you two apart – even though Harry can.” He took a sip of coffee. “How do you do that all the time? From our first year on you could tell them apart.”
“This isn’t the time–”
“Because that’s what Harry does,” Ginny answered. “Which is why I’m marrying him – which is why you should let him handle these Paparazzi Pirates in his own way.”
Daydream Ginny was just as loyal as real Ginny, Harry thought happily.
“Don’t you think that neckline is a little daring?” Fred asked, ignoring both Ginny’s statement and the fact that the Paparazzi ship had sailed along-side of them.
Ginny pulled her wand out of the low bodice and hexed her bother just as Harry’s curse hit him. The bat wings on Fred's face fluttered angrily at the squid’s tentacles on his neck.
Harry ignored Ron who was moodily looking over the rim of his coffee mug at the Paparazzi ship. Instead, Harry shimmied up the main sail, grabbed a convenient rope, and swung over to the enemy ship.
Once on board, his muscled wand arm shook with the effort of dispelling so much magic so quickly, but his foes were unable to keep up with his exploits. Notepads burst into flames, Quick Quote Quills hemorrhaged ink, and the deck of the ship was littered with exposed film. It was a glorious fight – which Harry was raging alone. Shockingly, he realized this only after Captain Skeeter pointed it out and then inquired how he felt about such a betrayal from his new family.
Harry didn’t bother answering her, but swung back to The Firebolt using another convenient rope.
His booted feet hit the deck with a clatter. Harry took a moment to admire the boots – they were dark leather – very soft – but heavy-soled.
“Harry!” Ginny shrieked.
Bill and Charlie and Percy were surrounding Ginny, attempting to force her below deck where she would be safe. Her bosom heaved, but Harry kept his sights on the real prize – revenge on the Weasley brothers, all of them. Besides, six-to-one odds sounded so much cooler than three-to-one odds.
“Perfidy! Traitors!” he shouted, casting a Rope Charm around the three eldest brothers and drawing them away from Ginny.
He once again ignored Ron, since a thin Rope Charm was not a problem for three skilled wizards. He was glad they were skilled, since fights – especially Daydream fights – were no fun if they were over too quickly.
“Harry, you’re acting like an ass,” Ron blurted.
Harry whirled around. “What?” No one called him an ass in his Daydream – not even his best mate.
“Well, you are,” Ron said reasonably. “The Paparazzi ship still has all of its camera canons trained on you. Captain Skeeter has gone through three notepads already. And you’re wearing a puffy shirt.”
Harry looked down at his still-pristine shirt. “So? I like it.”
“We’re just trying to save you from you,” Ron persisted.
Damn it all to hell, Ron was right. And since when was reality allowed to encroach upon a daydream? The effects of the Charm were starting to wear off and the floor of the storeroom was getting stonier by minute.
Harry concentrated on his Daydream with all his might.
A hail of Stunners from the Weasleys. A languid Shield Charm from Harry, and then a quick drop and roll to hide behind a coil of rope. Harry Transfigured the rope into a snake, which was carried away by a Transfigured dragon, which was shot out of the air by one of Harry’s heavy boots.
In spite of his genuine anger, it was turning into a fun fight.
Fred, George and Ron were back in the shop and were presumably going to let him out of the Full-Body Bind. He would make sure his Daydream reflected his displeasure with them.
A vision of the six Weasley brothers chained in a dank cell awaited them. Ginny, in her tight blouse, was hanging on to his arm. The dragon was contentedly chewing on Harry’s boot.
“Got into the Daydream Charms,” Fred observed from the doorway.
“We can be thankful he was an angry wizard today and not a lusty one,” George said, shaking his head in amusement. “I wouldn’t want to see that Daydream.”
“What the hell are you wearing?” Ron exclaimed as he stared at the scene over Harry’s head.
Harry’s face burned. He had forgotten about the leather pants and the shirt. Not only had he been bested in a real fight, now his own dreams had betrayed him.
“I think the outfit’s very nice,” George defended.
“A bit swishy don’t you think?” Fred mused.
“But it shows off his – er – enhanced –”
“Shut up!” Harry’s eyes bore into Ron. “If you ever want to call me friend again, you will lift the Curse.”
Ron reluctantly took out his wand.
“It will wear off eventually,” Harry reminded him through gritted teeth. “So you might as well get on with it.”
Once all of the magical bonds had been dissolved, Harry stood up and faced his captors.
“Harry, we know you’re angry –” Fred began.
“But you’ll find that it was worth having Dad and Percy and Bill involved.”
“Lawsuits have been filed,” Ron reassured him.
“Stays of something have been executed,” George added.
Harry could feel some of the tension leave his body. At least something was being done against the tabloids.
“And all of these injuries were worth it to us, too,” Fred said solemnly.
“Who would have thought we would have the chance to see Pirate Potter?”
“And his Weasley Wench?” Fred added, ducking behind Ron.