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Phoenix Rising
A Harry Potter RPG
The look on Justin’s face is priceless as we lead him from the alley… 
12th-Sep-2006 09:35 pm
smile
The look on Justin’s face is priceless as we lead him from the alley where Olga configured the Portkey to drop us and onto bustling mass of humanity that is Los Vegas Boulevard. We knew that making this little jaunt a surprise would be the best way to go, otherwise we probably wouldn’t have been able to get Justin through the kilt fitting without him jumping around in anticipation and inadvertently hurting himself.

Of course, Susan knows that we have Justin. Oliver and I told her that we were treating him to a couple of drinks tonight to celebrate the last days of his bachelorhood. We just didn’t tell her exactly where we’d be having those drinks.

"HOLY MERLIN, it’s Merlin!" shrieks Tav suddenly.

All of us jump and turn. Tav is pointing excitedly and jumping up and down like a toad on steroids. I follow the trajectory of Tav’s finger and am staring at a giant figure dressed in purple robes perched stiffly in the archway of a huge tower of a casino called Excalibur.

Ron squints and then groans, "Is that what Muggles think Merlin looks like? That thing looks more like an old grey-haired Snape in a dress." He holds his arms out like the Snape look-a-like on the tower, scowls, and begins walking stiffly. Wayne and Justin laugh as people side-step Ron and give him perplexed looks over their shoulders. I have to admit, it’s a pretty good imitation of our former Potions and Dark Arts Professor.

There’s a click – a rotund man wearing shorts and sandals with socks lowers his camera. "Great imitation of Frankenstein," the big man tells Ron in an American accent.

"Who?" asks Ron blankly, dropping his arms.

"Or was it Dracula?" The man bares his teeth in jest.

Justin steps forward and says with a perfectly straight face, "It was Severus Snape."

Eric nudges Justin in the arm as if to say, "What the hell are you doing? These are Muggles."

But the big man doesn’t seem to notice – he nods knowingly. "Ah, right on! I’ve always admired his work. He was a man of few words. But who needs words when you look like he did," The man laughs loudly at his own joke as all of us stare.

This man knows Snape? He certainly doesn’t look the type.

The big man thanks Ron for the show, hands him an American dollar bill, and then walks off muttering something about a silent film actor of that name from the 1920’s.

"This place is full of nutters," mutters says Wayne wiping his brow as a couple of teenage girls pass by giggling behind their hands and staring at Oliver. "I think the heat has fried their brains."

Oliver dons his signature sunglasses and surveys the scene coolly, ignoring the girls. I figure that it’s likely because he’s used to mobs of fan-girls and doesn’t mind the commotion.

"I’m going to bloody melt," moans Ron, "or else burn to a crisp like a slice of bacon. Hermione will kill you all if I get heat-stroke."

I grab a flyer from some bloke who is standing there waving them around and pass it to Ron. "Use this as an umbrella, Mr Delicate," I say. Ron informs us that he’s not a sissy and doesn’t need an umbrella, but he takes the flyer anyway.

I rub my hands together and ask Tav, the only one of us who have been to Vegas before, "Alright, where do we start?"

But Tav doesn’t notice because he’s staring open-mouthed at the roller coaster wrapped around the casino fashioned to resemble the New York Skyline across the street. "This is better than the Cloud City…" Tav whispers to himself, wandering forward and stepping off the curb.

I grab him and pull him back onto the sidewalk as a yellow taxi speeds by, it’s horn blaring.

"Tav, where’s the best place to get something cold to drink around here?" asks Oliver.

"I dunno…" mutters Tav vaguely as his eyes wander to the blazing sign for M&M World down the street. "Wow…there are such things as purple M&Ms?!" he breathes, his eyes wide.

I say in a low voice so Justin can’t hear, "What are you talking about, ‘you don’t know’? I thought you’d been here before – you suggested it."

Tav drags his eyes back to me and then grins. "Yeah, wasn’t that a great idea?! I’ve always wanted to come here. They have conventions all the time…" his voice trails off as he stares after a women walking past with the biggest drink that I’ve ever seen in my entire life.

Ron gapes at me, as trickle of sweat rolls down the side of his face and he sticks the flyer above his head to shade himself with it. "He’s never been her before?!"

I groan, "Bloody hell, we’ve planned a party without planning one."

Wayne looks slightly concerned. "Well, can’t we just go into one of these places?"

"Fake it," says Oliver from over Wayne’s shoulder. He motions to Tav, who has now wandered over to Justin and Eric and is pointing excitedly at the roller coaster. "We’ll keep Wild Child so busy that he’ll never know we don’t know what we’re doing."

Behind Oliver, I see Tav run up to a street vender with a wad of American Muggle bills. I bet my life that he’s buying a drink. "Brilliant," I say before I glance over at Ron who is mopping his forehead with the flyer. I suppress a laugh and grind out as dead pan as I can manage, "Nice hooters, Weasley," just as Eric joins us.
 
13th-Sep-2006 02:45 am (UTC)
Okay, first the ‘full seat’ jokes and now they’re outright laughing at me. If I’d wanted this kind of abuse I could go home without the mint chocolate chip ice cream Hermione has requested.

Eric, Justin’s friend who we invited along to his bachelor party, is staring at my forehead. He always seemed like such a normal bloke... Justin comes up to join us with Tav after they’d taken a bit of an involuntary walk just from looking straight up at that roller coaster across the street.

"Well, he’s always complaining these days that Hermione isn’t as adventurous as she normally is, so now maybe he can amuse himself by just reaching up and letting his fingers do the walking," Justin laughs, waggling his eyebrows and whistling at the sight of my forehead.

Tav has already bought himself a huge drink of some clear liquid and he holds it up to my face. I stare at my reflection in the liquid and groan. There’s a Muggle fellytone number imprinted on my forehead, complete with a tattoo-like image of a scantily clad woman with huge... Oh bloody hell, my freckles look like nipples on the imprint! The only thing that could be worse is if these were wizarding pictures and were moving.

I try wiping off the ink that is running down along with my sweat. How do people stand it here! I look at my friends who all look too occupied to realize that I’m melting. I look back into Tav’s clear drink and if I wasn’t scared of catching whatever it is that makes him completely mental, I’d drink it on him.

"Oi, where did Tav go?" Dean asks impatiently.
13th-Sep-2006 02:51 am (UTC)
I glance around. Tav’s gone. He was just here with his bloody drink.


I have no idea why Dean would trust that Tav. He flits around at work like this, too. One minute you’ll see him in the cafeteria and the next minute he’s by the water cooler, sandwich in hand spreading the gossip to anyone who will listen to him. Blink twice and he’s gone.

"That’s it, I’m getting a leash for him," Dean vows. "He has the Portkey."

"Please tell me you didn’t give him our only way home tonight?" I ask.

Hermione was happy to see me get out for one night but I don’t think she’d be impressed with me coming home tomorrow or the next day and I likely wouldn’t get in the door without ten kilograms of ice cream and a garden full of roses. I know! If I tell Hermione this was all for Justin, she’ll forgive me. She’s had a soft spot for him ever since they were both petrified and with all we’ve been through lately, she’ll have to let me back in when I get home, if I get home... I think, looking around for Tav and wanting to tie him to Dean to babysit. Since I’m not drinking, I think I’ll Accio the Portkey away from Tav and have it for safe keeping. I heard all about the potato Portkeys to and from Peru and I have no plans to be stranded.

Justin looks excited, poor bloke. He has no idea that his friends have no idea where we’re taking him or what we’re going to do. He looks around expectantly until Wayne saves the day. "Well, we have er...reserved a table at Caesar’s Palace Casino," Wayne outright lies and Justin’s face lights up.

We start walking and I follow Wayne, who I hear confess to Dean that he has no idea where this casino really is. Oh damn, and when we get there we won’t have Tav the Jedi to use his mind powers on the Maitre d’ to convince her that we have such reservations. Damn him for making me watch his stupid movie when we were at the Macmillans together! I watch as Dean, Oliver, and Wayne pool some Muggle money together to bribe whoever takes reservations so that Justin doesn’t find out that none of this was actually planned. I hope we can pull this off. After all, Justin is going through the whole white lace frilly wedding thing that I was spared so he deserves this.

Why is this ink so durable! I panic, still trying to get it off as Oliver winks at me suspiciously. Hermione will kill me!

"Oh, come on Ron, not in public! You can get it off in the shower." Justin says in disgust.

I’ll get him back. I always do. We continue on aimlessly, Justin continually asking questions. Are we there yet? Signs advertising something called air conditioning look inviting and I suggest that we just stop into any of them that have it. Justin could have fun in a cardboard box if you told him it was funhouse.

Speaking of funhouses, there’s that damn Tav atop the roller coaster, yelling our names to the street below. We hurry toward the exit to that amusement and see it jerk to a stop, Tav in the lead car. Tav steps off, not wobbling at all but looking like he’s been in a cyclone.

His hair is standing straight up and he’s babbling about knowing what it feels like to be on the Millennium Falcon and how the bird crap that hit him in the face on a curve was like an asteroid field. He should have worked for that Muggle place that always tries to get to the Moon, NASA or whatever they call it. Tav is a lot shorter than me and he thinks I’m being friendly when I drape my arm over his shoulders and steer him away from everything he’s gawking at.

I wonder if this is what it’s going to be like to take my child shopping or something? Always running away on me to go look at sweets in a window or at brooms. I’m never ever taking the baby or Hermione here. It’s too hot and it’s too big.
13th-Sep-2006 02:55 am (UTC)
I wonder where Caesar’s Palace is. I can hardly wait!

I glance back at Ron who seems to finally be bonding with Tav. He has his arm around his shoulders. This is going to be such a great night. The lights of this amazing place were on during the day but as dusk settles it looks like Christmas all over. I read the huge sign that announces that we are now at Caesar’s Palace but Oliver, Dean, Wayne and Eric are all still looking down and I step inside alone, popping out to find out what’s going on. Maybe Tav’s made a break for it again.

Sure enough, Tav is no where to be found and Ron looks royally peeved. Oliver steps up to a staff member once we all step inside, eyes still blinking rapidly from the marquees along the strip. The young woman is immediately charmed by Oliver and soon we all have cocktails and are comfortably spending small fortunes of Muggle money at blackjack tables.

Ron has always amazed me. He’s best at Wizard’s chess, but it seems no game is beyond his calculations and soon, he and Dean can do no wrong at this table and are winning money hand over fist. The blackjack dealer, dressed in a white shirt with a frilly tie keeps looking at Oliver as she deals from the underside of the deck. I catch her and call her on it.

She starts to cry and explains that if her boss catches her getting caught doing that she will be fired, but I’m not stupid. Ron and I have busted many wizarding establishments for having fixed games. I call over a manager and the woman is replaced by a short balding man with a moustache. All the blokes look at me like Christmas has been cancelled or something.

"What, she was cheating!" I say, shrugging my shoulders.

"Yeah, but I was winning, Ron points out.

Despite the change of dealer, Ron and Dean continue to rack up tokens.

"Where the bloody hell am I supposed to spend these?" Ron exclaims, looking like a Gringott’s Goblin who’s about to bite a piece of gold to test its authenticity.

"You don’t spend those, Ron, you cash them in for money like this," Eric shows him.

Ron still doesn’t look impressed and asks who the bloke in the wig on the note is. This is funny. It was us Muggle-borns going around without a clue as to what we were seeing for the first time during our first year of Hogwarts. Tav walks up to the table, a turkey leg in his hand, taking huge bites out of it, explaining something about cheap buffets all over the place. Ron looks more enthused at the prospect of food than he does at cashing in what he calls these ridiculous tokens for those powdered wig blokes.

"And the gentleman with the red hair wins again," the dealer announces but Ron still seems perturbed by something.

"Bloody hell, where did he get to now, I wanted him to take me to the food!" Ron complains.

I look around. How does Tav do it! He’s gone again! Dean looks excited. He says he’ll take his winnings and cash them in later for gold at the International Money Exchange. We head out of the casino and the Maitre d’ calls out to Oliver.

"You were great!" She looks directly at his bum and makes no apologies for her obviousness.

"What is she talking about, I didn’t win one single game," Oliver asks, looking perplexed.

We end up staying at Caesar’s Palace for a bit longer because if we leave, Tav won’t know where to find us. Ron says that may not be a bad thing and pats his pocket happily.

I wonder if he took the Portkey from Tav?
13th-Sep-2006 02:56 am (UTC)
I love Los Vegas! Where else can you get turkey drumsticks and squash with marshmallows? Not many restaurants in London have marshmallows. Maybe in America all restaurants carry them. I like to mix the little ones in with my vanilla yogurt because then they blend in and it’s a fun surprise when you bite into one. It makes breakfast something to look forward to.

The blokes are across the casino playing cards, but I’d rather play with the slot machines. Pulling the knob and watching the wheels spin around while everything beeps and lights up makes it easy to pretend you’re flying an X-wing fighter. Plus, this lady in a really short skirt keeps bringing me my Drunken Elf drinks with two candy canes when I sit here. Everyone here is really friendly. I like Americans.

Suddenly, my X-wing dashboard lights up and begins to beep. The clank of coins echoes loudly and people turn to stare. I watch excitedly as my coin return begins to fill up. Mother of the Giant Squid, I WON! I jump up and hold my hands triumphantly over my head.

"I won!" I whoop. I’m super excited because I’ve never won anything ever (except that break dancing contest that time but that was sort of an accident). I get up on my chair so I can tell the whole casino. "I won!" I yell, "I won!"

The old lady named Pearl, who’s been sitting next to me all night flying three X-wing fighters at the same time (wow, what talent), smiles up at me and asks me how much I won.

I jump down, hastily lean over and start counting the copper coins.

One, two, three, four, oh boy, there are a lot! Five, six…

"Sweetie, just read the display," says Pearl.

I look up and find her pointing to the bottom of the control panel.

"Oh, thanks, Pearl, you’re the best co-pilot ever!" My eyes widen and I think my heart is going to pound straight out of my chest as I stare at my dash. Boy, what a haul! "Twelve dollars! I won twelve US dollars!" I tell Pearl excitedly as I give her a hug.

"Exciting, isn’t it?" says Pearl. "That’s why I like playing the penny slots – it’s easier to get excited when you hear all those coins dropping." She winks and then presses a button on all three machines she’s playing and the wheels of her machine begin to spin. "I just hope I can win tonight. I have to pay for my hotel room somehow."

I frown. "You don’t have enough money to stay here?"

Pearl shakes her head and then puts some more pennies into each of in her machines.

I don’t like it when my friends have to sleep outside. "You can have my twelve dollars," I tell her. "I’m not saying here tonight so I don’t have to pay for a hotel room." I don’t tell her that I’m a wizard and could probably just help magic her into a hotel room. That would be illegal and not fair to everyone else. Mum and Dad told me that being a wizard is a big responsibility. It’s like being a superhero. You shouldn’t abuse your power. Plus, I don’t want to cheat the hotel either. The hotel is a business, and businesses need to make money, too, especially when they keep giving so much of it away. I don’t want Cesear’s Palace to go broke.

I leave Pearl my big win and grab what’s left of my turkey drumstick (I temporarily forgot about it in all my excitement). I’m just about to find the blokes to tell them about my good luck when I spot a billboard on the wall.

No way! I stare. This place keeps getting better and better. I look up and find an arrow pointing to the Coliseum. I run down the hall with my drumstick. I hope I’m not too late! It’s not every day that you get to see a Celine Dion concert!
13th-Sep-2006 03:20 am (UTC)
Wow, my friends have really planned this whole evening well. They really know me! We walk from Caesar’s Palace to wherever they have planned to take me and this proves too far for Ron who is still complaining of heat exhaustion. The ink woman on his forehead now has a silken glow on her imprint from Ron’s sweat. Tav tells Ron that she looks much sexier now. Ron opens his mouth and closes it. I think for once he has no idea what to say. Well, there’s a first for everything...

We walk into a place that I know the bloke’s haven’t got on their itinerary because I distinctly heard Lavender tell Oliver one day last week that he’s not to take me anywhere with strippers and there are strippers here. We’re men, we appreciate the female form but we plan on leaving as soon Ron sucks up some air conditioning that he’s been trying unsuccessfully to place in a beer bottle to use when he gets hot when he thinks no one’s looking.

"Well, Hermione used to carry a small fire around in a jam jar to keep us warm..." he explains lamely, waving his wand up toward a vent while Wayne glares at a passerby who stares at Ron like he’s mental. "So it should work the other way around as well."

There’s no danger anyone here would notice magic being performed. There isn’t a sober person in the place and any staff members are either behind the bar or up on the stage blinded by spotlights. I look up at the front, intending to just glance but I notice a girl on the stage. She isn’t nude yet and she looks to be struggling with her garments nervously...and she looks no older than fifteen years old!

I don’t want to ruin the bloke’s evening so I excuse myself to use the loo and find a Police Officer on a horse outside. Well, I don’t like flying much but riding a horse isn’t my idea of transportation either. He thanks me discreetly and tells me not to tell the other staff members that I have alerted the authorities or it’s quite likely that I’d end up in an ugly fight with the massive bouncers in the bar.

I watch as two officers enter the bar when I’ve taken my seat again and within minutes the place is closed, some of the patrons are even being arrested. I’d flashed my MLE badge which is charmed to look like a Muggle Badge from Britain whenever a Muggle sees it and my friends and I are allowed to leave.

It seems to be taking a really long time to get to wherever my friends are taking me and whenever I ask if we’re there yet, they all seem to group together and begin to discuss things excitedly amongst themselves. I keep hearing Eric say, "Are you sure Justin could handle that?" and looking back at me.

Everyone is looking at me except Oliver who is staring straight up to a huge billboard advertising some group of singers or ... ooooh, nope, those aren’t singers. They’re strippers. And one of them looks identical to Oliver!

"Oh hell no!" Oliver says and takes out his wand right there and then on the strip full of Muggles.

"Oliver, those butt crunches are really paying off, mate," I say to Oliver, but I doubt he understood a word I said because I’m practically hyperventilating with laughter.
13th-Sep-2006 03:22 am (UTC)
Ron looks at me again just like he did when he fell off the stool during the fitting at Twilfitts and mutters something about stuff like this usually happening to me. Ah, yes, my luck is changing! And no wonder, look who I’m marrying! I think happily, watching Eric hold Oliver back. If my bad luck distributes equally among my friends it should be manageable...

Eric is so serious. He was born to be an MLE and I was just sort of thrust into it unwittingly. He’s trying to reason with Oliver who’s face is scarlet looking up at his spitting image in tight black pants and a bow tie with no shirt and a come hither _expression on his face. Oh, Lavender would love this! This must be why Oliver’s gotten so much attention tonight, I think as I pull out my own wand and discreetly perform an evidence collecting charm that photographs crime scenes usually. The only crime happening here is Lavender and the rest of the bridal party isn’t here to see this.

After a few minutes, Eric comes up with a compromise and I really think he’s starting to loosen up after being with my other friends from school.

"There, he looks different now, eh?" Eric says, standing back a bit to admire his handy work. He’s magically put a moustache on Oliver’s virtual twin and the image now has blonde hair. Damn Oliver! He’s still good looking! Hm, I think I’ve had enough to drink...

Eric has just broken at least three wizarding statutes and he looks like he’s having the time of his life. I’m glad. Things have been hard on him since his partner and our friend Alex has been gone.

"You’re okay, mate," Oliver tells Eric, putting his arm around his shoulder and promising some free tickets to his next Quidditch matches.

"Why don’t you just teach him some of those bloody brilliant butt crunches," I laugh and Oliver turns around to me, saying that he won’t mess up my pretty face before the wedding. I bat my eyelashes at him and he waves his hand and we stumble up the street until we reach the exact spot we Apparated to in the first place.

"I could use some butt crunch exercises," Tav observes, trying to look at his own butt and comparing it to those of the male dancers on yet another billboard.

"Way to go Tav!" Dean says impatiently. "We were trying to distract Oliver from seeing anymore advertisements for that show!"

Tav grins, wishing there was a twin of him on a billboard across the way that is advertising a Sci-Fi convention.

"Yeah, you’d be that little toad guy that gets shot in Star Wars!" Dean tells him, but as he says it, Tav is gone again.

Soon we’re sitting in a darkened arena that smells like a barn and I’m beginning to feel a bit insulted, not realizing what’s about to happen here. Women wearing dresses that look like they’ve leapt off the pages of books in Professor Binns’ History class come around to pour us dark mead and wine.

"Wench!" Yells a guy in a suit and tie who looks like he’d have better manners than that. I’m about to stand up and protest his rudeness when she cheerfully goes up and pours him a brew which froths over onto his suit. He takes it good naturedly and suddenly I realize what this is as an announcer steps into a spotlight on the mud floor.

Cool! A medieval dinner theater!

Oliver disappears, and I think Eric is drunk now because he’s stopped trying to keep him from blasting pamphlets and posters with his image on them. I see a waitress...er, wench, look at Oliver in the distance and look toward one of the posters on a pillar. This time he’s not denying or confirming his identity and I see the waitress nod, completely captured by what Lavender calls his lopsided smile. As soon as her back is turned however, Oliver grabs a pen from the back pocket of another beer wench and proceeds to draw a beard on the face of the bloke in the photo.
13th-Sep-2006 03:23 am (UTC)
I’m half tempted to find out where that show is going on and film it for Lavender and label it, ‘not all things that happen in Vegas stay in Vegas’ but he’d kill me and I want to live at least long enough to find out if Susan’s suggestion that if we hold off on making love for four months before our wedding, the honeymoon will be all the sweeter. I think it’ll be sweeter perhaps, but definitely shorter. Hey, it wasn’t my idea!

Wow, those beer wenches don’t let your glass get empty and they bend over when they pour it so that you get a full eyefull of...those things that are temporarily tattooed to Ron’s forehead. The dresses are very low cut. I wonder where I can get one of those for Susan...

Urgh! They’ve brought a huge platter with a dead pig on it and trays full of massive turkey legs and legs of...well call it what you want, mutton is sheep and sheep are cute... Just don’t look. You can get something to eat later at an all night salad bar or buffet somewhere... I tell myself, trying not to be sick as Tav, who has turned up from wherever he went to earlier, carves up some meat obnoxiously unaware of my predicament.

A beer wench approaches me about halfway through my friend’s third helping of meat as I sip soup from a dented metal bowl with no spoon. I like eating like this, it’s fun. I just can’t handle the thought of eating meat. I’m getting really drunk without food. I’m keeping up with my friends who are having food to offset the blood alcohol level. This time she smiles at Oliver obviously and hands me a platter of food that I can eat. Bless her!

My spaghetti isn’t easy to eat without a fork but I’m so hungry by now that I grab a chunk of bread with my bare hands and start scooping it up in strands into my mouth. My friends blink as they’re showered with sauce but they’re so drunk by now they don’t care much.

Soon we’re all sitting back, performing stretching charms on our belts. A man on a horse in full armor rides out into the center of the arena as a page comes out and calls for silence from the banging of the metal dishes on the copper topped tables that are hand pounded for authenticity. The excitement is palpable.

We are told a fairy tale of sorts about a Princess trapped in a castle on the far side of the arena and our eyes all follow to see a pink veil fluttering out of a window at the top of the arena built into a turret. "My Lords and Ladies I beseech thee, who will stand for the princess’ honour?" the voice asks. "Well, says Eric conspiratorially to Ron, "our Justin has been on duty all night. He caught that cheating black jack dealer and had that bar we were at just now shut down for underage strippers, so we should volunteer him as he’s showing us up."

Bloody hell, I have been working all night! I didn’t think anyone noticed I didn’t notice...</i> I should have known I’d end up on a bloody horse after thinking what a hard job that officer had back on the strip.

Maybe my luck isn’t changing...but damn! I look good in armor!

I stand there with a jousting stick in my gloved hands as the princess in the tower screams the half hearted I’ve-been-on-duty-for-seven-days scream and the audience who is now full of good mead and food doesn’t seem to notice the poor acting.

There’s a small ceremony where I’m sworn in as a knight, at least that’s what the audience thinks. In reality I’m being given a crash course in horse riding and jousting and am told that the stunt people will do all of the dangerous stuff.
13th-Sep-2006 03:25 am (UTC)
I, being the good guy, am supposed to defeat the Black Knight who is riding around the arena being booed by the audience as he brags that he’s going to take my head off. Nearly Headless Nick would love this! I’m instructed to let the Black Knight have the upper hand at first and that everything is pre arranged and completely safe.

"Lords and Ladies, three cheers for Sir Wild Child of Hogwartia!" the voice booms as I glare at Oliver and Ron slaps him on the back in a congratulatory manner. They did get me back, son of a... Holy Merlin that bloke is really coming at me!

I dodge out of the way of the Black Rider’s lance at the last minute and the actor looks a bit perturbed, having explained to me that the lance is only rubber. Yeah, but I’m not and I don’t bounce! Boos now fill the stadium but this time they’re for me. Fickle pricks!

The only pit stop in this tournament is a quick glass of mead given to me by a wench who grabs me into an embrace and kisses me for luck. In reality she’s the stunt coordinator and she reminds me that I’m supposed to get hit by the lance at first to cause the audience to sympathize with me. Then the princess is supposed to throw flowers that I’m supposed to crawl over to gather and glance longingly up at the tower.

The next time, I cringe and let the lance hit me full on. I fly off the horse, and dangle by the harness for a split second before hitting the ground. I’m a bit winded so I lay there for a minute causing the ‘beer wench’ to come out again as I crawl pathetically toward the roses which have fallen from the tower, a delicate hand all that shows from the window at this point.

The Black Knight rides around the stadium to boos and I get calls of awww as I pathetically pick up the rose and wince. The wince isn’t fake, the jerks running this show have forgotten to take the thorns off the roses!

Another glass of mead finds me back up on that horse, my groin hurting a bit from having been hauled by the harness hidden beneath my armor. I think that Black Knight actor is really enjoying seeing me suffer, and I’m beginning to take it personally.

"I train in equestrian school for ten years to do this damn stupid show," he mutters, fully failing to hide his aggression. Bloody hell where is that stunt coordinator/beer wench when you need her!?

The further up the shaft of the lance the guy grips, the more it hurts when hit and it’s fairly firm so as not to bend and give away the fact that it isn’t heart piercing metal. Okay, that bloody well hurt this time! I glance through my sweat filled eyes toward my friends and I can tell that they recognize my growing anger with this guy. I’ve had broken ribs too many times to not know when I’m going to be bruised and battered when I leave here and there isn’t a damn thing I can do about it. Or is there?

"You pathetic tourists wouldn’t know good horsemanship when you saw it," the Black Knight guy complains, gripping the lance still further up the shaft. Okay, git, let’s go! I think as we charge one another again.

While I was being fitted with my armor I was instructed that on the fifth swipe I’d knock the Black Knight from his horse, the pulleys would help ‘catapult’ me right up into the tower where I would then be hooked to a wire and guided down with the princess in my arms, looking like we were sliding down a rope to safety. By the fifth pass I’m on my arse again! I glance around the audience and seeing no children, I suck in my stomach enough to be able to reach up under my armor, grab my wand and mutter an Itching Spell.

The Black Knight writhes in agony trying to scratch himself through the armor that you can’t get out of on your own. Searching for something to save the show and not look lame in front of the blokes, I remember about the sensitivity and superstition that surrounded magic back then and I’ve been told that the actual Merlin quite often liked to play with Muggles because he liked their adoration and attentions.

I think back to some medieval movies I’ve seen, get up, take a deep breath and have my acting debut right her, right now. Well, this place does have a statue of Merlin in front of it...
13th-Sep-2006 03:28 am (UTC)
"Lord’s and Ladies, Merlin in his fairness and power has saw fit to curse the Black Knight for his cruelty towards the princess so that I may save her and hope to win her heart," I make up lamely, this being the only thing I can think of to say. The ladies in the crowd especially love it and it eggs me on. Eric shoots me a warning look as I walk toward the tower, mutter Wingardium Leviosa! under my breath and magically tighten the pulleys as well just to be sure. In seconds I’m on the ledge of the window of the tower and two very strong hands with red nail polish pull me into the turret.

"Hi, I’m Bob," says a husky voice from behind a veil and pointed pink hat, a flowing gown and high heels. "I’m supposed to take you back down with you looking like you’re taking me down and be switched with Betty, the actress who’s playing the princess at the bottom on the other side of the tower away from the audience’s view, but Betty couldn’t come in so you’re stuck with me, he smiles, extending his hand. Okay, chivalry is dead...

The audience is loudly thumping the tables with the metal dishes and the Black Knight is covered in food, including spaghetti which I can tell was thrown by Tav because I can see him from here, his hands coated in sauce. Resolving to get this over with, I reluctantly let Bob place his not so delicate hands over my shoulders and we ride to the bottom mud floor to loud applause.

The next thing I know Bob leans in and kisses me on the cheek! I’m just about to punch him when I’m grabbed from behind by the Black Knight who has a nice rash visible through his eye hole. Before I can stop him, the guy picks me up and now I realize how huge he really is. This armor, although fake, still weighs a fare few kilos. The hard part of his lance clangs onto my helmet causing me to sway from the deep ear piercing gong resonating inside. I’m momentarily stunned.

My princess Bob rolls up the delicate pink organza sleeves of his dress and proceeds to pick up the Black Rider whose helmet falls off, revealing a shock of fussy blonde hair and a prominent nose that I recognize from the billboard. He’s one of those Chip ‘n Dale Dancers!

As an MLE, faces are placed easily in my mind. The audience can’t hear us now because our inner helmet microphones have been shut off long ago and the beer wench/stunt coordinator looks like she’s going to faint. The Black Knight grumbles drunkenly.

"So I gained ten pounds! They kicked me out for a lousy ten pounds! And I end up working here for ten bucks an hour!" The Blonde Knight yells. He’s spotted Oliver long ago, and thinking that he recognizes him from having worked with him, he jabs his fist toward Oliver’s direction and only Princess Bob and I can hear him scream that it’s all pretty boy’s fault.

Princess Bob walks toward the chariots that are parked on the sidelines and puts the guy down in the seats, telling him to sleep it off. He ends up punching him really hard in the jaw when he makes to get up again to the thunderous roar of the crowd who is loving this.

Calls of, "You go girl!" are screamed around the arena and a good time is had by all. Princess Bob walks over to me and before I can protest, picks me up and carries me out of the arena, waving his delicate hand at the audience who are all on their feet now. If he tries to kiss me again, we’re going to have issues! Bob thanks me for whatever I did to the jerk and within minutes I’m wearing a crown and we step out for our bow and encore. I wave at my friend having had the time of my life. How did they plan all this so well?
13th-Sep-2006 03:01 am (UTC)
Justin’s face is red from all the applause and I never thought the day would come that could make him blush.

The desert course of huge apple and pumpkin pies arrives and Justin digs in enthusiastically. I’m kind of glad he was jousting while the rest of us tore into the meat. For an MLE who’s seen plenty of blood and guts, he’s really squeamish about that roast pig that was just removed from in front of Oliver who’s licking his fingers.

It seems I wasn’t the only one who needed this night out. Dean and Oliver are so drunk from mixing beer and wine all night they can barely stand up. It seems there’s a rule here about having to ask the Queen to use the loo. I’ve avoided it all night but Tav, when he’s here that is, has gone up to her about fourteen times already. I have to go really bad. Well, here goes nothing. I haven’t asked anyone if I could use the loo since Hogwarts during classes.

I watch the other blokes approach the Queen who sits on a gilded chair of gold and jewels and seems to delight in giving blokes a task to perform before they can use the loo. If I’d known this, I’d have asked sooner. I glare at Tav. He could have warned us.

The ladies are lined up before the king and hilarity ensues as they ask permission and the King asks them questions and makes them kiss his cheek or fetch him wine before they can go to the ladies room. Of course, the ladies line up is much longer than the blokes and this makes me chuckle. Hannah always complained about this whenever I’d take her to A Quidditch match or such. This is the first time I actually smile and don’t feel the stab of pain from a memory connected with Hannah and it feels good.

As I approach the Queen, having watched the blokes before me perform their tasks I figure I’ll be in the loo in less than a minute, but I’m wrong. It seems she wants one of the stray roses from the center of the arena that was dropped by Princess Bob in the last joust. It’s half a Quidditch pitch away! Justin looks in his glory that someone else other than him is being harassed.

Dean, Eric, Oliver and Tav begin to shout as I make my way over to the scattered roses, lucky to be able to stick one together from strewn about, trampled petals that are all that remain of them after the horses have stepped on them. Damn that Tav, all he had to do was rub her feet for a minute.

I’m pretty close to sneaking a sticking charm on the petals I’ve found to make them go back on the limp stem that I hold in my hand. I’m down on my hands and knees searching for enough petals to make a whole rose with, I have to go that bad.

As I make to stand back up, I’m surrounded by six beer wenches who begin to sing.

‘Roll me over in the clover,’ and as I look down, I realize I’m covered in rose petals and hay that line the entire surface of the arena. One of the wenches lays down next to me and proceeds to put her arms around me in a suggestive manner. In seconds, we’re both covered with hay and before I know it, I’m yanked to my feet by a huge bloke in armor and charged with compromising the virtues of a lady.
13th-Sep-2006 03:02 am (UTC)
The king stands up and after thunderous applause for the wenches and I, my sentence is pronounced. </i>But I really need to go!</i> Tav is positively bouncing in his seat calling for my beheading and I think he’s way too into this. When I’m done with this, I’m volunteering him for a gauntlet or something and if they don’t have such a thing, I’ll pay them to do one just so I can see him suffer.

Even Justin’s friend, Eric doesn’t seem to be wanting to help me out in any way. He went from being overly cautious to full on drunk about an hour ago with Oliver and Dean’s help and the only sober one among us now is Ron, who I know won’t help me out because I saw Justin lean over and whisper something to him.

The premise of the part I’ve gotten myself into is that the wench I’ve just supposedly ‘rolled over in some clover’ was engaged to be married. Drums beat loudly and a huge bloke on a horse soon stands over us, challenging me to a duel. He looks huge way up there on that horse. He gets down. He is huge!

The wenches scatter except for the one who is covered in hay and she brazenly kisses me on the mouth. My brain is thinking, </i>this just can’t be sanitary,</i> but my body knows I haven’t been embraced and kissed like this for a really long time and the alcohol in my system makes me admit that I miss it. And there, unbidden in the back of my mind, I wonder what Megan’s kisses taste like. I open my eyes that I’ve involuntarily closed only when the kiss is over to see the blonde before me wish me luck. I’d pictured Megan in my mind so vividly that I just mumble my thanks and numbly pick up the morning star that is handed to me after a helmet that weighs five pounds is placed on my head.

My friends were hooting and hollering during my kiss with the wench and the alcohol is letting me play along now. I’ve never been one to want to be the center of attention, but I find myself easily getting into this and wondering if Megan would enjoy something like this. I have kind of dreaded having to walk down the aisle with Megan at Justin and Susan’s wedding because I know I’ll be grinning stupidly half the time because of the way she makes me feel and I’ll be sad the other half because I imagine a walk down the aisle with Hannah. I feel so ready for this duel now.

The huge knight in shining armor brings his morning star which is actually a lot like the Neft brand Quidditch balls I approved in the Magical Games and Sports office a year ago, down on my head. I’d cringed out of sheer instinct but it does nothing more than make my ears ring for a second as the metal resonates with the impact.

After a few minutes I’m sweating and have forgotten all about the reason I’m out here being clubbed in the first place. I’m swept off my feet by a chain with a ball on the end that is real and land rather hard on my back Even though this is a game, it’s not a game for the faint hearted and I wonder if I should put a sport like this on the itinerary back in the office to discuss the possibility of bringing jousting to the Wizarding community.

Before I can get up, I see the seven wenches, lead by the one who had kissed me, charge the knight and ripping his helmet off, hit him with a huge Nerf rock in the head. A trickle of fake blood escapes a gash in his forehead and in minutes I’m laying on a ladies fainting couch being fanned by seven wenches. Embarrassing and somehow very gratifying at the same time!

One by one, the wenches kiss me and now I know how Oliver must have felt when he’d first started playing professionally. Fangirls hanging all over him and him not having the slightest clue how to handle it. I have to hand it to him, it never went to his head and he seems really committed to Lavender nowadays.

The audience cheers and for a bloke who supposedly lost a duel I feel exhilarated, alive. I don’t think I’ll ever tell Megan that I pictured her as wench number one...What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.
13th-Sep-2006 03:04 am (UTC)
It’s good to see Wayne having some fun. I think back to the day I had to tell him what had happened to Hannah. It was hard to tell that day if he’d ever recover but time heals all wounds they say and I think it’d be illegal to be sad in a place like this.

So far so good. Justin doesn’t suspect a thing. He thinks this day has been carefully planned right down to his vegetarian meal in a place like this when in fact it had cost me a small fortune and a bit of my dignity to bribe one of the serving wenches to run down the strip to another buffet to fetch some rabbit food for him. If anyone tells Lavender that I had to do a few dance moves for that wench to get Justin some food, I’ll drop them from my broom at eighty feet. I’m mean, I’ve heard of singing for your supper but never dancing for your friend’s supper!

On the way out, I try to stand in the middle of my swaying friends as women gasp and point. I swear these Muggles are worse than Quidditch tarts any day, asking me to ‘shake my thang’ whatever that means. I don’t look that much like that male dancer bloke... I wonder if he’s Chip or Dale?

As we reach the sidewalk, the sickly warm air hits us in contrast to the air conditioning. And Tav is gone again.

"Don’t worry, mates, I have the Portkey, Ron announces proudly, fishing in his pocket and taking his hand back out angrily. "That little git took it back!"

"Well, Tav happened in Vegas, let’s leave Tav in Vegas," Eric slurs. Justin just looks at his friend and pats him on the back. "Or no, wait, we’ll Accio him."

Eric proceeds to pull out his wand and this time it’s my turn to save him from breaking the international secrecy act. I owe him one. I promise to introduce him to one of the Veelas who does the cheering at the World Cup games.

"If you do whatever that thing you MLE’s tell people to do, cease and resist...er desist, or something like that, I’ll even throw in a private booth and a meal to sweeten the deal," I offer drunkenly.

"Deal," Eric accepts, attempting to shake on it but missing so he ends up ruffling my hair. I don’t like my hair ruffled. I reach up to straighten it but it’s then that I realize that the women are no longer staring and pointing. With my hair sticking up, no one recognizes me as that other male dancer bloke. This is better.

When we finally reconnect with Tav again, he has a huge sponge finger on his hand that has ‘Celine’ written on it and he’s wiping tears out of his eyes.

"I love that song..." Tav then proceeds to put his hand over his heart and sing loudly. "And I know that my heart will go oooo oooo ooooo on!" I slap the back of his head and he pitches forward landing on his sponge hand.
13th-Sep-2006 03:05 am (UTC)
Tav rolls onto his back and looks up and I can see the giant roller coaster reflected in his eyes. "Oooh we have to go on that before we leave!" He says as Ron lunges for him to search for the Portkey. "I hear it’s just like flying," Tav yells, getting to his feet as Ron gives chase, Tav’s hands flailing out beside him like a child playing that he’s in flight.

Eric looks a little green but Justin, Dean and Wayne are raring to go. We buy our tickets and the man at the ticket counter asks us if we’re inebriated. No, we’re just drunk.

Once at the top, it’s higher than I’d even imagined and suddenly I regret coming up here. It’s one thing to be in control of one’s own broom and another to trust to a Muggle contraption that’s Merlin only knows how safe it is. I think I’ll make like Tav and disappear.

"Psst, Tav, hey, wanna go and see that convention they have downstairs?" I coax eagerly. Tav proceeds to pull a bag from his pocket and unshrink it right there and then, forgetting to take whatever was inside out of the bag. In seconds there’s a life-size gorilla like creature with shredded plastic all over it standing among us. People scream and run away and suddenly we find ourselves first in line. that’s it, Tav’s a dead man.

Wild Child is so excited he’s fastened in within seconds. I grasp the flimsy straps of the contraption. Oh holy-hell, I’m gonna die...

I have no time for my life to flash before my eyes and we’re rolling along rather slowly. Okay, this isn’t so bad. I can’t handle thiiiiii....Oh-hell-no, I want my brooooom!

I can hear Justin whooping with joy and I chance a glance back. His lips are pulled back, revealing upper and lower teeth and his cheeks are filled with rushing wind. I swear his ears are flapping. He’s still whooping when we reach the bottom and I can barely let go of the so called safety bar when the ride jerks to a stop. "Muggles are insane!" I hiss as Dean pries my fingers from the bar. I reach up and feel my hair sticking straight up now and my sunglasses took off for the moon sometime in the third turn.

"Remember this the next time you make fun of me for being afraid of flying on your broom," Justin chuckles, pretending to stick himself as he touches my hair. I think I gripped the seat with my arse I was so scared. My muscles are screaming like I’d done a full days worth of butt crunches in an hour. I can barely walk. This is supposed to happen to Justin...

Justin just smiles at me cheekily. Fate must be giving him a few days off for good behavior or something.

Eric runs for the loo as does Wayne and when they come out looking no better than they did when they went in and I stand here all wobbly leaning on Dean who is leaning on the top of Tav’s head, Justin grabs the Portkey, hands it to Ron, the only one we can trust to do anything right now, and we prepare to leave.

It doesn’t occur to us that we’re clutching a male dancer doll that looks identical to Oliver until we feel the familiar pull behind our navel and we’re off back to Hogsmeade.

"A gift for Lavender, Tav explains enthusiastically," as I wobble off in pain after him.

"Tav!"

"Thanks, guys, I had a great time," Justin slurs happily. "This night couldn’t have gone better if I’d planned it myself," he winks.

Yeah, it couldn’t have gone better if we’d planned it either.
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