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    The Black Pearl



    “Hermione!” gasped Ron, rushing to her side. “Hermione, speak to me!”

    Harry stared. “What’s the matter with her?” he asked, joining Ron by the cot.

    “I dunno, mate…” Ron was getting slightly panicky, and Harry was randomly reminded of how Ron had reacted during second year, with their giant spider rendezvous. “She looks like she’s been hexed or jinxed or cursed!”

    Harry patted Ron’s shoulder, trying not to portray that he, too, was slightly worried at this odd behavior. “I don’t think so…no one else here knows magic—do they?”

    They exchanged glances for a millisecond before looking back at the prostrate Hermione. “Mione—“ started Ron again, sweeping her long, bushy hair out of her face so as to see her properly. Her eyes were closed, her dark lashes resting gently against her cheeks, and she seemed to be breathing evenly.

    “It looks like she’s just sleeping,” Harry said, with a note of hopefulness in his voice. “I don’t think there’s anything seriously wrong with her…”

    But Ron wasn’t listening. He tucked her hair behind her ear, and slipped his thin pillow underneath her head; he turned her over gently so that she was lying on her back, at a more reasonable angle.

    Harry watched, suddenly wrought with emotion. It was somewhat funny to see bumbling Ron being so tender with Hermione, but at the same time, the actions tugged at his heartstrings. It reminded him that they had each other in more ways than he had them. He knew that the three of them would stay friends for a lifetime, no matter the slight tribulations and troubles, arguments and conflictions, but Ron and Hermione had something extra…he wasn’t about to let them know that watching them could be painful…he couldn’t bring himself to remind them that he didn’t have Ginny anymore.

    Ginny.

    He turned away from Ron, his thoughts now revolving around Ginny. His emotions were unbelievably torn. He could sense that she was upset with him (hell, it was obvious…she hadn’t spoken to him for HOW long before today?), but he knew her too well…he knew that she had to be thinking of him as much as he was thinking of her. She had to know that he’s hated what he’d had to do. She had to see it in his eyes every time he gazed at her, or even glanced at her. She had to realize that if he weren’t who he was, if he didn’t have the threat of Voldemort hanging over his head, if he’d never had the immense responsibility of the prophecy thrust upon his shoulders, that everything would be different. The people he loved wouldn’t be in danger…they would be safe, the world would be at peace…he and Ginny would be a normal couple, just a boy and girl, without a care in the world. He would give anything to have had a normal life, even if it were for the only purpose of being able to be with Ginny; the two of them together, forever…

    He shook his head, forcing the thoughts to stop cold…what was wrong with him? It wasn’t as though Ginny expected them to be together for the rest of their lives…he certainly didn’t expect them to…it wasn’t as though either of them thought they would end up married, or anything—

    He froze, as the unbidden image of Ginny in a shimmering wedding dress, holding a bouquet of blood-red roses, and looking up at him with a beautiful smile came into his mind.

    He put a hand to his forehead, and found it to be hot. He could feel his heart pounding furiously, and he swallowed slowly, trying to figure out what he had just seen in his mind’s eye.

    It was true that Ginny had made him happy…happier than he had been in ages…but he had never stopped to think what life would be like if she were there, always there, by his side. A sly grin crept onto his face. Ginny was so strong, so brave, so funny…she played Quidditch marvelously, she was an extraordinary witch, and she had picked up Fred’s and George’s perfect sense of timing when it came to playing pranks. She was the perfect combination of everything.

    He wondered for a fleeting moment what it would be like wake up every morning with her next to him, but he quickly shoved these thoughts away. It was foolish to dream about something that would most likely never happen. He wasn’t sure what would occur when he finally met Voldemort…he didn’t even know when the time would come. It could be in 10 years, for all he knew. But the by the same token, it could happen as soon as they got back to their world.

    Harry glanced back at Ron and Hermione. He wasn’t planning on telling either of them that he wasn’t in any particular hurry to get back to reality. He knew that they would have to try, of course, but it was sort of nice to not have to worry about Death Eaters showing up in the back yard.

    “Harry—“ Ron interrupted his train of thought, “What if she doesn’t wake up?”

    Harry frowned, thinking hard as he watched Hermione’s sleeping face. “I don’t know, mate. But look at the bright side: we know for sure that she’s not petrified…we know what that looks like. And we know that if she did get jinxed or something, it had to be either at the Governor’s mansion, or on her way down here…” he paused, “…in her night clothes.”

    Ron furrowed his brow. “A bit crazier than normal; what do you—“

    He stopped, his words cut off by a sudden boom. Harry grasped his wand again, and ran to the small window. He leaned carefully on the rickety, dirt-encrusted sill, one hand on the shutter, and tried to get a glimpse of what had made the dreadful, tremendous noise.

    It only took a second for him to realize what it was. From the second floor of the Blacksmith’s shop, it was quite easy to see the glimmer of the seawater. And there, he could just see it: the eerie, ghost-like, fog-ridden outline of a large ship. It was coming into the port with uncanny speed, and without delay, fired a second cannon upon the town.

    Harry watched, shocked, as the cannonball cause a large explosion where, an instant before, a peaceful house had stood in the quiet night.

    “H-Harry?” stammered Ron; Harry held up a hand to silence him…something wasn’t right…he peered at the ship, wondering for a vague moment who would want to fire upon Port Royal. And then, almost as though the ship had read his thoughts, a ragged flag made it’s way to where Harry could see it plainly.

    Even though Harry had led a rather confined life at the Dursley’s, he’d seen enough of the muggle history books to know exactly what that was.

    The Jolly Roger.

    “Ron!” he said tersely, beckoning him over to the casement.

    Ron joined him, and squinted at the smudged vision of the pirate ship. “What is it?” he asked.

    “Pirates.”

    Ron laughed. “You mean those muggles who run around the ocean, stealing from people? Those are just tall-tales, mate.”

    Harry looked at him straight in the eye. “Maybe they were in the Wizarding world, but not to the muggles. Besides, Ron, what do you expect? This movie we’re stuck in IS called ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’.”

    “Yeah, I know, but…but they’re HERE!” it suddenly seemed to sink in, and Ron dashed back to Hermione’s side. “We’ve got to get out of here!”

    Harry shook his head, not really listening. “I think Hermione forgot to mention this to us.”

    “D’ya think that maybe that’s why she came to see us?”

    “Maybe.” Harry was trying to formulate a plan, but absolutely nothing came to mind. He’d never had to face a problem like this in the real world…yeah, sure, dementors had shown up in Little Whinging the summer before fifth year, but that was different somehow. Now they were in a strange place, with people who didn’t like the idea of magic; Hermione was out cold, and Ginny was probably asleep, and had no idea of the danger the town was in.

    “Look, we’ve got our wands…” Harry started, “so lets just stay here, and try our luck. We can’t leave, cause Ginny won’t know where we are.”

    “But we can’t use magic around muggles!” Ron sounded a bit horrified.

    “They won’t know…” said Harry, looking out of the window again as another explosion demolished a row of fishermen’s huts. Distressed screams and agonized yells of pain and fear reached his ears. “We can stay right here…cast some protective charms to keep Hermione safe…the pirates are bound to come pillaging. You think we can pull off a few curses from this window?”

    “You sure that’s a good idea, mate?” asked Ron, looking down at his wand.

    “It's the only one I’ve got…” Harry responded slowly.

    The ship grew closer, and the screams of the townspeople grew louder. People were running out of their homes, wondering where the pirates were, and how much time they had to get away. Harry could see more now, because some of the buildings near the beach had caught fire. Despite the distance, the blaze lent quite a lot of light to the darkness. The cannonade continued, and children’s cries were added to the increasing mayhem.

    Harry felt his heard go numb. What kind of barbarians would do this to innocent children who had no way to protect themselves?

    He felt what others called his “need to play the hero” fill up his chest until he could barely breathe. How could he just stand there, possessing magic, while the naïve muggles were losing their homes and their lives? He had to do something…

    …a sense began to overwhelm him, and it was far more powerful than the urge to give aid. He had a feeling that he was suddenly invincible; he suddenly knew that no matter what spell he cast, it would be able to reach the burning homes.

    Almost without thinking, almost without any concentration, and almost without even knowing that he was doing so, he raised his wand, and murmured, “Aguamenti Maxima.”

    Immediately, what appeared to be a large sphere of water appeared over the nearest inferno, hovered for a millisecond, then dropped, extinguishing most of the flames. The onlookers seemed momentarily shocked, as though not quite sure about what had just transpired.

    “Bloody hell, Harry!” Ron sounded incredulous. “How in the name of Merlin did you do that?”

    Harry glanced briefly at Ron, who was gaping at him, then looked at his wand. “I dunno…” he answered truthfully, “but it felt good.”

    *******

    Not very far away, Ginny had been feeling rather good herself. She had drifted off to sleep not long after her short visit with Hermione, and had found dreams of a tall, thin boy with unruly black hair and penetrating green eyes waiting for her.

    The dream had been quite lovely. She and Harry had been back at Hogwarts, having picnic down the lake. It had seemed so real to her that it was hard to admit (once she was awakened by the cannonade) that it had all been inside her head.

    Despite the fact that she had made up her mind to be angry with Harry for breaking it off, Ginny found herself relieving all their happy moments together quite often. It had become almost a nightly ritual for her to wake up, fully expecting to find Harry beside her, tickling her nose with a feather, or placing light kisses along her collarbone.

    More often than not, she would awake to find more than her cheeks blushing with the way the dream had taken an unexpected turn into the realm of fantasy.

    But now was not the moment to think of stolen kisses and hidden caresses…sitting up quickly, Ginny turned towards the window. A hazy orange glow caught her eye, and she bounded out of bed to pull back the heavy drapes. From her window, she could just barely see the harbor, and the ghostly barge that was firing upon the town. Dark figures were pouring out of rowboats, carrying torches, and waving gleaming cutlasses in the air. Gunshots were added to the increasing noise, and Ginny wondered absentmindedly if Hermione had known this would happen.

    Gasping, she clutched at the curtains, and put a hand to her forehead. Of course! Hermione had tried to tell her earlier, before arriving at the mansion.

    She turned swiftly on her heel, and ran straight into Hermione’s room. “Mione! Mione, wake up!” she said, nearly tripping over her long nightgown.

    It only took her a second to realize that Hermione’s bed was empty.

    “Hermione!” she yelled, tearing all the sheets away from the bed in one fast, jerky motion, just to make sure that her eyes weren’t deceiving her.

    Her thoughts spinning rapidly, she dashed to Elizabeth’s door, bursting through without knocking. “Elizabeth?” she asked loudly.

    There was no answer, not even from the rooms beyond her bedchamber.

    “Hermione?” she cried, this time hearing a bit of hysteria creep into her voice. Feeling quite shocked at the fact that she was afraid, she turned and ran back into her room. Thinking fast, she pulled her muggle clothes from back home on under her nightdress, and covered it all with the dressing gown that had been so carefully laid along the foot of the bed by Mary, not so very long ago.

    Grabbing her wand, she made to go back to Elizabeth’s room, but was frozen in place as a blood-curdling scream pieced the air.

    *******

    Back at the smithy, Harry and Ron sat crouched at the window, aiming hexes and jinxes at the invading pirates. It was quite comical to see them hoisted into the air by the seat of their pants, or suddenly covered with warts, or with gigantic boils that popped and exploded unexpectedly. These spells were proving to be quite useful to the townsmen, who ignored the odd behavior, taking advantage of every second the a pirate was distracted, or preoccupied, to run a sword through him, or hit him over the head with a musket butt.

    Harry had just Stunned a large black pirate when Ron said, “Oi, Harry, isn’t that Will just there?”

    Harry followed Ron’s gaze, his eyes watering slightly. He had started to feel very tired just a few minutes before, but had forced himself to keep aiming spells at the ragged crowd.

    Sure enough, Will was in the middle of the street. He seemed to have appeared out of nowhere, and was fighting fiercely. He turned this way and that, blocking every strike, exhibiting senses that were almost wizard-like.

    Mentally applauding Will on his exemplary skills, Harry directed a mumbled “Impedimentia” at a scurrying little pirate with dirty blond dreadlocks. He missed by an inch, and a cask of rum exploded, drenching those nearby.

    “Smooth,” teased Ron, stifling a yawn. He was getting sleepy as well.

    “Wait, Ron, look!” Harry suddenly felt a bit more alert. He pointed to a pirate who had just appeared in front of Will. He was short, and his beard was smoking, and Will looked completely horrified.

    “Hey…” Ron caught on quickly. “Didn’t Will kill that bloke a few minutes ago?”

    They exchanged worried glances before looking down at the scene below. The pirate threw a lit grenade down at Will’s feet, and laughed as Will took a step back, fully expecting it to blow him to smithereens.

    “Suffoca!” Ron reacted faster than Harry had ever seen, and with a flick of his wand, put out the spark that would have destroyed Will beyond recognition.

    “That was amazing, Ron,” Harry said, raising his eyes to survey the rest of the melee.

    For a split second, he thought he was having a nightmare; further down the street, two pirates were dragging along two slim young girls. The tall one with dark blond hair, he did not recognize…but the one with long red tresses, he did.

    Ginny.

    He blinked rapidly as the breeze unexpectedly blew some smoke into his face. He tried to peer through the haze, but it was too late.

    She had disappeared. 




    A/N: Yes, yes, I know, and I'm sorry...I'm sorry that Captain Jack is not in this chapter. I'm also sorry that this chapter is short, although it is longer than the last one. But don't worry, the next chapter, "Of Truth and Bonny Lasses," will be long, and will have an abundance of Jack Sparrow.

    I would love to know what you think so far. Also, I'm still searching for a possible title for the next installment. So hop to, heave sail, and leave me a comment!

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