A/N: Merry Christmas to everyone (to those who do not celebrate Christmas: Happy Random Day In December When Steelbadger Posts A Bunch Of Things For Once)!
In the UK, we will sadly be unable to see much of our families at this time, and I'm sure many people in other countries will be experiencing something similar. I can't really do much about that, I'm afraid, but I can drop a whole bunch of words. Hopefully they brighten the days of at least a few people. As a gift to you all, I've produced a few chapters for a Christmas Day bonanza. This story and Shadow of Angmar are getting updates, while the regular update to Toppling Heroes has been bumped up to two chapters instead of one. Like I said, it's not much, but I imagine more than a few people out there are feeling rather lonely at the moment, so far from their families (I know I'm missing mine). I can't bring you your family, but I can invite you into my worlds (such as they are), and you can abide a time with me there.
Chapter 16: The Dangers of Blue Balls
Apparently, asking for directions to the local equivalent of the red light district was something of a social faux-pas. Angie, the boss chap of the city, had given him a look of rather over-the-top disgust, and dragged Glorfindel off to the side to talk about something.
As it was almost certain to be something very boring, and likely to result in Harry getting annoyed, he elected to ignore them. He didn't need directions.
The Elder Wand spun in his hand, pausing three or four times to point in some direction. At one point, curiously, it pointed directly at Angie, who was still deep in conversation with Glorfindel.
It was probably about getting some kind of escort for the onward journey.
As Harry peered at the man he gestured wildly in the direction of Howard, which was sleeping quite peacefully on the edge of the dock. A few glutinous bubbles slowly expanded and contracted upon his rolling back — deck — on the top. Or maybe it was about the horrific insult to biology and good reason that had hauled itself up onto their wharf.
Really, it could be either.
With most of the guards who had accompanied Angie now occupied brandishing their weapons at a completely unaware Howard, Harry was able to quietly slip away.
Rather disappointingly, Dollaroth was very tidy for a port town. Or maybe that was just Harry's expectations based on admittedly vaguely remembered history classes. He was sure there was some kind of rule that said all ports had to have a prostitute to sailor ratio greater than one.
Sadly, while the sailors were in evidence, there was distressingly little indication of anything even approximating a brothel. With his case of advanced blue balls, Harry really wasn't about to be picky. A masseuse would be fine. Hell, a seamstress with a mildly suggestive tilt to her hips would be enough.
The first two hits from his spell turned up another, distressingly male, sailor, and an old woman who looked entirely too much like Minerva McGonagall for Harry to even think about going there. What kind of world was this? What cruel God would devise a world so entirely bereft of casual sex?
Was this all some kind of extremely drawn out punishment for something?
Finally, though, he found what he was looking for. His spell led him to an attractive, young lady who was selling what appeared to be some kind of clams from a cart. She smelled a bit, as was perhaps to be expected from one who spent their entire life in close proximity to shellfish, but she'd do.
Any port in a storm, as they said.
Some quick charms ensured that she wouldn't notice his rather obvious limitation when it came to height; an understandable, if frustrating, hang-up, and ambled over to her cart.
"Fresh clams and cockles," she said sweetly. "Fresh fished from the sea today!"
Harry leaned against the cart and flashed her the most winning grin he could muster. When one had an Elvish complexion, and teeth whiter than Ireland's Quidditch team, he hoped that would be pretty damned winning.
"I was wondering if I might… peruse some of your… other? wares," Harry said suggestively as his eyes trailed up and down her body.
She wasn't bad at all. No Tauriel, of course. Certainly no Arwen and phewee, definitely no Galadriel but she was alright. He was pretty sure Seamus would have ranked her a pretty solid 8. Neatly placed between Lavender and Parvati. Before the unpleasantness, that was. Wide hips, ample bosom and dirty blonde hair which fell down a little below her shoulders, topped by a white bonnet. Unfortunately, Harry realised he might have come on a little strong, as the look she was giving him was certainly not welcoming.
Maybe he needed to dial it back just a little. It didn't do to look desperate, after all.
"That is to say, do you have anything a little more... mature than this?" He gestured to the fresh fish and was careful to maintain eye contact. "What I have planned requires something a little more… developed."
The girl didn't seem entirely convinced, but when an older man bustled over from another nearby stall and told her to show Harry 'Yesterday's unsold merchandise' she seemingly had little option but to accept it.
It was already becoming clear to Harry that despite his age causing a few issues, another very significant problem was that apparently simply making lewd comments to women didn't work to get them into bed with him when he wasn't a celebrity of worldwide renown.
"We have some older stock at home," she said more than a little reluctantly. "We have not sold that kind of thing for some time, not since the Prince placed a ban upon it, but father said you can have it if you wish, for a price."
Now that sounded like it had some potential. Or, alternatively, it could also be that she was taking him to see some actual partially rotten shellfish. He really hoped it was the first option because the second option was really not what he was looking for at all.
She led him across a busy street, which required him to jostle some people out of the way. That might have sounded simple, but as he was really only a little over four feet tall, and most of the prospective jostlees were burly men in the region of six feet or more it was actually rather difficult. In the end, he used a very weak banishing charm to clear a path through the crowds. He overcooked it a little bit, and one man who had been getting rather more intimate than strictly necessary ended up upside down on someone else's wagon. It also sent a small group of children tumbling to the ground with various expressions of surprise, but it did the job.
At length, they reached a fairly small lean to house that had been roughly inserted between two much older, and much nicer buildings of much more refined craftsmanship. Without wasting any time, the girl gave Harry a significant look, before she slipped inside.
Harry, naturally followed.
It was very small inside, barely more than a room really. A couple of beds clearly doubled as pretty much every other item of furniture, and one corner of the room was devoted to a small stove. The girl moved over towards one of the beds.
In that moment, Harry thought Christmas, whenever that might be in this god-forsaken world, had come early.
He started to move over to join her on the bed when she pulled a crate of stinking, clearly off clams from a small storage space beneath the bed. She then turned around, realised he'd been following her, screamed, and dropped them, sending the foul-smelling little bombs of slime and fish snot everywhere.
"Don't hurt me!" she said desperately, backing away from him with her eyes wide. "I don't have anything I can give you. I'm just a cockleseller. Nothing more!"
If there was anything that killed the mood more than a case of prostitute misidentification, followed by another case of rapist misidentification, Harry was not sure what it was.
"But the spell! It pointed right at you!" he cried, his hopes shattering to nothing around him.
He pulled his wand out once more, drawing another scared squeal form the girl.
This time it stopped to point at every one of the scattered shellfish.
"Oh, you have got to be fucking kidding me," said Harry before he recast the spell, only to achieve exactly the same results.
"Look, I'm sorry about this," he said as gently as he could manage. There might have been a small amount of grinding his teeth involved, however. "I was looking for a prostitute."
She looked at him blankly, still obviously terrified.
"You know, someone willing to have sex for money?" he asked. "I have plenty of money."
He reached into his pocket to pull out a coin purse, but as he did so he realised it was completely missing. More pressingly, however, something else was missing too.
The Ring was gone. How was that possible? Those blasted children. It had to be!
"Oh, you fucking didn't!"
The girl would probably be fine after a little counselling. Whoever it was who had stolen his stuff, however, was unlikely to be so lucky.
A/N: So, like the massive nerd I am, the joke of this chapter is basically centred around the joke that prostitute in latin (slang) is meretrix, and edible Venus clams have the scientific genus 'meretrix'.
I realise this probably marks a low-point in my life, but I don't care. I've made an entire chapter's joke revolve around latin wordplay and you can't do anything about it! It's also short, but this was a surprise entry in the Steelbadger Christmas post-a-thon. I am also posting two updates to Toppling Heroes, and a new chapter to Shadow of Angmar so if you're bored this Christmas and New Year why not give them a go? This has been a busy month for me getting all this ready to go, in addition to my Harry/Fleur short story, Autumn Leaves. It's not even a crossover. Why not check it out if the thought of Mean Girls meets Harry/Fleur sounds interesting? It can be found on my profile.
I also want to thank each and every one of you, readers and reviewers, for all the support you've given my stories. You're awesome, and I'll see you all next year! Have a good one.