Hi everyone. Here's a new chapter. I hope you'll like it. If you have any questions don't be afraid to ask. I'm happy with any feedback I get, good or bad.
Important! Edit 01/01/2012 I made some changes to the previous chapter and this one and got rid of some inconsistencies.
I'd like to thank the crowd at fukufics and the fanfiction forum for their advice and ideas, and especially Spokavriel, borgrabbit, and frice2000. They helped a lot with improving the first draft of the story.
What has gone before:
Genma and Ranma have arrived at Jusenkyo, a supposedly legendary training ground. Not heeding the guide's warnings they spar on top of the bamboo poles sticking out of hundreds of pools. Of course they fall into the springs and end up cursed. Ranma turns into a Veela and Genma into an anthropomorphic panda girl. We learn about Ranma's past and how Nodoka, a pureblooded witch from a very prominent clan got pregnant with him. After staying with the Amazons for a month so that Ranma can adapt to his new powers they've finally returned to Japan.
Soun Tendo was browsing through his mail when he noticed a postcard buried among the letters. When he saw who it was from his eyes widened and a smile blossomed on his face. He hadn't seen his old training partner in years and couldn't wait to hear about Genma's and Ranma's adventures. He had met the boy a few times when he was still an infant and was curious as to how far he had come in the art.
Eager to share his joy with his daughters he called for the eldest who usually was in the kitchen at this time.
"Kasumi?" He called but didn't get an answer.
"KASUMI?" He tried again, louder this time, with exactly the same the result.
"Where is that girl?" He muttered on his way to the kitchen. When he poked his head through the doorway he saw his daughter sitting at the table reading a book while all around her the different cleaning materials were working in a frenzy to clean the kitchen on their own. She was wearing a simple housedress and her long brown hair was hanging down her back and tied together with a ribbon.
A solitary tear was leaving the man's eye as he thought back to his wife who had been just as talented with household charms as his daughter was.
"Kasumi!" He tried once more, this time getting a reaction from the teenager.
"Yes, father?" She lifted her eyes from her book and gave her father a questioning look.
"I have some good news. Could you fetch your sisters, please? I have an announcement to make."
"Yes, father. Right away."
She took her wand and with a few swishes banished the cleaning equipment back into the broom closet before going to the first floor and knocking on her youngest sister's door.
"Akane?" Kasumi called. "I'm coming in, alright?"
She opened the door but the room was empty. "She's probably in the dojo."
The girl shrugged and turned towards her other sister's bedroom door. She could always tell Akane afterwards.
"Who is it?" A voice asked halfheartedly after hearing a knock at the door.
"It's me. Can I come in?" Kasumi politely asked as knew that Nabiki didn't like other people barging into her room.
"Two minutes. I have to finish something first."
The eldest daughter patiently waited in front of the room for a bit and soon thereafter her sister called, "You can come in now."
When Kasumi entered into the room she saw her sister, who was wearing a fireproof apron over her t-shirt and shorts, fill several flacons with a murky, smoking liquid from a small cauldron.
"Sorry for making you wait but interrupting the process could have been dangerous."
Kasumi frowned deeply at her sister. "You know you're not supposed to brew potions without supervision from an adult, and especially not in your room."
Nabiki just chuckled. "Heh. I'm not Akane, sis; I know what I'm doing."
"That's not a valid argument and you really shouldn't talk about your sister like that."
"But I'm right; and you know it. After all, isn't Akane the first student to ever have been banned from the potions lab at school? The potions teacher is still trying to find out how she made a simple cough potion explode. Thank God no one was killed. Face it, she sucks at brewing."
Kasumi just sighed. Nabiki was right of course, although she needn't be so blunt about it. Their sister was a natural disaster when it came to brewing, household charms, and cooking. "You're not helping, you know. How do you expect her to improve if you make fun of her all the time?"
"Meh! It's just some harmless fun. She can take it," Nabiki waved off her sister's concerns.
Kasumi on the other hand didn't share her sister's optimism. "I hope you're right."
"Yeah. Don't worry. So, what's up?"
"Oh yes, I almost forgot. Father has some important news for us. Can you come down?"
"Eh? What does he want now?"
"I don't really know, but I have rarely seen him in such a good mood."
"Really?" Nabiki couldn't hide her surprise. "Then it must be really important. Okay, I'll finish up here and I'll be down in a few minutes."
"I'll tell him. I just need to find Akane now. She's not in her room."
"Oh, she's out on a jog", Nabiki explained. "I saw her leave the yard 15 minutes ago. She should be back very soon."
Kasumi nodded and left the room thinking about her sister's obsession with martial arts. Akane was the one who took the most after their father and she admired him for what he did and had already decided years ago to follow in her father's footsteps as a martial artist, but wanted to take it further and become a great combat mage, blending martial arts and magic together.
Just as the oldest daughter had reached the bottom of the stairs she heard the entrance door open and close before a voice shouted. "I'm home."
"Great timing," she mused.
After Kasumi had left Nabiki turned back to her flacons, took one in her hands and examined the liquid it contained. "Hmm, looks good. Just the right color and consistency. Hehe! Those will fetch a pretty penny at school tomorrow."
She carefully placed the potions in a bag and joined her sisters downstairs.
"Ah, good. You're all here," the mustachioed man smiled at his daughters. "I have good news."
"Oh? You've won the lottery?" Nabiki asked.
"Much better," he grinned happily not recognizing the sarcasm in his daughter's statement. "My old training partner, Genma, is coming over for a visit with his son. They've been on a martial arts training journey for over ten years and are now back in Japan after a long stay in China. Apparently they have had some kind of accident there and have come back sooner than expected. Now, while they are here I expect you to treat them with respect and kindness as Ranma hasn't had an easy life."
"How so?" Akane wondered.
"Well, since you're going to learn it anyway once they are here I'll tell you right now to avoid any later awkwardness: Ranma is a squib. His father is a muggle just like me and the reason he has taken his son on such a long journey is because the boy has been pretty much rejected by his magical family."
"Oh my!" Kasumi put her hands in front of her mouth in shock. "How could they do that to him? It's not his fault that he was born a squib.
"Yes," Akane agreed with her sister. "What kind of monsters are they to reject someone for such a stupid reason? They really need a good dose of reality if you ask me. I'd expect that attitude from loonies like the Kunos. What century are they living in?"
Nabiki just shook her head but didn't say anything. She never understood the mentality of all those blood purists. Money was money after all; whatever its origin.
"Unfortunately, even today a lot of families still think like that, but I know that you're not like that and will accept the boy for what he is and not hold it against him."
He smiled when he saw his daughters nod and knew that they would treat Ranma right. They were good girls and just as accepting and tolerant as his late wife had been. "Alright then, that's all I had to say. They should arrive later today. Please, make them feel welcome."
The three girls nodded once again and left the living room. Kasumi went back into the kitchen, followed by a hungry Nabiki who grabbed a light snack out of the fridge while Akane went to the dojo for some cool down stretches.
Meanwhile, not far away, Ranma and his father were walking through the streets of Nerima, the former looking right and left, taking in the sights as this was his first time in this part of Tokyo, while the latter continued straightforward towards the goal of their trip, still knowing the way by heart even after all these years. Nerima had weathered the modernization of Tokyo rather well and was one of the few areas of the capital city still anchored in tradition, although for how long, no one could say.
"Are we there yet?" The impatient young martial artist asked his father.
"No, but it isn't far now."
"Are you sure your friend can help us?"
"No, I'm not; but he's the best lead we have outside of your family, and you know what I think of that idea."
Ranma nodded and didn't ask again. He really hoped that the Tendo patriarch could help. The journey from China to Nerima had been a nightmare and he was sick of all the lustful stares his Veela form was getting from the guys. More than once he had had to deal with grabby hands and had to resort to violence to make the perverts stop.
The problem was not that he turned into a girl; well, okay, that WAS a problem, but not the biggest one. The time he had spent with the Amazons had really broken him off most misconceptions he had held about girls and he was really grateful for all the help they had given him, and although he was still trying to come to terms with transforming not only into a girl but also into an entirely different species, especially a magical creature with powers he had no control over, he was making progress. It was slow going but he was getting there, except with his Veela aura. Try as he might he couldn't get a handle on it. Dongmei had been right; he really needed to find a Veela to help him with that problem
The most mortifying thing had been when the Amazons taught him how to be and act as a girl. He knew how the biology worked of course, but being shown how to use a pad or a tampon had been one of the most mortifying experiences he had ever been subjected too, although being shown how to walk in heels, how to apply make-up, and how to wear a bra had been pretty embarrassing too. However, this training too had helped him come to terms with what he had become, at least partially. The curse would probably stay with him for all of his life and the sooner he learnt to accept it the better it would be, although he still hoped that he'd find a cure one day.
Still, if he had to fall into a gender changing spring he would have much preferred to fall into the regular spring of drowned girl, at least then he wouldn't have to deal with all the lustful or hateful stares he was getting and probably wouldn't have to constantly beat off perverts, who only thought about getting into his pants. Still, there WERE far worse springs he could have fallen into. At least he stayed human, or rather he could pass as one once he could control his aura.
However, and he had to agree with the Amazons on this, there were perks to his curse. He now had access to wand magic, as was his birthright, as well as some other talents. While travelling through the Chinese wilderness he had spent most of his time in his cursed form practicing his newfound powers, and while he had become rather good at creating and manipulating fire his wizardry skills were still rudimentary as he was barely able to cast a few simple spells, but he was sure this would change once he got a real wand and a teacher. He would however gladly get rid of his aura even if that was a Veela's most powerful weapon. He really didn't need it since he was plenty strong enough without. His father had made sure of that.
"We're here." Genma pulled Ranma out of his thoughts and pointed at a large compound.
The pigtailed boy looked at the estate and whistled in awe. "They must be loaded."
"Not really," the bespectacled man answered. "The estate has been in the Tendo family for generations, and even if Soun is well off he's far from rich."
"What does he do? He must earn a lot to afford such a large property."
Genma looked around and not seeing anyone in vicinity he answered his son's question. "Haven't I told you? Well, he's a martial arts master and we trained under the same master. While I've been training only you he has chosen another path. He's working for the magical government training their aurors in martial arts."
"Aurors? Oh, right. They are like the magical police, right?"
"Exactly, and as far as I know the job pays rather well."
"Sounds nice," Ranma commented and walked up to the door but he was quickly stopped by Genma.
"Not yet. Do you remember the story?"
"Yeah, sure. No problem."
"Don't take this lightly!" The middle-aged martial artist raised his voice before remembering where he was. He looked around once again and let out a sigh when he saw that they were alone. "You remember what the Amazons told us, don't you? This is your future we're talking about," he whispered to his son.
"Okay, okay, I get it." Ranma whispered back. I must never mention 'that place' and especially not that the 'accident' activated my magical core."
"Correct. And why is that?"
"So that 'that place' can never be abused by the wrong people to create armies of magical creatures or to become all-powerful, and if the wizards ever found out how I turned from a squib into a wizard they would probably chase me to the end of the world and I'd end up as a guinea pig never to be released from the lab ever again."
"Please, take this seriously," Genma grabbed his son by his shoulders and shook him. "You are my only son and I only want what's best for you."
"I know. I promise I'll be careful."
"Alright. I trust you."
He let go of his child and approached the large door set into the impressive perimeter wall and rang the bell.
The two travelers waited patiently for a few moments until the door was opened by a middle-aged man.
"Saotome!" The mustachioed man's eyes lit up as he recognized his old training partner and he opened his arms, taking him into a manly embrace.
"Tendo!" Genma answered just as enthusiastically and accepted the embrace.
Soun let go and looked intensely at the teen accompanying his old training partner. "And that must be Ranma. I haven't seen him since he was an infant. He's quite the strapping lad I see. You must be very proud of him."
"That I am. He's my pride and joy and probably one of the best martial artists of his generation. No thanks to his family of course," Genma added crossly.
"I see," the Tendo patriarch said in a serious tone. "You still haven't forgiven your in-laws, have you?"
"Certainly not; and I never will after what they've done."
"Does Ranma know?"
"About my past and the reason why I took him on the journey? Yes, I've told him."
"Well, I can't tell you how to live your life, but after all this time don't you think your in-laws might have mellowed a bit?"
Genma just snorted. "I seriously doubt it, especially after what I found out a few weeks ago."
"Oh? There's probably quite the story behind it, but we should get inside first. There's an excellent bottle of sake waiting for us that I've been keeping for a special occasion, and I think that today qualifies. I can't wait to hear about your travels."
"That sounds good. Nothing helps telling a good story more than good sake," Genma's mood improved immediately.
"How right you are. Come in, come in."
Hearing the doorbell ring the three daughters gathered at the entrance to the house, curious to find out who was at the door. Akane was still wearing her sweaty gi, causing Nabiki to wrinkle her nose at the smell.
"You could have washed," Nabiki hissed at her sister in a low voice.
"I didn't exactly have the time you know," the younger girl countered a bit louder.
"Quiet!" Kasumi stopped her bickering sisters.
They peeked though the doorway and saw their father enthusiastically greet a bespectacled man before hugging him. This came as quite a surprise since they had never seen their father give such a warm welcome to anyone. Then their eyes fell on the teenager standing next to the unknown man.
"Ooooh! Major hunk alert!" Nabiki remarked before her enthusiasm took a nosedive as she took in the appearance of the two strangers. "Damn! Doesn't look like they have a lot of money."
"Honestly. Is that all you think about? The world doesn't revolve around money and boys, you know," Akane reprimanded her sister.
"Oh really?" The brunette mocked the younger girl. "My poor, poor, deluded sister. You have no idea." She tsked and shook her head as she gave her sister a pitying look. "You have much to learn. Power and money rule the world and I am determined to have both, and a nice-to-look-at boytoy is a welcome bonus."
"You are such a pig," Akane answered.
Kasumi just shook her head in disapproval. She was used to the bickering of her sisters and had given up trying to stop them a long time ago.
The squabble went on until Akane noticed their father coming back with the two strangers in tow. "Quiet! They're coming."
This shut Nabiki up and the three girls aligned and calmly waited for the group to arrive.
"These are my girls," Soun beamed with pride as he presented them to Ranma. "This is Kasumi. She's the oldest at 17."
Kasumi bowed politely. "Nice to meet you."
"Heya! Nice to meet you too," Ranma greeted back.
"Next we have Nabiki. She's 15.
She gave a quick bow and took a quick glance at Ranma's backside. "Nice butt", she commented causing the pigtailed boy to blush.
"Ahem!" Soun cleared his throat. "Sorry about that," he apologized to Ranma, "she can be a handful sometimes."
Nabiki smirked and winked at their young guest before whispering to him."Just stating the truth."
"Nabiki!" Akane interrupted the scene and shook her head.
"Don't mind her. She's a prude."
"Hey!" Akane harrumphed before remembering that they had guests. "Hi, I'm Akane," she smiled at Ranma and bowed. "Just ignore my sister. She's always like that."
"Nice to meet you," Ranma replied not commenting on the last barb at the girl's older sister.
"She's 14, just like you," Soun stated.
He then turned back to his old training partner. "And this is my old friend, Genma Saotome. We used to train together for many years and he's like a brother to me. You probably don't remember him as you were still very young when he visited us regularly, but I'm sure he remembers you."
"That I do," the portly man confirmed. "I can still remember them driving your wife almost nuts more than once. Taking care of three kids at once must have been very exhausting. He then turned to the three girls and grinned. "You really didn't make your mother's life easy you know."
"Yes, those were good times," Soun sighed loudly as he reminisced, thinking back to better times when his wife was still alive. Tears were forming in his eyes as he continued. "Why did she have to leave us so soon, Saotome? Why?"
"I'm sorry," Genma apologized. "That was insensitive of me. I really didn't want to bring back some bad memories."
"Don't worry about it," the Tendo patriarch said as he rubbed his eyes. "I'm always getting emotional when I think about her death although it has been so long ago already. Still, it feels as if one part of me died with her."
He then looked at his daughters and his smile came back. At least his wife had left him with three gifts, his three daughters who had inherited some of Kimiko's qualities; Kasumi her kindness, Nabiki her intelligence, and Akane her temper, although he sometimes wondered why his youngest daughter had inherited HER culinary talents rather than his own. "But enough of that. This is too joyous an occasion to bring up bad memories. Girls! Why don't you show Ranma around and get to know him better? Genma and I have so much to talk about and it will probably take some time. I'm sure you youngsters have better things to do than listen to us old men talking about times long gone."
The three sisters did just that and left the fathers to their banter.
When the children were gone Soun whispered to his friend. "Have you told him about the other reason why you left with him?"
"No, he's not ready."
"Don't you think he deserves to know?" The Tendo patriarch gave his friend a disapproving look.
"Of course he does, but not now. Trust me on this, Soun old buddy. I know what I'm doing."
"I hope you do, my friend, I hope you do."
As the youngsters were walking, Nabiki started the conversation with a basic question, trying to find out more about Ranma and especially getting some exploitable information. "So, Ranma. What are your hobbies?"
"Martial arts, of course," he answered like a shot, causing Akane to perk up.
"Are you any good?" the youngest daughter butted in. Nabiki frowned at her but didn't say anything. She had more than enough time to get to know the handsome guy better.
"I'm very good," he answered honestly and without boasting, something that would have come as a shock to anyone who had known the martial artist before the accident at Jusenkyo, but then, living with a tribe of warrior women for almost two weeks, many of whom were better fighters than he was, was a humbling experience.
"Want to prove it?" She challenged him, the friendly smile on her face indicating that she just wanted to have a little informal match and not a grudge match like Ranma was used to.
He shrugged his shoulders in indifference. "Sure, why not?"
"Fighting? Can't you think about anything else?" Nabiki asked, slightly exasperated. "He has just arrived and there are probably other things he'd like to do first. You can always have your little match later."
"I don't mind," the pigtailed boy answered. "What better way to learn more about someone than through a friendly fight?"
Nabiki was slightly disappointed. It looked to her like Ranma was another jock who placed brawn over brain. There were already more than enough of those at school. Still, at least he looked much better than all the others and maybe it would be worth watching the fight just to see those muscles in action.
"Great. The dojo is that way!" Akane enthusiastically led the way.
"I'll leave you alone then; I still have a lot of work to finish," Kasumi excused herself and left for the kitchen. She had no interest in martial arts at all and had never really understood the appeal of beating people up, especially as it was usually up to her to take care of Akane's injuries. At least that allowed her to practice all those medical spells she's been learning from those books she'd borrowed from Dr Tofu, the local chiropractor and mediwizard. He's been taking care of the family ever since he took over the practice of old Dr Matsuyama after his retirement.
Akane went ahead and Ranma and Nabiki followed her, the latter continuing her interrogation of their pigtailed guest, asking simple questions like what food he liked or what his favorite TV shows were.
"Here we are," Akane announced proudly after opening the dojo door, interrupting Nabiki's and Ranma's conversation.
"WOW!" The pigtailed boy was impressed by the size of the building and the large number of weapons hanging on the wall. "Very nice."
"Thanks. There's a changing room behind the small door on the other side if you want to put on a gi."
"No, I'm fine. Thank you."
"Suit yourself," Akane shrugged and took up a stance. Her sister was leaning against the wall behind Ranma and following the boy's every move.
She turned her attention to her opponent who was simply standing there in a relaxed posture, causing the young girl to frown slightly.
"Are you ready?" She asked and seeing the pigtailed boy nod she attacked with a straight punch. Ranma sidestepped, grabbed her arm, and used her momentum to throw her to the ground, much to the young girl's surprise who hadn't expected that. She got up once again and approached her opponent very carefully, not underestimating him any longer. She started her attack with a sudden side punch, which was promptly blocked, and continued with a kick to the knee, which her foe evaded before he hooked her leg and pushed her down, locking her leg in a submission hold.
"You lose," he announced matter-of-factly before letting go.
Akane was a bit peeved at how easily she had lost. She got up and jumped a few meters away glaring at the boy. She reached into her left sleeve and drew out her wand in irritation, having completely forgotten that her opponent was a squib.
"How about a magical duel?" Akane challenged the pigtailed boy. "Let's see how well you do with a wand."
"Akane! No! You can't!" Nabiki shouted.
"Relax, sis! It's just a training wand. I won't get in trouble with the ministry this time."
"That's not the problem here. Have you forgotten what daddy told us? He's a squib. How do you expect him to participate in a magical duel?"
Akane lowered her arm. "Oh, right. I forgot."
"Honestly little sister, you shouldn't let your temper get the better of you all the time."
"THERE'S NOTHING WRONG WITH MY TEMPER!" She defended herself. Honestly, what was with all the people always harping on her about her temper?
"Actually, you're wrong," he corrected the girls, trying to diffuse the volatile situation.
"About what? Nabiki wondered.
"About me being a squib. Heh, it's a really funny story that. I only found out a few years ago that I was a wizard. It happened as I was running away from an angry bear. When the animal caught up to me, paw raised in the air and ready to strike, I panicked and closed my eyes, wishing to be away from there. I waited for a few moments and when the attack didn't come I opened my eyes and found myself sitting in a tree a few hundred meters away. I was completely lost as I didn't understand what had happened and quickly ran away to my pops. When I told him about it he immediately knew what was up and explained to me that I had apparated. That was also when I learnt that magic was real and that the wizards had their own world called the Magical World. Unfortunately my dad is a muggle and so he couldn't teach me any magic. It wasn't until we passed through a small magical village in China that I got some rudimentary training and a few books on spells. I also got a training wand but I'm not very good yet. Want to see?"
He took out his own training wand and showed it to the girls before pointing it forward. "LUMOS!" He shouted and a barely visible, sickly looking beam of light came out of the tip of the wand. "Heh! I told you I need a little bit of practice."
"A little bit?" Nabiki asked incredulously. "Understatement of the century I'd say. You have a lot of work ahead of you if you want to catch up to the other wizards of your age.
"Oh! That's a shame," Akane regretted. She really wanted to show off her dueling skills.
Ranma noticed this and tried to cheer the girl up. "You can use your wand if you want to. It doesn't matter to me. I can manage without."
Akane frowned disapprovingly at this obvious barb at her skills. 'Is he taking me lightly? Who does he think he is? I'll show him'!
She pointed her wand at the pigtailed boy. "Are you really sure?" She asked in an annoyed tone. "It's not too late to back down if you want."
"Try your worst," he joked and simply stood there as without a care in the world.
His nonchalance angered Akane and she decided to teach him a lesson and knew just the right spell to do that. Without giving the arrogant prick a warning she attacked. "VOMITO!"
Ranma easily sidestepped the incoming spell much to Akane's ire, but that didn't deter her from trying again, considering her miss a fluke.
"VOMITO!" She shouted once again, but the result was the same.
'Oh, it's like that, isn't it'? She thought. "EVADE THIS! RESTRICTO! PARALYZO! ITCHUS! She quickly cast three spells in succession which was a feat even adult wizards would have trouble equaling.
Much to her shock the spells didn't even slow the martial artist down as he sidestepped them easily and before Akane could cast another spell he had already grabbed her wand arm and hung on to it, not giving her the chance to attack again. When she tried to punch him with her other arm he grabbed that one too. She struggled to break free but Ranma was too strong and didn't give her an inch, even immobilizing her legs with his own.
"See?" He good-naturedly grinned at the girl.
Akane's reaction, however, came as a surprise. He clearly felt the intense fear radiating from her and let go immediately. "DON'T TOUCH ME!" She pushed him violently away before fleeing, leaving a stunned Ranma behind.
"What just happened?"
"Don't blame her," Nabiki explained. "She… has some issues with boys. Let's leave it at that, okay? She'll calm down on her own; she always does."
"Oh, okay. If you say so," he agreed with the girl although he wasn't convinced. He hoped that Akane would like to be friends. He had so few of those.
"Let's get out of here," Nabiki suggested. "I'll show you the rest of the house."
They left the dojo through another door and Nabiki showed their guest the large yard and she raised an eyebrow in surprise when she saw him give the koi pond a wide berth.
So, what do you think?" She asked him after the grand tour was finished.
"Honestly? It's not what I expected."
Nabiki frowned at the pigtailed boy. "What do you mean? Don't you like it?"
"Oh, no! That's not what I meant. It's just… where is the magic? Where are the house-elves? And the magical portraits? The wizards in robes? The house… it looks so normal."
Nabiki had to laugh at Ranma's ignorance. "Of course it does. We live in a muggle neighborhood and so we have to act like muggles. Using training wands is the most we are allowed to do, except for Kasumi. Since she's older than 16 she's allowed to use a real wand, although the use is restricted to the estate of course. We're not allowed to reveal the existence of magic to muggles as I'm sure you've heard.
"I get it, but wouldn't life be a lot easier for you if you lived in the Magical World."
"Don't I know it," Nabiki sighed. "I understand my dad, however. He thinks that we should learn to live in both worlds, and I agree with him. I know some wizards who have never set foot in the Muggle World and don't have the slightest idea how far muggles have come over the last decades. They still believe that the muggle world is stuck in the Middle Ages."
Ranma kept quiet. That was a lot of new information to digest after all and he had to admit that he was similar to those wizards in the sense that he didn't really know much about the Magical World. He was determined to find out though, and as soon as he could he would get some books on the topic.
"Oh, you're back already." Kasumi stated when they entered the house. "How did it go?"
"Well, I won… I guess."
"My, aren't you modest," Nabiki grinned. "You should have seen him, sis. He made Akane look like a rank amateur."
"Oh my! How did Akane take the loss?"
"Not so well I'm afraid," Nabiki answered in a more subdued tone. "She ran away after the match and she's probably moping in her room."
"Maybe I should talk to her."
"No, leave her be, sis. She'll get over it. She needs to grow up and that won't happen if you coddle her all the time."
"I guess you're right. Oh, and Ranma. Do you want to take a bath? I just filled the furo and I believe there's no better way to relax after a match than taking a bath.
"That's alright. I didn't sweat that much. I don't want to be a burden."
"Nonsense! I prepared it especially for your father and you. I'm sure he'd like to take a bath too after such a long trip. Why don't you go ahead and he can join you later?"
"Well, okay. I suppose a quick bath can't hurt."
Kasumi told him where the bathroom was and after rejecting Nabiki's offer to scrub his back the heavily blushing boy left in a hurry. He was so distracted by the mental image of a naked Nabiki scrubbing his back that he completely missed the 'occupied' sign hanging on the door. He was still out of it when he undressed and didn't notice the gi top and pants on the chair in the corner. He entered the bath proper and his eyes widened when he saw Akane sitting on a small chair, in her birthday suit, reaching for the showerhead to wash off the suds.
She immediately noticed him enter the room and screamed. "AH! PERVERT!" She shrieked before running out of the bathroom at full speed after kicking the peeping tom in his private parts.
Her shouts had reverberated throughout the house and might even have alerted the neighbors. Everyone inside the house dropped what they were doing and rushed towards the origin of the noise just to meet the still naked and panicking Akane halfway.
The fathers quickly turned away, and Kasumi and Nabiki tried to calm their sister down.
"What happened?" Kasumi asked with concern in her voice.
"It's Ranma," she growled. "I was washing myself when the pervert snuck up on me and tried to molest me."
Kasumi winced as she had a very good idea of what must have happened. "I don't think Ranma's at fault here. I told him to take a bath. I didn't know you were in the bathroom. This is probably just a misunderstanding."
"I doubt it," Akane countered. "The sign was out and he must have noticed my clothes."
Nabiki was of the same opinion as her older sister. Akane had the unfortunate tendency to overreact. She herself on the other hand was more level-headed and preferred to hear the pigtailed boy's explanation before condemning him. "Where is he now? We'll just ask him and get to the bottom of it."
"He's probably still lying on the bathroom floor."
"Why would… What did you do?" Kasumi asked, worried for their guest. Akane had a lot of strength after all and in her anger she might have really hurt him.
"I knocked him out, of course. What did you expect me to do? Let the pervert rape me without defending myself?"
"I understand," the eldest daughter sighed. "I can't really blame you for your reaction. Seeing a naked boy in the bathroom must have come as a shock. Now, go to your room and put on some clothes and we'll take care of Ranma, okay?"
In her panic Akane had completely forgotten that she was naked and quickly covered her breasts and crotch with her arms before running away.
The remaining people rushed to the bathroom where they discovered Ranma on the floor, curled up in foetal position with tears in his eyes as he was whimpering and holding his groin. The fathers winced in sympathy as they had been subjected to the same pain more than once in their youth after being caught by angry females while accompanying their master on his panty raids.
Nabiki appeared behind her sister and whistled when she saw the nude teenager in front of her. "WOW! Nice view."
"Nabiki!" Kasumi admonished her sister who had a lecherous look on her face. "We have to help him; he's hurt."
"OUT!" Soun ordered and the girls complied immediately.
The two men covered the unfortunate boy with a towel and carried him into the guest room where the girls were preparing a futon. They lay him down and covered him with a blanket.
"He'll be fine in a few minutes," Genma reassured them. "He's had worse."
"What do you know?" Ranma asked venomously still holding his privates. "You're not the one who's suffering."
"I'm sorry." Kasumi apologized. "I'm the one at fault here. I should have checked if the bath was free before sending you there. I hope you won't hold it against Akane. She's a nice girl most of the time, just a bit high-spirited."
"Euphemism of the century," Nabiki sarcastically corrected her sister.
"Don't sweat it," Ranma reassured the kind girl. "The tomboy may have the strength of a gorilla, but that's not enough to really hurt me. She just caught me flatfooted, that's all. It won't happen again."
Nabiki looked at him dubiously. "You don't know my sister, but who knows; wonders happen sometimes."
"Ranma, what exactly happened in the bath?" Kasumi gently enquired. "Akane has told us her version of the story and she claims you snuck in to peep and molest her."
"What? That's a damn lie. I didn't know there was someone inside."
"She's convinced you chose to ignore 'occupied' sign on the door and the clothes on the chair."
"Yeah, well if a certain someone hadn't put some indecent thoughts in my mind I wouldn't have been distracted and probably noticed those things."
"That was just a harmless joke," Nabiki defended herself.
"Oh yeah? So, offering a guy to wash his back is a joke to you?"
"NABIKI!" Soun shouted, outraged. "What's the meaning of this?"
"I was just teasing him, daddy. That's all."
"Not everyone appreciates your kind of humour, Nabiki," her father told her off. "You should know that by now."
The girl in question just shrugged. "At least I know now that Ranma thinks I'm sexy, or else my little teasing wouldn't have rattled him so much."
The martial artist blushed heavily, but didn't agree nor disagree.
Soun cleared his throat. "Be that as it may, it seems to me that the whole incident was just an honest mistake. I'm sure that once we explain everything to Akane she will calm down. Now, why don't we all go to the living room and talk about the reason for Ranma's and Genma's visit?
No one objected but Ranma stayed behind as it still hurt a bit and he needed to put on his clothes.
A few minutes later he entered the living room where all the Tendos and his father were already waiting and joined Genma on one side of the table, Kasumi, Nabiki, and Akane having already taken place on the opposite side. Soun, the head of the household, was of course sitting at the head of the table.
The Tendo patriarch looked at everyone and fixated on the two youngest. "Before we begin, Akane, Ranma, don't you have something to tell each other?"
"I'm sorry," the pigtailed boy apologized. "I should have paid attention to the sign. I really didn't know you were inside."
Akane sighed. "I'm sorry too. My sisters explained everything to me. I shouldn't have overreacted like that, but I was scared."
"I understand. It was just a stupid accident. It won't happen again."
Akane nodded and felt relieved that there were no hard feelings from the martial artist's side. He seemed genuinely sorry for his actions and she was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt... for the moment at least, but she would keep an eye on him just in case.
"Excellent! With that out of the way let's talk about the reason for our guests' presence here. I haven't heard the whole story yet as my old friend was just getting to the important parts when we were interrupted earlier, so all I know is what was written on the postcard. Since everyone's here I'll let Genma tell the story."
"Right!" Genma straightened up and got all serious as he entered storytelling mode.
"As Soun has probably already told you I took Ranma on a martial arts training journey when he was still very young. However, going over everything we've seen or experienced would take hours and I'll gladly tell you about it later, but for now I want to focus on the events that cut our journey short and led us to come here for help. It all started as we were walking through a small Chinese village where I heard rumours about an ancient, deserted temple. Ranma and I went to investigate as I figured that the place might contain some treasure or valuable relics."
He stopped for a moment and shook his head. "That was the biggest mistake in my life, and believe me, I've made some stupid ones. I figured it was a normal place and since we hadn't encountered any magic so far in China I didn't even consider the possibility that the place might be protected by magical wards or spells. The first thing that should have alarmed me was the very large maze we had to cross, but unfortunately I was too focused on the possible rewards to listen to my intuition and so we continued straight ahead. At first everything went well and we easily deactivated some common traps. Unfortunately, since I'm a muggle and Ranma not an accomplished wizard we never saw it coming. As we passed through a strange arch we were engulfed by a bright light and then passed out. I don't really remember what happened next, except that my body had been tingling fiercely before losing conscience. When we came to we were back in the clearing where the entrance used to be but the temple was gone. We left quickly and on our way back to the village we found out about the changes the light had done to our bodies. We were walking through the forest at a slow pace when it started to rain and I felt the odd tingling once again. I looked at my son and could hardly believe my eyes. He had turned into a girl."
He paused once again and wasn't surprised to see a stunned look on all of the Tendos' faces.
"He... turned into a girl?" Soun asked in shock. He looked at Ranma and that was definitely no girl he saw sitting there.
Before he could ask for an explanation Genma continued his story.
"I know what you want to ask. I'll get to that. Just be patient. As I said before Ranma tuned into a girl and I was shocked. I've seen magic before but that was the first time I saw someone change genders. Ranma hadn't even noticed the change until he noticed that his voice was sounding differently when he complained about the rain. I shouted his name and noticed that my voice had changed too. I looked at my arms and saw that I had undergone an even more drastic transformation."
He paused once again and grabbed a glass of cold water that had been conveniently placed next to him. "It will be easier for you to understand if I show you the curse before continuing the story."
He poured the transparent liquid on his head triggering the curse and transforming him immediately into a cute anthropomorphic panda with an hourglass figure that models would be envious of, which left the Tendo family speechless.
"Is... is that you?" The Tendo patriarch asked not believing his eyes.
"Yes, it's me," the creature answered in a soft voice.
The three girls had different reactions once they had overcome the shock. Kasumi had a smile on her face and secretly hoped that the creature would let her pet it; Nabiki's eyeballs had changed into yen signs as she was calculating how much a picture of the panda girl was worth to a furry fan; Akane just sat there open-mouthed and still as a statue, completely out of it.
"As you can see it's a complete change but it doesn't hurt. Cold water triggers the curse and changes me into this form."
"How do you change back?" Soun enquired.
Instead of answering he grabbed another glass of water, this one steaming, and repeated the earlier procedure. "Hot water reverses the curse," he explained now back in his normal body.
The Tendos silently digested the information they just got, but very soon Nabiki, curious by nature especially when she was smelling money making opportunities, broke the silence and was the first to ask THE question that was burning in everyone's minds "So, can we see Ranma's curse? I'd really like to know what he looks like as a girl, although I doubt that it's as spectacular as your transformation. If his male form is anything to go by she is probably quite the looker."
Genma sighed heavily and really looked miserable now. "Oh, definitely, but his curse is far worse than mine. You'll understand why very soon."
He took the pitcher of water from the table and poured the cold liquid in a glass.
"Allow me." Kasumi took the pitcher and filled the other glass. She took out her wand and put the tip to the glass. "STEAMUS!"
The pigtailed boy's eyes were transfixed by this simple bit of magic. He simply had to learn that spell as he'd always have easy access to warm water.
"Could you teach me that spell?" He asked and inwardly rejoiced when Kasumi nodded.
Soun was perplexed. Why did the boy ask something like that? Wasn't he a squib?
Before he could ask his old training partner had already taken the glass and splashed Ranma with its contents.
"Hey! Can't you give a guy a warning?" A definitely feminine voice complained after the usual transformation into a blonde knockout had occurred. Immediately afterwards Ranma looked around and braced herself for the usual reactions of either lust or hate.
She was pleasantly surprised, however, when she saw the Tendo patriarch's reaction... or rather lack thereof. The man had tears in his eyes, feeling sorry for the young boy, but otherwise was stoically sitting there, barely leaking any feelings of lust. That was when she remembered what her father had told her. Although the man's wife had died many years ago he had never been able to get over his loss and was still clinging to her memory like a drowning man to a life buoy. Ranma didn't know if she should admire or pity him for his dedication.
The girls' reactions were mostly what she'd expected them to be. All three of them glared at the blonde, feelings of envy and jealousy visible on their faces, and Akane had even gotten into a martial arts stance, as her fighting instincts had probably alarmed her of the potential danger the creature represented. However, before the situation could get out of hand Genma transformed his son back. The sisters blinked a few times as if waking from a trance, and wondered what had just happened.
"What was that about?" Soun reprimanded his daughters. "I admit, he changes into a very pretty girl, but that's no excuse to act like that. You should be ashamed of yourselves."
"Don't blame them; they can't help it." Genma defended the girls. "Their reaction to the curse is quite natural considering what my son turns into."
"What do you mean?" Soun wondered. "I don't see what's so special about his curse after seeing yours."
"I'd rather have my pop's curse. That would make my life a lot easier," Ranma bitterly disagreed. "After all, he's not the one who turns into a Veela."
Kasumi didn't say anything, but the news came as a real surprise. Sure, he knew about animagi and the polyjuice potion, but she'd never heard of a spell that could turn someone into a magical creature. She really pitied they boy, though. It was probably hard enough to turn into a girl, but becoming a Veela would make it very difficult for him to be accepted in the magical community.
At the same time Nabiki's face developed a predatory, shark-like grin as her mercenary nature was pushing through and she was already coming up with various money making schemes: nude photos, dating services, pleasure slave, potion ingredients... the possibilities were endless.
Akane and Soun just looked at the boy in confusion as they had never heard of Veela before.
"What is a Veela? And what is so terrible about becoming one?" The Tendo patriarch asked and Akane nodded, just as curious as her father.
"There are several reasons; probably even more than I'm aware of. All the information I have comes from a book, so it's probably far from complete. First of all Veela are magical creatures and I'm sure I don't have to tell you how the Magical World often treats them, even if they haven't done anything wrong. Add to that they boy's family and their views and you can imagine what will happen once they find out."
"I can see how that might be a problem and the reaction my daughters showed earlier is probably also related to the curse, am I right?"
"Indeed. Veela can transform into gigantic birds of prey, which gives them tremendous strength and they have a natural affinity to fire and can control it quite easily with some training However, those are not their most frightening abilities. No, what makes them really dangerous is the powerful charm aura they produce, an aura your daughters and you have been subjected to, although you seem to be immune. Basically this allows them to easily entrance and charm men while at the same time causing extreme feelings of envy and jealousy in women. The problem is that Ranma can't control the aura and won't be able to unless he finds a teacher who can teach him."
"Why didn't it affect me?" Soun asked.
"People who are already deeply in love with someone else are immune to the aura."
Kasumi gave the boy a sympathetic look. Many years before when she was still very young and didn't know or care about magical politics she had read a fairy tale book about magical creatures and she had especially liked the stories about Veela. She'd always wondered in those days what it would be like to be a Veela and have those awesome powers. She had long forgotten about it but Ranma's curse brought those memories back. However, today she knew better and shook her head at her own naiveté. She wouldn't trade places with Ranma for all the money in the world.
Akane for her part was not sure what to think. On the one hand she had believed her sisters when they told her that the incident in the bathroom had been an accident, and Ranma had really sounded sincere when he apologized, but the curse... that really made her rethink things. Ranma was a boy and what boy wouldn't jump on the occasion to fondle a female body. That was definitely perverted. She shuddered as she imagined all the bad things the boy had probably done to and in that body or how he had might have used to power to charm innocent people and molest them. She was at a loss as to what to do. She wanted to trust him, she really did, but in light of this new information that was a really hard thing to do, so for the moment he was on probation. However, should he ever try and act in a perverted manner she would be there to stop him. After all, being the martial artist of the family it was up to her to protect her helpless sisters' virtue from this potential sexual predator.
"I see. That is indeed quite a predicament you're in, but why did you come here? Oh, don't get me wrong. I'm happy to see you and your son, but I'm just a muggle. I don't know anything about magic or how to dispel curses."
"Well, there are two reasons. For one I thought that you might be able to use your contacts in the magical government to find a Veela that would be willing to help him and secondly I was hoping to find a wizard who would be willing to teach the boy magic or even to have him enrolled in a Japanese magical school."
"Teaching him magic?"Soun asked incredulously, having not expected that answer. "Why? Isn't he a squib?"
"As it turns out he's not," Genma sheepishly answered scratching the back of his head. "I guess he was just a late bloomer since he had used accidental magic a few years ago to get out of danger. Unfortunately I can't teach him and usually wizards are not something you can find in the wilderness."
"So, he's a wizard," the moustachioed man mused, lost in thought. There was something about that that brought back some old memories. Then it hit him and his eyes widened when he realized the implications. "He's a wizard?"
"Yes. Imagine my surprise when I found out. I never told his family and honestly I have no intention of ever informing them. They had had their chance with the boy and they blew it."
"That's great news," Soun jumped up and grabbed Genma by his shoulders not reacting to his friends explanation. "That means the pact can be upheld."
"What pact? What are you talking about?"
"The pact, you know. The one our wives came up with."
Genma had a very bad feeling about this as he was afraid that it would complicate Ranma's life even more.
Seeing the uncomprehending look on his friend's face Soun understood right away that the other man had no clue as to what he was talking about. "Didn't Nodoka tell you? About the promise my wife and she made before you had met her?"
"No, she didn't," 'and I'm not sure I want to know,' he added mentally.
"It happened after Nodoka and Kimiko had come back from one of their wild parties. They were completely drunk and one of them thought that it would be a great idea to have both of their family lines united through marriage."
The girls were too stunned to. This was the first time they had heard of it.
Genma rubbed his forehead in frustration. This was even worse than what he had expected.
"They drew up a contract in which they agreed to organize an omiai between their children once they came of age."
The bald martial artist breathed a sigh of relief. It was only an omiai. That he could deal with. "No, I didn't know about it, but they are still too young for that. Maybe in a few years. My son has enough problems already and for now he needs friends more than prospective wives. Let's wait and see how things develop."
"You're absolutely right, Saotome." The Tendo patriarch agreed. "There are more important matters to deal with. You came for help and I'll do whatever I can to help you. I will ask around and see what I can come up with. There must be some people in the magical government who can give me the information we need. It will probably take a few days, however."
"That's not a problem. That will give Ranma the opportunity to visit the Magical World. He hasn't been there before and I know he's quite eager to see it. Maybe he can join your girls at their wizarding school for a few days and meet more witches and wizards."
"That's a very good idea. I'll owl the school right away and see if it can be done."
The Tendo patriarch was about to leave the table when he was stopped by Ranma. "Wait! What about my curse?"
"Ranma, you shouldn't let the curse control your life. Just try and avoid places with water and take your umbrella and a thermos of water with you, and if there should be any kind of problem I'm sure that Soun's daughters will be able to help, won't you girls?"
The three girls nodded and Soun left to write the letter. In the meantime Ranma asked some questions about the magical school and the Magical World in general. Genma was silently listening to the conversation, happy to see that the youngsters seemed to be getting along.
Soun came back a few minutes later. "Okay, it's done. The answer should arrive soon. The school's only 20 minutes away."
"Really? It's that close?"
"Hahaha. We're living right next to one of the entrances to Magical Tokyo," Soun explained. "I'm sure you'll love it."
"You'll be quite surprised, son," Genma added. "I know I was the first time I entered the place. It is an experience like none other."
Ranma let his imagination run wild and he couldn't wait to see it.
"Oh, there's one more matter that must be dealt with. The bald man continued. "My son will need a wand. Do you know where we can buy one and how much it will cost?"
"There's a wand maker not far away. If you want to I can take you there tomorrow," Kasumi offered. "As for the price it depends on the material used to craft it."
As the reunion came to a close the pigtailed boy and the girls got up and left the fathers to their reminiscing. Kasumi went to cook dinner while her sisters went to their respective rooms.
Ranma stayed with Kasumi and asked. "Do you have any books on the Magical World I could borrow?"
"Yes, of course. Wait a moment. I'll go get some in my room."
Ranma waited and a few minutes later the eldest daughter came back with a pile of books floating next to her. "Here you go. I got you a bit of everything and especially school manuals. That way you'll have at least an idea as to what awaits you tomorrow."
"Thanks a lot Kasumi." He took the books and left for the guest room, eager to read some more. He had already finished the books he got from the Amazons.
Finished and posted: 12/30/2011