View Full Version : [FF] Trinity I: The Stone (Type-Moon/Harry Potter X-over)

March 20th, 2011, 05:28 PM
DISCLAIMER: Lunar Legend Tsukihime, Fate/Stay Night, and all related characters and concepts are the creation and property of Kinoko Nasu and Type-Moon. Harry Potter and all related characters and concepts are the creation of J.K. Rowling, along with Raincoast Publishing, and Warner Brothers for the movies. No monies are generated, or intended to be, from this unauthorised use of said properties.

Writer's Note: Certain dialogue sequences in this story are lifted from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, but I trust in the intelligence of my readers (and the availability of the books) to make them recognisable when seen.

Chapter 1 - Strangers on a Train

September 1, 1991

His mind was a cacophony of white noise, appropriate for the blinding white light that had overwhelmed his sight. Coherent thought was all but impossible in the face of the sensory overload, and his sense of time, to say nothing of self, had all but disintegrated under the onslaught. After an eternity - or perhaps only seconds - the world gradually began to reform itself into something recognisable. With the shaping of his surroundings came thoughts.

I’m supposed to be dead . . . Why aren’t I dead?

His name, he remembered, was Shirou Emiya - and this had always been true. Had he another name, ever, it was long ago forgotten and ultimately unimportant. The identity attached to the name, however, was a different story. He was Shirou Emiya, but which Shirou Emiya?

He remembered being raised by Kiritsugu Emiya, and resolving to become a hero who could save everyone. He’d fought in the Grail War, and other wars besides, eventually making a pact with the world for the power to save lives. Dissatisfied, he’d made a further pact with the Grail system, to become the Servant Archer, and when summoned by the magus Rin Tohsaka, sought to end his existence by creating a paradox of killing his younger self. He had eventually given up that path, and as a part fused to his younger self, destroyed the Shadow that corrupted the Grand Holy Grail.

He remembered being resurrected as a homunculus by the Einzbern family, to serve as the core of a new Grail, and rebelling. His actions as this Shirou Emiya, a Master in the Sixth Grail War had led to the betrayal and near-deaths of everyone he knew and held dear. He’d been battling his onetime partner, Rin Tohsaka, and fully intended to kill her, before the last scion of the Nanaya clan had cut him down.

He remembered encountering Arturia Pendragon, ancient champion of the Powers That Be, in a world of demons and vampires. He remembered battling alongside her, falling in love with her, and bargaining with the multidimensional demons known as the Wolf, the Ram, and the Hart for the power to release her from her duties. They had granted him that power - but as their tool, he’d granted Arturia release in the form of death, and been bound to the demons’ servitude forevermore.

He remembered battling on their behalf against Illyria, a primordial demon which had possessed the body of his lost love as a host, and nearly dying, before encountering a Slayer and his old partner - who had explained his existence as a lie, forced on reality by the overwhelming power of Illyria’s presence and the energies of the Holy Grail summoned in the Sixth War.

They had joined forces against Illyria, along with the Slayer’s Servant in the old reality, now the newly-anointed Mediator of the Holy Grail, its guardian and judge. And in using the body of one of its Servants, Illyria had merited the Mediator’s judgment. The clash had been epic in scale and power. It was the only appropriate word. And in the end, the intermixture of energies - demonic, divine, and dimensional - had led to a volatile reaction . . .

He should be dead, but he didn’t seem to be. And as the white light faded into sunlight shining through a pane of clear glass into a wood-panelled compartment, and the noise ebbed to the slow, rhythmic pulsing of a locomotive, he began to get a glimmer as to why that might be.

Because he now remembered being Shirou Einzbern, raised by the Muggle-born wizard Kiritsugu Einzbern and his wife Irisviel, and now on his way to his first year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

His response was atypical of him, and more commonly used by someone else, but under the circumstances Shirou thought it was appropriate, and that the individual in question would understand.

“Bloody hell,” he muttered.

A quick glance in the window showed his reflection - roughly himself as he’d been at eleven years old, with the red hair he remembered, but the same steel-gray eyes he’d gained on mastering Unlimited Blade Works. The juxtaposition struck him odd - but on reflection, what about this situation didn’t?

He tried to determine whether this was another reality overlay, as the Wolfram and Hart scenario had been, or if he’d somehow managed to possess an other-dimensional analogue of himself. Or if this was some bizarre afterlife that awaited Servants who’d been . . . What was he? Wiped from existence? What, exactly, had happened in that fight with Illyria?

He closed his eyes and tried to draw as many of the memories out as he could. Takara Aozaki had delivered her finishing strike, using the Mediator’s weapon, the sword known as Siege Perilous. As deadly as her Mystic Eyes were - and here he winced in pained remembrance of their effectiveness - when combined with the power of that weapon, Illyria should have been obliterated from existence. In point of fact, she had been.

They just hadn’t expected her to explosively self-destruct.

That much power should’ve wiped him from existence - or at least, the copy in use. But he obviously hadn’t been, because . . .

Because Takara Aozaki, his Master, had been holding the Kaleidostick.

Shirou was no expert on Jewel Magic, but he’d spent enough time around Rin (and to a lesser extent, Luvia) to get a semi-decent grasp on some of the principles - augmented by the few times he’d attempted to trace the Jewelled Sword. It was possible that the energy, when it hit the Kaleidostick, had caused an odd dimensional warp. It didn’t explain whether the world had been shifted, he was possessing himself, or actually here, but it was a start.

Now, where exactly was here?

Shirou concentrated on the newest memories. He was on a train to some castle in Scotland (an interesting concept, considering it meant they’d have to cross an island to get there) where he’d learn to use magic. He was the adopted son of Kiritsugu Einzbern, an Auror, or hunter of Dark witches and wizards, employed by the ICW - the International Confederation of Wizards. His mind also brought up the related term “hitwizard,” but apparently they were more like police - concerned with catching criminals, whereas Aurors specialised - although given that “hitwizard” brought specific connotations to mind, he wasn’t sure why the titles weren’t reversed.

Shirou had been raised in Germany with his family: Kiritsugu, Irisviel, and his older sister Ilya - who, he realised, actually was older now. Only by a year, true, but in this reality she’d actually get a chance to grow up. In any case, Ilya was attending a school called Durmstrang, as was tradition among her family. Kiritsugu had used his international connections to have him enrolled in Hogwarts, with the idea that his children could learn more from different education systems, and by cross-training one another.

Ilya, he recalled, hadn’t cared for that decision at all. This version of his “sister” could be just as light and playful as the ones he’d known, but whereas she played the role of little sister in his memories, this Ilya doted on her baby brother. Having him sent halfway across Europe for most of the year had broken her heart, and only the promise of long, detailed and frequent letters had given her any consolation whatsoever.

Memories of the native Ilya brought thoughts of her Mediator to mind. If he was here, he’d know where they were . . . Assuming he had survived at all, of course. Illyria had torn him up pretty badly before things went completely to hell. Still, he supposed there was the slightest possibility that the Servant had not only survived, but gone on to join him here - and he seemed to excel at realising possibilities like that. The man had managed to be lucky enough to be almost the last one standing in a Grail War which had included Shirou himself, after all.

That left Takara Aozaki. She was less durable than either of the two Servants, but she had been holding the Kaleidostick in the first place, and been contracted to Shirou at the time. It was possible those two facts would’ve drawn her along in his wake. But if so, she wasn’t in this compartment. Perhaps one of the others . . .?

Shirou’s musings were interrupted by the door of his compartment opening. A tall, thin boy with hair even redder than Shirou’s own stood there, his face spattered with freckles.

“Anyone sitting there?” he asked, pointing at the seat opposite Shirou. “Everywhere else is full.”

Takara couldn’t recall ever feeling so bad in her life. The sensations crawling through her body were worse than the worst flu she’d ever had - even with menstrual cramps thrown in. She curled in on herself and whimpered. Traditional Japanese stoicism be damned, she hurt. And what little she could glean out of the tangled whirl of her thoughts and memories did not improve her disposition.

She remembered being born Takara Aozaki, daughter of a schoolteacher and a painter, reluctant Master of a Holy Grail War where she gained use of her heritage - a powerful version of Mystic Eyes, and the gifts of the Nanaya bloodline. She remembered being a Slayer, like her mother before her, and fighting a primordial demon god-king named Illyria.

Unfortunately, she also remembered being born Takara Aozaki, eldest (and so far, only) child of Shiki and Ciel Aozaki, a Japanese pureblood wizard and Muggle-born witch, respectively. Raised in England, far from the family conflicts, she’d attended a Muggle primary school before receiving her letter of acceptance to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Having seen the movies as a child, this did not entirely please her. She almost would’ve preferred going to Beauxbatons (stupid etiquette courses aside), but she remembered her parents preferring this one, for some reason they wouldn’t explain to her satisfaction.

That made her worry. Any time her parents had kept secrets - in any version of reality she’d been in - it usually meant that they were trying to hide something life-changing and dangerous from her.

And, she realised, glancing around the compartment, it looks like I’m on my own, this time. Twin Indian girls sat across from her, and there was a quiet boy with a sketchpad to her left, who seemed to be trying to capture the view outside the train window. None of the three were the two Servants she’d been fighting with - barely minutes ago, though it seemed like a lifetime had since passed.

Takara frowned. What happened to them - or me, for that matter? Is this another dimensional rewrite, some kind of afterlife, or did I get kicked out of existence altogether and into this one? If I’m heading for Hogwarts, when is this? What do I have to worry about? And where are Archer and Aven . . . Jes . . . Damn it, whatever the hell he’s decided to call himself today, where is he?

She raised her hands to her temples, intent on rubbing them to banish the sudden headache - and froze.

Etched on the back of her left hand was a set of thin white lines, scar tissue that formed an unusual pattern. Her right hand, too, bore a scar - but it seemed to be incomplete, as though it was part of a larger design that had been inexplicably erased.

The Command Mantras of both Archer and Jester. Faded white as opposed to blood red, and scars in place of tattoos - but they still existed, were still visible on her hands. Whatever this place was, whatever changes it had made to her, one thing was clear - she was still connected to them, somehow.

And if so, then the question is, where are they?

The sad thing was, after so many instances of shifting between mental states, planes of existence, space-time continua, or just going from conscious to “un-“, the disorientation was becoming almost routine. That said, he had only one thing to say about the current state of affairs.

“Drunk first,” he groaned. “If I’m going to be this hung over, I freaking demand to have been drunk first!” Another groan. “Feels like I should have a blood alcohol level of ‘why aren’t you dead?’”

“You’re far too young to be drinking,” scolded a disapproving voice. Despite that, it was a pretty sort of voice, musically accented. It was only when he couldn’t pinpoint its source that he realised his eyes were closed.

He opened them blearily, wincing at the sudden bright light and cursing at their refusal to focus. All he could make out was a blur of brown, white and black.

He rubbed his eyes. “Forget hangover - the way my eyes are, maybe it’s a concussion.”

“Your glasses are probably in the case I can see peeking out of the top of the bag you were using as a pillow,” the indistinct blob said helpfully, causing him to blink in confusion. Glasses? He hadn’t worn glasses since . . .

The realisation was like a bucket of ice water suddenly thrown in his face - since he’d died. It came back to him then in flashes: the car accident, the Grail’s contract, the War, and finally, Illyria.

He should be dead. Long dead, from the car crash, but even without counting that, recent events should have had him pushing up the proverbial daisies. Illyria had hammered him in that fight, torn off his arm - and that was before she’d decided to go nuclear. But he felt (and could sort of see) both arms, and this was neither the blinding white of Illyria’s self-destruction, nor the stygian void that had followed it. Where was he? What was going on?

It might help you find out if you could see, pointed out that damnable inner voice again.

Slowly, he rose away from the bag he’d been pillowing against, and blindly fumbled for a hard, familiarly-shaped case. With practised ease, he popped it open to reveal a set of golden frames, which he slipped on without a second thought.

The world snapped into focus so suddenly it was almost disorienting. The sight of his partner in dialogue didn’t help. She was a young girl, petite in build, with a mass of long, dark wavy hair that sat piled atop her head like an overgrown bush. She had big chocolate brown eyes that seemed to gaze at him as if he was a specimen she was studying, and not entirely sure what to make of.

He echoed the sentiment. Save for a pair of slightly overgrown front teeth, the girl was a doppelganger for a younger Emma Watson in her role as Hermione Granger. And if that was the case . . .

His eyes snapped to the nearest reflective surface - the train window. With relief, he noted that he seemed to basically look like himself. While there might be a superficial resemblance - especially given his glasses - the distinct lack of a lightning bolt scar proved that he was not Harry Potter.

And effusive thanks to any deity who happens to be listening for that, he thought.

Still, what the hell was he doing here?

A number of explanations ran through his head right then. He’d either gone to heaven, gone to hell, or was still dying and this was a hallucination his subconscious had dreamed up to try and make sense of his brain’s death via oxygen deprivation. Actually, that would explain the Type-Moon stuff, too. It was the only reasonable explanation for the sudden shift between two such vastly disparate series . . . No, wait - he kind of had memories of being somebody else? He dug deeper into his own mind, trying to make sense of the impressions he was getting.

The link to Ilya was gone (if, indeed, it had ever really existed), and he had a sense of his own heartbeat, and of breathing and needing to breathe, so he was no longer undead (again, if he’d ever been). Instead the new memories - as ingrained as the ones he’d had of the druid, Kieran Holt - insisted that he was Galen Salvatore, a twelve-year-old half-blood on his way to his first year at Hogwarts.

Cute. Now, instead of my name having the ironic meanings of “divinely peaceful” and “hawk-eyed,” now it’s “calm” and “saviour” - which is equally untrue. And my initials match the old ones, just to add to the fun.

And his birthday was still the same, meaning he’d be older than most of his classmates by almost a year, just like Hermione. Speaking of which . . .

“Thanks,” he said aloud. “I’m basically blind without these things.” He tapped the right earpiece.

“And obviously not at your best when you first wake up,” she commented.

“Not even close - which can be troublesome when you’re not a morning person, but hardwired to be an early riser.” He sighed. “If I’d known years of sneaking downstairs at six AM to watch cartoons would form a habit, I’d probably have stayed in bed.”

He held out his hand. “I’m Galen Salvatore, by the way.”

She shook it. “Hermione Granger, pleased to meet you.”

“Likewise.” He tilted his head to one side. “I don’t suppose the food cart’s been around yet?”


“Pity - chocolate isn’t coffee, but it’s got enough caffeine to be a decent substitute.”

Her eyes widened in shock. “First alcohol, now coffee - that’s terribly bad for you! Your parents let you drink it?”

“Occasionally I get a glass of wine with Christmas dinner, but that’s about it.”

“And coffee? That will stunt your growth.”

I topped out at almost six foot one, so I don’t suppose it mattered much, he thought. It was not hitting 120 pounds until I was sixteen that ticked me off.

“It’s not too good for your teeth, either - any of it,” she added.

“Gotten a lot of lectures on that, eh?”

Her cheeks flushed in embarrassment as she admitted,“Well . . . Yes.” She hurried on. “My parents are dentists, you see - no one in my family’s magic at all, it was ever such a surprise when I got my letter, but I was ever so pleased, of course, I mean it’s the very best school of witchcraft there is, I’ve heard - I’ve learnt all our set books off by heart, of course, I just hope it will be enough -”

“Hermione, breathe!” he interrupted, struggling not to laugh. I forgot that she babbles.

“I’m not going anywhere, and the train ride’s pretty much all day,” he continued. “We’ll have time for a lot of conversation, if you want to. Don’t feel you have to try and cram it all into a single sentence.” He smiled. “Now, you said your parents were dentists - my dad’s a marketing rep for the power company, and my mom’s a housewife. She’s a witch.”

“Oh, so you’re used to all this.”

“Not exactly,” he admitted, searching through Galen’s memories - or were they really his? Had his whole life until this point been part of the dream, and this was the reality?

Not bloody likely, the inner voice informed him. You’d have to be a hell of a precognitive to have dreamed a series of books and movies based on the life you’re living now. No, the real question is - is this another effect like Illyria had, have you somehow possessed an alternate you, or is this some hella bizarre afterlife?

“I went mostly to mundane schools,” he admitted. “Magic isn’t unknown to me, but we didn’t have a big community - or a lot of contact with it - where I grew up.”

“Where’s that?” Hermione asked, her eyes bright and inquisitive.

“Canada.” The parallels to his actual life were frightening, and made deciding what was behind this all the more difficult.

“Oh!” she said. “That explains your accent.”

He blinked. “I have an accent?”

“About as much of one as I’d imagine I have to your ears,” she responded.

“Yeah, but I’d bet mine isn’t as pretty.”

To his surprise, she blushed. The Hermione of the books was supposedly a little more plain-looking than Emma was, but given that she was closer to the film version, should she be that unused to compliments?

Galen - deciding he might as well get used to the name - laughed. “I’m serious! If you decided to read the phone book aloud, I wouldn’t object. But if that’s not your cup of tea . . .”

He turned back to his bag, and began rummaging through it. If the wizard was anything like him - and so far, he seemed to be almost identical - then he had to have packed at least one book . . .

“Ah-ha!” he said in triumph, brandishing a tome entitled Things That Go Bump: A Survivor’s Guide to Nocturnal Creatures.

Hermione blinked. “That wasn’t on my booklist!” Her tone was almost one of protest.

“No, it’s one of mine,” he said. “Magical creatures are a hobby of mine.” This was true - he knew more folklore and mythology - especially as pertained to monsters - than most people he knew. He realised that, to properly adapt to this reality, he’d probably have to do a lot of rereading.

Setting that thought aside, he shrugged, continuing, “And I figured I’d need something to read on the train. I’m . . . I’m not really a people person.”

She gave him a measuring look. “Really? You could’ve fooled me.”

“I make exceptions for pretty girls,” he said dryly, smirking.

She blushed again. “I’m not pretty.”

“Sorry, I misspoke - cute girls. ‘Pretty’ might not apply for a couple of years, although it’s always possible you’ll skip ‘pretty’ altogether and go straight to ‘drop dead gorgeous.’” He paused. “And if you get any redder, you’re liable to pass out, so I’ll shut up now and read my book - unless you want to?”

He held it out for her to take. Hermione gazed it for a long moment, hesitantly.

“I’m a fast reader, Hermione - I brought more than one book. Take it if you want to, and I’ll start with one of the others.”

“Thank you,” she mumbled quietly, before taking it from his hand.

“You’re welcome.” He went back to rummaging through his bag for another book, catching a glimpse of a day planner with his name embossed on it. Curious, he picked it up and flipped casually through it. One of its prominent features was that the calendar showed the phases of the moon . . .

And there it was - the catch. The difference between himself and Galen Salvatore. Where he’d been born with cerebral palsy, which had left him weakened and ostracised his entire life, Galen had an entirely different affliction that nonetheless had much the same effect, if not an altogether worse one.

He was a werewolf.

The sudden knowledge left him silent as he tried to absorb all that it meant. He read quietly alongside Hermione, his mind only partly on his reading material, but not paying the outside world any attention at all the food trolley showed up - and shortly thereafter, a round-faced boy came in, looking for a lost toad . . .

After an hour and a half of Ronald Weasley’s company, Shirou was still unsure which of the two of them he wanted to kill. He’d be faster and in less trouble if he killed himself, but there was a certain visceral satisfaction in contemplating the other redhead’s demise.

Hell, he decided, was being an adult in a child’s body, sealed inside a compartment with an eleven-year-old boy.

It wasn’t that Ronald Weasley was unfriendly, exactly. It was that he managed to be sullen about his life, and still never stop talking. His family, his clothes, his wand, his rat, his lunch - everything was denigrated, and yet he got defensive any time Shirou politely agreed. He rambled on about Quidditch (which Shirou’s new memories were familiar with, although he hadn’t played) with the kind of attention to detail he’d expect from an otaku at least three years older, but it wasn’t much better considering he had little interest in the game. Moreover, any time Shirou made a reference to the non-magical (he refused to use the term “Muggle” - it just sounded naturally insulting) world, he got a look of such confusion from the boy that Shirou wondered if he’d even been raised on this planet.

Who the hell would ever call it a “fellytone?” You’d think after a century or so of its being in common use, they’d understand the proper terminology - especially if they want to not attract attention!

The difference between this “Wizarding World” and the way the Magi Association went about dealing with mundane society was starkly contrasting. Magi blended in, hiding in plain sight and carefully concealing their existence while living and working within the framework of society. The wizards seemed content to isolate themselves entirely, stick their collective heads in the sand and pretend that the rest of the human race - who outnumbered them some forty thousand to one in this country alone, if he had his numbers right - effectively didn’t exist.

The offhand mention Weasley had made of being a “pure-blood” was kind of disturbing, too. It sounded like Japan at its most insularly traditional - but with a population base as small as the British wizards had, that brought inbreeding and genetic defects into the equation.

No, Shirou didn’t think he was going to enjoy being here in the slightest. The only ray of hope he could see was that this school might have information on this world’s equivalent to the Second Magic, so he could start planning his attempts to get the hell out of here.

His ruminations - and Ron’s description of some spell or other for his rat - were interrupted by the sliding of the compartment door. The boy who’d lost his toad, whom Shirou was now bitterly regretting not offering to help - was back, with a couple of extra bodies in tow.

“Has anyone seen a toad?” asked the girl. “Neville’s lost one.”

Shirou barely heard her. His eyes were on the boy accompanying the pair. While his memories were still partly a jumble of all his different lives, he’d been an unwilling Grail core at one time, and thus retained knowledge of all the Servants involved in the relevant War. There were differences, mostly age, but the resemblance was unmistakable - as was the recognition in the boy’s own eyes.

“You,” Shirou said, reverting unconsciously to Japanese. “What the hell is going on?”

As Galen walked behind Neville and Hermione - partly a matter of a slower natural pace, and partly insurance to make sure neither of them missed Trevor in their urgency - he paused as he saw a flash of red in the next compartment.

Here it comes . . .

The first meeting of the so-called Golden Trio whose dynamics would define Hermione’s life - though why the hell she married Ron after everything he did to her was still beyond him. In any case, it was going to happen now, and if he was lucky, she might still have time for a friend outside that relationship - though given how werewolves were perceived, and how hard she’d have it as a Muggle-born, it might be best to forget about that altogether. Why give her enemies more ammunition?

She’s going to have more than enough trouble in the next few years . . .

As he stepped through into the compartment - might as well look around while they were engrossed in conversation - he noticed two things, and froze.

The first fact was that the boy next to Ron Weasley was not, in any way, shape or form, Harry Potter. In fact, there was a distinct lack of any black-haired, green-eyed wizards anywhere in the room, scarred or otherwise.

The second fact was that the boy next to Ron Weasley was a dead-ringer for a steel-eyed Emiya Shirou.

Then the Shirou-duplicate said “You,” in exactly the same tone of voice used a few hours ago by Nanaya Takara, and the first fact flew right out of Galen’s head as his brain concentrated on the next few seconds - which were likely to include his horribly painful demise.

Bloody hell . . .

March 20th, 2011, 05:47 PM
DISCLAIMER: Lunar Legend Tsukihime, Fate/Stay Night, and all related characters and concepts are the creation and property of Kinoko Nasu and Type-Moon. Harry Potter and all related characters and concepts are the creation of J.K. Rowling, along with Raincoast Publishing, and Warner Brothers for the movies. No monies are generated, or intended to be, from this unauthorised use of said properties.

Writer's Note: Certain dialogue sequences in this story are lifted from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, but I trust in the intelligence of my readers (and the availability of the books) to make them recognisable when seen.

Chapter 2 - Out of Sorts

September 1, 1991

It was difficult to hear over the rumble of the train, to say nothing of the chatter of the one girl - Takara wondered if the other twin was quiet just to differentiate herself from her sister - but she was certain she’d heard a yell. While she didn’t seem to have anything like Nanaya or Slayer instincts (that she remembered - who knew what might emerge under the right conditions), her recent experiences compelled her to investigate. Somewhere in her head, the connection was being made - “loud noise = fight = probably going to involve me.” Therefore, she felt she ought to go check it out instead of waiting for it to come to her.

Making her excuses, she exited the compartment and loosened her wand (holly and dragon heartstring, eight inches) from the loop in her robe’s sleeve. She couldn’t do much with it - she was only eleven - but as somebody of pureblood lineage in a known magical household, she’d been capable of learning some magic without being called on it by the authorities.

Another heated statement, not as loud but emphatic enough, guided her to the appropriate compartment in the car. Pausing for a moment, hoping that there might be another outcry to make certain she had the right place, she suddenly realised that the statements had been in Japanese. Nobody at Hogwarts, to her knowledge at least, spoke Japanese.

Could it be . . .? she wondered wildly.

Positioning her wand to defend herself, if necessary, Takara slid open the compartment door, carefully, and took in the scene. Two redheads were on their feet, visible at the far end of the compartment. One of them she had half-memories of, from watching a movie that had been made before she was even born - the sidekick, what’s-his-name. The other was definitely Japanese, with the reddish-brown hair that wasn’t uncommon (but more frequently a dye job than natural) in her native country. His eyes, however, were an almost luminous gray, which was not at all usual. She’d seen them before, however. Despite the fact that he was currently her height, the boy was unmistakably Archer. That meant . . .

The boy he was arguing with had his back to her. He was taller than Shirou, but even thinner, with no real muscle tone to speak of. His light chestnut hair was cropped short, almost military fashion, His clothes, from the back, were decent enough, but somewhat worn. She couldn’t get a really good look, because a girl was standing in the way, with thick waves of dark hair that had hints of gold in it, as well as a round-bodied boy with short, dark hair. Takara realised suddenly that the positioning was intentional, that he’d set himself between the redheads and the others, though it wasn’t meant to be obvious.

That clinched his identity, and Takara found herself drawling, “You realise that I could hear you two from the next car over.”

The two boys looked back, and Jester - looking as he had as Avenger, though younger and not quite as gaunt - bowed.

“My apologies, Aozaki-san,” he said in Japanese. “At least, I assume it is Aozaki-san? In any case, I hadn’t intended to attract attention.”

“It is,” Takara confirmed in the same language. “And why speak in Japanese?”

“So that neither of our two companions understand,” he said, in a tone that added “that should be obvious” without using the words. “I’m sure none of us wants to end up in an insane asylum, or research lab, yes?”

She nodded grudgingly.

He continued, “To answer the questions I’ve been asked: I don’t know how or why we’re here, and it’s not my doing. This is not the time or place to figure it out, either. I’ve explained that Shirou is an old friend who used to live in my neighbourhood, which is where and when I picked up Japanese. I recommend you be the same. I’ve been careful to say we lived marginally in the magical community, so it might not be surprising. In the meantime, we’d best switch back to English - I assume you can speak it?”

Takara scowled, replying in that language, “Of course.” She cocked her head. “Now, are you going to introduce me?”

“Mister Neville Longbottom, Miss Hermione Granger,” Jester replied, indicating the young lady, “may I introduce you to my other old friend, Miss Takara Aozaki.”

“H - hi,” the boy said shyly.

“Charmed,” Hermione said brightly. “So, how long have you known Galen?”

Takara arched an eyebrow. Galen? Had he reverted to his real name, finally, or was it another alias? Then again, at least it was a name.

“Sometimes, it seems like we just met, and sometimes it seems like forever, Granger-san,” Takara said lightly. She bowed slightly, then offered her hand to the other girl to shake. Over Hermione’s shoulder, she saw Jester - No, she reminded herself, Galen - stiffen.

“Something wrong, Galen-san?” she asked.

“Your scars,” he answered hesitantly. “I . . . I wasn’t expecting them.”

“A hazard of kenjutsu practice,” Takara lied. “And a good reminder to watch my opponent’s blade more carefully.”

“What’s ‘kin-joo’ - whatever?” asked the redhead who wasn’t Shirou.

“Kenjutsu,” Takara repeated. “The art of the sword. And you are?”

“Ron. Ron Weasley,” he said, before blurting out. “You know how to fight with a sword?”

“Yes. I’ve been training since I was six.”

He shook his head. “When Ginny was six, she played with dolls. Your parents let you play with swords? Bloody mental.”

Takara’s face dropped into the expressionless mask she used around members of her school kendo team, when they said similar things. The temperature in the compartment seemed to drop at least ten degrees - although it may have been literal.

Galen winced, made a show of checking his watch, and said loudly, “We should be almost there, and I need to change into my robes, so if you’ll please move, Aozaki-san, so I can get back to my compartment? Hermione, would you mind coming with me? I know you’re already changed, but I’d feel better if you kept watch outside while I did.”

Nodding, she walked past Takara and through the compartment door and through the compartment door. Galen turned to follow her and leaned over, whispering, “It’s smarter to walk away - this time.”

He left, and after contemplating Weasley silently for a moment, she nodded to Archer before doing the same.

She didn’t need to get in trouble on the first day - what would she do for the rest of the school year?

Finding Hagrid was easy - he had to be at least eight feet tall and half as wide, was holding a lantern, and bellowing at the top of his lungs for the first-years. Arranging a boat mostly to themselves wasn’t hard, either. They had Neville with them in the boat, but he seemed mostly pleased that Hagrid had found his toad for him, and if he was bothered by the fact that the three of them went on conversing in Japanese, he said nothing.

“I still say this is all your fault,” Shirou said.

Galen shot him a disbelieving look. “How, exactly?”

“Well, you were the only otherworldly influence besides Illyria, and since we got rid of her . . .”

Galen sighed. “This isn’t my home reality, either, Shirou - and while this might be my Hell, it doesn’t explain you. Takara had the Kaleidostick, which might have transported her, but not us. You probably know more about Jewel Magic than either of us, so you tell me what happened.”

He watched the Servant turned boy wizard consider it.

“Wild surge,” Shirou said at last. “Too much ambient magic in a way too unstable reality. When Illyria was destroyed, Gaia and Alaya would’ve acted to restore the status quo - and the easiest way to do that would’ve been to shove all foreign elements back through the crack between realities before sealing it shut. Unfortunately, all the power we were throwing out would’ve destabilised things and made the rift less cohesive. So we’ve ended up in a reality that wasn’t originally connected to this mess at all, and now it looks like we’re having the same effect on it that Illyria did on ours.”

“I don’t think that’s likely,” Galen contradicted. “Illyria was a primordial demon god who was leeching power from the Holy Grail. None of us is that strong. We seem to have ‘dimpled’ the fabric of this reality enough to make places for ourselves in it, but I sincerely doubt we’ll have any kind of broad-reaching effect on its fundamental laws and principles.”

He shrugged. “Besides, it’s not like we have to stay. Takara still has the Kaleidostick, and I’m sure between the three of us we can force a way out of it to . . .” He stared as Takara removed a pouch from around her neck. “Go . . .” He watched her open its drawstrings, and tip out a small handful of glittering fragments.

“Back,” he finished flatly, staring at the shattered fragments of the Kaleidostick. “Crap.”

“My lucky charms,” Takara said softly. “Though I never understood why, until now.”

Galen stared at Shirou. “Can you fix it?”

“With my normal powers? Probably. Failing that, I could scan and copy it, and we could use that.” He stared back. “You tell me what the chances of fixing it are with this world’s magic.”

“Double crap,” was the answer, before Galen gave a visible shake. “No, wait, let’s not panic yet - we have any number of years to try and find a way. We can let everything unfold as is. All we have to do is keep our heads down and let Harry handle anything that comes up . . .” A sudden memory sent a chill down his spine. “Uh, Shirou - where was Harry?”


“He means Harry Potter,” Takara said.

“Who?” Shirou repeated.

“Small, scrawny kid. Black hair, green eyes and glasses, and a scar about here.”

Shirou shrugged. “Never saw him.”

“. . . Triple crap,” Galen said.

Neville chose that moment to interrupt. “Did you say, ‘Harry Potter?’”

“Yeah,” Galen responded, switching to English. “I was just trying to catch them up on what I’d read of recent history around here - I’m from Canada, they’re from Japan. But I should make sure I’ve got the details right - you’ve lived in Britain a while, yeah? Mind telling us the story?”

It pained him slightly to be able to lie this easily, and to a nice guy like Neville, but what other choice did he have?

“H. . . Harry Potter and his parents were some of You-Know-Who’s last victims,” Neville said, stuttering slightly under the combined attention of his fellow passengers. “They’d gone into hiding under a Fidelius Charm, but Sirius Black, their Secret-Keeper, betrayed them. Y- you-Know-Who killed them on Hallowe’en, ten years ago. A week before he came for my parents.”

“What happened?” Galen said softly. He was trying to be gentle about it, but they needed to know.

Neville’s eyes widened in shock. “I . . . I thought everyone knew this story.”

“We’re not from around here.” And the award for “Understatement of the Millennium” goes to . . .

“Professor Dumbledore found out about the attack, and ambushed You-Know-Who and his forces,” Neville said. “They duelled, and he won.”

Galen sat back, digesting the story. It made sense, to a degree - Dumbledore had been winning that duel in the Atrium in Order of the Phoenix, forcing Voldemort to resort to possessing Harry. Fifteen years younger, and there was very little doubt Dumbledore could’ve clobbered him, had he bothered to try.

The trick, Galen knew, was actually getting Dumbledore to do things, rather than simply talk about them. The man had managed to stretch a series of lectures on the history of Tom Riddle - that could’ve taken a week, tops - into lasting an entire year. His Order of the Phoenix seemed more interested in gathering information about Death Eaters then engaging them in actual conflict. Even his legendary duel against Grindelwald had been because he’d felt he’d had no other choice - and that, after six or more years of brutal warfare.

The question was, if Dumbledore figured he knew which boy was the prophecy child, would he have acted more decisively to protect him?

. . . Maybe. But then again, that history indicated that this was another alternaverse, like the Type-Moon one his companions came from - and that meant that he couldn’t trust anything he knew. Just like before, anything was now possible. The prophecy might not even be the same, if it existed at all!

Bloody hell, Galen thought.

He glanced at Neville’s face, identical to the one he knew, meaning that the Dork Lord hadn’t had a chance to “mark him as his equal.” Maybe that was a good thing - maybe it meant that the whole plotline was skewed, dealt with, and he and the others could quietly slip into Hogwarts, study a way to get them home, and vanish from here without a problem.

And maybe someday you’ll have sex with a woman, remarked his inner self acidly. In fact, it’s more likely.

Bastard though he was, Galen admitted the inner voice was right. It almost always was.

Which means, he thought as the boat touched shore, we are very screwed. And, he realised suddenly, it means that by Hallowe’en, Hermione will probably be dead.

The inner voice had something to say about that, too.

Like. Hell.

Shirou avoided the Weasley boy after they got out of the boats, sticking with the two he knew. At the moment, he was at something of a loose end - he didn’t know this place, whereas they obviously did, and they were familiar faces, if not exactly friendly. After all, the strongest memories he had of them involved his trying to kill them, and vice versa. Still, Rin had trusted them, worked with them - that had to count for something. And the girl had his mark on her hand, as well as part of the other’s. This world obviously intended that they stick together.

What he knew of Takara Aozaki was that she’d joined the Holy Grail War to save her dying father. She’d been ostracised in school for her mixed-blood heritage, and her tomboyish nature. She was magically powerful enough to serve as a potential Grail core, and had some variant of Mystic Eyes he wasn’t familiar with. She was sharp-tongued, but shy, reverting to a model of Japanese courtesy when she was uncomfortable - assuming she didn’t yell. What she might be here, he didn’t know.

The other man, he of many aliases, was almost literally a nonentity. He was a Servant only because the Grail had needed a specific role filled, and he had been best suited, as with the Assassin Servant Caster had summoned. After the War, he was supposed to vanish permanently, but Ilya had apparently been impressed enough with his performance to award him the status of Mediator, and her guardian. As a big brother, he felt compelled to protest the choice - but he had to admit the bastard was tricky, and had a knack for surviving (if not outright winning) against impossible odds. It was a trait that had likely carried over to this existence, as well.

Shirou decided that either they were either going to get along just fine, or kill each other inside a week. He was betting on the latter.

The memories of his own “life” in this reality were still hazy - when the Neville kid had told his story, he’d recognised it, as though he’d heard it before, but didn’t really remember ever being told. It reminded him of the information he got when entering a War, or executing a mission as a Counter Guardian - he had data, but no real physical or emotional attachment to the knowledge. It was just there. Then again, if they couldn’t repair the Kaleidostick, or find another way, this was going to be his life. Was it better to get involved, or stay aloof?

He glanced at the others he’d met so far, and those around him.

The Weasley kid had no real common ground with him. If he’d actually been eleven, maybe things would be different, but his perspective was that of someone years older, and he found it difficult to even pretend to care. So, a “live and let live” attitude - he wouldn’t go out of his way to be friendly or insulting. The Neville kid seemed awfully shy, and had the kind of body language that screamed “natural target.” As much as he couldn’t save everyone, people within arm’s reach were a different matter. Shirou decided that the kid would have a protector, if he needed one. And then there was the girl . . .

He’d seen her come in with the other two, but hadn’t paid too much attention to her until - he had to work to remember the name - Galen had immediately crossed to her upon disembarking from the boats. He seemed to be making an effort to stay close to her, which meant something. He hadn’t spent much time with the guy, but Shirou knew that there was always a reason behind even his craziest-seeming actions. Whoever the girl was, she was important.

She was also, Shirou realised, like a younger Rin. On a sugar rush. Oh, they looked nothing alike. But she had the same ability to rattle off facts, the same hint of cool smugness in the tone of her voice - that she knew very well what was going on, as anyone intelligent should, and of course she knew best. It was Rin to the core, and his chest constricted a little at the reminder.

Was she Rin’s analogue here? Or did the Tohsaka heir exist elsewhere, waiting to be found?

No, Shirou told himself firmly. He wasn’t going to do that. He might have to deal with being here for a while, but trying to rebuild his old life here was a very bad idea. This wasn’t his old life, and there were very good reasons he and Rin had never gotten together - the interlude in the Aozakis’ parlour notwithstanding.

Besides, even if he looked eleven, he knew he wasn’t. And even if he’d been eleven, he was too young to start dating. As it was, he was too damned old. And it wasn’t as though a life of celibacy wasn’t anything he’d done before . . .

His thought processes were interrupted by the arrival of a stern-looking woman in a pointed black hat.

“The firs’ years, Professor McGonagall,” the giant escorting them rumbled respectfully.

“Thank you, Hagrid,” said the woman, in precisely the tone schoolteachers everywhere strove to emulate, “I will take them from here.”

Leading them further into the school, she stopped before a grand set of doors, and began to speak.

“Welcome to Hogwarts,” the witch said solemnly. “The start-of-term banquet will begin shortly, but before you can take your seats in the Great Hall, you will be sorted into your houses. The Sorting is a very important ceremony because, while you are here, your house will be something like your family within Hogwarts. You will have classes with the rest of your house, sleep in your house dormitory and spend free time in your house common-room.

“The four houses are called Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin. Each has its own noble history, and each has produced outstanding witches and wizards. While you are at Hogwarts, your triumphs will earn your house points, while any rule-breaking will lose house points. At the end of the year, the house with the most points is awarded the house cup, a great honour . . .”

Shirou spotted an eye-roll from Galen, then. Obviously, this cup wasn’t so important. He wished he could find a way to get ten minutes alone to pump the other two for information about this place! He especially wished that when the ghosts showed up, and Galen just shrugged at his glare, as if to say, And what do you want me to do about it?

Eventually, they were led into the Great Hall, towards a stool and a hat, the latter of which burst into song. When it was over the Weasley kid, who managed to crowd in behind him, muttered, “So we’ve just got to try on the hat! I’ll kill Fred, he was going on about wrestling a troll!”

Shirou glanced at him and said dryly, “Yes, because it’s something you’d expect an eleven-year-old to be capable of doing. Say, I’ve got this bridge I’m looking to sell . . .”

“Abbott, Hannah!” called Professor McGonagall.

A blonde girl with pigtails went up, sat down, and had the hat placed on her head. After a moment’s consideration, the hat yelled, “HUFFLEPUFF!”

Amid cheers, she went to her house table. When it died down, the professor called, “Aozaki, Takara!”

Takara tried to tell herself that being nervous was ridiculous. She was seventeen, not eleven, and certainly capable of getting up in front a room full of hundreds of people to try on a stupid hat.

Her childish body, on the other hand, knew it was much smaller and weaker than it should be, and reacted more strongly to her nerves than her mature mind. Her knees wobbled - a little - as she came forward and sat down.

“Wellll . . .. “ drawled the Sorting Hat in her head. “You are unusual, aren’t you? In all my centuries I’ve never come across a student like you.”

“Better get prepared, then,” she snapped, disliking its insinuating tone. “There’s two more coming - and they’re both a lot stranger than me.”

“A willingness for hard work, and no small amount of loyalty,” the hat chuckled. “Not a bad mind, either. But above all else, that fiery spirit, and a strong sense of right and wrong. Yes, my dear girl, I think you’ll do best in GRYFFINDOR!”

She went to her table, eyes on the two boys until Professor McGonagall called, “Einzbern, Shirou!”

“She was right,” Shirou heard in his head. “You are a great deal stranger.”

“These things come in threes, you know,” Shirou retorted. “And the third’s always the most extreme of the bunch.”

The hat chuckled. “That’s as may be, but we’re concerned with you, at the moment. Difficult. Intelligent, yes, but without the love of learning that characterises Ravenclaw. A willingness for hard work, though not as loyal as you once were - betrayals have left their mark on you. You have ambitions, and no small amount of cunning - you’d make an ideal Slytherin, in ways. But you lack their vision, the need to operate on the grand stage, rather than in smaller plots and venues. Where they would strive to reach the furthest star, you’re content to aim for the moon.

“But at the core of you still lies a devotion to justice, and a need to save people . . .”

“An idiot’s ideals,” Shirou snorted.

“But you’ve pursued them, nonetheless. You did not slay your Mistress and seek out your younger self when summoned, though you could have easily done so, had you been truly committed to your design. And you acted to protect them, later. And again, as time went on, throughout each of your lives.”

“Except where I was willing to kill everybody to come back to life . . .”

“For the girl. To save the girl, you’d risk the world - the limits and methods change, but the ideal does not. And like it or not, boy, the ideal is that of a GRYFFINDOR!”

With a sigh, Shirou made his way over to his ersatz Master, who looked relieved - had she been afraid she was going to be alone in the house?

Hermione Granger was sorted into Gryffindor as well, along with Neville Longbottom. A “Draco Malfoy” got into Slytherin - Shirou only noticed because the platinum blond’s expression reminded him of Shinji Matou. Otherwise, it was a long wait down the list, until they got to -

“Salvatore, Galen!”

“Merlin’s balls! Your companions have a talent for understatement!” the hat bellowed.

“I have enough voices in my head, thank you - you’re neither needed, nor welcome.”

“Nonetheless, young sir, I must fulfill my duty and sort you.”

“I’m not a ‘sir,’ I work for a living. Well, money, anyway, since I don’t make enough to make an actual living - ”

“Might we stay on topic?” the hat asked dryly. “Or have you more irrelevant tangents to go off on?”

“Oh, plenty,” Galen agreed with mock cheerfulness, glancing at the staff table to make sure Professor Snape was still there - it sounded like the hat was channelling him. “I could do this for hours.”

“Merlin forbid,” the hat groaned. “You are difficult to sort. You’ve more intelligence than you like to use, and a love of learning, but not the drive for it that marks a Ravenclaw. You’ve enough loyalty for any three Hufflepuffs, but not the openness or work ethic of one - ”

“What can I say? I’m lazy.”

“And you’re cunning, with certain plans, but no real ambition.”

“Not to mention that if you sort me there, come dawn tomorrow I will be Slytherin house’s sole survivor.” There was no hyperbole or joking in his tone.

“Such ruthlessness is what makes you fit for Slytherin,” the hat commented.

“Again, sole survivor.”

“Threats mean little to me, you know.”

“Threats are for people who bluff.”

They sat in silence for a moment, before the hat continued, “You do have a certain level of courage . . .”

“Read: recklessness, and an unhealthy disregard for my own survival,” Galen retorted.

“A strong sense of fairness . . .”

“I believe in appropriate punishment - I also rooted for the protagonist of Death Note, at least until he went totally megalomaniacal.”

“And a will to do the right thing.”

“Whenever I haven’t decided that the human race in general is a waste of resources and start praying for the alien invasion, meteor impact, or other global-level extinction event. If you’re looking for ‘daring, nerve and chivalry,’ I’m not it.”

“Really?” The hat sounded almost amused. “Tell me, what will you do in Hogwarts?”

“Keep my friends out of trouble, and work on getting them back where they belong. Beyond that, it doesn’t matter.”

“Well, I suppose you can do that best in their company. So you’d better be GRYFFINDOR!”

Galen scanned the table as he sat down, noting the absence of one Seamus Finnegan, and a Sally Anne Perks. It looked as though he and his friends had taken their ‘slots’ in Hogwarts, along with Harry Potter’s, to balance out the class size.

With a chill, he realised that they might have inherited his destiny, as well. It was a sobering thought, and it stayed with him through Ronald Weasley’s sorting into Gryffindor, the feast, and their journey into Gryffindor Tower.

. . . Well, at least it’s not Evangelion.

March 20th, 2011, 06:10 PM
Well, at least it’s not Evangelion.

Now I want a crossover where Galen swaps with Shinji, Takara with Asuka, and Shirou with Rei. Gendo vs SEELE vs Galen? Awesome.

March 20th, 2011, 06:34 PM
Pretty nice to see this start up again. How much were you able to recover from the old Beast's Lair Forum?

March 20th, 2011, 09:16 PM
Now I want a crossover where Galen swaps with Shinji, Takara with Asuka, and Shirou with Rei. Gendo vs SEELE vs Galen? Awesome.

Oh, God no. No no no - Galen will immediately try to grab Misato's gun and shoot himself, recommending that the others do the same. And unless they had Awesome Powers (TM), they'd end up in interrogation drugged to the gills. Or executed.

. . . No, Eva's pretty much a lost cause. Putting them there would be masochism of the highest order - and even I'm not that bad.

Pretty nice to see this start up again. How much were you able to recover from the old Beast's Lair Forum?

Roadbuster grabbed all of it, as far as I know - but since I have the original files, I wasn't too worried about losing it. It's just a matter of reconverting them - again. And even that wouldn't be so bad, except there's so much - the Trinity series comprises around 1400 pages, so obviously putting it all back is going to take a while. I'm working as fast as I can without straining my CTS - or neglecting my homework.

Nice to see you back, too.

March 20th, 2011, 10:10 PM
Huh, I would think that Galen is one of the people that could go toe-to-toe with Gendo in plotting and win. But you're probably right, without amazing luck you're screwed in Eva. Anyway, do you want any help with converting them? Iv'e got some extra time on my hands, and I wouldn't mind helping.

March 20th, 2011, 10:31 PM
If it gets really bad, I'll probably end up asking for help - but as long as I can manage things, I'd rather do it myself. Thanks for the offer, though. Who knows? I may end up taking you up on it.

March 21st, 2011, 01:03 AM
Great to see that the Trinity is slowly re-establishing itself. Keep on trucking, Kieran!

Huh, I would think that Galen is one of the people that could go toe-to-toe with Gendo in plotting and win. But you're probably right, without amazing luck you're screwed in Eva. Anyway, do you want any help with converting them? Iv'e got some extra time on my hands, and I wouldn't mind helping.

Oh God, idea...Trinity/NGE crossover.

THE HORROR!!! But for which side? >:3

March 21st, 2011, 03:52 PM
I just found the new forum, so this is my first post in the fanfiction area.

I'm glad you managed to keep your work. I'll have to re-read it, though (not that I mind XDDD)

By the way, Kieran, NGE rebuild isn't half as bad as the original... for now, at least. I would still find funny watch Shirou replacing Rei XDDDD (But I admit that I can be influenced by "NGE:Nobody dies". TEHRei, or Terrifying!Rei if you prefer, is made of win and awesome and GREAT JUSTICE)

March 21st, 2011, 04:02 PM

March 21st, 2011, 05:39 PM
DISCLAIMER: Lunar Legend Tsukihime, Fate/Stay Night, and all related characters and concepts are the creation and property of Kinoko Nasu and Type-Moon, along with anyone who's happened to license them, like Geneon or Funimation. Harry Potter and all related characters and concepts are the creation and property of J.K. Rowling, along with her publishers and Warner Bros., as regards the movie material.

This is a not-for-profit, just-for-fun project.

Writer's Note: Certain dialogue sequences in this story are lifted from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, but I trust in the intelligence of my readers (and the availability of the books) to recognise them when they see them.

Chapter 3 - Pondering and Potions

September 2 - 6, 1991

As he could’ve predicted (who needed a Divination class?), trouble began for Galen first thing the next morning. More specifically, dark and early, ten minutes before six AM Thursday morning.

As stated, he was hardwired to be an early riser, and in general, once up, he was up. Contrary to his family’s beliefs, rolling over and going back to sleep was generally only possible if it was truly early (like three in the morning), or he was very sick. Being neither, at the moment, he was stuck lying in bed, knowing he wouldn’t get back to sleep in time to do much good and wondering what the hell to do now.

He desperately wanted a cup of coffee, but wizards, to his knowledge, didn’t drink the stuff - hell, the British in general preferred tea, as far as he knew, never mind the wizards - and it wasn’t a good habit to get into at eleven, anyway. So, no coffee for the foreseeable future, and he didn’t have a good enough knowledge of the grounds to be able to go outside and try to resume his habit of an early-morning run yet (the video games had been based on Rowling’s Hogwarts designs, so he had a decent idea, but given the mutability of the castle’s interior, best not to chance it). That left . . .

With a soft sigh, he got up, put on his housecoat (dressing gown, in England, he reminded himself - he thought, anyway), grabbed Magical Theory from his trunk and headed downstairs to read by the fire.

To his surprise, Shirou was already there.

“I get up at five,” the red-haired boy asked, in answer to the obvious question. As before, he spoke in Japanese. “Force of habit.”

Galen grunted affirmatively, certainly understanding.

“Well, at least we should have time to chat - and privacy,” the ex-Servant continued. “Now, what’s going on?”

Galen explained, as tersely as he could. When he was finished, Shirou sighed.

“So basically, we’re all screwed because this Harry kid died?”

“Maybe,” Galen answered. “Right now, it won’t make much difference - without Harry this year, a lot of problems won’t be. But later on - yeah, we’re in trouble. Neville might be able to step up, since he was the other potential prophecy boy. I’d bet Dumbledore thinks he is, anyway. But I don’t even know if the bloody prophecy’s the same as it was. I think so, since the Potters went into hiding and all - but I can’t be sure, and Dumbledore’s the only one who’d know the prophecy to tell us.”

“And you don’t trust him.”

“He’s manipulative in the extreme, convinced of his own correctness, and a mind-reader to boot - no, I sure as hell do not trust him. What’s worse is that this version may actually have the balls to fight, rather than preach platitudes and let somebody else handle the heavy lifting.”

“Which means he’s even more dangerous,” Shirou agreed.

“Mm. Worse, one of us might’ve taken over as the prophecy kid.”

“How do we tell?”

“Well, the usual prophecy refers to someone ‘born as the seventh month dies.’ I’m November - which is eleventh in the Gregorian calendar, ninth in the old Roman - hence, novem - and twelfth in the Celtic tree calendar that they base wand woods on. In theory, we want somebody with a wand made of holly wood - ”

“Like me,” Shirou interrupted.

Galen winced. “Really?”

“Yeah, my wand’s holly and phoenix feather, ele -“

”Eleven inches,” Galen finished, walking over and beginning to bang his head on the wall. “You’re” - thud - “freaking” - thud - “Harry” - thud - “Potter?!” Thud.

“Am I?” Shirou asked.

“Well if you’re not, he’ll want to know who’s using his bloody wand!”

Shirou sighed. “Well, I’m not marked - and I doubt I’m one of these Horcrux things - I’m not sure Kiritsugu’s even heard of Voldemort, so ‘thrice defying him’ isn’t likely . . .”

“Which means either the prophecy’s different, or some stuff hasn’t happened yet,” Galen muttered. “It’s early days, yet - there’s still time to figure it out. Our immediate problems need a little more concern.”


“We were warned away from the third floor corridor, so the Cerberus and the Philosopher’s Stone are probably there - which means Voldemort is here, trying to get it. Now, since none of us is Harry, a couple of the random murder attempts shouldn’t happen (and maybe Snape won’t be so annoying), but if things run to script, Hermione will die on October 31st, when that troll finds her in the bathroom.”

“And it’s important that she doesn’t,” Shirou said.


“Because she’s important to Harry, the kid who doesn’t exist?”

“Because she’s brilliant, and dedicated, and lonely, and she doesn’t deserve to die. She’s one of maybe a dozen people in this bloody reality I’d go out of my way to save - otherwise I’d be perfectly content to let this insular, inbred society burn to the ground.”

Galen shook his head. “They ask for this, you know. They persist in this belief of superiority - first wizards, then pure-bloods. That’s what the three wars in this century are over. But they don’t learn, they don’t change the conditions that create these Dark Lords they’re so utterly terrified of. And they’re so - bloody - ignorant.

“Take Ron’s father - you talked to Ron, right?” Shirou nodded, and Galen continued, “He’s a nice guy. Open-minded, as far as wizards go, despite being a pure-blood. Utterly fascinated with ‘Muggles,’ and how they do things without magic. He heads up the Misuse of Muggle Artefacts department, dealing with enchanting things to work other than how they’re meant to function - and then goes on about ‘fellytones,’ ‘ekaltrickery,’ and wondering how aeroplanes fly! He has no idea of how mundane society or science functions - and he heads a department that needs to know in order to do its job properly!

Galen sighed in frustration. “It might not happen here, but in the second movie, he asks what the function of a rubber duck is! The line was hilarious, but think about the implication! If I told him it was a sex toy, and then enchanted one to give blow-jobs, I’d get away with it because he’d never know the difference! And this is one of the most progressive, forward-thinking wizards in this society!”

Galen shook his head. “Barring major changes in thinking and policy, they’re going to be wiped out - it’s just a question of whether they do it to themselves, via Dark Lords or simple inbreeding, or the mundanes do it for them. Because sooner or later, they won’t be able to hide any more.”

Shirou looked at him, and said very carefully, “So, you’re saying we should do nothing.”

“I’m saying that they almost deserve what’s coming,” Galen said heavily. “If it weren’t for a handful of individuals and the fact that it would spill out into the mundane world, I’d help Voldemort resurrect himself and wish him luck. But they’re there, and some of them can be a force for change, maybe drive them to do something with their power beyond simply hiding. Like Hermione, if she lives long enough.”

“So what should we do?”

“I don’t fancy tackling a mountain troll, so we try to be her friend. Try to keep her from feeling so bad about herself and her life that one nasty comment doesn’t send her into harm’s way. And otherwise, we learn all we can about how magic works here, so we can try to get the hell out of here and back where we came from. Because I really don’t want to be here for seven years.”

Shirou had time to think about that, as the classes rolled around. As much as he hated to admit it, the hat had a very good point: he’d still like to try and save everyone, if he could manage it. That practicality forced him to admit he couldn’t was a very sore point. But if things here were as bad as Galen hinted at, he couldn’t help feeling a desire to try.

But was that him, or some vestige of how this world thought its saviour should act? He’d changed more than physically as a child of Wolfram and Hart from his original state as an Archer-class Servant. Little things had been different in his reactions, too. If it was the same here, then this reality hadn’t just reshaped their pasts, or their bodies, but to some degree, their minds, as well. It wasn’t a pleasant thought.

Still, he had to admit that the school was distracting. In addition to the ghosts and the talking portraits, it had one hundred and forty-two staircases, which liked to move, or have steps vanish at random. There were doors that required special handling - sometimes passwords, sometimes literal handling, such as being tickled. He wondered if it was simply the effect of so much magic after so many centuries, or for some reason deliberate.

Rin would’ve had a brain aneurysm within twelve hours, unable to take the sheer nonsense - maybe less, once she’d sat through classes. There was no real explanation as to why wands were necessary to perform magic (especially given that “accidental magic” required no wand at all), unless you were Apparating, transforming into an Animagus, or using one or two other effects that seemed to be innate, save that you could train yourself to do it.

Nor was there an explanation as to why they used pseudo-Latin for their incantations, as opposed to true Latin, English, or any other language. And while he understood that Hogwarts’ wards disrupted electricity, necessitating candlelight, why did they use parchment and quills instead of notebook paper and ballpoint pens? The latter were faster, easier and cheaper to obtain, and much less messy.

Shirou considered briefly that Galen might have a point about witches and wizards being too stupid to survive - who the hell allowed some of this crap in a school? And that was leaving aside the issue of the giant, three-headed dog in the barely-locked room . . .

Still, it wasn’t all bad. The Astronomy class was kind of interesting, for all that it started at midnight, and Herbology wasn’t too bad - he didn’t mind gardening. Charms and Defence Against the Dark Arts he was decent at, (even if the latter’s teacher wasn’t), though History of Magic put him to sleep. His best subject so far, though, was Transfiguration. The teacher was McGonagall, and she seemed a hardline instructor, with no tolerance for nonsense - but he didn’t mind. Harsh teachers were usually the best - you sure as hell didn’t forget what they taught you.

Still, Shirou turned out to have a natural knack for Transfiguration - he and Hermione Granger were the only students to even come close to successfully transforming their matchsticks into needles by the end of the first lesson. He wondered if some of his natural affinities had transferred over when they’d been remade in this world. And if so, what did that mean?

He was human now, he knew that. He couldn’t leap tall buildings in a single bound anymore - though he was in impressive condition for his age and size. Takara was the only person so far with faster reflexes than him - and Galen appeared to be the only person more accurate with a spell, though that changed at longer ranges. The difference between their training, he supposed. The other guy was a gunslinger, and used to more infantry work - shots from handgun or shotgun ranges. Shirou had been trained to be a bowman, and eventually a sniper. He was usually half a mile away from his target, as opposed to half a football field.

Takara’s range was even closer. She dealt in blades, hands, and feet. But she was fast, and agile too. If Shirou didn’t surprise her, she could move quick enough to close the distance - and then the fight was, if not lost, at least no longer wholly in his favour. Simple sparring exercises after classes had taught them all that, as they tried to redetermine their limits.

In terms of magical power, it was hard to tell what had changed. Since they were only learning basic spells, nothing complex or requiring vast amounts of power, there was no real way to judge their limits, or how their potential measured up. It would require something bigger to find out - though Shirou was curious. He had been an Epic Spirit, Takara one of the most powerful potential magi in the world, and Galen holding the energy of a multitude of Epic Spirits as a precursor to forming the Holy Grail. If that capacity transferred over . . . They’d probably be the next best thing to gods.

On further reflection, Shirou doubted it. Events had proven they weren’t that lucky. And as they entered the one subject Galen and Takara seemed apprehensive about - a double-period Potions class - he considered that this would probably be where that fact was reasserted.

As Takara sat down next to Hermione in Potions class, she reviewed everything she knew. This was the class taught by the sour-faced man, as she’d thought of him when she was little. He was a spy - the one ultimately responsible for the death of the Potters, and indirectly, the first defeat of Voldemort. He was also a jealous, bitter man who made it a point to torment Harry Potter where possible, while trying to keep him alive at the same time. Except there was no Harry Potter here, so who knew how he’d react now?

In the meantime, she had to remind herself that she couldn’t meet his eyes, lest he read her mind, and that Galen was probably going to be depending on the man to provide Wolfsbane potions (he’d spilled quietly while they were in the library, assuming that they’d want - and more importantly, needed - to know what he was). So ticking off the professor was a bad idea.

The problem would be avoiding being ticked off by the professor.

At least she was with Hermione. The girl was actually proving to be a nice friend - a combination of Momoko-chan’s enthusiasm (focussed on books and learning rather than sweets or cute things) and Arisa’s more serious tendencies (without the love of gossip, goth, or video games). She was too bookish for Takara to ever feel fully comfortable around, but they got along, just the same. Hermione made sure Takara didn’t make any serious mistakes with her essays (her spoken English seemed to have improved since coming here - but her written still wasn’t great), and Takara tried to make sure she had fun . . . Though admittedly, the girl could be a bit too rigid. They were only eleven, after all - or at least, they were supposed to be.

But Hermione would make sure she didn’t make any mistakes in class - now it was up to her to make sure she didn’t lose her temper.

Professor Snape swept in, robes billowing as he walked, as he announced, “You are here to learn the subtle science and exact art that is potion-making. As there is little foolish wand-waving here, many of you will hardly believe this is magic . . .”

Takara kept her attention on him, even though the volume of his speech was hard to follow - did the man have to whisper? Still, the class seemed to go somewhat more smoothly than she remembered from the movie - maybe he wouldn’t be as bad without Harry to provoke him?

When a cauldron exploded sometime later, she had her answer.

“Idiot boy!” Snape rounded on Galen, who was suffering a series of erupting boils, even as he vanished the remains of the ruined cauldron and potion. “I suppose you added the porcupine quills before taking the cauldron off the fire?”

“N - no sir,” quavered Neville as he got up from the floor. “It . . . It was my fault. I -”

“Have caused your classmate a severe injury with your carelessness,” Snape said sharply. “It is only by the sheerest luck that the incident is not worse. Two points from Gryffindor for failing to show proper caution and a further two for failing to follow the instructions you were given.”

His gaze swept the room, stopping on the two girls. He drawled, “You two look as though might prove marginally intelligent. One of you escort the boy to the hospital wing.”

Takara slid off her stool without even glancing at Hermione, and carefully took hold of her friend, walking him gently out of the room. Making certain there were no portraits in sight - they knew the portraits reported to the headmaster - she whirled on him.

“Are you insane?” she hissed. “Why didn’t you prevent that?”

“I remembered what happened, but not when or why,” he grunted back. “The only good news is that I was lucky enough to push Neville clear before it happened. The problem is, I think Snape took off about twice as many points as he was supposed to.”

“Why would he do that?”

“. . . Maybe he was more balanced, knowing that something of Lily survived?” Galen scowled, and with his current visage, it was a truly horrible expression. “If that’s the case, we’re in deeper trouble than I thought.”

Conversation was suspended until they reached the hospital wing, whereupon Madam Pomfrey forced a vile-tasting potion down his throat and an equally vile-smelling ointment on his skin, then advised he rest for at least half an hour while they took effect.

Takara smirked at his scowl. “Look at it this way - you’ll miss the rest of the class.”

He gave her a frustrated sigh in response. It was clear that he hated forced inactivity as much as she did.

“I’ll see you at lunch,” she told him.

“Join me in the library after?” he asked.

They had Friday afternoons off, so there was nothing after Potions class. Takara asked herself whether she wanted to study, then shook her head.

“I want to write my parents, so I’ll be in the common room before I head for the Owlery. If I’m done before dinner, I’ll look for you there.” She suddenly grinned mischievously, adding, “I’m sure Hermione would love a study date, though.”

“I am not trying to date Hermione!” he sputtered.


“I liked you better when you were shy about this stuff,” he muttered, causing her to lean over and whisper in his ear.

“What can I say? Some of my added lives are very naughty girls.”

With that statement and a wink, she left him staring. Takara was halfway back to class before she started wondering if this was a side-effect of her Nanaya personality vanishing. Teasing like that - especially when he was practically helpless - was closer to something she’d do.

Had the personality vanished, then, or just been integrated into her “normal” self? And if so, what did that mean?

The boys carried themselves around like old souls, but eleven was apparently not that long ago to her by comparison. She had less trouble fitting in because of that, she thought. She didn’t get as much flak for being half-Japanese as she got for being half-European at home. She wasn’t a pureblood, but she wasn’t a “mudblood,” either. This place seemed to affect her less, because she took it more as fun.

And, she admitted to herself, maybe it was because this version of her home life wasn’t so screwed up. There was no vampiric godmother waiting to try and entice her father - who had never been dying. There was no maid (demonic or otherwise) who might or might not have become pregnant while using some bizarre ability to sustain said father. It was just her, her parents, and the occasional visits from her aunts (and her Aunt Aoko’s cat). This was a simpler version of her life.

. . . But it wasn’t really hers, was it? She supposed that was the real question.

Probably. Along with, “Do I want it to be?”

Takara couldn’t come up with an answer that satisfied her, but she suspected she’d be thinking it over for a while.

Galen, unfortunately, had most of an hour to consider Takara’s comments. Leaving aside the tease about her other selves - which was a joke, and not an invitation (he was socially inept, not socially brain-dead), her jabs about Hermione contained enough truth in them to sting, and his conscience knew it.

She’s twelve, you idiot! raged his inner voice. In two weeks, she’ll be twelve, and you’re not. And in six years, when she’s eighteen, you won’t be - AND YOU KNOW IT! It doesn’t matter what you look like, it doesn’t matter if this is the age you were at this point in your actual timeline - you’re too damned old, you bloody paedophile!

He sighed. As usual, the voice was right. If Takara was off-limits because of the age difference between them, then Hermione definitely was. He could be her friend, he could flirt a little for fun or to try and boost her confidence, but anything else was filed under not only no, but hell no!

It was stupid, anyway. He’d already established that he was utterly uninteresting to the female gender, and therefore regulated to die alone - but every time a pretty face caught his eye, especially when backed by an intelligent mind and giving heart, he wondered . . .


Closing the file firmly on Hermione, he forced his thoughts to follow another path: that of Neville Longbottom.

For a “Chosen One” in the making, Neville didn’t seem at all different from the canon version - shy, timid and accident-prone. If Dumbledore was grooming him to save the world from Voldemort, it didn’t show. Harry had been isolated for his protection, but Neville had lived in the magical world all his life - you’d think something would’ve been done to train and prepare him. Instead, he was almost afraid of his own shadow.

That needs fixing.

By the end of the series, Neville had been brave, confident, and capable of kicking no small amount of ass. Without Harry to provide a rallying point and inspiration, though, it probably wouldn’t happen. And if Dumbledore wasn’t going to bother . . . That was odd. Did he plan for Neville to go after the Philosopher’s Stone, as he had Harry (anybody who assumed that traps that first-year students could beat were intended to stop a powerful Dark wizard was delusional)?

Assume he did. That meant clues or nudges should be around. If he didn’t . . .

Galen pondered whether or not they actually needed to bother with the Stone. The mirror trap would either continue to keep Quirrell away from it, or not. In which case, Dumbledore deserved what he got. There might not even be any problems if Voldemort did get it - because who knew if it was actually the real Stone, or how to make it produce the Elixir of Life if it was?

For that matter, what was the point of the Elixir or the unicorn blood? Voldemort may have consumed it, but it was absorbed by Quirrell’s body, wasn’t it? Shouldn’t it have affected just him?

Mental note: research possession. Maybe the process burns out host bodies, or something, and the possessing spirits need to regenerate them. The Elixir or the blood would do that, right?

Galen added it to his mental “To Do” list. It just kept getting longer, but until certain dates arrived, there was much “to do” about it. It was just a matter of waiting . . .

. . . He hated waiting.

March 21st, 2011, 05:40 PM
DISCLAIMER: Lunar Legend Tsukihime, Fate/Stay Night, and all related characters and concepts are the creation and property of Kinoko Nasu and Type-Moon, along with anyone who's happened to license them, like Geneon or Funimation. Harry Potter and all related characters and concepts are the creation and property of J.K. Rowling, along with her publishers and Warner Bros., as regards the movie material.

This is a not-for-profit, just-for-fun project.

Writer's Note: Certain dialogue sequences in this story are lifted from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, but I trust in the intelligence of my readers (and the availability of the books) to recognise them when they see them.

Chapter 4 - On Flight, Fangs, and Fulminations

September 12, 1991

The week had not, to Shirou’s mind, brought noticeable improvements. True, they were now familiar enough with the castle and its routines to begin early-morning runs prior to classes (down the staircases and out onto the grounds to circumnavigate the lake before coming back for a shower and breakfast), and he was beginning to train with the others in close-quarters combat. He wasn’t a dedicated martial artist, but he’d picked up a few tricks - and Takara had been taught a French fighting style by her mother that helped liven things up. Galen wasn’t trained at all beyond a white belt in karate, but he was a game sparring partner, and appreciated learning anything either of them could teach.

Still, while the exercise was welcome to the pair of early risers (and their morning-challenged distaff member), the dividends would be a while in coming. Still, it was a beginning to whipping their de-aged bodies back into something approaching a reasonable condition. Given what probably lay ahead, being in better shape than most wizards seemed a good idea. They could throw spells, but other than those two bookends of the blond Slytherin’s, he suspected few magical people could actually fight.

It was also true that they were settling into classes with relative ease - between their acquired memories, and Galen and Hermione’s natural facility, using spoken and written English wasn’t really a problem for them in class, and each of them seemed to have talent in various courses. All three travellers showed a knack for Defence Against the Dark Arts (hardly surprising, given their former natures), as well as varying types of Charms. Individually, Takara had turned out to have a deft hand at Potions, Shirou had his own gift for Transfiguration, and Galen was the only one of the three who could not only stay awake in History of Magic, but take notes complete enough to allow them all to pass.

Unfortunately, despite almost two weeks of searching, neither had they found anything that even remotely resembled a way of getting home. Galen had ransacked the library with almost every free moment (and the boy’s ability to read and research was surprising), but couldn’t find any broad-based references to dimensional magic. If anything like it existed, it had to be in the restricted section - and they had no plausible way to access it at this point in time.

He had discovered books that mentioned a mental discipline called Occlumency, and arranged for Professor Flitwick to instruct the three of them in the basics. The decision had garnered strange looks from his two companions, prompting an explanation.

“Occlumency is the defence against Legilimency, mind-reading magic,” he’d explained. “At higher levels, it can include mind control and even outright possession. Voldemort, Dumbledore, and Snape are all practitioners, and while we’re not on their radar right now, it’ll come up sooner or later. Both disciplines are supposed to be fairly exotic, even for magic, so there aren’t too many potential teachers available. Snape is a Master Occlumens, allegedly capable of deceiving even Voldemort - but his teaching methods leave a lot to be desired, even in the normal timeline. Flitwick, on the other hand, is a former champion duellist - I figured that it was a safe bet he’d at least know Occlumency to defend himself against having his moves read.”

As it turned out, the diminutive Charms professor did, and was willing to instruct them. He wasn’t a Master of the art, but he was able to begin passing on a basic foundation. It was like taking martial arts instruction from a green belt instead of a black belt. And, as a side effect, the mental organisation the technique taught was supposed to make retaining and recalling information faster and easier, so incidents like last week’s Potions class would hopefully be avoided.

But again, that area of development was still in its infancy. Like the runs and sparring, it was worth the effort in the long term, but failed to bring anything resembling immediate dividends. He’d never been much for sitting idle - and although he was learning things in class, that’s what it felt like he was doing. He wanted to work, to find some kind of activity - and so far, the “wizarding world,” as he’d heard it called, had failed to provide.

It didn’t help the feeling, either, that he was the only one of the three of them that didn’t already know something about this world. He had to rely on them to inform him about things - events, people, places - and it rankled. He’d always worked with his own two hands, occasionally needing help, but rarely forced to rely on it. Not since his first War.

So when the common room notice board had announced flying lessons for Gryffindor and Slytherin first-years at 3:30 on Thursday, he’d welcomed the distraction. Flying was something he’d never actually done (although his leaps as an Archer had once nearly qualified), and it at least promised to be a distraction.

“Have fun,” Galen said flatly, as the other nine Gryffindors lined up to leave the tower.

“You’re not coming?” Shirou inquired.


Hermione burst out incredulously, “But - you have to!”

“No, I don’t.”

The red-haired Prefect chose this moment to assert himself. Shirou knew he was a Weasley, but didn’t know his name, unless it was, “Now see here.”

“Now, see here,” the Prefect ordered. “Line up with the rest of your classmates before we’re late!”

“Why?” The question was asked evenly - too evenly. Shirou didn’t have much experience with Galen in specific, but he knew enough about people in general to recognise when someone was trying to hold themselves in from an explosive outburst. Something had set him off, or was in danger of doing so.

“It’s required that you attend flying lessons - ”

“Is it?” Galen interrupted in a falsely bright voice. “Tell me, what are the requirements to pass an O.W.L. in broomstick-riding?”

The Prefect startled. “There isn’t - ”

“There isn’t an O.W.L. in broomstick riding?” Galen interrupted. “Very well, then - which Ministry department is overseeing our licensing as broomstick riders?”

“Why would the Ministry - ?”

“You mean, they aren’t?” he said with false incredulity. “So, then, if broomstick-riding lessons - not flying, mind you, but lessons in riding a broomstick that flies - are neither academically nor legally mandated, what possible purpose is there in forcing me to receive instructions I am perfectly capable of getting while at home, should I desire to acquire the skill?”

The Prefect Weasley rocked back, before sputtering, “You’re required - ”

“I am? You’ve just said there are no academic or legal requirements to possess this skill.” He glanced at Hermione. “Tell me - do you know of any Muggle schools that offer mandatory bicycle-riding lessons?”

Hermione shook her head. “No, of course not. You’re expected to learn at home.”

“Which I can certainly do, as regards broomstick-riding, if I decided I wanted to. I do not, therefore forcing me to take lessons is not only an unproductive waste of my time, but the instructor’s.”

He paused, before adding, “And theirs, as your persistence has now made them perilously close to being late.”

The Prefect’s face darkened to match his hair. “I’ll be reporting to Professor McGonagall about this!” he blustered.

“Do so,” Galen said, again in that flat tone. “You may also inform the Professor that the only way to get me on a broomstick will be to precede the order with ‘Imperio.’” He locked eyes with the Prefect, and Shirou tensed at the emptiness in those blue orbs. He’d tracked serial killers with gazes like that. None of them had gone down easily.

The air seemed to warm slightly, even as Galen added coldly, “That would be a mistake.”

The Prefect swallowed heavily, and perhaps it was a decision that his duty lay to the majority that drove him to quickly and quietly herd the rest of the Gryffindors outside. Shirou, on the other hand, was just as likely to ascribe it to “survival instinct.”

Takara had barely stepped out of the castle when Shirou hissed to her in Japanese, “What the hell was that all about?”

“I don’t know,” she responded. “I know he’s been under some stress, trying to find us a way home -”

“‘Stress’ doesn’t explain that!” Shirou snapped. “If Weasley had made the slightest attempt to force him - a simple touch on the arm, maybe - Galen would’ve killed him for it. He’s not stressed, he’s poised to explode. Why?”

“Full moon, maybe?” Takara offered.

“Not for another week and a half,” Shirou countered. “We’re still too young still for it to be puberty hormones, and as much as he complains, I don’t think caffeine deprivation can explain it, either.” He paused in thought, before asking, “Was he always like this?”

Takara shook her head. “He was always a little grim - more so when he was Avenger, maybe - but nice enough. When Illyria was running around, he was angrier, but not like that.”

Shirou frowned, before he realised what she’d said. “When he was who?”

“Avenger,” Takara repeated. “He introduced himself as Lancer when the Grail War started, but his real class was Avenger.”

Shirou stopped dead. “That’s impossible.”

Now it was Takara’s turn to come to a complete halt. “What do you mean?”

“‘Avenger’ is a class that’s unique to a specific Spirit, like the class ‘True Assassin,” Shirou said, adding, almost to himself, “But if he didn’t know that, if he just knew it as the ‘forbidden’ class, the one not meant to be called . . . That would’ve described him, so he’d have chosen it.”

Takara didn’t like the grim look on her companion’s face. She liked it even less when he asked, “When you called him, how did you feel?”

“I didn’t exactly call him,” she protested. When he continued to look at her. “I wanted the fairy tale my aunt told me to be real. I wanted there to be a healer that could help my father.”

“And you were angry, too,” Shirou said, piecing together memories of conversations with her, and overheard ones, with what he already suspected. “Your father was dying, your mother abandoning him - and you - and you hated it. You wanted the world to be fair, you wanted someone to pay for what was happening - didn’t you?”

She nodded, a shamed expression in her eyes.

“The traits of a Servant vary depending on their class,” Shirou told her. “And most of us can be summoned in multiple aspects. Saber’s fighting style, for example, would be very different if she was summoned as a Rider. Her personality would change a bit, too, to match. The Lancer I’ve fought is almost not the same person, if I fight him when he’s a Berserker. Whatever he pretended to be, your Servant was summoned as an Avenger. That was his defining characteristic - someone who could and would hunt down and punish his targets, regardless of the cost.”

His expression was grim, “When Illyria corrupted the world, the Powers That Be recreated him as a revenant - an unstoppable seeker of justice, driven by visions of pain and suffering. That would’ve reinforced the characteristic.” His face, if possible, got grimmer. “And then, Ilya went and made him her judge, jury, and executioner, and it was in that state that he got sent here.”

Takara shivered.

Shirou continued, “Whether you meant to or not, whether he meant to or not, you two - and Ilya - have turned him into a time bomb with a pressure plate. If he’s this angry after two weeks, I shudder to see what he’d be like in a year.”

“Can we help him?”

“Maybe your Command Mantras?”

Takara shook her head. “They seem to be just scars - and even if they weren’t, I only have one left. If it worked, he’d fade away, wouldn’t he?”

“Maybe not,” Shirou said. “I don’t know enough about how things have translated to this universe to guess. But if we could get them to work -”

“He’d probably kill us,” Takara said. “He hates being told what to do, he told me so himself.” She paused. “Besides, the War’s over, so I’m not really his mistress anymore - I’m supposed to be yours.”

“That’s debatable,” Shirou said dryly, before she saw his eyes widen. “But you’re right, you’re not . . . And that might be the answer.”

She tried to pry more out of him, but the teacher had arrived, and conversation came to a halt as she prepped them to fly broomsticks.

At her command of “Up!” the broomstick leapt into her hand - and Shirou’s wasn’t far behind. She noticed that the blonde idiot was about the same, while Hermione’s was simply rolling on the ground, and Neville’s hadn’t moved at all.

If the speed was any indication, she thought that meant she had a knack for flying. It would be fun finding out . . .

Her musings were interrupted as Neville rose into the air, and came down on his wrist. Hooch-sensei insisted that everyone stay on the ground - and Takara suddenly remembered what was coming next . . .

Back in the Gryffindor common room, Galen was seething - as much at himself as anyone. Was a simple fear of heights worth what he’d just done? Yes, being forced to learn to ride a broom was stupid in a world with Portkeys, Apparition and the Floo network, especially when they only seemed to use the damned things for Quidditch or to have an excuse for dramatic chase scenes - but had it been worth an outburst of that magnitude? He’d been itching for Percy to give him an excuse to cure his head-in-ass syndrome by blowing them both off!

Damn it, the last time he’d been in school, he’d managed to avoid getting threatened with expulsion for his negative attitude issues until he was at least fourteen! Just because he’d regressed did not mean he had to succumb to the same bad temper problems!

He realised that it was worse than that, actually. He was roughly twenty years older than he seemed, and being treated as a child. His temper in his original life had been held in check partly because he was the proverbial 98-pound weakling. Self-preservation instincts had kept him from going violent because he knew he likely wouldn’t survive it - but not only was this body more powerful (comparatively, anyway), physical conditioning had nothing to do with a wizard’s inherent magical power. He could curse just as nastily as anybody else - and maybe better.

Add to that the fact that he still hated school (his university education had been the only alternative to eviction), and had been completely unsuccessful in a weekend-long blitz of the library to find anything even remotely like the Second Magic, and he was under pressure. Finding descriptions of werewolf “legislation” - which he would have to adhere to in the event he was, heaven forbid, stuck here - hadn’t helped. Nor had forcing himself to distance himself emotionally from Hermione, especially when he couldn’t make it seem that way. He wanted to keep her out of that bathroom, not help drive her into it! And given that they both preferred to spend their free time in the library, it hadn’t been easy.

Damn it, how the hell had he ended up in this mess? He’d just wanted to do one bloody thing of value with his existence before he passed on! But every time he tried, something got screwed up, and he had to try to fix it, which seemed to screw things up even more! And this time, Takara and Archer had gotten caught in it.

“You have to find a way to fix this, you stupid son of a -“ he growled under his breath, before adding, “Don’t talk about your mother that way.”

There had to be a way to fix the Kaleidostick. Figuring out how to get it to “Quantum Leap” them again was the harder issue, but ultimately irrelevant if they couldn’t repair it. And he wasn’t sure a simple Reparo would do the trick with an artefact-level enchanted object.

Even if it could, he reminded himself, Hermione’s the only one you know who can do the spell - and how would you explain it to her?

The only other immediately viable option he could think of was the Elder Wand.

And good luck getting that away from Dumbledore, his inner voice snorted. You’d have to wait until sixth year to have a half-decent chance.

And that was if things followed the prearranged pattern - which in Harry’s absence, was bloody unlikely. Although at the current rate of things, it might be sixth year before they had a clue as to how to use the Kaleidostick at all here . . . Galen forced himself to do his Occlumency exercises before he accidentally discharged enough magic to destroy something. Actually, he was amazed that he hadn’t already.

I wish there was somebody we could trust with this, but access to alternate worlds is too tempting to give away to anybody. The Ministry would exploit it, Voldemort would just expand his horizon for conquest, and Dumbledore “learned as a young man that power was my weakness,” which was why he was never Minister of Magic.

Even as a thought, the sarcasm was palpable.

It speaks well of him that he recognised that flaw in himself, and was trying to avoid gaining power. Of course at the time he said that, he was the magical equivalent of the Dean of Oxford, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and Secretary-General of the United Nations . . .

He shook his head. Meditating on Dumbledore’s hypocrisy was not conducive to calming down.

He tried reading to distract himself. In the last week, he’d been working his way through the library’s stock of books on Dark creatures. Since monsters and mythology had always been his specialty, he wanted to retain his qualifications on the subject. He was decent at the spells, but if he knew what he was up against, it would be easier to plan strategies. Having already gone through everything on werewolves (out of self-interest as much as general interest), Galen was working his way through his next favourite creature - vampires.

For as many references as Rowling had in her books to vampires, readers of the series were given very little information about them, some of it leading to contradictory conclusions. Vampires were classed as “beings” - which according to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was “any creature with sufficient intelligence to understand the laws of the magical community and to bear part of the responsibility in shaping those laws.” They were “non-wizarding part-humans” according to Ministry regulations , and presumably considered dangerous (if not outright Dark creatures, like werewolves), given the frequency with which characters expected calls to stamp them out. At the same time, Honeydukes, a respected confectioner in Britain, apparently sold blood-flavoured lollipops for them.

Aside from that, the only in-book notes about their nature was that garlic repelled them - Quirrell supposedly stocked the classroom with it for that reason, though it might be to cover the smell associated with his possession.

The literature Galen had was a little hard to chew through - legalese wasn’t his specialty, law courses he’d taken aside - but if he was understanding the gist of what he was reading, the official position on vampires was complicated. Yes, they were beings, but their status in Britain was somewhat more restricted than the International Confederation of Wizards called for - still, as they fell within the minimum standards set by those rules, there wasn’t much wiggle room to complain - they weren’t banned outright, for example.

A vampire seemed to be regarded, legally, as a mix of leper and registered sex offender - or at best, something like a tame leopard. They were required to register with the Ministry, which would provide them with housing and blood supplements, which they had to obtain from a “Ministry liaison official” - Galen read the title as “parole officer.” Part of the price for that was curfew and travel restrictions at Ministry discretion, as well as random blood tests. Punishments for lawbreaking were almost always lethal - and that included unauthorised turning.

As an alternative to government care (which sounded like a ghetto to him), they were allowed to be “sponsored” by private individuals or corporations who could prove themselves financially capable and “licensed to Ministry standards as regards the care and proper oversight of a vampire.”

He translated that as “Any rich Pureblood who can bribe the examiner well enough can buy himself a license for his pet vampire.” It sounded to him like the bloody house elves all over again. But without knowing how dangerous vampires actually were in this universe, it was hard to get too incensed about the way they were treated. The werewolf laws were easier in that regard. They were restricted from a lot of jobs due to “contamination hazards,” and watched very carefully as potential threats - but werewolves were only monsters one night a month, and that was controllable with the Wolfsbane potion, assuming it was possible to get it.

Of course, the fact that those laws now applied to him personally might have something to do with it.

Galen closed the book with a sigh. It was neat to know, but he couldn’t see any real applications for the knowledge. The only vampire ever encountered in the series was that one that came to Slughorn’s party - and it was mentioned so briefly it might as well not exist. For that matter, the party itself might not happen here, so why bother with it, other than curiosity? He had other work to do.

Of course, since the Kaleidostick was impossible to work on, and he’d already caught up on homework - with Hermione to prod him, and a need to master this universe’s magic, he’d quickly shaken off his usual habits - that left only one real project: Hermione and Neville.

Neville had apologised profusely for the potions accident, which Galen had shrugged off, saying, “When I lose a limb or vital organ, then you can apologise. This was just annoying.”

Since then, he’d been trying to work on building the kid’s confidence - a tricky proposition. It didn’t help that he was using his father’s wand, which was a poor match for him. But despite prompting, he couldn’t get Neville to give it up, as he was too afraid of angering his grandmother.

As much damage as his grandmothers had done to his family - and they’d both managed to be pretty devastating - Galen didn’t think he’d ever been so traumatised as Neville was. Of course, his “Gran” was his primary caregiver, so she had more influence and opportunity - but he was sorely tempted to arrange an appointment to throttle the old battle-ax for taking a perfectly sweet guy like Neville and managing to turn him only a couple of steps above Shinji Ikari.

Galen returned to his Occlumency, recognising the current path of his thoughts as nonproductive. Neville’s confidence wasn’t going to fix itself overnight, and he had time to take baby steps. Neville liked plants - maybe he should ask for tutoring in Herbology. An opportunity to lob a few compliments couldn’t hurt the kid.

That left Hermione.

Personal feelings aside, she was still the tougher nut to crack. Her “know-it-all” persona still irritated a lot of their classmates, and they could be hurtful. More, she was a girl, and thus spent a great deal of time segregated from him in the dormitory, unlike Neville. Takara had made friends with her, to a degree - but his former Mistress, while obviously no dummy, wasn’t as driven to succeed academically as Hermione. They could only connect so far. And Takara had no real way to make her feel better about her looks, which she said two of the other girls - Parvati and Lavender - teased Hermione about. Certainly, Pansy Parkinson from Slytherin did - not that Galen thought she had any room to criticise.

He didn’t have much luck there, either. He could only pass so many compliments before it seemed like he was flirting - and he didn’t want to do that. Never mind his own vows, why burden her? Not only wouldn’t she be interested, it would be a new avenue for teasing - and there was no doubt Malfoy, among others, would use it.

Galen sighed. Trying to make friends wasn’t any easier for him than it was for her - though being older, he was somewhat better at socialising than he’d been at twelve. Well, he was almost twelve. His birthday was still over two months away . . .

Hey! That could work!

It would no doubt be expensive, wreak havoc on the timeline, and get him in loads of trouble with his native “parents” . . . But if it worked, it could keep Hermione out of that damned bathroom.

Galen carefully composed a note, then ran to the Owlery.

Shirou had just seen the owl bearing his letter disappear over the horizon when Galen thundered up the stairs, parchment in hand.

“Still ready to kill something?” he asked carefully.

“At the moment, I’d probably feel bad about it,” Galen replied, smirking. “If it’s Malfoy, Snape, Dumbledore, Voldemort, or Ron Weasley, however, I won’t be held to that.”

“You’ve explained your reasons for some of those,” Shirou said, watching Galen tie his letter to another school owl and send it off. “I haven’t figured out what you’ve got against Weasley, though. He’s annoying at times, but - ”

“For starters, he’s the flashpoint that puts Hermione in that bathroom,” Galen growled suddenly, watching the owl take off. He continued in a tight voice, “Which that letter, hopefully, will prevent.”

“You’re awfully fixated on her,” he observed.

“Don’t start,” Galen warned. “I like you, Shirou, and I owe you for helping with Illyria, and getting you stuck here. But the last I really remember of you, you were trying your damnedest to kill me, and Takara. If it ever came down to it . . .”

“You’d kill me without blinking,” Shirou finished. “Yeah, I figured. You seem to still be in ‘mission mode,’ whether you realise it or not - “

”I could just be a psychotic bastard.”

Shirou continued as if Galen hadn’t spoken. “And it’s got us both worried. You’re awfully damned close to doing something that could get us all in trouble - and what happens to Takara, or Hermione, then?”

Stony silence was his answer.

“Two other things you should know,” Shirou added. “First, Malfoy tried something in flight class - McGonagall awarded Takara the Gryffindor Seeker position getting out of it.”

Galen hissed in frustration. “Now she’s doing Harry’s stuff. You’ve got the wand, she’s the Seeker - I wish the universe would make up its mind as to who the bloody protagonist is supposed to be around here.”

Shirou smirked. “Maybe it’s you.”

Galen scowled. “Not only no, but hell no. If that’s the plan, Fate can find herself another whipping boy.”

He began pacing, returning to the earlier news, forcing Shirou to step back.“Do you realise how many Quidditch matches go horribly wrong? And she’ll be on her own!” He glared at Shirou. “Tell me you have some ideas - any ideas! - on how to protect her.”

“Sorry to disappoint you - and speaking of disappointments, McGonagall wants to talk about your little outburst. She really didn’t sound happy, either.”

The taller boy sighed. “Of course. I assume her office, immediately?”

Shirou smirked again. “How’d you guess?”

“Bloody hell.”

March 21st, 2011, 05:58 PM
DISCLAIMER: Lunar Legend Tsukihime, Fate/Stay Night, and all related characters and concepts are the creation and property of Kinoko Nasu and Type-Moon, along with anyone who's happened to license them, like Geneon or Funimation. Harry Potter and all related characters and concepts are the creation and property of J.K. Rowling, along with her publishers and Warner Bros., as regards the movie material.

This is a not-for-profit, just-for-fun project.

Writer's Note: Certain dialogue sequences in this story are lifted from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, but I trust in the intelligence of my readers (and the availability of the books) to recognise them when they see them.

Chapter 5 - Raining Cats and Dogs (and Wolves)

September 19 - 23, 1991

No matter what universe she was in, or what identity she presently held, Takara Aozaki clung to certain truths. Among those was the firm belief that mornings absolutely should not start before noon. Ideally, they might not even begin until three. However, it seemed that the universe (or at least, any variant of it she’d encountered so far) had other plans, and was determined to include her in them.

Thus, she found herself literally up and running (if not exactly cheerful, or even awake) at 6:15 every morning for the purpose of doing laps around the lake. She didn’t like it. She grumbled about it repeatedly. She was even worried by the fact that after two weeks of this, she almost seemed to be getting used to it! But she did it anyway, knowing that sooner or later she was going to be up against supernaturally powerful foes - without her accustomed abilities. Lacking the power to slice just about anything into pieces left her at a severe disadvantage, especially when she was effectively eleven, with an eleven year old’s conditioning - and training in the magical arts.

So she ran, because she suspected she’d be doing a lot of it, and the better at it she was, the more likely she’d be to survive. She still hated having to do it first thing in the morning, though - and she suspected that once Quidditch practice was added to her schedule, she’d hate it even more.

Takara couldn’t help but grin at the memory. It had gone pretty much like the movie sequence - she’d caught Neville’s Remembrall and been drafted onto Gryffindor’s team. Flying, she admitted to herself, was fun. And Malfoy seemed to be even angrier at losing to her than he’d been at Harry - probably because she didn’t have the name value of the “Boy Who Lived,” and was a girl to boot.

She lived to show up people like that. She could hardly wait until he bought his way onto the team next year, so she could do it up close and personally. If they ended up being stuck here that long, it was good to have something to look forward to.

Takara glanced at her two running mates. Galen, she knew, was looking forward to a lot of things - his first full moon as a werewolf being one of them. He was already taking the Wolfsbane potion in preparation, and had said emphatically, “Repeated exposure does not improve the taste.” Still, better half-poisoned than a murderous, rampaging beast, right? She guessed they’d find out in four days.

Shirou, on the other hand . . . What he might be looking forward to, she couldn’t say. He was quiet, and said little to anybody. He was garnering attention, though. His looks were exotic enough that many of the girls in Gryffindor were marking him as a “future hottie.” Having seen at least a version of what he looked like at seventeen, she could hardly disagree. It didn’t, however, mean that she planned to pursue him. Once was enough for that particular mistake.

On the other hand, if we’re actually here long enough for me to worry about dating, I may be desperate enough to try.

Takara followed the boys back towards the portrait of the Fat Lady (the woman was remarkably sweet-tempered for having such a terrible name), intent on a hot shower to cleanse the sweat off before she dressed for breakfast. Her thoughts and intentions, however, were interrupted by an odd, ear-splitting sound. It was a “squeeing” sort of noise that sounded strangely familiar.

Momoko-chan makes that sound when she finds ice cream, or something really cute, she thought, dashing in to see what was the matter. It was always possible it was an attack . . .

It wasn’t. The sound came from the whirling form of one Hermione Granger, the next-earliest riser in Gryffindor, who was clutching something to her chest as she spun around the room. The bushy-haired girl came to a dead stop on seeing her classmates, and faced them with the brightest smile Takara had ever seen on anybody, never mind her!

“Isn’t he gorgeous?” she asked enthusiastically, displaying the bundle in her arms.

“He” was a ginger-furred cat that looked about a year old, and whose face looked like it had survived a high-speed impact with a brick wall. Bowlegged, to boot, the cat’s eyes were nonetheless bright and penetrating, a red satin ribbon was tied around his neck in a bow, and he purred when Hermione pulled him closer to her again.

“His registration papers say his name is Crookshanks,” she told them breathlessly. “And he’s apparently half-Kneazle! I’ve read about Kneazles in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them - they’re supposed to be ever so intelligent! He must have been horrendously expensive . . .”

Her voice sounded touched with guilt at that, but if her face started glowing any brighter, it would be a literal one.

“Your parents must really love you,” Takara said, a little surprised. The cat wasn’t supposed to show up yet, was he? He was certainly smaller than she remembered him looking in the movies. She covered the surprise by saying, “I’ve wanted a cat for years.”

“Oh, they didn’t buy him,” Hermione said, a little uncertainly. “My parents gave me my birthday presents before I left for school. I don’t know who bought Crookshanks - he was just sitting down here in his box, with his papers, some supplies, and this note.”

The note said, in nondescript printing, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, HERMIONE.

“Sounds like someone has a secret admirer,” Shirou broke in, sounding mildly amused.

Hermione’s cheeks turned rosy. “. . . You really think so?”

Galen interrupted the conversation by saying quietly, “You never told us it was your birthday.”

He sounded vaguely chiding, which Takara thought was a good trick - since it wasn’t hard for her to figure out exactly who the cat had come from.

Her blush, if anything increased. “Oh. Well . . . No one - no one ever made a big fuss of it before. At school,” she said hastily.

“Next year we’ll remember cards, at least.” he answered. “In the meantime, I’d offer you a birthday hug, but I really need to shower first if you’re going to enjoy it. Excuse me, Hermione.”

“Me too,” Takara added. “Pardon me.”

Shirou nodded, and Hermione did the same, cuddling up to Crookshanks as she let them pass.

Crookshanks, for his part, watched the trio with wary eyes.

As they reached the staircase to the individual dormitories, Takara asked in quiet Japanese, “So, how horrendously expensive was he?”

Galen replied in the same language, equally quietly. “Between buying him and the supplies, paying his licensing fee and the shipping and the goblins’ commission for doing it?” He nodded towards the girl, who was still hugging and stroking her new pet. “Every Knut he’s worth, for that attitude. A little fur therapy can go a long way,” he added wistfully, eyes focussing on something none of them could see.

Takara frowned. “But what if it screws up the timeline? What if he finds that rat guy?”

“I don’t think it’s likely,” Galen replied. “Ron and Hermione don’t really seem to have made friends, without Harry between them - and I don’t think even Weasley’s dumb enough to bring his rat into the common room with a strange cat in residence. ‘Scabbers’ will probably stay in the boys’ dormitory, and Crookshanks will be in the girls’ dorm, most of the time.”

He shrugged. “ Besides, if the rat is caught, then maybe Sirius gets out of Azkaban sooner, and we won’t have to worry about Dementors in third year. Maybe not even Voldemort’s resurrection in fourth year. Either way, why not? The sooner we deal with the main plot, the sooner we can focus entirely on going home.”

He walked upstairs.

“You sounded kind of jealous,” Shirou said from beside her, and Takara cursed herself for jumping at the sound - and for forgetting he was there at all. She glared at him for startling her, and he simply smirked in response.

“Don’t be ridiculous!” Takara snapped. “I’m not interested in him that way!”

The smirk widened, and she fought the impulse to smack it off him.

Then a devilish idea popped into her head, prompting her to add with a smirk of her own, “And even if I were . . . He gave her a cat. He gave me my parents’ lives back. I think I’m ahead on points.”

She was up the stairs before he could think of a suitable reply.

Four days wasn’t a lot of time, not really. Even on the human scale, it was less than a hundred hours. Barely more than half a week. Hardly any time at all, unless you were waiting for something. Then it was an eternity. And, Galen knew, if you were waiting for something bad, it somehow managed to be both an eternity and not damned near long enough.

Having to take regular doses of Wolfsbane Potion in the week prior to the full moon didn’t help his nerves. The stuff - however useful, however necessary - tasted worse than any cold medicine or antibiotic he’d ever had. And it didn’t help that it was coming from Snape. Yes, the man knew how to brew it correctly. Yes, he had a vested interest in doing so, for his own safety and that of the school. And yes, he probably had Dumbledore breathing down his neck over it. However, this Severus Snape was, to Galen’s mind, not as stable as the canon one, and therefore suspect.

He continued to harass poor Neville in Potions class - though Galen had worked out a system that had served to minimise the damage. He set Neville to organising and preparing the ingredients, while he did the actual adding, stirring, and whatnot. It had cut down on the spills, explosions, and melted cauldrons. It didn’t eliminate them entirely - accidents did happen when working with volatile substances - but not often enough or severely enough to do more than irritate most professors.

Snape was obviously not most professors. When the man took points from a student for breathing too loudly, it indicated some serious social issues. And as Neville wasn’t Harry Potter, the son of his beloved (in Snape’s mind, at least) Lily Evans and the hated James Potter, what was the point of such animosity?

To be fair, it wasn’t just Neville. Snape didn’t seem to like him, Takara or Shirou, either. In his case, it was understandable - the man had a history of bad experiences with werewolves. Knowing one was in his class couldn’t be pleasant. Takara might remind him a little of Lily - she was just as outspoken, and at least as good at Potions - but the same could be said of Hermione, and he didn’t seem to actively antagonise the latter girl. Belittle her at every turn, yes - but he didn’t make the first move in doing so.

No, the only thing that would have him single out the three of them specifically - aside from the fact that they hung out together a lot - was the fact that they all had some level of Occlumency training in shielding themselves, and wouldn’t meet his eyes when they looked at him. It took some doing, but they’d all learned the trick of it. It had to be extremely frustrating to Snape to be unable to use Legilimency on them . . . Especially since their behaviour implied that they knew he was going to try.

As a result, Galen was more than a little leery of drinking the man’s concoctions, but it wasn’t as though he had a choice. Aside from not especially wanting to turn into a rampaging killing machine (unless he happened to be near the Slytherin dorms, anyway), McGonagall had him on notice for that outburst over the flying lessons.

He’d argued his position well, he’d thought, and McGonagall had always struck him as a sensible woman. But, in the words of Rowling, “Common sense and wizards don’t mix.” Everyone was required to take the lessons, regardless of their actual utility to the student, therefore he had to. No student deserved special treatment.

He probably shouldn’t have pointed out that by that logic, supplying him with Wolfsbane potions was totally unnecessary. In addition to the week’s detention and ten point penalty, he’d then been told that he had to help Madam Hooch clean up and maintain the school brooms for the rest of the year.

The only good thing about that was that he was learning some interesting diagnostic charms that might prove handy somewhere down the line. And he did get to watch Takara practise, when he could finish his homework early enough.

She was a natural, he admitted. He’d never be as easygoing, mounted on a broom. He’d ridden horses, and enjoyed it, so he suspected a Hippogriff or Thestral might be a different story - but a thin wooden rod, going at tens of miles per hour, several dozen or hundred feet in the air? All the Cushioning Charms in the world wouldn’t make him feel comfortable on it. He’d avoided getting his driver’s license for a reason.

Still, there had been distractions. Hermione’s birthday had been one - whenever she was in the common room, Crookshanks was never far from her. He suspected she could only be more pleased with the cat if she could figure out a way to smuggle him into the library. For Crookshanks’ part, he was still wary of the three of them - him in particular. It made sense that he might be able to tell that they didn’t belong here, and it was a no-brainer that he knew Galen was a werewolf. Still, he was only outright hostile if Galen got too close to Hermione, and in the last week or so.

Hermione had apologised for Crookshanks’ last outburst, which had threatened to turn the lower hem of Galen’s robes into shreds, even as she repaired it.

He’d shrugged. “Don’t sweat it. He’s being cautious and protective of you, so I can hardly disapprove. Besides, cats are mercurial - they decide whom they like, and when. Maybe, after a few years, he’ll change his mind about me.”

Since then, he’d avoided her in Crookshanks’ presence, restricting their hanging out time to the library.

Truth be told, he was impressed by the cat’s guts. Werewolves in this universe were very close to their Type-Moon counterparts in that they hunted humans almost exclusively. Any animal (or Animagus in animal form, by extension) was almost totally safe from a werewolf, because of its preferences. In fact, the presence of animals was calming to the beast. So Crookshanks’ animosity was wholly aroused on Hermione’s behalf - he knew that Galen was dangerous to his witch, and was reacting accordingly. The fact that, should his werewolf side ever encounter Crookshanks trying to protect Hermione, it would tear the ginger-furred beast apart as an afterthought didn’t seem to concern the cat at all.

Galen admired that. Just the same, knowing that someone as intelligent as Crookshanks hated him so violently (never mind how much it hurt to have a cat reject him) did not make him feel better about his upcoming transformation. Still, when you added to that his studies, his worries over Takara being hurt in a Quidditch match, his being forced to learn to ride a broomstick, his distrust of Snape . . . He wasn’t quite at the explosive point he’d been a week ago, but it wasn’t far off, either.

And then, the day of the full moon, the letter came, delivered by owl in the Great Hall at lunch. With an unfamiliar seal on the back, and addressed to him in an unfamiliar hand, it contained just ten words, delicately written in English:

Snap out of it, and calm down.

Ilyasviel von Einzbern

Galen looked up and glared at Shirou, growling, “You son of a bitch.”

“I thought I might have to go over your head to get you to listen,” Shirou said.

Anger boiled near the surface of his skin, and the urge to draw his wand - if only to use it as a stabbing implement, preferably in Shirou’s oh-so-marvellous eyes - began to grow overpowering.

The windows in the Great Hall rattled ominously.

“Did it work?” he asked grimly.

Galen reread the note, and said flatly, “It’s an order.”

“But did it work?” Shirou persisted.

Galen trembled for a moment, and closed his eyes. When he opened them, he replied in a harsh tone, “It. Is. An. Order.”

Shirou and Takara traded glances, understanding that he wasn’t really talking to them.

Hermione glanced at her friends in confusion, before turning her attention to the wax seal on the back of the envelope.

“Durmstrang?” she asked. “What and where is that?”

“It’s another magical school, in Eastern Europe,” Shirou replied. “My elder sister goes there. Since they were so close, way back when” - here he shot Galen an ironic glance - “I thought he might listen to her if she told him to ease back on his temper.”

“That’s a good idea,” Hermione agreed. “I was amazed you weren’t expelled after the broom argument. That would be terrible.”

Galen sighed, and the tension seemed to leave his body with it.

“I guess so.”

Lunch had been rather quiet after that, with Hermione quizzing Shirou on Durmstrang and trying to get comparisons to Hogwarts. And now he was here.

The classroom was on the third floor, in the forbidden corridor. Fluffy hadn’t reacted too well to his presence - the dog could undoubtedly smell him - but it couldn’t do much, chained inside the classroom. And since all he intended to do was sleep, it should be all right.

He’d taken his final dose of potion an hour ago. Now it was just a matter of waiting for the m . . .

The Wolfsbane potion was designed to allow him to keep his mind in werewolf form, and not be submerged under the raging ferocity of the curse. Given sufficient long-term exposure, Galen understood that he might even be able to avoid transforming altogether, so long as he wasn’t put under direct moonlight.

The potion, however, did absolutely nothing for the physical pain of the transformation. It was like living the scene in An American Werewolf in London. Hands became paws, his tail bone extended visibly. His hair, nails and teeth increased in length and thickness dramatically. His skull and spine were literally stretched into altogether new configurations.

Overcome by agony, he screamed - and was not at all surprised to find the cry warping into the long, drawn-out howl of a wolf . . .

Shirou woke at the echo of a monstrous cry, and was not surprised to find himself far from the only one. Dean and Neville were also awake, and more than a little frightened. Shirou assumed that Ron hadn’t heard a thing over his own snoring.

“W - what was that?” Neville asked out loud.

“I don’t know,” was Shirou’s answer - and he didn’t. He had a reasonably good guess, of course, and it had to do with the empty bed in the dorm. If that was the case, either the potion hadn’t worked, or the pain of the change had been just too much.

After a few minutes, nothing was heard, and Shirou shrugged. “Well, maybe it was Peeves playing another joke. May as well get back to sleep.”

Dean did so, and fell back to sleep almost immediately. Shirou wasn’t far behind him . . .

“Trevor!” Neville cried suddenly. “He’s gone!”

Shirou showed (dare he say it?) heroic restraint in not groaning. How did Neville keep managing to lose that damned toad?

“I’m sure he’ll be fine,” Shirou reassured him.

“But what if that - whatever it was - gets him?” Neville insisted. “I have to find him!”

With that, the rotund boy leaped out of bed and headed downstairs to the common room.

Shirou groaned. “Please tell me he’ll find the toad in the common room, and not go looking in the corridors.”

Deciding that he’d never been that lucky, he got out of bed. If the kid really was supposed to be the hero of this world, Shirou supposed that he couldn’t let Neville get killed.

To his surprise, Takara and Hermione were racing down the girls’ dormitory steps at the same time he was.

“What is it?” he asked.

“Crookshanks just scarpered off!” Hermione said. “We heard - something - and it terrified him!”

Shirou glanced at Takara, who shrugged and said, “I figured it was better she not wander off on her own.”

The Servant-turned-schoolboy sighed. “Neville had the same problem with his toad. Hopefully, they’re just - “

The sound of the portrait door swinging interrupted him.

“Oh, no,” Shirou muttered. “Come on!”

For a toad, Trevor moved awfully fast. Crookshanks, they expected speed out of, but not something that fit in the palm of an eleven-year-old boy. Unfortunately, Neville and Hermione were both out of shape enough to keep either Shirou or Takara from overshooting their companions and attempting to corral their animals.

Shirou frowned in annoyance. “Two flights of stairs at full speed, and you’re exhausted. That’s it - you two are joining our morning runs.”

“Let’s worry about tonight,” Takara suggested, as they rounded onto another staircase - which took the opportunity to shift positions, forcing the four students to hold on tight until it settled in place.

Not so the animals, which leaped onto the new landing and dashed down the hallway.

“I wonder if I can remember Mother’s recipe for frog’s legs,” Takara muttered to Shirou in a low undertone. “I didn’t like them when I tried them, but I have this sudden craving . . .”

Shirou nodded, then followed the three of them into the hall before them.

“Crookshanks!” Hermione hissed. “Come here, before we get in trouble!”

The cat was in full dudgeon, expanded as though there was a threat directly in front of him. He paced uncertainly, alternately growling in front of a side door, and an obviously locked one at the end of the hall - which Trevor, naturally, wriggled under.

Neville moaned in despair, staring at the door.

“Oh, move over,” Hermione sighed as she picked up and held her agitated cat with one hand and drew her wand with the other. “Alohamora!”

The lock clicked, and the door swung open. Neville’s eyes, fastened to the floor, immediately found Trevor, and the boy dove to scoop up his pet . . .

. . . Only to spot an enormous paw in the way.

The other three were looking straight into the eyes of a monstrous dog, a dog which filled the whole space between ceiling and floor. It had three heads. Three pairs of rolling, mad eyes; three noses, twitching and quivering in their direction; three drooling mouths, saliva hanging in slippery ropes from yellowish fangs. It was standing quite still, all six eyes staring at them, and it was obvious that the only reason they weren’t already dead was that their sudden appearance had taken it by surprise, but it was quickly getting over that, there was no mistaking what those thunderous growls meant.

“I’d recommend we all start running,” Shirou said quietly. “Very fast, and very far. Now.”

“Great idea,” Takara said tightly. “But it looks like we’re surrounded.”

Shirou risked a quick glance over his shoulder, and saw a large (though puny in comparison to the dog) lupine form stalking over from the corridor behind them. Its black eyes narrowed, lips peeling back to expose teeth that wouldn’t have looked out of place on an appropriately-sized model of the three-headed dog,

Shirou summed up their situation nicely.

“We’re dead.”

March 21st, 2011, 06:03 PM

Searching this forum.

It's just that it looks like I'm not that great when it comes to search forums U_U

I found it this afternoon/evening thanks to mirrormoon forums.

March 21st, 2011, 06:28 PM
DISCLAIMER: Lunar Legend Tsukihime, Fate/Stay Night, and all related characters and concepts are the creation and property of Kinoko Nasu and Type-Moon, along with anyone who's happened to license them, like Geneon or Funimation. Harry Potter and all related characters and concepts are the creation and property of J.K. Rowling, along with her publishers and Warner Bros., as regards the movie material.

This is a not-for-profit, just-for-fun project.

Writer's Note: Certain dialogue sequences in this story are lifted from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, but I trust in the intelligence of my readers (and the availability of the books) to recognise them when they see them.

Chapter 6 -The More Things Change . . .

September 23 - October 31, 1991

Takara stared into the fathomless black eyes of the beast that stood between them and the relative safety of the hallway. It wasn’t really very big - perhaps thirty-five kilos - but in comparison to the average eleven-year-old the thing was bloody huge. It had dark fur (what colour was impossible to determine in the lack of light available), with a silvery sheen running through it. Muscles coiled underneath its pelt, tensing as it snarled in repressed fury. Its ivory fangs were at least the length of her pinky, and very sharp-looking. She knew, because they were all bared.

With a final snarl, it sprang forward, aiming for - over her shoulder?!

Like a black arrow, the wolf launched itself towards the centre head, jaws clamping down hard onto its oversized muzzle. Yelping in sudden pain, the head began to thrash wildly, attempting to dislodge the pesky annoyance. The left and right heads drew back and began to alternate in snapping at the irritant still lodged on its nose, and managed to take a bite out of themselves (themself? Itself? Itselves?) in the process.

While she stood staring in awe as the three heads took turns to snap at him. Shirou, on the other hand, wasted no time whatsoever. With surprising strength for an eleven-year old, he grabbed Hermione and Neville by the collars and began hauling them out of the room, animal companions in tow.

Takara stood still, transfixed by the quickness of the wolf’s movements as it tried to circle the dog and attack its rump, but there wasn’t enough clearance space for even something as semi-sickly looking as that animal. Still, it tried gamely, attempting different positions and manoeuvres in an effort to get to the only weak point this thing had.

The wolf spun. It barked sharply, as if to demand, “Why the hell are you still here?”

The leftmost head took that moment of distraction as an opportunity to bite down. Another yelp, this one of pain, was the next sound to emerge from the dog’s mouth as the wolf was lifted bodily into the air and began to be shaken in the dog’s jaws - as a terrier might a rat.

Shirou’s hand clamped on her arm, pulling so hard she was nearly yanked off her feet, and she kept her balance only through active effort.

“We can’t!” Takara protested.

“There’s nothing we can do!” he snapped grimly. “And if we’re caught, even less than that.” His steely eyes were cold. “Besides, we have to trust that he’ll survive it.” His voice dropped to a quieter register. “Werewolves are supposed to be fairly damned tough.”

Reluctantly, she allowed herself to be led from the room, where the door was once again shut and locked. However, they had barely taken five steps back down the corridor when a massive bark of pain split the air, and a smaller, lupine form crashed through the upper halves of the doors and landed with a heavy, wet sound.

Bleeding slowly but persistently from half a dozen puncture wounds the size of silver dollars, the wolf lurched unsteadily to three functioning legs - it seemed to have landed hard on its left forepaw. Meanwhile, the three-headed dog’s central head, still showing a bit of marking from the initial bite wound, stuck itself through the gap, barking and snarling at the group.

The wolf snarled half-heartedly back, but its ragged breathing made it difficult to maintain any truly ferocious growl.

Shirou shook his head. “Come on - we can’t be caught!”

As quietly as possible, the four students headed back to Gryffindor tower. Their lupine ally disappeared along the way, though they still heard its whimpers as it used its injured paw.

Takara glanced after Hermione and Neville as they went up the stairs to the dormitories. Once sure they were alone, she turned to Shirou and whispered in Japanese. “He’s going to be really annoyed tomorrow.”

“Assuming he survives the injuries,” Shirou pointed out. “Which he probably will. From what he said when he was explaining his condition, I gather than any injury not inflicted by silver, short of outright amputations, heals pretty quick.” He shrugged. “Kind of silly, since silver and full moons are both movie inventions - but at least it makes predicting his behaviour easier.”

Takara considered everything Galen had ever said or done in her presence, then came up with the answer such heavy pondering demanded.

“Speak for yourself.”

To Shirou’s relief, their lycanthropic ally did recover - though he spent the next day in the hospital wing, his body ravaged after having to handle the trauma of multiple lacerations, bruises, and broken bones on top of the stresses of physically transforming. Needless to say, he was not happy when Shirou and Takara came to visit after classes.

“What the hell were you doing there?” he demanded, and the vehemence in his voice was surprising, considering that he still looked like death warmed over. “You knew what was behind that door - why go there until or unless we have to?”

Shirou explained, and watched as the werewolf’s expression got even darker.

“Damn it,” he muttered. Galen’s eyes closed, and he began speaking, almost to himself. “Odd coincidence, Trevor’s escaping just then - I don’t like it. Did Dumbledore do it, or have it done? If Snape had cast a locking charm on the classroom, I couldn’t have gotten out. If he’d cast a silencing charm, you wouldn’t have been out after hearing me scream. Just dumb luck, or is he trying to start testing Neville’s fitness for the prophecy?

“Or does it go deeper than that?” he asked himself. “No Harry, and Voldemort’s still defeated ten years ago. No Harry, and the Quidditch team still gets a Seeker. No Harry, and it looks like we’re still being drawn to the mystery of the Stone. Is the universe itself stuck on this - can we truly alter nothing, just the minutiae? I hope not - what comes later is bloody scary. And all the needless deaths . . .”

“You do realise that you’re thinking to yourself out loud?” Shirou asked, causing Galen to give a start, and then groan in pain as various injuries protested the sudden movement.

“Must be the potions - they make my head all fuzzy,” Galen replied.

“More likely the concussion,” Shirou retorted. “Rest and heal up - we’ll have to work on building your conditioning back up, never mind about improving it, if you spend too much time in here. You realise that this is your second stay in the last three weeks.”

“It appears to be my ‘Harry inheritance,’” Galen snorted. “You got his wand, Takara got his Quidditch skills and position, and I seem to have wound up with his ability to land himself in the hospital wing.” He looked at Shirou hopefully. “I don’t suppose you’d care to trade?”

Shirou laughed. “Not a chance in hell.”

Galen sighed mournfully.

Takara chose this moment to speak up. “So, what did Dumbledore say?”

Another sigh. “I told him that I heard someone sneaking around the corridor, and as the door was unlocked, I went to go check it out. I was afraid it might be a student, hoping to see what was in the ‘forbidden’ area, and thought I might be able to scare them away. Whoever it was bolted when they got a good look at Fluffy, but I was unable to back out of its range before it could grab me, and the door shut behind me. The rest, as they say, is history.”

“Do you think he bought it?” Shirou asked.

Galen started to shrug, and visibly swallowed a wince, muttering, “Oversized Chihuahua just had to hit my spine . . .” He shook his head. “I don’t know. Three weeks of Occlumency isn’t enough to throw off a master Legilimens, I don’t think - but I had the image of ‘Quirrellmort’ as he appeared in the forest in my head associated with the appearance of the intruder, so I’m hopeful that Albus didn’t probe any deeper. In any case, I’ve got five points to Gryffindor for acting in the interests of school security, so I should be off the hook as long as my temper stays under control.”

He grimaced. “Bets?”

Galen actually got in almost an hour-long nap before his next visitors arrived with a bang. Well, more accurately a scream, as several unexpected pounds of ginger fur landed on his already-battered chest.

“Crookshanks!” Hermione scolded. “You shouldn’t do that, he’s hurt!” She shook her head, picking up the cat and settling him on her lap as she said in the visitor’s chair. “Sorry, Galen - I didn’t even see him sneak out of the room . . . Again.”

“‘Again?’” Galen asked innocently.

She blushed, saying “Last night, we . . .” before proceeding to fill him in on meeting Fluffy, and the other beast. Fortunately, it seemed that Hermione didn’t have the kind of night vision that Shirou and Takara did, because she just described it as “a dark shape with very sharp teeth.”

“And what happened to you?” Hermione demanded. She stared at the various poultice-soaked bandages with something approaching indignation.

“I was helping Hagrid in the forest last night as part of my detention,” he said, sticking to the cover story Dumbledore had given him. “I got a little too close to something with a bad attitude, but apparently its bark is worse than its bite. According to Madam Pomfrey, I should be out of here tomorrow.”

She smiled. “That’s good - you won’t miss any more lessons, and I won’t have to bring more than today’s homework.”

She reached down to the bag at her feet, inadvertently brushing Crookshanks off her lap with a yowl of protest. With a rapid hiss, he leaped back up onto the bed, and landed on Galen again.

Lambent eyes peered at him curiously, cautiously, even as Crookshanks’ nose and whiskers twitched inquisitively. Finally, the cat walked off his chest to curl up on the edge of the bed, beside his pillow, and patently ignore both people.

Hermione stared at the orange lump of her cat in disbelief. “He spends four days straight either avoiding or outright attacking you, and suddenly decides that you’re not worth his time. I’m certain Crookshanks is very intelligent, but I can’t imagine what he’s thinking.”

Probably that he owes me one for buying time for you and he to get away from Fluffy, Galen thought. He’d prefer to be friends with Crookshanks, but he’d settled for indifference over outright hostility.

Aloud, he said, “Cats do frequently change their minds. I knew one that had been chased as a kitten, and as a result, she was so skittish she’d bolt if you took a single step in her direction. When she got older, however, she decided that my lap was the best chair in the house. If she saw me enter and I wasn’t sitting down within about thirty seconds, then boy, did I get yelled at!” He chuckled, a little wistfully at the memory. He really missed that cat.

“So,” he continued. “Shirou tells me that he wants you and Nev to start joining the morning runs.”

She blushed again. “Yes. He thinks it would be helpful if we were in better shape. But I’m not sure I can get used to being up so early.”

“Give it a couple of weeks, and you’ll getting up automatically,” Galen reassured her. “Besides, it’s a good idea! With all the spells and magical creatures around here, you never know what you might need to run away from.”

“I suppose,” she said, a little uncertainly. “In any case, we’ve a new charm to practise for tomorrow’s class.” She held out a length of wood. “This is your wand, isn’t? I thought so, but . . .”

“Reed and unicorn hair, eleven inches, supposedly good for defensive spells,” he assured her. “That’s me.” He took it gingerly. “OK, hit me.”

She smiled. “It’s called the Warming Charm, and the wand movement goes like this . . .”

The next month passed relatively quickly, as the three of them buried themselves in homework and training. Neville and Hermione were reluctant runners, at best, but gradually were beginning to find their bodies adjusting to the stress. If they could keep it up, Takara thought, they might be decent enough to join a school track team by the end of the year. She, Shirou, and Galen would already have spots, having both done the routine longer and been in slightly better shape to begin with. Neither of them, at the moment, had any interest in the close quarters combat training.

Oddly, it seemed to help with her Quidditch training, too - fast as her reflexes were, continually testing them in sparring was sharpening them even further, to the point where Wood-taichou thought she’d be a good reserve Keeper. Her ability to make course corrections in flight was improved, as well, though the superior quality of the Nimbus Two Thousand helped, too.

Flying and Quidditch practice was her main stress release, these days. Hermione seemed miffed about the broomstick, as though her spot on the team had been a reward for disobeying Hooch-sensei in that first lesson, and was colder to her lately. It wasn’t like she’d asked for it, or even expected it - not really, anyways. But it made it hard to hold conversations with her away from Galen and Shirou, and she found to her surprise that she was missing Hermione’s company. They might be very different people, but they had been becoming friends.

Galen was another problem. Takara still scowled at herself for not realising that the other beast in the dark had been him, and that he’d been in full control - but in her defence, when a large shape with a lot of teeth comes creeping up behind you, you tend to panic first and think afterwards. In any case, after the events of the full moon, he’d been pushing himself hard not only to recover from the change and his injuries, but to improve as much and as quickly as possible. She’d rarely seen him this driven, and the times he had been, the situation had never been good.

After almost three weeks of watching him run himself to near-exhaustion, she finally confronted him in the common room before they headed down to breakfast, while Hermione and Neville were still changing.

“What’s going on?” she demanded. “You’re acting like you expect Voldemort to show up tomorrow.”

“I’m having to face the possibility that nothing we do will change things,” he said. “You had absolutely no reason at all to be in that corridor - we have no interest in the Stone whatsoever - but whether Dumbledore or the universe is responsible, you met Fluffy. Unlike last time, Hermione’s been actively trying to work out what could be under that trapdoor that makes his presence necessary. It won’t be as easy for her, since we don’t know Hagrid well enough to pump him for information, but she’s still looking. Whatever’s behind it, the plotline seems to still be moving in the direction it did when it was Harry’s story - and that means, come Hallowe’en, Hermione will face a full-grown mountain troll by herself, with no Harry to rescue her.”

“So you’re training to fight a troll?”

“I’m training to fight it if I have to. I still want to avoid that entirely, but if the course of this bloody saga is so damned immutable . . .” He shook his head. “Cedric Diggory will die. Sirius Black will die. Remus and Tonks . . . “

A flash of genuine fury lit his features at the last, and he continued, “And there’s nothing we can do to stop it. We can change little things, maybe - but what if the big events are going to happen anyways?”

Takara didn’t like that possibility, either, and shook her head.

“We have to be able to change things,” she said. “We have to believe that we can.” She gave him a penetrating look. “Isn’t that what your powers are all about?”

“If I had them, sure.” He grimaced. “On the other hand, if we had our original powers, you could eliminate a Horcrux easily, and this could be over in a matter of hours. Days, tops.” He grinned wickedly. “I’d like to see a lot of Voldemort’s defences try and handle Unlimited Blade Works.”

Not having a full idea of what that was, she wasn’t quite as amused, but she could imagine some of what Shirou might bring to bear against the dark wizard. Instead, she latched onto an earlier statement. “You seem especially upset about the last two deaths - why?”

“Because they were stupid,” he said flatly. “Her exact words in an interview were, ‘I didn’t want to kill Remus, but Harry had to lose another father figure.’ Never mind the fact that I liked Remus, or that losing three father figures prior to that point should’ve been more than enough, that statement outrages my sensibilities as a writer. It implies a complete lack of imagination, in that she repeated herself for the sake of repeating herself, not for any greater purpose - not just another dead father figure for Harry, but recreating the orphan/godfather pattern of Harry and Sirius for Teddy and Harry, to boot.”

He sighed. “It’s also the fact that she claimed to have done something she didn’t want to do, and yet went ahead with it anyway. If a writer really doesn’t want to do something, you work until you find a way around it. Just letting it happen is a sign of laziness, and the implication that you don’t care enough about your audience to give them your best work.” He snorted. “It’s like another interview she gave where she said that given another chance, Lily would choose Snape over James. I decided after reading a few transcripts like this that anything Rowling says during an interview is just an opportunity she’s taken to screw with her readers’ minds.”

Takara was silent, not quite sure how to respond to this. Finally, she said, “You really do want to change things, don’t you?”

“If we can. Like I said to Shirou, with the exception of maybe a dozen people, I’d be happy to leave England and let Voldemort raze the wizarding world to the ground. But if we really can improve things here, then I want to try. But if things are going to be forced to follow the same patterns, regardless . . .” He looked grim. “Hallowe’en is going to be the test case. It all boils down to whether or not we can keep Hermione out of that bloody bathroom. And if we can’t . . . I’ve got to be ready.”

Anything she might’ve said in response was forestalled by the appearance of Neville and Hermione, and they trooped down to breakfast. But Takara decided that she needed to work on rebuilding her relationship with Hermione, if only to give her former Servant some kind of hope that they could get through this.

The next full moon passed without incident, due to the use of the previously-forgotten silencing and locking charms. However, Shirou was on pins and needles the day of Hallowe’en. This, he knew, was the day of the troll, and the reason Galen had been training like a madman . . . Not that he wasn’t entirely certain that the guy wasn’t already a madman. He’d cheerfully admit to being “crazy as a loon, been that way for years.” His dubious mental state aside, however, this was going to be the first real test of their ability to change things - and of the effectiveness of their training.

Shirou wasn’t, overall, happy with the state of things. They had no combat spells to speak of, partly because of Quirrell’s incompetence as a teacher, and partly because at this stage in their magical development, they were unlikely to make them work effectively, anyhow. Hermione and Neville weren’t nearly up to a level of physical conditioning or combat readiness that he considered satisfactory, and the three of them weren’t all that far above those two, given that they’d only had two months to train. If they had to tackle something that was twelve feet tall, twenty-two hundred pounds, and magic-resistant, the results were not going to be pretty.

That they would face it, however, was a foregone conclusion. Galen wouldn’t allow Hermione to be hurt if he could prevent it, Takara wasn’t about to abandon her partner to danger, never mind her tentative friend, and Shirou - was still himself, damn it. He would try to save her, because he just couldn’t not try, whether or not he believed it was possible. In point of fact, this was precisely the reason he’d made the deal to become a Heroic Spirit - to defend helpless people from monsters.

It occurred to Shirou that, in a world like this one, he could actually do what he’d always wanted to do. This place had trolls, dragons, and other monsters. There was a clearly defined Light and Dark. In this time and place, his goals were attainable, and that was a thought he found very tempting. After all, here he was alive again, with Kiritsugu, and Ilya-chan. Yes, he was a child again. Yes, the routine of school was boring, and yes, he’d have to suffer through puberty again . . . But what was the alternative? Returning to the Throne, summoned endlessly to eliminate lives in order to supposedly save them, and hope that one day, he’d be summoned to a Grail War where he’d be able to kill his younger self, and have that action break his contract?

Shirou admitted to himself that for him, this existence was infinitely preferable. It wasn’t quite a clean start - but it was closer than he’d ever expected to deserve, much less achieve. He could, he thought, be happy here, and the concept was more than a little frightening. Still, he agreed with Galen: Takara deserved to go home. He would work with them on that, and if the only way to achieve it was for all three of them to go back, then he’d go. Aside from that, however, he was prepared to make this place, this life, his own, and the decision released a weight from somewhere in his soul.

So absorbed was Shirou in his thoughts that the significance of Hermione being paired with Ronald Weasley in Charms class didn’t immediately register. When he heard the latter snap, “You do it, then, if you’re so clever,” however, a mixture of dread and resolve formed inside him. The likelihood of the troll encounter seemed far higher now.

As expected, Hermione performed the Hover Charm precisely, to Flitwick’s approval. And, as expected, Ron mouthed off about her to his friends - Dean and Seamus, in this case, rather than Harry.

“She’s a nightmare, honestly,” he said at some volume. “Even her friends probably can’t stand her - I bet that’s why they’re always using that mental language of theirs, just so she won’t know it!”

Shirou winced. They’d tried to be careful not to use Japanese excessively, and to have ready excuses when they did, just so it wouldn’t look suspicious, but apparently they hadn’t been careful enough. Worse, he caught sight of Hermione watching him, and her face visibly crumpled as she apparently took his expression for an admission of guilt. She turned the other way and ran off, shoulders already shaking.

Damn it! All that effort, and -

Before he could call continue, Weasley let out a sudden cry of pain, and Shirou whirled, fully prepared to pull Galen off the redhead before the former Servant killed him. To his surprise, he saw Takara lowering her foot, as Ron lay on his knees, hands over his groin.

“Next time, I’ll remove them,” she hissed, turning and stalking off in Hermione’s direction, only to be intercepted by Galen.

“Get Crookshanks,” he murmured to her. “If she’s headed for where we think she is, we won’t be able to coax her out after what Weasley, but he might.”

Shirou approved. Hermione wasn’t likely to want to talk to any of them if she really believed they’d been making fun of her all this time - and her reaction indicated that she’d certainly wondered - but the cat might calm her down enough to get her out of the bathroom before the troll arrived. They could worry about trying to repair their friendships afterward. What mattered was keeping Hermione alive.

Galen turned to Shirou as they joined the Gryffindors en route to their next class.

“If she dies, I’ll kill him,” he said flatly.

“If we survive,” Shirou pointed out.

“My point stands.”

Shirou nodded. “. . . I’ll help you hide whatever’s left of the body.”

To Galen’s dismay, Hermione did not turn up for the next class. Takara, who joined them, said that even the half-Kneazle had been unable to cheer her sufficiently to move her from her spot. It was, he supposed, understandable. In this timeline, Hermione had honestly thought she’d found friends, rather than been largely ignored, and if she believed that they’d been secretly belittling her all this time . . .

He realised, with a sickly horror, that she might actually be worse off than she’d been originally.

The urge to kill Ron Weasley as slowly and painfully as he could devise burned through his veins. He’d never really liked him as a character, and behaviour like this was why: The redhead never seemed to miss an opportunity to dismiss or anger Hermione, heaping every form of abuse on her short of outright hitting her - and on at least two occasions, actually endangering her life. How on earth Rowling had expected him to believe that Hermione would ever settle for him, he’d never understand . . . But at the moment, Hermione’s actual life was more important than ruminating on her future love life. If they couldn’t save the former, the latter was unimportant.

He found himself unable to complete his Transfiguration assignment because he kept setting the target on fire instead. His attitude was not helped by the fact that Professor McGonagall had not done anything about Hermione’s absence other than note it in the roll call. In his day, teachers had usually demanded to know the reason a student missed class. The fact that this attitude continued through their afternoon flying lesson didn’t improve things, either. This was supposed to be a school, wasn’t it? Shouldn’t they care if a student - particularly a heretofore model student like Hermione - was inexplicably missing? And yet, neither instructor had even asked!

His cleanup of the brooms that day was hurried, because he knew that minutes into the feast that the rest of the class had gone for, Quirrell would announce the presence of the troll in the dungeons, and Dumbledore would have the prefects lead the students to their dorms . . .

Since the Slytherin dorms are in the dungeons, asked his inner voice suddenly, isn’t that basically sending them straight to the troll?

He shook his head. It was irrelevant - what mattered was the fact that he had to get to the girls’ bathroom Hermione had sequestered herself in and get her out of there before the troll got that far. At this moment in time, it was all that mattered.

Throwing the last broom into the equipment shed and slamming the door, he put two months’ worth of running experience into practice and bolted full speed for the castle, trying to ignore the sickening feeling that he was going to be far too late.

March 21st, 2011, 06:51 PM
DISCLAIMER: Lunar Legend Tsukihime, Fate/Stay Night, and all related characters and concepts are the creation and property of Kinoko Nasu and Type-Moon, along with anyone who's happened to license them, like Geneon or Funimation. Harry Potter and all related characters and concepts are the creation and property of J.K. Rowling, along with her publishers and Warner Bros., as regards the movie material.

This is a not-for-profit, just-for-fun project.

Writer's Note: Certain dialogue sequences in this story are lifted from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, but I trust in the intelligence of my readers (and the availability of the books) to recognise them when they see them.

Chapter 7 - Trolls and Tribulations

October 31, 1991

As the Gryffindor first-years, now cleaned up from their outdoor activities. trooped out of their common room towards the Great Hall for the feast, Shirou leaned over to Takara. He debated languages, before settling on the now-usual Japanese.

“How long does it take before the troll’s announced?” he asked quietly.

Takara thought a moment before answering, “Minutes, I think. The time frame isn’t too clear, but Harry was just reaching for a potato when Quirrell came in screaming.”

“And the troll was already headed her way when they got there?”


“Then we need to miss dinner,” Shirou decided, and quietly broke off from the mass of students to slip into a side corridor.

“What about Galen?” Takara asked, following close behind.

“You don’t think he’s already moving?”

“You’re right - it was a stupid question. For a better one, how exactly are we going to deal with a full-grown mountain troll?”

“That is a good question,” Shirou admitted. “How did they handle it normally?”

“Harry jumped on its back to distract it, Ron threw a couple of things in its direction, before luckily levitating its club and dropping it on the troll’s head.”

Shirou stared for a moment. “OK, we need a better plan.”

Takara nodded as they moved towards the bathroom. “. . . And?”

“I’m thinking,” Shirou muttered.

Galen was nothing if not paranoid, and insistent on having at least two options to cover any and every contingency he could think of. On the whole, Shirou approved - while the guy wasn’t a tactical genius by any stretch, Shirou felt better knowing that he’d always have at least one card to play in a pinch. It was reassuring in a fight to know that there would always be some way out.

As a result, they’d researched trolls, knowing that this situation might come up despite their efforts. Material hadn’t been difficult to come by - Galen and Hermione had both settled into the library as easily as if they’d been born there, and made the approving acquaintance of the librarian, Madam Pince. What they couldn’t find, she would. The problem lay in the fact that what they found wasn’t exactly heartening information.

Trolls were Class 4 beasts, meaning they were either inherently dangerous, required specialised knowledge to deal with, or could only be handled by a skilled wizard. In the specific case of trolls, it could be all three. They could be up to twelve feet tall and weigh over twenty-two hundred pounds. They were carnivores who weren’t picky about what kind of meat they ate, beyond “raw.” They were fearsomely strong and stupid - and the mountain troll was the largest and most savage breed going. Like giants and dragons, their thick hides provided some level of inherent magical resistance, and they were capable of using primitive weapons, like clubs.

If they’d had their original abilities, any one of them could’ve killed the troll in a heartbeat. If they were seventeen, and capable of firing off half a dozen Stunning spells, or Reductor curses, Shirou wouldn’t be worried. As things stood, however, they were eleven, armed with Hover Charms, Warming Charms, and the ability to turn matchsticks into needles.

The odds were definitely not in their favour.

“If I’d known we actually were going to end up here, I would’ve swiped some acid from Potions class last week,” he muttered. “Or better yet, whatever that stuff was that Neville ended up making.”

Takara snorted. “Where would you have kept it? One good shake and you’d have blown Gryffindor Tower to the moon!”

“Good point.” He ran his right hand through his hair and sighed. “Stinging hexes to the eyes - maybe we can blind the stupid thing. We don’t have to kill it, or even knock it out, just get away.”

Takara nodded, her eyes scanning the corridors. “I don’t see Galen yet.”

“Either he’s running behind, or already there,” Shirou said. “Even if he had to deck Madam Hooch to get past her, he’d be here.” He paused. “Any idea why he’s so fixated on this girl - beyond the ‘official’ reason?”

“Fanboy crush, I’d assume,” Takara said. “I saw enough of them at school to guess. But his official reason is valid - she is exactly the kind of genius who might be able to fix the Kaleidostick, given time.”

Shirou grunted in response. Except for Takara’s sake, he wasn’t all that sure now that fixing it was a good idea.

“Besides,” Takara added, “she’s been awfully nice to us, and doesn’t deserve to die.”

Another grunt. “I don’t see or hear anything yet . . . We might’ve beaten the troll here, but it’s sure to be on its way.”

“Then let’s get in the bathroom and try to get Hermione out before it shows up,” Takara insisted.

“Right.” They headed for the door, when Shirou paused. “There’s a key in the lock. Who the hell puts a lock like this on a public washroom, and then having done that, leaves the key in the lock?”

His companion shrugged. “The saying supposedly goes that wizards and common sense don’t mix.”

“I’m beginning to believe that. I really am.”

That damnable inner voice sounded mildly impressed, as it noted that he was only beginning to feel winded as he climbed the staircases. Obviously the daily runs were having a notable effect. The rest of his mind ignored it, being entirely too absorbed with one thought: Hermione. Visions of her, dead, dismembered, or partially devoured drove him up the stairs with a will, ignoring the burn in his legs. Galen hit the bathroom door at speed, wand out and ready to perform hideous violent acts with it - as a stabbing weapon, if necessary.

“Go away!” Hermione’s voice echoed.

He collapsed against the wall in relief. I’m in time!

Crookshanks slunk out from under the door, stared at Galen, and meowed as if to say, “You try and talk some sense into her.”

“We need to talk, Hermione,” Galen said raggedly. The adrenalin crash was hitting him now that he’d stopped moving, and he found himself taking gulps of air.

“In English?” she demanded, still locked in her stall. “Or does that depend on whether you want to talk to me or about me?”

“We don’t spend our time teasing you in Japanese, Hermione, I swear,” he said. “And before you open your mouth to refute that, I’d ask you exactly what it is that I’ve done to you in the last two months that would make you call me a liar?”

“. . . But Shirou . . . When Ron said that, he looked - guilty.” Her voice was very small. Without the echo of the bathroom’s acoustics, even his hearing might not have picked up the last few words.

“Because none of us had realised just how much time we spent using Japanese, or what it might look like from your perspective,” Galen said, which was true enough, if not completely so. “We weren’t really trying to exclude you.” Just discuss things you shouldn’t know about - not yet, anyway. “It’s just an old habit, with the three of us. If you want to pull the same thing on us, Takara speaks French. Try practising with her - it’ll make us boys feel just as awkward, and let you brush up for your next vacation, eh?”

A sniffle was his only response, and he sighed. Dealing with crying twelve-year-old girls was out of his experience. Why couldn’t she have been six? He’d known very few six-year-old girls whose problems couldn’t be solved with a story, a song or a mug of hot chocolate. He forced himself to remain calm, however. Getting frustrated at Hermione was counterproductive.

“Sweetie, the words of a jealous idiot aside, somebody cared enough about you to send you Crookshanks for your birthday. If Takara didn’t care, she wouldn’t have gotten him here to try and cheer you up - she’d have come herself, but she didn’t think you’d be in a mood to listen to her. If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t be here. Shirou’s likely saving you a seat and some choice dinner bits right now - “

As if summoned, his two partners in crime burst through the door.

“What is it?” he snapped, and to their credit, it didn’t take either of them long to catch on.

“There’s a troll loose in the castle,” Shirou said. “We’re supposed to head for the dormitories while the teachers deal with it.”

“A troll?” Galen really hoped he sounded sufficiently disbelieving. “Hermione, we’ve got to get out of here, now. Please come with us.”

Hermione would eventually be called the brightest witch of her generation, and this title was not bestowed on her for nothing. She was out of the stall before he’d finished speaking, had scooped up Crookshanks in both arms, and was halfway to the door before Galen had even turned around. Then Crookshanks hissed, and Galen went still.

“Damn,” he spat suddenly, causing the other three to stare at him. “We’re too late.”

Although Galen was a lycanthrope, his sense of smell wasn’t any better in his human form than that of a normal human. Humans’ primary senses were sight and hearing, with smell a distant third. However, wolves placed a higher priority on scents, and Galen’s brain was wired that way regardless of his present form. Although his olfactory sense was no sharper than average, his mind was better able to differentiate scents, and he could pick things up based on faint traces that a human might otherwise overlook in a confusing melange of them.

The troll was in the bloody hallway, and from the expressions on his friends’ faces, it wasn’t long before they could smell it, too.

“If we stay here, we’re meat in a trap,” Galen whispered. “If we can smell it, you’d better believe it’ll find us. But there’s a good chance we can outrun it, especially in this maze of corridors. Trolls can be fast for their size over short distances, but it’s basically a quick lunge - and their bulk doesn’t corner well. All we need is to buy a little time.”

“Takara and I are the fastest runners,” Shirou said in a low tone. “We’ll try firing stinging hexes at its eyes, then take off. You and Hermione need the lead time more than we do.”

“Right,” Galen agreed. He eased the bathroom door open a crack, and peeked out, trying to see, hear, or smell the direction it was in.

“Head right when you clear the door,” he said. “Hermione, you’re first - go!”

She darted out, followed by Galen. By the time he’d made his appearance, the troll had noticed the running figures, and roared a challenge. It began to move - but Takara and Shirou had already cleared the doorway and were taking aim. Takara needed three shots to Shirou’s one, but both managed to hit their targets before bolting.

The troll let out another roar, this one of maddened pain. It stumbled blindly for a moment before discarding any semblance of rationality and simply began running in ponderous but inexorable steps, like an oncoming avalanche. Its club in wild, frenzied arcs, reducing suits of armour to scattered pieces, illuminating torches to burning kindling, and leaving melon-sized dents in the stone walls of the corridor. Still, while the troll’s strides covered more distance, the children were faster, particularly Shirou and Takara. They not only caught up to their friends, but swiftly overtook them, lunging around the corner to the nearest stairwell. If the staircases changed in time, they could lose the troll entirely.

And then Hermione, overbalanced by Crookshanks’ weight and the speed at which she was moving, tripped.

She dropped the cat with a shriek - who scrambled out of the way even as she tried to catch herself from the fall. While she was successful, her cry alerted the troll to her proximity and relative location, and it snarled in triumph.

Galen had hung back, partly because he’d wanted to watch out for Hermione, and partly because he just didn’t have the energy to go all out after sprinting to the bathroom not fifteen minutes ago. He saw her fall, and turned to try and catch her - failing in that, he crouched down to try and help her up.

Ahead of him, he heard Shirou curse, and Takara call out. Even though his eyes were focussed on Hermione, his peripheral vision caught sight of the troll approaching, and tensing to lunge . . .

He stepped in front of her, knowing full well that it wouldn’t make a damned bit of difference - between momentum, weight, and sheer strength, the troll’s club would tear through him like paper before reducing Hermione to paste - and suddenly remembered that he was still holding his wand.

The club, and its wielder, descended.

Repeated movie viewing and stock video game animation gave him the wand movement, and it was in as much rage at his own powerlessness to stop what was coming, as a desperate need to shield Hermione, that he screamed, “PROTEGO!”

The air was suddenly filled with the sensations of a thunderstorm: a brilliant. silvery flash of lightning, a howling roar of wind, and the chest-vibrating crash of thunder. Then darkness, and silence . . .

Takara watched, frozen, as the troll appeared in mid-air from around the corner, about to land on her two friends. She didn’t try to go for her wand - at that speed, even she’d never get a shot off, and she couldn’t guarantee that wouldn’t hit Galen or Hermione. Besides, no spell she knew could blast over two thousand pounds of troll out of the air. Even if she could render it unconscious, its sheer momentum would crush them like bean paste.

Then Galen screamed something, and there was a brilliant silver light - and the troll was gone. Distantly, she felt the floor vibrate, as a tremendous weight crashed into it - and Galen dropped to the ground like a marionette whose strings had been cut.

Hermione screamed, and Takara found herself joining in.

I don’t know what your problem is, whispered a voice not unlike Nanaya’s, from a far distant corner of her mind. You’ve seen him die how many times now? You’d think you’d be used to it.

She was aware of a presence behind her - Professors McGonagall, Snape, and Quirrell. McGonagall immediately bent down to examine Galen’s fallen form, while Snape went down the corridor, where the troll was lying inert at the far end.

“No visible injuries,” the old woman muttered to herself. “Magical exhaustion, I think - but worse than I’ve ever seen. We’ll need to get him to Madam Pomfrey right away, Quinius.” He waved his wand, levitating the boy and leading his immobile form off. McGonagall watched their progress down the staircase before turning to the cluster of students.

“What on earth were you thinking of?” she demanded. “Why aren’t you in your dormitory? A thorough explanation is due here!”

“Oh, yes,” said a voice, and Takara was shocked to realise it was her own, because she didn’t immediately recognise it. It was quiet, precise, and cold - and not the falling snow tones of Nanaya. No, this tone was hovering around absolute zero, and should have flash-frozen the air in which it was heard.

The sudden realisation went through her that a generation of students - and no few Dead Apostles - would recognise it, as indisputable proof that she was her mother’s daughter.

“For example,” Takara continued, “as to just why a fully-grown mountain troll can simply wander its way into ‘the safest place in Britain.’ As to just why a fully-qualified professor of Defence Against the Dark Arts at the ‘greatest school of witchcraft and wizardry in the world’ was unable to subdue it upon discovering it. And as to how a first-year student - a Gryffindor, oh Head of House, who currently holds the top grade in all her courses - can miss an entire afternoon of classes, including your own, and have her absence go entirely unnoticed by the prefects and staff.

“Yes,” Takara hissed. “I believe a great many explanations are due, Deputy Headmistress, as to exactly what kind of school you’re running here.”

Professor Snape had approached at the last few comments, and turned an interesting shade of puce. He opened his mouth to say something, black eyes blazing, and Takara, for the first time, met his gaze.

Whether he used Legilimency on her or not, she couldn’t say. But his colour quickly faded at whatever he saw in her eyes, and he paled further on seeing Shirou, a few steps behind.

“My best friend has been injured protecting students - doing your job, Professor,” Takara said in a quieter, more Nanaya-like voice. “Pray that he survives it.”

She stalked off to the hospital wing, and neither teacher attempted to stop her. She almost wished they had.

Shirou glanced down at Galen’s body. If the nurse hadn’t told them he was still alive, his colour never would have. She’d sputtered off something about “core strain” he hadn’t understood, but “magical exhaustion” was plain enough. He’d not only overdone it, he’d potentially fatally overdone it.

Takara hadn’t said a word since they’d arrived. She simply stared at him, as though she wanted to . . . Actually, Shirou wasn’t sure. Will him to wake up, maybe. Kiss him, perhaps. Lighting his body on fire with the power of her glare and burning it to ashes didn’t seem too farfetched, either.

“He’ll probably be OK,” Shirou offered. “In this form, he’s pretty much human, but the curse wants him to suffer, so it gives him a bit of an edge when it comes to healing. Not much, really - he’s still human, but he’ll survive things that might otherwise kill him.

“I half-expected your eyes to be silver with that speech,” he said, trying to draw a reaction out of her.

Her eyes flicked to him for a moment, before she said softly, “He’s never going to change, is he?”

Shirou blinked. “Meaning . . .?”

“He threw himself in front of her, and he had to know it wouldn’t do a thing to stop it. He might’ve burned out his life, casting a spell at the last second. I’ve watched him nearly die so many times, and so often to spare someone else suffering . . .”

“That’s supposed to be a good thing, a heroic thing,” Shirou offered.

Takara remembered finding his charred form after he’d taken a fireball for Saber, and his boil-covered skin in Potions class, when he could’ve easily gotten clear.

She cried out, “But half the time, it’s wasted! He does it, knowing it isn’t necessary, or won’t do anything beyond cause him pain!” She stared at Shirou, as though expecting him to know. “What is wrong with him, that he thinks he has to punish himself like that?”

“You’d have to ask him,” Shirou replied.

“And get a straight answer out of him,” Takara muttered bitterly. She shook her head. “I can’t really trust anything he says - but he told me he loved me, and I believed him.” She sighed. “I just . . . I don’t know if I can love him. I don’t really know him, and he won’t talk to me. But even if I did, could I love him knowing that he’ll throw his life away so easily?”

Shirou looked at her appraisingly. “You’re being awfully open.”

“It’s not like I could talk about this with anyone else,” she pointed out flatly. “Besides, I thought you’d understand him - you have experience at manipulating girls’ feelings.”

Shirou winced, but anything he might’ve said to that was interrupted by the sudden appearance of Hermione.

She was pale, and smelled faintly medicinal, as evidenced by the empty potion vial, and a second full one, in her right hand.

“Calming Draught,” she explained. “And this one is Dreamless Sleep - for the shock.” She peered at Galen’s still form, and asked hesitantly. “Will he be okay?”

“Madam Pomfrey’s not sure,” Shirou said grimly. “Whatever that spell was, it was like lifting a car - under the right conditions, you can do it, but you’ll tear the hell out of your ligaments and muscles in the process.”

“He did it to save me,” she said miserably. “Because I was clumsy. He wouldn’t even have been there, if it wasn’t for me - because I didn’t believe you were my friends. And you yelled at Professor McGonagall for me, and you might get expelled, and he might d - die, and it’s all my fault . . .”

She started to cry, and Shirou winced. He’d never had any kind of luck defending against women’s tears. That said, he’d lived long enough to pick up a few things, and he put his limited repertoire to work by hugging her carefully.

“It’s not your fault,” he said firmly. “You didn’t ask Weasley to pick on you. You didn’t let the troll into the castle. And you didn’t fail to realise there was a missing student. All you did was be who you are - and he thought you were worth protecting, no matter what happened.”

Shirou looked at Hermione’s eyes. They were terribly red, but he had her attention, and he continued, “Now, listen to me. I’m positive that when he dies, it will be of natural causes, because killing him just doesn’t work. Old age, heart attack - he’ll die from those. But this?” He waved. “He’ll lie unconscious for a while, then wake up complaining that if he’s going to have a hangover this bad, he should have the pleasure of being drunk first. You just watch.”

“And when he’s done complaining,” Takara chimed in, “the first thing he’ll ask is if you’re all right. So go back to the dorm, wash up, take your potion and get some rest. Because if you look like you do now when he sees you, he’s going to apologise for not trying hard enough to keep you from being hurt.”

Hermione laughed, a little hysterically.

“It’s funny,” Takara agreed, “but I’m not joking. He will. So go, Hermione. We’ll be right behind you.”

“And if Weasley opens his mouth again, it’ll be to swallow his teeth,” Shirou said grimly.

Hermione nodded. With a last glance at Galen, and a tentative smile at her friends, she turned and left.

“You seemed pretty confident of his reactions.” Shirou commented. “Maybe you know him better than you think.”

“Maybe,” Takara admitted. “Of course, he’ll probably die just to prove me wrong.”

Shirou considered that. Then he said, “You realise that when McGonagall gets over the shock of being reprimanded by an eleven-year-old, we’re in deep trouble. We really could be expelled.”

Takara’s eyes narrowed. “I think my mother would have a few things to say about that.”

Shirou considered everything he knew about Ciel Aozaki, and realised there was only one thing he could say to that.

“Tell me when she’s showing up - I want a chance to make popcorn first.”

March 21st, 2011, 07:16 PM
DISCLAIMER: Lunar Legend Tsukihime, Fate/Stay Night, and all related characters and concepts are the creation and property of Kinoko Nasu and Type-Moon, along with anyone who's happened to license them, like Geneon or Funimation. Harry Potter and all related characters and concepts are the creation and property of J.K. Rowling, along with her publishers and Warner Bros., as regards the movie material.

This is a not-for-profit, just-for-fun project.

Writer's Note: Certain dialogue sequences in this story are lifted from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, but I trust in the intelligence of my readers (and the availability of the books) to recognise them when they see them.

Chapter 8 - Repercussions

November 4 - 9, 1991

Galen’s earliest memories went back to the time he was three years old - and they weren’t, on the whole, very clear. This had nothing to do with the passage of time. The memories were as vivid now as they’d been fifteen years ago, there just wasn’t much to them. He remembered a gray brick fireplace in his home, or thought he did. He remembered going to Florida, through a series of impressions - Donald Duck orange juice, a hotel balcony, his mother’s Minnie Mouse hat looking white and new instead of the dingy, yellowish hue it now held. He did not remember nearly being swallowed by the ocean at Daytona Beach, but he’d been told about it - and the same event had happened a second time, over ten years later. That particular memory was quite vivid.

For all that those early memories were unclear, however, or irretrievable, he could state with absolute certainty that he did not remember a monster with black eyes and sharp white teeth in the woods. His dream, however, insisted that it had happened, it was real - and his mind took it as gospel, real or not.

Galen was three, and lost in a forest. He was wandering, as lost children do, trying to find something familiar, bereft of even his faithful teddy bear in this strange and scary place. Then the wolf had come. It was a frightening beast, taller than he, with fur as black as midnight, and eyes that were darker still. The only colour came from its mouth, from the jagged fangs that were bigger than his hand, and which exhaled the stench of rotted meat from the mouth that they surrounded.

Galen knew the stories of Red Riding Hood and the Three Little Pigs. He knew he’d just met the Big Bad Wolf. And he knew what the wolf did to little children - so he ran, as fast as his little legs could carry him, not caring where so long as it was away from the monster.

In the back of his rational mind - the part observing the dreaming, as opposed to the part experiencing the dream - he knew he didn’t have a prayer. And the dream bore that out, as the wolf chased him down, darting every so often to make him scream in terror, or change direction, and just simply flinch. It enjoyed the game. And when at last the wolf had tired of it, still it didn’t finish him as expected. It gave him a single nip, on one plump little forearm, and then loped away.

It would be many days before Galen would understand why the wolf had done what it had done. It would be many years before he knew who was behind it. But the observational part of him needed no hints from the native’s memories. The identity of the wolf was obvious, and confirmed by the certainty he felt in saying the name.

“Fenrir Greyback,” Galen whispered, and as if conjured by the words, the sudden pain of the change ripped through him . . .

Bright light. The pounding of blood in his head. Pain shot through him simply by the act of breathing, and exhaustion left an aching hollowness in his body. Keeping his eyes open was done by strength of will alone, as they felt as though someone had attached twenty-pound weights at the corners. The symptoms were that of the worst flu he’d ever had, where he’d honestly wanted to die.

“Drunk first,” he groaned, though it came out as a croaking, “‘Nk irss.”

Gradually, as it became apparent he would not be allowed to fall back to unconsciousness, and neither would someone come and put him out of his misery, Galen forced his eyes to focus on his surroundings.

Hospital Wing, he noted with another groan. Third time in two months, assuming it’s still the same day. I really hope this doesn’t become a habit. I don’t want to spend time unconscious every three weeks . . . His thoughts stopped dead as the doors opened, and a figure stepped through.

The first sight of her allowed him to truly understand the term “ethereal beauty.” Skin as smooth as flawless as polished marble, palely complected but still warm when set against the snow-white gown she wore, trimmed in a startlingly royal blue. The trim was even darker when set against her eyes, a blue so pale that it showed flecks of silver. Her long hair cascaded down her back like a waterfall, more silver than gold in its hue, but not by virtue of age. Her features were young, a maiden’s, though not so young as to render her wholly innocent. Those same features exuded the same quality as her movements, and the disposition of her hands - a perfect blend of delicacy and elegance.

Helen had launched a thousand ships - this woman could call them to her with a glance. The urge built in him to worship her, to say or do something, anything, to impress her . . . And it was then that he recognised her face, and understood enough of the changes in her appearance to realise what was happening. Weariness was burned out of him by anger - he had more than enough experience in driving a useless body by force of will.

“Stop it,” he growled.

The woman drew back, surprise plain on her face.

“So quickly . . . “ she murmured, her voice rich and husky, flavoured ever so slightly with a Germanic type of accent. A tiny smile appeared on her face. “Few have such strength of will, especially at so tender an age. I wonder, if you were not so utterly exhausted, would you have been drawn in at all?”

“I’ve made an art form out of being ridiculously stubborn, Arcueid Brunestud,” he retorted, and was rewarded by seeing the pale eyes widen in shock.

“I had not thought you would remember,” she admitted. “Children so often forget the fancies they once held so dear.”

Now it was Galen’s turn to fall silent - mostly because he had no idea what she was talking about. He suspected that his lack of post-pubescent hormones was the only reason it wasn’t worse.

She smiled, and part of him quivered inside. Even without Veela allure, Arcueid Brunestud was a beautiful woman - and she had always been one of his weaknesses, in any incarnation.

“You have grown, little one - though you are still far from a man,” she said, not unkindly. Then her tone turned teasing, with a laugh that should have sent electric tingles down his spine. “Then again, if you are old enough for the desire to bind you, and strong enough to break its hold, perhaps not so far, after all. Tell me, are you still a chevalier?”

Galen stilled. “Chevalier” was the French term for “knight” (more literally meaning “horseman," as he recalled), and it was an odd choice of terms for someone who seemed more Slavic in nature. More to the point, in a sense that was exactly what he was - a chevalier de sangreal, or Knight of the Holy Grail. But the Grail, to his knowledge, didn’t exist in this world . . . Did it?

He didn’t understand, but as Arcueid was obviously expecting an answer (and what was she doing here?), he couldn’t stay silent, either. Finally, Galen settled on the most accurate response he could think of.

“I try,” he said simply.

She smiled that tiny smile again. “Continue to do so, and I am sure you will one day be worthy of your lady fair.” Her head tilted in the direction of the hospital wing doors. “Though from what I have been told, and seen for myself, perhaps there is another claimant to her title?”

She acted as if she knew him, and the reference was obviously a private joke between them - but he wasn’t getting it. Galen was just about to ask her - in a polite fashion - what the hell she meant by that when the doors opened quietly to admit a bushy-haired girl whose chocolate eyes widened on meeting his own.

“Holy cricket!” she cried. “You’re awake!”

“Gently, child,” Arcueid said soothingly. “Both wand and wizard will mend, but are weary yet. Overexciting them will only slow their recovery.” She placed Galen’s wand on the table next to his bed. “Your sword, little chevalier. It has served you well, and deserves great care, both now and in the future.”

“Who are you?” Hermione asked uncertainly.

“I am Arcueid Brunestud, child,” Arcueid said kindly. “I came with the others who were called, and was charged with ministering to your defender, as I have certain - talents.”

At that statement, Hermione’s eyes seemed involuntarily to lock onto Arcueid’s chest.

“In healing,” she supplied, before adding with a wink, “among other things. In any case, I should rejoin the others. You may speak with him for a time, but do not allow him force himself to remain awake. Try to see that he takes the potions your healer has prescribed.” Her smile appeared again. “I have found, in our history, that he will do much more for the sake of a beautiful lady than he will for his own. But then, I suppose this is already known to you, hm?”

To say that Arcueid walked out of the room would’ve been an insult to her grace - Galen glanced down to make certain she wasn’t wearing ice skates, and was actually touching the floor.

Hermione, for her part, stared at the doors after the Veela woman’s wake, as though she somehow expected to see her path through the solid wood. Then she whirled on him, demanding, “Who was that?”

Galen frowned, confused, as his memories suddenly supplied an answer he shouldn’t have, and didn’t understand.

“You’re not going to believe it.”

“Try me!” Hermione insisted.

“I’m not quite sure how to put this . . . I guess the simplest way to explain it is to say that she’s my unofficial faerie godmother?”

Takara had been unsurprised to see her parents arrive at Hogwarts in person, after the owl she’d sent them. To have them arrive with Arcueid in tow, though visibly changed, was somewhat more of a shock, but she supposed it was too much to ask that this new universe allow her to entirely escape the problems of her old life. Still, it had been strange - the blonde had been warmly friendly to her in a way the White Princess had not, and to Shirou as well, before removing herself to the hospital wing to look in on “the little chevalier.”

Something about that niggled at the memories she’d received from her native self, as though it meant something she ought to know . . .

Her parents, on the other hand, were more or less as she remembered them, though her mother looked somewhat older than her father. As that was actually the case, it shouldn’t have surprised her - but given that her mother had been biologically a year younger than Father when Takara had been born, it was something of a shock.

Her native memories, however, supplied the answer. The woman who would become Ciel Aozaki had been sixteen when her village was slaughtered by an 800-year-old vampire. The Muggle-born witch had been the sole survivor, and joined the French version of the Aurors in order to hunt and kill the beast. After eight years, and a promotion to the International Confederation of Wizards’ security branch, she’d finally tracked it to Japan, where she’d met up with a young wizard named Shiki Tohno, and the Veela whom the vampire had become obsessed with. Between the three of them, they’d managed to kill the vampire, and Takara had been conceived in the aftermath.

Ciel now worked as a training instructor for the ICW’s security division, and her husband was a top operative in their enforcement arm. With their ICW ranks, they had a level of authority in every member country, including Britain - which explained why they had moved around so much when Takara was a child. It also explained how she knew Shirou - his father worked in the same profession.

Takara paused, confused. Her native self knew the native Shirou? She didn’t think that was right - but the part of her that comprised her “back story” insisted it was indeed the case. She’d known Shirou since nursery school, back in Canada - which was also when and where she’d met Galen Salvatore. The three of them had been inseparable as children, so much so that her godmother Arcueid (which her mother had always insisted Arcueid had charmed Shiki into doing while she herself was out of her mind on pain potions and unable to object, though never without a smile lurking around the corners of her mouth) had effectively adopted the boys, as well. And as Shirou’s mother was a distant cousin of Arcueid’s, this wasn’t too big a stretch.

They’d moved to Japan when she was seven, Takara remembered. It had been awful to leave the only home she’d ever known, but at least Shirou’s family had come with her. Galen had been left alone . . .

She shook her head. That had definitely not been part of her original memories. What was going on?

She sidled over to Shirou, whose eyes were focussed on the Headmaster’s office, as though he was trying to see through the door to within.

“Any idea how it’s going?” she asked.

Shirou shook his head. “Sorry, my specialty’s vision. The guy with the super-sharp hearing is in the Hospital Wing.” He glanced at her. “I’m surprised you’re not there.”

“Godmother went to look after him, and . . . Hermione’s there,” she admitted.

“And you’re OK with that?”

“I’m sure that if he wakes up, we’ll be able to hear her squeal from here,” Takara said dryly.

“That wasn’t what I asked.”

“It’s only been four days,” she pointed out. “Nothing’s changed. Regardless of how he feels about me, if he’s going to be so self-destructive, I’m not sure I can handle it. Maybe that will change, in time - but for now, there’s no point in being jealous.”

“Says the girl who was ecstatic that she’d finally found a boy who would play Barbies with her,” Shirou said dryly.

Takara flushed to the roots of her hair as the memory came rushing back, then realised the implications. “You’re getting them, too?”

“Yeah,” Shirou said grimly. “It looks like we’re having more of an effect on this world than we thought - or it’s having one on us.”

“So Galen was wrong. We’re corrupting this world like Illyria did ours.”

Shirou shook his head. “I’m not an expert on Jewel Magic - I’ve just picked up bits and pieces from hanging around them - but I’ve got to admit his theory was sound. We three shouldn’t have had enough power to effect this world on a global scale. And even if we did, it should’ve happened instantly, like it did with Illyria. Instead, it’s taken three months to get this far - and the fact that our new memories are still a little hazy indicate it’s nowhere near done yet. No, I’m almost sure it’s got to be something else, but what?”

Takara considered, then thought of something else. “Hey, this has been bugging me - do you remember why Godmother calls Galen ‘little chevalier?’”

Shirou laughed. “Sure. We’d been reading stuff like King Arthur, and the Three Musketeers, and he decided he was going to be a knight when he grew up, and serve and protect a fair lady. We decided we would all be knights, so since you weren’t going to play princess, he ended up pledging himself to . . .” His eyes widened suddenly, and he said with certainty, “Ilya.”

“Ilya?” The girl’s image popped into Takara’s head as she repeated her name.

“It’s got to be her,” Shirou said. “Illyria did what she did with just the ambience of the Grail’s power - and Ilya is the Grail. If she was able to bring even a fraction of it with her, she’d on Illyria’s scale of power.”

“But how would the Grail have ended up here? It didn’t even exist in Illyria’s reality!”

“Through her champion. Galen was acting with her full authority against Illyria, and no small amount of her power. Ilya could’ve been drawn along the connection between them, and it just took this long for the ripple effect to catch up with us.” Shirou shook his head. “No wonder she . . . I tried to make that request sound innocuous and reasonable when I asked her to write him that letter, but she never even asked why. I just assumed I did a really good job of snowing her - but she knew. She knew exactly why I was asking, and never said a thing . . . That little imp.”

“Could she get us home?”

Shirou considered it. “Maybe. It depends on how much of the Grail’s power she brought with her. It can do miracles, after all - that’s the whole reason for its existence, and the quest.”

“But what about . . .” Takara paused, then started again. “If we use the power to go back to our reality, can we still save my parents?”

“I really don’t know,” Shirou said honestly. “We’d have to ask her.”

A sudden, lazy smile crossed his features. “Although this does bring up another interesting point,” he continued. “Now that she’s presumably ‘awake,’ do you think we should expect a transfer student from Durmstrang at the beginning of next term?”

That night, Shirou was pondering - and alternately chuckling - over the events of the day. It was hard to say whose expression was funnier when the “grown ups” had finally emerged from the Headmaster’s office . . . On second thought, no it wasn’t.

Takara’s mother and father had schooled their faces into the inscrutable mask so many foreigners attributed to the Asian peoples, but thanks to his new memories, he now knew them well enough to spot certain elements that marked them both as being thoroughly ticked off. McGonagall, Quirrell and Snape had all looked as though they’d swallowed lemons, but the prize had to go to Albus Too Damned Many Middle Names Dumbledore, whose “wise old grandfather” persona had apparently been run through a meat grinder.

Neither Shiki nor Ciel Aozaki would’ve been impressed. People in Britain might all but worship Dumbledore, but despite his exalted status in the ICW, here and now he was the Headmaster of Hogwarts - a supposedly heavily-warded school which had somehow had a highly dangerous magical beast wander casually into its corridors, and proceed to threaten almost half of a single house’s first year students, whom no one had even noticed were missing.

Reacting simply as parents, the Aozakis would not be pleased. But given Hogwarts’ status as one of the safest places in the country . . . To the Aozakis’ minds, that implied either negligence on a literally criminal level on the staff’s part, or the use of powerful dark magic to circumvent those protections. Either option demanded investigation, and given the fact that a number of important personages both on the national and international levels had children attending (including Wizengamot members, Ministry officials, and ICW employees), that meant that the incident required a thorough investigation by the highest authorities.

Shirou supposed that after being held in reverence by his countrymen for nearly six decades, and the corresponding latitude he was given, suddenly being held accountable had come as something of a shock to the old wizard. But it had been hilarious to watch. He only wished he’d been able to hear the argument involved, too.

From what “Auntie” Ciel had said (that thought still made him smile), Dumbledore had a week to perform a private investigation, and submit his findings to the Aozakis. Should his resources prove inadequate to reasonably explain the incident, they would go the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, and offer ICW resources to aid in their investigation.

Dumbledore had better do it right, Shirou thought, amused. Ciel’s even stricter than McGonagall when it comes to protocol.

Of course, they hadn’t gotten away scot-free. After her mother’s tongue-lashing regarding the proper decorum of a young lady, McGonagall had added a week’s detention to Takara’s punishment. He had received two days - and Galen had managed to avoid detention altogether by virtue of being hospitalised.

On the plus side, they’d all earned five points for Gryffindor, each, and Professor Flitwick wanted to talk to them about duelling lessons. He apparently thought that students who could hit the eye of a mountain troll in mid-charge, or had enough power to cast a NEWT-level spell like Protego horribilis at eleven had potential.

They’d had to fight the troll after all, but they and Hermione had all survived. Now all they had to do was make sure Takara survived the Quidditch match on Saturday, after which things were supposed to be pretty much calm until Christmas.

. . . Although, given the state of things thus far, Shirou wasn’t prepared to put money on that.

The day of the first Quidditch match dawned brightly, but cold, with a thick fog that was finally lifted about an hour or so before the match - typical November weather, in other words. Nobody liked it, but nobody could do much about it, and it really could have been worse. In all honesty, it still could - and Galen was grimly determined to see that didn’t happen.

Given his landing in the hospital wing and the subsequent arrival of ICW Aurors, the troll incident had remarkably different repercussions than in the original storyline. Most of Hogwarts - and certainly all of Gryffindor - had heard some version of the tale in which three first-year students had faced and defeated a full-grown mountain troll to save a classmate. Some of them might think it exaggerated, but the way the student body had cleared him a path to Gryffindor’s table upon his appearance at dinner the night he was released from Madam Pomfrey’s care . . . Apparently, even the doubters had decided that they were a force to be reckoned with.

Shirou had laughed when Galen had mentioned this.

“No kidding,” the redhead had said. “Flitwick was ecstatic over the speed and accuracy of our spellcasting, and the fact that you almost blew the troll through a wall with a defensive spell - the fact that it nearly killed you to do it is almost immaterial. Nobody wants to find out what will happen if you suddenly decide to switch to offensive spells, and I think half of them are convinced that Takara and I could hex a dozen of them from halfway across the Great Hall before anybody else could draw their wands.”

Galen had sighed. He really hadn’t wanted to start building the equivalent of the legend of the Boy Who Lived . . .

Shirou had grinned. “It’s kind of fun, actually. The Weasley twins are now in awe of Takara - the youngest Seeker in a century and the fastest wand in Hogwarts - and they keep joking about replacing their youngest brother with me.”

Galen had snorted. “That’s because they’ve never seen a reserve player who can cover any position - not to mention make scoring throws from the bloody Keeper’s position.”

Shirou smirked. “What can I say? I’m just that good. But Gryffindor’s not the only house interested in us - we’ve got that blond Slytherin in a tizzy, too. We’re beneath his notice as Gryffindors, but too potentially powerful to ignore. He can’t decide whether to challenge us or try and make friends.”

“I vote challenge,” Galen answered. “If that happens, do you want him or one of the bookends?”

“Even if Blondie acts more like him, the smaller one does look kind of like Shinji . . .” Shirou remarked evilly.

“I’ll take the bigger one, then - he looks kind of like the troll.”

“Which leaves the greasy-haired one for Takara.”


Their joking plans aside, it had been a relatively quiet week. Hermione and Neville were more regular fixtures in their company - the former in particular. She’d apparently taken it upon herself to ask for lessons in Japanese, which had been granted, and since they were also teaching her the alphabets, Galen had joined in. He never had learned to read Japanese, just speak it. Remembering tens of thousands of symbols for three different alphabets was going to be a pain, but it would make for good training for the Ancient Runes elective in third year.

Professor Flitwick had also kept them busy with after-class lessons. Having more or less exhausted his store of knowledge in Occlumency, he’d moved on to duelling - this time, for all three of them. And in this, the old half-pint was an expert. Naturally, some of what they learned was passed on to their two other friends, but as neither of them were particularly combative by nature, nor had real reason to learn - yet - it went without saying that the three of them were far ahead in that area.

Despite the relative calm, however, he couldn’t shake a tense foreboding about the upcoming match. It had been much discussed last night.

“We have to assume that Takara’s going to be attacked tomorrow,” he’d said.

The other two had traded looks.

“Probably smart,” Shirou had admitted, “but - “

”Any particular reason why?” Takara had finished the thought.

“Because Hermione wasn’t isolated. She had friends who paid attention to her instead of classmates who ignored or belittled her. She had her cat to talk to, if no one else. There was absolutely no reason for her to have ended up in that room - but it happened anyway. We need to start assuming that without direct, active intervention on our part, the events of the books are going to happen regardless of how subtly we manipulate things beforehand. We’ll only get one chance to make any given changes, and we can’t afford to miss the opportunity when it comes.”

“And we’ve already blown our cover,” Shirou muttered upon thinking about it. “Quirrell and Dumbledore both know we’re not exactly run-of-the-mill students, if not precisely how very different we are.”

Takara had nodded. “Good point. Hiding isn’t going to do as much good anymore, not now that they’re looking.” She’d glanced at Galen. “This is the wonky broom? Or the crazy cannonball?”

“Broom. Rogue Bludger’s next year.”

“Great,” she’d muttered. “Glad to know I still have that to look forward to.”

“You’ll have to be really careful - Snape doesn’t owe your family squat, and depending on what Dumbledore’s told him to do, there might not be a counter-curse to hold it off. When it starts, try to get low - minimise the fall, if you can.”

“I will,” she’d assured him. “I really think if any of us is going to end up in the hospital wing, it ought to be you.”


She’d shrugged, and smirked at him. “What can I say? I’m Japanese, and we value tradition.”

“You know, I now know exactly where you’re ticklish.”

“But you wouldn’t dare assault a lady, would you?” Shirou had interjected, in a haughty tone whose disapproval belied his own smirk. “Such ignoble behaviour would reflect poorly upon your mistress’ honour, that she be served by such a churl.”

“ . . . I hate you both so much.”

Galen shook off the remembrance, and made certain he had his wand within easy reach before heading down to join Hermione and Neville on their way to the Quidditch stands. With both Takara and Shirou on the pitch as players - even if one of them was only in reserve - only he would be free to act when things went wrong. He had to be aware of the attack when it came, and be prepared to deal with it, any way he could, or had to. The price could be Takara’s life if he botched it up.

A growl that had nothing to do with being a werewolf burned in his throat, and his wand seemed to warm as his fingers passed over it. While he might have issues with a unicorn hair being the wand’s magical core - purity was definitely not one of his virtues - it and he seemed to agree on the right issues, and he could live with that.

With a final twist to make sure the wand was holstered properly, he turned to head downstairs. He and his friends had a game to win.

More than one, actually.

March 21st, 2011, 07:21 PM
DISCLAIMER: Lunar Legend Tsukihime, Fate/Stay Night, and all related characters and concepts are the creation and property of Kinoko Nasu and Type-Moon, along with anyone who's happened to license them, like Geneon or Funimation. Harry Potter and all related characters and concepts are the creation and property of J.K. Rowling, along with her publishers and Warner Bros., as regards the movie material.

This is a not-for-profit, just-for-fun project.

Writer's Note: Certain dialogue sequences in this story are lifted from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, but I trust in the intelligence of my readers (and the availability of the books) to recognise them when they see them.

Chapter 9 - Revelations

November 9, 1991

Shirou had long ago mastered patience. It was a sniper’s most required skill - the ability to sit motionless for long periods, waiting for the right convergence of events and people to line the target up properly. As he’d also had a fair bit of close-quarters combat experience, he also knew how to go from “utterly still” to “furious action” with no physical or mental difficulties, and no visible gap between the two states. He could be as motionless as a corpse one second, and beating the hell out of five guys barehanded the next, as easily as flicking a light switch.

These two traits, however, didn’t mean that he couldn’t get bored. And watching other people play sports while he was stuck in a tent was boring. Especially since he was waiting on events that wouldn’t happen until at least halfway through the game. Takara, he felt sure, was in a similar position. Even more than he, the girl was a physical person. She liked to be doing things, to move around and test herself. Sitting all but motionless on a broom until they released the Snitch for her to catch had to be maddening for her.

But at least she was in the thick of it. He was stuck here, on the ground and the fringes.

It was something of a microcosm (a word which would’ve astonished Rin, had she known he knew it) for their whole situation: knowing that things were coming, but being held back from doing anything about them. And, as the one unfamiliar with this universe, having the least ability to affect anything. It was maddeningly frustrating, having to trust other people to cover his back and keep him informed . . . And the fact that his native memories insisted that he knew these people wasn’t helping. His experiences told him to be cautious, to be suspicious, to handle things on his own. But his instincts, influenced by these memories, were altogether the opposite.

His “other” memories seemed more or less in line with how he’d acted as a child, and how he likely would’ve acted, with Ilya and a mother figure like Irisviel in his life. Therefore, he had to take what he knew of the others as equally valid. Certainly, what little he’d learned of Takara in their universe of origin matched, so it seemed likely Galen’s past did, as well - though he doubted lycanthropy was actually a facet of his nature. Some other, equally debilitating condition, then? It seemed likely.

They were his friends, in the way he’d once imagined Shinji was. More than that, really - Takara’s energy once she let people close offset a lot of the social reserve traditional to Japanese culture. And Galen, while shy and introverted (and more than a little bizarre) was clever, and fiercely protective. Both of them were as loyal as anyone could ask a friend to be. If he told them he needed to hide a dead body, Takara would help him carry it out to a car - and later, its disposal place - while Galen simultaneously tried to eliminate evidence of its presence and thought of places and ways to dispose of it that wouldn’t tie it back to them.

They had been bitter enemies, in one incarnation. In the last, they’d been reluctant collaborators. Here and now, though, they were the best of friends, the Three Musketeers. If he let those memories guide him, he wouldn’t have just allies, or even partners - he’d have people who would die before betraying him, or failing him, because they knew they could expect the same. The concept terrified him almost as much as it thrilled him, because it had been literal lifetimes since anyone had been that close.

But it was that knowledge that kept him tense, despite his relaxed posture. He knew Takara was in danger, and whatever his head felt about her, the part of him that was made for this world was screaming at him to do something about it. One of his friends - one of his - was being threatened, and no one did that with impunity. Shirou would’ve given a lot at that moment for the ability to conjure his bow and a Broken Phantasm arrow. One shot into the stands would’ve solved a lot of problems.

That was the other frustrating thing - the time. Supposedly, they had until June to actually worry about a successful attempt on the Philosopher’s Stone. That was a lot of time to train, but would it be enough? No matter what they did, they were prepubescent kids up against the spectre of one of the most powerful dark wizards in memory - a man who’d been mastering forbidden magic for decades. Even knowing what they knew, they were physically incapable of doing some of the things that would be required to beat him. The layers of protection surrounding each Horcrux were too strong, even if they could find a way to get access to most of them. And none of them had Harry Potter’s blood protection. When it eventually came down to duelling with Quirrell, they couldn’t just melt him with a touch.

Shirou’s eyes swept the stadium as he brooded, easily picking out Snape and Quirrell from the teachers’ area, the rat-faced blond and his bookends in the Slytherin section, and Galen, Hermione and Neville in the Gryffindor quarter. He might not be able to count the rivets on a bridge from five miles away anymore, but his eyesight was still sharp enough to border on the preternatural.

We need a communication system, damn it, he thought suddenly. Between me here and Takara in the air, we could practically monitor the whole pitch, and point Galen in exactly the right direction to respond almost instantly to situations. Legilimency would be ideal, and private, but not at these distances - you need eye contact to make it work.

Shirou knew that as much as they stuck together, sooner or later there would come a time when they had to split up - like now - and the ability to keep in contact would be invaluable. Ideally, they’d use headset communicators, but the electronics would almost certainly fail, with the wards and ambient magic around the school. He resolved to have Hermione and Galen start looking into it.

Shirou’s eyes traced back to the two bookworms of their little clique, and he had to suppress a smirk. He’d admit that he liked Hermione, and not just because of the things she and Rin had in common. The British witch wasn’t anywhere near as aloof as the Japanese magus had been, and the way her face lit up when she was learning something - or saw them sitting and waiting for her - was endearing.

Yes, she was bossy, as evidenced by her recent attempts to plan out their study sessions, and insistence on looking over their assignments for errors, but Shirou was mature enough to recognise her actions for what they were. She wanted to take care of her friends, and making sure they did well in school was the best way - maybe the only way - she knew how.

Galen had a similar tendency, but he tended to focus it on survival situations. He made sure that everyone had packed everything, that they had backup options if and when the initial plan failed, that they all kept in contact so that if anything went wrong, they could be helped - he did his best to make sure every possibility was covered, so that his friends were safe.

Between the two of them, Shirou could relax his own guard to some degree. Hermione would never let them fail, and Galen would never let them fall. Those facts were as immutable as the existence of gravity. It was part of what made this life so enticing, made him question whether or not he really wanted to go back.

He closed his eyes. Two months, and I’m already thinking of staying. And if we fix the Kaleidostick, and get it working, and they can’t go back without me, what then?

He knew the answer: he’d go back. Back to the Throne, to the War, to the forlorn hope that he could somehow break his contract - or spare his younger self future agony - by murdering Emiya Shirou. It would destroy him, but he’d do it, for them.

. . .No, he realised suddenly. Not them, her.

Takara was the key. Shirou knew damned well that Galen had oblivion waiting for him back in their own world. He was the most driven to go back, but only to fix the mistake he blamed himself for in bringing them here - for taking Takara away from her life. He needed to talk to the witch. If she was thinking like he was, the pair of them could convince Galen to give up the quest.

And I need to write Ilya again, he reminded himself. If I’m right, and she’s here too . . . An existence as the Holy Grail or a lifetime with her parents isn’t liable to be too hard to choose between. Galen will stop if we ask him to. He doesn’t like being as manipulative as he’s being - too much like Dumbledore, in his mind - so he’d never decide something like this for us.

Shirou nodded to himself, pleased to have found a potential way out of at least one of his dilemmas. That wasn’t to say that this Philosopher’s Stone was going to be a picnic, or that he’d enjoy every aspect of living here - especially with what was supposed to be coming - but he now had a way to hold onto this second chance. And with that, he felt a weight he hadn’t fully realised he’d been carrying disappear.

Then the announcer (Jordan something, he thought) called out that he thought he’d spotted the Snitch, and Shirou tensed up all over again. It was finally show time.

Takara spent most of her first Quidditch match being bored. Wood-taichou didn’t want her getting hurt, so she’d been ordered to stay in the background and not attract attention to herself. She’d bristled at that - she was fast, alert, and wearing padding, so let them try! But the captain had been insistent.

If he’d ordered her to do so on the grounds that she was a girl, Shirou would be guarding Gryffindor’s hoops right now. But she was his surprise weapon, and he didn’t want to her exposed until she had to be, so she’d reluctantly acquiesced. That didn’t mean she wasn’t scanning the skies for the slightest hint of gold, to give her any excuse to get moving.

Takara wondered, idly, if she might not be better off as a Chaser. Sure, Seekers were glamorous, and they ended the game, but it was the Chasers who did the real work. A hundred and fifty points from catching the Snitch usually won the game in that Seeker’s favour, but if the Chasers were really good, that wouldn’t be enough to make up the difference. Case in point: Gryffindor already had a ten-point lead in the first minute of the game.

That said, it would’ve been a shame to break up the current lineup for her. Angelina, Katie and Alicia flew like a veteran fighter pilot wing already, despite it being only the first game of the year. Plus, she’d gotten to know them a little during practices, and they were really nice girls. Katie had admitted that she envied Takara for her “exotic” eyes. It was the first time she could remember that the word hadn’t been used as a thinly-veiled insult when describing her.

Takara had never had girlfriends before who really shared her own interests. Momoko, Arisa and she had things in common, yes - but neither of them were kendoka. She and Momoko had a mutual love of chocolate, and she and Arisa liked to read a lot of the same books, but neither of her two friends were the athletic type. They’d come to cheer when she competed in tournaments, the same way she went to Arisa’s go matches, or Momoko’s piano recitals, but the fact remained that there was a major part of her life she’d been unable to truly share with them.

Here, though, were three girls who not only shared her interest, but worked with her on it. It was the sort of thing she’d hoped to find with the kendo club, but never really gotten. The Gryffindor team didn’t judge her by her blood heritage though - Alicia was proof of that, with her own dark complexion. To the team, Takara was a Gryffindor, and that was enough. The feeling was nice, and she wanted to do well for them because of that. So she’d obey orders and wait, however little she liked it.

Takara scanned the stands, and spotted her other three friends easily enough. Hermione’s hair was easy to spot even at a distance, as were the lanky and round frames of the two boys, once she knew where to look. From this far away, (both vertically and horizontally) she couldn’t see their expressions, but she didn’t have to work hard to guess what they were, either. Neville would be worried about her getting hurt - he was still shy around the group, but sweet-natured. Hermione would be afraid, too, biting her lip nervously because this was something a book couldn’t help with. And Galen . . .

Galen would be like an attack dog that knew there was an intruder just beyond the reach of his leash, straining to get loose and ready to savage the fool at the first hint of an opportunity. As nerve-racking as the idea of being attacked was for her, he’d be in worse shape - because until it happened, there was nothing he could reasonably do. He was probably on a hair-trigger.

In which case, she thought to herself, it’s probably a good thing Hermione’s standing close enough to be his shadow. He’ll temper his reactions to not upset her.

Of course, there was a reason Hermione was so close, and it wasn’t because it was cold. She was subtle about it, and shy, but Takara was a girl too, and older despite biological appearances. Whereas before the troll incident, she’d sat with them wherever a seat was open, Hermione now deliberately placed herself as close to Galen as she could get at any given point, short of sitting in his lap. His was always the first assignment she reviewed if two or more of them were finished at the same time, and she was more critical of his work than anyone else’s, insisting that he do his best.

Takara supposed she couldn’t blame the girl - any guy who’d nearly killed himself taking on a rampaging troll to protect her would be worth at least a crush - but as she thought of herself as seventeen, and knew Galen was older (though how much was another question), thinking of him being involved with a twelve-year-old wasn’t exactly designed to give her mental comfort.

Galen appeared oblivious to it, though. That struck Takara as strange - give him a book to read and you could set a bomb off underneath him and he’d never realise it, but she had trouble believing that he hadn’t noticed what Hermione was doing. They spent far too much time together for him not to have picked up on her behaviour. He’d flirted with both Takara and Saber before, so he couldn’t be that dense, could he?

And yet, he seemed to be. Oh, he treated her kindly - and maybe a little more kindly than he was towards Neville - but she generally received the same treatment. That might indicate he had a gender bias, but not that he was interested . . .

Except, whispered that treacherous corner of her mind, that he told you he loved you, didn’t he?

. . . She kept coming back to that. Despite the fact that he was a proven liar, despite the fact that he seemed to be entirely too willing to put himself in harm’s way, and despite the fact that they were both now far too young to consider a relationship, he had said it. More, he’d said it like he meant it, and they were words she’d never heard before from a non-relative. As such, it meant something to her - there was no way it couldn’t.

Her native memories didn’t help. Whatever her Servant had been to her, Takara remembered the boy Galen as being not unlike Neville - shy and quiet, but always willing and eager to play when she was available. Always grateful for her company, as though he couldn’t quite believe she was lowering herself to spend time with him. Even her parents liked him - he was always a carefully polite guest, and while they didn’t necessarily like the fact he was a werewolf, they never ostracised him for it, either. And Godmother Arcueid had been able to calm him, a little, which helped them all relax around the full moon.

In this world, if her native self were to seek a boyfriend, Galen did not seem unlikely. Nor Shirou, for that matter - they’d spent more time together, and had a culture in common. But her memory of both boys as young children was that Galen was more careful of her, more considerate . . . Like he was with Hermione, now.

She shouldn’t be considering this. She shouldn’t have to - they were all physically far too young for relationships - but she was, mentally, a teenager. And if they ended up stuck here for years, it was eventually going to come up. And if they ended up being stuck here, period . . .

A sudden glimmer of gold reminded Takara of where she was, and what she was supposed to be doing. Relieved to have an excuse to not think about things, she dove after it at full speed, leaving the Slytherin seeker in the dust to gain a lead in catching it.

If only she could outrace all her problems so easily.

Galen hated a lot of things. Among them was cold - which he attributed to having spent his first weeks in an incubator, and generally having no body fat to speak of. He hated heights - which explained his dislike of broomsticks in general, and being near the top row of the stadium box. He hated watching sports - he preferred to participate, if at all possible. And he especially hated knowing that someone was going to attack Takara, and not being able to do anything about it until it happened. As such, his mood was understandably dour, and more than a little tense. Surprisingly, it was Neville, and not Hermione, who commented on it first. Even more surprising was what he said.

“You’ve seen something, haven’t you?” he said in a near-whisper.

He glanced at the boy, a little startled that Neville had chosen to start a conversation, but mostly in confusion. What was he supposed to have seen?

“About the match, I mean,” Neville mumbled, his voice still low. “Something bad’s going to happen, isn’t it? You always know when there’s trouble.”

Galen blinked, then reprocessed Neville’s original statement, adding appropriate capitalisation.

“You think I’m a Seer?” he asked incredulously.

Neville fidgeted, obviously uncomfortable. “Well, aren’t you? That first day - in Potions class . . . You were watching the cauldron all the time - and you knew to push me away before it blew up.”

He still sounded miserable about it. Galen reminded himself that he had to find a way to boost Neville’s self-image. Aloud, however, he said, “Maybe I was paranoid, and got lucky.”

“Maybe,” Neville agreed. “But what about Hallowe’en? Y - you never came to the feast, and neither did Shirou or Takara.”

“I was worried about Hermione, so I wanted to check on her . . .”

“But nobody knew where she was until Parvati and Lavender mentioned it on the way to the Great Hall - ”

“Takara did,” Hermione said suddenly, startling both boys. “She sent Crookshanks into the bathroom where I was crying, to try and cheer me up. But she would’ve had to go directly to the dorm to get him as quickly as she did - so how did she know where I was?”

Damn. Damn it all, he’d missed a detail, and the brightest witch of her generation had caught it. And she was as tenacious as she was intelligent . . .

“You told her,” she breathed, apparently reading something in his silence, or his face. “And you knew the troll was coming, because you said it was ‘too late’ just as Crookshanks started hissing . . .”

“That wasn’t precognition,” he said, before he could think - the last thing he needed was a reputation as a genuine Seer.

“Then what was it?” she demanded.

Galen winced. He should’ve known she’d ask. He glanced around, hoping for some way to buy himself some time - he could improvise, but he needed a couple of seconds to think, or . . .

Nothing. He was effectively trapped in a box with two people that he wanted - needed - to be able to trust him . . . Damn it. That left Option B - the truth, though phrased as obliquely as possible.

“My brain is especially good at sorting through scents - even traces,” he said. “I also have a knack for surviving, and a paranoid disposition, so I routinely prepare for the worst. That’s why I do all the exercise and combat training. I’d rather have and not need it, then need and not have it.”

“And why do you do that?” Hermione asked. “What is it that makes you so afraid of what might happen?”

“It could be that I end up in the Hospital Wing a lot,” he drawled. “You may have noticed.”

“Four times in the last two months,” Hermione noted. “At least three times for injuries . . . ” She trailed off, her eyes suddenly widening to the point that Galen feared they’d pop out of their sockets. “‘Its bark is worse than its bite . . . ‘”

Galen blinked at the apparent non sequitur, until he suddenly remembered exactly where he’d heard those words before. His heart sank. Nononononono - not now, Hermione!

“Hermione?” Neville asked in confusion. “What are you talking about?”

“It’s like you said, Neville,” she said. Her eyes didn’t move from Galen, and her voice was shaking. “He always knows when there’s trouble.” She dropped to a whisper, and hissed, “Even in the third-floor corridor.”

Now it was Neville’s turn to blink in confusion, and glance between the two of them., as though he suspected he was the butt of some joke “But Galen wasn’t -“

The penny suddenly dropped, as the British say. Galen knew it had, because Neville had gone from confused to bone-white and trembling.

“Y - you’re . . .” Neville began, swallowing heavily. “A . . . a . . . You’re a -”

A large shadow fell over the trio. “‘Scuse me, kids - could yeh budge up, there? I bin watchin’ from me hut, but it isn’t the same as bein’ in the crowd.”

Hagrid stopped and looked at the three students’ expressions. “Here now, what’s this all about? Yeh all look like yer best friend just died!”

Close enough to the truth, Galen thought morbidly.

Then he heard Jordan announce “Aozaki appears to have lost control of her broom,” and realised it might be the truth.

Takara was caught off-guard by the first jerk, but she’d been half-expecting it all match and her reflexes were quick - recovering was not a problem. After that, it was just a matter of grip strength, and holding on to a broom that was doing its level best to shake her off. So far, she’d managed to win the match, but unlike the broom, she was capable of getting tired.

What’s taking so long? Takara wondered. Galen should’ve stepped in by now . . .

Shirou glanced over to the Gryffindor quarter in bewilderment. Why Galen hadn’t moved yet? Was the big guy blocking him from leaving?

He saw Takara swoop past as her broom decided to try dropping suddenly on an angle, and decided that whatever the problem was, he’d have find a way to deal with things himself. But he couldn’t leave the pitch without being stopped . . . His eyes picked out a rock, lying in the sand of the pitch. Hastily scooping it up, he sought out Professor Quirrell, whose eyes were locked on Takara’s flight path, and snapped his wrist out . . .

A scream from the teachers’ area drew everyone’s attention - Professor Quirrell was hunched over and clutching the left side of his face. Galen risked a glance upwards and saw that Takara, while basically slumped over her broom, was no longer acting like a leaf caught in a hurricane.

“Wonder what happened ter Professor Quirrell?” Hagrid muttered. “Well, it looks like the little Seeker’s OK. Dunno what happened there, either. Can’t nothing interfere with a broomstick except powerful Dark magic . . .”

Neville and Hermione turned to Galen in unison, their gazes unreadable. For his part, he buried himself behind walls of stone and steel, cocooning himself where they couldn’t touch him. Let them make whatever they could of what they saw. Galen turned and walked away without a word. He wouldn’t, couldn’t deal with this now. He needed to apologise to Takara, though he didn’t know how he ever could.

He’d promised to protect her - and he’d failed.


Takara wasn’t entirely surprised when Shirou was the first one to catch up with her after she’d caught the Snitch. He was on the pitch already, and didn’t have to fight his way through the crowds. She expected that it would take even Galen time to manage it - though she hoped he didn’t take to literally fighting his way through.

“Are you OK?” he asked in Japanese.

“Fine,” she said before admitting ruefully, “though my arms are going to be sore for a while. What happened?”

“There was a big guy in the seat next to Galen - I think he prevented him from leaving.”

“Hagrid?” She frowned. “He’s a nice enough guy. Hard to see why that would happen, but . . . Maybe. It’s not like we’re friends with him - not like Harry and his friends.”

“Maybe. I had to brain the professor with a rock.”

“You did what?!”

“I hit him with a rock. Whatever went wrong with Galen, I knew what to do, so it was easy to cover for him.” Shirou paused. “Listen, I want to ask you something . . . Do you like it here?”

“It’s not terrible,” Takara admitted.

“Enough to not want to go home?”

Takara paused, looking at his face.

“It’s you he’s doing this for,” Shirou pressed. “I’m a spirit - I’ll just vanish back there. Galen, too. He’s obsessed with getting back home because of you . . . But if you like it here enough to stay, then -”

Takara nodded. “I see.”

She considered. “We don’t even know that our world wasn’t destroyed by Illyria’s meltdown. Everyone here thinks we belong - and so do our own memories. There are no True Ancestors, no Grail Wars, no Mystic Eyes . . . It’s different here, but in ways it’s a simpler place. My mother looks older here - but even back home, she was rarely as happy as I’ve seen her here. She’s not even angry over Godmother’s presence . . . And neither am I.”

“I honestly think,” she said slowly. “that I could get used to - and even enjoy - calling this place ‘home.’”

Galen blinked on hearing the end of the conversation. Just one slow blink, absorbing what he’d heard, and factoring it into what he’d experienced. The conclusions were obvious.

First, neither Shirou nor Takara was especially interested in returning to their world of origin, rendering any worries about the Kaleidostick wholly unnecessary.

Second, Shirou had proven that he was equally if not more capable of protecting her, and Takara knew the storyline well enough to know what was going to happen, as he did.

Third, Hermione and Neville were now both utterly terrified of him, and likely convinced that he had something to do with cursing Takara’s broom, along with God alone knew what else, because he was now a Dark creature in their eyes.

These conditions rendered his continued presence superfluous to their well-being at best, and detrimental, even fatal at worst. This could not be allowed. The solution was obvious.

He turned and began to walked, drawing his wand. He examined it as he moved. Eleven inches, reed and unicorn hair, powerful and especially suited for defensive spells. That wasn’t especially surprising, since in the Celtic calendar, the reed stood for family, fidelity, and spiritual protection. It was a belief he understood - but in the end, it was just a reed.

There was a burst of silver sparks, and Galen heard the pieces clatter as they hit the ground, but he paid them no other mind. He didn’t need them anymore, because he wasn’t needed anymore.

The man who answered to too many names, none of them his own, vanished into the Forbidden Forest.

March 21st, 2011, 11:49 PM
Finally reading the first chapter (I started out of order.)
Though I don't really like HP, it's amusing to see your characters point out the nonsensical things in the setting. It really is the antithesis of what Nasu established in his games.

Lol, Garen though, he really needs to take a cue from those dense anime protagonists and defuse romantic tension with such wallbangers as "like a sister to me" and "because I'm your friend! *oblivious smile*"

March 22nd, 2011, 02:32 AM
What do you expect? Its Galen where talking about here.

March 22nd, 2011, 05:31 PM
DISCLAIMER: Lunar Legend Tsukihime, Fate/Stay Night, and all related characters and concepts are the creation and property of Kinoko Nasu and Type-Moon, along with anyone who's happened to license them, like Geneon or Funimation. Harry Potter and all related characters and concepts are the creation and property of J.K. Rowling, along with her publishers and Warner Bros., as regards the movie material.

This is a not-for-profit, just-for-fun project.

Writer's Note: Certain dialogue sequences in this story are lifted from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, but I trust in the intelligence of my readers (and the availability of the books) to recognise them when they see them.

Chapter 10 - Confrontations

November 9, 1991

Shirou began to get a bad feeling when Hermione and Neville arrived. Their expressions were part of it - they looked half-terrified - but they arrived without Galen. Had Hagrid gotten him into trouble?

Hermione turned immediately to Takara, gasping, “Thank heavens you’re all right!”

“Yeah, it was pretty scary,” Takara admitted. “It was a nasty curse to put on a broom, whoever did it - ”

“We think Galen did,” Hermione said abruptly, causing both of the dimensionally-displaced Hogwarts students to stare at her.

“I’m sorry,” Takara said slowly. “The wind rushing into my ears from all that flying must have damaged my hearing. You think what?”

“Galen was tense all through the match, like he was waiting for something to happen,” Hermione said quickly. “Neville wondered about it, and he let slip enough for us to figure out that he’s . . .”

“That he’s what?” Takara demanded sharply.

“A werewolf,” Neville said in a small voice.

Shirou and Takara stared at the roundly-built boy, before Shirou finally asked, “And what exactly does that have to do with anything?”

Hermione blinked at their reactions, before saying in an accusatory tone, “You knew.”

“We’ve been Galen’s friends since we were four years old! Of course we knew!” Takara snapped. “What I want to know is what logic you used to go from ‘werewolf’ to ‘trying to kill me!’”

“W - well, the Ministry says they’re d - dangerous Dark creatures,” Neville stammered. “And my G - Gran says - ”

“Stop there,” Shirou said flatly. “I really don’t want to hear it.”

“But he’s right!” Hermione protested. “Every book I’ve read agrees - ”

“Then you’ve been reading the wrong books,” he spat.

Takara turned to Shirou. “But why wouldn’t he have come to us?”

Shirou considered, and felt his heart sink as the answer occurred to him. “Damn his Vulcan hearing.”

Takara winced. “OK, it might’ve been hard to overhear, but why wouldn’t he - ?”

Shirou replied bitterly, “You mean if he thinks they don’t want him, and we don’t need him?”

She flinched as though struck. “All right, so he’ll probably be sulking for a while. Where should we look?”

Shirou turned, scanning for signs of Galen’s presence and passage. What he found caused his heart to drop straight to his heels.

“He’s not sulking,” the redhead said grimly, pointing to the broken reed. “You’re faster, Takara - get to a Floo point any way you have to. We need Ilya here, now.”

Hermione broke in, confused. “Your sister? Why?”

Shirou rounded on the pair of them. “Because he might actually listen to her when she tells him not to kill himself.”

He then turned and stalked towards the forest. Takara was already running full-tilt back towards the castle.

Hermione ran after him. “Wait! What do you mean?”

Shirou whirled on her. “For the supposed ‘smartest witch of her age,’ you don’t seem very bright! Galen has done nothing but try and be friendly to you from the day we met. He’s saved both your lives” He glared at Neville, before turning back to Hermione “twice! And Takara Aozaki is his oldest friend in the world. That you’d think he’d try to hurt her, even for a second . . .” He took a deep breath. “He’s spent a ridiculous amount of time, money and effort on you two, because he thinks you’re important. I’m glad it was worth it.”

“Money?” Hermione looked puzzled, and she glanced at Neville’s own confused face. Not seeing an explanation, she turned back to Shirou. “When could he possibly have spent money? And on w - “

Hermione’s complexion was suddenly much greener. Her voice was quavering as she all but whispered, “Oh, no . . .”

“Oh yes,” Shirou hissed, angry enough to enjoy twisting the knife. “Point to Gryffindor, Granger.”

“But why?” she asked in a small voice.

“Why a cat? Probably because you looked lonely, and he thought something that was warm, soft, and could love you unconditionally would help. Why anonymously? Probably so that there was no pressure or sense of obligation attached - the cat would be something you could just enjoy. Why a present at all?”

Shirou bared his teeth in a feral approximation of a smile. “That answer, I know for sure: because he could. Giving surprise presents to his family and friends*is his idea of fun. The money doesn’t matter to him - the cost is the number of smiles he can raise out of it.”

Shirou had a momentary flashback to a piece of one of Galen’s memories, gleaned when they were joined through Unlimited Blade Works: His sister unwrapping a replica of the cursed medallion from the Pirates of the Caribbean movie. It was something neither of them had known existed, or she would’ve asked for it, if not gotten it herself - and the expression on her face when she’d opened the box had made him mark Christmas that year as a literally screaming success.

“Takara asked her murderer how much he’d paid for it,” Shirou said coldly. “The dangerous Dark creature looked at the way you were dancing around the common room and said, ‘Every Knut he’s worth.’”

Shirou stopped, scooped up the two pieces of Galen’s wand, and tossed them at the pair with a glare.

“He was obviously overcharged.”

The wizard stormed into the forest without another word.

Takara scowled as she hit the snag in Shirou’s plan. For a castle containing nearly three hundred students, and another hundred and fifty or so assorted beings, Hogwarts had only one access point to the Floo network she knew of - in the Headmaster’s office. Which was guarded by a gargoyle who required a password.

It was beyond illogical, it was stupid. A single entry or exit, in an isolated, largely inaccessible area. What would they do if they needed to evacuate the castle? She knew very well that it was impossible to Apparate or Disapparate on the grounds - it said so in Hogwarts: A History. That left Portkeys - which, the evidence suggested, seemed to work - but if they did so all the time, why hadn’t that fake one-eyed Professor just turned a piece of Harry’s homework into one and handed it to him so it could take them both to that graveyard, instead of going through the elaborate charade of the Tournament?

Brooms or flying horses were also options, but not for this - she had no idea how to get to Durmstrang, much less enough time to try!

This is ridiculous, she thought. How would they get guests here who couldn’t Apparate or ride? They might be able to manage them by Portkey, but they wouldn’t move critically injured patients to St. Mungo’s for treatment up all those stairs, would they?

No, she realised. So there has to be a Floo point in the Hospital Wing, or near it. There just has to!

She broke out into a run once more.

Sure enough, it didn’t take her long to find the grate in Madam Pomfrey’s office (the nurse was presently out - no doubt overseeing the Quidditch match injuries). It took her a little longer to fire-call the Durmstrang school. The hard part was getting them to understand what she wanted - whoever was monitoring didn’t seem to speak much English, much less Japanese or French. Eventually, however, she got them to put her through to Ilyasviel von Einzbern.

Takara had never met Ilyasviel von Einzbern in her original universe, but felt a nagging sense of familiarity regarding her that she attributed to having been a Master in the Grail War - a distant connection, through her Servant. Takara’s native memories, on the other hand had nothing on the girl in the last couple of years - her own family had left Japan to spend a year and a half in France before they’d moved to England. Still, it was obvious that Ilyasviel was older and more mature than she remembered, even through the slight distortion the flames made of her appearance. She was even more lovely, as well, and no doubt breaking hearts left and right at school. If not, she soon would be.

“Hello, Takara-chan,” Ilyasviel greeted her in Japanese, her voice mellower, but just as musical as she remembered. “What trouble have you three gotten into now?”

Having more or less gotten her breath back by now, Takara explained the situation as quickly as she could.

Ilyasviel’s expression at the end of her rendition was icy - which was a neat trick for a head made out of flames.

“Onii-chan and I will have words about the proper way to discuss important decisions the next time I see him,” the girl promised icily. “Unfortunately, I can’t leave school grounds right now, and any owl I send will be far too late. Did Galen at least keep his wand?”

“No,” Takara said quietly. “Why is he doing this? If you understand what’s going on, you signed him up for this! You have to know - what’s wrong with him?”

“Many things,” the other girl sighed. “Most of which had no bearing on his participation in the Grail War, or his post as my mediator, and so I did not worry about them. Here, though . . .”

She locked eyes with Takara. “He has a number of mental and psychological problems that would probably be a gold mine to any psychiatrist he sought help from - if he was the type to do so. The root of it is in his childhood: that he was never strong enough, fast enough, good enough to do what he wanted or tried to do. He was different, and so ostracised. He became shy, withdrawn - and unable to really socialise with anyone. People, more often than not, hurt him, so he avoided them.

“It grew worse in his teens. High school teaches many lessons, and not all of them are held in the classroom. He became convinced of his own unimportance, reinforced by the times, and a lack of ambition that persisted into his adulthood. He didn’t want anything out of life, because it had been proven to him that wanting anything was pointless - he wasn’t going to get it, either because it was unattainable in its own right, or he just wasn’t good enough to earn it. And in the end, what was the point? He had ultimately learned that nothing could be trusted, and nothing mattered - least of all himself.

“Then he died, and in death, I gave him power such as he’d never had in life. Not merely the status of Servant, but the ability to make choices that mattered. You gave him a cause worth fighting for - he had a chance to do something valuable with himself, and given a real purpose, he threw himself heart and soul into it. And it worked out well.

“He needs that Takara,” the other girl said earnestly. “He needs to be needed - to do work that matters. Sending you home was a purpose, and so was protecting those children.”

“And if he doesn’t have to - or can’t - do either of those things . . .” Takara trailed.

“Then he’s dead,” Ilyasviel said flatly. “He died in a car crash, got a chance to do something decent, and if you’re happy, then it seems to have worked out OK. Purpose fulfilled, time to stop hanging around, because the work is done.”

“But - he has a second chance here - “

”That he doesn’t want! As far as he’s concerned, his life ended on a highway in a fireball. He’s ready to take responsibility for the waste of that life - redemption isn’t something he believes in, least of all for himself! And this existence? A life that’s like a fractured reflection of his original, back in school, in a world he considers fictional? Unless the Devil shows up and tells him that this is Hell, he’s going to want out.”

“He wants to go to Hell?”

“If he’s earned it,” Ilyasviel said. “Because if he has, then his being there will be right. It will be fair.”

The German girl sighed. “I can punish those who hurt him. I can keep him from dying - yes, I think I have an idea that will save him, this time. I could even order him not to kill himself, but I can’t make him want to live, Takara. Not even I’m that powerful - and certainly not here.”

She gazed at the blue-haired witch, her fiery eyes burning in more than the literal sense. “I don’t know this world very well, so you’ll have to tell me - is there anything here that he can do? Can we find him another task - another need - to fulfill?”

Takara considered in silence. Then, hesitantly, she gave her answer.

Stupid, stupid STUPID! Have the past twenty-five years taught you NOTHING? How many times are we going to have to go through something like this before it SINKS IN?!

Galen surged through the Forest, not particularly caring for his direction or trail - one death was as good as another, though swiftness was preferred. He’d waited on this long enough as it was. And for the first time in his entire existence, there would be no one to stop him, nothing to try and play on his guilt over what he’d leave behind. No one here would care - and even though it shouldn’t hurt by now, it still did.

How many times are we going to have to learn the same lesson - the universe does not like you, and it has no use for you. It tolerates you only because your suffering amuses it. And yet, EVERY DAMNED TIME, you refuse to acknowledge the rule. You see something pretty, or somebody cries, and you start thinking that maybe you can be a hero, or maybe you’ll actually land yourself a girl -

Well, this was the Rowlingverse, created by she who was on par with George Lucas when it came to understanding romance and relationships . . .

OK, maybe there was a chance here, if anywhere. But even here, you managed to blow it. I trust by now the lesson has finally - FINALLY - gotten through to you?

Hermione had been afraid of him. After everything he’d done, and tried to do for her, she’d looked at him like -

Well, be fair - it’s not like you wouldn’t, if you were pissed off enough. There’s a monster inside you that’s got nothing to do with werewolves, boyo, and we both know it - it’s just a matter of degrees. She’s safer away from you, just like the rest of the planet. Besides, even if you caught her, what then? We both know part of the reason you hate Weasley so much is because you’re a lot alike. You’d want to get her away from the redheaded idiot just so you can stick her with an idiot just as bad?

. . . And that doesn’t even cover the fact that she’s still TWELVE. Of course, that’s part of the attraction, isn’t it? She’s younger than you, and awfully shy. She’s a lot less threatening, less able to really hurt you than someone your own age . . . At least, that was the theory, wasn’t it?

You always like the broken ones, because they seem safer - you just never considered that the pieces are still sharp enough to make you bleed . . .

A branch snapped up ahead, and Galen paused, heart suddenly racing. He’d run fairly deep into the forest without encountering anything so far - so what would this be? Angry, human-hating centaur? A sphinx whose riddle he could intentionally answer wrongly? Acromantula wasn’t his preferred option - he really hated spiders - but it would definitely kill him, and at least the venom would make it quick..

He held his breath in anticipation . . .

The creature that stepped into view was equine in shape and stature - but it was as though someone had filled in that shape with the form of a dragon. Its skin texture was black with hints of gray and green. Its eyes were milky orbs, and leathery wings swept from its shoulders, held tightly against its body. Its reptilian muzzle lifted slightly, sniffing the air between them, and it made almost no sound as it strode closer.

A Thestral. Visible only to those who had witnessed death firsthand - and he certainly qualified. Distrusted by magical society as harbingers ill-omen and death, but while they were carnivorous, Thestrals were not man-eating that he knew of, or even remotely aggressive.

Galen wanted to scream. He made a strangled sound that could’ve passed for one had he put some effort into it, but he concentrated instead on not bursting into tears.

“It’s not bloody fair!” he shouted at the sky. “I died! I made a deal to do one thing, and I screwed it up. So I fixed it, or tried to, and they’re here, and they’re happy, and that means it’s over! Done with! Das ende! So why am I still here?”

He started pacing in a circle. “I can’t do this again - I CAN’T! I’m not that apathetic, and I’m sure as hell not that strong! I can’t live a fun house mirror version of this life again and watch myself waste it a second time - and I will! I don’t learn, I don’t change, and I can’t go through it all again!”

His vision was starting to blur, so he closed his eyes, shaking with the effort it was taking not to scream until his vocal cords tore.

“I’m already dead, I just want to stay that way - so why can’t you just let me die?!”

“Death may yet find you,” replied an unexpected voice, deep and somewhat gravelly. “Certainly, it seeks prey, and a death will be had today.”

Galen didn’t open his eyes. “Considering I’ve been practically screaming for five minutes, it obviously doesn’t hear too well. Please tell me you’re here to kill me.”

“It is not Death I am ordained to deliver this day.”

Annoyed, Galen snapped off a line from Soul Reaver 2. “Your fatalism is tiresome.”

“And profoundly ingrained,” came the harsh response. The right response.

Galen’s eyes snapped open, to stare at the speaker, a dark-haired creature with penetrating eyes. He’d thought he’d recognised the voice . . .

“Somehow, I have trouble imagining centaurs playing video games,” he said carefully.

“There are few secrets hidden from the stars - and those who understand them,” the centaur said firmly. “Mars has been rising to form a pattern that last existed ten years ago. Centaurs are sworn not to set themselves against the heavens, but the movements of the planets indicated that I was to be here, now, if that pattern was to be changed.”

“This is not the droid you’re looking for,” Galen said, waving his right hand slightly. “Move along.”

“The stars - ”

“Will only interest me if one of them plans to land on my skull in the next five seconds.” Galen paused, waiting. “No? Pity.”

“You must -“

”Do nothing,” Galen growled. “Never use the word ‘must’ around me. I will not be told what to do, unless I choose to be - not by anyone. Now, you might as well go about your business, because there’s absolutely nothing you can say that I’d be interested in hearing - and as I plan to be dead as quickly as possible, it’s not bloody likely that any of it will make a difference, anyhow.”

“The forest is not safe for any of you at this time,” the centaur said urgently.

“It should be obvious, but I was kind of counting on it,” Galen said acidly. “So not only is your information useless, it’s something I already know. Wait a minute,” he said suddenly. “What do you mean, ‘any of you?’ I came in here alone - “

The scream that suddenly echoed through the trees was sufficient answer.

Shirou cursed long and heartily - though silently - as he moved through the forest. This was at least partially his own damned fault. Whatever Galen had been through with Hermione and Neville, he and Takara could’ve helped him through it. They would’ve helped him, if he hadn’t overheard that blasted conversation and decided to leave.

There was no rush, Shirou reminded himself. The Kaleidostick wasn’t something we could’ve repaired tomorrow. There was time. I should’ve written to Ilya first - and I should’ve brought it up with both of them at the same time, with Ilya’s response in hand. Instead I decided to jump the gun and corner Takara - and as per usual for my luck and his, Galen overhears it.

. . . Ilya’s going to kill me if I let him die. Possibly even literally.

Shirou could understand wanting to die - he’d spent a lot of time trying to kill himself. As such, he understood exactly how difficult his job was going to be. But he had to try.

Galen hadn’t bothered trying to hide his trail at all, and while Shirou wasn’t exactly a professional bush tracker, he knew a few tricks. His path wasn’t exactly difficult to follow - it was finding it in the first place that was tricky. Once he had, he could basically do a straight dash, which gave him more time to ruminate on his guilt - as much from his native self as his original.

We left him. It didn’t matter that we didn’t want to, that we had no choice. We were the only friends he had, and we left him, both of us. What would that have done to someone as ostracised as a werewolf - a child werewolf? And how much of that Galen is influencing this one?

Shirou couldn’t say - but if the native Galen was as subtly pervasive as his seemed to be . . .

Takara and I were relatively normal. He grew up handicapped, but not enough so to be truly debilitating. Just enough to make it harder, to make it more frustrating, to mark him as different. And now he’s got a second set of memories, with more of the same, if not even worse. Werewolves are actively discriminated against. If the school population found out, it’d be like announcing he was HIV-positive at a mundane school. The parents would demand the dangerous monster be removed from their precious children. Never mind that it’s controllable - that it’s being controlled. They’d kill him for being what he is, if they could get away with it.

He gets distracted, and Takara nearly gets killed - that’s bad enough. And then the kids practically accuse of him of trying to kill Takara, and we all but outright say that we don’t need him around, that this has all been for nothing . . .

Shirou scowled, then froze on hearing something lumbering off to the side. He moved behind a nearby tree, and carefully peered around the side to see a huge, humanoid shape emerge from the dark.

Another troll . . . Why did it have to be a troll?

Shirou prepared to circle around it, quickly and quietly, when a scream emerged ahead and to his left - between him and the troll. His head snapped to that direction, and he peered intently through the brush.

What the hell is she doing here?!

Despite having run all the way to the Hospital Wing only minutes earlier, Takara bolted at top speed out of the castle. She wasn’t picky about her route - where she had changed her mind in mid-destination when she was coming in, the witch knew that she ultimately had to be in the Forbidden Forest, and therefore could manage a quicker route leaving.

Takara had to give Ilyasviel credit - the older girl had outlined a strategy that could allow Galen to survive today, and potentially for a number of years. But she’d cautioned Takara that it was up to her, Shirou, and everyone here to keep him alive. Hopefully, in the time between now and the end of the plan, he’d be satisfied enough with his existence to want to continue it - but for today, it would be enough if he kept breathing.

Takara thought the plan had an excellent chance of that - if she was fast enough to find him before he did something stupid. But the last piece of advice Ilyasviel had given her continued to play over in her mind, like a loop.

“He calls me his lady, Takara,” she’d said. “And so I am. But there’s a difference between a lady fair, and a lady love. I’m his princess, but I’m not his paramour.” A teasing smile had curved her lips. “Something to keep in mind.”

And now it wouldn’t get out of her mind . . . Takara rounded a corner and stopped at the sight before her.

Hermione’s picture could’ve been used as a dictionary illustration for the phrase “abject misery.” Her eyes were red, her face blotchy, and although no tears were currently flowing down her cheeks, her shoulders were hitching in paroxysms of sobs. Neville wasn’t looking too good, either. The congenial glow had gone out of his face.

Takara was tempted to leave them both where they were standing. They’d hurt one of her best friends, and now he might die, after everything he’d done for them - especially her!

. . . But they were her friends, too, and they looked so bad . . .

She sighed in resignation.

“Feeling guilty, are we?” she called.

Both children jumped.

Takara grinned - or at least, she thought she did. Their expressions indicated that her expression might not look as pleasant as she wanted it to.

“Good,” she said shortly. “If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be people worth knowing.”

They stared at her in surprise.

Takara jerked her head. “I’m going in to find him, hopefully stop him from doing something stupid, and apologise.”

“But - the forest is forbidden,” Hermione said, sounding not entirely certain.

Takara tilted her head. “And the reason you’re in Gryffindor instead of Ravenclaw is . . .?”

She turned and walked into the forest. She was pleased, a few moments later, to hear footsteps behind her. Takara was careful to keep herself in the lead, but never so far that they couldn’t see her, or she not hear them. Time was critical, but having to find them as well as Galen was not a prospect she wanted.

She was gladder of the distance between them a moment later, when she spotted the troll up ahead, which hadn’t seen them yet. She drew her wand silently, getting ready to blind it again . . .

And Hermione, apparently having just spotted the troll, screamed. For her part, Takara proved she’d been around Galen for far too long.

Bloody hell.

March 22nd, 2011, 07:06 PM
Chapter 11 - The Oath

November 9, 1991

Running through the forest is not as easy as television and the movies make it look. There’s no such thing as level ground, and in any dense concentration of woods there are roots, stones, holes, and other such snares, waiting to trip up anything moving unwarily. And the Forbidden Forest had its share of magical plants, capable of reacting more quickly, intelligently, and lethally than common flora. Therefore, it can safely be said that only a complete idiot would decide to run pell-mell through such treacherous terrain - so naturally, Galen streaked through the brush without a second thought.

To be entirely fair, he didn’t have a second thought to spare - his first ones were all based around locating the screamer, and doing whatever he could to alleviate the cause of the scream. Since he was presently without a wand, his options seemed limited to “distraction/meat shield,” but it was what he had to work with. And with luck, he might even manage to save the person in question before whatever it was killed him. Win-win situation.

The centaur - probably Firenze, he realised, the younger one who seemed to hold no outright antipathy for humans - had not followed. As far as his hearing could tell, he hadn’t moved at all. Pity - a centaur archer would be a handy guy to have along. They were good medics, too, as he recalled. Instead, whoever it was got him - a Sagittarian, true, but that wasn’t the same thing. Poor fool.

But who, he asked himself, would be suicidal enough - aside from the obvious - to be in here?

When he hit the clearing, he had his answer - and cursed silently but emphatically.

The protego horribilis spell had been as much accidental magic as anything else - and without a wand, he couldn’t count on focussing it well enough to even try. While this troll looked smaller, perhaps ten feet to the original’s twelve, it was the Harry Dresden rule of supernatural strength: for a human being, there’s not really much difference between facing a monster that could bench-press locomotives, versus one that could only juggle refrigerators. There was even less difference when the human being in question was a nearly twelve-year-old kid.

Still, he had to try something. While he was perfectly content to die knowing they were relatively safe and happy, he couldn’t walk away from this kind of situation - though the fact that he’d probably die anyway was a nice bonus.

Takara was the closest target for the troll - and while she had her wand out, he remembered how fast the bloody things were. More to the point, their duelling training under Flitwick so far had consisted of improving accuracy, speed, and magical control. Spells of any real power were still unknown to them.

Even though it was smaller, the troll had to weigh somewhere around two thousand pounds. If he tried to tackle it, he’d have about as much effect as a Nerf ball. But he’d always been pretty good at a running high jump . . .

Sucking in a lungful of air, Galen braced himself, then took off running again, pouring his emotional state into the loudest, most distracting scream he could manage.

Shirou cursed as he saw the troll set its sights on Takara. Flitwick had been talking about the differences between duellists in his last lecture - not just in power levels, or repertoire, but certain stylistic differences that could change the whole scope of an encounter.

Takara’s primary attribute was speed. She could fire off more spells than any of the others, and the diminutive professor admitted that when she came of age, she might be the fastest duellist alive. This translated into her physical movements, as well - she could evade and react better than any of them, so long as she had sufficient awareness to do so. Offensively speaking, her nature seemed to lean towards penetrative spells - things that didn’t necessarily carry a great deal of power, but were difficult if not impossible to block or shield. From what Shirou knew of her father’s reputation, and Takara’s own skills, it seemed almost a direct translation of her original abilities. She fought best by moving around the battlefield and using quick, invasive thrusts. She might not be able to floor a troll with one shot, but she could certainly give it the death of a thousand cuts.

Similarly, he seemed to excel at maintaining the power of his spells at incredibly long ranges. A standard spell might peter out at a distance of thirty or forty feet, assuming it didn’t hit something first. Certainly, it would weaken somewhat the longer it had to be held, as a matter of the caster’s power and concentration. With him, that didn’t happen - and he also seemed to have a knack for offensive spells. So tactically speaking, if Takara was best used as infantry or cavalry, he functioned best as heavy artillery, though he’d proven that was no slouch when it came to handling close up combat, either.

So, in some ways, they were in an ideal combat situation, where both of their specialties could be used to best effect. Unfortunately, neither of them had an arsenal to speak of. They were still limited to pretty much stinging or tickling hexes, which would only annoy the troll. Yes, they could blind it again, but that hadn’t helped too much the last time.

We need Galen, Shirou thought.

The third of their triumvirate had, as his overpowered spell had proven, an affinity for defensive spells. Shields, wards, counterspells - he could layer himself behind a nigh-impenetrable range of protection and then attack with relative impunity. Or, working in concert with one or both of them, bring down seemingly invincible foes in a remarkably short time.

Actually, from what he’d seen, Shirou thought he would do well partnered with Hermione. She was supposed to develop a wide array of spells, and be an excellent planner. In their mock duels, her weakness had always been time - if you could surprise her, keep her off-balance and reacting instead of thinking, she lost her advantage. But with Galen to shield her, she’d be able to bring her full abilities into play.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t here, and wandless in any case. And the troll wasn’t going to react to martial arts unless Galen was lucky enough to nail him in the crotch -

Chastising himself for missing the obvious, Shirou fired the strongest stinging hex he could muster into the aforementioned target zone. Unfortunately, the troll turned too far at the last second, and he only managed to hit it in the ass - though it did make the beast jump. It roared pretty impressively, too.

“Takara, get clear!” Shirou shouted.

Any answer the girl might’ve made was drowned out by a scream - a wild, tormented thing that preceded a blurred form slamming into the troll’s head.

Shirou winced. The way he’d landed, and was clinging, it looked like Galen was trying to hump the troll’s ear, and Shirou was going to need a good, stiff drink to destroy that image and any associated brain cells later. Still, Shirou had to admit his grip strength was impressive - as wildly as the troll was thrashing, it was a testament to the guy’s tenacity . . . Especially when Takara to repeat Shirou’s early tactic, this time successfully.

Howling in rage and agony, the troll dropped to its knees with a seismic thud, curling over its injured groin. Gravity and the sudden impact accomplished what determined effort had not, and Galen fell haphazardly before the troll, which raised its arm at the convenient target on which to vent its anger . . .

Hermione hastily spoke a few well-chosen words - from the sounds of it, with no small amount of panic - and the fur loincloth the troll wore suddenly burst into flames.

Shirou added a new memory to the “death by alcohol poisoning” list: the smell of burning troll jockstrap, along with the contents of same. On the other hand, it gave them an excellent opportunity to escape - they’d found Galen, and the troll was sure as hell distracted now, rolling away and screaming in agony as it tried desperately to end the roasting of its chestnuts.

. . . OK, that metaphor has to go, too, he decided.

Takara helped Galen, who was obviously somewhat unsteady, to his feet. The effort proved completely useless, however, when a bushy-haired missile chose that moment to hit its target.

Takara stared, caught between amusement and bemusement, as Galen was suddenly pinned beneath about thirty-odd kilos of sobbing witch. His expression was definitely more towards the latter expression, though. The hazards of an older mind in a younger body, she supposed. He obviously wasn’t entirely sure what to make of the situation - or what he wanted to. If they were both a little older, his reaction would be a lot clearer.

“Air’s a problem,” he finally said, his voice somewhat strained. When there was no sign of relenting, he croaked, “Hermione . . .”

Takara pointed out, “If you wanted to kill him yourself, you should have just said so.”

Hermione sprang off him like she’d been shot from a cannon, her expression mortified.

Galen inhaled with an expression of relief. “That’s better.” He sat up and gave them a quizzical look, including the approaching Shirou. “So, why on earth would you have been crazy enough to come out here?”

Takara grabbed him roughly and hauled him to his feet, taking her own turn to hug him. “We were looking for you, you incredibly dense prat! You had us terrified!”

She felt him relax in her arms, as she’d been waiting for him to do, and slammed her knee into his crotch. It was a pity she could no longer reinforce herself, but it had the desired effect nonetheless.

“If you ever try a stunt like that again, I’ll kill you myself!” she snapped.

She knew it was the wrong thing to say when she saw his face close up, his eyes suddenly empty of expression. They matched his voice as he asked, “Promise?”

Takara had never walked the bloody road he’d conjured for the others to journey to Faust’s tower - had never seen her Servant destroy Berserker. But looking at the alien expression in his face then, she understood what her mother had told her, before they’d fought Illyria.

“He didn’t choose the Avenger class by pulling it out of a hat . . . I think he’d kill you, if he was angry enough. Not to mention any other living thing he could get his hands on.”

Anger might be his driving force - indeed, she knew it was - but looking at him now was scarier, when he was looking at her as though she didn’t really exist. Not angry, but too empty to care, about anyone or anything. She understood now how he could be not just a warrior, but a killer. She’d only ever seen eyes like that once before: in the mirror, when they were reflected back as a bright, shining silver.

Takara shivered - and gave a start when Hermione chose that moment to jump him again. Her voice was muffled by his chest and probably some tears, but this close, she caught the gist of it.

“I’m sorry! I’m sorry! You’ve been so nice - and I was so - so h - horrible! After you saved my life . . .”

“Given what just happened, we’ll call it even,” he said quietly, starting to tentatively stroke her hair. Takara noted that he still didn’t look entirely comfortable, but it appeared that he had certain instinctive behaviours when it came to crying girls. She filed it away as something good to know for future reference.

“That was a nifty bit of spellwork, even for you Hermione,” he offered. “And you’re usually impressive to begin with.”

“Me!” she sniffed, staring at him. “Books! And cleverness! There are more important things - friendship and bravery and - oh Galen - I’m sorry!”

Takara stared as she buried herself in him again. It appeared that in no universe, and under no circumstances, would Hermione Granger ever finish that list of more important things.

“We . . . We weren’t exactly f - fair, were we?” Neville said quietly. “W - we’re supposed to be . . . We’re - friends . . . Aren’t we?”

“I thought so,” Galen said neutrally. “Of course, we may have different definitions.”

Neville flinched, and Shirou scowled at him. Galen’s only response was another dead-eyed look.

Takara frowned. At this rate, they were going to end up killing each other. They needed away to get through to him . . .

A burst of fire appeared, as if in answer, resolving into the form of a majestic bird with scarlet and gold plumage. It settled from its midair point of appearance onto a nearby tree stump, gazed at each of them with eyes like black marbles, and opened its mouth. A crystalline note emerged from the bird, and a corresponding warmth filled Takara’s body, as though she just taken a deep draught of a very warm and rich blend of hot chocolate. The tension flowed out of her body in torrents, and she could see the others relaxing as well . . .

Except Galen, she realised, who acted as though the sound was that of nails on a chalkboard. She recalled dimly that Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them said phoenix song caused fear in the impure of heart. Is it him, or is this a side-effect of his lycanthropy?

Takara honestly wasn’t sure which thought was worse: that he was a far bigger monster than she’d ever believed, or that the curse he bore would go so far to deny him peace.

Hermione stared at the bird in wonder. “Is that a phoenix?”

“Fawkes,” Galen said, and his tone was even grimmer than before. “I take it the Headmaster has decided to get involved?”

In answer, the bird ducked its head in the direction of the long, slender box in its talons, atop which was a letter sealed with wax.

“That’s the Einzbern crest,” Shirou said in disbelief, before turning to stare at Takara. “What did you tell*her?”

“You got Ilya-dono involved in this?”

“Would you have listened to anyone else?” Takara fired back. “She said she had a plan to keep you from doing anything stupid - I guess this is it.” The girl shrugged. “I assume the letter is for you.”

Shirou checked. “Yup.” He handed it over to Galen, who broke the seal and read it silently, while Shirou picked up the box. It was, unsurprisingly, sealed tight, with no visible keyhole. The phoenix chose that moment to vanish in flames again, startling them all.

Hermione looked between the three of them, then back at Neville, who shrugged. Finally, unable to stifle her curiosity, she hesitantly asked, “What does it say?”

Galen glanced at her, then the rest, before reading aloud.

“Circumstances have apparently dictated that I have your birthday gift delivered early, so I have chosen the fastest means available. I hope it arrives in time.
I thought it appropriate, as a knight’s sword should be properly girded on by his lady, not a shopkeeper.

“However, think carefully before you accept it. This sword is far more powerful, and bears equally powerful responsibilities. In taking it up, you will oblige yourself to obey the commandments I give you - and you will find neither wand nor oath as easily broken as before. This is an adult’s choice, not a child’s game.

“An ye wish to abide by this, swear unto me as ye did to her, and ‘twill be thine.”

“Is your sister - entirely well?” Hermione asked Shirou cautiously. “She doesn’t sound . . .”

“Sane?” Shirou offered quietly. He smirked at Hermione and Neville, but kept his eyes on Galen, who was gazing contemplatively at the box. “Ilya can be childish for her age - and she enjoyed playing princess to Galen’s knight, don’t doubt it. The language is designed to remind him of that, because he’ll respond to it.”

“But the last line especially - such archaic terminology! And what’s she talking about? ‘Swear as he did to’ . . . Who?”

“Contracts can have formal language like that,” Neville offered hesitantly. “Like with the goblins, and such. Old treaties, too.”

The next several minutes passed in silence. Finally, Galen looked at Takara.

“I need your knife.”

She withdrew it - not the same heirloom blade her father bore, but stamped with the same crest. Also unlike that blade, it had enchantments to deal with locks - had she been ahead of Hermione in the third floor corridor, she could’ve used it then.

Takara looked at him steadily. “Are you sure?”

He gave her a steady look. “It’s my choice.”

And that, she realised, makes all the difference to him. She handed him the knife.

Hermione stared at the two of them in bewilderment. Neville stared instead at the razor-sharp length of stainless steel as it was unsheathed, swallowing hard. “Wh . . . Why do you need a - a knife?”

Takara answered, remembering as she did so, “Because this oath is sworn in blood.”

Neville joined Hermione in staring at her.

Galen delicately pricked his left palm, cupping the vermillion droplet that welled up. Carefully wiping the blade clean before sheathing it again, he handed it back to Takara, gazed at the wound, and then the box.

“Ilyasviel von Einzbern,” he intoned, in a voice that was quiet but implacable. “I will serve thy cause on my honour, and bind myself to thee, by blood and power, until the end. So I swear.”

He tilted his hand. The droplet fell, and flared alight on landing. The box opened of its own accord, revealing a length of wood in a leathery wrist holster, and a wax-sealed square of parchment. Underneath the seal was written, “Eleven inches. Lignum vitae and Mother’s hair. Very passionate.”

“Oh God,” Shirou muttered. “A wand with a temper to match yours. That’s not a disaster waiting to happen.”

“I’ll have to thank Lady Irisviel,” Galen murmured. “Would you mind helping me - I’m right-handed, and my left one’s injured.”

Takara removed the holstered wand, and reached across him to set it on the proper arm, but from where she was standing, she couldn’t quite reach all the way around to affix it properly. She frowned, straining to stretch just a little farther . . .

Hermione’s hands caught her own. Wordlessly, she delicately tightened and tied off the straps.

No one commented on their absence following the Quidditch match. As it was Saturday, they had no classes, and so no real reason to be expected anywhere. Thus, they could quietly sneak into an empty corner of the library to discuss things.

“What’s the message?” Hermione asked, as soon as she was certain she politely do so.

Galen broke the seal and checked. “My orders.”

“Which are?” she pressed.

“Much as before - to serve and protect her interests. Though she says I am now ‘enjoined to sacrifice my life only in the direct*defence of others, and when bereft of other options.’”

“She does know you entirely too well,” Shirou said with a smirk.

“What exactly are her interests?” Hermione queried hesitantly.

“Nonsexual,” Galen answered in a deadpan tone. Upon seeing Hermione flush to the roots of her hair (and Neville, too), he added with a grin, “You know you were thinking it.”

He shook his head. “Effectively, monitor the school for signs of Dark wizardry, try to stop them.” He traded a glance with Takara and Shirou that indicated it was a bit more complicated than that, but nothing he’d reveal here and now.

“I wonder who did curse your broom, Takara,” Neville mused. “It was a nasty prank. You could’ve been killed, in front of everybody. Even Professor Dumbledore!”

Galen suddenly understood.

“That was the point,” he said. “Dumbledore’s already being scrutinised over the troll incident. If less than a week after two ICW-level Aurors come to Hogwarts with concerns about the school’s safety, their child is killed by Dark magic, right in front of the Headmaster. What do you think happens then?”

“They’d launch a full investigation,” Neville said with certainty. “Professor Dumbledore would be suspended, maybe even sacked or arrested for negligence. Hogwarts might even be closed down!”

Galen had forgotten the boy’s parents were Aurors. That he knew something of their procedures made sense, as a way to connect to his lost family.

“And if they found the cerberus on the third-floor corridor?”

“They’d investigate - probably impound or kill it.”

“Along with any other security measures,” Galen said urgently.

Shirou blinked. “I’ll be damned - it was all a diversion, wasn’t it?”

“Look at the repercussions - at the absolute minimum, Dumbledore, arguably the world’s most powerful wizard, is ousted from the castle. Even if he’s replaced immediately, whoever they bring in can’t be nearly as formidable. If the ICW goes so far as to discover the dog and what it’s guarding, and bring it out into the open . . .”

“It’s that much easier to steal!” Hermione said in understanding.

“And even if they don’t, and just close the school down, any wannabe thief then effectively has unlimited time to try for the prize undisturbed,” Galen finished. “No matter how it played out, Takara’s death in that match would’ve gained him something. I believe the phrase ‘diabolically brilliant’ can be rightfully applied.”

Inwardly, however, he was thinking, This universe has a Dumbledore with balls, and a Voldemort with a brain - we’re fucked.

“What can we do?” Neville wondered.

“We need to tell Professor McGonagall,” Hermione said immediately.

But that trick never works, Galen thought. Aloud, he said, “And say what, Hermione? ‘Excuse us, Professor, but the supersecret treasure we think is hidden on the third floor, in a corridor we weren’t supposed to be in, is being targeted by a mystery thief - we don’t know who - who keeps trying to kill students to either divert everybody’s attention or eliminate the Headmaster so he, she or they have a clear shot? Incidentally, Professor we can’t actually prove any of this, but we’re earnest eleven and twelve-year olds, so you should believe us?’”

Hermione looked crestfallen. “I suppose it does sound kind of silly . . .”

“It’s a nice idea,” he said kindly, smiling at her, “but it’s not practical in this case. Neither is going to the Aurors, right?”

Shirou and Takara shook their heads, the latter saying, “Assuming they didn’t just ignore us, we’d get in trouble for causing mischief.”

“Then if we can’t go to the teachers or the Aurors . . . ” Neville wondered aloud, “what should we do about the thief?”

Galen grinned. “The only thing we can do - beat him to it.”

March 22nd, 2011, 07:06 PM
DISCLAIMER: Lunar Legend Tsukihime, Fate/Stay Night, and all related characters and concepts are the creation and property of Kinoko Nasu and Type-Moon, along with anyone who's happened to license them, like Geneon or Funimation. Harry Potter and all related characters and concepts are the creation and property of J.K. Rowling, along with her publishers and Warner Bros., as regards the movie material.

This is a not-for-profit, just-for-fun project.

Writer's Note: Certain dialogue sequences in this story are lifted from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, but I trust in the intelligence of my readers (and the availability of the books) to recognise them when they see them.

Chapter 12 - Of Birthdays, Beasts, Boys and Bubotubers

November 22, 1991

The weeks following the Quidditch match were some of the most exhausting Takara could ever remember, in either life. Wood-taichou had not taken Gryffindor’s victory as an excuse to slack off, but rather as a standard by which to improve, which made for exhausting practices. There, at least, she had an edge: Galen and Shirou had stepped up the pace and distance of their morning runs in an effort to increase their speed and endurance - and while her physical condition had little to do with her ability to sit on a broomstick, it didn’t hurt, either.

Neville and Hermione had gained new motivation, as well. After two encounters with trolls, neither one was especially inclined to argue about the necessity of keeping in top shape. They still weren’t quite up to the speed or distance the trio had achieved, but both were highly driven to succeed.

The hand-to-hand training, on the other hand, did. So did the duelling drills they did with Professor Flitwick. Takara was discovering a heretofore unrealised talent for medical magic, with all the bruises, lacerations and burns she ended up needing to have healed. Especially burns. They’d discovered that not only did Shirou have a natural ability for learning fire magic, but Galen’s new wand loved it. He’d picked up the knack of casting Hermione’s bluebell flames almost on the first try, and while he didn’t have her ability to control their movements, his flames were definitely hotter.

Takara ascribed the boys’ knack for that to the fact that their wands’ cores both belonged to fire-based creatures. One would assume her dragon heartstring core would grant her a similar knack - most if not all the dragons she knew of on this world were fire-breathers - but apparently she was better with water spells like aguamenti - which Galen’s wand most assured was not.

They’d discovered, with a little practice, that the new wand had some - interesting quirks. It didn’t like water spells. It worked as well with protective spells as the old one had, but where the old wand had tended to reflect incoming spells, this one simply broke them, like a wave crashing against a rock. Then again, the reed wand had been very flexible, where this one wasn’t - perhaps it was a reflection of that trait? It also was picky about the spells it cast. If Galen was really interested in the subject, it worked well - but if he was bored, or not concentrating, the wand would make only a halfhearted effort, if it worked at all. Apparently, with this wand, you had to mean it when you cast the spell.

Takara shuddered to think what that would mean when they got into more aggressive spells.

On the morning of the twenty-second of November, she was in the Gryffindor common room, waiting on Shirou and Hermione before she went for breakfast, when the Fat Lady’s portrait swung open, and Galen staggered in.

Takara had memories of him, on days after the full moon. He’d mainly been confined to bed, forced to rest - during the appropriate seasons, he’d stayed home from school with “flu.” But she’d hoped that after more years of growing used to the changes, and a constant dosage of Wolfsbane potion, he might have been in better condition following his monthly transformations. This was visibly not the case.

Galen’s skin was pale, but with a sickly grey tone. He was obviously struggling to hold himself upright, and his muscles trembled. His hands and fingers twitched spasmodically, and from the sound of his breathing, he was making a genuine effort not to throw up. He moved slowly and drunkenly, his body wavering with every step.

“Why aren’t you in the hospital wing?” she demanded. It was where he usually went to sleep off the aftereffects.

“Wanted - my own - bed . . .” he said slowly, as if he had to struggle to dredge every word out of his memory. “My - birthday . . . ‘M allowed.”

He wobbled uncertainly, leaning against the wall

“So, how old are you?” Shirou asked as he came down the stairs - then he paused at the sight of Galen and shook his head. “You look terrible.”

Galen must be tired, Takara realised. He couldn’t even manage a full glare.

“Twelve,” the werewolf murmured.

“Well, yeah, but I mean really. I have trouble sometimes, thinking that I actually ought to be five years old. How bad is it for you?”

“Considering I’m not even going to be born for another decade?” Takara said dryly.

“‘M twelve,” he slurred. His eyes, however, were very clear.

Shirou paused. “Wait, you mean . . . we’re actually in your natural lifetime?”


Takara blinked. “That means, by the time of the War, you were - wow. You weren’t kidding when you said you were older than me.”

“Uh huh.”

Anything else that they might have said was cut off by a gasp. Hermione was standing in the stairwell to the girls’ dorm, staring at the half-dead figure leaning against the wall.

“Omigosh!” she gasped. “Galen, why aren’t you in the Hospital Wing?”

“Bed,” he croaked. “‘S all - bed . . .”

He trailed off, and Takara grabbed him before he sank fully onto the floor. “He’s really exhausted,” she said. “I don’t think he’d make it to the hospital wing before he passed out. Shirou, go up and warn the boys we’re coming in. Hermione, grab his other side and help me get him up the stairs.”

She complied instantly, and between the three of them, they wrestled him onto his bed, closed the four-poster’s privacy curtains, and returned to the common room.

“Will he be OK?” Hermione asked worriedly.

“Eventually,” Takara told her. “He goes through this thirteen times a year, after all.”

“Hairy Snout, Human Heart said the transformation was painful, but I never knew it could be so awful,” Hermione said, referencing the book Galen had directed her to the day after the match. “I suppose I should have - the author claimed the pain was on par with the Cruciatus curse.”

“I couldn’t say,” Takara admitted.

“You don’t know?” she asked incredulously.

“Hermione,” the Japanese witch said, with some exasperation, “we’ve never seen him change! He doesn’t want us to - and without the Wolfsbane potion, it wouldn’t have been remotely safe, anyway! He’d have killed us as soon as he could move!”

“But then, what happens when he goes home for Christmas? Or the summer? Do his parents brew the potion?”

“It’s tricky to make,” Shirou answered her. “Apparently, they’ve got a reinforced shed to lock him into - concrete walls, steel security shutters - the works.”

“But a werewolf who’s been caged will still try to attack humans,” Hermione protested. “And the only thing that smells human in the cage is - ”

“Itself,” Shirou finished. “Yeah. Believe it or not, Hermione - as bad as he looks right now, this is*an improvement.”

Neville, who’d followed them down, looked green at the idea.

“There must be s - something we can do,” he protested.

Takara felt an idea come to her. It was something she’d always been interested in, and if anyone could help her achieve it . . .

“I’ve heard that Animagi - witches and wizards who can become animals, like Professor McGonagall - can calm werewolves in their beast forms,” she said casually. “The werewolf becomes more like an actual wolf in behaviour . . . But becoming an Animagus is a very tricky bit of human transfiguration - it could be years before we’re capable of it, if at all.”

She repressed the urge to smile when she saw Hermione’s eyes flash.

“We’ll see about that,” the British witch said darkly.

For a change, Shirou and Takara were paired together in Potions, so he took the opportunity to ask a few questions in a low voice.

“Was there a specific reason you set Hermione off like that?” he asked.

The girl nodded. “A few, actually.”

“Care to share?”

“Well, first, giving her a project like this gets her mind off the moral dilemma of our other project,” Takara explained.

Shirou winced. The idea of stealing anything - even to keep it from someone else - had not gone over well with Hermione. Only the fact that she apparently felt she’d done enough damage to their relationships for one day had prevented her from going directly to a teacher. Repeated attempts to sway her had some effect, but not much - she was not comfortable with the concept, but hadn’t outright protested beyond her initial outburst.

Shirou figured at least part of that was due to the idea that the security had been installed by Dumbledore, and was therefore nigh-impenetrable. She was more worried about the trouble they’d get into for trying than that they might actually succeed. He supposed it also helped that they seemed to be in no particular rush to attempt it - Galen had recalled that the final bit of security - some kind of mirror - wasn’t in place until after Christmas, so they had time. Besides, Shirou knew the three of them needed the time to come up with a plausible explanation for not only finding out how to get by all the traps, but how they knew what was hidden there in the first place.

They liked and trusted Hermione and Neville - but none of them was a master Occlumens, and they didn’t want to risk spreading their secrets any more than they had to.

So, for now, they were back to waiting, learning, and training - but at least they had clear goals. Up until the day of the Quidditch match, they’d been stalled on the effort to go back to their original world, and still largely undecided on whether or not to make any attempt to intervene in this world’s destiny. Now the former had been set aside as unnecessary, and the second . . .

Ilya’s orders to Galen had been clear: In the absence of a clear champion, you are charged with doing all in your power to thwart the efforts of Lord Voldemort and his followers. Thus may you best protect me.

Galen had smiled, and paraphrased Kate Beckinsale in Underworld:*“The weapons have changed, but our orders remain the same - hunt the magi down, one by one, and exterminate them.”

It did remind Shirou of a Grail War at that, but with fewer rules.

He shook off the remembrance, as Takara continued, “Besides, Hermione’s still feeling guilty over the match, so this will help her feel better. And if anyone can find instructions to become an Animagus, and pull it off, it’ll be her. Well, Hermione first, anyway.”

“Good thought,” Shirou admitted. “Any other reasons?”

Takara explained, “Wolfsbane potion won’t always be available - not during the summers, obviously - but in fifth year, the school gets taken over by a tyrannical bitch with a real hatred for half-breeds and Dark creatures. I doubt Galen will be able to get staff support then. And if we end up having to leave Hogwarts to hunt down Horcruxes in seventh year . . .”

“It’d be good to know how to brew the potion ourselves, but better to have a backup plan if we can’t,” Shirou finished. “Smart.”

She grinned. “Galen’s not the only sneaky one. I may be more of a jock, but I’ve never been stupid. And besides all that, there’s the final reason to do this.”

“And that is?”

Her grin widened. “Turning into an animal is cool.”

The laugh that provoked cost him five points from Snape, but it was worth it.

Takara was amused to see Hermione appear at the Gryffindor table with a copy of Intermediate Transfiguration shortly into lunch.

“Studying for third year already, Hermione?” she said lightly. “Decided to skip next year entirely?”

The bushy-haired girl gave her a waspish look. “Animagi aren’t covered in our textbook, so I had to move onto the next one. If they’re not here, I’ll try Advanced Transfiguration - but if we’re going to do this, I need to study how!”

Takara blinked in surprise. “Easy, Hermione - I was just . . . Oh, what’s the phrase - I think it’s ‘taking the mickey out of you?’ I didn’t really mean anything by it.”

The other girl softened. “I’m sorry. It’s just . . . He’s hurting, and this - ”

“Is a way to do something about it,” Takara said softly. “After everything he’s done for you, everything you owe him, there’s finally a way to start paying him back.” She hesitated, before adding, “Believe me, I understand.”

Hermione looked at her pensively for a moment, then asked, equally quietly, “What did he do?”

Takara shook her head. Things like Servants, Grail Wars, and True Ancestors didn’t exist here - there was no way Hermione would understand it. Especially since, even if there were, it was six years too early for the events to have happened.

“It’s - hard to explain,” she said at last. “Suffice it to say, you’re not the only one who owes Galen her life at almost the cost of his own.”

“It has something to do with that oath, doesn’t it? He did swear it to you, didn’t he?”

“Yes,” Takara said flatly. “And he fulfilled it. Now he’s Ilya’s.”

Hermione hesitated. “. . . What’s she like?”

“She’s pretty, a little spoiled, and like you: brilliant but scary,” Takara grinned as she added the last part, as Ron Weasley was never likely to. “She’s also not interested in Galen - though she certainly seems to be interested in his love life,” she muttered under her breath.

Apparently not quietly enough, though, as Hermione gave a quizzical glance. “Oh?”

“She made it a point to tell me that she was his princess, but not his paramour - said it was something I should keep in mind,” Takara admitted sourly, blushing.

Hermione was blushing, too, and she asked, in a voice that tried too hard to be calm. “Do you . . . Do you fancy him?”

“I’m eleven,” Takara pointed out. “At this point in my life, I’ve barely considered the idea that boys aren’t just girls who don’t smell or dress as well.”

Which, she thought to herself, is true, a lie, and a pretty neat evasion all in one package. Galen must be rubbing off.

“. . . Do you?” Takara added casually, having possibly a better idea of the answer than Hermione did.

Hermione blushed deeper and drew her book closer like she wanted to vanish into it. “Well, he’s brave, and clever, and nice. I suppose anyone could.”

“He’s also stubborn, short-tempered, and saying he has a chip on his shoulder is like saying the Atlantic Ocean is a tad large,” Takara pointed out. “He’s not always the best guy, Hermione - though I’ll admit he’s got potential. If you really want a boyfriend, you could do much worse.”

A sudden choking sound drew the girls’ attention, to where a redheaded first-year was gagging on a piece of crusty roll, before he messily regurgitated it and a dollop of mashed potatoes, spraying bread crumbs everywhere.

“Ronald Weasley, for instance?” Hermione drawled.

The girls shared a laugh - though Takara doubted Hermione fully understood just why she was laughing.

Herbology class was held three times a week, and unlike most of the courses at Hogwarts, its makeup was a rotating one. Unlike Potions, for example, which routinely paired Gryffindor students with Slytherins, the house Gryffindor held class with changed depending on which day of the week it was. Shirou suspected it was to “promote House unity,” and Herbology had been picked as a subject to test it out on because Professor Sprout was Head of Hufflepuff, the most open and friendly house, as a rule.

In any case, it made Fridays particularly annoying, because they were paired with Slytherin house all day. A full day of spending time around someone like Shinji when he’d stopped pretending to be a nice guy was not Shirou’s idea of fun. Granted, Malfoy hadn’t really done much directly - not after the incident with Neville’s Remembrall, anyway. But the guy was just a plain and simple pain in the ass, and Shirou was tempted more than once to have Galen and Takara help him corner the guy in some dark, unused classroom for a lesson in civility and manners.

Or, he thought grimly, simple volume control. Shirou could hear the blond idiot complaining about their current assignment - examining and demonstrating the proper care in handling Bubotubers - even though he was three seats away from him. That wasn’t necessarily unusual, but from the expression on Takara’s face, so could she - despite being almost the on the other side of the greenhouse.

“Honestly!” Malfoy snapped. “This class is such a waste of time! Handling plants like these is servant stuff! I’d never touch one of these if I didn’t have to! When we get out of here, I’m going to write a letter.”

Shirou muttered his next line along with him, in an identical tone and inflection: “When my father about this . . .”

Neville snickered.

Shirou continued, “He’s like one of those dolls they sell for children - pull the string and listen to it say the same things over and over. I’m sure one of the other phrases would be ‘Professor Snape . . .’”

Neville smothered a laugh.

“And then, of course, we can’t possibly forget the perennial, ‘I’m a Malfoy,’” Shirou finished, with precisely the same blend of arrogance and contempt Draco used, as though his name automatically justified whatever he was doing at the time.

Neville laughed outright then, and in the process, squeezed the Bubotuber they were examining too hard, causing the yellow-green pus to squirt off suddenly . . .

. . . And directly onto Draco Malfoy’s head.

Bubotuber pus, under normal circumstances, caused painful boils to erupt on the skin. Apparently, however, when mixed with whatever Malfoy used for hair gel, it caused the hair to fall out in clumps, as well. In seconds, the top of the boy’s skull was an angry red, and warty in consistency, as though he’d suddenly grown a poor imitation of dragon scales.

Draco, naturally enough, screamed.

“WHO DID THAT?” he demanded.

Shirou noted that Neville, unfortunately in this case, had absolutely no ability to lie. He didn’t say a word, but he didn’t have to - it was written all over his mortified face.


“You are also injured, Mr. Malfoy,” Professor Sprout said coolly, “and would be better off getting yourself to the hospital wing rather than shouting threats. Crabbe, Goyle - escort him there.”

“It was my fault, Professor,” Shirou admitted. “I distracted Neville at a delicate stage.”

“Two points from Gryffindor for your foolishness, Mr. Einzbern,” Professor Sprout said disapprovingly, before adding, “though your honesty has prevented it from being five. These are dangerous plants we are dealing with, and the proper care must be taken.”

“Yes, Professor,” Shirou and Neville chorused.

On their way back to the Great Hall for dinner, Neville looked pale.

“What’s wrong?” Shirou asked.

“M - Malfoy,” Neville said, causing Shirou to again recognise that Neville only seemed to stutter when he was nervous. “He’s going to try and get me, and I . . . I won’t be able to do anything. He’ll have Crabbe and Goyle, and - ”

“You won’t have to do anything,” Shirou assured him, “because we will.”

Neville blinked at him in obvious surprise. “Really?”

Shirou sighed. It’s like dealing with Sakura all over again, sort of. I kind of hope his grandmother doesn’t deal with worms, though.

“Neville, we’re your friends - you are familiar with the idea, right? We’ll look out for you when we can, and help you if you need it. And if you’re ever outnumbered three to one, you need it. Apologise to Malfoy, just to be fair - we can go with you - and if he tries anything after that . . .” Shirou smirked. “He’s meat.”

Neville stared at him in something akin to wonder, then reddened. “Th - thanks, Shirou.”

“Why?” Shirou asked. “It’s what friends do, right?”

“I guess . . .” Neville admitted. “I never really had many, before.”

“Well, offhand, I’d say you’ve got four now. Anybody that wants to hurt you has to go through us - and so far, trolls haven’t had much luck doing that. So if I was in your shoes, I wouldn’t worry about Malfoy at all.”

Neville managed a tentative smile. “I . . . suppose not.”

“Absolutely not,” Shirou assured him. “Now come on, let’s get moving - Malfoy might not make it to dinner until late, and if so, I really want to enjoy a meal without him.”

All four Gryffindors noted with some measure of relief that Galen was at the table. While he hadn’t waited for them before eating - his plate already showed the demolished remains of a salad, he had saved them chairs.

“Sorry,” he apologised with a shrug. “I haven’t had much to eat today, and I burned a lot of energy last night. I really couldn’t hold off.”

Shirou and Takara shrugged it off. It was a behaviour they knew. Neville and Hermione chose to follow their example, and sat down.

“So, what all did I miss?” Galen asked, after everyone had eaten their first helpings.

“A Potions essay assignment, and a Herbology practical lesson,” Hermione said.

“And Neville turning Malfoy bald,” Shirou interjected.

Galen blinked. “What?”

Shirou explained the incident, while Neville looked mortified.

“Wish I’d been there,” Galen admitted. “Would’ve been fun to see.”

Shirou turned serious.”Malfoy’s not too happy with Neville.”

“Ah,” Galen said. It was amazing how much menace could be crammed into such a mildly-spoken word. “I wouldn’t worry about it. At all.”

Shirou traded looks with Neville, as good as saying, See?

Hermione cleared her throat, and said in a disapproving tone, “Accidents and threats of incipient mayhem aside, I’ll let you look at my notes after dinner.”

“Thanks, Hermione. I do appreciate it.” He glanced at her book bag, and asked quizzically, “Intermediate Transfiguration?”

“I’m studying Animagi,” she answered, not quite looking at him.

Galen went very still. “Why the sudden interest in such an obscure piece of magic?”

Takara scowled at him. “Guess.”

Blue eyes roamed the group. “Thank you for the birthday present.”

Takara jumped, surprised, and said, “Speaking of birthday presents, did you get sent anything?”

“A bit,” Galen admitted. “I got a book on defensive spells from my parents, ten Galleons from my maternal grandparents - I’ll send that home to deposit over the summer, not much use for it here. I got a Piers Anthony novel from my other grandparents, and your family got me my new wand, of course,” he added, looking at Shirou. He looked over to Takara. “Yours sent me a couple of those really big chocolate bars from Honeydukes.”

He lifted one from a pocket in his robe and set it on the table, before opening it and gesturing. “Take a piece.”

“It’s your present,” Hermione protested.

“Absolutely - now unless you’re stuffed to bursting or allergic to chocolate, take a piece.”

Neville and Hermione hesitated, but Takara needed no further invitation. Whatever else they disagreed on, she and Galen both understood the value of chocolate.

Finally, Hermione broke off a small square, and she popped it in her mouth, her eyes nearly popped out of her head. “This is . . .”

“Really good,” Takara purred. “I love this stuff - remind me to give Mother my own thank-you card.”

“Will do,” Galen promised. “And if you’re good, I’ll even share the second bar with you.”

An involuntary shudder ran through her. She might be too young for sex, but chocolate was the next best thing to it.

“I did get one other thing,” he said carefully, “but I left it in the dorm. I’ll show you after.”

Sure enough, after dinner they all trooped up to the common room, and into the boys’ dormitory.

“Make sure we aren’t disturbed,” Galen said seriously. “This is not something I want people to know I have.”

“Is it dangerous? Or banned?” Hermione asked.

“Not as such - but it’s the sort of thing best kept secret.” Galen dug into his pillowcase, and from underneath the pillow, removed a shimmering mass of silver fabric.

Takara gasped. “How did you get that?”

“I’m not sure,” he said in a hesitant voice. “It came with this.”

The scrap of parchment he handed them contained only three words: Use it well.

“I don’t understand,” Hermione said. “What’s the reason for all the shock and secrecy? What is it?”

Galen, Takara, and Shirou - belatedly realising what it had to be - answered simultaneously, “An invisibility cloak.”

March 22nd, 2011, 07:22 PM
DISCLAIMER: Lunar Legend Tsukihime, Fate/Stay Night, and all related characters and concepts are the creation and property of Kinoko Nasu and Type-Moon, along with anyone who's happened to license them, like Geneon or Funimation. Harry Potter and all related characters and concepts are the creation and property of J.K. Rowling, along with her publishers and Warner Bros., as regards the movie material.

This is a not-for-profit, just-for-fun project.

Writer's Note: Certain dialogue sequences in this story are lifted from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, but I trust in the intelligence of my readers (and the availability of the books) to recognise them when they see them.

Chapter 13 - Making Plans

November 23 - December 21, 1991

“Why in the hell would Dumbledore give me that cloak?” Galen asked Shirou and Takara the next morning, as the pair of them were standing on the balcony outside the Clock Tower - the best place they could be assured of privacy, with no portraits or students to overhear. They were using Japanese, however, just to be safe.

Shirou shrugged. “Again, I know damned little of this place. You tell me.”

Galen shut his eyes. “I tried every diagnostic charm I’ve learned on it - including the one that shows the strength of enchantments as an aura, and it damned near burned out my retinas. That is the Potter cloak, the Cloak of Invisibility, one third of the Deathly Hallows.” He sighed. “There were no tracking charms or anything like that I can find, but Dumbledore’s subtle, and a lot more experienced.”

“If it’s an invisibility cloak, especially one as powerful as you believe, maybe charms like that can’t be placed on it?” Shirou mused. “It would defeat the purpose of the magic.”

“Maybe, but he has the Elder Wand, which is also a Hallow - and we’re getting into a question of irresistible force meeting immovable object.”

“Are you sure it was Dumbledore who sent it?” Takara asked.

“He had it, as far as I know - and the phrasing of the letter’s identical, if a lot shorter. Why, why would he give it to me?”

Galen started to pace along the perimeter. “Is it meant to be a bribe, to get me to help keep you two - and by extension, your parents - out of his way? Bait for a trap, maybe - catch me doing something so he has a legitimate reason to get me expelled? You don’t give something like this to a kid and not expect him to use it!”

“And he does,” Shirou answered. “He told you to ‘use it well.’”

“Damn, damn, damn!” Galen stopped, pressed his hands to his face, then raised them back up over his hair.

“Why me - why not Neville?” he asked, almost to himself. “He’s the Chosen One - or he’s supposed to be . . . But he hasn’t been marked as Voldemort’s equal . . . And Shirou’s got the brother wand - and if Dumbledore hasn’t been keeping track of that wand to see who bought it, I’ll jump off this tower right now.”

Takara snapped out, “You promised Ilya - !” Then her face changed, as she realised what he meant. “Oh. Never mind.”

“Hm,” Galen acknowledged. “So, the question is, why me? Answer: because he knows something I don’t, or he thinks he does. Did he pull something out of my head after the dog incident, or Snape from Takara’s? I’m pretty sure we could throw out a Legilimens out of our heads if he knew he was there - but the key word is ‘if.’”

Shirou shook his head. “If he did, he’d have stripped us of everything we know by now. We weren’t.”

“Unless we were Oblivated afterwards,” Galen muttered, “but I’m not missing that*much time.” He closed his eyes and sighed again. “I need access to that bloody prophecy - at the least, I need to know who they think it’s about before I can figure out what’s going on - but I don’t have the connections to get anywhere near the Department of Mysteries.” He turned to the other two. “I don’t suppose your parents . .. ?”

“They’d need to know why,” Shirou replied, “and what would you tell them?”

Galen grimaced. “Right.” He began to pace again. “This is going to bug me until I figure it out - especially when I add questions like ‘why now?’ It wasn’t supposed to arrive until Christmas.”

“Would you have been here to get it?”

“No, I’m going . . . My God, could it be that easy? None of us would be at Hogwarts for the holidays, so he’s just giving it away now because it’s simpler?”

“Could be,” Shirou said in a noncommittal tone.

“Still doesn’t explain why me,” Galen murmured.

Takara giggled. “Maybe you’re actually related to the Potters.”

Galen snorted. “Most Pureblood families are interrelated, but it’s really not bloody likely that my mother’s is . . .” He trailed off.

After a moment of silence, Takara became concerned. “Galen?”

“If my family history carried over like theirs did . . . Crap.”

Takara repeated, more loudly, “Galen!”

He snapped up, visibly recalled the last few minutes of conversation, and shook his head. “Never mind.”

“What is it?”

“I can’t talk about it.”

“Why not?”

“Because it’s my mother’s secret to tell. It’s the reason we haven’t talked to that side of the family for more than a third of my life, and none of my friends ever knew it. And on this day, in this month and year, neither does my mother.”

He gave both of his companions a very hard look, and said sharply, “I. Can’t. Talk about it.”

Galen turned. “Come on. We’re supposed to meet Hermione and Neville in the library to study - and we’d better keep an eye and ear out for Malfoy.”

Takara scowled at her Potions essay as though it had mortally insulted her. In point of fact, it hadn’t - aside from the teacher, Potions was one of her favourite classes - but she had a deep-rooted need to scowl at something.

Damn Albus Whatever-His-Names-Are Dumbledore!

After the big blowup following the Quidditch match, Galen had calmed down. With Ilya’s orders backing him, he’d stopped feeling sorry for himself, seemed to accept the fact that he was staying here with them, and actually opened up a little bit. He relaxed, he smiled . . . It was like seeing him as a real person, not whatever facade he was using at the time. And she’d liked it.

And now, because of the damned cloak, he was almost back to square one. Angry as anything, bottling it up again - and how badly would he explode this time? And when?

Takara had told Hermione the truth, mostly. She didn’t “fancy” Galen, in the sense that she understood the British really meant the term. That meant sex, and she wasn’t mentally or emotionally ready to consider that with anyone. Heck, at this point she wasn’t even really physically ready! But she’d also told the truth when she’d said that she understood Hermione’s feeling of owing him, of needing to do something for him. Because when she had needed him, he’d come. He’d saved her life - saved her parents’*lives. He’d died for them, without even hesitating.

That fact, that debt, gnawed at her. It made her hurt to see him hurting - and whatever the skeleton was that Dumbledore’s “gift” had dug up, it had hurt him. She understood why, to a degree - her family had its own secrets, and they’d caused her a lot of grief. But this . . .

His mother’s secret, she thought, but his mother doesn’t know it? That doesn’t make any -

And then it did.

We’re living in his timeline, Shirou said. That means he’s basically reliving his own life - every pain, every mistake, every embarrassing moment, all over again. Which means that whatever this is about, it hasn’t happened yet.

Takara considered all the times she’d wanted to never experience something again, all the times she’d thought she’d die of embarrassment or heartbreak, and then considered being forced to experience them all a second time. Suddenly, she had a much better understanding of why he’d been so eager to kill himself.

Unfortunately, there seemed little she could do for him. She offered to spar with him more often, hoping that physical activity could exorcise his demons. If nothing else, it gave her a number of opportunities to practice brewing - and test - various bruise-removing formulae. She’d helped Hermione hunt down books on Animagi, which turned out to be fiendishly complex . . . But obviously, it was not impossible. Takara was certain that with the help of a witch capable of brewing NEWT-level potions in her second year, they’d manage achieving the transformation with no problems.

The other stroke of luck she’d managed was to contrive a way to move their plan to steal the Stone forward. Following a Quidditch practice that she’d suggested Galen, Hermione and Neville attend, she’d suggested a visit to Hagrid’s hut, to see if the gamekeeper knew anything about the dog guarding the trapdoor on the third floor. After all, she’d reasoned aloud, he must encounter a lot of strange creatures in the Forbidden Forest, right?

Hagrid, naturally enough, had not been pleased with the question.

“How do you know about Fluffy?” he asked.

“Fluffy?” Hermione repeated disbelievingly.

“Yeah - he’s mine - bought ‘im off a Greek chappie I met at the pub las’ year - I lent him to Dumbledore to guard the - ”

“The?” Galen prompted innocently - or it would’ve been innocent, had you not known he already knew.

“Now, don’t ask me anymore,” Hagrid said gruffly. “That’s top secret, that is.”

“Right,” Galen agreed. “It’s strictly between Professor Dumbledore, and - “

”An’ Nicolas Flamel,” Hagrid agreed, before his eyes widened. “I shouldn’t ‘a said that. I should not have said that . . .”

He wandered off, repeated variations of the same phrase.

“Nicolas Flamel?” Hermione repeated. “It doesn’t sound familiar - does it, Neville?”

“No,” the round-faced boy replied, shaking his head.

“Fifteenth-century alchemist,” Galen said immediately. “Supposedly created the Philosopher’s Stone, recorded as dying in 1418, somewhere in France.”

Everybody turned to look at him, and he shrugged.

“John Dee, Aleister Crowley, Count St. Germain . . . Have none of you have studied historical occult figures in the mundane world?” Galen asked, glancing around. Then he shrugged. “Guess not. Anyway, if Flamel is both alive and involved, three guesses just what the dog is guarding.”

“This . . . Philosopher’s Stone?” Shirou asked, as if tasting the words.

“Yep. It’s supposed to be able to transmute base metals into gold, and produce the Elixir of Life, a source of immortality. I can think of plenty of good reasons - and quite a few nefarious ones - for wanting to get your hands on it.”

Takara glanced at him. “Did you really just use the word ‘nefarious’? In an actual sentence?”

Galen grinned. “Somebody had to at some point, right? In any case, that was a brilliant idea, Takara. You are deviously clever, milady.”

He bowed in the European court style, and lightly touched the back of her hand with his lips. Takara found herself unable to stop blushing. She told herself it was ridiculous - they were physically eleven, and he really was old enough to be her father - and then some!

Her skin, however, remembered the same gentle warmth tracing her jawbone, and thrilled over just how good it felt. Almost chocolate good.

It was, she told herself, a side-effect of being eleven again, when her hormones were just starting to wake up to the idea of boys.

I’m not interested in him that way, she told herself firmly.

The problem was, while this was certainly true for the Takara Aozaki who had been born with killing eyes, she wasn’t at all certain how true it was the Takara Aozaki who’d spent the formative years of her life in a little suburb of a small Canadian town. That Takara was very protective and caring of “her boys,” and they of her. It didn’t take much imagination to push that feeling a little bit further . . .

Hermione slammed a heavy book onto the tabletop, startling Takara out of her musings. She read the title quickly, before Hermione opened the book - Most Potente Potions.

“Here,” she said, pointing to an entry.

Takara skimmed it, having trouble sorting through the archaic English. Still, she thought she understood.

“So, there’s an Animagus potion? I thought it was a Transfiguration thing . . .”

“It is,” Hermione said. “Technically. But it’s a branch of magic that doesn’t quite fit established rules, like Apparation. In theory, Apparating is done via a spell - but it functions more like a natural ability or skill, with distance limitations and ease unique to each person. So do Animagi transformations, and this potion helps you unlock the ability. You still have to practice assuming an animal form - it’s just easier with this.”

“Mm,” Takara acknowledged, taking a closer look. “This is complicated. There are steps for each of the nine lunar phases, to be done over nine months, beginning with the new moon . . . And some of the ingredients are exactly common.”

“One of them should be easy to obtain,” Hermione said, tapping a particular entry: Hairs from a werewolf, in both its shapes.

“Explains why it’s not used often,” Takara admitted. “At least, not before the invention of the Wolfsbane Potion.”

Hermione nodded. “Getting hairs from a human werewolf would be easy - from the actual wolf, no.”

“Fortunately, we know a semi-tame one,” Takara said with a smile, before it vanished and her tone turned serious as she continued,.“You realise we couldn’t start this until January, and it wouldn’t be ready before the end of September, next year.”

Hermione nodded.

“And that’s if[/] we can keep it hidden from our parents and the professors.”

Another nod.

“And we’ll probably be breaking at least ten school rules, not to mention a law or three if we don’t register our Animagi forms.”

Hermione nodded - a bit more tiny and cautious a nod, but she did.

“So, why?”

Hermione straightened herself up, as though for parade review, and said, “It’s something I can do for him.”

[i]I can’t argue with that, Takara thought. But given how by-the-book she is at this age, she must be crushing on him pretty hard.

. . . Then again, he’s saved her life three times in the last three months. I can’t really argue with that, either.

“The next full moon’s just before we head home for the Christmas holidays,” Takara said. “We can collect it then.”

Hermione nodded, a hesitant smile suddenly touching her lips.

“What?” Takara asked.

“I . . . I’ve just never had a girlfriend to talk to, and do things with like this before,” Hermione admitted shyly. “I like it.”

Takara remembered being ostracised in school because her hair, eyes, and skin were the wrong colour, and what it felt like, having only two close female friends - both of them as ostracised, in their way.

“I like it too,” she replied, honestly.

A week after Neville had accidentally turned Malfoy into a Lex Luthor clone, the latter returned to classes. He was swathed in bandages over the top half of his skull, resembling nothing so much as Professor Quirrell Jr., with the stench of medicinal creams replacing that of garlic.

Neville had sent a written apology the day after the incident, with Hermione helping look up formal language for that sort of thing, and Takara doing the actual transcribing - as her mother had insisted she learn to be a proper Japanese lady, she was actually quite good at calligraphy. No reply had been sent (nor had one really been expected), so when Malfoy returned to school, Shirou had been on his guard for potential retaliatory attacks.

After two weeks had gone by without one, he took Neville and cornered Galen in the unused library corner.

Galen shrugged on hearing Shirou’s concerns.

“I’m not surprised, and I wouldn’t worry about it - yet,” he told the other two boys. “Gryffindor and Slytherin don’t have every class together, and after what happened, Professor Sprout’s watching us like a hawk. The only class Malfoy might*be able to get away with something is in Potions, and I’ve been extra careful, just in case.”

Galen shook his head. “You have to understand that by and large, Malfoy is not a straight-up fighter. He prefers to ambush or trap his opponents, so just cornering Neville in a classroom - with a teacher watching - is not his idea of a winning strategy. Doesn’t mean he won’t do it, it just means he prefers not to. No, I’d worry more about an indirect attack - challenging you to an after-curfew duel and then directing Filch to the location, or maybe harming Trevor - “

Neville went white.

“It’s OK, Nev,” Galen reassured him hastily. “I’ve asked Hermione to have Crookshanks sit on him. Trevor should be fine, honest. But since there’s not much Malfoy can do to you here - especially with us always being around - it means he’ll probably try and hit you on the train ride back to London.”

“Where there’s minimal adult supervision and nowhere to really run or hide,” Shirou mused aloud. “The worst you’d have to worry about are Prefect patrols, and he could probably get an idea of how they schedule their rounds pretty easily. Yeah, I’d like that option too, if I were him.

“So, we have a pretty good idea of where, and some idea of when he’ll strike,” the redhead continued. “So the major questions are how he’ll do it, who he’ll have for backup, and what we can do to stop him.”

“Backup’s the bookends, and that’ll be for us - he figures Neville’s a Squib, or close enough to it,” Galen answered. “The day a Malfoy can’t handle a near-Muggle . . .”

Neville fastened on the inane part of the conversation. Anything to avoid thinking of fighting Malfoy, or being forced to fight Malfoy.

“ Sh - Shirou’s imitation is better,” he said suddenly.

Shirou snorted. “I have more experience with the punk - I haven’t been able to avoid him by landing myself in the Hospital Wing on a regular basis.”

A low chuckle went around the room, before Shirou continued, “Still, you’re probably right. The question is, how do we use it to our advantage? Is even Malfoy stupid or arrogant enough to pick a fight in a compartment full of five powerful witches and wizards with only two people for backup?”

“Maybe not . . . But two? He’d do that in a heartbeat.”

“You have a plan,” Shirou stated flatly. By now, he was beginning to be able to read the other boy with some accuracy.

“A beginning of one,” Galen replied, though his words were belied by his smirk and the twinkle in his eyes that was just short of evil. “Neville, if I taught you the wand movements for the Shield Charm, do you think you could learn to copy them in a few weeks?”

“Sure?” Neville asked in confusion.

“Send the girls out to the loo at the same time, and spread the rumour that I’ll be confined to the hospital wing over the holidays - not too unbelievable, given my record, and I’ll be sick enough close to departure day, with the full moon on the twenty-first. That leaves the two of you, and Malfoy won’t miss the chance.”

Shirou began to understand. “I take it you finally thought of a use for that birthday present.”

Galen bared his teeth in an expression someone charitable might call a smile. “Nev, you are about to become one of the most badass young wizards on the face of the planet. Shirou, the bookends will be yours . . . ”

As he downed the last dose of Wolfsbane Potion, Galen was feeling good. They had made progress on unravelling the “mystery” of the Philosopher’s Stone (which they had to at least make look difficult, even if the three of them could’ve gone and retrieved it tomorrow), they had a plan to protect Neville and re-humiliate Malfoy in the process, and four solid months of exercise and training was beginning to show real dividends - he was in much better shape now than he’d been at this age the last time.

Granted, it wasn’t all good news: Dumbledore’s behaviour was still inscrutable and somewhat worrisome, and he had a couple of big family blowups to “look forward to” in the coming years, not to mention the rising moon in the next couple of minutes . . . But Ilya had taken him in again, and given him a job to do. Everyone was alive, and safe. He hesitated to say it, but things were looking up.

The door suddenly creaked open, and he whirled in shock.

“Takara? Hermione?” How did they get in here? The door was supposed to be locked!

He shook his head. “No - you can’t be here. You need to go, now.”

“It’s for the Animagus potion,” Hermione said hesitantly. “We need some of your wolf form’s fur.”

“I’ll rub it off against a chair and pick it up afterwards,” he said, a little desperately. How much time do I have left?

“It’s got to be fresh,” Takara said with a shake of her head. “Taken before the moon sets.”

Galen trembled - was it frustration, or the change? “You’ve got to get out of here - please. You don’t want to see this.”

Inanely, a monologue from an old TV show popped into his head: “Sixty years is a long time to deny yourself the touch of another human being. But you do it, because you just can’t bear the thought of seeing yourself reflected as a monster in someone else’s eyes.”

He said, very quietly, almost pleading, “I don’t want you to see this.”

Then the classroom was bathed in the silver light of the rising moon, and there were no more words. There was no more world. There was only pain.

Takara watched in horror as Galen’s pupils swallowed his eyes, turning them into obsidian pits. He convulsed, letting out barks of pain, and she realised his chest was actually expanding with each cry, his ribs cracking as they extended. His angular face was also widening, even as it pushed outward to become a muzzle filled with too-long, too-sharp teeth.

His skin seemed to darken, before she realised it was hair growing. His fingers twisted, his nails seeming to grow - or did his fingers retract as they closed inward to form paws? A tufted tail was emerging from his spine, forced out as his waist and limbs realigned their natural shapes to a design better suited for running on all fours.

And through it all, he never stopped screaming.

“In some ways,” he’d told her after the last time, “the potion makes it worse. Without it, the wolf kills the man in me, sends me away to where I can’t feel the pain anymore - and the wolf feeds on it, so it isn’t bothered. But the potion keeps my mind intact even as my body tears itself apart - when the physical limitations of the ability to endure pain are in flux. I can’t pass out, because my body won’t let me - and my mind has nowhere to hide.”

That was part of why she’d insisted on accompanying Hermione - she’d had to see for herself how bad it really was.

The answer? Very bad.

Like an Animagus transformation, clothes seemed to be absorbed into the change. Unlike the Wolf Man and his ilk, he wore no tattered shreds of fabric, nor was he a hulking, brutish hybrid of beast and man, as the movie portrayed. He was a wolf, with very subtle differences - the shape of his head, the style of his tail. That said, his body mass seemed to directly correlate. As a boy, Galen weighed perhaps a hundred pounds. That same weight made him a much bigger wolf.

A wolf that even now was slinking away from them, whining.

Takara dropped to her knees. “Come here.”

Another whine.

“Galen, come here.”

A growl, this time.

Takara looked at him in exasperation, then turned to Hermione. “He hates being told what to do.”

Hermione thought for a moment, then turned on the biggest set of puppy-dog eyes she could manage. “Please, Galen?”

The wolf actually sighed before padding over, head down, as though deliberately trying to keep its muzzle away from anywhere vulnerable.

Takara patted his head. “Good boy. Now, we’re just going to take a few hairs . . . How many do we need?”

“One for each dose,” Hermione replied.

“Four, then.” She removed her knife and delicately cut the strands off. “There - that’s all we needed . . . Unless you’d like us to stay?”

The wolf gave her an unreadable look.

“We’re already in trouble if we’re caught,” Hermione reminded her. “It’s almost the end of dinner - we should be back in the common room any minute!”

Takara reached into her robe and pulled out a silvery bundle. “So we won’t get caught.”

“You nicked his cloak?!”

“I didn’t think Galen would mind, under the circumstances. Right, Galen?”

The wolf wasn’t actually capable of rolling its eyes, but somehow managed to give that impression, nonetheless.


“Honestly, Takara . . .”

The wolf returned to its earlier thought. Maybe this wasn’t so bad, after all.

He curled up into a corner to observe the girls argue. Pity he was currently unable to make popcorn.

March 22nd, 2011, 07:33 PM
DISCLAIMER: Lunar Legend Tsukihime, Fate/Stay Night, and all related characters and concepts are the creation and property of Kinoko Nasu and Type-Moon, along with anyone who's happened to license them, like Geneon or Funimation. Harry Potter and all related characters and concepts are the creation and property of J.K. Rowling, along with her publishers and Warner Bros., as regards the movie material.

This is a not-for-profit, just-for-fun project.

Writer's Note: Certain dialogue sequences in this story are lifted from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, but I trust in the intelligence of my readers (and the availability of the books) to recognise them when they see them.

Chapter 14 - The Journey Home

December 23, 1991

Shirou glanced up at the boy in the seat across from him and sighed.

“Neville, relax,” he advised. “We’re expecting them, we’re prepared for them - and short of anybody sitting next to Dumbledore, you are officially the safest guy in the world right now.” He grinned. “If Malfoy gets it into his head to try anything, he’s in for the surprise of his life.”

A soft, dark chuckle filled the compartment, causing many of them to shiver, as it emerged from thin air.

“I wish you wouldn’t do that,” Takara complained.

“Can I help it if I have a naturally sinister laugh?” asked an unseen voice from just beside Neville’s right ear.

“Yes,” she said in annoyance. “I know you laugh like that at least halfway on purpose.”

“But the rest is all natural,” countered the voice, followed by a second chuckle in the same vein, and a high-pitched, hysteric cry of, “The Shadow knows - BWAHAHAHAHA!”

Takara threw a Chocolate Frog in the direction of the seemingly empty seat, which bounced away before it landed, accompanied by a startled “Ow!”

“Meanie,” came the sullen response.

Shirou rolled his eyes. On the one hand, he had to feel sorry for Galen - staying invisible, immobile, and more or less inaudible the entire trip had to be frustrating. He couldn’t read, short of glancing over Hermione’s shoulder, and what food and drink he consumed needed to be bought by them, and hastily consumed before anybody saw it levitating and vanishing. Needing to be this way for the entire eight hour trip would drive anyone bonkers, to be fair.

However, if he had to put up with Galen in this mood for much longer, the rest of them would be bonkers, too.

“So,” Shirou said, in an attempt to direct the conversation towards anything that did not involve complaining people under invisibility cloaks, including incipient mayhem towards the aforementioned, “what are everybody’s Christmas plans?”

“Gran usually hosts at least one dinner party over the twelve days,” Neville said glumly. “There’s always one on New Year’s Eve. It’s kind of boring, really.”

“No kids your own age?” Takara inquired.

“Well . . . Occasionally Susan Bones or Hannah Abbott are there. Mostly, though, it’s adults, or people I don’t really want to talk to.”

“Suppose the Einzberns will rate an invitation?” Galen mused quietly.

Shirou grimaced. While Germanic in origin (and therefore subject to British distrust of foreigners), the Einzbern family was Pure-blooded, wealthy, and of high standing in the International Confederation of Wizards. Its Veela and Muggle ties had occasionally caused problems, but generally served it well - the Einzbern family was composed of successful diplomats and orators, merchants and politicians. Irisviel was officially the Baroness von Einzbern, though the title was rarely acknowledged. No one with sense willingly offended them, and thus, he’d had to get used to being carted around to formal affairs from the time he was a child. He’d never liked it, either.

“Probably,” Shirou admitted with a grimace. “And if Ilya ends up not coming home for the holidays, I’ll definitely be forced to attend - events like that, they usually want to meet the heirs as well as the current Head of House.”

Neville grunted sourly in agreement.

“Well, in that case, you can be miserable together,” Takara said cheerily. “My family usually does a quiet week at home - especially this year, I’d expect, since I’m otherwise away at Hogwarts. How about you, Hermione?”

“Probably the same,” the Muggle-born witch admitted. “Plus, there’s that Potions essay due when we get back - ”

Sounds of acknowledgment, and more than a little disgruntlement, filled the compartment.

“- And the other potion to start,” Hermione finished.

“I can start it,” Takara offered. “My house is better-equipped for it, no offense.”

“None taken,” Hermione said. “I’d have a terrible time explaining why I had to have a bubbling cauldron set up in the parlour fireplace. And you, Galen?” she asked, turning to her side, slightly.

“We’ll probably visit my mom’s parents on Christmas Day,” he said dully.

“You don’t sound too happy about it.”

“We don’t get really get along, but - it’s family.”

Hermione opened her mouth, no doubt to ask for an explanation, when Shirou spotted a distinctive set of blurs through the window.

“Malfoy and his goons are headed this way,” Shirou said quickly.

“Right,” Takara acknowledged. “Hermione, it’s time to powder our noses - that is the expression, isn’t it?”

“Absolutely. Good luck, boys.” The bushy-haired witch rose with her friend and went through the compartment door.

“Wand out, Neville,” came Galen’s low voice. “Move it just like I showed you, and you’ll be fine. I won’t let him touch you.”

“We won’t,” Shirou corrected. He was actually looking forward to this - a real test of all the hours of duelling practice they’d put in. He could wish for a better arsenal, but he understood why Flitwick was adamant about not teaching first years any really dangerous spells.

. . . It didn’t mean he didn’t want them, though.

The compartment door slid open, revealing a small, Gollum-like figure and a larger, troll-like one, who moved aside as if they’d rehearsed it to allow the bandaged figure of Malfoy through. The rat-faced boy’s wand was already in his hand, his greenish-grey eyes alight with malice.

“Well, well Longbottom,” he drawled. “All alone, are we? What’s the matter - did you actually manage to drive off the Mudblood and that half-blood slag?”

Shirou didn’t have to see Galen to know the guy was tensing under his cloak, so he fired back quickly, “You waited until they were gone before showing up. Don’t tell me a Malfoy was afraid of ‘the Mudblood and the half-blood slag?’”

Draco flushed. “You shouldn’t interrupt your betters, you Weasley castoff.”

“I’ll remember that when I meet any.” Shirou drawled.

The flush on his face turned from red to puce.

“Crabbe, Goyle, teach him not to interfere with what doesn’t concern him. Longbottom . . .You and I have a debt to settle.” He raised his wand menacingly.

Neville was half-frozen with tension, until a whisper brushed his ear. “Pro -“

”Protego!” the boy cried suddenly, and whatever hex Malfoy had planned to use against him literally shattered against the dome of silvery light that sprang forth to envelop him.

Malfoy stared at the powerful Shield Charm, something normally taught to fourth-year students, cast by a boy largely thought of as being just above a powerless Squib. The shield flickered brightly, almost menacingly, and Malfoy suddenly whirled as he heard the sound of two bodies hitting the floor.

Shirou glanced over at Malfoy, wand in hand, and asked casually, “Did you know the Disarming Charm can act like a mild Stunner when used against unarmed opponents? You’ve just got to be fast enough - or them, stupid enough.”

Malfoy stared at the downed bodies of his two minions, who were quickly starting to rise, but would be of no help against two armed - and obviously dangerous - opponents.

Neville heard a syllable breathed in his ear. “Ex - “

”Expelliarmus!” Neville snapped, and the hawthorn wand in Malfoy’s hand went flying into the corridor.

Shirou gave the now wide-eyed blond a frosty smile. “Bye, Malfoy. Happy Christmas.”

A sound emerged from the Slytherin’s throat that seemed to be half-roar, half-whine - but he retreated, nonetheless. Crabbe and Goyle followed meekly. The girls reentered a moment later.

“Well,” Shirou said, “that was fun.”

“Yeah, for you,” Takara grumbled. “Next time, I want to hex them.”

“If there is a next time,” Shirou agreed. “He may be too frightened of Neville’s prowess to try again.”

“Trust me,” Galen sighed, “he’ll try again.”

A sudden scream of frustration emerged from the corridor.

Neville blinked. “What was that about?”

Hermione blushed. “Well, I may have accidentally stepped on his wand . . .”

“Three or four times,” Takara added. “Completely by accident, of course.”

“Of course,” Shirou agreed. “And his calling you a Mudblood had nothing to do with it.”

“Naturally not,” Hermione said. “Or his calling Takara a half-blood slag, either.”

Her face was the absolute picture of moral righteousness . . . Until she burst into giggles.

They left the train as a group, waiting until Malfoy had disembarked and gone so that Galen could remove the cloak and join them without causing too many questions they didn’t want to answer. As they were at King’s Cross station, all of them were wearing mundane clothes to blend in - even Neville, though he seemed uncomfortable with some of the fashions - like the balaclava Galen pulled over his face.

“How come you all wear this stuff so naturally?” he asked.

Takara shrugged. “Shirou and I have Muggle-born parents, so of course we were taught how to move in that world. Mother says that if most magical people would do a little more thinking, and put in a little more effort, half the Obliviators in Europe would be out of a job.”

“Not to mention, we were raised in a largely non-magical community until we were seven,” Shirou added. “Went to their primary school, and so on. Magic’s a relatively recent thing, for us.”

“And I always lived more in the mundane world than the magical one,” Galen added. “Mom’s happy there, so If I wasn’t a werewolf, I might have never really been aware of magic.” He grimaced. “I certainly wouldn’t be here. Hogwarts was the only school willing to take me, and readily supply Wolfsbane Potion - it’s too tricky to make for most potioneers.”

“If you weren’t here,” Hermione said solemnly, “I’d probably be dead now.”

Galen glanced at her. He hadn’t said too much about the girls’ late-night collection visit. He wasn’t sure what he could say. It could’ve been disastrous. Snape only had to screw up one batch, one dose . . . He could’ve, would have killed them both. And they’d seen him helpless, weakened - not something he liked to let show. Weakness got you picked on, hurt. Experience had taught him that.

But those big brown eyes were so earnest . . .

“It was worth the move to England, then,” he said, adding lightly, “even if I do have to relearn how to spell half my vocabulary.”

Hermione brightened. “I’ll help! We can organise a study system -”

“Can we have Christmas holidays first, Hermione?” Takara teased gently. “I’d like to see my parents before we dive back into homework.”

Hermione blushed, but her smile suddenly widened. “Come on, then! I want to introduce you to mine!” She grabbed Crookshanks’ carrier from the overhead rack and dashed out of the compartment.

Galen traded glances with the others. “Why do I have a sinking feeling that Hermione hasn’t had school friends to show off to her parents before?”

“Because you’re smarter than you look?” Takara offered.

Shirou snorted. “He has to be, doesn’t he?”

“HEY!” Galen protested - but he was grinning as he did so.

Later, Takara relaxed in her room - which was both reassuringly familiar and disturbingly unusual. The little details were the problem. The room looked much like her room had at eleven years of age, and thus was almost nostalgic - but she hadn’t had posters that moved before, which was a bit unsettling. Added to the fact that she’d slept in a dorm with three other girls for the last four months, and it seemed more than a little strange to be here.

Still, if this wasn’t the home she’d known for the last seventeen years, it was close enough. It felt like home, and that was what mattered.

The reunion at King’s Cross station had been one of many hugs and kisses, and warm greetings for old friends long-missed. Her parents had been talking to Galen’s, waiting with his little sister, Maeve, catching up on news from the old neighbourhood. And the group had welcomed Shirou’s mother when she arrived - it had been hard to miss. Even when not deliberately unleashed, the aura of the Veela woman was almost tangible. Added to a naturally aristocratic bearing and ethereal beauty that bordered on heartbreaking, and Irisviel von Einzbern had been a sight to see. Though, Takara admitted, with the latter two qualities she’d have drawn stares regardless of her true nature.

After years of exposure to Veela through Arcueid, neither her father nor Galen’s had been affected. Galen had bowed and kissed her hand, thanking her for the marvellous birthday gift - but that was more because he was playacting than because of any real enthralment. Neville, poor boy, had gaped like a goldfish, unable to do more than stare dazedly.

Given that those were the mildest reactions to her presence, naturally the Baroness had collected Shirou and left as quickly as possible, under the circumstances - but invitations to their manor for Christmas brunch had been issued to all of them.

Neville had been the next to go, collected by his now-infamous Gran - whom Takara regarded as a step or two above “hag.” Certainly, she seemed the living example her Mother talked about regarding witches who didn’t think enough about blending in. Aside from the dubious fashion sense that thought putting a stuffed vulture on a hat was a good idea, who with sense would wear it in a setting like this?

She’d been all ready to chew out Neville for misplacing Trevor again, too - she’d asked about the toad first thing. Luckily, Galen had thought to double-check that they had everything before leaving the compartment, and quietly handed him the toad before they got off the train.

No “hello,” first. No “Happy Christmas,” or “Good to see you.” Takara shook her head. No wonder Neville’s self-image was such a mess.

Meeting Hermione’s parents was, in her mind, the most fun encounter. The girl had almost skipped across the platform, holding both Galen’s hand and Takara’s own. It had been sweet and kind of sad at the same time. She was like a puppy with a new toy, eager to bring it to someone and show off, in hopes she’d be allowed to keep it.

Had Takara not been older than she looked, she might have missed the looks that passed between the two Granger adults on being introduced to Hermione’s three new friends - a mix of relief and genuine pleasure. She wondered how long they’d worried that their daughter would never make friends.

They’d also met the youngest Granger - Hermione’s seven-year-old sister, Miranda. Her colouring was much the same as Hermione’s, but her hair was straight, and she was understandably more baby-faced in appearance. It was obvious, however, that the little girl adored her big sister. She was shy around the rest of them, however - though it appeared she might make friends with Maeve, given time.

The Grangers had been visibly relieved to meet parents that weren’t quite as outlandish in appearance as the majority of the witches and wizards at the station - even more pleased to discover that Takara’s parents were in responsible positions, and Galen’s were “normal.” Takara supposed it must be reassuring to find something familiar in this strange new world that insisted their daughter be a part of it - especially when she was taking to it with such enthusiasm.

Regardless, they now had an occasion to meet socially through the Einzberns’ brunch, and there was every indication that the Grangers could become a regular fixture of her parents’ social circle, along with renewed ties with the Salvatores.

It would be nice,*she thought, to spend time with the boys that didn’t involve life-or-death struggles.

The thought was dispelled by a knock on her door.

“Yes?” she called.

“It’s me,” her mother responded. “Can we talk?”

“Come in,” Takara invited.

Her mother entered, and sat down at Takara’s desk, while the girl herself repositioned herself from lying down on her bed to sitting on it.

“It’s about Hogwarts,” the elder Aozaki said. “Dumbledore’s report was reasonably enough received so that we didn’t have grounds to investigate, but I think part of that’s because the locals are too ready to take his word at face value. For a school that’s supposed to be one of the safest places in the country, it seems to have been breached too easily. I don’t like the implications.”

Takara’s newly-gained Occlumency training kept her emotions off her face, or else she would’ve winced.

“Has anything unusual happened since the troll?”

Takara said nothing for a moment, as if considering, then shook her head. “No.”

She very firmly kept her shields fixed in place. Ciel Aozaki had been adept at spotting her daughter’s lies even without being a witch in a universe that had mind-reading magic.

Her mother’s face softened. “All right. But I want you to keep your eyes and ears open. If you notice anything suspicious, you contact us right away, understand? We want you and your classmates to be safe.”

Takara nodded, knowing full well that if her mother knew what she did, she’d be home-schooled for the rest of her life. Or possibly enrolled in Beauxbatons.

Her mother broke into a smile. “We have cookies and hot chocolate downstairs. Come down and tell us what the term’s been like. How are you and Shirou getting along with Galen? Were you surprised to see him?”

Takara found herself smiling at the rapid-fire questions. The world might be different from what she’d known, but this was still her mother.

Yes, she thought. I am definitely home.

For Shirou, his “homecoming” was a bit more surreal. The manor Irisviel took him to (by means of a Portkey, which was now topping his list of “Least Favourite Ways to Travel”) wasn’t quite like the one Ilya had used in the Grail War, but neither was it the house he and Kiritsugu had called home. Instead, it was definitely English in style - though the interior decorations held both Germanic and Japanese influences.

Irisviel herself was something of a shock. He’d never known her before, and his closest approximation to a mother figure in his previous life had been Fuji-nee, so the Veela woman’s casual embraces and pleasant endearments displayed a level of intimacy he was unused to - especially combined with her apparently playful nature. Considering Arcueid Brunestud’s behaviour, he wondered how much of it was inherent to Veela.

Seeing Kiritsugu alive again - and healthier than he ever remembered seeing him - almost brought Shirou to tears. His father, his idol, was alive, and they had another chance. That alone, to him, was worth it all - everything he’d suffered to get to this point. That Kiritsugu was so obviously in love with Irisviel, and happy with this life, made it even sweeter.

And then, there was Ilya.

He’d been tackled by the flying form of his sister almost at the moment he appeared. She’d squeezed him in an embrace that was reminiscent of Hermione at her most exuberant, and Shirou had felt a sudden sympathy for Galen - along with alarm as he’d swear he heard ribs creaking.

And even though he’d expected it, it was still a surprise to hear her whisper in his ear, “Welcome home, Onii-chan.”

He’d known she’d been drawn from his own world, but the confirmation was still a bit of a shock - the difference between knowing something, and believing it. Of course, it wasn’t the biggest surprise revealed by Ilya’s hug, and as soon as they were alone - he’d asked Ilya to “help him unpack” - he confronted her about it.

“Since when do you have a figure like that?” Shirou demanded.

Ilya pouted. “Don’t you think I’m pretty, Shirou?”

Objectively speaking, she was gorgeous. Alabaster skin, silvery-blonde hair, and elegant, porcelain features on a body that rightfully belonged to a dancer. She didn’t walk so much as glide. Her eyes were a little disconcerting - pale blue instead of the familiar red, with the almond shape so common to the Japanese - but aside from that, she could have any modelling agency begging for a contract.

She was also, as best he could tell, at least fourteen, with a prominently developing chest.

“You’re beautiful,” he admitted. “Now, what’s going on?”

She shrugged, doing interesting things to the aforementioned chest that Shirou was determined not to contemplate. “I decided I was tired of being a little girl.”

“You decided?”

“Sure. I came in with a lot more power to spare than you did, so I had some leeway as to how I was written into this continuum. I could’ve been a year older than you, like I am, but I didn’t really want to spend that long away from you - and if I’d been grown up, well, it wouldn’t have been good either, ‘cause I would’ve moved out afterwards, and still not seen you. So I split the difference.”

She grinned impishly. “This way, I’ll be just*old enough to compete in the Triwizard Tournament, and get to spend a year at school with you, Shirou! That will be fun!”

A shudder ran through Shirou’s body as he remembered some of Ilya’s ideas of “fun.”

Ilya giggled at his reaction. “I’m so glad I decided to come with you! I get you, Mommy, and Daddy, all to myself!” Her voice went soft and serious. “Like it should have been.”

Shirou found himself softening. “Yeah, it really should’ve.”

He reached out to embrace her. “Happy Christmas, Ilya-chan.”

“Happy Christmas, Shirou-oniichan.”

March 22nd, 2011, 07:45 PM
DISCLAIMER: Lunar Legend Tsukihime, Fate/Stay Night, and all related characters and concepts are the creation and property of Kinoko Nasu and Type-Moon, along with anyone who's happened to license them, like Geneon or Funimation. Harry Potter and all related characters and concepts are the creation and property of J.K. Rowling, along with her publishers and Warner Bros., as regards the movie material.

This is a not-for-profit, just-for-fun project.

Writer's Note: Certain dialogue sequences in this story are lifted from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, but I trust in the intelligence of my readers (and the availability of the books) to recognise them when they see them.

Chapter 15 - The Mirror of Erised

January 5 - 17, 1992

The journey back to the castle was quieter for all of them, in that Malfoy had apparently decided not to push his luck. Just the same, Galen sat hidden under the aura of the cloak, waiting for a possible attack. He was more subdued than he’d been on the ride to London, but no one seemed to notice - coming off a holiday, all of them were quieter.

All in all, it seemed to have gone reasonably well. He didn’t think he’d aroused too much suspicion among his family - it was hard pretending to be twelve when you were nearly twenty years older - and only his sister’s name had given him much trouble, but it helped that the nickname between the two was still the same. As for the rest, “Mom,” “Dad,” “Grandma” and “Grandpa” didn’t really change between Canada and the U.K., other than a slight pronunciation difference. It had been harder dealing with the grandparents, though - knowing what he knew about that side of his family, and wondering if it held true here, while still having to act as though he didn’t want to string them up and beat the answers out of them. There had been a couple of bursts of accidental magic while visiting, but as he was still young, they’d mostly shrugged it off - and in one instance, blamed Maeve. Galen reminded himself that he owed his little sister a really good birthday present for that.

Christmas Day brunch at the Einzberns had been more fun. Everyone invited had been able to attend (and, of course, show off their favourite presents), and he’d been introduced to the local version of Ilya-dono - or to most people present, reintroduced. Her older appearance hadn’t been entirely expected, and she’d taken advantage of his shock to flash him with her Veela aura - which, half-Veela or not, was just as powerful as her mother’s, or Arcueid’s. Caught by surprise, she’d actually managed to hold him for about thirty seconds, along with pretty much every male in the room. Then, just as he’d managed to get himself under control, her mother had scolded her - though lightly. Allure accidents were to Veela, apparently, as magic outbursts were to witches and wizards.

Still, he’d established that between his Occlumency training and his natural stubbornness, that kind of control wasn’t going to hold him long, if at all. Shirou, just as accustomed to masking his feelings, seemed about the same - though it remained to be seen if time and increasing hormone levels could increase the difficulty. If the pair of them had been physically older, he’d certainly have wanted to resist less.

That aside, spending time with Ilya over the holiday had proven useful. Not only was her education three years ahead of their own, Durmstrang’s curriculum had slightly different foci. For example, the Dark Arts class was less defence-oriented, and more comprehensively designed as an overview. The lack of a string of sub-par instructors due to a cursed position no doubt helped, as well. In any case, it had let them add a few new spells and counters to their repertoire, even though some of them were - questionable. Still, better to have and not need, then need and not have, in his opinion.

The ability to use the duelling rooms in both the Aozaki and Einzbern homes had been useful, as well. The laws against underage magic were pretty much waived in a wizarding home, as parents were assumed to have control of the situation - and given that both families had Aurors, a place for combat practice was essential. A number of security and safeguarding charms had been built into them to minimise both damage and detection. It had been an ideal place to practice everything they’d learned, and test themselves against each other.

Against any other first-year student, Galen would bet on them to win. They’d even managed to surprise Ilya a couple of times, despite the fact that she was older, more experienced, ruthless, and crazy powerful. Knowing that, maybe a Hogwarts fourth-year would be an even match for them. But was Quirrellmort?

Quirrell didn’t do much casting against Harry - he relied on physical attacks. Or did he? That was the movie . . . What about the book?

Galen closed his eyes, drawing on his Occlumency training and the fact that he almost never forgot anything he read, even before the training.

Silent Incarcerous spell, Galen thought. He bound Harry with a snap of his fingers, and no visible wand at all. Damn. Under the cloak, we might have a chance to ambush him - but in a direct fight? Too risky, way too risky. We will have to steal the Stone, after all.

That left the question of “when.” Under normal circumstances, Quirrell didn’t attempt to take the Stone until June, after exams. The next major event in the books was the Gryffindor/Hufflepuff Quidditch match in February, refereed by Snape. Although Quirrell didn’t try anything, he was in attendance - along with everyone else. It might be the best time to take a shot, but Takara and Shirou were both on the team - and there was no guarantee Hermione or Neville would go with him.*And short of taking her with them, there was no reasonable way to keep Hermione from going directly to McGonagall or another professor. She might be willing to become an Animagus, given that she could always register later, but outright theft - even in a good cause - seemed to be beyond her comfort zone. And she had a demonstrated habit of doing things for people’s own good, regardless of the wishes of the people in question.

I could risk going alone, but it’s an easy way to get killed - I’d only need to slip up once. And again, Hermione could easily figure out what I’m doing. If she happens to find Quirrell first . . .

Hermione needs to be drawn into the plan, whatever happens, in order to keep her from going to the faculty. To do that, she’d have to be convinced that going after the Stone is preferable to any other option - or that there are no other options at all. But how?

He could use her crush. She was about as socially adept as he was, but with the benefit of experience, he could guess its existence - she blushed too often when he smiled, or happened to look her way at certain times. Provided she didn’t come to her senses about him quickly enough, it might work . . .

No. You’re being a manipulative bastard as it is. There has to be a line, or you might as well change your name to Albus Dumbledore - or Gendo Ikari - right now.

Galen sighed slowly. This wasn’t going to be easy . . . But on the bright side, there was still time.

Shirou was working on an essay for Transfiguration when Neville burst into the common room with a wild look on his face. Spotting Shirou, he hurried over.

“I’ve found something you’ve got to see,” he said urgently.

Shirou looked up. “Oh?”

“It’s in the equipment shed for Greenhouse One,” Neville said. “I was checking up on the seedlings Professor Sprout had us plant last week, and - I don’t know how to explain it, you’ve just got to come see!”

Shirou frowned inwardly. Another attempt by Quirrell? Galen had said it should be quiet for some time - not the most appealing prospect. He was patient, but not that patient. Still, he’d resigned himself to waiting for the time being, building himself up, and thought he’d been making progress in these last three weeks.

But if not something to do with Quirrell, then what? And why in a greenhouse storage shed?

“Should we get anyone else?” Shirou asked quietly.

“Hermione might recognise this,” Neville said, after a moment’s thought. “And Galen.”

“Any particular reason?”

Neville hesitated. “He . . . He knows things. He might know this.”

Shirou smirked inwardly. The glasses-wearing wizard almost certainly would, or have a decent idea of how to find out.

“We’ll try the library,” Shirou said, gesturing to Neville to lead. “Odds are at least one of them is there.”

As they crossed the corridors, Shirou checked for ghosts and portraits. Reaching a spot that had none, he asked, “Does it bother you?”

“What?” Neville asked, confused.

“That Galen knows things.”

Neville was silent. After the debacle at Gryffindor’s match against Slytherin, he hadn’t really given it much thought.

“. . . He hasn’t hurt us, has he?” Neville asked in a rhetorical tone. “However he knows what he knows, whether he’s a Seer who wants to keep quiet about it, or it’s something to do with being a w - a werewolf, or something else - he’s never tried to hurt us with it. And I have to imagine, knowing what he knows, that he could if he wanted to.”

Neville shook his head. “I don’t know how he knows - and sometimes I get the shivers, the way he looks at people, or things - but you were right, that day. He’s only ever tried to help. I mean, we weren’t supposed to be in that corridor. We were told not to go.” As they passed through the library doors, Neville continued,”He could’ve easily left us to the dog . . .”

“No I couldn’t,” Galen said, suddenly emerging from the stacks beside them. Neville cried out, and Shirou glared at the blue-eyed wizard. He was joined in this activity by Madam Pince.

Galen shrugged. “I have good hearing, and you weren’t exactly trying to be quiet. What’s up?”

“Neville found something he wants to show us. Is Hermione here?”

“No, but I know where she is. Follow me.”

Shirou noted Galen’s frown. Whatever was going on, this was as much a surprise to Galen as it was to himself - and that wasn’t a good sign. He loosened his wand, suspecting he’d need to be able to grab it quickly soon.

Galen led them to a girls’ bathroom on the first floor - not the one where they’d faced the troll, thankfully. He knocked quietly on the door before walking directly in.

Shirou and Neville exchanged amazed glances, before hesitantly following.

Hermione and Takara both were there, sitting before a small cauldron that bubbled with some indefinable substance. It didn’t even have a colour, really, unless the colour of the cauldron itself counted. Hovering nearby was a silvery apparition, a ghostly girl with thick wire-framed glasses and short-cropped hair that matched her dark eyes in hue.

“Miss Myrtle,” Galen said pleasantly. “I hope the ladies have been properly-behaved guests for you.”

Shirou was amazed anew at Galen’s ability to switch moods. He’d been serious, even verging on grim, before they walked through the door. Now he was the soul of courtesy, even managing to smile believably at the ghost girl, as easily as flipping a light switch. Shirou would swear the guy had multiple personality disorder, or something like it.

For her part, the ghost blushed a little, and said in a velvety, girlish voice. “They’ve been quite nice company, actually. And it’s been fun watching them work - I haven’t seen anyone try this for at least twenty years, and they’re doing much better.”

“I’m glad we’re not bothering you overmuch, and grateful you’ve been willing to keep our secret,” Galen said. “And loathe as I am to further impinge on your generosity, we need the girls’ help with something. Would you mind terribly if we left you to watch the potion for, say, half an hour at best?”

“I can do that,” Myrtle said eagerly.

He sketched a bow to her. “My thanks for your generosity, dear lady. I promise we’ll not tarry overlong.”

Myrtle’s cheeks turned a deeper hue, and Shirou fought the urge to shake his head. He was in “knight mode,” like he used with Ilya - and the scary thing was, it was working!

“Ladies, if you would?” Galen directed at the two living girls, and with another smile at Myrtle, he said, “By your leave.”

The ghost girl nodded, giggling, and they departed the bathroom.

Neville stared at him. “That was Moaning Myrtle! You just charmed Moaning Myrtle!”

Galen shrugged. “She can be very kind, when she chooses.”

“Lavender and Parvati constantly complain about having to avoid her bathroom because her tantrums keep flooding the place, and you got her to not only behave, but giggle!”

“She was a very lonely girl,” Galen said softly. “And then she died, and no one’s really cared since. A little kindness and respect isn’t hard to give her, or any of the ghosts - especially when it’s so little to ask for.”

Shirou noticed Hermione’s eyes brighten at the speech, and wondered what she was thinking, when Takara spoke up, “What is this about, exactly?”

Neville brightened. “I found something I want to show you!”

Takara didn’t look at it directly, instead choosing to stare at the inverted writing on the mirror. English wasn’t exactly an impossible language for her anymore, but reading this - especially when the words were spaced wrong - was threatening to give her a headache.

“The writing’s in Old English style,” Hermione said. “And backwards - that’s tricky. But they don’t form real words - “

”The spacing’s random,” Galen said. “The phrase is, ‘I show not your face but your heart’s desire.’”

Everyone looked at him, and Hermione said cautiously, “You sussed that out very quickly . . .”

He smiled faintly. “I used to have a book of mysteries that held the solutions in mirrored type, and a reflective surface wasn’t always handy, so I learned to read it. It’s not something I use much, but it’s not a hard skill to remember.”

Takara wondered how much of that was true. The worst thing was, it sounded completely true. Maybe it really was - he’d never said when he owned the book, after all. But it continually amazed her how easily he could lie, and be believable.

Then again, he’d had to be able to do that, or the War would’ve been lost.

She glanced at him curiously. He looked like a younger version of the Avenger she’d known, but in better shape - thin, but more wiry than emaciated. He sounded more or less like that, too. And if the childhood of Galen Salvatore, as she remembered it, was as close to his as her counterpart’s was to her own, then she had some understanding of how the Spirit she’d summoned became what he was.

And, irony of ironies, that being despised lies, nearly as much as he did betrayal.

Did he really love her? He’d said he did - and he did seem to pay her more attention than Shirou or Neville. Hermione got the same treatment, though - so was it simply that he had a weak spot for girls? Or . . .

I said he had a fanboy crush on Hermione. If that’s why he acts that way around her, maybe he does love me?

. . . And if so, what do I do about it? What do I want to do?

Ilya’s hints and her memories hadn’t given her much peace. She could ignore it for days, sometimes weeks - but with as much time as they spent in each other’s company, sooner or later the questions came back to her mind: was it true? Did she want it to be true?

Want . . . she realised.

“Shall we try it out?” Takara heard herself suggesting.

Everyone was now looking at her.

“That’s - kind of personal, isn’t it?” Hermione asked. “To show everyone your heart’s desire . . .”

“It won’t,” Galen said quietly. “It acts on just one person at any given time. The rest will know only what you tell them.”

Hermione and Neville turned their heads towards Galen now.

“I’ve heard of the Mirror of Erised,” Galen said with a casual shrug. “From what I know, this is it. It can be dangerous - it’s very addictive, to see yourself with everything you’ve always wanted - but only if you accept the mirror as an end in itself, and not as an inspiration to strive for.”

Neville looked glum. “I’d hoped that . . .That maybe it was some kind of fortune-telling mirror.”

“No, Neville,” Galen said kindly, “it isn’t. And it might be tempting to stay here, but it won’t change what is. If you want what’s in the mirror to be true, you’ll have to work for it yourself. You might not succeed, but there’s never any shame in that - only in refusing to try.” He glanced at Takara, and said carefully, “It does not do to dwell on dreams, and forget to live.”

And he would know, she thought. Dreams were what he did - and to some extent, what he was.

Neville stared at him. “You know what the mirror showed me, don’t you?”

“I can guess,” Galen responded softly. “I know who you are, and where you come from, Neville Longbottom.” His voice hardened. “And it was for far more than wasting away in front of this mirror.”

Neville flinched.

“If it’s what you want, then create that life,” Galen continued. “Become a healer, a spell researcher - it’s possible that you may succeed where others have failed. And even if you can’t, you can contribute much in trying.”

He smiled. “I will help you, where I can.”

Now Neville flushed, and stared at the ground. “Th - thanks.”

Galen shrugged. “What are friends for? Now, unless anyone else has a question about the Mirror of Erised, I suppose we ought to get going. Miss Myrtle will be cross if we’re late.”

Neville and Hermione nodded, and began moving towards the castle. Takara and Shirou stared at the mirror in contemplation.

“Thinking about what you would see?” Galen asked.

Takara admitted, “A little . . .” Quietly, she added, “I was also wondering what you’d see.”

“Nothing,” Galen said flatly.

“Because you’re the happiest man alive?” she asked, recalling Dumbledore’s line.

Galen sighed. “Because even if the Mirror can break through Occlumency - and I honestly don’t know whether or not it can - in order to show me my heart’s desire, I would have to want something.”

Takara scowled thunderously at his response, and she opened her mouth to respond when Shirou said suddenly, “I was thinking about something else.”

Both of them turned, argument tabled if not forgotten.

“Don’t you think this is kind of a strange place to store a full-length mirror of any kind, much less an enchanted one?” Shirou asked.

“It is that,” Galen agreed darkly. “Unless, of course, you’re Dumbledore, and trying to drop enigmatic hints to Neville about the defences surrounding the Philosopher’s Stone.”

“He is so infuriating!” Takara snapped to Shirou as the pair of them outpaced Galen on the way back to Myrtle’s bathroom. “We went over this three months ago, and he’s still the same stubborn, suicidal, blockheaded - ”

Shirou looked at her contemplatively. “Did you really think he’d change so quickly?”

“Quickly?” she sputtered.

Shirou shook his head. “I don’t know exactly what damage in his life caused him to develop this state of mind,” he said heavily, “and from the flashes I got while we were connected, I think it’s something that he did to himself at least as much as it was something that was done to him. I do know that he’s been carrying the scars of it around for at least as many years as you’ve been alive. In all probability, they’ve marked him since long before that.”

He looked at Takara. “That kind of damage isn’t going to heal itself in three months, Takara, or even three years. Not without a lot of work, and more than somebody’s fair share of luck. Believe me, I know.”

“But Ilya - ”

“Ilya gave him a reason to exist. It’s not the same as a reason to live,” Shirou countered, in the tone of someone who was intimately familiar with the difference.

Takara recalled the half-Veela witch saying something similar, and her shoulders slumped.

“So what can we do?” she asked tiredly.

“We can be his friend,” Shirou said. “We can care about him, and make sure that he knows we do. We can work to give him reasons beyond his oaths and battles to get up in the morning, and try to remind him that life is for living. The rest is up to him, but maybe, if we’re very good, and very lucky, he’ll let us in past his walls.”

Takara glanced at him. “You seem to be fairly sure of your beliefs. I thought you didn’t know him that well.”

Shirou was quiet for a long time - so long that Takara thought he was going to ignore the question. Then, finally, he answered.

“I don’t know him - but I knew a guy like him once, before we came here. He lived in the mirror.”

Shirou was musing on the grim state of things as they crossed through the corridors of the castle. Takara had a point about Galen’s suicidal tendencies, but he’d dealt with things like that often enough - his own and other people’s - to have a pretty good handle on the generalities when it came to handling them. It didn’t mean he liked the fact that someone part of him insisted was a best friend was a reckless, suicidal loose cannon, but he knew that pushing him would only piss him off.

He’d been lucky in his own life. Through all of it, Rin had never given up on him, kept him from going off the deep end. It was only when he’d become a Counter Guardian, and been unable to reach for her support, that the existence he’d chosen had finally worn him down. Here, he had Ilya, Kiritsugu, and even Iris, whom he thought he could easily grow to love.

Galen’s life here wasn’t like theirs. He’d had a long talk with his “little sister” about her history with the man she’d chosen as her protector, and while she’d been careful about the confidences she’d shared, Ilya had told him enough to give him a decent handle on who and why he was.

Like them, Galen was viewing the world as an adult placed in a child’s body, which made socialising with their “peers” difficult - but where they had second chances to live without the horrors of their original lives, he was effectively back to the same existence he’d left, to endure all over again. In fact, given the way werewolves were viewed by the present society, it might even be worse. He wouldn’t have to mourn opportunities lost - they’d never be there to begin with. And he was old enough, and intelligent enough, to know that.

It was not an existence designed to give one joy in one’s life - and he needed that, as much as anyone else.

It’s going to take time, Shirou thought. Time, and caring. Enough of the latter, and we’ll have enough of the former.

From what Ilya had suggested, his and Galen’s former Mistress might be best suited to the task . . .

His thoughts came to a halt as he stared at Hermione and Neville, both intently gazing at them as they walked through the bathroom door. The latter two looked incredibly nervous.

“What?” he asked uneasily.

Neville glanced nervously at the ground. “W - well, we were coming through the corridor when we h - heard . . . We heard . . .”

Hermione interrupted, “We heard Professor Snape threatening Professor Quirrell about something to do with the Philosopher’s Stone. He mentioned getting past Hagrid’s beast - that’s Fluffy, isn’t it?”

Shirou nodded.

“So Professor Snape is the Dark wizard who tried to kill Takara? And let the troll into the castle?” Hermione sounded midway between mournful and outraged that a professor had done these things.

“It seems like it, but we don’t really have any physical proof, do we? And without that to back up our claim . . .”

“If we go to McGonagall, she’ll no doubt ream us out for being ridiculous,” Galen finished. “And if we try Professor Dumbledore, we’ll be assured that Professor Snape has his full confidence and trust.” The other wizard grimaced. “At least, that’s what McGonagall told me he said when I tried to file a complaint for the way Potions class is run.”

Neville actually began trembling. It was, no doubt, his worst nightmare come to life - the teacher he was terrified of was a Dark wizard willing to kill people standing in his way.

Hermione, on the other hand, looked anxiously thoughtful, biting her lower lip in worry. Finally, hesitantly, she turned to Galen and said, “You said . . .” She trailed off, and then took a deep breath, before beginning again.

“You said something a while ago - about . . . About stealing the Stone before someone else could?”

“That was my initial plan,” Galen said in a noncommittal tone.

Hermione looked at him, then all of them, before taking another deep breath.

“Count me in.”

March 22nd, 2011, 08:21 PM
DISCLAIMER: Lunar Legend Tsukihime, Fate/Stay Night, and all related characters and concepts are the creation and property of Kinoko Nasu and Type-Moon, along with anyone who's happened to license them, like Geneon or Funimation. Harry Potter and all related characters and concepts are the creation and property of J.K. Rowling, along with her publishers and Warner Bros., as regards the movie material.

This is a not-for-profit, just-for-fun project.

Writer's Note: Certain dialogue sequences in this story are lifted from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, but I trust in the intelligence of my readers (and the availability of the books) to recognise them when they see them.

Chapter 16 - Through the Trapdoor

February 14 - 22, 1992

Takara was nervous at lunch in the Great Hall, and for once neither classes nor Quidditch nor impending confrontations with magical traps and/or Dark wizards had anything to do with it. No, she was nervous because this was Valentine’s Day, and she wasn’t in Japan. In Japan, dealing with this would’ve been easy. She could’ve bought some chocolates to give to her classmates as giri-choco, and that would’ve pretty much been the end of it. She generally got little things on White Day in return. Ultimately, however, there was no sentiment attached.

In England, however, she was given to understand that the tradition was entirely different, more like Valentine’s Day and White Day combined - though as a child, she remembered Valentines being given to all her classmates in primary school, again with no real special feeling attached. This was the Wizarding world, however, and she had no idea how the magical community had the tradition set up. Was a valentine intimate and important, or just a social obligation? Should she have splurged, or should she sit back and wait to see who acknowledged her?

As the owls were let in for the mail delivery, Takara was startled to suddenly be surrounded by three. All of them had cards - from Neville, Shirou and Galen. This, she could deal with. It was that all three carried presents, as well.

Neville’s was the simplest - a normal-sized bar of that really good Honeydukes chocolate. It wasn’t as expensive at that size as the larger ones her mother had given Galen - but it was still pricy for a chocolate bar, because it was the really good stuff. Shirou had apparently decided to utilise the Einzbern money and go a little higher-class - it was brand-new Seeker armour, not exactly cheap . . . Although she wondered how he’d known her size.

Galen’s was the most surprising. With her card came a single white rose - her favourite flower. The card bore a handwritten addendum to its message: “It can’t replace your yukata, but it can stand in memory of it.” She hadn’t realised he’d even seen the summer kimono she’d worn to that festival, much less that he’d remember it all this time later, and she glanced at him oddly.

He shrugged and smiled. “You were stunning.”

She felt the heat creep into her face. For all her disastrous memories of what had followed that “date,” she remembered the effort she and Mother had put into making her look pretty. That he’d compliment her on it, even now . . .

“Thank you,” she said quietly, before amplifying her voice to take in all the boys. “All of you.”

Neville blushed. “Well, I knew you liked it . . .”

Shirou smirked. “And I figured, if this prevents you from getting hurt in the next match, it’ll be worth it. Maybe we won’t have to chase anybody into the forest this time.”

Any reply Galen might’ve made to that was cut off - along with his air supply - by a Hermione hug. Thankfully, this one was neither as long or as powerful as some of the prior ones, which was clearly evidenced by the lack of creaking ribs.

Afterwards, she moved onto Neville, and then Shirou. Neither of them was quite so compressed, though, as a result of having generally better-padded frames . . . And the extra warning didn’t hurt.

“For a supposed bookworm and intellectual, she’s a very physical girl,” Galen said to Takara, sotto voce.

“And you love it,” Takara said, half-accusingly.

He shrugged. “I can live with it, anyway. And it was a ten-galleon credit at Flourish and Blotts, before you ask. I figure that can put a dent in next year’s textbooks for her. They’re going to be expensive.”

“Right,” Takara muttered under her breath, “Lockhart.”

Galen nodded.

They passed through Potions class with relatively little trouble. Snape took points, of course, and Draco glared at Neville - but the hints of red scalp visible underneath his newly-grown hair were apparently still painful enough that he decided on discretion. That left them soon ensconced in Myrtle’s bathroom, checking on the Animagus potion and discussing possible defences and strategies regarding the Philosopher’s Stone.

“Dumbledore wouldn’t have wanted any outside attention drawn to the Stone’s presence,” Galen said casually, “so the best thing for him to do would’ve been to use the school’s own resources, as he did with Hagrid’s dog. Any traps or security we’re liable to encounter would probably have been created by the faculty.”

Takara again admired Galen’s ability to sound utterly believable. If she didn’t know for a fact that he already knew what the traps were, she’d be under the impression that he was logically thinking things out.”

“Any Herbology-based defence would involve items available from the greenhouses, or the Forbidden Forest,” Galen continued. “Neville, that’s your area of expertise - see what’s around that might’ve been used.”

Neville nodded, pleased - it was an assignment he could do, and do well.

“Potions is your thing, Takara,” Galen continued. “Glance through the library, and see what Snape might’ve been able to brew up to use in a security capacity. Remember that he’ll already know how to bypass this one, so anything you can come up with to screw it up wouldn’t hurt, either.”

A nice person would’ve called what graced his face a smile.

“I can’t see Astronomy being useful for this, but I know Ancient Runes and Arithmancy are on the curriculum for the upper years. Hermione, that’s probably best suited to you. Just a general overview, especially of counters, would help - no need to try and learn the whole subject at one go.

“Shirou, you’re the Transfiguration prodigy. Try to think of what might’ve been done with it to protect the Stone, and how we can undo or bypass it.”

“What about Charms and Defence Against the Dark Arts?” Hermione asked. “For that matter, what about the dog?”

“Cerberus, in Greek myth, was lulled to sleep by Orpheus’ music, so we could see if it’s an inherent weakness - if worse comes to worst, we can always drug it.” Galen grimaced. “The problem with the other two is, they cover almost everything. I’ll do the research on them myself - but given that Professor Flitwick is a former duellist, I’d think animated golems as security guards are probable. And as for potential Dark Arts and creatures . . .” He shuddered. “We’ll just have to do the best we can.”

Takara had to restrain herself from shaking her head. He should be in theatre, he really should - or politics.

Neville looked downcast. “There are so many possibilities - we’re not really going to be able to do this, are we?”

Galen smiled. “If we can, then it’s better we should, because defences that can’t keep us out will never stop Snape. If we can’t, all that matters is that we don’t get killed. Once caught, we can raise heck with the Aurors and the media. The Stone will be out of here so fast . . .” He shook his head.

“The goal is to keep it away from Snape and other Dark wizards,” Galen concluded. “We’re not going after it because we want it, but because we don’t have any better option in front of us than to try.”

Neville nodded again, and Hermione had a look of visible relief. Apparently, she was still uneasy about going against the teachers on this.

Takara said, “That leaves when.”

“The Gryffindor/Hufflepuff match will have almost everyone distracted - ” Galen began.

“Except that neither Shirou and I will be with you then,” Takara countered. She didn’t add, And I don’t want you going without us.

Galen suddenly looked uncomfortable. “Well, if we do this right . . . Maybe it’ll just be Shirou.”

“What do you mean?” Shirou asked.

Galen grimaced. “I really don’t want to have to ask this . . .” He sighed. “I’m hoping that Madam Pomfrey can’t deal with really nasty cramps and a heavy flow easily . . . Can she?”

Neville’s eyes widened.

“You want me to fake my period?!” Takara yelled, going crimson to the roots of her hair. Hermione’s blush wasn’t far behind.

Neville’s eyes were now threatening to pop out of his head. Shirou snickered.

Defensively, Galen shot back, “I’m open to better suggestions!”

“Actually . . .” Hermione said meekly. “It’s not a bad idea . . .”

Everybody turned to stare at her, and she instinctively shrank back. Galen relaxed almost instantly, and Takara forced herself to do the same.

“According to Quidditch rules, any player who takes over a certain level of pain relief potions or other medications has to be disqualified,” Hermione continued, falling into a didactic rhythm. “It’s considered to be detrimental to their overall performance, regardless of how necessary it is to their health. Like football or rugby injuries. You wouldn’t use a player high on morphine, or in a cast.”

Neville gave them all a blank look, and Takara supplied, “Mundane reference.” Then she sighed. “All right, I’ll do it . . . But we will never speak of this again, right?”

“Promise,” Galen said, and Takara sighed again, mentally this time.

At least that, she could believe.

“You’re worried,” Shirou said in a low voice - and the fact that they were in the library had only a little to do with that.

Galen glanced up from Confronting the Faceless with an expression meant to look surprised. “Worried? Me? Whyever would you have that impression?”

Shirou gave him a flat stare. “You can’t magically baloney your way out of things any more, so lying to me about this is a waste of time and energy. What’s got you bothered?”

Galen’s lips thinned at being read so easily, and Shirou gave him a half-smirk in response.

“Finding what we did, where we did, means that this at least half-meant as a test for Neville,” Galen whispered. “Which means that things will be designed around his friends and their capabilities. And none of us is a chess master.”

Shirou’s face darkened at the realisation. “True. And come to think of it, why would a giant chess set be used to represent Transfiguration, when shrinking, enlargement, and animation are all Charms?”

“To give Ron Weasley something to do, so he could look heroic,” Galen muttered with a roll of his eyes. “In any case, it means that’s a bloody good chance that we’ll be walking into an entirely different scenario.” He grimaced, adding, “And I have absolutely no idea what that might be.”

“Bugger,” Shirou swore softly. “It’s my specialty, and I’m going to be in the Quidditch match . . .”

“Wish you weren’t,” Galen agreed. “On the other hand, you’re exactly where we really need you to be.”

Shirou blinked, confused.

Galen elaborated. “A Quidditch match doesn’t end until a Seeker catches the Snitch.”

Shirou’s smirk returned. “You want me to stall.”

“As long as Shirou-ly possible,” the other wizard confirmed. “The longer the audience is in the stands, the more time we have.”

Now it was Shirou’s turn to grimace. He hated sitting on the sidelines, which was what this effectively was. But on the other hand, they needed the distraction, and he was in the best possible position to provide it.

“Still wish I was going with you,” he muttered.

Galen shrugged. “Given the choice, me too. I’d like as much backup as I can get. But these are the circumstances we’ve got, so there’s no choice but to play the hand we’ve been dealt.” He grinned suddenly. “If it makes you feel any better, you can feel absolutely free to take on the Basilisk next year, if we end up needing to. In fact, I insist.”

“Afraid?” Shirou prodded him, with a grin of his own.

“Hell, yes. Snakes are bad enough, but when they’re sixty feet long, venomous, and can kill you with a look - “ He shuddered. “No, by all means - have fun. I’ll be anywhere else.”

Shirou glanced at the clock. “Speaking of being elsewhere, it’s almost time for dinner. Let’s go.” He rose, then paused. “And Galen - when it happens, good luck.”

“Thanks - every little bit helps. You, too.”

Without another word, they walked out of the library and towards the Great Hall.

The situation went on like that for the next several weeks - in addition to classes, duelling and Quidditch practice, nearly all available free time was spent in the library, studying up on potential hazards one might use to protect the Philosopher’s Stone. Occlumency practice was also pursued with renewed fervour. They have reached the limits of what Flitwick could teach them, and have no real way to test the strength of their defences, but all of them were determined to present the most impassive possible face to the public regarding their activities.

And, soon enough, it was time for the Gryffindor/Hufflepuff Quidditch match - and time to get to put all their effort to the test.

Galen was presently thanking all the gods for two things. First, that the two girls pressed around him were petite and, like himself, slender in build, otherwise there was no way all four of them could’ve fit under the cloak. The second thing was that he was biologically too young to have really come into his hormones yet. Otherwise, there was no way either girl would’ve missed how he felt about this situation.

Hey, appearances aside, he was a dirty old man who’d never been this close to anything female, attractive, and free before. He had a right.

As before, a simple Alohamora undid the third-floor corridor’s lock. That accomplished, they opened the door, and once again beheld the behemoth known as Fluffy - who was no less wary for the fact that he couldn’t see what he was smelling.

Galen hastily cast a charm he’d learned from Ilya specifically for this - it created music he knew from memory, like the magical equivalent of a Walkman. The trick was, it was just music - any vocal accompaniment had to be provided by another source.

And as the notes filled the air, (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yI1eMV-QQIY) he groaned. He’d wanted something soft, for a lullaby, but that? Damn his penchant for duets! At least his voice was still high enough to mimic a female soprano’s.

He opened his mouth and began singing the song. When the next verse came up, he was surprised to find Takara beating him to it. Gamely, he joined in with her, watching gratefully as Fluffy sank into sleep, and directing Hermione and Neville to move his paw from atop the trapdoor. Once that was done, he had them jump in.

“How did you - ?” he began.

“One of my friends is a Disney fan, and it was good English practice,” she whispered back. “You do know that movie won’t be out for another three years, right?”

He brightened at the idea of actually being able to catch it in theatres this time - and then noticed Fluffy stirring, and hustled them below.

“This is Devil’s Snare!” Neville cried. “We . . . We need to relax, and conjure fire!”

Hermione obliged with her bluebell flames, and they were soon free.

“Nice work, Hermione,” Galen commented. “If I’d tried it, I might’ve incinerated us all.”

“You do have a tendency to overdo it,” Takara remarked dryly, her eyes half-lidded.

“And Neville,” he added, ignoring the Japanese girl, “good job. You recognised it quickly, had a solution ready, and you didn’t panic. That’s all anybody could ever ask for in a crisis.”

The stocky boy blushed.

“Lumos,” Galen said quietly, lighting the tip of his wand. The others followed suit. Ge gestured down the dark tunnel with a grin. “Shall we see what’s behind Door Number One?”

Neville gave him a puzzled look. “Is that supposed to mean something?”

Galen shook his head. “OK, that’s it - you’re coming to my house over the summer, and there will be TV and movie time scheduled. Call it advanced immersion for the Muggle Studies elective.”

Neville still looked blank. “What and what time?”

The key chamber was much easier to navigate for them than it had been for Harry and his friends, owing to the fact that in addition to Takara being just as good a broomstick flier, the three people on the ground knew the Freezing Charm. Cries of “Immobulus!” stopped flying keys cold, cutting down on the amount of chasing she had to do, and the number of pursuers afterwards.

The bad news was, unlike Harry and his friends, they didn’t have to face anything as predictable as a chess set as the Transfiguration trap.

“Nothing personal, Neville,” Galen muttered, “but did you have to trigger that one?”

As before, they were dealing with a locked door and multiple keys - however, in this case, touching the wrong key apparently caused it to Transfigure into a vicious animal.

Currently, they were staring at a very ticked-off-looking lion.

“S - sorry,” Neville whimpered.

“Ideas?” he whispered.

Hermione looked at the lion with wide eyes, then said quickly, “Finite Incantatem!”

The lion exploded into sparks and ashes.

Galen blinked. That was the movie effect, as shown on Dobby’s “rogue” bludger . . .

“I . . .” Hermione stammered. “I didn’t think that would actually work. Finite incantatem is such a basic spell . . .” She turned to look at Galen. “This is what you were talking about, isn’t it? A powerful magical artefact, capable of granting infinite wealth and eternal life, protected by things that first-year students can overcome?”

“If they’re exceptionally skilled,” Galen nodded at Takara, “level-headed” - Neville - “or clever, at least,” he finished, with a nod to Hermione.

Hermione shook her head. “You were right - it’s not safe here at all. And so long as people might come looking for it Hogwarts, neither are we.”

“Well, we know how to get past this now,” Galen said. “The real key won’t be enchanted, or affected by a finishing spell. Therefore - finite incantatem!”

With the others joining in, they soon had the real key by literal process of elimination, and were moving to the door, when Galen groaned. “I smell troll . . .”

Hermione paled, and pulled a little closer to Galen.

“Everybody under the cloak,” Galen ordered. “Maybe we can sneak by, instead of trying our luck a third time. Just be ready to try and distract it.”

As it turned out, it wasn’t really necessary. The troll was even bigger than the one in the bathroom, but it seemed to come at the corresponding expense of brainpower. As they’d made an effort to open the door quietly, it paid the movement no notice - and they moved cautiously enough to skirt around the edges of its chamber, and into the next room.

Black and purple flames erupted along the doorways.

Neville glanced at them, then at the potion bottles. “What do we do now?”

Hermione reached for the scroll, and read it, then turned her attention to the bottles, studying them carefully.

“That one will get us across,” she said finally, pointing at the smallest. “And that will get us back.” She frowned. “That’s strange - there’s only enough for one to go forward, but the retreating one seems big enough for all of us. Why would that be?”

“Neville, go on ahead,” Galen instructed. “We’ll go back with the cloak, and then come forward again.”

Neville blinked. “Why?”

“Because I’m betting those bottles have a self-refilling charm. You wouldn’t want to have only a single dose of anything available, in case of emergencies. If we go back, we’ll reset the trap - and hopefully, the bottle. We can go back and forth.”

Hermione shivered. “That means the troll . . .”

“Galen can be the last one to come across,” Takara said. “His Shield Charm ought to hold it off, if he has to.”

Galen nodded, and the students did as planned. Sure enough, the bottles were refilled when they returned to the potion room. Hermione went ahead next, and then it was Takara’s turn.

“Here you go,” she said, pressing an eyedropper into his hand, before quaffing the potion.

“Thanks,” Galen said. “See you on the other side.”

The Japanese girl nodded, and vanished into the flames. Galen repeated the pattern for the final time, then took his own draught of the Flame Freezing potion. It was cold, the kind of cold he’d always hated, but despite that, he paused to empty the eyedropper into the empty bottle before moving on.

Potion-making was an “exact art,” as Snape put it. The slightest misstep in the brewing process, especially for the more esoteric potions, could cause catastrophe - and even many made potions did not react well to being mixed with other substances. The next person to try that bottle was in for the surprise of their life - as it would be their last surprise.

He strode through the flames, and found himself confronted, as expected, with the Mirror of Erised.

Hermione glanced at him. “What should we do? What do you suppose the catch is here?”

“It shows you what you want,” Galen said, in the tone of someone thinking out loud. “For most people, at this point, that would be the Stone. So, you’d need to play it subtly . . . Maybe, to want to find the Stone - but not to use it?”

“Then you should try it,” Hermione said.

Galen blinked. “Why me? Neville got here first - ”

“Because money doesn’t matter to you, so you’ve no interest in something that makes gold,” Hermione said reasonably.

Takara added, “And if there’s anyone on earth who doesn’t want to live forever . . .”

Galen snorted. “Point taken. The pair of you together are a match for anyone on earth, you know that?”

He glanced at Neville. “Do you mind?”

Neville shook his head. “N - no. I never would’ve done this, without you. I’m just glad to be along.”

“Why wouldn’t you be?” Galen said. “You’re Neville, and there are damned few people on this earth I’d trust as much to cover my back - and not nearly as many I’d trust more.”

He offered the boy a final smile, before standing in front of the mirror and bracing himself.

Again as expected, it popped the Stone directly into his pocket.

Hermione stared. “That’s it?! It just hands it over? Any thief with a hostage could’ve done the same!”

Her outrage at the simplicity of it all was palpable.

“We still have to get out of here,” Galen pointed out quietly. “And then there’s the biggest question of all . . .”

“What’s that?” Takara asked.

“Well . . . Now that we’ve got the Philosopher’s Stone, what exactly should we do with it?”

March 22nd, 2011, 08:22 PM
DISCLAIMER: Lunar Legend Tsukihime, Fate/Stay Night, and all related characters and concepts are the creation and property of Kinoko Nasu and Type-Moon, along with anyone who's happened to license them, like Geneon or Funimation. Harry Potter and all related characters and concepts are the creation and property of J.K. Rowling, along with her publishers and Warner Bros., as regards the movie material.

This is a not-for-profit, just-for-fun project.

Writer's Note: Certain dialogue sequences in this story are lifted from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, but I trust in the intelligence of my readers (and the availability of the books) to recognise them when they see them.

Chapter 17 - Endings and Beginnings

February 22 - June 20, 1992

Hermione bit her lip worriedly as the owl winged itself out of the Owlery tower, and towards London. She turned to Galen and asked, “Are you sure about this?”

He shrugged. “Not much other choice. We’d get in trouble turning it over to the professors, we couldn’t keep it here, and while the Headmaster might not be able to get access to our vaults at Gringotts, it wouldn’t take much for him to ask our guardians to check their inventory, if he has reason to suspect us. Your parents would be even less protected - one quick Oblivation, and they’d forget any wizard, Dark or otherwise, was ever there.”

“But that had to have been all your money!”

“It doesn’t do me much good while I’m here, as we’ve no access to Hogsmeade,” Galen pointed out. “And I can always earn more. If worse comes to worst, I may ask your parents to reimburse me.”

His tone indicated that he’d sooner crawl over broken glass while naked and liberally covered in salt, and Takara chuckled. He’d always hated asking for anything - help, most of all.

She had to admit, it wasn’t a bad plan. By having Hermione open her own Gringotts vault, her parents wouldn’t necessarily be forced to bring large sums of cash for conversion every year - and as a witch of the magical community, she had a right to have an account. With the Stone ensconced in the vault, it was back under Gringotts’ protection, and few people would think to check a Muggle-born student’s vault - or that a Muggle-born student would even have a vault, as most living under parental supervision just converted funds as necessary.

In any case, so long as they gave no indication they were even aware of the Stone, much less in possession of it, there would be no reason for anyone to come looking for it. In the interim, they could try to make contact with Nicolas Flamel and see what he wanted done regarding its final disposition. And the best part, in her opinion, was that Dumbledore would let them research Flamel all they wanted, in hopes of getting them to go after Quirrell and the Stone - not realising it was already gone!

Takara experienced a warm glow at the possibility of putting one over on the idiots who’d decided to take a priceless, powerful artefact and use it as bait in a school full of children.

“Come on,” she said suddenly. “I want to check out the Quidditch match!” Even from here, they could catch the roar of the crowd. It was enticing to her.

“Wait until Neville comes back with your pain-relief potion,” Galen advised. “You need to look suitably doped to the gills, remember? You’re suffering greatly.”

“Not half as much as you will for putting me up to this,” Takara promised. “This is the most embarrassing cover story I’ve ever heard of!”

Galen shrugged. “It was all I could think of - and it worked, didn’t it?”

She grumbled under her breath.

“It is embarrassing,” Hermione admitted with a sympathetic look, “but it’s also deviously brilliant. I’m amazed the Sorting Hat didn’t try to put you in Slytherin!”

“I told it that if it did, come the next day I’d be the only living member of Slytherin,” Galen said casually.

Hermione gave him a look that mingled shock, disbelief, and uncertainty.

Takara locked eyes with Hermione. “He’s not kidding. Meeting Malfoy ticked him off - and you don’t ever want to make him mad.”

“Be fair,” Galen chided. “There’s ‘mad,’ and then there’s - ”

“‘Hit everything that moves until it stops?’” Takara said quickly.

“Pretty much. And it’s not like your temper’s any prettier, either. Who was it that kissed me and then decided to drive her knee into my crotch?”

“You kissed him?” Hermione blurted out in shock.

Takara blushed a little, saying,. “He’d done something really sweet, and really stupid.” She glared at Galen before adding, ”I thought he deserved the rewards of both intentions.”

Hermione communicated with a look that she wanted to hear that story, but any vocal request she might have made was cut off by Neville’s sudden arrival. While the stocky boy wasn’t quite wheezing, he’d begun to sweat profusely.

“Not bad,” Takara commented, looking him over. “You made good time, and you hardly look more than a little winded - even after climbing all those stairs. I guess the early-morning runs are paying off for you, huh?”

Neville nodded, not trusting his voice to work properly. He held up a large vial of greenish liquid.

Takara winced at the size of it. “I have to drink it all?”

Neville nodded again.

“Somebody so owes me for this,” she muttered, before sighing, closing her eyes, and chugging down the potion. When she was finished, she gave a cry of disgust.

“This stuff is supposed to relieve pain!” she protested. “Not half-convince me to end it all in order to avoid drinking another dose!”

“Sorry about that,” Galen said, and he did sound genuinely sorry. However, she also caught a hint of “better you than me” in his tone, which earned him a glare.

“Perhaps it’s meant as a form of negative reinforcement,” Hermione remarked. At Neville’s puzzled look, she explained, “You’ll learn to try harder not to get hurt because you don’t want to taste the potion again.”

“Well, the ‘negative’ part works just fine,” Takara complained. “I’m nauseated, light-headed, and a little numb. I doubt I can walk straight now.”

“Good,” Galen said, “all the more convincing, then. Neville and I can give you a couple of steadying hands - Hermione, could you run ahead and get any doors that need opening, please?”

She nodded, and dashed off.

Galen placed one hand on her right shoulder, and nodded to Neville to take her left. The other boy was hesitant at first, but his grip firmed up when he realised just how badly she was swaying.

“Ready?” Galen asked. “One, two, three - here we go!”

Shirou had to admit, once he ignored the fact that he was stalling for time while everyone else did the heavy lifting, this was actually kind of fun.

The Hufflepuff team’s strength was teamwork and coordination. Their Chasers worked in excellent formation, and their Beaters, while not particularly aggressive or powerful, were able to anticipate the Chasers’ moves and needs. Of course, the three Gryffindor girls weren’t exactly slouches, either - and Fred and George Weasley had always moved and thought in eerie synchronisation. This meant that while Hufflepuff had a slight edge in the Chaser section, their Beaters were being outdone by the redheaded players. The Keepers were relatively well-matched as well, with Oliver Wood’s ability to read players being equalled by the Hufflepuff Keeper’s sheer skill at defensive tactics. That left the match down to the Seekers.

Most of the glory surrounding Quidditch teams went to Seekers. They caught the Snitch, ended the game, and more often than not, won it for their team. They were light, fast, and after a target few players or fans could even see, much less follow - and their role made them the natural first choice for the other team’s aggressions. This, in turn, led to a series of death-defying aerobatics, near-misses, and in some cases, devastating injuries. So in that sense, their mystique was well-deserved.

Takara, he admitted, deserved that mystique. He didn’t. Oh, he was good, no question - he had no problem with heights, or speed, and his eyes were better than hers at a distance, even if hers seemed slightly better at tracking small, fast-moving targets. His reflexes were phenomenal, his endurance incredible, and he could calculate angles and trajectories in his head as easily as someone else might pour a glass of water. As Quidditch players went, he could probably have signed a pro contract now and done his team credit in any position.

The thing was, where his*abilities were something of a carryover from his Servant status, Takara’s had always been hers, embedded in her Nanaya genes. He was skilled, no doubt about it, but he lacked the instinct she seemed to have, the ability to make it look not just easy, but natural. He was a warrior, she was a huntress - and a Seeker’s job was to hunt the Snitch. For this particular position, Takara was simply better suited than he was.

. . . Although, from the way he was playing today, most people would probably never notice.

Cedric Diggory was two years older than Shirou. He was bigger, stronger, heavier, and had a better reach. Shirou’s advantages lay in the fact that he had a better broom, and that for all his skills, Diggory was unprepared for Shirou’s sheer aggressiveness. He buzzed around the older boy like a wasp, constantly distracting him even as he sought the Snitch himself. He wasn’t trying to catch it, but he needed to be aware of where it was if he was going to keep Diggory where it wasn’t.

The problem was, the boy wasn’t stupid. Young, a little foolhardy, and hopefully short-tempered enough to be goaded into a mistake - but not stupid. He hadn’t taken long to realise that Shirou was playing mind games, and began to work at ignoring and avoiding him - so Shirou had to up the ante. He managed to taunt one of Hufflepuff’s Beaters into launching a Bludger at him, and timed it well enough to send it in Diggory’s direction with a well-placed tap of his broom tail. It passed close enough to part the boy’s hair, literally.

After that, the chase was on.

Takara’s Nimbus 2000 proved itself worth every Knut Professor McGonagall had spent on it - as good a flier as Diggory was, his broom wasn’t a match in quality, and it was carrying a heavier load, more widely distributed. It didn’t accelerate as quickly or corner as well - Shirou could’ve lost the other Seeker easily, if that had been what he’d had in mind. Instead, he allowed the boy to keep within a certain range - sometimes even gain a little - by burning speed and distance on some complicated flight routines. They looked fancy, disrupted some of the Chasers and Beaters as he zipped by, and allowed Diggory the illusion that he could get his hands on Shirou.

Finally, it was time for the piPce de résistance. He pulled into a power dive, hoping that Diggory was still ticked off enough to follow - and fortunately, he was. They hurtled toward the ground at literal breakneck speed, until Shirou suddenly pulled up just before hitting the pitch.

Diggory wasn’t quite so lucky.

Shirou would have to remember to thank Hermione for pointing out that Quidditch Through the Ages book. Its description of flight tactics had proven handy.

The game was called while Professor Snape and Madam Pomfrey looked over the injured Hufflepuff Seeker. As he hovered over the pitch, Shirou stayed aware of the Snitch’s location - and also saw his four friends make their way cautiously into the stands. Takara looked positively green, and her walk was unsteady. She was either truly ill, drunk, or one of the best actresses he’d ever seen.

In any case, it meant that the quest for the Stone had ended one way or another, and so it was time to put this match to an end.

When Hooch blew her whistle to resume play, Shirou rocketed upwards and almost casually snapped out his arm, pinning the Snitch between his fingers.

Gryffindor won, 350 to 190.

Galen relaxed a little, following the theft of the Stone. Oh, he was still wary - Dumbledore and Snape were still Legilimens, Dumbledore was still trying to manipulate Neville into facing Voldemort for the Stone, and oh yeah, Voldemort was still in the castle - but the crushing sense of urgency that had driven him to this point was gone. As long as they kept their heads down, and at least made a token effort to look like they were following the Headmaster’s agenda, he figured that they could probably sail through the rest of the year without worrying about horrific threats to their lives, limbs, or sanity.

And he kept on thinking that as time passed, even after Hermione went into panic mode over their upcoming exams - until the day he and she startled Hagrid out of the library, forcing him to leave the books he’d been reading behind.

“Do you suppose Hagrid has a particular interest in dragons?” Hermione asked.

It took a great deal of self-control not to groan out loud, or show anything on his face. He’d forgotten about the bloody dragon!

This was going to be tricky, as while they and Ron Weasley weren’t bitter enemies, they weren’t exactly friends, either. In point of fact, Galen went to a great deal of effort to ignore Ron Weasley’s existence, because his preferred form of acknowledging it involved a great many sharp and rusty instruments . . . And any mutterings from his inner voice that this preference stemmed from a fear that despite all his changes to the timeline, Hermione would still end up marrying the village idiot were ruthlessly ignored.

Then he realised he hadn’t responded to her yet.

“Sorry, woolgathering,” he said, trying to sound like he meant it - because he did. “And yes, I think I’ve heard he does like dragons.” He scanned the titles of the books. Dragon Species of Great Britain and Ireland and From Egg to Inferno: A Dragon Keeper’s Guide.

“He’s either planning a trip to a dragon preserve, planning to go hunting them in the wild, or, given that one book . . .” Galen trailed off.

“Or?” Hermione prompted.

“You don’t suppose he’s gotten hold of an actual dragon egg, do you?”

Hermione’s eyes widened. “But - according to Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, they’re a restricted item! Class A Non-Tradeable Goods! Hagrid could be in real trouble, if he has managed to get himself one! He could go to prison!”

“Not to mention the damage a dragon might do around here,” Galen pointed out. “It might be safe in the Forbidden Forest, but . . .”

“Most dragons are fire-breathers,” Hermione pointed out. “Flame and forest are not an ideal combination.”

Galen grunted in acknowledgement, still trying to come up with a plan.

“Still, we’ve no evidence he has a dragon egg, do we?” Hermione remarked. “He was just reading some books - even if he was acting very strange.”

“No,” Galen agreed. “No evidence whatsoever.”

Hermione’s eyes narrowed, and he blinked at the change in her expression. She looked like she was trying to see into his skull. It was a look he’d seen before, but never directed at him.

“What?” he finally asked.

“Is this something we need to worry about?” she asked, placing particular emphasis on the word “worry.”

“Why would you think - ?”

“I’ve been learning about you, these months,” she said firmly. “There’s a certain tone your voice takes when you say some things - a narrowness to your eyes, as though you’re evaluating what you can and can’t say, what you should or shouldn’t do. This is something else you know about,*isn’t it?”

“Yes.” Galen’s tone was flat, clipped. A bare statement of fact.

“Is this something we need to worry about?”

“. . . Only as it regards Hagrid’s welfare, I think.”

“And you won’t tell me how you know, will you?” she challenged.

“No.” That word was also flat, clipped - but harder. This point was non-negotiable.

Annoyance flashed in her eyes.

“I don’t understand why - but I’m going to figure it out,” she informed him. “One day, you’ll say too much, or slip some other way, and I will*know how it is that you know these things.”

Galen looked at her silently, until she actually squirmed under his gaze.

“Be careful what you wish for, Hermione,” he said softly. “And remember why people say that.”

Then he walked out of the library. He had a half-giant to save from going to prison - and he needed to consult with his friends to figure out how.

Takara felt the urge to finger-flick Galen on the forehead following his explanation of his problems. Seeing no particular reason to disregard it, she did.

“OW! Takara, what the hell?”

She smiled at him sweetly. “Because, you clueless idiot, you’ve been so wrapped up in creating elaborate schemes and defusing Byzantine plots lately that you’re overlooking the obvious solution.”

“Which is?” Galen said in an annoyed tone.

Her smile widened as she replied, “Get a different Weasley. More specifically, two.”

Galen was silent for about five seconds. Then he walked over to a wall and began thumping his head against it to the rhythmic sound of “Idiot - idiot - idiot . . .”

Takara grinned. For the first time she could remember short of their kiss, she’d actually managed to throw him off. Actually managed to out-think him. It felt good.

“After the performances Shirou and I have been putting on for Gryffindor, I’m sure Fred and George will be delighted to help,” Takara continued. “I mean, this is practically the ultimate prank - smuggling a dragon out of the school?”

“At the moment, it’s still an egg,” Galen pointed out. “And I’d really like to keep it that way. The movie version breathed fire, and the book version had some kind of venom. And even the babies have some magic resistance in their hide. Not exactly an easy thing to just haul around. Plus, if we’re caught, and this follows the book - a hundred and fifty points taken from Gryffindor and detention in the Forbidden Forest.”

“Good point,” she admitted. “But the twins have that map, don’t they? If we can get the egg into the castle, getting it out again will be much easier.”

“First, we’ll have to ask them,” he noted.

Takara grinned again. “Leave that to me.”

“Well, Fred, as I live and breathe - ”

“Hang on, I thought you were Fred - “

”I keep changing my mind about it. The point is, brother mine - ”

“Whichever brother I happen to be - “

”We have been blessed with the presence of the youngest, most skilled, and certainly one of the cutest young Seekers in Gryffindor’s history - “

”Cute, definitely - like one of those little porcelain dolls our sister likes - ”

“And she seems eager to capture our attention - “

”Which she seems to have managed as easily as she catches a Snitch - “

Takara decided that enough was enough and bowed low.

“Please, sempai, I have come to ask a favour,” she said quietly, putting all her mother’s etiquette lessons to use. Pity she didn’t have a kimono . . .

“Bowing and gentle words of the Orient!” the twin on the left side exclaimed. “Such kindly manners!”

“She wants something big,” opined the right-side twin.

Takara schooled her face to be subservient, yet inscrutable. She widened her eyes slightly, that they might shine brighter, and thinned her lips in something approaching a pout, but was otherwise expressionless - much like the doll they’d compared her to. This, as Mother termed it, was the face of an inferior humbly begging favour from those of higher rank.

“There is something . . .” she said, making sure to sound hesitant. “It comes with some risk.”

“Risk?” said the left side twin. “Well, that could be fun.”

“What’s life without it?” asked the other.

Takara outlined the situation, and her needs. By the end, they looked as though she’d handed them Christmas presents instead of problems.

“Steal a dragon egg, then sneak it into, and out of the school?” said the left side twin.

“Charlie’ll want it, for sure - he’s always saying he’s worried about the population numbers in Romania,” mentioned the right side one.

“Under the noses of Filch, Dumbledore, and everyone?” continued the left side twin.

“Deal,” said the right side one.

“And Takara - you have any more problems like this, you come to us straight away.”

“We couldn’t dream up pranks like this if we tried.”

Shirou had managed to get himself assigned to the role of “spotter” for the whole mess. It made sense - he’d be able to see anyone long before they came, short of using an invisibility cloak or some kind of Charm Galen had mentioned - but he was once again stuck on the sidelines.

The plan had been relatively simple: the Weasley twins would get Hagrid, and hopefully his dog, out of his hut for about ten minutes. Takara, being small, light, sneaky (and unbeknownst to the twins, possessing an invisibility cloak) would sneak in through a window and snatch the egg. Then, with the hope that at least one of the twins would escape, they’d head back to the castle and use one of the secret passages to get to the village of Hogsmeade, where they could hand off the egg to the older Weasley brother.

They’d picked a Saturday, when classes and curfews wouldn’t interfere, a week or so before the egg was due to hatch. It also had the advantage of being a Hogsmeade weekend, so the twins, as third-years, could come and go freely. This made some of their earlier logistics unnecessary - though the Weasleys were still game for the prank. Unfortunately, being the day after a full moon, Galen was pretty much useless for this, so that had left him as Takara’s backup.

Watching from concealment (a skill he’d picked up) he had to admit that the Weasley twins were good at this. They managed to draw Hagrid out without doing too much damage, and give him a decent run without inflaming his temper overmuch or putting themselves at risk. Of course, to hear them tell it, the twins had been at things like this for a while - so maybe it wasn’t too surprising.

He didn’t actually see Takara enter - the cloak was too good for that. It even seemed to mute other sensations, like sound and scent. It didn’t block them out entirely, but they were always softened, at least a little. And they’d tried a couple of magical detection spells on it - absolutely useless. Unless you were in the same room, you weren’t going to find anybody under it. It really was the ultimate stealth cloak.

Would’ve been handy to have in Afghanistan, Shirou thought to himself. Not to mention two or three other hot spots.

He felt more than heard Takara crouch down beside him.

“Got it,” she murmured, her voice as soft as falling snow.

Shirou shivered. The last time he’d heard her speak like that, she’d killed him.

“Let’s go, then,” he said, and they made their way back up to the hill to the covered bridge.

Sure enough, the Weasley twins joined them not long after, took the egg, and promised to deliver it. As payment for the wonderful game, they proudly demonstrated the secret passage to the basement of Honeydukes in Hogsmeade, in case they wanted to “watch the show.” Shirou memorised its location, opening sequence, and the general layout of the passage. It was good to always know where and how to get to possible escape routes. Also, if and how they could be compromised.

Shirou watched them go off with little regret. It might’ve been nice to have completed the mission himself, but this was far less risky, and less messy. And it beat the hell out of the plan he’d been told was executed in the book.

Now they just had to keep their heads down, prepare for exams, and everything would be simple - he hoped.

Galen sighed. Why can’t things just be simple?

It had all been going so well, too. The egg was out of the castle, with no one the wiser, and Gryffindor on a fast-track to the House Cup. Hagrid, poor man, was beside himself at the loss - and he felt bad about that, but what could be done? The alternatives had been so much worse.

He’d resolved to try and do better for the man. Yes, he had his flaws, but Hagrid was one of the flat-out nicest*people in this universe, one of his dozen. And without Harry here to be his friend . . .

Hagrid had only stopped drinking because it had put Harry at risk. Beyond that, he was a lonely old man, forced year after year to watch children achieve what he’d been unjustly denied for half a century. It wasn’t fair, and it was a miracle that he’d never seemed bitter about it - unlike, say, Argus Filch.

So Galen had made it a point to be nice to Hagrid, to seek him out and ask him questions about the creatures in the Forest, and about other magical beasts. He’d hinted that perhaps Hagrid could, with his knowledge, go into teaching - hopefully laying the seeds for third year.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t Harry Potter, he didn’t have the kind of bond with Hagrid that Harry did, and he’d been unable to stop Hagrid from drinking too heavily - or weeping over his lost dragon where Draco Malfoy could overhear.

The good news was, without the actual evidence, there was little he could be charged with - but the trial had been a strain on the man. Galen hoped that a near-miss with Azkaban would convince the half-giant to stop drinking - but as the term was ending, he had no way to know.

And there was one other bit of luck. As Dumbledore had appointed himself Hagrid’s legal counsel, he’d been out of the castle the day before exams - giving Quirrellmort a free shot at the Stone. His body had been found a few days later. The tampered-with potion had done its work - and with Voldemort’s host dead, the castle’s wards had functioned as they were supposed to and expelled the malicious spirit.

So the Stone was out of reach, Voldemort banished (at least temporarily), Hagrid would not be going to prison, Gryffindor had managed to win both the house and Quidditch cups for the first time in seven years . . . He even thought he’d managed to do well on his exams - a rarity in itself. Why, therefore, were things so unpleasant?

The answer could be summed up in two words: Hermione Granger.

“You didn’t tell me about the dragon egg,” she said accusingly.

Galen fought not to grimace. He was effectively trapped in the compartment of the Hogwarts Express - she was between him and the door. And Shirou and Takara . . .

. . . Are visibly enjoying the show - the miserable bastards!

“Yes, I did,” he asserted.

“Oh? I must have missed the part where we discussed how it was going to vanish before the Department of Magical Law Enforcement could arrest Hagrid for having it.”

“I had nothing to do with it,” Galen said honestly. “I give you my word that I did not encounter or handle any dragon egg that Hagrid may or may not have had in his hut.”

She gave him that suspicious look again. “And Professor Quirrell?”

“What about him?”

“Aside from the fact that I was given to believe it was Professor Snape we needed to worry about, there is the matter of Professor Quirrell’s being apparently poisoned by a potion all five of us sampled without ill-effect some months earlier,” she said coolly.

“Perhaps he was allergic to a component?” Galen offered with a shrug. “And as for Professor Snape, maybe we misinterpreted what we heard and misjudged him?”

Hermione glared. “Says the boy who took the Wolfsbane Potions he prepared every month, without even a tremor of hesitation.”

“And my alternatives were?” he countered.

That stopped her - but only for a moment.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” She was almost crying. “I studied Occlumency, I can keep a secret - why not just say?”

He could hear the next line without her saying it.

I thought we were friends . . .

Galen sighed, closed his eyes, and felt very, very old. Too damned bloody old for this. He was tempted to tell her to buzz off, that his life and his secrets were his and no one else’s. But in all his years, he’d never been able to cope with crying girls . . .

“Because I learned years ago that nothing can be trusted,” he said at last. “Nothing lasts - everything changes, or ends. Knowing that, it’s easier to say nothing, to let it all just happen - because it’s not like it’ll matter, anyway. Unlearning that lesson isn’t easy, Hermione. It’s been burned deep into me for a long time, and every day I find reasons why it’s still the truth. But . . .”

He hesitated, before continuing, “But I think I want to. Because of you - of all of you. Even then, though, it’s going to take time.”

Galen looked at her. “Can you give me time, Hermione?”

She looked at him appraisingly. “I’ll think about it.” She turned and headed in the direction of the washroom.

Takara glanced at him and said, “I feel the need to powder my nose.” Her tone turned sharp. “After all, I think I can understand exactly where she’s coming from.”

She left without another word.

Galen sighed again.

Shirou said nothing for a long moment, then said, “Interesting speech. Did you mean it, or was it just another smokescreen?”

It was now Galen’s turn to be silent.

“The hell of it is . . . I think I do.”

“Then you’d better be careful,” Shirou advised. “Those girls are smart, and they’re tired of being manipulated. You need to think really hard about what you consider important - because like it or not, you’re stuck here now. This is your life.”

“First day of the rest of it, anyway,” Galen muttered, leaning back and closing his eyes again.

“. . . Here’s hoping it gets easier.”

To Be Continued in Trinity: The Chamber

March 22nd, 2011, 09:35 PM
You missed an 'i' in chapter fifteen. You can see a [i]blah[/]

March 22nd, 2011, 10:45 PM
Fixed it - thanks! Hazard of going through a bunch of chapters at speed, but at least I'm now one down. :)

March 22nd, 2011, 11:30 PM

B.B. Rain
March 23rd, 2011, 05:59 AM
Oh, I'm liking the new board.

Specifically, how I can set it to maximum posts displayed, get this entire story in a single web-page, and keep reading the whole thing even when my internet connection dies.

(That was a hidden complement about how enjoyable it is to reread.)

March 23rd, 2011, 06:23 AM
A really good read. I enjoyed it even more than the first time, if it's possible. Good work, Kieran.

March 23rd, 2011, 09:28 AM
A really good read. I enyoyed it even more than the first time, if it's possible. Good work, Kieran.

Thanks for the compliments, guys. I realise it's asking a lot for you to praise a re-read all over again, but it helps my enthusiasm for the project. :)

And just because it's been a while . . .

OMAKE OMAKE OMAKE - Surviving Trinity

Every muscle Takara had ached, but she forced herself to uncurl from the foetal position she'd found herself in, and get up. Lying in the mud - particularly when it was raining so hard - wasn't healthy.

She wasn't in the mansion's front yard any more - well, not the Tohno mansion, anyway. This one had an entirely different feel to it - it was slightly more Western in design, and unlike the Tohno mansion, she got the feeling that this one wasn't so empty . . . But given the choice between getting soaked and staying under a roof, there really wasn't one.

The door, oddly, was unlocked - and no one responded to her call. Yet she was certain she felt the presence of someone . . .

Where am I? How did I get here? Are Jester and Archer safe, or . . .

Memory flashed before her eyes - the white knight, battered and savaged to the point where it seemed a miracle he could even stand, nevertheless racing to hurl his body between her and the imminent explosion . . .

What happened to them? To me?

A fluttering movement out of the corner of her eye - a pale grey butterfly, so pale as to be almost white, drifting across the room to a side room.

How did that get in here? There's no open window - I don't feel a draft . . .

Curious, she followed the butterfly, which moved with astonishing rapidness, until she saw it quickly settle onto an object on a desk - but when she entered the room and got close enough, it seemed to have vanished.

The object was an antique camera of some strange variety, and it pinned a note to the desk - written in Japanese, so she quickly deciphered it.

"Camera . . . obscura? Ghosts?"

It sounded insane - but given the course of her life in the last couple of weeks, Takara decided that she'd better hold onto the camera, just in case.

Shirou awoke in agony and mist, but long years of experience and training allowed him to quickly set those aside and rise. He quickly determined that he was uninjured and unarmed, and there was no one in sight. Actually, the fog was thick enough that there was almost nothing in sight. Even his vision had difficulty penetrating the gloom.

This can't be natural. I can't even make out the building signs. But it doesn't feel like a bounded field, exactly . . .

Wary, but having no real better options, he picked a direction at random and began to walk, hoping to find someone or something that could tell him where he was - and when he nearly walked into the sign, he reminded himself to be more careful of his wishes.

It was old, just taller than he was, and largely corroded by years of moisture, but still legible - at least so far as the name of the place.


Shirou frowned. Well-honed instincts insisted, for no reason his rational mind could determine, that he would be best served by getting the hell out of here, right now.

. . . Unfortunately, those same instincts were also wailing that it was already too late.

When the light faded, he was lying on a steel floor, coated with some unidentifiable liquid. A little girl in white stood before him, her form glowing lambently - but she wasn't Ilya, and when she spoke, her voice bore an English accent.

"There's a problem, and I need your help," the girl said.

"Where am I?" he asked in a slurred voice.

"We are presently in a research and development complex owned by the Umbrella Corporation," she replied. "In the interests of secrecy, it is based nearly forty miles north of the Arctic Circle."

He shivered in a way that had nothing to do with being naked and soaked. He hated the cold.

"The current bio-weapon experimentation has proven successful," the girl continued. "However, my sister program, the Red Queen, has been tampered with by one of the facility's overseers. She is currently running an 'experiment' which involves turning the test subjects on the staff. This is counterintuitive to our directive to preserve human lives. I require you to help me reach her central core, so that she may be deactivated, allowing me full control over the facility - and the ability to subdue the test subjects."

Remembering everything Umbrella was capable of fielding, he scowled. "And you expect me to do this how?"

"While development was ultimately focussed on wholly biological subjects, and merged with the existing Tyrant program, you showed great promise as a prototype, and thus were put in storage for future use, rather than outright eliminated," the girl - no, the White Queen - explained. "My sister didn't think to deny my access to deep storage, apparently believing there was nothing of value I could employ. But with the presence of both the Nemesis parasite and the nano-inhibitors in your body, I believe your combat potential sufficient to allow you to dispatch any infected forms you may come across."

"Nemesis?" he blurted.

"Yes - with the destruction of the Tyrant prototype in Raccoon City, you are the last surviving remnant of the Nemesis program," the White Queen commented. "And I require your aid."

He sighed. It wasn't like he had much of a choice.

Once an Avenger, always an Avenger . . .

"All right - but you'd better explain to me how these 'nano-inhibitors' work."