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



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Kieran
March 29th, 2011, 07:55 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 Goblet of Fire, but I trust in the intelligence of my readers (and the availability of the books) to recognise them when they see them.



Chapter 1 - A Black Day



August 23, 1994 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFjyvDOnPdw)






The bright purple triple-decker bus would’ve drawn eyes in any neighbourhood it appeared in, even without the shotgun-like blast that heralded its arrival. Nonetheless, no one seemed to notice its existence, nor that of the youth who stepped off of it, and after the bus disappeared, walked around the corner into the shadow of a nearby alley. Even had anyone been inclined to watch him, it would have been a fool’s errand, because after a moment’s action, there was literally nothing to see. Nonetheless, a few sensitive souls might have felt a faint chill wash through them, and those with a knack for observing patterns might have been able to trace the reactions to that chill as passing in a straight line, up and over several blocks, until it subsided near a block of townhouses.

After several moments, after which he was satisfied that he had not been followed, and was not being observed, Galen Salvatore removed the Cloak of True Invisibility, the third of the Deathly Hallows, and tucked it safely into the inner pocket of his dragonhide duster. Then he paused a moment, to consider the place - and the task - before him.

Truth be told, I’d rather keep the Deathcloak on, he thought. But while it might conceal me from the wards, that same concealment would also prevent me from entering, as they wouldn’t know I’m there to grant access to. And I really don’t want to surprise them, either - by suddenly “appearing.” So I’ll have to walk through them as plain as day.

Steeling himself, Galen walked from the sidewalk up to the front door. As soon as he passed the rusted fence, he felt the hum of the myriad layered protections on this place (Every protection known to wizardkind, he reminded himself. Save one, for the moment), though mundane folk would never notice, as the outer layers were specifically designed to prevent it. He had little doubt that more lethal measures would’ve been preferred - but constant deaths would’ve brought too much attention. So, avoidance and concealment, first, and save the lethal stuff for those souls who won past it.

As he stepped up to the worn stone steps to the battered, black door, Galen gazed for a moment at the serpentine door knocker, and said, quite distinctly, “I, Galen Richmond Salvatore, scion of Orion Black, do seek entrance to the home of my forefathers, by the blood of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black.”

If Sirius is wrong, and something’s changed, I am about to be killed . . .

A gesture brought his lignum vitae wand to his hand, and he tapped it against the door. To his eternal relief, the serpent did not sink its fangs into his throat, but instead, there was the sound of a great many locks and chains coming undone. The house and wards had acknowledged his blood and password, and thus, his right of entry to Number Twelve Grimmauld Place.

And that, he thought as he entered the house, was the easy part.

Shutting the door behind him, Galen drew his wand and whispered, “Lumos.”

The tip of his lignum vitae wand shone with a pale light, like a tiny star. It did little to illuminate his surroundings - but then, there was little to illuminate about them. The house was covered in dust and grime, and he knew that underneath that, dark colours like black and emerald abounded. No, there was little of light in this house, even at its best. A dozen or more years of neglect and rot had simply deepened the gloom. Still, Galen wasn’t planning to move in - yet, at least. He was here for a specific purpose, and standing in the doorway wasn’t going to get it done.

Galen concentrated, frowning. While he was not the master of the house, he was of Black blood, and per Sirius’ plans, his heir-apparent. That meant that he could make at least some of the house’s enchantments respond to him, if he worked at it . . . A faint hissing filled the air, as the gas lamps lit themselves, casting an eerie light and equally unsettling shadows about the house. Something skittered off in the distance that Galen really didn’t want to think about, but as expected, the sudden light also awakened one of the house’s long-term residents.

“Who did that?” came a shrill, horrible cry. “Filth! Scum! Who dares invade the house of my fathers - ?”

“I do,” Galen said calmly. “I am the grandson of Orion Black, and the last descendant to bear the blood of the Noble and Most Ancient House’s main line.”

This was a slight untruth - his mother and sister were still alive, as was Sirius, but with wizarding society being inherently patriarchal, especially among the ancient pure-bloods, he was technically the last generation that counted, given Sirius’ acknowledgement despite his mother’s bastard status. Even without that fact, though, Draco Malfoy, the other male heir, was a generation younger than he was, and his mother’s descent was through Orion’s younger brother, to boot.

“I have come because I require the services of your house-elf, Lady Black,” Galen continued smoothly, bowing in supplication. “Will you release him to me, for an hour’s span?”

“My elf?” said the portrait of Walburga Black blankly, speaking at an oddly normal volume - Galen supposed it was the shock of the request. “Why would you need . . .?”

“I am here on behalf of Regulus Arcturus Black,” Galen said, taking care to enunciate the last three words carefully, and to speak them loudly. “I have come to fulfill the last command your house elf was given by him.”

There was a sudden sound like a thunderclap, and the aged, wrinkled form of Kreacher the house-elf was suddenly crouched before him, trembling and growling as though he would explode into violence, bloodshot eyes maddened. His long, gnarled fingers twitched as though the house-elf would like nothing better than to seize Galen by the throat and splatter his brain matter across the wall.

“It dares to speak Master Regulus’ name!” he snarled. “It speaks as if it was worthy of speaking it!”

Galen did not back down, and his posture was as rigid as stone, a fitting counterpoint to his voice. “It is here to destroy the locket.”

Kreacher sprang back with a cry, and began hugging his knees, rocking back and forth. “It knows! It knows about the hateful locket - hateful thing, terrible thing - and it says it can destroy it! Does Kreacher dare trust it? Kreacher tried to destroy the locket, oh, how Kreacher tried, but Kreacher could not do it - can it succeed where Kreacher failed . . .?”

“It is wizard-wrought, Kreacher,” Galen said quietly, but he sounded no less firm. He couldn’t afford to - Kreacher was trained to respond best to certain behaviours, and his best hope of cooperation was to emulate them. “Its destruction is rooted in its creation - in wizard’s magic. That you failed is not your fault - you did not know what it was.” Galen’s eyes narrowed. “But I do.”

Kreacher stared at him with his overly large eyes, made larger still by his wide-eyed expression.

“. . . Can it really destroy the locket?” Kreacher asked in a feathery, fragile voice - as though he didn’t dare to hope it was true, but desperately wanted to.

“I swear on my honour, and in the name of my uncle, Regulus Arcturus Black, that I will destroy the locket within the hour, or perish in the attempt,” Galen said, in an iron voice.

Kreacher’s eyes, impossibly, seemed to grow wider.

“I’ll need the locket, Kreacher - and a very sturdy room. Terrible violence went into its making, and equally terrible violence must be used in its unmaking.”

Galen felt his eyes empty of all human characteristics, and he could see the acknowledgement of that fact in the house-elf’s face.

“The dungeons, yes,” Kreacher said eagerly. “Very strong, the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black made them - very strong. Come, Kreacher will show you.”

The books had never detailed the lower levels of the house, nor implied that anything below the ground floor existed, but common sense indicated that something must have. This was a household of Dark wizards - they must had places to mix dangerous and volatile potions, cast forbidden spells of terrible power. The existence of a dungeon beneath Grimmauld Place wasn’t terribly surprising, in retrospect. And the place to which Kreacher led him was definitely a dungeon - dark stone walls which looked, felt and sounded impressively solid. A low ceiling, but it would have to serve. Manacles and iron doors stood at intervals, but Galen had little interest in them at the moment, he simply measured the length of the corridor they filled.

“This will do,” Galen decided. “Kreacher, place the locket at the other end of the hall, then come back and stand behind me - this will be dangerous, and difficult to control, and I do not wish you harmed.”

The old house-elf started, and Galen looked at him imperiously.

“Kreacher, do you serve the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black?”

“Yes, Kreacher does!” the old house-elf said firmly.

“Then you serve my house, my family - and thus, you are mine. So long as you serve me, you are under my protection. I will allow no one to punish or harm you without my express permission.” He felt his face empty again as he added, “And those that try will regret the deed.” He blinked, and said softly, “Thus, I will protect you from even myself, if I can, and if I must. And in this case, Kreacher, I can and must. This working is dangerous, and controlling it may be beyond my abilities. If I succeed, the locket will be destroyed - but if I fail, you are to flee, do you understand me? If I fall, you are to go to Sirius Black, and tell him what has happened.”

“Blood traitor,” Kreacher muttered. “Broke the mistress’ heart, yes, he did . . .”

“If Sirius Black is a traitor, then so too was Regulus,” Galen said quietly.

“WHAT?” Kreacher roared.

“Sirius fought the Dark Lord, and what he stood for. As did Regulus, at the end. He died to destroy this locket, that the Dark Lord would be mortal again, and vulnerable. The Dark Lord espoused all that the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black believed in, and yet, both the one you call blood traitor and its most loyal son defied him. If one is a traitor, then so is the other. But if Regulus is a loyal son, then so too is Sirius. And if you tell Sirius how his brother died - and why - you will see something in him that I wager you will have never seen before: pride in his brother, and in being a member of this house, for what Regulus did.”

Galen shook himself. “But enough - place the locket and return, Kreacher. Its time is at an end.”

The old elf moved in something like shock, as though stunned by the effort of trying to reconcile what he’d been told. Still, Kreacher was not slow, despite his size, age, and mental condition, and was soon standing beside Galen again. Galen took aim at the locket with his wand, closed his eyes, and chanted, “Incendio malignum!”

Ilyasviel von Einzbern had named the length of lignum vitae in his hand the Wand of Passion, for passion was the key to its power. The stronger the desire, the stronger the spell - but by itself, the wand had no care for the morality of its usage. Certain of his friends might believe the wand a powerful protective, and ultimately benevolent tool, but that would be a criminal mistake. The wand simply wanted, and would serve an evil purpose as easily as a good one. And so, when Galen called forth the Fiendfyre, the wand didn’t hesitate, and his view of the corridor ahead was almost immediately blocked by sulphurous orange flames.

Fire poured from his wand, for fire, especially, it loved - a trait garnered from the Veela hair at its core. And, unfocussed as it was, the rapidly-growing blob of flame sought to devour everything it could reach. Manacles melted to pools of red-hot metal, cell doors twisted and warped, and the stone began to crack - and then the Fiendfyre began spreading back, towards him. Galen concentrated all his willpower, all his focus. Fiendfyre was, as he’d once noted, something of an Anti-Patronus Charm - called and fed by negative emotions rather than positive. That said, unlike the Patronus Charm, it was easy to call forth - its true danger lay in the difficulty of controlling the stuff. It sought to devour everything it could, caster and all, but Galen’s will was not something that surrendered lightly. Gradually, the blazing glob halted, and began to twist and wriggle, moulding itself into a shape . . .

Galen stared into the eyes of the beast, the physical form of his curse. The werewolf glared back, fangs bared. The crackle of its fiery form served well as an animalistic snarl. The two adversaries locked eyes in a battle of wills - even contained as it was, the Fiendfyre refused to surrender easily, but Galen had never surrendered in such a contest, and fought enemies far superior to the magical manifestation of his own emotions. Gradually, the werewolf turned, to face the locket, tensing itself to spring. And the locket, seemingly finally sensing the danger it was in, sprang open.

The distant corner of Galen’s mind that liked to make caustic but usually accurate comments said, Of course it wouldn’t be that easy. The locket’s aware, after all - it would have to try and defend itself, especially if it looks like it’s about to be destroyed! Did you really think it would stay passive?

A howling wind sprang forth from the open locket, as well as a dark and terrible voice. Abruptly, Galen thought to bring his Occlumency barriers up - as he’d had no direct contact with the locket, perhaps it wouldn’t be able to get into his head.

“I can see your heart,” intoned the cold, sibilant voice. “I can see your dreams, Galen Salvatore, and I can see your fears. All you desire is possible, but all that you dread is also possible . . .”

If you can’t even see my true name, I doubt it, Galen thought.

“Always accursed and alone,” the locket continued. “Always abandoned and unwanted, even by yourself. Doomed to pain and hopelessness, and eternally powerless to change your fate, or that of those you claim to love . . .”

Spectres materialised, the first of Hermione, nude and slightly fuzzy, tinted an odd mixture of silver and gold and blue, her eyes so dark as to be black.

Cue the Evil Naked Hermione . . . And God, I don’t know which makes her hotter - the naked part, or the evil part.

“Foolish beast,” the Horcrux version of Hermione said icily. “Did you really think I could ever love you? A sad, pathetic excuse for a man who refuses to grow up, or make anything of his life? And that is the best part of you - the other half is a monster!” Horcrux-Hermione shook her head, causing certain parts of her anatomy to jiggle in an enticing manner. “No, no matter what you try, eventually I’ll find my way to my true love, the only one who really deserves me - the man I was meant to be with . . .”

Ronald Weasley materialised beside her, and Galen felt absolutely no desire to glance down and confirm that he was as naked as the image of Hermione, blurred-out gentalia or not. The smug smirk on his face was nauseating enough.

“Come on, mate, you knew it was going to happen,” Horcrux-Ron taunted. “The books, movies, author, and millions of fans all said so! Did you really think what you wanted was going to matter? She’s supposed to be mine, no matter what happens - which means I can do anything I want to her, and she’ll forgive me every time, because everything says that’s the way it is. Isn’t that right, bitch?”

Horcrux-Hermione’s response was to begin a passionate snog, and Galen heard the Fiendfyre werewolf’s snarl increase in volume, as its shape began to deform. He hastily clamped down on it - he would not lose control of it.

“Of course, there’s always me,” said Takara’s voice, as the couple faded out slightly, retreating to a background position in the corner of Galen’s vision - still present, and visible, but no longer the main event. That was reserved for what his inner voice dubbed “Evil Naked Takara,” who was just as hot as Evil Naked Hermione had been.

“Your dream come true,” she taunted. “Exotically pretty, intelligent, caring - and in desperate need of a hero. We both know that if I hadn’t needed you, I’d never have looked at you. Even if you weren’t a gaijin, what could you offer me as a man? Physical competition? Intellectual stimulation? Financial stability? Sexual prowess?” She laughed at the last, a piercing sound. “Hardly. But my honour code says I have to keep hanging around you because I owe you, and you never seem to die long enough for it to stick. You can’t even get that right.”

Horcrux-Takara shook her head. “I wish you’d just hurry up and finish it, but you’ve always been too much of a coward for that, and lazy enough to just loll around, hoping that something else would do the work for you.”

“You really should die, you know,” Horcrux-Ilya advised as she appeared to stand beside the Japanese girl. “You’re a monster after all, and monsters are supposed to die when their usefulness is over. Why do you think I let you go? I got what I needed, so I didn’t need you any longer.”

“He never knows when to take a hint,” Horcrux-Takara complained. “That one friend had to avoid spending any time with him for over a year before he figured out that he wasn’t wanted - and they’d been friends for almost a decade. You have to pound things into his head with a sledgehammer.” The Japanese girl giggled. “Hey, I know - let’s find Shirou! We’re both H-game heroines, after all - maybe if we prove it, he’ll catch on!”

Horcrux-Takara and Horcrux-Ilya withdrew, as the first pair had, and for similar reasons, as they were joined by an indistinct figure of Shirou.

“There you go again,” Horcrux-Luna said sadly. “Corrupting and defiling everything. All those dark desires, pent up for so long, festering inside you - when they come out, it’s like poison to everything around you. Even me, the most innocent person you know - and look at what I look like, because deep down, you really want to see me like this.”

The Evil Naked version of Luna gave him a sad smile that nevertheless held traces of a smirk. “You really are a monster, you know. But you’re more afraid of your fists than you are of your fangs. And that doesn’t even count your wand. All that power, just itching to be used - how long before it is? How long before you lash out, like you did before? How long before one of us is beaten, or strangled, or hexed - or will you use your fangs, after all? Will you wake up one full moon morning, to find us lying beside you?”

Horcrux-Luna’s body suddenly sprouted horrific wounds - gouges and tears that exposed organs and bone. The other figures, minus Weasley, appeared, seeming to have suffered the same treatment - but some had been strangled, others battered - and all of the girls had been visibly, savagely raped.

“You’re a bigger monster than the wolf could ever be,” Horcrux-Luna said sibilantly, almost gently. “It will only kill us, but you . . . You’ll defile us. You’ll ruin everything you love about us. And if you want to stop that from happening, if you care about us at all, you need to die, before it’s too late. Or else you’ll destroy us.”

“I know I will,” Galen whispered sadly. Then, flatly, “Sic ‘em.”

The werewolf sprang forward with a roar of flame, the hatred and rage the locket had unwisely stoked finally given a target on which to let loose - the locket itself. The phantom forms evaporated like so much smoke as the blazing beast surged through them, and with a snarling whoosh, jagged fangs “bit” into the golden trinket, instantly turning it red, then white-hot. With a tortured scream, the soul fragment of Tom Marvolo Riddle expired as its container bubbled into a molten, twisted lump - and the dark curses which had bound it there shattered explosively.

“Protego!” Galen cried, directing his wand in a motion so well-practised it was almost reflexive. The silver light of a Shield Charm sprang into being between himself and the magical backlash - and shattered, hurling those who had sheltered behind it flying towards the dungeon’s back wall. Galen was reminded of Kreacher’s presence when he caught a glimpse of him out of the corner of his eye, and the wizard seized the house-elf in mid-flight and drew him in close, curling protectively over the smaller body before the pair struck the stone wall with a resounding thud, and fell to the floor.

Pain shot through Galen’s legs - the landing had not been easy. Still, the duster had done its job once again, and absorbed the bulk of the impact. If it hadn’t, he’d be nursing a broken spine, now. Exhaling slowly, he uncoiled himself from over the smaller being, and released him.

“Are you all right, Kreacher?” Galen rasped.

“Kreacher is saved,” the elf said wonderingly, eyes wide. “Young master destroys the locket, as he said he would, and protects Kreacher from nasty fall - young master is hurt protecting Kreacher!”

“Mine, Kreacher,” Galen snapped. “My vassal, my responsibility, mine to protect. Besides, the danger was my fault - I underestimated the amount of effort it took to control the Fiendfyre, and couldn’t manage a sufficiently strong Shield Charm because of it. You should not suffer for my failure.”

“No!” Kreacher bellowed. “Young master did not fail! He has done all that he said he would, has done what Kreacher failed to do! Truly, the young master is a mighty wizard, and Kreacher is honoured that the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black has him to call its own, that Kreacher might serve him!” The house-elf fell to his knees in supplication, forehead touching the floor.

Galen was momentarily bewildered - he hadn’t expected a reaction like this! But a moment’s thought made it understandable. The mere promise of destroying the locket had won Kreacher to Harry’s side, and now the elf had witnessed it firsthand. He had seen with his own eyes the last command of his beloved Master Regulus fulfilled - by a wizard who had acted to shield him from harm, as Regulus might have. Perhaps Kreacher’s sudden zealotry was not so difficult to understand.

“Rise, Kreacher,” Galen said. “You needn’t kowtow to me. You are my vassal, not my chattel - my servant, but never my slave. And I will be relying on you greatly, in times to come.”

Kreacher sprang to his feet, almost Dobby-like in his eagerness. “Young master has orders?”

“I do,” Galen said. “Firstly, know that while I am the heir-apparent of this Noble and Most Ancient House, Sirius Black is still its Head - and as such, his orders are that you never discuss or mention anything you see or hear regarding we two, or those with us, with anyone else unless given his permission to do so. A great many lives depend upon secrecy, Kreacher - including our own. Like Regulus, we seek the fall of He Who Must Not Be Named, and those who would serve him - as certain other members of the family would.”

Kreacher paused, before nodding. “Kreacher understands. Mistress Cissy and Mistress Bella are not to be told anything.”

Galen nodded. “Or their husbands, or their children, Kreacher. Black blood they might bear, but they would place themselves in the service of a half-blood who seeks to rule them - and do so willingly.”

The elf trembled with sudden rage. “What? The purest of houses in service to a half-blood? What would my poor mistress say?”

“Nothing good, I’m sure,” Galen said with a grim smirk. “Your second task, Kreacher, is to prepare this house for habitation again - while neither I nor Sirius intend to live here any time soon, it is among the most well-protected places in Britain, and will serve as our refuge of last resort, should it be needed. To that end, it must be well-stocked, sanitary, and as secure as it can possibly be made. Secrecy is paramount - what our enemies do not know about, they cannot find - but should the worst befall, I want this place to be able to withstand a siege not seen since the days of Salazar Slytherin himself.”

Kreacher straightened to a parade-ground posture that any military in the world would have found acceptable. “It will be done, young master. Home and sanctuary this has been to the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black for generations - and it will be ready to be so again.”

“Excellent - let me know if you require anything from me to accomplish it.” Galen paused. “Be aware, Kreacher, that some of those I might bring to this place will be half-bloods, halfbreeds, mudbloods, blood traitors, or other things your mistress would deem unsuitable. Whatever their nature, they are my allies, and their allegiance is valuable to me - in some cases, I may even owe them my life. You do not have to approve of them - I will not ask, or order that of you - but do not insult them. If your behaviour costs me their alliance, I will be extremely angry.”

The house-elf’s eyes flicked to the left, where the remains of the locket lay, still glowing faintly red, and he nodded quickly.

Galen nodded back, and pulled out his money pouch. He counted out a stack of ten Galleons.

“Your next task is to buy yourself garments suitable for a vassal of the House of Black,” Galen said firmly. “Your own choice as to what they are, Kreacher - but you represent the House poorly, garbed as you are. What respect should we command, when we appear unable to properly care for our own servants?”

Kreacher’s eyes were wide again, before they narrowed, and something like a smirk crossed his face. “The young master is crafty - Kreacher will have clothes, but the young master did not give them to him, no - Kreacher was given only money, and the clothes came from the money, but it is Kreacher who will present the clothes to the young master. Clever young master . . . Kreacher will enjoy serving you.”

“Serve Sirius as well,” Galen said quietly. “His is the more dangerous part. Where Regulus sought to bring about the Dark Lord’s fall, Sirius seeks to prevent him from rising again. He may need your aid, Kreacher, but approach him in private - the wrong word in the wrong ears could mean his death. And do tell him about his brother - it will do him good, and perhaps yourself as well.”

Kreacher nodded. “Kreacher will.”

Galen sighed, and felt the pain of what was liable to be a lovely set of bruises along his back as he did. Nevertheless, he got up, dusted himself off, and replaced his wand.

“And with that, I believe the hour I asked of your mistress is nearly up,” he said. “I will come to check in on you from time to time, to make sure your needs are being met, Kreacher. And I would ask, when you begin your cleaning, that you start with the library - I suspect the knowledge it contains will be of great help.”

“Yes, young master,” Kreacher said.

Galen nodded, and smiled. “Then until next time, my faithful friend. Good fortune to you.”






Galen bowed in farewell to the portrait of Walburga Black as he left, then walked several blocks away from Grimmauld Place under the Deathcloak before discreetly summoning the Knight Bus again. He paid the fare and gave the driver a new destination, in a certain mundane neighbourhood. Taking a seat, Galen gripped the back of the seat in front of him tightly, and despite the wildness of the ride, fought to stay awake.

The Fiendfyre had been more draining than the Horcrux’s taunts - really, why did everyone and everything he encountered that tried to use his deepest, darkest fears and impulses against him expect him to be shocked and horrified by their existence? He knew who and what he was, he’d spent years coming to terms with it. And knowing that made the loneliness that occasionally came upon him easier to bear - that it was better that he was alone, because he was unworthy of love and romance . . . Galen shook his head. He had more important things to worry about at the moment than that well-worn path.

So far, things were going well for the day - he’d survived Grimmauld Place and destroyed the locket, consigning another of Voldemort’s Horcruxes to oblivion. That made it three down, and left the ring, the cup, and possibly the snake. Just as important, the task his uncle Regulus had died trying to accomplish was now complete, restoring the family honour. And he seemed to have made a willing ally in Kreacher, which he’d hoped for but hadn’t truly expected. No, all was good, for the moment - even if he felt like he wanted a stiff drink and a week’s bed rest after casting those spells.

Still, he reminded himself as the bus came to a halt, the task was far from over yet. The Horcruxes they’d destroyed were the three most easily accessible ones, terrible as their protections were. The other three would be far more difficult and dangerous. The cup was in Bellatrix Lestrange’s Gringotts vault, and guarded by goblin warriors and magic. Nagini the serpent was a massive and deadly creature in her own right, in addition to being in the constant company of Voldemort himself. And the Gaunt family ring, in addition to being warded by Voldemort’s spells, contained the Resurrection Stone, another Deathly Hallow - and who knew what use the soul fragment might be able to make of it? Or, given the cloak’s additional attributes beyond the power to confer mere invisibility, what unknown abilities the Deathstone might hold?

No, the remaining Horcruxes might be even more dangerous than Voldemort. Saying the job was even half-finished was optimistic, at best. Still, they’d accomplished more in three years than Dumbledore had in seven - and with the death of Pettigrew, the desperate need for haste that had characterised the original Horcrux hunt might not be present here - there was a more than likely chance that they’d managed to forestall Voldemort’s resurrection.

This year will be the proof of it, Galen reminded himself. If there are four competitors in the Triwizard Tournament again, then we have more work to do . . . I wonder who it will be? Shirou, as the basilisk slayer and wielder of the brother wand of Voldemort’s? Takara, the youngest Seeker in a century, and “born as the seventh month dies?” Or will the universe pick me, just because I’m making too much progress and it’s getting pissed off? It’s going to pick one of us, that’s for sure - it’s gone to too much trouble marking us as Harry’s replacements not to.

But that, Galen reminded himself, was a problem for another day. And until then, he still had promises to keep - like this one.

The wizard paused in front of the door of the well-maintained home, a stark contrast to Grimmauld Place. His advanced hearing could make out an argument on the other side of the door.

“Mum, I’m ten - and highly mature for my age, you keep saying. I do not need a babysitter!”

“Maybe not, but we’ll feel safer knowing you have one,” her mother said. “Besides, he should be here any minute.”

“He? Terrific - it’s some strange boy that’s liable to treat me like a dumb little kid!”

Galen quietly tilted the mail slot in the door open and grinned as he called through, “Shall I just go home then, Mira?”

There was a moment of silence in which he could imagine Miranda Granger’s face turning a lovely shade of crimson, followed by a quickly hissed “Why didn’t you say it was Galen?” before the door was opened with sudden violence.

Galen had dealt with the Granger girls for a number of years now, and he knew that Miranda idolised and emulated her older sister. Therefore, he was prepared for the sudden impact of the youngest Granger’s enthusiastic embrace.

“Nice to see you too, poppet,” he murmured. “May I come in?”

His only excuse for not witnessing being dragged inside was that he blinked.

“Missus Granger,” Galen greeted. “All set for your awards dinner?”

“Yes, and thanks again for agreeing to this on such short notice - are you sure you won’t accept money?”

“Positive,” Galen said. “Hermione does enough for me over the school year that it’s nice to be able to work off some of the karmic debt.”

The eldest Granger female shook her head. “You may have added to it - Hermione was most put out when she realised you weren’t going to this Quidditch match. I was half-certain she was going to stay home after that, but she decided to go after all. Surprising - she was never much of a sports fan.”

“She still isn’t, as far as I know, but it’s too good an opportunity to pass up,” Galen remarked. “Spending time with everyone outside of school, plus the chance to meet witches and wizards from all around the world? I was half-tempted to go myself, but I had some family matters to take care of.”

For which they will no doubt flay me alive, later.

“Nothing serious, I hope?”

“Nothing serious at all.” More “Regulus,” actually. “And all brought to a satisfying conclusion, so you really do have nothing to worry about. Enjoy your dinner, gloat over your awards - Miranda will be safe and sound, and sleeping, when you come home.”

“Whereas Hermione will be either bone-weary tomorrow, or bouncing off the walls in excitement,” Mr. Granger added as he came down the stairs. “All set, dear?” At his wife’s nod, he said, “Right, then. Off we go. Good night, poppet . . . Galen.”

“Sir,” Galen acknowledged. He closed and locked the door behind the Grangers, and watched them drive off, sparing a moment to think of his friends at the Quidditch World Cup.

It should be OK. Without Lucius Malfoy to spur them, the Death Eaters probably won’t attack - and if they do, I doubt they’ll be as well-organised. It should be relatively easy to evade them - or take them out.

Galen grimaced at a sudden memory of being disarmed by Sirius Black last year. He hadn’t quite been going all-out, wanting the scene to look authentic, but the use of silent spells, however much weaker they were, had proven to be a big advantage in their mock fight. And he knew for a fact that several Death Eaters were capable of them.

Stay safe, guys. I’d have gone with you, but I needed to destroy the locket, as a matter of family honour - and I didn’t want to go through the arguments with you over it. Still, what’s done is done.

With a sigh, Galen turned his attention to Miranda, smiling as he said, “All right, Mira, what would you like first?”

“Would you answer a question for me?” the girl asked.

“If I can, of course.”

She looked at him with the earnest guilelessness that only children can muster, took a deep breath, and said, “Why haven’t you and Hermione kissed yet?”

Kieran
March 29th, 2011, 07:57 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 Goblet of Fire, but I trust in the intelligence of my readers (and the availability of the books) to recognise them when they see them.



Chapter 2 - A Different Trinity



August 23, 1994






As the limousine rounded the corner on its way to the Apparation point, Hermione Jean Granger bit her lower lip - a childhood habit that had since become second nature when she was worried. Unlike many of the people around her, however, she wasn’t worried about who would win the Quidditch World Cup, or getting good seats for it - she was a guest of the Baroness Irisviel von Einzbern and her family, and would be viewing it from a private box, along with her friends. She wasn’t worried about getting lost in the crowds of people who had come to see it - around a hundred thousand witches and wizards, she’d been told, from all around the world. Her group was organised, she was never entirely alone, and their campsite was reasonably isolated and well-secured. On the rare chance that she did get lost, finding her way back would not be difficult or time-consuming.

No, her worry was about what would come after the game, when they were all bedded down for the night before returning home the next morning. She had never slept in a wizard’s tent before, but she was aware that they were designed very like a TARDIS - bigger on the inside, possibly with individual bedrooms, depending on the model. And if that was the case, a mortally embarrassing scene was just waiting to be played out. Since bonding with the lioness that was her Animagus form, Hermione had difficulty sleeping alone - the instincts she’d inherited insisted that she needed her pride around her in order to truly rest. And more than once, Hermione had been known to sleepwalk into someone else’s bed to obtain that comfort.

At Hogwarts, it hadn’t been so bad - the Gryffindor girls shared a communal dorm, so Hermione hadn’t initially noticed the problem. It wasn’t until she went home for Christmas, and was confined to her own singular room that this particular quirk had clearly manifested. Then, the problem had been solved by having her cat sleep with her - but while Hermione wasn’t afraid of the crowds for herself, she had been worried about losing Crookshanks in the shuffle, and so she’d left him at home.

I should’ve brought him, Hermione thought. But I was so worried for his safety, I didn’t think about this problem until it was too late - and now what do I do?

Her one hope was Takara Aozaki. Of all her friends, Takara was the only one aware of her problem, and she might be willing to share a room - but that idea was a problem in itself, because it meant she would be sharing a room - presumably alone - with Takara.

Hermione did not fancy other girls. As much as the lioness in her enjoyed closeness, cuddling and physical contact - and she was a lot more “touchy-feelie,” as her friends put it, than she used to be - that did not extend to sexual aspects. She would hug her friends because they were her friends, and occasionally stroke Luna’s hair if she was feeling down, much as she might do for Miranda - a big sister thing. That did not translate to wanting to strip them down to their knickers and kiss every inch of exposed skin. And where Takara was concerned, she didn’t feel that want, either.

But she’d always thought Takara was pretty - envied her the smoothness of her skin, the straightness of her hair - and the best sleep she’d had in the last year had been lying in bed next to her friend. In some ways, not even sleeping with Galen had been as good, because the Deathcloak had been between them, hiding her presence from him. Not so with Takara. They’d been physically closer, and for far longer, than Hermione had been to anyone since she’d started puberty, owing to the need to hide together under Galen’s invisibility cloak. And the closeness had triggered certain reactions, just from the proximity of a warm - and, it had to be admitted, a comfortable body.

I couldn’t look her in the eye for almost a week after that, Hermione thought ruefully. And now, depending on the setup, I might have to ask her to do it again. Even if we don’t have to share a bed, we’ll both be thinking about it . . . Oh, why didn’t I bring Crookshanks?

“Deep thoughts?” interrupted a light, silvery voice - almost childlike, and laced with a mild Germanic accent. Hermione started, and found the large, ice blue eyes of Ilyasviel von Einzbern peering at her in a combination of concern and amusement.

“Troubled ones,” Hermione admitted to the girl sitting across from her. She really didn’t know Ilyasviel - or Ilya, as most seemed to call her - that well. Although she was Shirou’s sister, she attended Durmstrang, a magical school on the continent with a dark reputation, and so was only in Britain over the holidays. In addition to that, she was two years older, and thus, not usually interested in hanging out with Hermione when she was at home. That wasn’t to say they were complete strangers - they did see each other socially at the Aerie, Ilyasviel’s family home, and the older girl had often played games or watched movies with Hermione’s friends (mostly Shirou and Galen, she reminded herself). But they weren’t friends, really, so much as acquaintances.

Hermione had always found Ilyasviel a touch unnerving, to tell the truth. She was even more beautiful than Takara, blessed with the power of a Veela’s supernatural allure, and like Takara, closer to one Galen Salvatore than she was comfortable with. In addition, Ilyasviel had always had a knowing look in her eyes - though what precisely she might “know,” Hermione couldn’t say.

Still, that look was in her eyes now as the elder girl asked, “About what?” As though she already knew the answer, and was simply waiting to be amused by her response.

“The sleeping arrangements,” Hermione said honestly, before quickly seizing on a reasonable excuse. “I hope you haven’t gone to too much trouble and expense. I’ve heard of magical tents that are constructed like a five-star hotel - individual suites. It seems a ridiculous waste to me.”

Ilyasviel laughed. “Well. Hermione, I can assure that while we are wealthy, my parents don’t believe in spending ludicrous amounts of money on trivialities. We’ll be comfortable, but I’m afraid you’ll have to put up with a communal dormitory, as at Hogwarts - only my parents have their own suite. Otherwise, it’s you, Takara and I, with Shirou, Galen and Neville getting their own room.”

Even as part of her relaxed - with Takara in the room, she wouldn’t go sleepwalking - Hermione shot her a puzzled look. “Did Galen change his mind?”

Now it was Ilyasviel’s turn to look puzzled. “What do you mean?”

“Galen said he wasn’t coming - that he had things to do with his family.”

“What?” The older witch was clearly startled, and her eyes narrowed in suspicion, “His parents’ anniversary is the ninth, and that was weeks ago. It would have to be something he absolutely couldn’t beg, plead, or lie his way out of . . .”

“Why?” Hermione asked. “It’s not as though he likes Quidditch - as long as it isn’t Takara or Shirou playing, he ignores it entirely.”

Ilyasviel smirked. “You would know. But he’d come for the company - do you really think he’d pass up a chance to spend time with his three favourite witches?”

Hermione blushed at the compliment, and reluctantly shook her head. Even if Galen weren’t interested in spending time with her (although to be fair, he’d never been less than eager to), she couldn’t see him ignoring beautiful girls like Takara and Ilyasviel.

“So,” the half-Veela witch continued, “Something family-related, and important enough to beg off spending time with all his friends . . .”

Hermione wasn’t called the brightest witch of her age as a joke, and she’d spent almost three solid years observing one Galen Salvatore. And Ilyasviel von Einzbern, according to her brother, knew Galen better than anyone else alive. The two witches came to exactly the same conclusion at exactly the same time, and said it aloud in unison.

“Or something so dangerous that he waited until we were all safely out of the way before tackling it alone.”

Ilyasviel closed her eyes, and suddenly let out a groan. “‘Things to do with his family’ - he didn’t even have to lie, did he?”

“You know what he’s up to?” Hermione demanded.

“I’d bet Galleons on it - and from here, there’s nothing we can do.” Ilyasviel sighed. “The worst part is, it needs to be done, and he’s got the best chance of getting in and out alive - but I wish he’d taken some backup.”

Hermione bit her lip again, now worried for an all-new reason - whether or not she’d ever see her best friend again.






He moved through the crowds like he had every right to expect them to part before him, in a swift, ground-eating march seeming less like a man than a force of nature. His dragonhide duster swept behind him like a war banner, its familiar weight not quite concealing the broadness of his shoulders, or the muscular build of his legs as his feet seemed to strike the ground with each step, rather than merely walk upon it. His wand was a reassuring weight on his arm, its holster concealed by the duster’s long, broad-brimmed sleeves - and despite the oversized buckets in his hands, hours of practice ensured that he could draw it in the space of seconds, if need be. Eyes narrowed in suspicion as much as the brightness of the day, he scanned constantly for potential threats, a habit honed by countless battles.

“Hey, Nev! Come on - Dad’s waiting on the water!”

Feeling a heat on the tips of his ears that had nothing to do with the summer sun, Neville Longbottom picked up his pace, embarrassed at having been caught out imitating his hero - and by the very same person, no less!

Having been raised by his grandmother, Neville had never had much in the way of male role models. There was his father, of course - Frank Longbottom, Auror and hero. His Gran had told him so many stories since he was old enough to understand English, but the man he knew as his father was a near-mindless idiot, and if he knew in his heart they were the same man, his head knew that the man he’d been was gone, and might never return. Alternatively, there was Albus Dumbledore - the most powerful of Light wizards, defeater of the Dark Lords Grindelwald and Voldemort (he could think it, even if saying it wasn’t always easy), and his parents’ avenger. On the other hand, Dumbledore wasn’t the most approachable figure, and very old - and since Neville had started Hogwarts, his reputation wasn’t all it had been. No, until Hogwarts, Neville hadn’t had anyone to look up to, any person that he really wanted to be like - and then, suddenly, he’d had two.

Firstly, there was Galen Salvatore, who seemed fairly average while being anything but. Raised mostly in the mundane (not Muggle) world, he seemed to have little tolerance, let alone respect, for a great many wizarding traditions - the use of the term “Muggle” among them. A werewolf, Neville’s upbringing insisted that Galen should be shunned, as werewolves were savage, merciless creatures, constantly on the verge of brutal violence, and so Galen was, but that was the nature of his human side, not his bestial one. He could also be manipulative in the extreme (Neville had seen ample evidence of this last year), and did not seem entirely sane.

Still, he wasn’t all bad. He could be quite kind and generous, when he chose to be, and he would keep his word, when he gave it. And those who he chose to protect gained an ally of fearsome power and a loyalty that Neville thought Helga Hufflepuff would be proud to see. As much as Galen frightened Neville - and Neville having seen the older wizard’s displays of power, Galen most assuredly did - he found it a great comfort to know that Galen had always, and would always, stand between Neville and harm. Having seen him beat back mountain trolls, Neville privately thought it would take a full-grown dragon to take Galen out - and he’d still put ten Galleons on Galen, just in case. The guy had a proven knack for surviving certain death. Still, while Neville could admire Galen, just as one could admire a tiger, he was quite sure he couldn’t be Galen, and nor did he want to be.

Shirou Einzbern, gesturing to him from up ahead, was a different case. The scion of a prominent family, like Neville, Shirou was many things Galen was not. He was openly friendly to everyone, if often impatient with “trivial things,” handsome, popular, and laidback. That said, he possessed many of Galen’s qualities as well: a frightening level of power, a certain casualness regarding the use of force, and a level of dedication to his friends and family that was inspiring. In many ways, the two boys were like dark reflections - change a few details, and one would be the other - but Shirou didn’t make an effort to frighten people. He had a better handle on whatever demons lay inside him, that Galen did not. That wasn’t to say Shirou couldn’t be frightening, anyone who could kill a basilisk at twelve was frightening, but Shirou seemed more approachable, more . . . More human.

And so, Neville had gradually been making an effort to emulate the most admirable male he knew. Like all of his friends, he’d exercised, studied martial arts, become an Animagus - and the work was paying off. Much of his body fat had transformed into much solider muscle. He still looked a little pudgy - he would always have a stocky build - but anybody who thought he was simply “fat” was in for a big surprise. Or slow, for that matter. Of course, he wasn’t a carbon copy of the boy - he’d never have Shirou’s skill at Transfiguration - not even his new cherry and unicorn hair wand could grant him that - but he excelled at Herbology, as Shirou did not. Likewise, his granted Animagus traits included a sharper sense of smell, as opposed to Shirou’s aquiline vision, and greater strength and endurance over quicker reflexes and improved agility. And his duster, while dragonhide, was a striking black as opposed to the brilliant red of Shirou’s.

All in all, Neville was fairly pleased with himself at fourteen - and so was his Gran. She saw him as finally growing into his potential, and the fact that he’d made friends with such an influential family as the Einzberns warmed her heart, as well. A society dame at heart, she thrilled to the games of power and politics as much as any Slytherin, though she was willing to champion better causes, and for no more gain than that they were better.

For example, Neville thought, three years ago, the idea of Gran crusading for werewolf rights would’ve been silly. Mention that our best Defence teacher ever is a werewolf, however - to say nothing of a wizard who’s saved my life - and she’s willing to become the public figurehead of LAPIS in Britain. Between Gran and Baroness Einzbern, Hermione’s little protest group has some real teeth - and they seem to have managed some good.

Neville shook his head as he handed Shirou the water buckets to be filled, causing the redhead to look at him oddly.

“What’s up?” Shirou inquired.

“Just thinking about Gran’s activities with LAPIS,” Neville said. “Considering what she taught me about werewolves growing up, it’s a real turnaround.”

“And she’s made some headway,” Shirou admitted. “Thanks to Hermione’s publishing that cheap formula for Wolfsbane Potion, a lot of the - let’s call them ‘less public’ - governmental agencies are hiring werewolves now. Did you know that lycanthropy gives someone a resistance to Dark magic? Not immunity, but you’re more likely to recover than a normal witch or wizard. That has real potential in the security field, to say nothing of medical research.”

“Not to mention,” Neville mused, “that werewolves still have a nasty reputation. Would you want to pick a fight with a security guard or bouncer you knew was a werewolf?”

“Want to? No, but I would if I had to. The average guy, on the other hand . . .” Shirou trailed off, and Neville shook his head.

“I wouldn’t, either,” Neville admitted. Then what Shirou had said earlier penetrated. “Wait - you mean that, if they could figure out why werewolves heal as well as they do, cursed people could - ”

“Could recover from something that should otherwise cripple or kill them,” Shirou finished, before adding “maybe. Even a werewolf isn’t invulnerable, Neville - you of all people know that. They can be hurt, and they can certainly be killed. But maybe they can find something that will help long-term victims, even if it’s just to make them not suffer as long.”

“Like my parents,” Neville rasped. Driven insane by the Torture Curse, locked inside their own minds - or erased from them.

“Like your parents,” Shirou agreed. His voice softened. “I don’t think it could ever bring them back, Neville - it’s been an awfully long time. But maybe, they’ll uncover something so that no one will have to go through that again. Maybe we can manage that much.”

“I hope so,” Neville said. “I wouldn’t wish their fate on anyone - except Bellatrix Lestrange,” he spat venomously.

“To cast a Dark curse, especially that one, you have to mean it, Neville,” Shirou warned. “You have to want the pain - the suffering - more than anything in the world. Bellatrix can do it. So could Galen . . . And so could I.”

Neville looked at him in surprise, and Shirou smirked.

“Galen’s nasty, but most of that’s all in his own head. Given the chance, he’d commit the sins without a qualm. Me, I’ve done most of those things - I just feel worse about it than he would. So yeah, I could easily go as Dark as anyone - but I choose not to. Because I like where and what I am, right now. And I’ll protect that as best I can. But think about it, Neville - it’s a long and bloody road, and getting off of it isn’t easy. Think long and hard before you decide to step on it.”

Neville looked at him, and nodded slowly. “Thanks for the warning.”

Shirou shrugged, and suddenly grinned. “What’s the benefit of all my experience if I don’t share it? Now, come on - we should get these buckets back to camp.”






Ginevra Molly Weasley - as her mother called her, when she was really in for it - did a double-take when she glimpsed the trailing scarlet shape in the distance, and confirmed that the darker one following it was garbed in midnight black, not thundercloud gray. Either Galen Salvatore had gotten a new duster, or that wasn’t her friends.

Well, there’s one way to find out, she thought to herself.

“Dad,” Ginny called. “I think I saw Shirou pass through - can I go see for sure?”

Her father, deep in conversation with her three oldest brothers and Ludo Bagman, glanced up and said blankly, “I’m sorry, Ginny, what?”

The redhead repeated patiently. “I think I saw Shirou Einzbern pass by. I’d like to go say hello, if it is.”

“You can go if you can get Ron or the twins to go with you,” her father said. “I don’t want you getting lost in the crowds - ”

A sudden pop heralded the Apparation of Barty Crouch, identified by Percy’s startled “Mr Crouch!” at the appearance of his boss.

Ginny frowned. Ron was off with Dean Thomas, souvenir-hunting, and the twins had disappeared - likely to pass out more of their mail-order catalogues for Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes. They’d been experimenting with things for the last two years, ever since Shirou had given them part of the bounty he’d received for killing the basilisk he’d saved her from - and having received a fair number of O.W.L.s, the pair had decided to start drumming up business in earnest. While Ginny was pleased for them, honestly, it meant she was fresh out of brothers to chaperone her - as irritating as the thought that she needed one was.

“I’ll take her, Dad,” Bill offered. “All this Ministry stuff’s mostly over my head, anyway.” He grinned wickedly at Ginny. “Besides, I’ve got to see this beau of hers for myself.”

“Bill!” Ginny snapped, just knowing she was flushing as red as her hair.

To Ginny’s regret, Shirou Einzbern was not her beau - at least, not yet. She wanted him to be, and with his breakup with Takara Aozaki last year, she might have a chance for him to be, but right now, she was no better off than Hermione Granger was with Galen Salvatore. She was worse off, actually - at least Galen made sweet gestures towards Hermione. Shirou was just sort of indifferently nice to her.

“Well,” Bill said with mock sternness, grinning all the while, “I’ve got to make sure this bloke is topnotch before I hand over my only little sister, don’t I?”

Percy gave him a solemn look, but his voice was very dry. “A year and a half ago, he killed a sixty-foot-long basilisk with a sword, Bill - and he was twelve. Unless you can top that, I strongly recommend you not try intimidating him. He’s more likely to laugh himself sick.”

Their oldest brother was a Gringotts curse-breaker, and wore dragonhide boots and a fang earring. He was, by nature, not easily impressed. The sudden widening of his eyes told Ginny that this had probably done it, though he quickly banished it from his face.

“Doesn’t matter,” Bill said firmly. “The honour of the Weasleys, and big brothers everywhere, demands that I uphold the tradition!” He smirked.

Percy’s voice was dry enough to use as sandpaper. “What flowers shall I arrange for the funeral?”

Ginny’s second-oldest brother, Charlie, stared at Percy in shock. “When did you grow a sense of humour, baby brother?”

Percy’s expression became solemn again. “Since Shirou Einzbern saved my and Ginny’s lives.” He shook his head. “Just be careful, Bill - Einzbern’s fairly easygoing, but he’ll only put up with so much. Make sure he knows you’re joking, and don’t push it too far.”

“I won’t,” Bill assured him, shaking his head. “But honestly, even if it did get rough, I think I can handle one kid - ”

“It won’t be one,” Ginny said flatly. “It will be at least one, almost certainly three, and depending on who’s around, probably seven.” Ginny gave her brother a hard look. “And one of them will be me.”

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Percy’s lips twitch in a brief smirk as he drawled in imitation of Fred and George, “So swears the Scarlet Seven.”






Bill stared at her for quite a while, as they walked in the direction she’d seen the one who was possibly Shirou go. Finally, Ginny couldn’t take the eyes burning a hole in her any longer and demanded irritably, “What?”

Bill shook his head. “I’ve just never seen you like this, Gin-Gin.”

“Like what?”

“You threatened to help your friends hex me,” he answered. “And it didn’t sound like you were going to use Tripping Jinxes. I thought Ron was exaggerating when he said these new friends of yours were turning you against your family - ”

“He is,” Ginny said. “They get along with the twins just fine” - she snorted mentally at the understatement - “and aside from a couple of rows when Percy was a prefect, they never had a problem with him, either. Ron’s just jealous.”

“Why would he be?”

“Because I’m friends with the one of the most popular boys and one of the most popular girls in our house, in his own year, and he isn’t.”

“This Einzbern kid, yeah?”

“And Takara Aozaki, Gryffindor’s Seeker - the youngest in a century,” Ginny added.

“Aozaki? Any relation to Aoko Aozaki?”

Ginny rummaged through her memories. “I think Takara mentioned her - her aunt, but Takara calls her ‘Big Sister,’ because it’s bad to make her feel old.”

Bill whistled. “I met her once at a pyramid in Egypt. She took one look at the ward scheme and identified half a dozen death curses right off - took them out and at least four more in less than five minutes. I’d have needed at least two hours. I can see why your friend doesn’t want to upset her - her aunt’s one bloody scary lady.”

Ginny grinned. “Maybe that explains why she hangs around Galen - she’s used to scary people.”

“Galen?”

“Galen Salvatore,” the youngest Weasley clarified. “Takara and Shirou’s friend. He’s the only one who really doesn’t like Ron - I never have figured out why, and if they know, they aren’t telling.”

“Have you tried asking him?” Bill said drily.

Ginny snorted. “I’ve seen him duel - I’m not asking him anything that might piss him off, even though I’m pretty sure he’d never hurt me.”

Bill raised an eyebrow. “Only ‘pretty sure?’”

“Galen has a temper, and full-grown mountain trolls tend to get put through walls when he loses it,” Ginny said in a matter-of-fact voice. “On the other hand, I’m family to him - which means anything that even remotely threatens me gets - what was the phrase he used - ‘terminated with extreme prejudice.’”

Both eyebrows were up now. “And Mum lets you hang around with these people?”

Ginny smirked. “She’s never met Galen, and she likes Shirou, so, yeah.” She shook her head. “But that’s the deal, Bill. Once you’re their friend, you’re safe, against anything, because they’ll do everything they can to protect you - it’s a promise. All they ask is the same loyalty. Shirou and Takara are two of my best friends, Neville and Hermione are nice, Luna’s been my friend for years, and Galen can be utterly terrifying - but he’d die to protect me, if he had to. Wouldn’t even blink.”

“They mean a lot to you,” Bill noted quietly.

“They do,” Ginny agreed. “They’re my friends, and I want you to like them as much as I do.”

Her eldest brother suddenly went pale as he looked over Ginny’s shoulder, and when he spoke, his throat was audibly dry.

“If that’s one of them,” he croaked, “then I think that won’t be a problem, Gin.”

Ginny glanced over her shoulder, and called with a smile, “Afternoon! Mind if we pop in?”

The enthusiastic wave was all the answer they needed, and Ginny’s smile remained fixed in place as she drew near, and said pleasantly, “May I introduce my eldest brother, Bill Weasley. Bill, this is Miss Ilyasviel von Einzbern.”

“A pleasure,” Ilya said, curtseying slightly.

“It is indeed, Miss Ilyasviel,” her brother said breathlessly. “It is, indeed.”

Ginny grinned. Somehow, she suspected Bill wasn’t going to have any complaints about her friends.

Kieran
March 29th, 2011, 07:57 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 Goblet of Fire, but I trust in the intelligence of my readers (and the availability of the books) to recognise them when they see them.



Chapter 3 - Problems Foreign and Domestic



August 23, 1994






Shirou watched the oldest Weasley boy’s “cool” attempts to flirt with Ilya with a sardonic amusement. Knowing Ginny as he did, he had three guesses as to why Big Brother was accompanying her, instead of a solo trip or her father - and all three involved threatening the would-be boyfriend. Instead, however, Shirou had a golden opportunity to turn the tables on him. He wondered idly, for a moment, if he ought to bother.

After further consideration, though, Shirou decided against it. Firstly, because he knew damned well that Ilya could hold her own, even without her Veela powers. And she was playing with the man now, like a cat that didn’t really care to eat the mouse in front of her, but couldn’t resist the opportunity to torment it a little. Secondly, because if he was going to blast anybody for flirting with Ilya, it would probably be Viktor Krum - according to Ilya, the guy had been almost stalking her for the last year. Given his reputation as a bit of a playboy, Shirou imagined that it irked him not to be able to get the hottest girl at Durmstrang to go out with him. Frankly, Bill Weasley was small potatoes by comparison. And finally, it was going to fun to point out how the “kid” had been the mature one and held off when the older redhead did get around to playing the “overprotective brother” card.

In the meantime, Shirou mused over the events that were to come. Unlike Takara, he wasn’t all that fond of Quidditch - he played because it was pretty much the only sport available, something he could do to exercise and socialise. Given the choice, he’d prefer to duel - or compete in archery. Unfortunately, the history of Hogwarts’ Duelling Club was an erratic one - its first faculty sponsor had been Gilderoy Lockhart, who’d left after half a year, as had its next one, Remus Lupin, and the latter hadn’t managed to get it restarted before retiring from his post. His replacements had been too absorbed in actually teaching to take on extracurricular activities. And archery was a “Muggle” sport, which meant Hogwarts would never touch it. So he played Quidditch by default, and just watching it didn’t thrill him at all.

Shirou was here because Ilya and most of his friends were - and because this would be something of a test to see how well their attempts at altering the timeline of this reality were working. If they’d been as successful as they’d hoped, the Death Eater attack following the game would not occur, which would probably mean that the guy under the invisibility cloak in the Ministry’s box wouldn’t fire off a Dark Mark, or get recruited by Voldemort again. If so, then the whole mess of the Triwizard Tournament wouldn’t occur, and the year would be nice and normal.

“Have you forgotten what I told you already?” Ilya’s voice asked him suddenly, and Shirou realised that his sister was peering at him with a slight smirk on her lips. “Every year, things are bad - every other year, things are so much worse.”

“Am I that easy to read?” Shirou said ruefully, setting down the copy of the Daily Prophet he’d been “absorbed in” while watching Ilya and the Weasley.

“Just to me,” Ilya assured him. “And that’s the way it should be - what kind of big sister would I be, if I didn’t know my little brother that well?”

“You’re back to being the big sister, huh?” Shirou drawled. “Does that mean I’m not ‘Onii-chan’ any more?”

Ilya’s blue eyes, still a wonder after so many years, softened. “You’ll always be my Onii-chan, Shirou.”

“Even after you marry the redhead?” he teased.

“Even after you do,” she fired back, smirking as Shirou winced, before shaking her head. “No, he might be an interesting date, but I’ve already got a man in mind.”

His eyebrows rose. “Oh? What name should I put on the grave marker?”

Shirou was surprised to see a look of hurt cross Ilya’s face, and she frowned, all playfulness suddenly gone. “If you don’t already know, Shirou, then I’m not sure there’s any point in telling you.”

She walked off in a huff, leaving Shirou to re-analyse the last couple of minutes of conversation. He’d had women use that phrase on him before, usually about something they considered blindingly obvious, and . . .

Shirou blinked, as three years’ worth of playful flirting and “allure accidents” suddenly made a different kind of sense. He’d always assumed Ilya was just teasing, having fun with the fact that she was finally a living, breathing, physical adult, and one with supernatural powers over men, to boot. But if she’d meant it seriously . . .

If nothing else, it explains why she was so annoyed with Takara last year.

Shirou considered the facts. His sister was an amazingly attractive young woman, even without Veela allure. She loved him, and he loved her - but whether or not he was in love with her, could see her as more than a sister, was the big question.

It’s not too much different from trying to date Takara, he decided finally. Ilya just comes with more memories of her in a platonic sense. But if it’s not impossible to think that best friends can’t become lovers, then is it impossible to think that Ilya and I can’t?

He’d seen her as his little sister for a long time, but they weren’t blood-related - in that sense, it wasn’t really violating any taboo, save in their own minds. And if he’d met Ilya without knowing her as his sister, he probably could fall in love with her easily - she was strong, intelligent, confident, beautiful, sometimes playful, sometimes given to fits of cruelty . . .

Like Rin - which is probably why they fought so much . . . Shirou shook his head. It wasn’t fair to compare Ilya to a woman who wasn’t here, and that he’d never see again. And to be fair, Ilya had changed in more ways than the physical since they’d been here. If she’d had Veela powers when they first met, she’d have cranked up her allure, and had him chained to a bed before he knew what was happening. Even here, she’d never gone all out - just little bursts, enough to tease, to probe . . .

She’s playing fair, he realised. I live with her over the summer - it wouldn’t be hard for her to catch me at a weak moment and dazzle me until I don’t know up from down. Hell, Durmstrang’s into Dark Arts, so she probably knows at least a handful of curses and rituals to do the job, too - and she admitted last year that she’d learned to brew Amortentia. Getting me to marry her would be easy then, because she knows I’d stay, even if I resented it. And not too long ago, she’d have done it without batting an eyelash. But she hasn’t. She let Takara date me, when she knew she might lose me - and without knowing if I was even really hers to lose . . .

Shirou didn’t need long to find the willowy blonde again. Ilya was drinking tea with her mother.

“Kaa-san, could I speak to Ilya-chan privately, please?” he requested quietly, and with an equally quiet smile, the elder Einzbern woman vacated her chair.

“Something you wanted, Shirou?” Ilya inquired frostily. Her blue eyes were unnaturally bright, gleaming with a touch of Veela fire - she was angry.

“To apologise,” Shirou said honestly.

“For what?” Ilya pressed.

“For not realising how much you’ve changed for me,” Shirou said. He was rewarded by a rare shocked look appearing on his sister’s face.

“You’ve been trying to get my attention since we got here, haven’t you?” Shirou said quietly. “Even if you set us up as brother and sister, that’s not what you really want, is it?”

“I could live with it,” Ilya sighed, “if I had to . . . I think. I’d still have part of you, then - and it would be mine alone. Even if I wasn’t your lover, no one else would be your sister.”

“But it’s not what you really want,” Shirou repeated. “Why play softball, then? You’ve never been afraid to go after your goals before.”

“Like my grandfather taught me to be?” Ilya said sardonically. “Yes, and that worked out so well the last time. I was so happy growing up under his way of thinking.” She shook her head. “Mama might understand - Veela are faeriekind, and have different standards - but Papa would be upset with me . . . And so would you. I could have your body, Shirou, and probably even your mind, but I want your heart. And I don’t want to take it from you, I want you to give it to me.”

“You want to earn it,” Shirou said.

“To be worthy of it,” she agreed. “And I won’t do that by playing with mind control - even if it is tempting.”

Shirou absorbed that. “. . . Then you’ve at least earned the right to try.”

Ilya’s eyes were wide, and her voice was very careful as she asked, “And that means?”

“It means,” Shirou said, equally carefully, “that I’m not sure if I can love you the way you want me to. But I’m willing to see if it’s possible.”

Impossibly, her eyes seemed to get bigger, even as her voice got very small. “ . . . Really?”

“I was willing to give Takara the chance - why not you?” Shirou asked reasonably. Then he smirked, adding, “Besides, I keep telling Galen he’s an idiot to ignore a chance at romance, because I did it the first time around - how much more idiotic would it be to not follow my own advice?”

Ilya sobered. “Speaking of Galen, Hermione and I think he’s done something stupid - I mean, noble - again.”

Shirou listened to what they’d concluded about his absence from the World Cup, and asked, “Could he have taken us in with him?”

“Probably not,” Ilya admitted. “If that place is as heavily protected as it’s implied to be, only Black family blood could pass through the wards unscathed - and even they’d have to tread carefully. And since they wouldn’t recognise him yet as authorised to be there, bringing others wouldn’t be possible. Not unless he or Sirius reset them.”

“Then there’s nothing else he - or we - could’ve done. Is Takara worried about it?”

Ilya frowned. “I doubt she knows. She hasn’t even arrived yet - why?”

“Because she says that mark on her hand tends to burn when Galen’s in real trouble. If she isn’t freaking out, he’s probably fine. So we can ream him out later, but it was basically the only thing he could do - and it did need doing.” Shirou frowned. “I only wonder how he was planning to destroy the thing if he managed to get it - unless there’s basilisk venom in the house somewhere . . .”

Ilya snorted. “He might be that lucky - but I suspect he’ll go for Dark magic. Easier to do - maybe a little too easy.”

“He really needs to lighten up,” Shirou agreed, smirking. “Or get laid. I can even think of two or three witches who would help him with that, if we could get him to really pay attention to them.”

“Even as the Grail, I don’t think I could’ve managed that,” Ilya said, chuckling. “I think you’d need to be some sort of god before you could get him to talk openly and honestly about his feelings.”






Galen looked into big, liquid brown eyes, and cursed the fact that every female he knew seemed to have instinctive access to the Mystic Eyes of the Sad Puppy.

Aloud, however, he said, “Hermione and I have kissed. I have very distinct memories of a sprig of mistletoe hanging right there eight months ago.” He pointed to a spot above the girl’s head.

Miranda pouted. “That’s like giri-choco. I mean honmei-choco.”

His eyebrows rose. Her pronunciation was careful, like she’d gone to great trouble to memorise the words, but he was amazed that she’d even have learned the names for the different types of Japanese Valentine chocolates.

“Where did you hear about that?”

“Mrs. Aozaki had her teeth cleaned last Valentine’s Day, and she asked me how mine was at school,” Miranda explained. “Then she told me what it was like at school when Takara was my age.” She cocked her head and repeated, “So why haven’t you and Hermione kissed yet?”

“What makes you think we haven’t?” Galen countered.

“Because when I asked her what she wanted for her birthday, she said she didn’t want to be ‘sweet sixteen and never been kissed’ next year,” Miranda said reasonably. “I don’t think I was supposed to have heard her - but it means you can’t have kissed her. Why not?”

Galen’s aching back was demanding that he sit, so he removed his shoes, and his duster, put both items away, and walked into the Grangers’ parlour to sit down on the chesterfield. Soft cushions weren’t a hot bath, but they felt infinitely nicer than nothing. Miranda, for her part, took the cushion immediately adjacent to him, close as only a young child with little understanding of “personal space” could get. Of course, Miranda was old enough, and smart enough, to understand the concept very well, but as she was interrogating him, she was seizing every advantage she could to keep him off-balance and uncomfortable. She might not be quite as brilliant as Hermione, but she was far from stupid.

“Well?” the little brunette demanded. He had the sudden image of a little terrier, worrying at a rawhide bone.

“Miranda,” Galen said reasonably, “why exactly do you think Hermione and I should kiss?”

“Isn’t that what boyfriends and girlfriends do?” she asked innocently, giving him a puzzled look.

“Among other things, sometimes - but I’m not Hermione’s boyfriend.”

The little girl blinked. “You’re not? Why not?” Her eyes narrowed. “Are you Takara’s boyfriend?”

“No.”

“That other witch you and Hermione study with - the one with the pretty voice and the weird jewellery?”

“You mean Luna?” Miranda nodded, and Galen shook his head. “No.”

Miranda blinked again. “Not the redhead?”

“No, I’m not Ginny’s boyfriend,” Galen said, exasperated. “I’m not anyone’s boyfriend, Miranda.”

“Oh.” Miranda’s voice was very small. “I thought for sure you were Hermione’s boyfriend . . . And I was wrong.”

She sounded as though she was about to cry, and her eyes began to glisten. Galen took her by the shoulders and pulled her into his lap.

“What’s this really all about, Mira?” he asked quietly, rocking her slowly. “Why the tears?”

“I was sure you were Hermione’s boyfriend, and I was wrong,” Miranda repeated. “What if I’m wrong about other things? My birthday’s next April - what if my letter doesn’t come?”

“You mean your Hogwarts letter?” She nodded into his chest with a sniffle.

Galen asked carefully, “Would it be so bad, Miranda, if it didn’t come?”

She glared at him. “Everybody goes to Hogwarts! Hermione, you, Maeve - even Crookshanks goes! I want to go, too! I want to be with you all!”

“Even if you went, that wouldn’t be guaranteed, Miranda,” Galen said. “You’d be four years younger than us, and sleep in a different level of the dorm - and that’s assuming you’re even assigned to our house. Maeve’s in Hufflepuff - I almost never see her at school. And there are other drawbacks - you’d be known as Hermione Granger’s sister, first. Everyone would expect you to either be as brilliant as she is, or to be nowhere near it, and that’s not fair to you.”

Galen and his sister had put up with their fair share of that, in his first life - because she’d been a model student, and he’d been an attitude problem. Now, not so much, but back then, it’d had been annoying for both of them.

“And think about what I said when I came after Christmas,” Galen continued, "Hermione learns all these things at school, and she’d be expelled if she tried to show you almost any of it. There’s nothing your parents can tell their friends about how brilliant she is, because until she’s seventeen, they’re not really allowed to know. But with a non-magical education, they can brag about how you’re the top student, won awards, all that kind of stuff. And it would mean something to most people. You could be famous for being just you, without magic.”

“I still want to be with Hermione,” Miranda mumbled into him.

Galen fought off a wince. He had a Petunia Dursley in the making, here. Sorrow which could turn to jealousy, then hatred - and none of it deserved or fair, to either girl. This was the reason he tried so hard to keep Hermione involved with her family, to keep her grounded in the real world - because in all honesty, it was. The magical world was a closed environment that pretended it was wholly isolated, a communal delusion that, barring major changes, would one day be its undoing. It was corruptive by nature - it had managed to turn Hermione Granger, a girl who had been devoted to the idea of fair and equal treatment for all beings, into someone who could rewrite her parents’ minds without their knowledge or permission, and seem untroubled by it in the slightest.

It was all for the greater good, of course - and she knew best what that was, because she was a witch, and they were only Muggles. Had Lord Voldemort known of it, no doubt he would have been ecstatic to learn that the brightest witch of her generation had finally come around to the proper way of thinking. But sooner or later, that inherent arrogance would be their end, because they were thousands against billions. And splitting apart sisters like Lily and Petunia Evans - and now, potentially, the Grangers - was going to bring the end sooner rather than later.

“Even if you can’t go with her when she leaves, she’ll always come back, Miranda,” Galen said. “She’ll come back because this is her home, and more importantly, because you’re her sister, and she loves you as much as she loves anything else in this world. She never forgets that - and I won’t let her forget it, I promise you.”

Miranda tangibly relaxed, and looked up at him. “Hermione says you always keep your promises.”

“I do, if I can,” he affirmed.

“Then promise me something else?” The Mystic Eyes of the Sad Puppy made a reappearance.

One of these incarnations, I’m going to find a defence against that look, I swear.

“What is it, Mira?”

“Promise me that you’ll kiss Hermione - boyfriend kiss her - this year.”

“. . . Why?” he asked, bewildered.

Miranda’s eyes twinkled impishly. “So that when she gets home tomorrow, I can say I got her birthday present, of course!” Her eyes went to pleading again. “Please?”

Galen sighed. “I’m going to regret this . . .”

“Pleeeease?”

“. . . All right, Miranda, you win - I promise.”






A sudden chill ran down Takara’s spine, and she shivered. If she was superstitious, she’d think some violation of the natural order, some harbinger of terrible doom, had just been unleashed . . .

It’s just nerves, she told herself. Between the Quidditch World Cup and what was supposed to happen after, it wasn’t really a surprise that she was keyed up. She wasn’t sure which part she was looking forward to more - the Quidditch, or the attack.

The Quidditch, she admitted. Though the attack will have its points, provided that it doesn’t actually happen, of course. And without Lucius Malfoy to help plan it - maybe he even suggested it in the first place? - even if it does happen, things should be a lot different. Father and Kiritsugu-san will be there, for starters.

Her day had been a bit of a whirlwind of activity. As they weren’t due to Apparate to the stadium until late in the day, Takara had been training in Occlumency and close-quarters combat with her father, and after lunch, spent her time playing with games with Alex. The ten-month-old couldn’t walk yet, but had mastered crawling and peekaboo, and how to giggle in a way that melted hearts. Her next Patronus would have all the happy memories it needed.

When they did head over, they were met by Arcueid, who introduced Takara to a number of the Bulgarian National Team’s cheerleaders - some, old friends and a few of them distant cousins of hers, as Irisviel was. Takara idly wondered how well Shirou or Galen might handle them. The boys were old hands at dealing with the allure of a single Veela (or half-Veela, in Ilya’s case), but could they handle a hundred?

I wonder if I ought to track down the Weasley twins, and see if they’re interested in betting on the possibilities . . .

Still, the Veela were nice enough, though more than a few cast predatory gazes at her father. Her godmother fended off the few that weren’t discouraged by her father’s non-reactions, though. Seeing their deference to her, Takara wondered for the first time what Arcueid’s status in Veela society might be - they seemed almost afraid of her . . . In any case, she got a good look at the inside of a professional Quidditch team’s facilities, and to meet a few of the Bulgarian players. Not Viktor Krum, but she didn’t really care about that. She knew very well that she’d see him at Hogwarts in a few months, and it would be easier to talk about the details of being a Seeker there, where there was more time and less pressure.

She did a little souvenir shopping, and spotted Dean Thomas and Ronald Weasley while doing so. She said her hellos, and moved on, and once again, her godmother was invaluable - a flash of Veela aura and they disappeared before either regained their senses. It probably wasn’t necessary, but after hearing Weasley whine over his rat and his grades from Valentine’s Day until the end of term, Takara was in no mood to give him opportunities to resume. Especially since Ginny said he hadn’t really stopped - she’d been grateful to spend a lot of the summer out of the Burrow, with her.

It surprised Takara that Weasley was as bad off as he apparently was academically, but when she’d mentioned it to Galen, he’d said it fit the pattern of the books Whether or not Weasley was particularly bright, he was chronically unmotivated - without the constant death threats that came from associating with Harry, or Hermione to help him, he had no real impetus to learn. He chose his elective courses because they were easy grades, not requiring too much effort - and then put in the absolute minimum required. Half the reason he’d wanted to compete in the Triwizard tournament was because the champions were allowed to skip exams.

Shaking her thoughts away from the only Weasley she didn’t really like, Takara rejoined her father and godmother, and they finally arrived at the Einzberns’ private box about ten minutes before the match was due to start - and was immediately accosted by a half-panicked Hermione.

“Do you know what Galen’s doing?” she demanded. “Did he tell you?”

“No,” Takara said, bewildered. “. . . Why?”

Ilyasviel drew her aside, along with Shirou, Hermione, Neville and, oddly enough, Ginny.

“We think Galen’s gone after the locket,” Ilya said softly.

“The locket?” Details from the second-last movie clicked into place. Tongue firmly in cheek, she asked, “You suppose it’ll try to distract him by showing him Hermione, acting evil and basically naked?”

“By WHAT?” Hermione shrieked.

All the adults turned to stare at her.

“ . . . Sorry,” she apologised, gazing at the ground, before turning a stare on Takara. “Explain that remark.”

Takara explained the locket’s defence mechanisms, and what it had done according to the “official record.”

Hermione’s eyes were so wide they should’ve fallen out of their sockets, and her face was nearly the colour of Ginny’s hair.

“It would distract him,” Ginny agreed with a smirk.

Hermione let out a small, strangled sound of mortification.

Ilya obviously felt the joke had been carried far enough, because she said softly, “And then there are the insults - the little whispers about his worst fears, his biggest insecurities, delivered in your voice, Hermione. Chosen specifically by the locket to make him doubt his purpose, to hurt him, and protect itself. If the locket went that route, it could do him a lot of damage, so be gentle when you see him next. I think he’ll need the kindness.”

The British witch stared at her, and the half-Veela offered her a smile.

Takara bit her lip, in unconscious imitation of Hermione. It would do that, wouldn’t it?

He seems to have finally gotten over the annual suicide attempts - please don’t let them start up again!

Still, she was reassured somewhat by the mark on the back of her right hand. Whenever he’d been in mortal danger - truly mortal danger, as in “immediately about to die” - it had burned, as a warning that the connection between them was about to be severed. That trait had carried over from her original world to this one, and the scar which had once been a Command Mantra still lay quiescent. Whatever the locket had or might have done, Galen was still all right for the moment, and she said so to the others.

Shirou shrugged. “Nothing we can do but wait until we get back, then - and try to enjoy the game.”

They followed this advice with varying degrees of enthusiasm.






The game was even better than the movie had portrayed - mainly because she could see all of it. Takara wondered, idly, how many people besides herself, her father, and Shirou could follow all the byplay without the use of Omnioculars. Her eyesight, always good, had an extra edge from bonding with her owl Animagus form - as did Shirou, from bonding with his eagle. Her father, on the other hand, was simply that good. As for the rest of their party, all of them were equipped with the devices to assist them in following the match - which included Bill and Ginny Weasley, now. The latter was very pleased, although she noted darkly that it would be “one more thing for Ron to complain about.”

It was a dazzling display of aerobatics, and Takara was deeply impressed by the skill shown at this level of Quidditch. Much to her private amusement, Shirou was not long affected by the Bulgarian cheerleaders, nor were his father or hers - though she had to have him help her restrain Neville. His Occlumency was good, and he’d been around Godmother and the Baroness before, but a hundred Veela were a hundred Veela.

The game’s end was as she remembered it, and Takara went to bed with the adrenalin incited by it, and the potential confrontation to come, still singing through her system . . . And she dreamed - of blood and fire, of steel and stone, and of a warning, a terrible warning.

Danger was coming, just at the edge of her senses. Just beyond her ability to see it clearly. Danger was coming, danger was here - terrible, terrible danger!

Takara woke with a cry of “NO!” on her lips, and found herself alone - just before Hermione burst into the tent.

“Takara!” The bushy-haired witch stopped, and stared at her. “Your eyes . . .”

“What?” Takara demanded.

“For a second, they were glowing,” Hermione said shakily. “Glowing silver, like little moons . . .” She shook herself. “I came to get you - we’re under attack! There are Death Eaters - here, now!”

Takara shook herself. She’d expected that, wasn’t really surprised, but couldn’t shake the electric tension running through her, the warning - dangerdangerdanger . . . And then it struck her, like a brick to the heart.

Her hand was burning.

FlameStrike
March 29th, 2011, 08:00 PM
Woot, the Trinity: Tournament is back! After the great unmaking of the Beast's Lair lots of data was lost to the time. But it's great to see this epic story being recovered. I'll be eagerly awaiting the next installment of Trinity. Last time it left off at a bit of a cliff hanger too.

Kieran
March 29th, 2011, 08:04 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 Goblet of Fire, but I trust in the intelligence of my readers (and the availability of the books) to recognise them when they see them.



Chapter 4 - Some Things Change, and Others Don’t



August 23 - September 1, 1994






Ginny awoke with a start, as her father yelled at her to wake.

“Get up! Ron - Ginny - come on now, get up, this is urgent!”

“Dad?” Ginny said confusedly, still half-asleep.

“No time, Ginny,” he said hurriedly. “Just grab a jacket and get outside - quickly!”

Ginny hastily obeyed - two years of early-morning calisthenics had conditioned her to rouse to consciousness fast, if it had done nothing else. Ron, her unwilling bunkmate, was a little slower on the draw, but she managed to get him outside quickly enough, and she emerged from the tent in a running dueller’s stance, wand ready.

Like all of her friends, she’d bonded to her Animagus form last year - a fox. While she hadn’t used it as much as Hermione, or even as much as Neville, a residue of its nature was still visible in her - a coppery gleam in her brown eyes, a certain sheen to her red hair. Nothing as tangible as the sudden athleticism Hermione had gained, or the feline behavioural quirks that drove her to touch her friends affectionately as a way of saying hello - but enough that her senses, too, had a certain feral sharpness. In her case, it was her ears and nose, specifically, and a whiff of the night breeze told her all she needed to know, because it carried the sounds and scents of terror.

A flash of green light illuminated a group of wizards in hooded robes and masks, levitating something across the field. Those that weren’t fleeing in fear were joining the group, laughing as they blasted and burned tents out of their path. Ginny traced the higher screams to the air, and realised that there were children up there.

“Dad?” she repeated, sounding much clearer - and angrier.

He stood with Bill, Charlie and Percy, who had their wands out, as well, rolling up his sleeves.

“We’re going to help the Ministry!” he shouted over the noise of the approaching crowd. “You lot - get into the woods and stick together. I’ll come and fetch you when we’ve sorted this out!”

Ginny wanted to protest - she’d been training for just this kind of reason: to fight when she had to, and win. She’d gotten up at the crack of dawn every morning for almost two solid years, and learned to trade punches and hexes with people older, stronger, faster, better-trained and more experienced - and it was a point of pride that she kept up with them.

“C’mon,” Fred said, grabbing for Ginny’s hand, making as if to drag her into the woods.

She moved to avoid him, but before he could try again, or Ginny reply, their brother George said solemnly, “Gin, we need your help.”

She and Fred both turned to stare at him, and he continued, “We know more than you do, but you’re better at this. I’d feel a lot safer if you were watching our backs.”

Ginny felt her face flush, and it spread into the core of her chest. George was a clown, but he was no fool. The compliment meant a lot, coming from him, especially since she’d been the family’s precious princess for years. Not that the position didn’t have its perks, she’d admit . . . Her training took over, as she took in her brothers - all three of them. She blessed Kiritsugu silently - he’d insisted they start learning group movements and tactics this summer, and it looked like she’d need them now.

“Ron, clear the path ahead of us,” she ordered. “Fred, George - to the sides. I’ll cover our retreat.”

That snapped Ron out of his daze. “What? What’re you going on about? You’re just -“

”The smallest and hardest to see, the fastest runner, and the one who packs the most power and range into her spells,” Ginny retorted. With all the mock duels and war games she’d done, by now Ginny knew her strengths, and how best to apply them. “A defensive type would be better, but we don’t have one, so the best defence is a good offence, in this case. We’re fleeing with the wind, so with luck I can hear them coming before they spot me, if they come - and I can make them sorry they did. Now move!”

She barked the last part in imitation of Ciel-sensei, when she made them run her “confidence course” - and she channelled her own mother fairly well in the process, because the twins snatched Ron’s arms and hauled him off into the woods. Ginny let them get a few paces ahead, and then followed, glancing behind her as she moved. She wished Shirou was there - while her natural fighting style mimicked his, he was better at it.

Actually, any of her friends would’ve been useful. Takara’s reflexes were loads faster than Ginny’s own, and Galen and Neville were the ones with a knack for Shield Charms. Hermione was a bit more balanced in her physical attributes, with no single one dominating, but she had the best spell repertoire, and was pretty good at strategy, which would be useful here. On the other hand, the older witch wasn’t all that flexible in her thinking - she didn’t adapt quickly to changing situations. Ginny would even settle for just having Luna with her - the blonde was light on her feet like Takara, with spells that rivalled Hermione’s for variety, but she was quick-minded, too, always attacking from the oddest angles, or with the most unpredictable tactics. More importantly, they knew how to work as a pair, as they were often teamed together.

Instead, she had her twin brothers - the weekend warriors, who only showed up for calisthenics when they felt like it - and Ron, whose primary talent in combat, from what she could tell . . .

“But I don’t have my wand!” came the faint protest to her ears.

. . . Was getting into trouble.

With a sigh, Ginny picked up her pace. If Ron was unarmed, she’d need to be closer, in order to handle trouble.

I really wish you were here, guys. I hope you’re all right . . .

“MORSMORDRE!” suddenly bellowed a voice up ahead in the distance, followed by a boiling mass of green being shot into the air. Ginny’s reaction to the unexpected display was reflexive, honed by hours of drills. She laid down a barrage of Stunners, widespread and low-angled, just as she’d been taught to. It didn’t matter where a Stunner hit, because it worked so long as it did, and no matter how tall someone was, everybody’s legs reached the ground.

There was a series of soft thumps up ahead, and Ginny moved cautiously, wand raised for a Shield Charm, if she should suddenly have need of one . . .

Which, as it turned out, was a good idea - because barely seconds later, the woods were full of crisscrossing Stunners. They were chest-level on an adult male, which meant a good number of them missed her - Amateurs, a corner of her mind remarked - but she managed to hold against the ones that didn’t.

“Stop!” she heard her father cry. “That’s my daughter!”

Inwardly, Ginny breathed a sigh of relief. Dad will sort all this out . . .





“. . . And he did,” Ginny concluded a few days later, “but it took some doing. Turns out Ron’s wand had been used to conjure the Mark, and keeping him out of trouble for being stupid enough to lose it was a bit of a job.” She pulled a face. “If Ron was hacked off before about my watching the game with you all instead of in the Top Box with the family, he was downright insufferable after that.”

Takara nodded, and let out a sudden gasp as a pin pricked her leg.

“Sorry, dear,” Madam Malkin apologised. “Put that one a bit too close, did I?”

“A bit,” Takara agreed, trying desperately to hold still as she muttered, “I hate being fitted - bloody growth spurt. Stupid dress robes.”

“Well, just hold on,” the seamstress said soothingly, “and I’ll be done in just a tick.”

“Well, I’m looking forward to wearing them,” Ginny countered from the stool beside hers, where a measuring tape was hovering along her arms. “I haven’t had anything this nice in . . . Well, ever! And I love to dance.”

She glanced over at the bolts of emerald and white fabric, being cut magically to the style she’d requested as her measurements were taken. Hermione, meanwhile, was sitting on a stool, trying to match the right colour for a pair of shoes to the periwinkle robes she wore.

“Try silver,” Takara suggested. “It completes the ‘fairy princess’ look.”

“But then I might vanish if I click my heels and say, ‘There’s no place like home,’” Hermione retorted, grinning. At her friends’ blank looks, she explained, “From The Wizard of Oz?”

“I thought those were ruby slippers,” Takara said.

Hermione shook her head. “Only in the movie - the designers wanted to show off the new Technicolor process with something flashy. The shoes in the book were silver.” She sighed. “So few people read the classics any longer.”

“Galen does,” Takara retorted, smirking. “You can talk about them all night, if you get him to take you to whatever these are for.”

Of course, she knew perfectly well what the robes were intended for - as did the other girls, but they weren’t going to talk about things they weren’t supposed to know in front of Madam Malkin. Likewise, Takara was not going to mention the pain in the scar on her hand, or her surprise when she realised that it was Shirou’s mark, not Galen’s, that was burning. Or the further surprise of seeing him utterly unharmed, given what pain through those scars had usually meant. She didn’t understand it - even Ilya, who was nominally responsible for the creation of those scars, didn’t understand it. She only said that she felt nervous about it, because whatever the cause was, it couldn’t be anything good.

The silver glow in her eyes that Hermione had described was unnerving, too - but at the Death Eater attack, her father’s eyes had a faint blue shine to them, and she later understood that to be a manifestation of the Nanaya’s bloodline gift of Sight, akin to the Mystic Eyes of her original world. While still not totally clear on how it manifested in this world, Takara had a hunch that like her original powers, only stress - or more accurately, danger - would bring it out. Still, if what Hermione had seen was accurate, it indicated that she did have some form of the power.

Terrific, Takara thought sourly. Now I have to keep taking Divination.

Hermione, meanwhile, had gone suddenly pink, but her eyes were steady as she asked, “Are you sure?”

Takara held off a wince at the question. Ever since she’d conjured that werewolf Patronus, Hermione had been a little less certain of her disinterest in Galen as a romantic partner. She believed the explanation Takara had finally given her - that given their history, she automatically thought of Galen when envisioning a protector - but it didn’t stop her from wondering, just the same.

The nagging little voice in Takara’s own head didn’t help, either, when it asked, Why not your parents, or Shirou, or even your Nanaya self? Why reach immediately - instinctively - for Galen, with all the other choices? Why does he appear in response to a memory of your family, those closest and most important to you?

It was a persistent little voice, and if Hermione knew of its existence, it would’ve no doubt confirmed her worst fears. Takara found it annoying, because the voice only reminded her of her own flaw - that she was avoiding even thinking of Galen as a romantic interest because, whether as gaijin or werewolf, Galen’s nature would place him as a pariah in society, and that stigma would cling to his wife and children, as well. And having lived it herself, she would not - could not - force the same fate on her own sons and daughters. The thought of being shunned for associating with him, of her children being shunned growing up, as she had been for her foreign blood, terrified her. And she felt utterly miserable for it, because she’d been raised to be a better person than that - as the voice continued to remind her.

Aloud, however, she said, “Yes, Hermione, I’m sure. If you want to go with him, ask him.”

She nodded hesitantly.

Takara smiled back. Hopefully, this would break those two out of the “I’m not good enough for him/her” pattern they’d been dancing for years. If Hermione was doing the asking, Galen would be unable to refuse - he never wanted to hurt her feelings. And that meant his plan of letting Krum ask her to the Yule Ball, so that Hermione could supposedly discover the range of “more suitable men” she was capable of attracting, was toast. But by the same token, he’d be obliged to make sure she had a good time - and maybe loosen up enough to have one himself, and accept the fact that he made her happy, because she loved him.

Who says Galen’s the only one in our group allowed to scheme?

Just because she couldn’t bring herself - couldn’t allow herself - to fall in love with Galen, it didn’t mean that she didn’t love him, and want to see him happy. Or Hermione, for that matter.

And I am going to make the pair of them figure out that they can be happy together, one way or another!

“Done!” Madam Malkin announced. Sighing in relief (for more than one reason), Takara hopped off the stool and marched towards the changing room. It didn’t take long for her to reemerge, garbed in black jeans and a sky-blue t-shirt, feet garbed in sandals against the summer heat.

“Much better,” she declared, ignoring the seamstress’ sniff of disapproval at her mundane attire. She handed the shopkeeper the dress robes, and counted out Galleons while they were boxed up. Then she followed the other girls into Flourish and Blott’s to pick up the few school books she’d need - most of them, like Intermediate Transfiguration, would still be used this year, but Ginny needed a full set, herself. And Hermione would take nearly any excuse to browse through a bookstore. Afterwards, they found a private booth at Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour, and a discreetly-cast Muffliato (her father had confirmed that the Ministry’s methods for detecting underage magic use were suspended around Diagon Alley) ensured them a private conversation.

“So,” Hermione asked seriously, “how badly off-kilter are your expectations, with what happened at the World Cup?”

“Not very,” Takara admitted. “We were hoping that killing off Pettigrew and running off Lucius Malfoy would prevent it, but I guess drunks are drunks, regardless. At least this time around, the Death Eaters lost a few people - while Father and Shirou were helping us get clear of the scene, Kiritsugu-san got on a broom, Disillusioned himself, and started sniping them from the air. Even if the Ministry security people never got close because of the crowds, that broke up the attack fairly quickly - and the appearance of the Dark Mark had them running almost as soon as it showed up.”

Takara smiled as she continued, “Shirou didn’t like not helping with the counterattack, but Father pointed out that there were more of us to safeguard than he could handle himself - and who knew who we might encounter while evacuating? So in the end, we came out ahead: we didn’t take any casualties, and there are six fewer Death Eaters walking around now. Add that to what Galen did, and - ”

“And what exactly did Galen do?” Hermione demanded. “You were very tense about it at the campsite, but never actually explained why. And all I could get out of him when I got home in the morning was that I urgently needed to talk to Miranda.”

Takara shook her head. “Not here - too little security. Wait until we’re in our hideaway at Hogwarts.” She meant the Room of Requirement, and the other two girls nodded. Then the last sentence penetrated. “Wait, what about Miranda?”

“She’s worried she won’t get to go to Hogwarts,” Hermione explained. She sighed. “‘Worried’ is an understatement, actually. Now I understand why you all insist on including my family in all the parties, and as much of the magical side of things as they can be. I never realised how utterly terrified she was that she might not be magical - and that I wouldn’t love her anymore if she wasn’t.”

“That’s ridiculous!” Ginny sputtered. “Why would she think that? She’s your sister, isn’t she?”

An example Galen had mentioned of the isolationist policies of the wizarding world sprang to Takara’s mind, and she said, “Talk much to your mum’s cousin lately, Ginny? You know, the accountant?”

“No,” Ginny said automatically, “but what does that have to do with - ?” Her mouth clamped shut as she made the connection.

Hermione nodded. “A perfectly normal man, doing an admirable and difficult job - in fact, he’s an ideal resource for your father, isn’t he? He lives and works in the mundane world, and he’d be able to recognise an illegally-charmed mundane item, but you never talk about him, do you? Much less to him.”

“No,” Ginny agreed. “Nobody in the family likes mentioning him, now that I think about it. I never thought about it before, but I guess you’ve got a point.”

“So why shouldn’t Miranda expect the same from me?” Hermione said with a sigh. “I mean, I spend most of the year away from her at school, and then a lot of the summer, as well. I’m even doing it now - I’m in Diagon Alley with you, and she’s at home . . .” Hermione shook her head. “Right, then - I need to schedule some family time, before things go completely to pot. So, is there anything else? Do we need to worry about things at Hogwarts this year, too?”

Takara considered the question. Everything she’d seen indicated that Barty Crouch Junior was still active, and Voldemort might pick him up, if he was capable of it. But without Pettigrew to care for him, or capture that one Ministry worker (what was her name? Bertha something? Another detail she’d had to get from Galen - how much had the movies left out?) . . . And without Harry Potter’s presence, there was no real reason for Crouch to interfere in the Triwizard Tournament, and they knew what to expect even if he did, for whatever reason.

Besides, she reasoned, there was always Agent Grim playing “watchdog” (she giggled inwardly) on the situation. If anything crucial came up, her father or Kiritsugu-san would know about it, and inform them, if not take action themselves. Voldemort’s resurrection, as far she could tell, was well and truly blocked. They could enjoy the Tournament for its own sake.

“No,” Takara said slowly. “I think things are pretty well-handled, at the moment. There shouldn’t be any major problems this year.”

The whisper in the back of her mind, however, chose that moment to speak up.

Famous last words . . .






Neville was exceedingly grateful for his duster the day they boarded the Hogwarts Express, for two reasons. The first was that it was raining heavily, and the Hebridean Black hide was the duster was made of was extremely water-resistant. And secondly, as it looked mundane in origin, more or less, he could join the Express with his friends, rather than travelling to Platform 9 and 3/4 with his Gran. It was actually quite interesting to see how it was set up on the mundane side of things - Gran usually chose to Side-Along him directly to the platform.

“Sure you’ve got everything, Nev?” Shirou asked.

“Yep,” Neville said cheerfully. “I packed last night - all I had to do was pick up my bags this morning and collect Trevor from his terrarium. Thanks for that idea, by the way - he runs away a lot less often now that he’s got a proper home.”

Shirou shrugged. “No big deal.”

It was to Neville, who had spent years chasing after that toad - once almost into the jaws of a three-headed dog - but he understood what Shirou meant. A terrarium was a common piece of equipment for keeping toads in the mundane world, so he considered it not worth mentioning, much as Neville would regard, say, an animated portrait - a minor curiosity, but hardly something rare or exceptional. On the other hand, few wizards would have kept such a specialised piece of equipment on hand, unless they taught a subject that required their use, like Professor Lupin had for his lesson on Grindylows last year. But even then, the Grindylow had arrived in its container when it was delivered to him - he had not had one ahead of time. The mundane pet shops, on the other hand, stocked them in numbers, and given the worth of a Galleon, they were relatively inexpensive, too.

They filed onto the train, and began searching out an empty compartment. By virtue of being the last to arrive, Ginny would either have to sit with her family, or one of the girls would have to assume her Animagus form - the rest of them were too large to clear a seat that way.

Me, especially, he thought with a grin. His bear form had hit forty-two stone this summer, and it showed signs that it, like him, was still growing. He’d take up an entire compartment and part of the aisle by himself, and the thought was comforting - that and the knowledge that he could tear small trees out of the ground with a single swipe of his paws.

As they passed one compartment, the familiar (and disliked) voice of Draco Malfoy caught their ears.

“. . . Father actually considered sending me to Durmstrang rather than Hogwarts, you know. He knows the Headmaster, you see. Well, you know his opinion of Dumbledore - the man’s such a Mudblood-lover - and Durmstrang doesn’t admit that sort of riff-raff. But Mother didn’t like the idea of me going to school so far away. Father says Durmstrang takes a far more sensible line than Hogwarts does about the Dark Arts. Durmstrang students actually learn them, not just the defence rubbish we do . . .”

Neville shook his head and moved on, claiming an empty compartment. It wasn’t until they’d all sat down that he noticed the pensive look on Galen’s face - and it wasn’t a good look. It was the kind of look that meant he’d just found trouble he hadn’t expected, and a frisson of fear ran down Neville’s spine.

“What is it?” he asked finally.

“Muffliato,” Galen said first, before explaining, “Draco Malfoy’s talking about Durmstrang - which means he has to know that the school’s coming to Hogwarts for the Triwizard Tournament.”

“OK,” Neville agreed. “And?”

“It’s classified by the Ministry,” Galen said. “Draco only found out last time because Fudge blabbed to his father, and Lucius told him. But given that Lucius Malfoy is a wanted fugitive, how would Draco have found out now?”

“Do you think he’s still in contact with his father?” Hermione suggested.

“Oh, I don’t doubt that for a second,” Galen said. “But how would Lucius have found out? It’s not like he’s bribing the Minister regularly now - and he’s supposed to still be in hiding.” His eyes raked over Shirou and Takara. “That is right, isn’t it? The DMLE hasn’t picked him up anywhere?”

Shirou shook his head. “Not that Dad’s mentioned, and he’d know - he’s been watching the progress of the manhunt, in case it gets bumped up to their level.”

“Mine, too,” Takara said. “If they’re engaged to look for Malfoy, they have every intention of catching him - and not necessarily alive.”

“And they’re still sure he hasn’t left the country? It occurs to me that Durmstrang would make an ideal hiding place - it’s Unplottable, outside British jurisdiction, and not exactly an unwelcome place for a Death Eater to be.”

Another headshake, this time from Takara, as she said, “They don’t think so, but if Sirius Black could manage to take himself and a hippogriff from here to somewhere like South America - or wherever that tropical messenger bird came from - without being spotted by anyone, then how good are they, really?”

“Damn,” Galen growled fiercely.

“Language,” Hermione scolded, just as fiercely.

“Sorry,” he sighed, before shaking his own head. “I just . . . I put him out of my head, figuring we wouldn’t have to worry about him - and now it looks like that’s coming back to bite us.”

Neville shrugged. “I really don’t see what you could’ve done about it. It’s not like you had the man under surveillance yourself, or know where he’s hiding. And if you’d killed him before he went on the run, you’d be in Azkaban now, at the least.”

“Point,” the older wizard admitted, sighing again. “Anyways, nothing to be done about it now but to keep an eye and ear on Draco, see if we can shake his source loose - assuming it is Lucius. Depending on who he was talking to, it could be another Slytherin whose father works at the Ministry, and that speech was just his reaction to being told about the Tournament.

“Speaking of,” Galen said suddenly. “About the Yule Ball attached to the Tournament . . .” He glanced at Takara, Hermione and Luna in turn. “I’ll tell Ginny later, and the rest of you now - I hate formal events, so I have absolutely no plans to attend. However, should any of you ladies find yourselves wanting to go, and somehow been unable to find dates, I will be pleased to escort you, and do my best to see that you enjoy yourselves.” He smiled. “I find it highly unlikely that you’ll need me - but just so you’re aware, you’ll have an option.”

Neville noted extremely different reactions among the three girls. Luna simply shrugged and gave him a gracious smile - he suspected she didn’t really want to go, either. Hermione looked hurt, for some reason. And Takara’s eyes were narrowed - and only because she was sitting next to him could he hear her whispering, “I’m going to kill him . . . It will be very painful, and very slow, because only after he realises how badly he wants to survive will I end his life . . . It was perfect! I didn’t think there was any way out, and then he goes and pulls this - !”

Neville wasn’t entirely sure what was going on, but was suddenly very glad he’d decided he didn’t want to be Galen - he suspected that very soon, Galen wasn’t going to want to be himself, either.

Kieran
March 29th, 2011, 08:08 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 Goblet of Fire, but I trust in the intelligence of my readers (and the availability of the books) to recognise them when they see them.



Chapter 5 - Arriving at Hogwarts



September 1 - 2, 1994






If Hermione had been in her lioness form following Galen’s announcement about the Yule Ball, her tail would’ve been lashing back and forth to put a bullwhip to shame. Her first reaction was hurt, plain and simple - she’d been looking forward to the idea of dancing at a ball with Galen since Takara had done the same on New Year’s Eve. Her second reaction was anger at his spoiling her plans, and the urge to yell or hex him had her fingers twitching near the grip of her wand. Her third reaction was to find somewhere quiet and curl up for a good cry, and had she been the Hermione Granger that Galen still often thought she should be - studious to a fault, socially awkward, and heaven knew what else - she might still have done those things.

However, she’d gained more from her lioness integration than the urge to constantly touch her friends, or a sudden surge in athleticism that put her nearer to Takara and the boys in ability. Lionesses were the hunters of the pride, and didn’t give up simply because the prey was difficult to bring down. They were patient, too - and she had always been “brilliant, but scary.” There was a weakness in him she could exploit, it was simply a matter of time and thought until she found it . . . And she would find it.

The rain continued unabated as the train continued on to Hogwarts, the wind picking up to the point where the cars themselves began to rock. Had it been a little lighter in intensity, Hermione might’ve tempted been to curl up and let the patter of the rainfall lull her to sleep - but this was not at all gentle, and it did little to soothe her already-frustrated nerves. In the meantime, she restudied the Summoning Charm detailed in The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 4. She’d managed to cast the spell with help from Galen’s wand last year, but she’d prefer to know how to do so without exhausting herself so badly.

By the time the Express pulled into Hogsmeade station, the rain was virtually a solid sheet of water, and even her sharp eyes had difficulty picking out the blur that was Hagrid - a telling statement, given the sheer size of the man, of just how bad the weather really was. The addition of lightning didn’t help. Out of the corner of her eye, she caught Galen’s scowl as he looked at the groundskeeper, and the small black bundles of first-year students, harkening to his call. Hermione turned to observe him more closely, as his eyes moved carefully over the group, and she realised that she could hear him doing a whispered head count.

What’s he up to?

Hermione received her answer as the compartment door opened, and Ginny Weasley appeared.

“Ginny, can the twins cast Shield Charms?” Galen asked abruptly, causing everyone to look at him, and the redhead in question to blink in astonishment.

“. . . Should be able to,” Ginny answered, when her brain finally caught up with the sudden interrogation. “They’re sixth-years.”

“Fetch them, please.” The phrasing was polite, but the tone was crisp enough to imply that Galen would not accept “no” for an answer, either from her or her brothers. Ginny simply nodded, and moved out in search of them.

“What’s on your mind?” Shirou asked.

“There are four people to a boat,” Galen said. “I count thirty new students - that’s ten boats. Counting Hagrid and the twins, that’s ten of us.”

“You want us to cross the lake?” Neville piped up. “In this weather?”

Ginny returned with the twins, but any questions they may have had were silenced by Galen’s answer to Neville’s.

“Those kids are eleven, maybe twelve, and probably away from home and family for the first time in their lives,” Galen said quietly. “They likely don’t know anyone at all, and any mundane-borns are probably still not sure that this magic stuff isn’t some huge joke at their expense. Regardless of their backgrounds, their first memorable experience of Hogwarts is going to be riding across a lake in a storm, being alone, soaked, frozen, and scared to death.” His voice turned sour. “Some welcome they’re getting, isn’t it?

“One of us to a boat,” Galen said firmly, “and everyone casts a Shield Charm. They don’t have to be strong, just enough to deflect the rain and take the chill out of the wind - but they do have to be big enough to cover all the kids. Hagrid’s got his coat and umbrella for his bunch.”

Hermione felt some of her anger dissipate as she was reminded that, as prickly as Galen could sometimes be, he could also be very kind.

“A little kindness,” she said softly, repeating what he often said when people teased him about the way he dealt with the castle ghosts - Moaning Myrtle in particular.

“Seems little enough to ask for,” Galen grunted.

“Blimey, are we sure you weren’t supposed to be a Hufflepuff?” Fred asked. At the glare he received, the redhead held up his hands. “Oi! I’m not saying I won’t do it! I’m not saying it isn’t a good idea, either - just a little unusual, considering how often you like to threaten a bloke!”

“Like now,” George chimed in.

Galen acquired the smirk the Weasley twins loved to see - because it meant trouble for whoever he was thinking of.

“Consider this an excuse to show off,” he told them. “The school troublemakers doing what the prefects ought to - how embarrassing is that?”

Trading a look with his twin, Fred mused, “It’s not our usual style -”

“ - but it has a certain appeal to it,” George finished. “Just a different way of making them look like fools, I suppose.”

“Shame we never thought of this while Percy was still here,” Fred added, grinning.

Galen’s smirk lightened into a smile. “Good. Now, let’s get down to Hagrid before he sets off, shall we?”

Hermione followed them out, and listened as Hagrid and Galen conversed. Having spent time with him in Care of Magical Creatures, she had a fairly good handle on Hagrid’s body language, and it quickly ran the gamut from startled to pleased. His response to Galen’s suggestion was audible even over the rain and wind.

“Right shame that I can’t give yeh points fer this,” the big man said, “but term hasn’t started yet. Right nice of yeh to offer, though. All righ’, first-years! These here students are goin’ ter ride with yeh in the boats, and try to keep yeh from gettin’ too much wetter! Three of yeh to a boat, and they’ll join in. The last three are wi’ me.”

Galen moved to pick three of the students - they did look so tiny and pitiful, huddled against the storm - and murmured something to them she couldn’t hear. His voice had dropped into a tone he’d used when dealing with Miranda when she was younger - warm and soft, reassuring. Once the first-years had settled in the boat, he drew his wand, pointed upward, and cast his signature spell. The Shield Charm that resulted was less opaque than usual, and dimmer, but it expanded over the boat like a soap bubble, clear enough to see through, so that they wouldn’t lose their first sight of the castle.

Hermione smiled at the awed expressions on the kids’ faces, and moved to take three of her own.

“Hello, I’m Hermione Granger,” she said, before adding with an impish smile, “and I’ll be your walking umbrella this evening.”

“My brother told me about you!” piped the smallest boy of the whole first-year group. It was hard to say whether he was shivering from cold, or excitement. “You’re the smartest girl in the school, aren’t you?”

Hermione felt her cheeks flush at the compliment. She liked the praise - on some levels, lived for it - but had never really learned how to deal with it.

“Your brother’s very kind,” Hermione said graciously, “but I don’t know about ‘smartest.’ I do well in my grades, however.” She scrutinised him. The exuberant expression seemed familiar . . . And then she had it. “He wouldn’t be Colin Creevey, would he?”

He was practically vibrating in place, now. “You remember him! I’m Dennis Creevey, by the way.”

She smiled warmly. “Pleased to meet you, Dennis. And the rest of you?”

“Natalie McDonald,” said a shy brunette.

“Stewart Ackerley,” said the other, also shivering.

“Glad to meet you.” She gestured to the boat. “If you’ll hop in?”

Once they were settled, Hermione drew her wand and murmured, “Protego.” She focussed on what she needed - a large shield, but none too strong. Just firm enough to deflect rain - and warm enough to heat the wind. It took some concentrating to form, and some to maintain it, but she managed it.

“There,” the witch said in satisfaction, with a pleased smile at the results of her efforts. “I can’t do anything about the choppy lake - sorry about that - but this should make the ride in a little easier, shouldn’t it?”

“Wow,” Stewart said in awe, watching as the raindrops ran down the sides of the silvery bubble. He sighed in relief a moment later, as the wind proved to be warmed enough as it passed through to begin drying them off.

“Will we learn to do this?” Dennis asked excitedly.

Hermione smile widened. “Not right away, I’m afraid. But I’m sure you will, eventually. I’m in fourth year this year - Gryffindor house.”

“Are all Gryffindors as nice as you?” Natalie asked quietly.

“Most of them,” Hermione said thoughtfully. “There are good points and bad points to every house - but I’ll let the Headmistress explain when we get there. It’s her prerogative, after all.”

Dennis stood up, apparently trying to get the best possible view, and Hermione said sharply, “Sit down! You could capsize us, and then we’d all be in trouble!”

He did so immediately, a sheepish grin on his face. She looked sternly at him for another moment, then shook her head. “You are Colin’s brother, aren’t you? Be grateful you’re riding with me, and not Takara or Ginny - they might’ve hexed you for that.”

“Takara Aozaki?” Dennis said. “Colin’s told me about her! Is she as pretty as her pictures?”

“Even prettier,” Hermione admitted honestly, and not without a hint of envy. “Ah! Look up ahead - there’s the castle!”

Through the gleaming raindrops created by the Shield Charm, Hogwarts seemed to be limned by silver light, a shining fortress in the storm. It looked even more impressive this way than her first sight of the school had been, and judging by the gasps of wonder, it was one these three would never forget.

Which is exactly as Galen wanted it. It was terribly sweet of him to want them to be able to enjoy . . . She broke off as inspiration hit. That’s it!

Hermione felt a wicked smile tug at the corners of her mouth, as the solution to her dating dilemma presented itself - a fait accompli that Galen would be utterly unable to worm his way out of.

Brilliant but scary, she thought to herself, pleased.

As the first-years disembarked in the cavern entrance, and Hagrid gathered them for the walk up the worn steps to the castle proper, Hermione cornered her most-favourite, most-irritating wizard against the wall.

“Speaking of the Yule Ball,” she said to him coolly. “I have every intention of attending. I also have every intention of turning down anyone who asks me to it, which means I will require your services as an escort.” She fixed him with a glare and added, “And I will be utterly unable to enjoy myself unless you do.”

She could see him processing that, looking for any sort of loophole - and failing to find any. He’d said he would escort any of them who wished to go and didn’t have a date, for whatever reason. He’d also said he’d do his best to let them enjoy the night. Therefore, by her terms, he’d have to enjoy it, too. She had him, and they both knew it.

“. . . Well-played, Hermione,” he muttered, sagging where he stood, even as there was a hint of amusement in his voice. “I yield.”

Hermione smiled, even as it took every ounce of her Occlumency training to not squeal in joy, even as she saw Takara shoot her an approving grin. She had a date - better yet, her preferred date! Life was wonderful!

. . . At least until they got upstairs, and she saw the stern look on Headmistress’ McGonagall’s face.

“The firs’-years, Headmistress McGonagall,” Hagrid said respectfully.

“Thank you, Hagrid,” she answered solemnly. “I shall take charge of them from here.” She then fixed the older students with a gimlet eye and said tartly, “I had wondered at the sudden disappearances of half of Gryffindor’s fourth-year students, particularly when I realised that most of the Weasleys were missing as well. And Miss Lovegood, of course.”

“Begging yer pardon, Headmistress,” Hagrid said nervously, “but they were nice enough ter offer some help with the firs’-years. Wasn’t a fit night ter ride in off the lake, and they did what they could ter keep the little ones warm and dry.”

To Hermione’s surprise, little Natalie piped up boldly, “It was very nice of them, Headmistress.”

There’s a Gryffindor if I ever saw one, Hermione mused.

“Indeed,” the elder witch agreed gravely. “A commendable show of school spirit - particular from you, Messrs Weasley. I now begin to wonder if you wouldn’t make suitable prefects.”

“Prefects?” Fred asked in astonishment.

“Us?” George repeated, bewildered.

The twins shuddered in unison. “No thanks!”

The corners of the Headmistress’ mouth quirked as she said drily, “Perhaps not. Nonetheless, even if it is unfortunately too early to grant points for your efforts, know that you’ve done Gryffindor proud tonight.”

The undercurrent of warmth in her voice made it clear to Hermione - though her station as Headmistress might require her to be impartial in the matter of houses, McGonagall nevertheless still regarded them as her lions - and she was proud of them. Hermione couldn’t help blushing under the praise, but she resisted the urge to preen.

“Now, please go in and be seated, so we can get on with the Sorting,” the elder witch instructed. “And the feast, of course.”

And so they did.






“Blimey, I’m knackered,” Fred sighed from the “visitor’s chair” of their usual corner of the Gryffindor table. “Awfully delicate work, that charm - takes it out of you to hold it like that.”

“But you lot look pretty fresh,” George noted from beside his twin. “What’s your secret?”

“Practice,” Galen said. “And the wide eyes when they saw real magic, right in front of them. Even the pure-blood students were a little bit impressed.”

“We’re impressed,” Fred admitted. “I mean, you and Shield Charms, not really a surprise. Anybody who can blast trolls with one can pull off something like this. And we know Shirou and Takara are good . . .”

“But Luna?” George continued. “Tiny little Luna Lovegood? Held her spell all the way across the lake, and she isn’t even breathing hard.”

Luna fixed the redhead with her dreamy gaze, and a matching smile. “It was fun - and only fair, after all. Some older students were very nice to me on my first trip to Hogwarts. Why shouldn’t I return the favour?”

The twins shrugged. What could you say to that?

Galen ignored the conversation in favour of watching Hermione. She’d caught him neatly, he had to admit. He’d never considered that she’d ignore anyone who asked her out. The only way out of it would’ve been to break her heart outright - and he’d been under that hammer himself too many times to do it to her. And if she wanted him to enjoy himself in order to be happy, who was he to ruin her night?

Maybe the shock of Krum’s asking her out will change her mind. And if not, well - we already know she looks bloody stunning in that dress . . .

The witch in question whipped around as Sir Nicholas explained to Ron Weasley what Peeves had been doing to stir up the house-elves. Galen had been half-expecting this when Ginny had told them that poor Winky’s fate was the same as it had been before.

“Hermione,” he said softly, and she focussed on him. “One crusade at a time. You’re already working with LAPIS - and if you can prove it’s a success over the long term, people will be more willing to listen to your opinions on house-elves - and the werewolf percentage of the population will be likely to support your initiatives, since they’d owe you. In the meantime, research the best ways to help house-elves - but don’t try starting up another group so soon. If all you have to work with is outrage, they’ll dismiss you as just another crackpot. Get the facts, first.”

Hermione scowled - she didn’t like the idea of leaving them to suffer in bondage - but his logic was as inescapable as hers had been earlier. An impetuous reaction wouldn’t serve house-elves as well as a calmly reasoned, intricately researched plan, and if she spread herself too thin, trying to help the werewolves and the elves, she might fail them both. Hermione nodded reluctantly, and he smiled - crisis averted, or at least delayed.

Galen paid little attention to McGonagall’s remarks following the feast about banned items, or the Forbidden Forest being (surprise!) forbidden. He was aware of her announcement about Quidditch being cancelled for the year, by the groans from the Weasley contingent - except for Ginny, who’d already known. No, his attention was fixed on one Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody, who was sitting at the staff table - and who hadn’t been supposed to arrive until just after the Quidditch announcement.

Then again, that was with Barty Crouch impersonating him. Ginny didn’t mention her dad being called to a disturbance, either. Maybe that won’t be a problem this year - maybe we changed enough. Certainly, if I was a Death Eater, I’d be reconsidering my lifestyle choice after having a bunch of my buddies gunned down at the World Cup.

It had amused Galen that one of Kiritsugu’s victims had been Augustus Rookwood, the former Unspeakable who’d advised Voldemort about the Department of Mysteries’ layout, and the operating procedures surrounding the Hall of Prophecies. If nothing else, that would make next year a lot harder for the Dark Lord, if next year needed to be worried about at all.

Sirius hasn’t passed on any messages - and with luck, now he’s got Kreacher to do it, if he had to. Worst case scenario, he’s been found out by Voldemort - or some well-meaning citizen - and killed. Second worst case, he hasn’t had the chance to report in yet. But best case, there’s no plan in motion. As with the basilisk, hard to tell until Hallowe’en, I suppose. Since none of us has a security clearance, technically Kiritsugu and Shiki could get in trouble for leaking information to us about a classified op. As per usual, we’re back to “wait and see.”

“I will now turn the floor over to our Transfiguration Professor, Albus Dumbledore,” McGonagall was saying, “as he needs to speak in his capacity as Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards, as a representative of the Department of International Magical Cooperation.”

“Thank you, Minerva,” Dumbledore proclaimed as he rose. “We are to have the honour of hosting a very exciting event over the coming months, an event which has not been held for over a century. It is my very great pleasure to inform you that the Triwizard Tournament will be taking place at Hogwarts this year.”

“You’re JOKING!” Fred exploded, which provoked laughter throughout the Great Hall.

Dumbledore chuckled. “I am not joking, Mister Weasley - though now you mention it, I did hear an excellent one over the summer about a troll, a hag and a leprechaun who all go into a bar - ”

McGonagall coughed pointedly.

“Er - but maybe this is not the time . . .” Dumbledore murmured. “No . . . Where was I? Ah yes, the Triwizard Tournament . . . Well, some of you will not know what this Tournament involves so I hope those who do know will forgive me for giving a short explanation, and allow their attention to wander freely.

“The Triwizard Tournament was first established some seven hundred years ago, as a friendly competition between the three largest schools of European wizardry - ”

Interesting, Galen thought. Not the three best schools, or even the three oldest, but the three largest. I wonder if there’s a place other than Hogwarts that offers a better magical education in Britain? He snorted. Then again, there would almost have to be, wouldn’t there?

The thought allowed him to tune out Dumbledore’s droning on about the Tournament’s being hosted in rotation between the schools every five years, until the death toll became unacceptable. Hermione would’ve normally chimed in about that, but she’d been warned in advance.

“I’m going for it!” Fred whispered, and Galen wished him luck - especially knowing that he likely wouldn’t even succeed at entering. Galen did note one interesting detail - Dumbledore said that the other schools’ “short-list” of candidates would arrive at Hogwarts - presumably, their seventeen-year-olds, or at least those interesting in entering.

Which makes Gabrielle Delacour’s “participation” even more suspect. How the hell did Beauxbatons just happen to have Fleur’s eight-year-old sister on hand as a hostage for the second task? If they could use her, why use Krum’s date to the Yule Ball, as opposed to, say, his parents, or some other relative? Cedric’s dad would’ve certainly volunteered to support his son. And if Gabrielle was used with her parents’ permission, what the hell kind of parents would permit their eight-year-old daughter to be submerged in a lake as a prize?

Oh, well. Illogical as it was, it didn’t seem likely to be a problem - Hermione had indicated that she wouldn’t end up a hostage, and without Harry Potter (and especially Barty Crouch), there was no need for a fourth Champion. Ergo, he could just shrug and move on.

Instead, he contemplated the new Gryffindors. Natalie McDonald had been Sorted in - unsurprising, given her willingness to stand up to McGonagall. So had Dennis Creevey, which augured well for Miranda, until one considered Lily and Petunia Evans. As far as Galen could tell, there was literally a fifty-fifty chance for his favourite poppet to end up in Hogwarts, and he hoped she - and Hermione - could live with whichever way the coin landed.

Thoughts of Miranda reminded him of his promise, and Galen mused whimsically, If nothing else, escorting Hermione to the Yule Ball will make giving her a “boyfriend kiss” that much easier.






The next day, Shirou gazed at the timetable that was handed out. Fridays had History of Magic first (thank God Galen and Hermione loved the subject - Binns bored him to tears), followed by a short break, then Charms until lunch. Shirou could live with that - Charms was the subject that led to enchanting objects with magical properties, a key component of reviving Unlimited Blade Works. He expected to excel at Charms this year, thanks to his summer studies - Remus Lupin had been especially helpful, in teaching him some of the tricks that had gone into the creation of the Marauders’ Map. After lunch, however, came a double Potions class - with the Slytherins.

That was going to be hard, he admitted. Malfoy had left them more or less alone after Galen had forced him to swear an Unbreakable Vow about his lycanthropy - he was too terrified of Galen biting him to risk giving him an excuse, Shirou supposed - but Snape . . . Snape had been in St. Mungo’s Hospital for months, healing the damage that Takara’s Occlumency defences had done to his hand.

Or, more accurately, his mind, Shirou corrected himself. It just manifested in that hand.

From everything he’d been told of Severus Snape - hell, from everything he’d observed - the man was petty, vindictive, and spiteful in the extreme. In this timeline, he even lacked the mitigating excuse of acting to protect Harry Potter to redeem his behaviour, and even that excuse was arguable.

He allowed an Order member to be captured and murdered - in fact, I think he led her into the trap that killed her. As a spy, he never seems to have passed on useful intelligence - like Voldemort’s location. He allowed the use of Unforgivable Curses on students as punishments while Headmaster here. Even if one argues it was to maintain his cover, he only turned spy when Lily Evans died, despite having obtained Voldemort’s promise of mercy, and going to Dumbledore when he decided not to trust the promise. At no point did he choose to make a stand on principle, he just obeyed whoever held the most power and influence at the time. Severus Snape is on Severus Snape’s side, period - he’ll go to whomever - and do whatever - will best serve his interests.

And as a result, he was infinitely more dangerous to them than almost any other wizard. And after last year, he had more reason to hate them than ever.

That’s going to make today very interesting, in the ancient Chinese sense.

Still, Shirou was prepared. As much as his idealism had been revived over the years, and he wanted to save everyone, the decision was easy. If it ever really came down to protecting his friends, or allowing Severus Snape to survive - there wasn’t one.

We’ve always figured we’d need to kill him, eventually - well, Galen just wanted to, but he had good reason to assume there would be an actual need. It was always a matter of when. Maybe this will be the year . . . Maybe this will be the day.

After being so long in suspense, he almost looked forward to finding out.

Kieran
March 29th, 2011, 08:09 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 Goblet of Fire, but I trust in the intelligence of my readers (and the availability of the books) to recognise them when they see them.



Chapter 6 - Lesson Plans



September 2 - 5, 1994






Takara breezed through most of the first day. History of Magic would never be her favourite course, but she made more effort to stay awake than most students - the benefit of ingrained discipline. And she had no real worry that her marks would suffer, given Hermione’s obsessive study habits and Galen’s genuine love of history. Charms was a favourite class - one of her better subjects, too - so she held no fear of its workload. However, she would admit, to her friends at least, that Potions class now made her a little nervous. Not because of the subject matter - barring Defence Against the Dark Arts, it was her best class - but because of the instructor.

Whatever his skills as a potions brewer (and Takara would admit they were remarkable, even if his teaching ability was inversely so), Severus Snape was a thoroughly unpleasant human being. He made no effort to appear otherwise, and took visible pleasure in tormenting students outside of Slytherin house, such as Neville - often simply because he could. The once-bullied student (deservedly or not was up for debate, though Galen’s opinion was a solid “Yes”) had become the biggest bully on the block, and he exercised both his authority and his powers with relative impunity. Or at least, he had - until they’d come along.

One of Snape’s favourite activities was using Legilimency to probe students’ minds. Knowing better, they’d never made eye contact with the man, until they’d learned Occlumency sufficiently to defend themselves against it. Still, last year he’d attempted to probe Shirou’s mind - and run smack into an aggressive defence technique that caused him considerable pain. Then, not having learned his lesson the first time, he’d tried again on Takara - and this time the defence had been even more aggressive, potentially crippling the man. He’d been out for the rest of the year, undergoing treatments and therapy to restore the use of his hand. But he was back, and she had to wonder just how Snape was going to react to their presence now.

We’ve proven that he can eventually learn, Takara thought. He stopped trying direct methods after running into my Occlumency defences, and instead outed Remus Lupin as a werewolf, and very nearly got him removed from Hogwarts - and Galen along with him. The question is, has he learned to leave well enough alone?

If not, there was no question that Takara would be his new Target No. 1, having successfully defended herself from his mental invasion - and hurt him, to boot.

If he tries . . . She shrugged mentally. It’s not as though he’s actually useful. He doesn’t actually teach - he just writes instructions on the blackboard and berate students for making mistakes. As a spy for the Order of the Phoenix, well, we’ve got our own - and he’s more trustworthy, to boot. So there really isn’t much point to Severus Snape walking around any longer, is there?

Five years ago, such thoughts would have horrified her - but five years ago, she hadn’t lived through a Grail War, hadn’t fought trolls or Dementors, or lived with the knowledge that a war with a Dark wizard was on the horizon. And five years ago, she hadn’t known her true heritage. Though she bore the Aozaki name with love and pride - and considered all those who held it her family, be it by blood or law - she was, and always had been, Takara Nanaya. And the Nanaya name was synonymous with death - a fact Severus Snape would learn, if he chose to test her again.

The Potions classroom in the dungeons was quiet, dark and cheerless, as usual. Given what she’d heard of magic in her original world, Takara thought them a fitting form of Reality Marble for the master who resided there.

“Antidotes,” intoned the man in question, his black eyes glittering, “are a common use of potions, and range from the simplistic to the extraordinarily complex. Their importance, however, cannot be overstated - knowing how to prepare the proper antidote can, of course, save your life. From now until the latter part of November, we will be focussing on them - first in the study and brewing of them, and then, finally, you will create your own. You will compile a recipe and brew it, and its quality will be tested.”

He made an expression which might have been called a smile, but held a little too much malicious glee to qualify, and added, “Needless to say, your grades - and quite possibly your lives - will depend upon its efficaciousness.”

Takara felt a sudden ball of ice form in her chest.

That sounds like a marvellous opportunity to murder me - or any of us - and be found completely blameless. Yes, I’d definitely say he’s learned.






But if Potions class brought heightened tensions regarding poisoning (as well as an intensive study of antidotes) over the weekend, the weekend itself brought good news.

“Mad-Eye Moody is, for better or worse, Mad-Eye Moody,” Galen announced, flourishing the Marauders’ Map.

Indeed, everyone could see the dot on it labelled “Alastor Moody.”

“So that means . . .?” Takara prompted.

“Any number of things,” Galen answered. “Barty Crouch could be in another disguise, but he doesn’t seem to be on the Map. Hell, maybe Voldemort never got his hands on him - from what I remember, it was pure luck that Wormtail got his hands on the Ministry employee that knew he was alive in the first place. “ He turned to Ginny. “Your dad ever mention a lady named Bertha Jorkins?”

“Only that she’s been missing a while,” Ginny prompted. “Dad was discussing it with Ludo Bagman at the campsite, not long after we arrived.”

“All right, so that tracks with what we know . . .” Galen shrugged. “But she was wandering when Pettigrew found her, so maybe she is, still. Maybe it relied on Pettigrew instead of Sirius doing the job. Heck, maybe Voldemort was never found, and is still wandering - not like we can read the reports. It could be any number of things, really - the sequence of events for the Tournament, not to mention everything that follows, is so bloody Dickensian - ”

“Language,” Hermione reminded him sharply.

“Sorry - I mean that it relies on such a ridiculously long chain of improbable coincidences . . .” Galen shook his head. “The timeline as I know it is a house of cards, fragilely structured and easily collapsed if you hit it hard enough - and we’ve made some fairly big impacts already. It’s entirely possible that we have nothing to worry about, this year.” He smiled sardonically, adding, “Of course, since we’re not stupid enough to believe that, we’ll keep an eye out. But so far, all’s quiet on the western front - so to speak.”

And with that in mind, the Gryffindors went about their schedule. Herbology the next Monday morning was tricky - working with Bubotubers was naturally hazardous, given their caustic pus - but they managed. Care of Magical Creatures was even more dangerous, because Hagrid had somehow gotten his hands on Blast-Ended Skrewts - but he’d put in adequate safety precautions, having learned his lesson last year. Even Malfoy left them alone - uncharacteristic for him, and somewhat suspicious, but nothing they could point to as threatening . . . Yet, at least. Still, with the sensation of waiting for the other shoe to drop hanging over her head, it was with no small amount of dread that Takara walked with Neville to Divination after lunch - for a double period, no less.

Oh joy, Takara thought to herself as she settled onto a chair. My absolute dream come true.

It might’ve been a different matter if Divination had promised to help her harness her Sight - but while Western methodology and beliefs weren’t wholly different from their Eastern counterparts, neither were they fully compatible. Takara would have had grave doubts about being able to awaken a Japanese form of sight using European methods even under a competent teacher - and she had Trelawney, instead.

“Good day,” said the teacher in question, her voice akin to Luna’s in its dreaminess, but lacking the musical lilt the blonde had. “You are preoccupied, my dear - my Inner Eye sees past your brave face to the troubled soul within. And I regret to say that your worries are not baseless. I see difficult times ahead for you, alas - most difficult. I fear the thing you dread will indeed come to pass . . . And perhaps sooner than you think . . .”

It’s a carnival trick, as Galen put it, she told herself fiercely. Dim lighting, burning incense, dire predications meant to prey upon the mind - but sufficiently vague that she can’t be called to task for anything.

She knew that, but given her state of mind, it was hard to fully believe it. For whether Trelawney knew it or not, “difficult times” were indeed, ahead - and Takara couldn’t shake the feeling that, despite everything they knew, or thought they did, the times ahead were more difficult than they believed.

As if in answer to her worry, Shirou’s mark began to burn on her hand.






On the whole, Neville Longbottom would not describe himself as particularly special. Not in comparison to some of his friends - the girl who was the youngest Seeker in a century, or the other girl who was the brightest witch of her age, or the boy who killed a millennium-old basilisk with a sword at twelve - or the boy whose Shield Charms blunted that same basilisk’s killing glare. While those same friends consistently assured him that they valued him and his friendship - and indeed, Neville felt fairly confident about himself, knowing he could turn into a huge bear, and with the skill his new wand allowed him - he knew he was strictly “second-string,” as he’d heard Galen use the term. He was good, but no one particularly special. Except . . .

Except that once, people had thought he was. People like Lord Voldemort, who had massed his followers and led an attack on his home, to kill him and his family. And people who had fought to protect him, like Albus Dumbledore . . . And like Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody. Dumbledore might have defeated Voldemort, but his hadn’t been the only fight that day, and while Neville may have lost his parents to Bellatrix Lestrange and her family, but his parents hadn’t been the only one to suffer. Moody had been one of the Aurors to respond to the Death Eaters’ assault, and had fought - and lost an eye - repelling them.

His Gran had raised him to revere his parents - there was no other word for it - for their sacrifices, and their suffering, but had also made certain that he never forgot what others had given or lost that day as well. It had made his childhood hard, knowing everything that had been done to save his life, and being thought a Squib for so long, as though he’d betrayed that effort. Hogwarts hadn’t been much better - with Dumbledore himself in the castle, and all his accidents. But Dumbledore’s actions over Neville’s first two years had proven that time had caught up with the old wizard, and he wasn’t all that he once was.

So as much as his Gryffindor year-mates were excited over their first DADA class, having heard the older students rave about it earlier, it was with more than a hint of trepidation that Neville stood outside the classroom, worried that another of his childhood heroes would prove to have feet of clay. And that worry increased when he saw Galen silently draw his wand.

“What is it?” Neville whispered in Japanese.

Galen responded in the same language. “Moody’s got a reputation for . . . “ He hesitated, before settling on, “unconventional teaching methods. I want to be ready for anything.”

Neville nodded, and drew his own wand. The other three Gryffindors of their group already had, and they settled into a loose guard formation in their seats, as they’d learned to over the summer. It wasn’t ideal - standing would have been better - but it was the best they could manage. They all tensed slightly when the distinctive clunk of Moody’s wooden leg became audible as he entered the classroom. Takara had the best peripheral vision and reflexes, so she watched him, and they watched her for reaction cues. Standard procedure was for he and Galen to cover the others with Shield Charms while they went on the offensive - usually Takara laying down rapid cover fire while Shirou went for more devastating hits and Hermione alternated as necessary . . .

Moody worked his way down to the room, turned, and scanned them all. His scars were terrible to behold, and his mechanical eye spun and whizzed as it took them all in.

“You can put those away,” he said gruffly. “Those books. You won’t be needing those . . . The wands, either.”

“After you’ve sat down,” Galen said under his breath, but apparently Moody heard him, because he grimaced - at least, Neville thought it was. He might have been smiling.

“I know you, Aozaki - you’ve got your mother’s hair and your father’s eyes,” Moody growled. “I know Longbottom, too - very much your dad’s son. So if what Professor Lupin told me is correct, that makes the other girl with the wand Granger, and it makes you either Salvatore or Einzbern.”

“Salvatore,” Galen said coolly, making no effort to hide his constant appraisal of Moody’s stature and movements, as though he expected the man to try and draw a wand at any second. Neville did the same.

Moody’s smile increased as he took in the combat-aware stares. “Professor Lupin’s letter said this class had a very thorough grounding in tackling Dark creatures - Boggarts, Red Caps, Hinkypunks, Grindylows, kappa and werewolves. He also said I’d enjoy teaching it . . . And I’m beginning to think he was right.”

Moody sat down, and began calling roll. His attention seemingly absorbed, Galen holstered his wand, and the rest did likewise. Once rollcall was done, Moody continued his lecture

“But you’re behind - very behind - on dealing with curses. So I’m here to bring you up to scratch on what wizards can do to each other. So - straight into it. Curses. They come in many strengths and forms. Now, according to the Ministry of Magic, I’m supposed to teach you counter-curses and leave it at that. I’m not supposed to show you what illegal Dark curses look like until you’re in the sixth year. You’re not supposed to be old enough to deal with it. I say, the sooner you know what you’re up against, the better. How are supposed to defend yourself against something you’ve never seen? A wizard who’s about to put an illegal curse on you isn’t going to tell you what he’s about to do. He’s not going to do it nice and polite to your face. You need to be prepared. You need to be alert and watchful. You need to put that away, Miss Brown, when I’m talking.”

Neville’s lips quirked as the named witch blushed. He did note, however, that Moody had just given away that his magical eye could see through wood - good to know, if it ever came down to a fight. Not that he thought it would, but after Quirrell’s incompetence, Lockhart’s buffoonery, and the inherent danger of Lupin’s lycanthropy, Neville wasn’t willing to put anything past a DADA teacher - and Moody was said to be fairly paranoid . . .

Certainly, the rest of the lesson proved that he was more than a little mad - demonstrating the Unforgivable Curses in a classroom? Neville shuddered when the Cruciatus was performed, never having imagined before that a spider could scream, and knowing that his father and mother had suffered the same, twisting and screaming . . .

“Incendio,” came the snarl from beside him, and Neville had the sense that there was a hesitation to it, as though Galen wanted to add something, but stopped himself. Not that it mattered - all that remained of the spider was a scorch mark on Moody’s desk.

Moody scowled, but his magical eye tracked their group, noting that more than one of them once again had their wand in hand. Neville’s trembled slightly - the burst of flames had shocked him into being angry at seeing that curse in use, and he ached to make someone pay for it.

“Five points from Gryffindor,” Moody said gruffly. “You’re lucky I like you lot, or it’d have been a week’s detention, too.”

They put their wands away one at a time - Moody’s casual use of Unforgivable Curses, meant educationally or not, marked him as dangerous, and by now they were too well-trained (and experienced) to blithely ignore that. The man noted their hesitation, and gave them another wintry smile - he was too experienced not to recognise what they were doing, and why.

He went on to demonstrate the Killing Curse on a second spider, and explaining his reasoning for using the curses - that they had to know the worst they could face, to know what they needed to avoid. Neville thought the explanation would’ve served better at the beginning of the lesson, but he was still a bit shaky. The Cruciatus curse had damaged his life too badly to just blithely shrug off, and his mental state was not improved when Moody called them all to stay at the end of the class, before they headed off to dinner. There was a tense moment when the Defence professor pulled out his wand, but he merely applied a series of privacy and security charms - some of which Neville actually recognised, having seen his friends study and practice them, and their counters.

“As I told you, Professor Lupin wrote me a letter,” Moody announced. “Mentioned all of you lot by name, and a few more. Said you were all too clever by half, powerful as blazes, and bloody dangerous when you were of a mind to be.” He stared at them all intently, magical eye visibly focussing on each of them before it moved onto the next. “After today, I agree with him.

“Aozaki,” he snapped suddenly, staring at Takara. “I worked with your parents once, and I wouldn’t want to take them on unless I had a dragon to soften them up with, first.” He whirled on Shirou. “Einzbern. Never met your dad, but the fact that he’s Aozaki’s partner, when they bother to assign one to either of them, is all I really need to know, isn’t it? Fact is, I don’t think there’s an Auror force in the world that wouldn’t snap you two up on the chance that you’re half as good as your parents - and with what I’ve been told you’ve done here, you’ll be a damned sight better than ‘half as good.’”

“Salvatore,” Moody continued, “the wild card. No combat background - unless you count being a bloody werewolf - but with Shield Charms that can stop trolls and basilisks, and the fact that you can keep up with these two . . . That tells me you could have your pick of offers, too. Granger’s got the sharpest mind going, Lupin says, and Longbottom’s only problem was with his wand and his confidence - how good you are now, we’ll see. But talent’s only one part of anything. It’s what you can do. As for what you did . . .” Moody’s expression was grim. “You worked together, covered each other. You were prepared. You were alert and watchful. You didn’t hesitate to slap me down when you thought I was out of line, and you weren’t going to hesitate if you had to do it permanently.”

“Lupin was right - you lot are bloody dangerous, in the right frame of mind.” He smiled that wintry smile again. “And I am going to enjoy teaching you.”

It was then, with those words, that Neville’s worst fears about his professor were confirmed. Like Albus Dumbledore, time had taken its toll on Alastor Moody. But where Dumbledore was showing signs of senility, Moody appeared to have gone completely around the twist.






The summons to the Headmistress’ office came at dinner the next day. Hermione thought she understood why, when she considered who had received it - herself, and Takara. There were a number of common elements linking the two of them, but only one that Hermione was aware of which would concern Professor McGonagall in her capacity as Headmistress, a fact which the older witch confirmed with the first words out of her mouth after they’d sat down.

“The Wolfsbane Potion,” McGonagall began, “has been the responsibility of Professor Snape since Mister Salvatore’s arrival at Hogwarts. However, given the events of last year, it has been proven that you two ladies are more than capable of producing it in sufficient quality and quantity for his needs.”

Hermione felt the blush rising to her cheeks, and it only intensified at Takara’s emphatic nod.

“That being the case,” the Headmistress continued, “I think it wise to assign you two the permanent duty - with an eye to teaching Mister Salvatore the manner of brewing it for his own benefit, of course - rather than absorb Professor Snape’s valuable teaching time with the task. Provided you are willing, ladies?”

Hermione traded glances with Takara. “I don’t have a problem with it, Headmistress.”

Indeed, she didn’t. Successfully managing to repeatedly brew the cheaper version Professor Snape had devised had restored her confidence in her ability to manage difficult potions - which had been suffering after the side-effects of her last two attempts in that area.

Takara, for her part, shrugged. “It’ll look good on the ‘practical experience’ part of my application for Healer training.”

Hermione was relatively certain that Takara was deliberately making light of things - she knew that the Japanese witch took Galen’s well-being fairly seriously. After all, why would she be so irritated at his being hurt all the time if she didn’t? Fortunately, the Headmistress seemed to take Takara’s comment in the humourous spirit it was intended.

“Excellent,” McGonagall said. “I was concerned that with your O.W.L.s coming up next year, you might not want to spare the time - but you’re quite right, Miss Aozaki, in that practical experience brewing complex medicinal potions can only help your application.” Her eyes twinkled in the manner of Albus Dumbledore as she added, “I can only suppose that the ability to brew Master-level potions might aid your O.W.L. scores, as well.”

“Really?” Hermione couldn’t resist asking the question, or doing so with excitement in her voice. It was just in her nature to seek out that extra credit option.

“The examiners would certainly take it into account,” McGonagall replied with a smile.

Had Hermione been a few years younger, she would have been bouncing in place from excitement at the knowledge - it had happened before. Time had tempered some of her more exuberant reactions, however, and she managed to keep from doing anything more than smiling widely.

“I will admit I have little personal knowledge of the Wolfsbane Potion’s requirements,” the Headmistress continued, “but when you are ready to begin, please report to Madam Pomfrey.”

Hermione blinked in confusion. “Madam Pomfrey, Headmistress?”

The elder witch nodded. “As the Wolfsbane Potion is medicinal, she has requested instruction on how to brew it properly, using your simplified recipe - the skill may become necessary in the future.”

Now Hermione was really confused. “I don’t understand. We’ll take care of Galen, or if we teach him, he’ll do it himself - ”

“For such a critical potion, the more people capable of brewing it, the better,” McGonagall said firmly. “And while you may handle Mister Salvatore’s needs, what of all the other students, or when you’ve graduated?”

Takara interrupted her. “Other students?”

Headmistress McGonagall lips pressed into a thin line for a moment, before she drew her wand and used many of the same privacy spells Professor Moody had earlier in the week.

“You are well aware, I’m sure, of the prejudices our society holds towards werewolves,” she began. “To some extent, the reaction is rightly ingrained - werewolves are, by themselves, dangerous creatures. When Professor Dumbledore undertook to bring Remus Lupin to the school as a student, the faculty was not at all pleased by his decision - and I admit, I was one of those who disapproved. Still, he was the Headmaster, and a great man, and so I chose to support his decision, however much I disagreed with the danger of allowing a werewolf in close proximity to the students.”

A corner of Hermione’s mind considered that this might explain why the then-Deputy Headmistress had allowed the presence of Fluffy in her first year, with so little security to prevent students from encountering him - the pattern of acceptance had been set years before. The rest of her was absorbed in McGonagall’s story.

“Remus Lupin proved to be one of the most remarkable pupils I have ever taught - and engaging on a personal level. I felt somewhat ashamed for my earlier beliefs, and thus, when Professor Dumbledore proposed to allow Mister Salvatore entry to the school, I supported his decision wholeheartedly. And while Galen Salvatore is not the mild-mannered boy that Remus Lupin was” - she paused as the two girls giggled at the very idea -“I believe that his academic scores prove that to not offer him the benefit of a Hogwarts education would be a tragic waste of potential. And that does not even take into account the events of the last three years - at the very least, I am quite certain that you, Miss Granger, would not be alive today save for his presence here.”

Hermione nodded solemnly. That thought, that memory, was never far from her mind. Any time she was physically close to Galen, impressions of it surfaced - the brush of his black robe against her cheek as he stood between her and the troll, his voice ringing with desperation and defiance as he yelled an incantation, the tip of his wand blazing like a tiny silver star . . . And most of all, the all-encompassing warmth of his Shield Charm as it surrounded her, standing brilliant and impenetrable against the terrifying monster.

She abruptly became aware that she was blushing, and glanced downward. It was silly, still, to cling to that. She was fifteen, not twelve. That kind of hero worship was silly, and Galen was far from perfect. He was cynical, stubborn, argumentative, very quick to anger- and downright terrifying when he was angry . . .

Intelligent, though often thick - but what boys aren’t? Hemione’s mind responded. Brave - oh yes, brave, though reckless, too - he lets himself get hurt far too often. He’ll never grace a magazine cover, but he looks nice enough in the right set of robes. And occasionally, when he looks at me . . .

Hermione shook her head, as though trying to hurl the thoughts out - now was not the time. She forced herself to concentrate on what the Headmistress was saying.

“Remus Lupin was forced to attend Hogwarts in complete secrecy regarding his condition, and extraordinary measures were needed to ensure both that secrecy, and the safety of the school,” McGonagall said. “With the discovery of the Wolfsbane Potion, the dangers were lessened, but the student body is still unaware of Mister Salvatore’s condition. However, with the events of the last year - the refinement of the potion and the rise of certain social pressures - it is my hope that one day werewolves might attend Hogwarts openly, that they and our society might benefit from their inclusion and participation. In that regard, Mister Salvatore is something of a test case - and one of the reasons I watch you as closely as I do.” She smiled thinly. “Convincing the Board of Governors of the plan’s viability will be far easier with a successful example to point to.”

Hermione blinked. She’d never realised her favourite teacher had such ambitions. She wondered if McGonagall would be interested in joining LAPIS, and opened her mouth.

McGonagall glanced at Hermione, eyes twinkling once more, and said, “I’ve seen that look on many a student’s face before over the years, Miss Granger - you want to ask me for something. If it’s what I expect you do, I think you will find your answer over my left shoulder.”

Puzzled, Hermione glanced in the direction indicated - and stilled. In a glass case on the wall, resting tip down on a cushion of scarlet velvet, was the Sword of Gryffindor, the rubies in its hilt gleaming as brightly as the day Shirou had slain the basilisk. On reflection, its presence really shouldn’t have been a surprise. What was a surprise was the second, smaller case next to it. On its own cushion of black velvet was one of her LAPIS badges.

“I have designated that wall for trophies surrounding significant student achievements,” the Headmistress said quietly. “And that badge was sold to me by Augusta Longbottom, who has been an anti-werewolf bigot for as many years as I’ve known her.” The elder witch smiled. “Certainly, Miss Granger, achieving her change of heart seems significant to me - and it gives me hope that the goals you’ve set for your group, and I for Hogwarts, may yet become a reality.”

Elf
March 29th, 2011, 08:09 PM
Yesssss! I'm excited. XD

Kieran
March 29th, 2011, 08:09 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 Goblet of Fire, but I trust in the intelligence of my readers (and the availability of the books) to recognise them when they see them.



Chapter 7 - Hermione’s Gifts



September 18 - 19, 1994






The ground was muddy, and therefore slick, uneven, and often unexpectedly adhesive, but Ginny nimbly kept her balance as she circled her opponent, warily watching for any sign of an opening in her defences or a preparation to attack. Unfortunately, Luna was the most unpredictable of them - reading her was almost impossible, and half the time she managed it, Ginny was almost convinced that Luna let her do it.

Sparring against any of her friends was fun - as the youngest Weasley and the only girl, she’d been virtually forbidden to roughhouse with her brothers as a young child. But more than that, each of her friends had their own distinct fighting preferences in physical and magical combat - and they often differed between the two. Fighting Takara, for example, was simple: she relied on speed and evasion in both areas, above any other trait. That said, she was so fast, and so agile, that even knowing what she was liable to do didn’t help much. Neville, on the other hand, was a defensive spellcaster, using shields and counterspells to great effect - but in a hand-to-hand fight, he relied on his powerful build for heavy hits and grappling techniques.

Shirou was also a power fighter, at least when it came to magic - high-impact spells at long ranges. But he was more agile in close quarters, though his build still favoured the heavy stuff. Galen was all about defence, both ways - what he didn’t block, he countered, and he wasn’t above taking a minor hit to land a solid blow, or if it tired his opponent out quicker. And his endurance was unreal - only Shirou or Neville came close. Hermione was tricky, literally. She used some of Galen’s magical fighting style - a wide variety of counters - mixed with her seemingly-limitless repertoire, and balanced her physical one between Shirou’s and Takara’s, hitting hard where she could, and otherwise dancing around her opponents. Luna, too, favoured agility in her fights, but was more like Hermione, otherwise - complex or obscure spells, hard to predict or counter.

Ginny herself used a magical style like Shirou’s, and Takara’s on the physical level. Partly, it was to emulate the two people she most admired, but her choice for hand-to-hand had a lot to do with the fact that she was still petite in build, without much muscle mass. She didn’t have the ability to dish out - or take - a lot of hits, especially hard ones. Neither did Luna, at the moment. So they mimicked Takara more than either of “her boys,” but knew that a future growth spurt might see them change strategies.

For now, though, Ginny decided to pull a feint, just to see if she could get Luna to react, and launched a punch at the other girl’s head. To the redhead’s surprise, Luna’s hand snapped out quickly in a stabbing motion, and Ginny retracted her arm with a gasp. Luna had somehow managed to hit a nerve cluster that had her entire forearm tingling - and in that moment of hesitation, the blonde dropped down and scythed Ginny’s legs out from under her in a sweep. Ginny, however, had already brought her hands back, and rolled away and back up, assuming a defensive posture as Luna charged forward. This allowed her to catch her friend’s kicking leg within her hands, and with a twist, send Luna sprawling into the mud.

“You know, if one of you wasn’t our sister . . .” came a merry voice.

“. . . We could make a lot of money selling tickets to this,” completed the same voice, from a slightly different direction.

“We still might,” Fred admitted.

“But then we’d either have to share with you,” George continued.

“Or face Mum when she finds out,” Fred finished.

“Pass,” they both said.

Ginny opened her mouth to reply - and shrieked as Luna took her down with another leg sweep.

“Luna!” she exclaimed as she struggled to her feet, her hair coated in mud. “We were on a break!”

“Oh, I’m sorry,” her friend said dreamily. “I didn’t hear you call for a time out.”

She could feel her face redden as she realised that she hadn’t, and Ginny admitted grudgingly. “Fair point. Shall we head back, since we both really need showers now?”

“Unless you’d like to do some target practice,” Luna offered. She gazed at the twins with a dreamy - and oddly disturbing - smile. “Hermione’s found a very interesting hex involving boils . . .”

The twins shuddered. “We give!”

Ginny grinned. “Well, well . . . Don’t tell me you’re afraid of Luna?”

“No,” Fred said. “But if she hexes us, we’d have to prank her - ”

“- To uphold our reputation. But if we prank Luna - ”

“You’ll get us,” Fred finished. “And there are seven of you, and two of us.”

“And while it is us two, it’s you seven,” George said with a shudder. “Not good odds at all.”

“Besides, we’d like to discuss what brought us out here.”

“And that would be . . .?” Ginny prodded.

“Hermione,” George answered.

“More specifically, her birthday.”

Ginny blinked. “It’s tomorrow.”

“We know,” Fred said. “And she was really brilliant to us this summer, helping us refine some of the products for our joke shop.”

“We’d have had to pay people to test them, otherwise - but she was all the quality control we needed. We’re ages ahead of where we thought we’d be in the planning, now.”

“So we wanted to thank her, and figured we’d ask if you lot were going to throw her a party this year. We’d offer to do fireworks, decorations, and such.”

Ginny blinked. While they’d celebrated each others’ birthdays before, they’d never done an actual party at Hogwarts. Still, with access to the Room of Requirement, a private space for one wouldn’t be hard to come by . . .

“Not a bad idea, since tomorrow is a Sunday,” Ginny muttered to herself. And a full moon, but the rest of the day would be free for Galen. “But what kind of party?”

Luna piped up. “Galen once said that he thought her birthday falls on a mundane holiday with a funny name . . .” She narrowed her eyes in concentration. “I’ve got it - he called it ‘International Talk Like a Pirate Day.’”

Fred and George traded looks, suddenly acquiring eager grins as they chorused, “Pirates, you say . . .?”

Ginny felt a smile stretch across her face, too. “That would be fun.”

“Consider it done,” Fred assured her. “The special room . . .”

“ . . .Tomorrow at noon!” George cried.

“Arrr,” Luna mock-growled.

Getting word to Takara and the boys wasn’t hard, since it was a weekend - finding them outside Hermione’s presence during class times was much trickier, since Ginny and Luna were in a younger year. But when there was no homework to be done, Neville was usually in the greenhouse, when he could convince Professor Sprout to let him help, and Galen the library, for the same reason, though avoiding Hermione got trickier, since she was usually there as well. But with Luna’s help, Ginny was able to have her distracted long enough to explain the plan. Takara and Shirou were a little trickier - normally, she could find them on the Quidditch pitch during a practice, but with no Quidditch this year, she had to track them down separately. She found Takara first, mixing Wolfsbane Potion in the infirmary. And as for Shirou . . .

The Room of Requirement, when she entered it, was stifling. As soon as she opened the door, she was assaulted by a wash of heat and the acrid smell of smoke The air was far from silent, either, ringing with the sound of metal clashing with metal. Bewildered, Ginny stepped into the Room - and abruptly stopped dead.

Shirou’s back was to her, and he worked on pounding something with a hammer - but she could see his back, bare save for the leather straps that held whatever covered his front in place. Cords of muscle bunched and rippled in shoulders that had never looked quite so broad in Hogwarts robes, as glistening droplets of sweat ran down bare skin which looked smoother than she’d ever imagined . . .

Ginny’s mouth was abruptly dry, and the heat of the room had nothing to do with it. It took her three tries to croak Shirou’s name - and a further three tries before he heard her.

“Oh - hi, Ginny,” Shirou said casually, turning to reveal a leathery apron that failed to hide his bulging forearms, or completely conceal the muscles of his chest. “What brings you here?”

“. . . What?” Ginny asked dazedly, before remembering where she was. “Oh! Um . . . Hermione!”

A scarlet eyebrow arched. “Hermione?”

“Yeah - the twins want to throw her a birthday party, and the theme is pirates.”

“Pirates?”

“Yeah,” Ginny agreed. “Because it’s ‘International Talk Like a Pirate Day?’”

This time both eyebrows arched, and a sardonic grin appeared. “Let me guess - Galen’s idea.”

“Luna’s, actually - but she got it from something he said once.”

Shirou shook his head. “Figures.”

“Why?” Ginny asked, puzzled.

“Long story,” he supplied.

“Like what you’re doing here?” she inquired.

“No, that’s pretty simple - I’m practising forging weapons,” Shirou replied.

“Why?”

“Because when I can make some good ones, I’m going to enchant them,” Shirou answered.

“Really?” Ginny asked. “Plan on competing with the goblins, then?”

“Maybe - but it’s just something I want to do.”

There was more to it than that, Ginny was sure - with Shirou, Takara or Galen, there almost always was. But the explanation was enough for now.

“All right then - I’ll leave you to it.”

Nodding, she left the Room of Requirement. Once the door shut behind her, Ginny shuddered.

Blimey, I never knew a boy could look that good! . . . But how do I get him to notice me?






“Hey Rin, you mind if I kill this guy . . .?”

“That would’ve killed a normal Servant . . . You really are the strongest hero of legend.”

“Looks like even the goddess of the moon isn’t on your side . . .”

“Behold, the pinnacle of weaponry - Unlimited Blade Works!"

Shirou bolted upright in his bed, panting heavily.

Another nightmare. Another flashback to another War. They’d been happening more and more frequently, ever since the Quidditch World Cup - and he still had no idea why.

Shirou wondered if it was related to his attempts to recreate his Reality Marble. He’d been working hard at it lately - one benefit of no Quidditch games, or practices, was a sudden abundance of free time to fill - and it was possible his psyche was reacting to his efforts.

Except that I’d already consulted Lupin about the Map by the Quidditch World Cup, Shirou reminded himself. I’d even started my own forge in the tool shed. Since then, I’ve worked mainly on refining my technique - I haven’t actually tried to make anything since I left home. So why bring it up so long after the fact, and why continue it now?

Maybe I’m getting close to unlocking it, or adapting it? It might explain why Takara’s Command Mantra’s hurting, too - it could be reacting to how near I am to reaching the thing that helped make me the Servant, Archer.

It was probably a case of being overly optimistic to think so, and Shirou smiled, as “overly optimistic” wasn’t a term he’d have used to describe himself in decades, nor would he have wanted to. It was a measure of how far he’d come, in terms of reclaiming his old idealism, that he thought that way now. And he had a feeling that reclaiming Unlimited Blade Works, in one form or another, would be the pinnacle of that.

“Behold - the pinnacle of weaponry - Unlimited Blade Works!”

He shook his head. It was an odd thing to remember now, so many years (and in a very real sense, lifetimes) later, but he’d choose to see it as a sign of hope, that the magic which represented the core of himself was closer to his grasp than ever.

A shame I can’t get my hands on some of the goblins’ forging techniques - they’re the acknowledged master artificers of this world. But they’d never trust a wizard with their secrets, even if they could be shared, and they might not be able to be shared. It might be something inherent in goblin natures, like the attractiveness of Veela. Still, I know something of Japanese sword-smithing techniques, regarded as some of the finest in the world, and that’s a start.

Shirou paused, as that suddenly gave him an idea for Hermione’s birthday party . . .






“You’re not a eunuch, are you?” Galen drawled at Shirou, who’d managed to make himself up in the style of William Turner. Shirou’s resulting scowl indicated that he’d forgotten that particular line, but otherwise he held up manfully. The ruffled shirt and leather pants combo looked good on him, otherwise - speaking as a guy who was evaluating the competition, anyway.

Galen grinned, and sipped at the glass of Firewhiskey the twins had smuggled in from somewhere. Theme parties were kind of new to him, but this was fun. The Room of Requirement had given them a boat, and Fred and George had adapted one of their portable swamp prototypes to become a portable ocean. It was even easier, really, since all it had to do was conjure several dozen (or maybe hundred) litres of saltwater, as opposed to the thicker consistency of swamp murk.

“Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me,” he murmured.

“That make you Jack Sparrow, then?” Shirou quipped.

“Captain Jack Sparrow,” Galen corrected sharply, even as he grinned. He waved his wand, and Hans Zimmer’s theme filled the air.

Shirou shook his head. “We probably should’ve switched.”

Galen blinked, startled and more than a little confused. “Ohhh - kay, I’ll bite. Why?”

Shirou smirked as he gazed over Galen’s shoulder. “Because today, Hermione is the Pirate Queen - and it’s Will Turner who gets the girl.”

Galen glanced over his shoulder - just in time to meet the pointy end of a cutlass.

“Yarrr,” Takara said, grinning. “Looks like we have a couple of volunteers to walk the plank, Hermione - a mutineer who calls himself the Captain of this ship, and his cabin boy.”

“Cabin boy?” Shirou sputtered.

Takara said in a low voice, “Considering the looks Ginny’s been firing at you, I’d say that’s where she wants you.”

Shirou’s face was quickly as red as his hair.

“A mutineer, aye?” Hermione said, raising an eyebrow at Shirou’s blush before turning to Galen. “He’s looking to plunder me - my ship, I mean?” she added hastily. She was soon sporting a blush of her own, nervously playing with the silver hairclip he’d gotten her - something to complement her dress for the Yule Ball.

Takara smirked, and pointed out, “You’ve a fine booty to plunder, Captain.”

“Yours is better,” Hermione muttered under her breath, apparently forgetting how many of them had sharp hearing. It was only then that Galen realised how flushed everyone looked, and exactly how many empty bottles littered the deck of the “ship.”

Galen cleared his throat. “All right, from the sounds of things, that’s enough ‘grog’ for this crew.” He called up to the crow’s nest. “Fred? George? The crew’s a bit too tipsy to sail - time to break out the regular drinks!”

His heart sank when he heard them call back, “Regular drinks? What regular drinks?”

Right. The Weasley twins and pranks - how could I forget? He concentrated on where he was, and what he knew it was capable of. I need some sobering potions, please.

The Room obliged quickly, and he turned to hand them out, but quickly found a pistol at his chest.

“Surrender your treasure, or walk the plank!” Hermione cried enthusiastically.

He handed over the bottles easily enough.

“Now the rest of it,” she demanded.

Galen blinked. “Rest of it?”

“Miranda sent me a letter - she gave you my birthday present to give to me,” Hermione explained. “I want it, now - or else it’s down to Davy Jones’ locker with you!”

Galen winced. Not exactly the time or place he’d had in mind . . .

“It goes with that,” he said at last. “Take the potion, and then you get the present - they’re a package deal.”

It was a measure of just how badly Hermione needed sobering up that she apparently forgot she was supposed to be the one giving orders - or maybe just a measure of how much she trusted him. Regardless, the potion’s effects were immediate, and she only looked a little paler than normal as the alcohol was flushed out of her system. She blushed almost immediately, though, as her clearer mind went back over everything she’d said while intoxicated.

“Shall we hand them over to the rest of the crew?” Galen asked.

Hermione blinked, then looked around. “Yes, I think we’d better.” She paused, and glared upwards at Fred and George. “And then we make them walk the plank.”

Galen smirked, and said with genuine enthusiasm, “Aye-aye, Captain.”






Locked into his usual empty classroom later that night, Galen grinned at the memory. Fred and George were really great conjurers, but they’d learned an important safety lesson about modifying their existing products. The impromptu ocean was great, but however realistic it made things seem, adding sharks had been a really bad idea. Still, Hermione had seemed pleased with the party, however perilously close they’d come to hangovers, even if she didn’t quite get the reason for the pirate theme, or the movie references.

Small wonder, since I don’t know when the holiday was declared, and “The Curse of the Black Pearl” won’t hit theatres until the summer of 2003 . . . But the only other real movie option, I suppose, was “The Lion King,” seeing as it is 1994 - and I figure she got enough of that from her sister this summer.

His grin widened slightly. The girl had taken to calling Hermione “Nala” when they were in private, apparently. He wasn’t sure how much Hermione enjoyed the joke, but Miranda certainly did . . .

Galen’s smile faltered. He’d have to remember to “thank” his parents for letting Miranda borrow Hermes to deliver her letter. Talk about putting him on the spot! Fortunately, once she was sober, Hermione hadn’t mentioned her sister’s “birthday present” again -

The door slid open behind him, then shut, and a familiar voice replaced the charms that had been laid on it. Then a rustle of fabric revealed Hermione as she tossed the Deathcloak onto a chair.

“You didn’t have to come,” Galen noted.

“I wanted to,” Hermione said. Her tone turned dry as she pointed out, “It is my birthday, still - shouldn’t I be allowed to do what I want to?”

“I’ve always thought so.” Moonrise was only about five minutes away . . .

Hermione suddenly looked nervous. “So - what did Miranda give you to give to me?”

Galen’s eyebrows rose. “From your tone, it sounds like you already know.”

Hermione shook her head. “She just wrote that I should ask for it when we were alone - and I do know her sense of humour.”

“Ah.” Now it was Galen’s turn to look nervous. “Well . . . Apparently, when she asked you what you wanted, you replied, ‘Not to be sweet sixteen and never been kissed,’ or words to that effect . . .”

Hermione’s eyes were wide, and her face scarlet. “She heard that? She told you?”

“Mm.” Galen nodded. “Apparently, I’m to give you what she calls a ‘boyfriend kiss’ at some point this year.”

From the expression on her face, Galen was momentarily afraid that Hermione had somehow swallowed her tongue.

“. . . Hermione?”

“. . . Oh! Sorry . . . “ She looked at the floor. “Did she explain exactly what a ‘boyfriend kiss’ is?”

“No - which was odd, for her. I’ve been assuming that she wants me to kiss you as though I’m your boyfriend.”

“Um . . “ Hermione mumbled something not even his hearing could catch.

“Sorry, Hermione? I didn’t catch that.”

“I said, ‘It’s what my mother called a French kiss while we were on vacation last year,’” Hermione said, still not looking at him.

“Ah,” Galen said.

She reverted to an old habit - babbling when she was embarrassed or afraid.

“We were walking through the Paris streets one night - it is called the City of Lights, after all - and we saw this couple leaning against a lamppost. Well, you know Miranda, she just stares at anything new, memorises details, and when we passed by, out of earshot, she asked what - ”

“I get the picture, Hermione,” Galen said gently.

“Sorry,” Hermione blurted. “Sorry . . . I . . . You don’t have to do that, Galen. I won’t hold you to it, and I’ll make sure that Miranda doesn’t, either.” She was still looking at the floor.

“That’s sweet of you,” Galen admitted. “And I appreciate it, Hermione. . . But, she made me promise.”

“She WHAT?” Now Hermione’s head snapped out in shock, to give him a disbelieving stare - but it was too late for answers, because the moon was up, and the curse was given its head. By the time Galen regained his senses, he was on all fours, and so was Hermione.

As a lioness, she’d always been bigger than he was as a wolf (or a human, for that matter), but it was evident that Hermione was entering the final stages of her growth to maturity now, because she was much larger than she’d been, even three months ago. At a guess, she was nearer the three hundred pound mark than two-fifty, maybe even a little over it - but she was well over six feet long, even without her tail. Her teeth were longer, too, as he saw when she yawned - white and sharp, and even.

Hermione’s eyes were the same, though. Large, deep, and the colour of dark amber, with hints of gold and brown, but still sparkling with intelligence and kindness. Still Hermione’s eyes. Huffing in annoyance at the abrupt end to their conversation, Hermione padded over and nudged him onto the floor.

Sighing, Galen lay down and prepared to try and sleep - not easy when even with the potion’s influence, the beast was charging through his veins, revelling in freedom, eager to move and act. But, he had to admit, with a lioness body pillow curled around him, and especially one that was so content with it, sleep came far easier.

It would be a pity to have to wake up tomorrow.

Kieran
March 29th, 2011, 08:10 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 Goblet of Fire, but I trust in the intelligence of my readers (and the availability of the books) to recognise them when they see them.



Chapter 8 - Beauxbatons Arrives



October 21 - 28 , 1994






Time seemed to pass quickly as they approached the arrival day for Beauxbatons and Durmstrang, and the choosing of the Triwizard Champions. By the time the notice went up, stating that they’d arrive a week from its posting (Friday the twenty-eighth), the teachers had already shifted into overdrive on homework. This, Takara had to admit, was the advantage of having a regular study group, since those in it who favoured certain subjects were generally ahead in reading and assignments, and able to help the rest. It was a good thing, too - without Galen and Hermione’s help, she wasn’t sure she could’ve handled writing weekly essays on the goblin rebellions of the eighteenth century!

Takara had noted that Hermione had seemed a little more shy around Galen lately, but attributed it to her acting like a girl with a crush (which, to be honest, she was, and had been for several years), or embarrassment over something she’d said or done on her birthday. If it was the second one, though, Takara had no idea what Hermione thought she’d done. None of them had been that tipsy, and it wasn’t as though she’d been hanging off him, or anything. The Japanese witch would’ve liked to ask, but all her free time was absorbed in her homework at the moment - particularly Potions. Their antidote research had kicked into high gear, and Snape had hinted at a Christmas deadline for their “test.”

Nor was that the only class which had a certain urgency to it. Transfiguration was covering Switching Spells, which were an odd branch, almost closer to Apparition than Transfiguration. Charms involved preliminary work in learning Summoning Charms, which all of them paid close attention to, even if none of them were likely to need them for the Tournament, as Harry had. The spell was simply too useful not to know - in point of fact, it had saved Galen’s life last year - and while they could perform it using the tendency of Galen’s wand to simply “brute force” its way through complex spells, all of them wanted to get the actual technique down. And then, there was Defence Against the Dark Arts . . .

“In a perfect world,” Professor Moody said in the class before the other schools were meant to arrive, “You’d never have to know about the Imperius Curse, because either no one would use it, or it wouldn’t exist. In a near-perfect world, I’d be allowed to place you under it to help you learn what it feels like, and how to fight it. In this world, however, your Headmistress would have my old hide nailed to her office door if I tried - there wouldn’t be enough left of me to send to Azkaban. But you still need to know how to fight mind-controlling spells, so your Charms professor suggested Compulsion Charms.

“A Compulsion Charm is not like the Imperius Curse,” Moody snarled. “The curse is subtle, makes you want to obey, without really thinking about it. It’s insidious that way, and much harder to break because of it. The charm is quick and dirty by comparison. You just do something and you can’t help yourself, because there’s never time to realise you’re doing anything before it’s done its work. It’s the basic foundation for love potions, Notice-Me-Not charms, and other similar types of spells. Still, if you can bring yourself to fight it, you’ve got a good basis for the Imperius Curse.”

After that speech, he started putting compulsions on the Gryffindors, like juggling pencils, or hopping on one foot - nothing too dangerous, just embarrassing, and he held them under the compulsion long enough for them to at least try and break free. Moody ran into problems, however, when it came to the five of them. None of them were particularly weak-willed, and Occlumency training gave them enough time to realise what was happening, and rally their will to fight. Against the actual Imperius curse, it might’ve been a different story, as Moody was quick to remind them, but for a basic compulsion? Hardly a problem.

Still, that class, plus the research on Summoning Charms, gave Takara the impetus to actually ask the question, “So, what are we going to do about the Tournament?”

As usual, everyone looked at Galen. Like it or not, he was the one with all the information, the one who could tell them everything they needed to know to make the best possible decision. He wasn’t always right - far from it - but their first response had become “See what he knows and thinks about it, first.”

From the scowl on his face, what he thought was nothing pleasant.

“This is the downside of trying to change the future,” Galen sighed. “When you manage it, it makes everything you knew suspect.” He shook his head. “I can’t be sure that we need to do anything. There’s no sign of Crouch Jr., no indication that Voldemort’s even planning anything . . . But if we’re wrong, we won’t know until it’s too late - and the universe has already shown a perverse willingness to keep things ‘on course’ in spite of us.”

“So,” Shirou said. “We plan like things are going to go wrong, so that if they do, we’re prepared. And if they don’t - awesome?”

“That would be best,” Hermione agreed. “So, what are we up against?”

“Polyjuiced Death Eater, Ministry official under Imperius Curse, Confunded Goblet of Fire that selects four champions instead of three,” Galen recited. “End result is the death of the official, Dementor’s Kiss for the Death Eater, the murder of Cedric Diggory and the resurrection of Voldemort.”

“The Hufflepuff prefect?” Neville said in surprise. “He’s a nice guy - he thanked me for bringing in the new first-years that first night, and said a Hufflepuff should’ve thought of it.”

“Plays fair at Quidditch, too,” Shirou noted, before adding with a smirk, “Not that he needs to cheat, anyhow.”

“So how do we avoid him getting killed?” Ginny queried.

“I could break his legs,” Shirou offered. “He can’t get killed if he can’t compete in the Tournament.”

“Magical healing,” Takara pointed out. “He’d be up again in a day, tops - and anything you could do to him that leaves him badly injured enough is liable to get you expelled.”

Hermione mused aloud, “I wonder if we could influence the judge - the ‘Goblet of Fire,’ you said? If we manage things so that he’s not selected . . .”

Galen shook his head. “If the Confundus Charm is cast, maybe - that’s why there are four champions, the bewitchment makes it seem like there are four schools - but we can’t count on it, and I’d rather we not do it ourselves, in case we somehow get four champions because of what we did.”

Takara nodded. “That would be the kind of thing Fate would use against us, isn’t it?”

“Exactly - and I don’t want a repeat of the diary hunt.” Galen frowned, considering options.

Takara frowned. “Could we bait it with a more appealing champion? Someone better suited than Cedric?”

“Such as?” Galen prompted.

“Well, there’s always us,” she offered.

Galen shook his head. “Champions fight alone, and we do our best work together. Besides, it would kill me to have to just sit and watch as any of you go up against a dragon, or into the lake, or . . .” He shuddered.

“Besides,” Shirou pointed out. “We’re underage. We’d have to hex the Goblet to get our names in, and that leads back to other people taking advantage of that.”

“Really?” Luna piped up in surprise. “I always understood that you three were older than you seemed.”

Takara blinked. It was true. She’d had her fourteenth birthday this year, but it had been for the second time. Technically, she was twenty, and the boys were even older - much older.

Actually, if you add up all the years of memories I’ve got, I suppose I’d really be twenty-eight, but I think I’ll stick to the lower numbers, she thought drily.

Shirou frowned. “Would that work, do you think?”

Hermione bit her lower lip, thinking. “Maybe - a lot of magic is intent-based, and you are, to all intents and purposes, older. But it depends on the exact methods used by the Goblet to screen applicants.”

Takara frowned as something else occurred to her. “But even if we can, how would we get away with it? There are going to be piles of questions when a seeming fourteen- or fifteen-year-old manages to put their name in, never mind when or if they get chosen!”

Galen grinned abruptly, and there was a manic sparkle in his eyes. Takara knew that expression - he’d just thought of something that, if anyone else knew about it, would probably get him committed.

“Leave that to me, milady.”






The week seemed to fly by to Hermione, as the Hogwarts staff and students prepared for the arrival of the Beauxbatons and Durmstrang delegations. She wondered what they were like - she knew Ilyasviel attended Durmstrang, of course, but the older witch never said a great deal about it, other than that it was “the magical equivalent of military school.” As a result, there apparently weren’t many girls at all, by choice - but Ilyasviel’s attendance was part of a family tradition, and her parents were politically and financially powerful. Whatever the faculty’s opinion of her, they hadn’t been stupid enough to refuse her enrollment. Still, according to Ilyasviel, the school was a competent one. It excelled especially in the subjects of Potions and the Dark Arts.

And sometimes, if she was in the right mood, Mrs. Aozaki would share stories of Beauxbatons. Given her history, her attendance at the school had ended abruptly and badly, of course, so she rarely spoke of her school days - too painful. But every now and then, Hermione could coax something out of the woman. From her descriptions, Beauxbatons sounded more flamboyant - lots of gilding and marble work. It also sounded like a magical finishing school for young ladies, though like with Durmstrang, there was the odd member of the opposite sex. Still, if Mrs. Aozaki’s recollections were accurate, Hermione was quite glad she’d made it into Hogwarts. Still, it too was a formidable school, whose specialties were Charms and Herbology, due to a great variety of magical plants available through proximity to the warm Mediterranean waters, and the deep forests.

Whereas Hogwarts can be said to excel in the areas of Transfiguration, given Professors Dumbledore and McGonagall, and perhaps Charms, given Professor Flitwick, Hermione thought. Professor Snape is a Potions Master himself, but isn’t really a very good teacher. And our Defence teachers are too erratic to quantify properly. So really, Transfiguration is the sole art of magic that Hogwarts can hold itself superior in . . . Still, imagine what I could learn from them!

The possibilities threatened to overwhelm her, but she was delighted by the prospect. Imagining what differences there might be in the curriculums between the three schools had her threatening to giggle. And best of all, she could ask her questions easily!

No, she corrected herself, not quite. I got a good start on German from Ilyasviel over the summer, but it’s not really up to where I can easily hold a long and detailed conversation. Between my family’s summer holidays, Takara and her mother, however, I can very nearly pass for a native in French . . .

Thinking the word “French” reminded her of the reason she hadn’t been able to look Galen in the eye since her birthday.

I could cheerfully strangle Miranda for this - and Galen, for blindly agreeing and never asking what, exactly, a “boyfriend kiss” was supposed to be!

Hermione sighed into her copy of Hogwarts: A History as she reviewed it for details about the Triwizard Tournament. It wasn’t that she didn’t appreciate Miranda’s motives, or that she was displeased by the thought of kissing Galen - she’d wanted to for years, now, and while ]French kissing wasn’t something she felt entirely comfortable with, he’d be her choice of partner over anyone else.

But I want him to kiss me because he wants to kiss me, not because he feels he has to.

Hermione was fifteen now, and with her hormones in play, boys were definitely an enticement. Even more so, since bonding with the lioness - her primal instincts were very clear about what they wanted. But she was human, first and foremost, and therefore capable of monogamy, as a lioness was not. Where the great cat might be satisfied with any boy, she wanted one in specific. The problem was, said boy had never seemed to want her. Frankly, she blamed her situation on Ronald Weasley. If he hadn’t sent her crying into the bathroom with his insinuations, the troll wouldn’t have found her - and Galen wouldn’t have had to put himself between it and her. They would’ve continued being friends, as they’d been from the beginning, and she wouldn’t have started feeling more for Galen than that.

But he did, and Galen did . . . And I do.

Hermione couldn’t blame him for not being interested in her, really. She knew she wasn’t pretty like Takara - or Ilyasviel. But he’d always paid the same amount of attention to her as he did to them, so she’d hoped that maybe that meant that looks weren’t important to him. And it certainly seemed that way - even Mrs. Einzbern in full Veela allure didn’t shake him for more than a few seconds! But she couldn’t get him to admit to anything about what he was feeling . . .

No, that’s not true, either. I had a chance, two years ago, when he told me he wasn’t in love with Ilyasviel, or Takara - but I didn’t take it. I didn’t ask him what he felt for me, because I was too afraid of the answer. And now, when I want to know, I can’t get him to tell me. I’d give up on the whole thing as a bad job, except . . . Except there are times he looks at me, smiles at me, like I’m the most beautiful thing in the whole world. And then there are times when he shies away, or looks at me as though I’m dying before his eyes, he’s so sad . . .

Given her little sister’s fondness for The Lion King, Hermione had seen it a number of times over the summer. And it was with a sardonic appreciation of the line’s appropriateness that she sang under her breath, “‘He’s holding back, he’s hiding - but what, I can’t decide . . .’”

Still, Hermione wasn’t one to give up on puzzles. There had to be other avenues of information . . .

Ilyasviel. He’s awfully attached to her, especially since they said she was Shirou’s master in that ritual - that would’ve made her an opponent, if not an outright enemy. But all of them took his serving her as a “knight” as natural and expected, so there has to be more to their relationship than they’ve said. She’s a girl, and she’s made a point of showing that she’s never been competition for him - so he might have told her something, or she might have noticed something, that can help me understand why Galen is the way he is.

And if she does, and if she’ll talk to me about it . . . Then I’ll decide what to do, afterwards.

All of a sudden, the day until the Durmstrang students arrived seemed very far away to Hermione . . . And it couldn’t possibly arrive fast enough.






No matter what he’d looked like as the Servant Archer, Shirou was and always had been Japanese. So the concept of interschool rivalry wasn’t exactly new to him, and he fully understood why every teacher in Hogwarts was suddenly trying to cram lessons down their throats as fast as humanly possible, and why the house-elves were working overtime to polish and brighten up the castle. And after three-plus years here as a student, he’d be lying if he said he felt absolutely no school spirit.

Under Dumbledore, probably not, the redhead admitted. I still wish McGonagall hadn’t made him Head of Gryffindor - but given how fast we go through Defence teachers, she needed someone liable to stick around. But despite that, McGonagall’s a hands-on Headmistress, and she seems to really care about the state of the school - and the well-being of its pupils. I can support a leader like that, and I’ve got friends here, too.

As such, he accomplished his workload without complaint, and helped the others where needed. Neville did quite well in his spellwork now, with his new, better-matched wand. His only real problem was Potions, and only in the practical area - with Snape hovering over him. Given a textbook and the proper supplies, he did all right by himself.

Another good reason to have the man killed, Shirou thought wryly, but it would be a bit excessive to off him just for being a lousy teacher. And since Voldemort isn’t a clear threat at the moment . . .

If the so-called “Dark Lord” was an active menace, killing Snape would make sense, since it’d be denying a resource to the enemy. Killing him because he attacked one of us would make sense, because it would be self-defence. Killing him just because he’s an annoying turd of a human being, on the other hand . . . That’s tempting, but not something we should really consider. Not if we want to keep the moral high ground here.

. . . On the other hand, my life - not to mention Ilya’s, Rin’s and Sakura’s - would’ve been so much easier if I’d offed Kotomine just because he gave me the creeps . . .

Chuckling to himself (and pleased that he could, considering the subject matter), Shirou took McGonagall’s last-minute instructions regarding posture and decorum easily enough. Frankly, with all the formal dinners and such that his mother had to host as part of her ambassadorial position, he probably could’ve sleepwalked through this and come out all right.

“Weasley, straighten your hat,” McGonagall barked. “Patil, take that ridiculous thing out of your hair . . .”

Scowling, Parvati removed an ornamental butterfly clip from the end of the plait she’d braided her hair into. Privately, Shirou thought it was a shame - it looked good on her.

“Minerva, I am perfectly capable of organising my Gryffindors,” Dumbledore pointed out patiently. His eyes twinkled as he adding teasingly, “Even to your exacting satisfaction, I am sure.”

“Yes, well,” McGonagall muttered, obviously embarrassed. “You have your duties as the ICW representative, Albus - I had thought I could at least lighten your responsibilities. But you’re right, of course - I should see to the other Houses as thoroughly as I am Gryffindor.”

She stalked off towards the Slytherins, and Shirou followed her for as long as he could. This was one time when he really would’ve appreciated having his old eyesight as Archer back - he’d learned to read lips long ago, and it would’ve made for entertaining viewing.

“You seem pleased,” Luna noted quietly, startling him.

It was a mild annoyance to Shirou that Luna seemed able to sneak up on him whenever and wherever she wanted to - but it seemed to be part of who she was, and the rest of her was so sweet he found it hard to begrudge her a talent that made her who she was. Hermione had her brains, Neville his knack for Herbology, and Ginny was fearless. Luna was often odd, eerily observant, but didn’t have a harmful bone in her body. Like Neville and Hermione, she seemed grateful just to have friends, which, when Shirou dwelled on it, infuriated him. But that would spoil things for his friends, so he let it pass. Hermione and Neville seemed to have adjusted, though they still had obvious moments of hero worship (Neville for him, and Hermione for Galen). It was his hope that eventually Ginny and Luna would feel fully comfortable, as well.

In answer to her question, however, Shirou replied, “I’ll be seeing Ilya soon.”

“I like Ilya,” Luna said with a smile. “She’s always been very nice to me.”

Because she knows what Galen knows about you, and she knows herself what it’s like to be alone as a child, Shirou thought. Not that Luna wasn’t pleasant company in and of herself - but she couldn’t help but push some of Ilya’s buttons.

“And she loves you, and you love her,” Luna continued, before her face and tone turned solemn. “But it’s not as much as you love someone else, is it?”

Shirou was startled - because Luna’s insights usually were startling. Not for the first time, he wondered how she seemed to know the things she did. Was it a case of precognition, or was she simply highly observant, in the manner of Sherlock Holmes? Or some other explanation altogether? Annoyingly, Galen, who could normally be counted on to obsessively hunt the truth, simply shrugged where Luna was concerned, and said, “If she wasn’t mysterious, she wouldn’t be Luna.”

Privately, it amazed Shirou that someone with such a romanticised view of things considered himself an automatic failure with women. He’d known women who’d line up for that kind of thing - and men who’d pay small fortunes for a little advice. In the here and now, however, he simply looked at Luna.

“Maybe so, but that someone else isn’t here - and it doesn’t mean I’d love Ilya any less.”

Luna shook her head, and agreed. “No, it doesn’t.” She smiled, and added, “I hope it works out.”

Shirou smiled. “Thanks.”

Conversation ceased for a while, as the rows of Hogwarts students awaited the arrival of the other schools’ delegations on the outer grounds. Some arguments as to their method of arrival ensued, but Shirou paid them little mind - Galen was watching the sky, which was all the proof he needed.

Since he’d bonded with his eagle form, Shirou’s already keen eyesight had sharpened. He wasn’t at Archer-level in his human form - no counting rivets in a girder from miles away - but it was such that it would seem supernatural to those who didn’t possess it. Galen had a similar level of range with his hearing - the consequence of having an acute sense before supernatural levels of ability were added to it. And while Takara had the better night vision, that sharpness of eyesight meant that Shirou was the first to spot the Beauxbatons delegation, even before Dumbledore announced their presence.

“It’s a dragon!” cried Eleanor Branstone, a student he’d ferried across the lake who ended up in Hufflepuff.

“Don’t be stupid,” Dennis Creevey retorted. “It’s a flying house!”

Close enough, Shirou admitted. The carriage was of a similar size, and with magic, could’ve been enhanced to be even larger on the inside. It was pulled by a number of horses which had to be absolutely enormous at close range - though he had no doubt that Hagrid and Galen would adore them. Galen might be more realistic than Hagrid in understanding the inherent threat of a dangerous magical creature, but he was still a born animal lover. Galen had actually made a point of helping Hagrid in his raising of the Blast-Ended Skrewts, and currently was looking at the Care of Magical Creatures professor with an “I averted disaster - or at least, changed history” grin.

Shirou chuckled to see it change, once Galen did get a look at the elephant-sized palominos drawing the Beauxbatons carriage. He’d admitted that he’d always liked horses - even learned to ride them as part of his physiotherapy for his cerebral palsy, years ago - and these beasts, massive as they were, clearly brought back pleasant memories. Shirou’s attention, however, was rivetted on the woman who emerged from the carriages. She was Hagrid-sized, and would be called “handsome” rather than “beautiful,” but she was far from unattractive, and had the manners of a true lady, in the European style. He applauded at McGonagall’s cue, as most of the student body did - as much as he was looking forward to Durmstrang’s arrival, Beauxbatons deserved their accolades, as well.

“Madame Maxime,” McGonagall said formally, though not without pleasure. “Welcome to Hogwarts.”

“My dear Madame Maxime,” Dumbledore added, obviously acting in his capacity for the ICW at this point.

“Dumbly-dorr,” said the gigantic woman, in a deep, whiskey-soaked voice that put Shirou in mind of Urara Takano. “Madame McGonagall. I ‘ope I find you both well?”

“Indeed, Madame Maxime,” McGonagall affirmed.

“On excellent form, I thank you,” Dumbledore concurred.

“My pupils,” the woman said, indicating the dozen or so students with a nonchalant wave of her hand.

Shirou would’ve scanned them first, but he caught Galen stiffening out of the corner of his eye, and turned his attention to his partner in crime, instead. Eagle-augmented hearing turned his subtle hissing into actual words, but Shirou lagged a few seconds behind as he parsed them out.

“Takara, your night sight is better than mine - the rear row, first from the left. Tell me that isn’t who I think it is.”

Curious, Shirou turned his eyes to the position Galen indicated, and knew Takara would be doing the same . . .

He froze, taking in the details of the person standing there. His mind went blank, utterly refusing to respond, even as it heard, as though from a great distance, Takara’s gasping response.

“That’s . . . ! But it can’t be . . . But, that’s - !”

Shirou answered for her, his voice a hoarse, barely-audible croak, forced through a throat that suddenly felt as though it was stuffed with cotton.

“. . . Rin.”

Kieran
March 29th, 2011, 08:10 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 Goblet of Fire, but I trust in the intelligence of my readers (and the availability of the books) to recognise them when they see them.



Chapter 9 - Rin



October 28 - 29, 1994






Rin.

Of all possible developments - and with both his imagination and paranoia to work with, that was quite a list - her appearance had never been considered. Ilya had never mentioned her, either as someone she’d brought across, or a native counterpart. But of all the others in the world they’d left behind, her appearance made the most sense. She was, after all, a Jewel Mage - apprentice to the master of Kaleidoscope, and thus well-versed in cross-dimensional magic. If any of them would have the power to walk between worlds without the use of the Grail, and a reason to do so, it would be Rin Tohsaka.

Still, there were enough anomalies in her appearance to make Galen’s paranoia sound loud, ringing alarms. When arriving in this world, Ilya had integrated them, so they appeared fourteen or fifteen at this point in time, save for Ilya herself. What’s more, the Rin he’d known was a grown woman in her early thirties - his and Shirou’s own age, in other words. Why, then, was this Rin identical to her in-game counterpart, and therefore appeared to be a young woman of seventeen? Was she Rin’s native analogue, then? But if so, why Beauxbatons? Durmstrang would make more sense, with its Germanic connections - and the roots of Rin’s own magic being based in that culture. Or Hogwarts, given her association with the Clock Tower.But if Rin had attended Durmstrang, Ilya couldn’t have failed to mention it . . .

So, back to the idea of her being another dimensional traveller, then? . . . Damn it, it’s not adding up. I’m missing something - or several things - and I don’t know enough yet to even guess what that might be. Galen smirked. Although there’s another argument for her being native, I suppose. The Rin I knew wouldn’t be dumb enough to wear just a summer-weight silk robe to travel into an English autumn in the dead of night. She’d have at least brought a heavy travel cloak.

He only half-heard the exchanges between the Heads of the two schools, and Dumbledore - his attention was focussed on Rin. She was shivering, as were the rest of the Beauxbatons students, and standing very near to another girl, one of the ones with a shawl wrapped around her head, and a scarf over her face . . .

That’s probably Fleur, Galen realised. I’d almost forgotten that she arrived all covered up - I watched the movie too many times. Just like I’d almost forgotten that Beauxbatons had male students, as well. Still . . . Fleur seems very solicitous of Rin. I wonder why?

Madame Maxime led her coterie up the steps and into the castle, and the Hogwarts crowd parted to let them pass. Shirou made as if to follow them, but Galen stopped him with a hand on the shoulder, and weathered the furious glare the redhead gave him.

“Wait until Ilya gets here,” Galen said softly. “She’s most likely to have answers - and she’ll be upset if she doesn’t see you.”

After a moment, Shirou nodded grudgingly, acknowledging the point. Galen released the other boy, and turned towards the lake, waiting for the Durmstrang ship. He caught sight of Takara rubbing the back of her left hand as he did so.

Her mark’s hurting again . . . Is it because of Rin? Galen wondered suddenly. Ilya said Takara’s scars aren’t Command Mantras, but still symbolise a connection between her and us - though even she couldn’t fully predict what effects they might have. If Rin is also connected to Shirou, then . . . Some kind of feedback, maybe? A reaction to being unnaturally bound to Rin, through Shirou, however tenuously?

Galen shook his head. The closest approximation he could come up with for the behaviour of Takara’s scar was Harry’s, and he was reasonably sure that Takara wasn’t literally walking around with a pair of Horcruxes on her hands. He just didn’t know enough about the mechanics of mental or soul-based magic to even guess - but he had a hard time believing that Takara’s sudden problems with Shirou’s mark and Rin’s equally sudden appearance were wholly coincidental.

He abruptly became aware that Hermione was staring at him. “Sorry?”

“What’s going on?” she murmured quietly. “Who’s ‘Rin?’”

“Old friend, maybe. It’s a long story, and this isn’t the time or place.”

Hermione nodded grudgingly. She clearly disliked not knowing, but wasn’t about to press for answers in so public a setting.

The lake began bubbling, drawing everyone’s attention, and as the ghostly galley emerged from its depths, Galen wondered anew at how Durmstrang managed to travel underwater, in a sailing ship, to wind up in a lake that had no visible sources. It had always bothered him - if there was a suitable river leading to the lake, he could sort of understand it, but any waterways feeding into it had to be below ground level. So how, exactly, did the bloody boat work?

The students that emerged were more like the movie version than the books - including the Headmaster, Karkaroff. According to the Goblet of Fire novel, he had short, white hair and a curly goatee, along with a “fruity, unctuous voice.” The man’s manner of speech was also more British than anything else. This man was dark of hair and manner, slightly greasy-looking, and had a Russian-like accent thick enough to walk on. He basically resembled a cross between Count Dracula and Severus Snape.

Death Eater, Galen reminded himself. I wonder if Voldemort has tried to reach you? You’d be even more ideally placed than Mad-Eye Moody, and presumably easier to get to, if Albania is closer to Durmstrang than Britain - since that’s where Pettigrew found Voldemort to begin with. Hm - we never did get an explanation as to why Voldie kept returning to Albania, either. I wonder if it’s important . . .

Then Ilya stepped into view, leading her fellow students just behind Viktor Krum, and everything else flew out of Galen’s mind.

“Ilya . . . Her hair . . .” he said in horror.

Ilya’s long, trailing veil of beautiful silvery-blonde locks had vanished, replaced by a style similar to what he usually wore - a close-cropped, almost military cut that barely extended past her skull. Others might call it a pixie cut, but he immediately termed it an abomination.

“Durmstrang is pretty strict, and pragmatic,” Shirou informed him. “Ilya hates it, too, but it’s not like she’s given a choice.”

“But I loved her hair,” Galen wailed mournfully, sounding as though he was about to burst into tears.

He was vaguely aware of getting strange looks from everyone within earshot - even his friends seemed more than a little perturbed. He supposed it would look odd, since they’d never really seen him get emotional like this before - more often, he went to the opposite extreme. But this was terrible! Ilya’s literal crowning glory had been destroyed! Her hair could’ve been short without going that far!

“There, there,” Takara soothed. “Ilya has to wear it like that while she’s in school, but she says it’s one saving grace of her Veela blood - when she gets out for the summer, she can grow it back out on the ride home. She can grow it back for Christmas, and once this year’s over, she’ll never have to cut it again.”

The feline smirk on her face told him she was half-teasing, but it did make him feel better. He sighed, and replied, “I suppose. Come on, we’d better get moving to the Great Hall, or we’ll be left behind.”

As they passed a number of students suddenly fumbling for quills and parchment, or something else Viktor Krum could use for autographs, he heard Hermione whisper, “He got that upset over a haircut?”

Takara replied, “All these years together, and you haven’t noticed that he likes long hair on a girl? And that however flexible he is in combat, he doesn’t adapt to change well in everyday life?”

“. . . True, but really . . .”

“Just break it to him gently if you ever decide to change hairstyles,” Takara advised, with a grin he could hear as she added, “If you or I suddenly had a cut like that, he’d likely die of shock.”

“. . . Is that why you wear your hair like that?” Hermione asked after a moment. “For him?”

“My hair was like this when I met him, and I’ve never felt the need to change it,” Takara replied.

The sight of Ilya sitting in their “guest spot,” alone out of all the Durmstrang students, drove the thought that Takara hadn’t actually answered the question out of Galen’s mind. Instead, he was fully absorbed in Shirou’s immediate demand to his sister, “What is Rin doing here?”

Ilya’s response was equally immediate - she turned dead white.

“WHAT?”






As she stared at their newest guest during the feast, Ginny would be the first person to admit that she’d never liked Ilyasviel von Einzbern much. Some of that was down to her mother’s opinions on Veela, which she’d picked up as a child, much as she had her mum’s opinions on werewolves. Gradually, however, Ginny was coming to realise that those opinions were so much codswallop. Galen was bloody scary because he was just bloody scary, and the fact that he grew fur and fangs once a month had nothing to do with it. Ginny’s other reason for disliking Shirou’s big sister was that she was that she flirted with all the boys (even and especially her “little brother”), flashing that “allure” that turned them into gibbering morons. All right, not Galen or Shirou so much, and Neville usually shook it off after a while, but just about everyone else.

She made Ginny, who had always been the little princess of her family, feel like a house-elf by comparison. Even Takara, who was everything Ginny wanted to be as a woman, suffered in comparison. Ilyasviel was just so bloody perfect - the face of an angel, a body that could stop a rampaging dragon in its tracks, and a naturally elegant poise that befitted a daughter of nobility. She was almost impossible to ruffle . . . Which made her current panic attack all the more startling.

“Where?” the half-Veela witch hissed.

“Ravenclaw table, with the Beauxbatons group,” Galen said. His voice was edged, like he expected an explosion of curses to start flying any second, and from the way his eyes kept moving around, he wasn’t sure which angle to guard from. It made Ginny nervous - who was this “Rin,” and how bad was she, to shake everybody up like this?

“Blimey,” said Fred in wonder next to her other elbow. “How did we ever miss a chance to ask her out?”

“Yeah,” George breathed.

Ginny glanced at her brothers, and noted their eyes were glassy - Ilyasviel was putting out Veela allure in her agitated state, and she suddenly realised that neither of the twins had ever really met her before, which meant they hadn’t had a chance to develop a tolerance for it. Smirking at the opportunity to prank the prank masters, after a fashion, Ginny said succinctly, “Because Galen is her protector, Shirou is her brother, and her father is the man who took over teaching Defence when Professor Lupin left.”

She flashed her brothers a wicked smile as they reacted. With the first name, the twins went pale - and with the second, green. The mention of her father, however, had Fred and George instinctively hunching over in a defensive posture.

“Right then,” Fred muttered. “Good reasons, all.”

“Yeah,” George repeated, with a different but no less fervent emphasis.

Then Ilyasviel removed the sable cape she wore, revealing blood-red robes, and George cursed.

“They’ve gone and done it now!” he said to Fred. “There’s another one - and she’s even wearing the proper colour for it!”

“Bloody hell,” Fred sighed. “Well, we’d better get to work - ‘Scarlet Seven plus one’ just doesn’t sound right.”

They both grinned as they griped, however, and Ginny sighed - which caused the grins to widen, of course.

Putting her older brothers out of her mind for the moment, Ginny returned her attention to the urgent discussion among the older students. Professor Dumbledore was speaking about the Tournament, as the head of its organisers, but Ginny knew she could always use an Occlumency exercise to recall the speech later - it was a handy study trick, too.

“. . . With Fleur Delacour?” Ilyasviel was asking. “You’re right, she’s almost hovering over Rin - which doesn’t make sense for her personality at this age. Fleur was a thorough snob when it came to all things British - the food, the decor, the educational system . . . Some of that may be a defence mechanism, or because she’s nervous about being in a strange place . . .” She muttered something at a lower volume Ginny couldn’t quite catch, but she still heard parts. “Lazy . . . playing to negative stereotypes.” It didn’t make any sense to the redhead.

Ilya shook her head, a gesture that looked odd to Ginny without enough hair to cascade with the motion. “Either way, it was still an attitude very much in force when she was engaged. Her prospective in-laws didn’t exactly welcome her with open arms - the females, anyway - but a few of her comments were awfully personal. It wouldn’t have made it easy to get along with her, and it’s still an improvement over what she’d be now.”

“And is it something Rin’s done?” Galen asked thoughtfully. “Or is this part of the universe’s attempt to screw us over this year, since we seem to have the Tournament situation well in hand?” He nodded to the front. “Speaking of . . .”

Dumbledore tapped the bejewelled box in front of the Head table, and removed a large wooden goblet, filled with brilliant white fire that darkened to azure at the tips. He placed it on top of the box, and turned to one again address the students.

“Anybody wishing to submit themselves as a champion must clearly write their name and school upon a slip of parchment, and drop it into the Goblet. Aspiring champions have seventy-two hours in which to decide whether or not to put their name forward. On Hallowe’en, the Goblet will return the names of the three it has judged most worthy to represent their schools.”

“Hm,” Galen muttered. “If the name and school are both on the parchment, why didn’t they twig to how Harry was entered right away? The mythical fourth school should’ve been on the parchment with his name on it . . .” He shook his head.

Ginny puzzled over why Galen was so openly speaking about this, in English no less, when she realised she could hear a low-level buzz - one of them must’ve cast Muffliato while she was distracted with the twins, and she was just on the edges of it.

“Any word from your dad about my favourite mutt?” Galen asked.

Another headshake. “We know he made contact, but he’s on a tight leash - pun intended.”

“Makes sense,” Galen muttered. “If Voldie’s in his expected form by now, he’ll have the mutt, the snake, and maybe old Lucy and baby Crouch to look after him - and he needs a lot of looking after. Hard to sneak away and send messages in such a small and paranoid group . . . Unless he’s been found out and killed, of course.”

Ilya sighed, but it had a theatrical quality to it, as she asked, in a put-upon tone, “Must you always be so negative?”

Galen retorted with a smirk, “If I’m ever not, check my breath for Polyjuice Potion.”

Takara scowled. “This year, that joke is especially not funny.”

“So I’ll wait ‘til next year before I put it on a t-shirt,” Galen said with a shrug. Then his expression flattened. “So, what do we do about yonder magus?”

It was a curious sight for Ginny, because it was the first time she could ever remember seeing Galen defer to anyone else for a decision. He didn’t force people to make the decisions he wanted, but he tended to make up his own mind and just go with it, rather than waiting for someone else to tell him what to do. For whatever reason, though, he seemed to really want Shirou or Ilyasviel to decide this time. Making the sight even more curious was the fact that two wildly different expressions were visible on the Einzberns’ faces. Shirou was hesitant, something she’d never seen before, as though he couldn’t quite make up his mind. Ilyasviel, on the other hand, looked as though she very much wanted to answer, “Drop her in a volcano,” but didn’t quite dare.

Before a consensus could be reached, however, they began exiting the Great Hall heading for Gryffindor Tower and bed - or in Ilyasviel’s case, wherever the Durmstrang students were bunked. The mysterious Beauxbatons girl would be off wherever her group was sleeping, as well. Whatever questions needed answering, whatever decisions needed to be made, they would have to wait until the morning.






Rin. Damn.

Shirou hadn’t slept much the previous night - as in, “not at all.” That mantra had been running through his head, keeping him awake as he considered all the implications.

It’s not fair, he thought as he jogged mindlessly along their usual route, hoping to achieve with adrenaline what sleep had failed to do, and sweep away his fatigue. I spent three years coming to terms with the idea that no matter how perfect this new life was, Rin wasn’t, and would never, be a part of it. And suddenly, without any explanation or warning, there she is. And I can’t even be sure that she is Rin. If she’s a dimensional analogue . . .

We’re not so different from our original selves, but that’s because Ilya took care to make us this way, so we’d be comfortable. I’m not sure that even after fifteen years of study, Rin’s that capable as a Jewel Mage. So if we’re dealing with a fully native copy, she could be a complete stranger who just happens to look like Rin, and answer to her name. Heck, she might be a complete stranger, anyway - we never did get her name last night. This could all be a remarkable coincidence . . .

. . . Yeah, right. Sure it is.

It’s not fair. I promised Ilya a chance, damn it. She certainly deserves one. Now she’s going to freak out over Rin’s presence, see her as a threat to any relationship we try to build - and if it is Rin, I honestly can’t say she’d be wrong. Saber inspired me, Sakura supported me, and Ilya desired me, but Rin challenged me. Not just to keep up with her, but to change her, for the better. Left to herself, Rin could have followed Caster’s path, and become as cold and cruel as the Witch of Betrayal - but I knew that she had the potential to be more, and I fought to make her see it, and embrace it.

He chuckled mentally. Even as Archer, when I argued for the quickest and often bloodiest path - I wonder now if I wasn’t subconsciously playing devil’s advocate, to make Rin the magus into the woman I knew she could be.

Shirou paused, seeing the Beauxbatons carriages parked outside the grounds near Hagrid’s hut. If their sleeping arrangements held true, as Ilya’s did, Rin’s doppelganger would be inside, no doubt catching up on the hours she’d missed travelling from wherever in France Beauxbatons was located to the current time zone here.

I should go. I should leave it alone - leave her alone. Whether or not she’s Rin, much less my Rin, I’ve built my life around her absence, and I enjoy it. Dwelling on her existence is only going to cause problems, for me and everyone around me - especially Ilya.

And that’s not really fair to her, is it? Shirou’s conscience nagged. After all, at the very least, I’m no less obligated to Ilya than Takara is to Galen. She’s died, lived, and rewritten history for me. And unlike those two, I have the advantage of loving her already, and knowing that I do. Maybe not romantically, not yet, but I’d be a poor excuse for a man indeed to offer her the hope I have, and then turn around and immediately pursue Rin without even letting her try to grasp it.

Shirou shook his head ruefully. One thing’s for sure - whether she’s a native copy, a dimensional traveller, or a bloody optical illusion, she can certainly tie me up in knots - just as much as the real Rin Tohsaka ever did.

. . . Rin. Damn.






Shirou’s thought processes had only marginally improved as the day went on. Thank heavens, it was a Saturday, which meant that he didn’t have to sleepwalk through any classes - and thanks to Hermione’s deep-rooted obsession with homework scheduling, his was mostly up to date. What was left, they all did together, so that they could proofread his work and catch any errors his inattention was causing.

Ilya’s presence was not a help, either. Apparently, the Durmstrang students were still in the midst of settling, as well, leaving her at loose ends for most of the day - she had no classes to attend, either. As such, she’d taken to hovering around him (the group, technically, but it was stupid to pretend that it wasn’t him she was fixated on), as though worried about what he might do out of her sight.

We’ve been aware of Rin’s presence for less than a day, and she’s already nearly panicking. She wasn’t this bad even when we were kids . . But back then, she was effectively terminally ill, and trapped in the body of a child, besides. Now she’s an adult - legally and physically - and finally has me willing to try and move into a deeper relationship, after almost twenty years of dreaming. And right when it happens, her biggest rival and worst nightmare appears. It’d be like having Rin dump me to take up with Lancer - I’d go spare.

. . . And damn it, she’s on my mind again. Hell, she’s never left! And if everything does go bad for this tournament, odds are it’ll be me competing. I’ve got to get my head in the game, and that means getting Rin out of it!

Shirou stood abruptly, startling Ginny and Hermione, who sat next to him.

“I’ve got to sort this out,” he muttered in Japanese. “I’m heading for Rin, to see if she is Rin.”

Ilya’s face would’ve done credit to any Japanese noble who wore it - it was utterly impassive, even to him. Her voice, however, was a little too soft - too fragile - to say the same.

“She’ll haunt you either way - but at least you’ll know the truth. Go on, Onii-chan.”

Shirou got up and did not run through the library doors - but he did move quickly enough that it took him a while to realise that he’d seen Ilya nod when he left, out of the corner of his eye. And by then, he was too close to the carriage to wonder why. Instead, he moved out of the castle and onto the grounds, breaking into a full sprint once free of the confining stone corridors. He only slowed on approaching Hagrid’s hut, eyes scanning the terrain cautiously.

If she’s an analogue, there’s no guarantee she even speaks Japanese, despite her looks - thank God “Auntie” Ciel drilled us in French over the summer, and thank God Galen insisted on it. It does pay to have someone who knows when you’ll need a particular skill.

Evidently, the Beauxbatons crew were late risers - despite the fact that Shirou had exercised, eaten breakfast, and managed to study for the better part of two hours, they were only emerging now, in crisp uniforms that had obviously not been worn for any length of time. By the light of day, there weren’t any more than there had seemed to be before - about a dozen students. Fleur Delacour had obviously dispensed with hiding her Veela looks, as she’d foregone her scarf and shawl. The morning sun, though not bright (it was October in England), gave her hair a particular shine to it - but Shirou had lived with people who had more Veela blood than her for years, and so it was simply an appreciative observation, rather than a dazed paean of praise. Besides, once Rin stepped into place beside her, Shirou could care less about Fleur.

She looked good, and exactly as Shirou remembered her from the Fifth War - seventeen if a day. There were no physical changes, unlike Ilya’s eyes - her hair was still a glossy raven black, her eyes turquoise pools. She was definitely Japanese, however, her eyes aside - though he noted an odd look of trepidation in them, as though she wasn’t quite certain what to make of what she saw around her. Shirou added a point to the “dimensional traveller” argument for that, and another to the “native” when he saw her smile as Fleur murmured something too soft to be heard - it was too natural to be Rin putting on an act, and a Rin from another world shouldn’t know the Veela-blooded witch - or the French that Fleur was liable to be using.

As Madame Maxime began marching them up to the castle, Shirou mentally decided to throw caution to the winds and stepped into place beside them, just close enough to be seen and heard, but out of the range of the Headmistress’ peripheral vision, which meant sticking to the corner of Rin’s eye, as well. He decided to try French, first, because it would seem natural to Fleur to do so - and Rin’s response would tell him a lot.

“Excuse me, miss? You look terribly familiar . . .” It was corny, but what else could he say?

Rin tilted her head subtly, and her eyes widened.

“Shirou?” she gasped, in disbelieving Japanese. “I don’t understand - what are you . . .?”

She trailed off, taking in his face and going deathly pale, before flushing a red that would do any Weasley proud as she locked eyes with him and fired a snap-kick directly into his groin.

“YOU SON OF A BITCH!”

Kieran
March 29th, 2011, 08:11 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 Goblet of Fire, but I trust in the intelligence of my readers (and the availability of the books) to recognise them when they see them.



Chapter 10 - The Triwizard Champions



October 29 - 31, 1994






As they were left alone in the library, Neville glanced at his friends. Hermione immediately gestured with her wand and cast “Muffliato.” She stared at Takara and Ilyasviel, taking a deep breath, and demanding, “All right - who is Rin?”

It was Ilyasviel who answered. “In our original timeline, Rin Tohsaka was Shirou’s classmate, ally, and friend. She was also his first master in the ritual in which we participated, before I claimed him.” Her voice grew quiet near the end. “And she was his lover.”

Most of the others reddened to one degree or another - only Luna appeared to accept that with no reaction. Ginny on the other hand, looked dismayed, and Takara tense. Neville was simply embarrassed at the thought - but if this girl’s presence would make him happy, then who was he to complain? Besides, he hadn’t even met her yet, though she was surely someone special, to catch Shirou’s attention.

“But you’re not sure it’s her?” Ginny said hopefully.

“No,” Ilya admitted. “If she’d used exactly the same methods we did, she’d be Shirou’s age, not mine. That means that this Rin might be one that was born here, not one whose life was waiting when she got here, like us.” Her lips thinned. “On the other hand, our method of arrival is based on her family’s style of magic - so if anyone could have followed us, it’s Rin Tohsaka.”

“You don’t sound happy about the possibility,” Hermione noted.

“I’m not. I’ve no idea what a native version of Rin might be like, but our Rin is a genuine prodigy at magic, and more powerful than most adult magi. She’s not unlike you, Hermione” - this caused the witch in question to blush - “but she can also be cold, ruthless, and has one nasty temper. And given that she’s arrived four years behind us, she’s not very likely to be in a good mood.”

Ilyasviel looked grim, and Takara glanced at her.

“So that’s why you sent Galen after Shirou?” the Japanese witch asked.

Ilyasviel nodded. “Shirou tends to lose perspective when Rin’s involved. If this is a Rin from this world, Galen should keep him from doing anything stupid. If it’s the Rin we know, and she’s in a snit, he’ll make sure Shirou isn’t seriously hurt.” She smiled, but there was nothing nice about the expression. “In fact, given how often Rin’s nearly killed him, he’ll enjoy it.”

Neville winced, first at the thought of Galen’s reaction to someone trying to kill him, and then at the thought of someone powerful enough to pull it off. Having sparred and duelled with them for years, he knew that all three of his friends would be hard to kill - Takara because she was almost impossible to hit, and Shirou because he tended to just power through opposition before they had the chance, but Galen . . . Galen took it all, and just kept coming. The amount of damage it took to take him out bordered on the unreal. If this “Rin” had actually managed to push him to edge of death . . . Neville tentatively stuck her just below Bellatrix Lestrange on his mental “Scariest Witches I Know” list, about equal with his Gran, though if she was as bad as Ilyasviel described, she just might edge Gran out of position - and that was a scary thought in and of itself!

He cleared his throat. “So . . . Shall we go back to homework, or discuss the plans for the Tournament while we’re still warded for privacy?”

Ilyasviel shrugged. “Karkaroff had us all enter first thing this morning.” She shivered at the recollection.

“Was it that scary?” Ginny asked.

“Let’s just say I don’t have the best track record where magical cups are concerned,” Ilyasviel said drily. She traded a look with Takara that Neville couldn’t read - some private joke, he assumed, which was confirmed when Takara said, “Me, either.”

Neville pressed on. “Any idea what Galen’s going to do?” He looked at the three witches first, knowing he was most likely to confide in them, if he told anyone at all what he was planning. To his disappointment, they all had puzzled expressions.

“Your guess is as good as ours, Nev,” Takara said. “Why the concern?”

Neville grinned ruefully. “Because he looked so pleased with himself when he mentioned it. I want to make sure I’ve either got a good seat, a solid alibi - or a whole lot of sturdy walls between myself and Galen when he makes the attempt to enter.”

That generated a few knowing chuckles, especially from those who remembered his glee at making the Weasley twins walk the plank at Hermione’s birthday party. Fred and George were master pranksters, sixth-year students, and built like professional Beaters - and they hadn’t stood a chance.

“Good point,” Takara admitted. She shook her head. “No, he hasn’t mentioned anything - but there are still almost three full days before he needs to worry, right? And this is just a safety measure, anyway - we’ve no reason to think the Tournament will be especially dangerous - “

”Aside from the actual tasks themselves,” Ilyasviel pointed out.

“Aside from that,” Takara agreed. “But Galen’s checked the Map periodically since the first of the year, and he can’t find any Polyjuiced Death Eaters lurking on the grounds, so we’ve no real reason to suspect that anything which isn’t supposed to happen will. This should just be the Triwizard Tournament, with no evil plots or anything, as far as we can tell right now.”

“Then why do this?” Ginny asked, puzzled.

“In case we’re wrong,” Hermione answered. “We thought we had everything figured out in your first year, too, Ginny - and we got outmanoeuvred almost every time. People nearly died because we didn’t think far enough ahead, or of what to do if things didn’t turn out the way we thought they would.” Her eyes were grim. “This time, we’re not taking chances, and doing everything we can to improve the odds of things going the way we want them to.”

The redhead nodded, slightly pale, but her eyes were bright.

“It’s a good idea,” Ilyasviel agreed. “It’s one thing I’ve noticed about the pattern that recurs in this time period: every year, things are bad - but every other year, they’re so much worse.” She paused, then added. “Of course, if things go well this year, that could break it altogether.”

Neville wasn’t sure what to say to that. He didn’t know as much as Hermione, Takara or Ilyasviel about what might happen in the future - he didn’t really want to, having enough pressure from expectations in his life already. As a result, he knew only what he was told, and only when it was relevant. He wouldn’t learn about the next school years until something came up that required him to. So instead of commenting on the topic at hand, he changed the subject again.

“So . . . How long, exactly, do you think Shirou and Galen will be? And will they have Rin with them when they come back?”






Galen had actually managed to beat Shirou to the Beauxbatons carriage and settle in undetected to watch, a feat he attributed to two advantages: the fact that he knew exactly where to go, and the fact that he had both the Deathcloak and the Marauders’ Map on his person at the time. Without those things to locate a secret passage and allow him clandestine use of it, he’d never have made it ahead of his friend, much less remained undetected by him.

Wrapped securely in his Deathly Hallow, Galen shook his head. Even after I resign as her knight, Ilya can still manage to order me around - but who else could she send? Takara doesn’t know enough of the backstory to adequately judge, and given that she’s interested in Shirou, too, she might be tempted to hex Rin and ask questions never . . .

His hearing was sharp enough to pick up the murmuring between students, but his conversational French wasn’t quite good enough to follow along - between the rapidity of the dialogue, and the differing regional accents, he might pick up one word in three. Still, he got enough from Fleur and Rin to know that the former was treating her like an invalid, and Rin wasn’t all that happy about it.

Why? Why the treatment at all, and from Fleur, no less? She’s still a bloody snob at this stage - the only people she cares about are . . .

Galen’s train of thought broke off as Shirou approached, and he concentrated all his attention on the meeting - which proved decidedly painful to both his ears and his masculine sensibilities. He was still wincing when Madame Maxime boomed angrily, “MADEMOISELLE DELACOUR!” And given her lung power, that was quite literal - her voice sounded like a thunderclap.

. . . Family, the thought finished, making connections as he reeled from the noise. Shirou has a life as an adoptee here - why not the just-as-orphaned Rin? Fleur’s protecting her like a sister, or trying to. The real question is why she thinks she has to . . . Well, that, and “Can I get to Shirou before Madame Maxime, Fleur or Rin finishes him off?”

Ducking behind a tree, Galen whipped off the Deathcloak and stuffed it quickly into its hidden pouch in his robes - a movement it taken him all summer to manage at high speed. Then he took a deep breath, and strode into the Beauxbatons group as though he had every right to do so.

“Is there a problem, Madame Maxime?” he asked imperiously in French, hoping he was understandable. Unlike the others, who’d learned the European dialect, his French instruction had left him with a distinctly Quebeçois accent.

“Zis . . . zis . . cochon is bothairing one of my students!” the oversized Headmistress sputtered.

Galen frowned, trying to channel Percy Weasley as best he could. “I’ll escort him to Headmistress McGonagall immediately, Madame. My apologies for the disruption - he will be dealt with.” He looked at Shirou through narrowed eyes and said coolly, “And I imagine your mother will be none too pleased either, Einzbern.”

“Einzbern?” repeated Rin, Madame Maxime, and Fleur in unison.

“Quite,” Galen agreed. “And the Baroness, I suspect, will be taking issue over her’s son’s disrespect towards women.”

Rin’s eyes were wide, and a touch frantic as she said hastily, “That’s all right - I may have overreacted.”

Everyone turned to look at her, but to her credit, the Japanese witch didn’t quail. Instead, she continued, “I’m just used to people trying to - the phrase is “chat me up,” isn’t it? - because of my family. I heard him say what sounded to me like a standard pickup line, and reacted.”

Madame Maxime was glaring disapprovingly at the dark-haired girl, while Fleur was looking torn as she glanced between Rin and Shirou. Galen wondered why, before a likely explanation asserted itself.

One, she’s a bit snobbish, so old family names and titles might mean something to her. More to the point though, even if Irisviel von Einzbern isn’t a relative (which we won’t rule out - you never asked her), she’s a powerful and influential Veela - what better role model could Fleur want? He grinned inwardly. This could be fun.

Madame Maxime finally inclined her head. “Very well - we shall let zis incident go no furzair. Come mademoiselles - we ‘ave lost too much time already.”

Once the delegation was out of sight, he helped Shirou off the ground.

“What the hell are you doing here?” the redhead demanded.

“Ilya thought you might need backup.”

Shirou stared at him, several caustic comments obviously on the tip of his tongue, before shaking his head. “There’s so many things I could say to that, but I can’t make up my mind which one to use.” He glanced at the other wizard. “So what was with the hoity-toity act?”

Galen shrugged. “It got them talking, and you aren’t in trouble. And besides, now Rin will corner me if she wants answers.”

“Much as the thought of her kicking you in the balls cheers me up,” Shirou growled, “I’m the one who wants answers - and from your tone, you’ve got them.”

“Well, from what I eavesdropped on, and what happened, I can guess,” Galen drawled. “She knew you, but was surprised to see you - which means she didn’t come here looking for you. That almost certainly puts paid to the idea of her being a native Rin, or the Rin we know. She flipped out once she actually saw you, however, which means . . .?”

Shirou’s brow furrowed. “She wasn’t expecting me to be so young?”

Galen sighed. “Maybe - but I’m talking about the one obvious feature you have that doesn’t belong to Emiya Shirou.” At the continued blank look, he added, “And that recognisably belongs to Archer.”

Shirou blanched, and he muttered, “I didn’t even think . . . I’m so used to these eyes, it never occurred to me . . .”

“Or her, either,” Galen returned. “I’m guessing we’re looking at a Rin Tohsaka who’s exactly as old as she appears. A post-Grail War Rin who’s learned enough Jewel Magic to come looking for her lost Servant - and it’s clear she’s not too happy with who she’s found. Do you suppose she figures that an Emiya Shirou that knew all her preferences probably wasn’t all that ‘amnesiac,’ after all?”

He smirked at Shirou’s grimacing expression, and considered exactly which version of Rin Tohsaka they were likely dealing with - the variations were subtle, but crucial.

Probably the Fate route - or maybe even the anime. Hard to know without questioning her, but it makes sense. Especially since she never actually gave up her Command Mantras, just lost them. A door, once opened, can be opened again - it’s probably part of how she found him. And this could be interesting - I’ve never dealt with a canon Rin before.

He tilted his head and said aloud, “I’m still not sure how the Delacours fit in, though - or why Fleur is so anxious over her. I suppose I’ll have to wait until she calms down to find out.”

Shirou snorted in derision. “Check back when your first kid graduates from Hogwarts - if there’s one thing Rin knows, it’s how to hold grudges.”






Hermione got tenser as Hallowe’en drew nearer - it hadn’t been a good holiday since she was twelve - especially since Galen seemed inclined to do nothing. She and the others had asked repeatedly when he planned to try and meddle with the Goblet, and received only a smirk in return. She knew Beauxbatons and Durmstrang had entered - as had Cedric Diggory, the boy they were trying to protect, if necessary - but Galen still hadn’t done anything, as far as she knew. Nobody’s mood helped, either. Shirou had been sour since his encounter with his friend, Ilyasviel had been gloomy, and even Takara was out of sorts. Combined with Galen’s seeming schadenfreude over the whole affair, it made her more than a little uncomfortable.

Thus, she was almost pleased to see Fred and George, with Lee Jordan, attempt to circumvent the Age Line at lunch on the thirty-first - it promised to be entertaining, at least.

“Done it,” Fred announced. “Just taken it.”

“Ageing Potion, I assume?” Hermione asked with a raised eyebrow.

“One drop each,” George confirmed. “We only need to be a few months older.”

Lee added. “We’re going to split the thousand Galleons between the three of us if one of us wins.”

“It’s not going to work,” Hermione told them in a singsong voice, since she figured she might as well enjoy the game. “I’m sure Dumbledore will have thought of this.”

The three boys scoffed, and she shrugged mentally. She hadn’t really expected them to listen.

“This will be fun,” Galen said. “Go on, boys - then I’ll show you how it’s really done.”

Hermione joined the trio in staring at him, both her eyebrows raised now. When the twins moved on to approach the Goblet, she hissed, “What are you doing?”

“All part of the plan,” he murmured back. “I want as much attention as I can possibly get.”

The twins breached the Age Line easily enough, before suddenly being blasted back by a wave of golden force. When it cleared upon their land, both boys were visibly sporting long white beards. They began arguing over whose fault it was, slapping at each other.

Galen put his wand to his throat and whispered, “Sonorus.” His normally soft voice thus amplified, he announced, “Thank you, Fred and George, for the lovely entertainment. I am now pleased to demonstrate to all of you the truth of the old saying, ‘Age is simply a state of mind.’ Quietus.”

He strode forth unhurriedly, a ball of crumpled parchment in his hand. After the announcement, there was no doubt that every eye in the Great Hall was upon him, if only to laugh at the sight of a fourth-year trying where so many older students had failed. After Fred and George’s recent antics, though, no one was initially surprised when the Age Line allowed him through. It was when the Goblet’s blue-white flames flashed red in acceptance of his entry that the Great Hall thundered with disbelief. For his part, Galen simply walked out of the Great Hall as though nothing unusual had happened.

Hermione, needless to say, was immediately on his heels, along with their friends. They quickly cornered him in the Room of Requirement.

“That was your big plan?” Takara exploded. “Just blithely announce to the whole school what you were about to do, walk up, and do it?”

Galen drawled, “Let me guess - you were expecting some elaborate, intricate scheme?”

“YES!” came from multiple throats.

Luna smiled. “Actually, I thought it was quite clever. Well done, Galen.”

Hermione stared at the girl. Luna was odd, there was no denying it - but she would be the first to admit that the younger girl had a first-rate mind. Her thought processes were less logical and more intuitive than Hermione’s, which meant that sometimes Luna misinterpreted things . . . And sometimes she saw things with a fraction of the data Hermione needed to reach the same conclusion.

The blonde Gryffindor’s silvery eyes shifted to her suddenly, and her smile widened, as though she was reading Hermione’s mind.

“Professor Moody was in the Great Hall,” Luna supplied.

“Professor Moody?” Takara repeated in confusion. “What does that paranoid old - ?”

“Paranoid!” Hermione gasped, making the connection. “He’s going to drive himself spare trying to figure out how Galen got past the Age Line - he’ll check the spell, the Goblet, every possible weakness in the security. If the Goblet’s been Confunded, he’ll discover it. And if it isn’t, Professor Moody is still liable to add to the security surrounding the Goblet, to try and close the ‘hole’ that Galen used. Anybody who wants to tamper with the Goblet will suddenly have a much harder job doing so.” Hermione smiled in understanding. “And by waiting so long before doing this, you’ve minimised the amount of time our hypothetical enemy will have to try anything before the selections are made. Luna was quite right - well done, Galen.”

As plans went, it really was quite brilliant, she reflected. Especially in its simplicity. It required no special materials, no hours of planning, just sufficient knowledge of the people around him and a certain sense of showmanship, to properly manipulate appearances.

And no one can deny that he’s got a flair for the dramatic, Hermione thought wryly. Especially the melodramatic.

Shirou grinned. “I like it - it’s everything we wanted to accomplish, at minimal risk to us. The so-called ‘responsible adults’ will finally do the heavy lifting.”

Takara frowned. “I thought our fathers did fairly well, last year.”

“OK, you’ve got me there,” Shirou allowed. “And McGonagall’s done a decent job of actually doing her job, so far - but you know what I mean. For once, we can sit back and let the system sort out the problems without needing to interfere.” He tilted his head to glance at Galen. “Of course, that depends on whose name was on that parchment.”

“All three of ours,” Galen replied. “So you can both answer honestly that you didn’t put your name in, you didn’t ask someone else to do it for you, and that isn’t even your handwriting.” He scowled. “I don’t really want to compete, but I can take a fair bit of punishment, and if it means that no one else gets hurt . . .”

Hermione sighed, and brushed her fingers across the hair at the back of his neck. “We know, and we love you for it - but it doesn’t make it any easier for the rest of us to watch.”

It certainly doesn’t for me.

Galen smiled at her, and her heart rate sped up a bit - he had a nice smile, when he let it reach his eyes. His skin was hot where she’d touched it, too, and Hermione wished they were alone in the Room - she had a sudden desire to indulge in some “fur therapy,” as Galen called it. The feel of his warm hands rubbing into her shoulders, or across her spine - he even managed to make teasing her tail feel good!

If anyone was privy to her thoughts, they refrained from knowing looks, and Hermione hastily changed the subject before anyone thought to ask about the blush she could feel rising in her cheeks.

“So, what do we do now?” Then she shook her head, and answered loftily, “What a ridiculous question - we go to class, of course! Goblet of Fire or not, Hallowe’en or not, it’s still Monday - and the lunch period is nearly over!”






Despite being her favourite class, the day’s Arithmancy lesson was a little harder to concentrate on than normal. Still, Hermione persevered, as did Shirou, and eventually they found themselves back in the Great Hall, enjoying a Hallowe’en feast, along with all their friends, for a change. The still-burning Goblet of Fire stood in its place, surrounded by the Age Line - as well as blazing runes of orange flame that hung ominously in the air.

Professor Moody’s work, Hermione concluded. And since he’s no fool, there’s probably at least one other invisible defence, as well.

She spared an idle moment trying to translate the runes used. While generally accepted as the written language of magic, runes had historically been used before wands as a way of casting and storing spells. A single rune could sum up a very complicated charm, and invoked when needed. However, used that way, their magic was partially reliant on the materials used - the stone which held the rune, and the item which had carved it. The more powerful spells had been nearly impossible to fashion, and runestones were almost always single-use only.

Runes could sometimes be more powerful when utilised properly, but compared to the practicality of using wands - it’s no wonder people switched. Still, it’s a fascinating subject . . .

Her train of thought was interrupted by the appearance of Angelina Johnson, one of the Chasers on Gryffindor’s Quidditch team, and therefore a teammate of Takara and Shirou’s. She immediately claimed the “guest seat.”

“Well, I’ve done it!” the dark-skinned girl announced. “Just put my name in!”

Hermione smiled. “Well, I’m glad someone from Gryffindor’s entering - I really hope you get it, Angelina!”

Angelina looked surprised for a moment, then smiled. “Thanks, Hermione - but I thought you’d be rooting for Galen.”

Hermione shuddered. “Absolutely not! I’d wear my nerves to a frazzle, watching him compete against seventh-years!”

Angelina joked, “I’d be more worried about the seventh-years, myself - but I see your point.” She gave Hermione a sidelong look. “Don’t suppose you know how he got past Dumbledore’s Age Line, do you?”

Hermione smiled. “He says it’s a case of mind over matter.”

Angelina blinked, then shrugged. “If you say so.”

Lightning flashed suddenly from the Great Hall’s ceiling, and the roll of thunder caused the noise level to plummet. Dumbledore took the opportunity to rise to his feet, quieting things still further, until only the hiss of the pouring rain on the roof was audible.

“Well, the Goblet is almost ready to make its decision,” the old wizard announced. “I estimate that it requires one more minute. Now, when the champions’ names are called, I would ask them please to come up to the top of the Hall, walk along the staff table, and go through to the next chamber, where they will be receiving their first instructions.” He gestured to a side door, and extinguished the candles and torches in the Great Hall with a wave of his wand, leaving only the jack-o’-lanterns, Goblet, and the occasional bolt of lightning as illumination.

In the darkness, the Goblet’s fiery light was nearly blinding - Hermione couldn’t look directly at it, and she didn’t need to look at Takara to know that she would be squinting, as well. The pair of them had the sharpest night sight, so the light was truly overpowering to them. Thus, it was almost a relief when the blue-white flames turned a comparatively milder (to her senses, anyway) red, and the Goblet began emitting sparks, before launching a charred piece of parchment into the air.

Dumbledore snatched it up, and read it by the once again blue-white light of the Goblet.

“The champion for Durmstrang,” he declared, “will be Ilyasviel von Einzbern.”

A storm of applause broke out, mostly among Durmstrang, but also including their little corner of the Gryffindor table. Hermione noted, however, that the Headmaster of Durmstrang looked a little sour at the announcement.

Probably one of the chauvinists who didn’t want Ilyasviel at the school to begin with, she thought with a sniff. Well, she’ll show them, no doubt!

As if she’d heard Hermione’s thoughts, Ilyasviel gave her a pixie grin and a wink. After she left, the Goblet of Fire turned red once more, and the noise cut off abruptly. A second piece of parchment was belched forth, and the crowd waited with bated breath.

“The champion for Beauxbatons is . . . Rin Delacour!”

Once again, cheers - mostly from Beauxbatons, but also them as well. Hermione’s glance at the girl, as she walked by, was that she looked none too happy about their applauding, giving Shirou especially a disdainful glare before vanishing into the side room.

Shirou must be hurt, if Rin was as important to him as Ilyasviel said, Hermione thought sadly. I hope they can patch things up -

But the Goblet was turning red once more, and the Hogwarts spirit in her compelled her full attention on it. She held her breath, waiting to see just who the Goblet of Fire had decided most qualified to represent her school and its ideals . . .

“The Hogwarts champion is - Takara Aozaki?” Dumbledore said in puzzlement.

Scattered applause and bewildered murmuring swept the room - Takara was relatively well-known, with her position on Gryffindor’s Quidditch team, but so too was the fact that she was underage for the Tournament. Despite this, however, she could feel Galen relax slightly beside her, even as Takara walked up to the staff table and off into the side room. Hermione doubted anyone who didn’t know the Japanese girl’s movements as well as she did could read the tension in her muscles.

“We can deal with this,” he muttered under his breath, too low for anyone without really sharp hearing, and who wasn’t right next to him, to catch. “I don’t like it, but we can deal with it. She’s skilled, we can prepare her - we can deal with this.”

Despite his apparent confidence (and the rapidity of his speech made Hermione doubt that Galen fully meant it), confusion was the order of the day, and it grew worse when the Goblet’s flame turned red a fourth time.

Galen was instantly as rigid as a steel needle. “No. Nonononono - this wasn’t supposed to happen! We did everything to make sure it wouldn’t happen! This can’t happen!”

He hissed the words, as though trying to make the universe obey by sheer force of will - but apparently not even Galen Salvatore was that stubborn, because the Goblet spat a fourth piece of parchment into the air, which Dumbledore took with trembling fingers.

Not Galen too, Hermione prayed. Takara in danger will be bad enough - don’t let it be Galen, too, please!

After a moment of silence, he cleared his throat, and said in a feathery voice, “Neville Longbottom.”

“NO!”

It took Hermione a moment to realise that the cry had come from her own throat - and not just hers, but everyone else at the table, and that like them, her wand was in her hand. A glance at her friends made their intentions clear.

War had just been declared.

Kieran
March 29th, 2011, 08:13 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 Goblet of Fire, but I trust in the intelligence of my readers (and the availability of the books) to recognise them when they see them.



Chapter 11 - Rage of the Trinity



October 31, 1994






Takara walked into the room off the Great Hall, and found it eerily silent. Aside from the crackling of the fireplace, not a sound was to be heard. Instead, she was greeted by the sight of two witches warily staring at each other.

Observing them together, and getting her first good look at this incarnation of Rin Tohsaka, Takara was struck by the similarities between them. Both girls were relatively short, about her height at this point in time - evidently she’d eventually be taller than either of them. Both had a fine bone structure that lent their faces a certain elegance, like a porcelain mask. Ilya’s hair, eyes and skin were all paler, of course, and Rin’s hair was longer right now - but there was fire in both their eyes. Neither witch was inclined to back down of their own accord.

Of course, there were differences, as well. Rin was fully Japanese, save for her eyes and a slight fairness to her skin tone. Ilya, on the other hand, partook of both her Japanese father and her Veela mother’s heritage, making her closer to Takara in appearance - the two girls might have been sisters, but for their colouring. Rin’s legs were better, longer and more muscular, like a dancer’s, but Ilya had the more impressive bust, and lusher curves overall. She also had fewer scruples about flaunting that fact, and judging by the narrowness of Rin’s eyes, the latter had just about had enough . . .

Takara cleared her throat.

Ilya flashed her a smile, and said in Japanese, “Takara-chan - do come in. I suppose everything worked out as expected, then?”

“It sure seems like it,” Takara admitted. “Although I’m going to get some odd questions as to how I got in, I’m sure.”

Ilya shrugged. “We can handle it.” She gestured. “You know Rin, of course.”

Takara nodded. “Tohsaka-san.”

The named witch’s eyes went wide, and she exploded. “That’s it - WHAT’S GOING ON? How can you be Ilyasviel - and who the hell are you?!” she demanded, whirling on Takara.

“I’m Ilyasviel, as I should have been,” Ilya said hotly. “If I hadn’t been trapped in that child’s body for over a decade.” She smirked. “Shirou would’ve been mine from the beginning, if I’d looked like this.”

“Don’t count on it,” Rin hissed. “Saber had him wrapped around her little finger . . . And Archer was mine.” She assumed an expression as smug as Ilya’s. “If I wanted the lying bastard now, I’m sure I could have him easily. Even Veela blood can’t help you that much, little girl.”

Ilya’s hair began whipping about, caught in a wind that didn’t blow anywhere else in the room. When it settled, her locks had become a crest of pale, silvery feathers, sweeping stiffly down her back.

“Try me, Rin,” Ilya growled, her eyes glowing like tiny blue stars as she lifted a cupped hand that was suddenly full of flames. “Oh, please - try me.”

Rin shifted grimly into a martial arts stance that had very few weaknesses that Takara could spot, when she suddenly clutched at her left hand. Takara winced as she felt a sudden shock of something go through her own hands, as though someone had driven nails through them.

“Ah!” Rin cried. “What the - ?”

“It’s Shirou,” Takara said tightly. “And Galen.” She paused, trying to understand the source of the pain, before deciding aloud, “They’re either hurt, dying, or really pissed off.”

“How do you know that?” Rin demanded. She stared at Takara, her eyes moving to the glyphs on Takara’s hands. “Why do you have Archer’s Command Mantra? Who are you?”

“Aozaki Takara desu, Tohsaka-san,” she introduced herself, bowing.

“AOZAKI?” Rin shrieked in disbelief - but the door opened before she could say another word.

Into the room trooped the three school heads, Dumbledore, Professor Sprout (who’d served as Deputy Headmistress since McGonagall’s advancement), Professor Moody, the two men from the Ministry, and Neville, surrounded by their other five friends in guard position they’d termed “Phalanx” in practice. Their wands were down, for the moment, but they had yet to break ranks - and the look in more than one pair of eyes said that they weren’t about to, either.

Oh no, Takara realised.

Once the door shut, the Durmstrang Headmaster exploded. “This is intolerable! First, for Hogwarts to have two champions, and then to be bullied by these mere schoolchildren - !”

“I would think very carefully before I spoke, if I were you, Karkaroff,” Moody snarled. “The only reason you’re still breathing is because they’re letting you.”

“Alastor!” McGonagall snapped. “I hardly think - !”

“LOOK AT THEM, MINERVA!” the elderly Auror roared. “Look at the way they’re holding themselves, the way they move! They might be children, but they’re not idiots, and they’re not amateurs - and they’d have mowed down every living soul in that Hall if you’d tried to force Longbottom out of there - starting with the biggest threats, us!”

Karkaroff sneered. “Your paranoia is showing, Moody - “

”Reducto,” came Galen’s sudden, flat response.

A jet of pale light blew the mantel of the fireplace to stone splinters. Takara’s wand had been out on the first syllable, and her Shield Charm deflected the debris - she even managed to extend the effect to cover Ilya and Rin. The effect on the rest of the room was immediate - most of the room froze, but Dumbledore reached into his robes and Moody stamped his walking stick on the ground, casting a Disarming Charm. Galen’s Shield Charm, cast immediately on the heels of the Reductor Curse, stopped Moody’s spell cold, and Shirou’s own Disarming Charm sent Dumbledore’s wand to the floor before he reached it, the old man staggering under the impact. Hermione’s own “Expelliarmus” was just as swift, and removed Moody from play.

Galen held his wand ready, glaring at none of the adults in particular - but all of them could feel his gaze, nonetheless.

“Let me be perfectly clear, Karkaroff,” he said quietly, and Takara knew him well enough to shiver. “Not one, but two of my underage friends have somehow been subjected to a binding magical contract. That strikes me as a deliberate attack on Hogwarts, and more importantly, my friends. I want them out of this tournament, and I want whoever’s responsible - and if you say one word, or make one move that keeps that from happening as quickly as possible . . .”

Takara saw him focus that empty-eyed gaze on Karkaroff directly, and saw the older man pale despite himself.

“I will make you wish for your master’s mercies, Death Eater,” Galen hissed.

Takara shuddered. She’d seen him this angry before, but not for years, and she’d honestly forgotten that he could be - yes, he was irritable and grumpy, usually, but not like this. The underlying fury in his voice, low and deadly, the bright gleam of eyes that held nothing but the promise of utter annihilation to anything that stood against him, and the boiling aura of magical power that seethed within the confines of the room . . . This was the Servant she’d called, in the end. The Avenger, driven by pain and an anger so powerful it could destroy a world. And as much as Takara wanted to pretend her convulsions were out of fear, or horror, she knew that it wasn’t entirely the case. Her hormones were more active now, quicker to respond to what pleased them - and the dark, twisted part of her that had once formed her Nanaya side wished that Galen was in his duster, and nothing else . . .

“Boy’s got a point, Karkaroff,” Moody growled. “Your old buddies got up to some fun at the World Cup, and someone cast the Dark Mark that spooked ‘em. Maybe you’re a little nervous about that? Thought it might be a good idea to put Longbottom in the Tournament - kill him off, like You-Know-Who wanted? The girl’s collateral damage, then - but if it gets you off the hook for grassing on them . . .”

A charitable person might have termed Moody’s expression a smile. Takara wasn’t that generous - or that blind.

Karkaroff turned a shade of red that rapidly approached puce. “You dare accuse me of - ?”

“ENOUGH!” Dumbledore thundered, and the aura of his power filled the room much as Galen’s had earlier.

Takara noted that it was much the same as Galen’s in certainty and intensity, though it lacked the wild anger that characterised her ex-Servant’s. If Galen’s was the electric, blazing fury of a thunderbolt, Dumbledore’s was an avalanche - slower, perhaps, but implacable.

And about the same intensity, she noted absently. Is Dumbledore holding back, or is Galen really that strong - and if so, will he get stronger as he gets older? . . . And where does that put me?

“The method of how this was accomplished, and by whom, is at the moment, immaterial,” Dumbledore said firmly. “At the very least, less important than the question of whether or not it is possible to remove Miss Aozaki and Mister Longbottom from the Tournament, as they are both far too young to effectively compete.”

Crouch looked up from his position by the fire. His voice was flat, and his eyes clouded. “We must follow the rules, and the rules clearly state that those people whose names come out of the Goblet of Fire are bound to compete in the Tournament.”

“Or?” Galen snapped.

“The contract entered into by the use of the Goblet clearly states that the champion is agreeing to risk their life to compete,” Crouch said emptily. “Should they choose to forfeit, that forfeit is exacted from them.”

“That word exactly - ‘forfeit?’” Galen demanded.

“Yes.”

Damn it, Takara thought, even as Galen hissed the same words. That means Neville can’t just give up, either. The contract will hold him to making a real attempt to win, or else. Of course, this is the man under the Imperius curse saying this, and our most likely suspect for putting Neville’s name in - but we can’t afford to take the risk!

“Can we declare the Tournament a draw, here and now?” Galen tried. “Or play it out in rounds of Exploding Snap, gobstones and chess?”

“The trials of the Tournament were set months in advance, and bound into the contract,” Crouch answered. “How else could the Goblet choose an appropriate champion for each school? It had to have criteria to select them with.”

Galen’s mouth moved, and only the fact that she’d moved closer to him to prevent another explosion allowed her to hear him mutter, “God damn it, you people had to pick now to grow brains?”

“There has to be a loophole,” Shirou said. “Who adjudicates the Tournament? Can’t they declare it a draw, or demand a re-choosing?”

“The Goblet works only once every five years,” Crouch said. “And declaring the contest void without an attempt at holding the trials will exact the forfeit from all the champions.”

McGonagall looked haggard. “So, we must hold the Tournament, now that the magic of the Goblet has been invoked, and all the champions - legal or not, willing or not - must compete?”

“Yes,” Crouch said flatly.

Ludo clapped his hands, and gave everyone a wan smile. “Well, it will certainly make for an interesting Tournament, I must say.”






Neville was numb, physically and mentally, as he and his friends made their way back to Gryffindor Tower. He kept hoping that he’d wake up from the nightmare, but it didn’t seem to be happening.

Bound by a magical contract to compete in a tournament I didn’t enter, despite every precaution possible being taken to prevent something like this from happening - and if I don’t compete, I’ll die . . . Of course, that’s always assuming that Gran doesn’t kill me first.

Worse, for the first time in his memory, Galen, Shirou and Takara had failed him. Despite all their efforts - and a bloody scary show - they’d been unable to get him out of competing. He didn't have a choice but to do it.

I can’t do this! he wailed to himself. Yes, I’ve improved - I’m a lot better than I thought I’d be four years ago. Yes, my new wand helps with that - but that doesn’t mean I’m ready for this! This is supposed to challenge seventh-years, people who are of age, and have learned loads more than I have! Even if the others can tell me what I’m going to be up against, that’s no guarantee at all that I’ll be able to do anything about it! But if I don’t . . .

If he didn’t, he was dead. Period. He really did have no choice at all - and he hated it. It was some small comfort to him - and admittedly, not much at the moment - that everyone else did, too. Galen had been fined seventy-five points for his actions, and the others fifteen apiece, putting Gryffindor firmly in the red for the House Cup - and that was in addition to three months of detention. The fact that they would be served with Professor Moody didn’t make anybody happy except him - the smile on his face when he’d insisted on overseeing the detentions had made even McGonagall, who was as forbiddingly angry as Neville had ever seen her, pale.

So when the seven of them trudged back to the Gryffindor dorms, the last thing they were possibly in the mood for was applause.

Neville stared at the crowd of people screaming, clapping and whistling. Were they mental? Did the reactions of his friends in the Great Hall not convince them that hadn’t been planned, and in fact a complete (and completely unwelcome) surprise?

I guess not, Neville thought grimly, though he saw the Weasley twins give him apologetic looks from a corner of the room - proving that they, at least, paid attention to what went on around them.

Alicia stepped up to congratulate he and Takara. “Oh, if it couldn’t be me, at least it’s a Gryffindor - ” she began.

“We didn’t put our names in,” Takara said flatly, and the dark-skinned Chaser actually took a step back on seeing her teammate’s face. Neville was standing at just the wrong angle to see what was in her expression, slightly behind Takara, but he could guess.

Galen’s the one who went off, but none of the others stopped him, Neville considered. Luna or Ginny might not have felt up to it, but not even Hermione tried, much less the two people most likely to be able to keep him from doing anything terrible. Which means none of them are at all pleased with this, and Takara’s been roped into the Tournament, too . . .

Neville had a sudden vision of what was liable to happen if they stayed in the common room, and suggested quickly, “Let’s head up to the dorms.” Before somebody says or does something that sets someone else off.

But even getting to the stairs was easier said than done, as every few steps seemed to bring forth more well-wishers, more people enticing him or Takara to eat, relax, celebrate . . .

“Protego,” Galen finally snapped, and if he wasn’t yelling, it didn’t make his anger any less evident. The silver barrier seemingly erupted in place, shoving people back in force. More than a few screamed and swore, but the blazing silver construct held against anything the irritated Gryffindors could do.

“Go on up,” Galen instructed. “I’ll be right behind you - TRY IT!” he suddenly roared at a Gryffindor prefect who was trying to sneak his way around the edge of the Shield Charm. “Give me a reason - I’ll tear you APART!”

Next to him, Takara shivered with sudden violence, and Neville could sympathise with her fear - he had no doubts that Galen would carry out his threat, either.

By mutual unspoken consent, they moved to the fourth-year boys’ dorm - none of them were ready to separate just yet. Neville sat on his bed despondently, and found himself sandwiched between Luna and, surprisingly, Hermione - her hand rested atop one of her own, squeezing it gently.

“It will be all right,” she assured him. “We might not be able to get you out of this, but we’ll get you through it, Neville.”

“And then we’ll get whoever did this,” Ginny said fiercely. “The hard part will be deciding who gets to make him pay for it.”

“Still on about that, are you?” came Ron Weasley’s voice. “Still going to pretend you had nothing to do with it, with all your rich and clever friends around you, Longbottom?”

Neville stared at him, not quite sure the boy was entirely sane. “I didn’t.”

“Sure,” the redhead said sourly. “Of course, you might have let the rest of us in on how you managed it, eh? It wouldn’t have mattered, once you got your name in.”

“I didn’t,” Neville repeated.

Weasley continued as if he hadn’t spoken. “But that’s just the way it is with you lot - too good for the rest of us . . .”

Ginny glared at her brother, and the heater in the centre of the dorm roared suddenly, as the fire crackling within it abruptly flared. Neville automatically scanned the room for Galen, and didn’t see him - but Shirou, pacing by a window with Takara, was clenching his fists so tightly his knuckles were white.

“. . . Dunno know why you even entered - sure, the prize is a thousand Galleons, but you’re a Longbottom - you’ve already got more money than you know what to do with . . .”

A crackling sound came from the window, and Neville saw ice forming from the rainwater that streaked down its surface - but the ice was forming upward, with Takara as its root.

Two flares of uncontrollable magic - and neither of them is from Galen. They’re closer to the edge than I thought -

He abruptly became aware that Luna’s hair was stirring without the benefit of a breeze to blow it, and mentally adjusted his count to three.

“. . . Of course, you’ll probably need your friends to help you cheat into a win, anyway - just like you did with the Gobl - ”

The brilliance of the flash of lightning - and the following crash of thunder that sent tremors through the floor of Gryffindor Tower - might have been due to its being extremely close . . . But given Galen’s appearance on the stairwell entrance between the lightning’s departure and the thunder’s arrival, Neville doubted it - and he abruptly realised that the last snarls of “thunder” were coming from Hermione.

As Galen strode into the room, Neville suddenly found it hard to breathe. He’d experienced the sheer, terrifying presence his friend could emit less than half an hour ago - but this was worse. As he watched Shirou and Takara step into place beside him, Neville realised that it wasn’t just him, it was all three of them - the trinity, as the rest of their circle sometimes called them, the three core members of their group.

We always meant it as a sort-of joke, but it isn’t - something very real binds those three, and when they work together . . .

He’d seen the others angry before, and Galen’s rages had always been frightening, but even Neville’s wildest nightmares had never contemplated all three of them in the same furious state at the same time, their minds and magic in unspoken accord, focussed on a single purpose. The air felt thick and suffocating, sending flashes of heat and cold, along with electric prickles of terror, across his skin. The furniture seemed to tremble, and Neville would swear that he could feel the stone of Gryffindor Tower vibrate underneath his feet.

Even Dumbledore never felt like this - I think they could blast the tower to its foundations, maybe even the whole castle . . . And I’m too terrified to stop them - I’m too terrified to move!

If Neville was that frightened, Weasley was worse - because he was the target. Pale and jerking spasmodically, he kept trying to reach for his wand as the trinity stepped slowly, almost rhythmically nearer, each heartbeat that much closer to being his last. His breath devolved into a panting, desperate whine, and sweat rolled off him in buckets (along with, Neville’s nose told him, other fluids and semi-fluid materials). Finally, Galen stepped within arm’s reach, and -

Weasley fainted dead away.

For a long moment, the three of them stared at the fallen wizard, wrestling with the temptation of a target to take out their frustrations on . . .
“Shirou,” Luna said, even more softly than usual, and far more seriously. “This isn’t who you are - and it isn’t who you want to be. Please, stop . . .”

Ginny spoke up. “Takara, he’s the world’s biggest and foulest git - but he’s my brother, too. You understand, right? He’s my brother . . .”

Hermione got up and wrapped her arms around Galen from behind. “Galen, please. For me - don’t do this for me. Please . . .”

The others snapped out of it fairly quickly, responding to these pleas to the best of them - but Galen shuddered at Hermione’s voice. For just a moment, Neville caught a glimpse of some raw, terrible pain that he didn’t understand - and then the blank mask was back in place.

“For you,” he said quietly. “This once, for you.”

She sighed, and sagged against him, and Neville felt a pang of envy - Hermione had always been pretty, but she was becoming very beautiful, and showed signs that she was still improving. He felt more than a little pleased when she released Galen to come sit by him again.

“We really should make plans about what to do now that this has happened,” Shirou said, “but I’m knackered. Mind if we pick it up in the morning?”

“Sure,” Takara said. “I think we can manage to keep the annoyances off our back for the night.”

“No joke,” Ginny snorted. “I nearly pissed myself - I had no idea you could do that, I thought we were going to die!”

Luna sounded thoughtful as she said, “The marks on Takara’s hands aren’t just decorations - they’re a promise, of what the three of you are capable of when you work together.” She looked at Neville, her eyes warm and oddly luminous as she said with certainty, “You’ll be all right.”

Neville felt a blush rising - between Hermione’s nearness and Luna’s sudden intensity, he was a little embarrassed to be the centre of attention for so many pretty girls. He looked away . . .

And realised that Galen was gone.

Kieran
March 29th, 2011, 08:33 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 Goblet of Fire, but I trust in the intelligence of my readers (and the availability of the books) to recognise them when they see them.



Chapter 12 - To Talk of Many Things



October 31, 1994






“Once again, you think it’s all about you.”

Sir Ian McKellen’s voice was dry, and ever so slightly amused - and it was damnably truthful. He’d been so smug in his certainty that even should his precautions somehow fail, one of the three of them would be the champion selected by the Goblet. In his arrogance, he’d forgotten that it was Neville who marked as the prophecy child in Harry’s absence, it was Neville that Voldemort would target - and it was Neville who would now stand alone, because he was bound to compete, and there was no way they would be allowed to interfere.

And he’s not ready, damn it! He’s better than almost any fourth-year around, but that doesn’t put him on the same level as a seventh-year! Martial arts aren’t going to do a damned bit of good against a dragon, and Neville can’t fly like Harry can. Takara, yes - but not Neville!

How did it happen? Moody should’ve done everything shy of disassembling the damned Goblet after I got through! Even if Voldemort had done the smart thing, and had the Imperiused Crouch Sr. Confund the Goblet and enter Neville’s name before it even arrived at Hogwarts, that should’ve put paid to his little scheme. Paranoid Moody may be, but he’s no fool - he’d have sussed it out, if it was there to be found. And those bloody extra wards should’ve kept anyone from tampering afterwards - I recognised a couple of those runes, and I wouldn’t have wanted to cross them!

Normally, Galen found wrapping himself in the Deathcloak somewhat soothing - it put a barrier between himself and the world that allowed him to keep calm. But the usual thrill of donning his favourite toy wasn’t enough to keep him from seething over the events of the night . . . And the trap sprung on Neville was only half the problem, and nausea roiled in his stomach as he contemplated the other half.

And so it begins . . . How could it not, given that it’s a much more promising start than a screaming match over the Yule Ball? But that Hermione would beg me for his life, for herself . . .Tom Riddle is an evil, self-serving bastard who wouldn’t know a human emotion if it walked up to him and introduced itself, and couldn’t be trusted to tell the truth if he was so full of Veritaserum that it was coming out his ears - but that doesn’t make him wrong.

Both events were symptomatic of the same problem: that this universe, despite all its deviations, seemed bound and determined to follow Rowling’s canon as closely as possible. Which meant that so long as Hermione and Ron were both alive, they would end up together - and he didn’t think he could handle that.

Well, be fair - it’s not like you’re a better match. Even laying aside the fact that you’re old enough to be her father (which is no small detail), you’re lazy, selfish, arrogant, hot-tempered, violent - you were damned well ready to kill Karkaroff and everyone else in that room stupid enough to try and stop you, and you’d have lost no sleep over it at all. Hermione’s too good a person to ever love a monster like you, and if she could . . . Would she even be Hermione?

He shuddered at even contemplating the kind of changes she would have to undergo for that to be true - and the fact that he would be responsible for them. Galen continued along the corridors in this vein of thought, seeking the Room of Requirement. He wanted a place where he wouldn’t, and couldn’t be found, much less disturbed, to be alone with his thoughts until this current surge of fury burned itself out. And if it happened to be equipped with several bottles of high-grade alcohol, or a vast plethora of red-haired simulacra capable of screaming and bleeding when injured (and perhaps even begging for mercy they weren’t going to get) well . . . All to the good.

The door emerged from the wall, as expected (there was no way in hell it couldn’t respond, the mood he was in) and he stepped through, sliding it silently closed behind him even as he whipped the Deathcloak off with a flourish - and stopped. And stared. The Room’s decor was brighter than he’d expected, deep greens and warm browns, rather than the gray or black he’d thought would suit his mood. A fireplace crackled merrily at the far end. Standing before that fireplace was a pair of tall red armchairs, with end tables that held steaming cups of tea. All in all, it resembled a cross between an area in the Gryffindor common room, and his parents’ library.

Not at all what he’d expected, but it wasn’t the truly surprising part. The second chair was occupied. Given his mood, it would have made sense to see her equipped for battle, prepared to give and take punishment - mostly give, honestly. But her blue skirt and white shirt were devoid of any armour, and she delicately held a cup of tea in her hand, instead of a weapon. Clearly, battle was not on the agenda.

“This is . . . This is unexpected,” Galen said lamely.

The look he received bordered on condescending. “It is called the Room of Requirement - it therefore provides what you need, not what you want.”

“So it’s not really you, then - just a simulation.”

Her face was unreadable. “I could be. Perhaps I was created by the magic of the castle, or by materialising the best part of yourself as myself, a form you respect and would obey, given the choice. Then again, I do go where I’m needed, both in legend and in fact, so perhaps it really is me, summoned here by the Room, and given all the pertinent information required to fulfill my task - because what you need is someone you will listen to, an authority figure you can trust with your secrets and ask for advice.” She sipped her tea. “Now - will you sit, and we can discuss this like civilised people?”

Galen did, but couldn’t resist a dig. “Somehow, you never really struck me as the diplomatic type.”

Her return look was withering. “You don’t suppose I might have learned something of the skill in my time? Consider the legends of my home. Besides, you have done enough violence to yourself with little result. Driving home a lesson at the point of a sword is not the solution to this problem.”

He allowed the point with a nod.

Her eyes narrowed as she admitted, “Not that it doesn’t have a certain visceral appeal at the moment . . . But let us begin - I suspect this tale will be long in the telling.”

So Galen told her everything, the whole sordid saga from beginning to end, and when he was finished, those jewel-like eyes closed in contemplation, and she asked, “Am I happy?”

“. . . Huh?” Galen answered intelligently.

Her eyes opened again, and focussed on him. “The question is a simple one. You are aware of my life and its history, after all - so I ask of you, am I happy?”

“No - you’re too driven to be happy.”

“And you know why that is.”

“Yes.”

Suddenly blazing eyes glared at him. “Then why, by all that is sacred, do you seem so intent on repeating my mistakes?”

“. . . Huh?”

“You close yourself off from humanity - from any possibility of hope or happiness - and not out of a sense of duty, as I did, but from a sense of unworthiness! Why?”

“Because I don’t! I am broken - I learned my lessons late, but well. I am unimportant at best, and an outright monster at worst.”

“There are those who would argue otherwise.”

“They’re ridiculously optimistic, then.”

“Am I?” came the dangerous response. “Were you either of those things, do you truly believe I would have hesitated to cut you down where you stood?”

“. . . No.”

“Were you either of those things, would the girls you so fear be alive now to worry about?”

“. . . Girls, plural?” Hermione, he understood, but who else - ?

“Your mistress - would she have survived? Would her family?” Her voice turned scornful. “Strange how someone ‘unimportant’ could accomplish what was done to save them - and stranger still that an ‘outright monster’ would care enough to try. Much less in the case of the children here.”

“I’m complicated,” he drawled.

“And capable of change,” she pressed. “If not then, perhaps now - this is not the life you lived, the body you had. Why not accept the possibility that this means things need not be as they were, that you need not be as you think you are?”

“To what end?”

Her hand twitched, as though she was reconsidering beating the lesson into him.

“To what end, now? Why do you fight against this Voldemort - if this society is as corrupted as you say, perhaps it is time that it fell, as empires do.”

“Shirou and Takara are fighting him.”

“And they are capable - more so than yourself. They do not truly need you - so why do you fight?”

“Hermione and the others will fight - they could die. They will die, if Voldemort wins.”

“And?” she pressed. “Again, Takara and Shirou could surely handle it. Many of the others are no doubt capable, as well - so why do you fight?”

“Because I might be able to help - and if I didn’t, I’d never forgive myself if anything happened to them.”

She nodded approvingly. “Better - the man I deemed worthy is lost, perhaps, but not gone.” Her eyes flashed as she spoke, daring him to dispute her judgment, as he might have so many others’. When he didn’t take the bait - he didn’t dare, really - she continued, “Now, as to your problems with maidens . . .”






Galen blinked at the abrupt (to him) change in topic, and asked sceptically, “Should you really be giving me advice on this?”

“You know someone else you could ask?” she said, raising an eyebrow.

Galen considered. “Irisviel, maybe?”

Her response was blunt. “Given Arcueid’s attempts to meddle over the years, could you trust that her cousin would not do the same?”

“Point,” he admitted.

She nodded in satisfaction, and then asked, “Have you considered what you will do if proven wrong?”

He opened his mouth to answer, but she cut him off. "You do not believe they will choose you, but what if they do - and assume, however unlikely you find it, that no potions or other mind-altering conditions exist?”

“Then I have trouble buying it,” Galen answered. “They could all do so much better - they’re capable of so much more - ”

“Then allow them to do so,” she said sharply. “If you truly believe that you will hold them back, then help them to succeed in spite of you - allow them what they want, while at the same time giving them the means to achieve what they deserve.”

Her eyes were measuring as she asked quietly, “Can you truly tell me that even if you were to spend your entire life working towards such a goal as that, it would be a wasted life?”

“. . . No.” He snorted. “I still think it won’t happen.”

“And I will not waste time nor breath attempting to convince you otherwise - others have tried, with little success, to force the belief into your mind. Therefore, I am resorting to logic instead of persuasion, and merely attempting to prepare you for the possibility, should it occur. And if it does occur, to give you some means of finding happiness in the event.

She tilted her head, and asked archly, “Besides, is not one of your greatest complaints against this ‘Ronald Weasley’ that he does not apply himself, nor strive to improve himself, despite numerous chances? If nothing else, this will raise you above him, will it not?”

He snorted. “You’ve got me there.”

“Indeed.” She set down her teacup. “Now, as to your current struggles, and future battle plans . . .”

“I’m still trying to figure out what went wrong,” Galen sighed. “Moody should’ve caught anything that was there before he adjusted the security, not even mentioning that those rune wards he put up were freaking scary - and untouched. There shouldn’t have been any way to get Neville’s name into that Goblet.”

“And yet it occurred,” she pointed out reasonably. “So obviously, a way existed. Perhaps determining the how will be easier if you determine who might be responsible.”

“Voldemort or his followers,” Galen said immediately. “Except Voldie’s in no condition to do it, and I can’t see any of them getting from Little Hangleton to Hogwarts fast enough to get Neville’s name in and get out - not without tripping a ward or being spotted by someone. Lucius Malfoy and Sirius Black are two of the most wanted fugitives in the country right now. So if they couldn’t travel, that means a supporter on the grounds . . . Crouch might be under the Imperius Curse, and he might’ve Confunded the Goblet initially, but I don’t know if he could’ve gotten past the extra security. I don’t even know if he’d have thought to try and Confund the Goblet a second time without specific instructions to do so, and the Map tells me that nobody under Polyjuice is here to give them to him. Karkaroff or Snape, then?”

Galen shook his head. “Karkaroff’s too much of a coward - he’ll flee rather than answer his master’s call, after turning stoolie. And Snape . . . He might have the guts to try, and maybe even the skills - but under Moody and Dumbledore’s noses? Especially when there’s no real indication that Voldemort’s around to deal with Dumbledore if he got caught? No, Snape might hate Neville enough to do it, but he always backs the strongest horse, and right now that’s Dumbledore. Without the old man’s protection, he’d be in a cell next to Bellatrix - or the grave next to Pettigrew’s - and he knows it. He doesn’t have Malfoy’s money and influence, to buy his way out of trouble - and he can’t call on it with Lucius a fugitive. Snape wouldn’t dare either, as much as he might like to.”

He stood and began to pace. “Then who, and how? Moody’s runes enhanced Dumbledore’s Age Line to a very restricted range - I got that much out of them. Dumbledore’s protections threw you out if you were under seventeen - Moody’s did the same if you were over eighteen. Only people who should’ve been competing could’ve got past that line.”

“You did, did you not?” his companion noted.

“Before Moody went into paranoid mode,” he returned, “which was the whole point, really. His wards would’ve tossed me out then, too. Oh, I suppose I could’ve tried using the Deathcloak - I’ve yet to find a magical detection method that’ll penetrate its power - but I wouldn’t have wanted . . .” He trailed off, adding, “to . . .” almost as an afterthought. His eyes widened in realisation.

“Son. Of. A. BITCH!” Galen roared.






Power. The key to the puzzle was power, ultimate power. The power of a wand which, according to legend, must always win duels for its owner - and by extension, always defeat spells which stand against it, no matter how powerful or complex.

“Dumbledore - it had to be Dumbledore. That meddling old - ARRRGH!”

The Elder Wand could’ve stripped away Moody’s spells and recreated them afterward - hell, it could’ve punched right through them like they didn’t exist! A simple Confundus at ridiculous power levels, and maybe a Banishing Charm to get Neville’s name into the Goblet itself. Fifth-year stuff, hardly a challenge for a wizard of Dumbledore’s calibre, much less a wand as powerful as the Deathstick.

“Why would he do such a thing?”

“His bloody prophecy,” Galen snarled. “Shirou’s the one he thinks was marked as an equal, and he wields the brother wand to Voldemort’s - but his parents never defied Voldemort, since they weren’t here. And Shirou was born in August, not ‘as the seventh month dies.’ Whereas Neville, as per his original belief, fulfills the first two criteria but not the third. It’s got to be confusing the hell out of the old man - and this is a way to determine the truth. If Neville is the Chosen One, then whatever happens, he’ll ultimately be fine - after all, he must die at Voldemort’s hand, and no other. Whereas his death, though regrettable, will prove once and for all that Shirou is the one intended as Voldemort’s destroyer, and allow Dumbledore to focus all his resources on Shirou.”

He snorted. “As strategies go, it’s cold, and more than a little cruel - but it is For the Greater Good of the wizarding world, after all. Dumbledore’s never given up on that philosophy, just changed the means he uses to achieve it - and he’s no less skilled at justifying those means than he was at seventeen, when he advocated wizards’ rule over mundanes. Dumbledore’s never shied away from making the hard choices, or from believing in his own authority - this is the man who singlehandedly decided to gamble the fate of his society on a series of guesses he made sixteen years beforehand, without fully discussing it with anyone, before or after.”

“So, what do you intend to do about it?”

Galen sighed. “There isn’t much we can do. There’s no evidence to prove a thing, and even if we could, we’d probably end up revealing more than we wanted to Dumbledore, or someone. The theory really doesn’t hold up unless you know about - and believe in - the Deathstick, and revealing that thing’s existence will cause more problems than it solves. Plus, despite all we’ve learned about protecting our minds, our defences might as well not exist where it’s concerned. So far, Dumbledore hasn’t had much contact with us, or reason to probe too deeply.” He paused, remembering the events of the night, and added, “Though that may have changed, now . . . Either way, we don’t have a prayer against that wand, and we can’t afford to give him a reason to use it on us.”

A sudden thought struck him. “Though Shirou may be immune - the wand has a demonstrated history of refusing to be used against its master.”

“You are not certain?”

“No. If things hold true, Dumbledore’s stuck - he can’t use the Elder Wand to disarm Shirou and reclaim mastery of it, and even if he gets another for the purpose, it’s going to be tricky setting up a situation where he can disarm Shirou without answering any number of awkward questions.” He smiled at the thought, but turned serious. “But there are certain things about that wand’s history that have always bothered me - Shirou might not actually be its master. In fact, given our luck, I’d almost put money on it, because things are rarely that simple for us.”

Galen shook his head. “It wouldn’t matter right now if he was - Shirou can hardly take the thing from him any more than Dumbledore could disarm him. The issue will just have to sit in limbo until there’s a better time - and place - to address it.”

“And what will you do about events here and now?”

“Prepare Neville and Takara for the Tournament - it’s all I can do for them, right now. That, and watch Dumbledore. I’ve never trusted him on principle, and now I know he can’t be - not if he’s willing to dangle Neville like bait, just to see what happens.”

Galen’s voice darkened as he added, “And if my friends die because of his meddling, the old fool will follow them, or I will.” Then he shook himself - the rage wasn’t nearly as bad as it had been when he’d first entered, though obviously flare-ups were going to continue for a while.

Galen looked at his companion and sighed. “Have I mentioned yet how much I hate being a teenager again? I did eventually grow out of these angst-fests, and I was bloody glad to see the end of them. Having them back again is not fun.” He shrugged. “Oh well, at least my Occlumency training helps me keep it down to once a year, instead of every three or four months, like last time. I just wish I didn’t have another five years of them to put up with.”

“You seem much improved, just the same.”

“Yeah - I did need the talk, I guess. And however you got here, the Room was right - you, I would listen to.” He smiled. “My thanks for putting up with me, Milady.”

A slight smile crossed her face. “You know, if I am merely a figment of the Room, or your imagination, I suppose it wouldn’t be amiss for you to use my given name - and if I happen to be the genuine article, the chances of my returning to chastise you for it are nearly nonexistent.”

“You’re right.” Moving to the door, Galen made a sweeping bow towards his impromptu counsellor, and said, “Thanks, Arturia.”

He left the Room, and did not look back until the door was closed. He didn’t want to know if she vanished before it did, or with it - and nor would he go looking for her again. Sometimes, the mystery meant more than the truth.

Donning the Deathcloak, he quoted to himself softly, “‘Because sometimes, the truth isn’t good enough. Sometimes people deserve more. Sometimes, people deserve to have their faith rewarded.’”

He shook his head. I haven’t done random movie quotes since I died. If this keeps up, it won’t be long before I start singing to myself again. She really did a number on me, if she can call that much of myself back to me . . . But then, she always could. Inspiring people is what she does, and this is her land, where her legend is strongest, and still endures.

She believed in me enough, believed I was worthy enough, to fight on equal terms, when she categorically knew that she could strike me down with no real effort. Delaying her victory to save Shiki, I could understand - she wouldn’t want an innocent to die for her wish - but that battle could’ve been over the instant her feet touched the arena floor, if she’d wanted it to be. But she gave me a chance. She thought I deserved it.

However much I hate the British magical world - and certain people in it - it’s still British, still her home. And I’d hate to repay her generosity by telling her that I allowed her subjects to suffer, and die, when I could have stopped it.

So he’d soldier on, for the sake of his debt to the last of the Pendragons. Even through Hermione pursuing Ron, if he had to, until he was sure that Voldemort was gone for good. He owed Saber nothing less for completing his mission, and for giving him the respect that she had.

So everybody gets to live, for now. But I’m not Arturia Pendragon - I don’t have her nobility, or her patience. Given sufficient evidence or provocation, I’ll kill anyone I have to, and make my excuses to her afterward.

In the meantime, he mused as he headed to the Gryffindor common room, he ought to get some sleep. Judging by the reactions around the school, tomorrow would be a very long day.

RanmaBushiko
March 29th, 2011, 08:49 PM
Nice to see this updated again. Hopefully I'll get to see more eventually. Your work is rather enjoyable to read.

Deathtenks
March 29th, 2011, 08:55 PM
War had just been declared.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQkaD6fG8mk


Anyways. Been loving the story so far. Can't wait for the next chapter :)

B.B. Rain
March 29th, 2011, 09:05 PM
Two points regarging the Ron-Hermione-Galen mess, both recently in-verse and in general...

First, was she saying 'for me,' as in don't kill him with protecting her from Ron's 'romance' as the reason, or sparing his life as a favor to her, as it seems Galen thinks?

Second, while I don't personally agree with the following arguement, it might have an effect on Galen's twisted up head. 'If Hermione hooked up with someone so very worng for her with so little going for him in canon, maybe Galen, thanks to his (from his point of view, accurate) low opinion of himself, maybe the original plotline force has lined him up as this Hermione's Ron Weasley.' In other words, without trying to fight through his angsty-I-suck-spiel, maybe he isn't going to get shafted by canon in the romance department...The way he currently thinks, since apparently he's such a horrible, horrible catch (/sarcasm).

Oh yeah: Is this Rin aware of the Harry Potter verse and/or fiction to any degree from her own preceeding reality?

Kieran
March 29th, 2011, 09:50 PM
Nice to see this updated again. Hopefully I'll get to see more eventually. Your work is rather enjoyable to read.




Anyways. Been loving the story so far. Can't wait for the next chapter :)

Thank you both - and hopefully, I'll have the next chapter ready tomorrow.




Two points regarging the Ron-Hermione-Galen mess, both recently in-verse and in general...

First, was she saying 'for me,' as in don't kill him with protecting her from Ron's 'romance' as the reason, or sparing his life as a favor to her, as it seems Galen thinks?

She has absolutely no idea that Ron's supposed to be anything to her - in all honesty, she finds him annoying, if she thinks about him at all. I forget who brought it up initially, but to paraphrase, it's more a case of, "I don't want to see his blood on your hands."



Second, while I don't personally agree with the following arguement, it might have an effect on Galen's twisted up head. 'If Hermione hooked up with someone so very worng for her with so little going for him in canon, maybe Galen, thanks to his (from his point of view, accurate) low opinion of himself, maybe the original plotline force has lined him up as this Hermione's Ron Weasley.' In other words, without trying to fight through his angsty-I-suck-spiel, maybe he isn't going to get shafted by canon in the romance department...The way he currently thinks, since apparently he's such a horrible, horrible catch (/sarcasm).

That will never occur to him - and if it did, he'd be back to outright suicide again. So we'll be glad that it won't, because I really don't want to go through this again after I Obliviated him to prevent it.




Oh yeah: Is this Rin aware of the Harry Potter verse and/or fiction to any degree from her own preceeding reality?

I'm honestly not sure. Rin doesn't strike me as the type to read pop fiction - particularly a fantasy work that makes such light of magi. If she has, however, she'd likely only be aware up to Book 5 (released before the Grail War), as studying under Zelretch would've absorbed her available time.

lethum
March 29th, 2011, 09:59 PM
(Every protection known to wizardkind, he reminded himself. Save one, for the moment[/i])

You really are a monster, you know. But you’re more afraid of your fists than you are of your fangs. And that doesn’t even count your wand.

Neville thought, [i]three years ago, the idea of Gran crusading for werewolf rights would’ve been silly. Mention that our best Defence teacher ever is a werewolf, however

and perhaps Charms, given Professor Flitwick, Hermione thought. Professor Snape is a Potions Master himself, but isn’t really a very good teacher.
Missed some.

SeiKeo
March 29th, 2011, 11:04 PM
YES! It has been revived!

Oh geez, they're all scary.

Whoa, Dumbledore. Manipulative old bastard.

Seiba's back!

Kieran
March 29th, 2011, 11:22 PM
Missed some.

Got 'em all, thanks. That should be the last of them, because it's the last of the reposts. Thanks again.



YES! It has been revived!

Yup - now we'll see if I can regain my momentum.



Oh geez, they're all scary.

Absolutely.



Whoa, Dumbledore. Manipulative old bastard.

But it's For the Greater Good . . . :rolleyes:




Seiba's back!

Even leaving aside her profound effect on Shirou and Galen, I'm a fan, and they're in England - I can't not do a cameo from time to time. :)

ringlhach
March 30th, 2011, 01:50 AM
“Yeah - I did need the talk, I guess. And however you got here, the Room was right - you, I would*listen to.” He smiled. “My thanks for putting up with me, Milady.”

Whups! Wot's tha' doin' thar?

Ahem. That aside, I was kinda surprised that Galen didn't take that as Hermione choosing Ron over him, period dot. She just begged for his life- okay, she was actually begging for Galen's, because he'd end up in Azkaban or just put down, but he seems to twist things in his head.

EDIT: Oh, and I"m calling it now- Shirou, at the bottom of the lake, for everyone. Nobody else.

Zeranion
March 30th, 2011, 03:28 AM
Oh I've been waiting for this to come back up.

Glad to see Galen got some sense talked into him. I was kinda worried he'd gone to do something stupid when he disappeared. Thank you RoR. Your gift is gratefully received. *bows*

FcS
March 30th, 2011, 05:22 AM
Bad Dumbly-dorr is bad Dumb-ydorr. :(
I think the ones who'll be dumped inside the lake will be Shirou, Fleur and Luna. Dunno would be chosen for Takara... Ginny? Galen? :/

ringlhach
March 30th, 2011, 05:29 AM
Well, think about it...

Shirou for Ilya is obvious. He's Neville's idol, and along with Galen, he's one of Takara's best friends. The only person more convenient would be her little brother- but I don't see either of her parents letting that happen. Galen is (a) a werewolf, (b) an acknowledged whiz at counterspells, and (c) both evil-tempered and powerful enough to mess up whoever tries to stick him down there.

We don't know enough about Rin, though. On one hand, in their home 'verse, they may have been lovers, depending on the route, and as EMIYA, he was her Servant. Fleur might make more sense for her, now that I think about it... but it wouldn't be as funny.

EVERYONE GRAB A LIMB AND PULL~!

Kieran
March 30th, 2011, 07:06 AM
Whups! Wot's tha' doin' thar?

Got it - I don't know what causes those. They seem to appear at random when I transfer my documents to the board. I really should ask a mod about it.



Ahem. That aside, I was kinda surprised that Galen didn't take that as Hermione choosing Ron over him, period dot. She just begged for his life- okay, she was actually begging for Galen's, because he'd end up in Azkaban or just put down, but he seems to twist things in his head.

Too soon - he's waiting for the sudden turnaround in sixth year.


Glad to see Galen got some sense talked into him. I was kinda worried he'd gone to do something stupid when he disappeared.

Nope, just violent - it might be a matter of degrees, but he is better than he was.



EDIT: Oh, and I"m calling it now- Shirou, at the bottom of the lake, for everyone. Nobody else.


I think the ones who'll be dumped inside the lake will be Shirou, Fleur and Luna. Dunno would be chosen for Takara... Ginny? Galen? :/


Well, think about it...

Shirou for Ilya is obvious. He's Neville's idol, and along with Galen, he's one of Takara's best friends. The only person more convenient would be her little brother- but I don't see either of her parents letting that happen. Galen is (a) a werewolf, (b) an acknowledged whiz at counterspells, and (c) both evil-tempered and powerful enough to mess up whoever tries to stick him down there.

We don't know enough about Rin, though. On one hand, in their home 'verse, they may have been lovers, depending on the route, and as EMIYA, he was her Servant. Fleur might make more sense for her, now that I think about it... but it wouldn't be as funny.

EVERYONE GRAB A LIMB AND PULL~!

*chuckle* God, I hope I can live up to expectations here - I may have to do an omake (or more than one) just to cover all the possibilities. :)

al103
March 30th, 2011, 07:48 AM
Still no proper talk tsun talk something with Rin... :(

Kieran
March 30th, 2011, 08:26 AM
Call it "building suspense." :)

. . . Speaking of building suspense, I wonder - how many of you figured out who Galen was talking to before I mentioned her name?

lethum
March 30th, 2011, 08:28 AM
I accidentally read the comments before reading the chapter, so I had been spoiled.

Aodyssey
March 30th, 2011, 09:03 AM
Not at all what he’d expected, but it wasn’t the truly surprising part. The second chair was occupied. Given his mood, it would have made sense to see her equipped for battle, prepared to give and take punishment - mostly give, honestly. But her blue skirt and white shirt were devoid of any armour, and she delicately held a cup of tea in her hand, instead of a weapon. Clearly, battle was not on the agenda.

I get a nagging feeling with this

and caught on with this.


Her eyes opened again, and focussed on him. “The question is a simple one. You are aware of my life and its history, after all - so I ask of you, am I happy?”

“No - you’re too driven to be happy.”

“And you know why that is.”

“Yes.”

Suddenly blazing eyes glared at him. “Then why, by all that is sacred, do you seem so intent on repeating my mistakes?”

hatori
March 30th, 2011, 09:16 AM
even if it's a cameo. hell yes. Saber.

SeiKeo
March 30th, 2011, 12:12 PM
Yeah, the blue skirt and white shirt were a bit of a giveaway.

B.B. Rain
March 30th, 2011, 12:56 PM
Originally Posted by ringlhach
EDIT: Oh, and I"m calling it now- Shirou, at the bottom of the lake, for everyone. Nobody else.

Originally Posted by FcS
I think the ones who'll be dumped inside the lake will be Shirou, Fleur and Luna. Dunno would be chosen for Takara... Ginny? Galen? :/

Originally Posted by ringlhach
Well, think about it...

Shirou for Ilya is obvious. He's Neville's idol, and along with Galen, he's one of Takara's best friends. The only person more convenient would be her little brother- but I don't see either of her parents letting that happen. Galen is (a) a werewolf, (b) an acknowledged whiz at counterspells, and (c) both evil-tempered and powerful enough to mess up whoever tries to stick him down there.

We don't know enough about Rin, though. On one hand, in their home 'verse, they may have been lovers, depending on the route, and as EMIYA, he was her Servant. Fleur might make more sense for her, now that I think about it... but it wouldn't be as funny.

EVERYONE GRAB A LIMB AND PULL~!

*chuckle* God, I hope I can live up to expectations here - I may have to do an omake (or more than one) just to cover all the possibilities. :)
And thus, in a panicked rush to have a proper second task (and shortly before that, avoid a castle-destroying catfight over whether Illya or Rin get to take him to the ball), Albus Dumbledore, Galen Salvatore, and Hermione Granger set aside their differences and perfect cloning overnight. Or Dumbledore massively abuses short term time-travel and memory charms on Shirou, whichever.

As for the conversation...The clothes-armor waylaid me. Instead of continuing to read, I spent the next few minutes going back and forth over the previous few paragraphs trying to figure out where the site chopped your mention of Saber, figuring it was either that or I absent-mindidly skipped over her name. Then I realised you didn't neccesarily have to have her name period, or at the start of her scene, and went back to reading.

As for your response to my originally posted Galen-tricky-fixer-upper-false-arguement...Wow. Good thing he can't read the boards. Or something. Maybe just good that I have you as a filter between my big mouth and his crazy self-destructive-doubt?

ringlhach
March 30th, 2011, 01:29 PM
Dumbledork seems to be this world's answer to A Wizard Did It (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AWizardDidIt). Besides, what's causality, anyway?

B.B. Rain
March 30th, 2011, 03:40 PM
A cheap cop-out when people spend too much time questioning the Saber or Archer/Shirou 5th war hijinks?

Kieran
March 30th, 2011, 03:52 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 Goblet of Fire, but I trust in the intelligence of my readers (and the availability of the books) to recognise them when they see them.



Chapter 13 - Reactions



November 1 - 3, 1994






No one was in a particularly pleasant mood the next day. The murderous rage seemed to have passed, but everyone’s emotions were nonetheless particularly fragile, and so they did some no-contact sparring, for fear that even light contact would cause someone’s control to slip, and cause serious injury. Ginny was particularly displeased, and when she managed to corner her youngest brother before breakfast, she took pains to let him know it.

“You are the most thick-headed, insensitive git to walk the face of the earth,” the youngest Weasley hissed. “It’s bad enough you threw a jealous tantrum over not being chosen for a contest you couldn’t enter, but to actually accuse Neville and Takara of cheating - and in front of us . . .!”

“And that’s the bloody problem!” Ron exploded. “They’ve got you brainsoaped, Gin - you’re a Weasley, not one of them!”

“It's 'brainwashed' - and if I wasn’t a Weasley, Mum would be arranging your funeral this morning!” she fired back. “No one is happy about Takara and Neville’s competing, Ron, and they were looking for someone to take it out on - Galen, especially. He’s never liked you - ”

“Bloody mutual, that is,” her brother spat.

“And he’d love to have an excuse to hurt you,” Ginny finished, as though he hadn’t spoken. “Last night, he’d have torn you apart with his bare hands, and Takara and Shirou were right behind him - the only two people on the planet I can think of who could stop him, and they were just as ready to rip you to pieces. Did you feel what happened then, Ron? Do you understand what pissing them off means?”

She gave him a searching look, hoping that somewhere, the brain that was so good at using chess strategies could comprehend the level of danger he’d almost brought down on himself last night.

“They were ready to kill you, Ron - and if there’s a next time, they probably will, because I can’t think of anyone who could stand up to that kind of power, that kind of focus. So for the love of Merlin, Morgana, and any other witch or wizard you want to invoke - shut up and stay away. Don’t ever give them a reason to come after you again, because Galen said that even Hermione couldn’t make him stop more than once. And if the other two side with him, I don’t think there’s a witch or wizard on the planet who can stop them.”

Ginny whirled and left, and really hoped her brother would listen to her. She wasn’t happy with him right now - or most times, really - but as she’d said to Takara, he was her brother, and she loved Ron even if she didn’t like him very much. And until last night, she’d never been so scared for him in her life. Then again, she’d never been so scared of her friends before, either.

The youngest Weasley had always known that Takara and the boys were different. She knew, even if she didn’t fully understand, that they were from some kind of alternate future, where they’d been older and more skilled. And they’d always seemed to have an edge in power - their problems mastering the Patronus Charm had more to do with their state of mind than any lack of raw ability (heck, Galen still couldn’t do a full Patronus). But until last night, Ginny had never fully appreciated how different her friends really were.

Hogwarts is over a thousand years old. It was created by four of the most legendary magic users in history, and the protections on it, according to Dad, have been added to by each Headmaster. It’s never fallen to anyone or any thing in all that time, and is supposed to be more secure than the Ministry itself . . . But Gryffindor Tower was trembling under the weight of their combined power last night. If they’d unleashed it, I think they could’ve destroyed the entire castle as easily as I could kick over an anthill - and they’re nowhere near the full maturity of their power yet.

Ginny, along with everyone else in Gryffindor house, had been forcibly shown that Galen wasn’t the only monster in her circle of friends - just the most obvious one. The eldest three members of the “Scarlet Seven” (she’d long since resigned herself to the nickname) carried themselves cautiously at times, but without a hint of fear, and now she understood exactly why that was.

With that much power, what should they be afraid of? Malfoy? He’s a joke - I could take him, and those three could blast him to the Moon, even without their combat training. Dumbledore? He’s tricky, but he’s also old - and he can’t be any more powerful than that, he just can’t! Plus, there are three of them, so they’ve got him outnumbered. The only other possible wizard who could threaten them is You-Know-Who . . .

Ginny considered that for a moment, and then found a slight smile tugging at the corners of her mouth.

I think I’d pay every Galleon I have to watch that fight - from a safe distance, of course. But wouldn’t it be something to see?

As she headed to breakfast, Ginny considered the implications of last night. She realised that there were basically two ways she could react to it. First, she could be afraid - very afraid - and discouraged. Not only had Galen and Shirou shown themselves to be vastly more powerful than she’d ever dreamed, Takara had demonstrated similar ability, and proved that no matter how hard she tried, Ginny would never achieve her dream of being just like her. She was strong, but not - and would never be - that strong. And knowing how powerful the three of them were, just contemplating the possibility of their turning that power on her was downright terrifying.

On the other hand, as Luna had once said, there was a certain comfort in knowing that such terrifying power was ready and waiting to be used against anyone who harmed her. That was, after all, what had prompted last night’s display in the first place - Ron’s inability to either grow up or keep his mouth shut, which had led to his badmouthing Neville and Takara. The three of them would be no less fierce against anyone who hurt her, Ginny knew. In fact, they’d probably be worse - being one of the group’s youngest members had its drawbacks, but one of the benefits was that all the older kids tended to dote on her and Luna. They wouldn’t let her get hurt if they could help it, and they’d make whoever did hurt her pay dearly for it.

And, Ginny admitted, she’d always been outclassed. She was athletic, sure - but not in Takara’s or Shirou’s league. She was far from stupid, but Hermione and Luna could think rings around her. Magical power she had, but compared to Galen she might as well have been a Squib, a comparison which seemed even more accurate now. Even her Animagus form wasn’t that impressive - she couldn’t fly, and she lacked the size and strength of Neville or Hermione, to say nothing of the speed that Hermione (and Galen) were capable of. Her senses were sharp, but so were everyone else’s. No, all in all, she really wasn’t that special, and in that sense, she could understand some of Ron’s bitterness. It was hard, being the one who was nothing special - especially since she was very special to her family, as the youngest child and only girl.

But as she entered the Great Hall, Ginny found her decision very easy to make. They - all of them - were seated in their usual spot at one end of the Gryffindor table, with an empty chair, waiting for her. Eyes which were particularly attuned to movement tracked the opening motion of the doors to her entrance, and she was greeted with a profusion of welcoming smiles, or at least nods in the case of her less intimate or more distracted friends. It was clear that whatever else had changed as a result of last night, she was still expected - still wanted.

And so it was with a smile that Ginny sat with them, pleased to see Takara smile across from her, and feel Hermione’s fingers brush against her arm as part of her customary way of saying “hello.”

“Everything all right?” Shirou asked her, as Neville and Luna glanced at her in anticipation of her response.

“I think Ron will keep his gob shut from now on,” Ginny said with a hopeful grin.

“Good,” the trinity of older students said, Shirou and Takara sporting matching smirks.

Galen slid her copy of The Monster Book of Monsters over to her. “You’ll want to reread the section I’ve marked before you start your Care of Magical Creatures lesson, Ginny - and if Hagrid doesn’t tell you to wear your dragonhide gloves, remind him that you should be.”

Ginny glanced at the feral book, which seemed to be gnawing on a strip of leather, but otherwise purring contentedly as it looked at her with glittering eyes. Galen did have an undeniable knack for soothing the savage tome - it hadn’t given her anywhere near the trouble Ron had complained about last year.

“Will do,” she said aloud. “And thanks.”

Galen grinned. “No problem.”

A very easy decision to make, indeed, Ginny thought to herself, pleased.

“So, what did I miss down here?” she asked brightly.






Hermione bit her lip nervously as she stood outside the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom. Never having been assigned a detention before, this was entirely new territory for her - and the fact that Professor Moody was the one overseeing it made her uneasy on several other levels. Like Snape, she couldn’t dispute that the man knew his subject intimately, but neither could she say the man had both oars in the water. He was constantly hammering at them on the subject of vigilance in class, proclaiming that the world was a very dangerous place, and they needed to be on high alert at all times - and taking steps to demonstrate that fact to them. It was a view she found pessimistic, if not outright paranoid - but her friends took him very seriously, which meant she couldn’t dismiss him out of hand.

She instinctively moved a little closer to Galen, and struggled to hide her dismay when she felt him tense, and then gradually relax. He’d been closed-mouthed on where he’d disappeared to the night before, and why - but she could feel the wall between them again. He was instinctively retreating behind it, and then forcing himself to open up . . . And she couldn’t be certain why he was performing either action.

Is he ashamed that he lost control? He’s always been so afraid of hurting one of us - and if there was ever a time when it might’ve happened, last night was it. I never knew he could be that angry . . . Not even with the troll.

Embracing him last night had been like grabbing onto the static electricity generator they displayed at the science museum she’d visited in primary school - Hermione had felt his power crackle over her. She’d always known that Galen was a powerful wizard (no one who could throw a troll that weighed over thirty-five stone at least ten metres could be anything else), but she hadn’t really realised that Takara and Shirou were at least on par with him. And it hadn’t been a simple addition - the union of their magical energies seemed to produce a geometric increase.

Maybe he’s afraid of what he might do to me, if he got angry enough . . . And, she admitted to herself, maybe he’s right to be.

Hermione had nowhere near the kind of power her friends had displayed, and she likely never would. If it had come down to a full-out fight against them, they’d have been scraping her pieces off the common room walls afterward. The thought send a shiver through her - until this point, she had frequently been afraid for Galen - but never of him. Now that the thought had been planted, it made her sad . . . And the person she would normally go to for reassurance was the cause of her distress.

I can’t ever tell him this. If he even suspects that I’m afraid, he’ll vanish - “for my own good,” of course, but I’ll never see him again. And that would be worse.

. . . Maybe if I’m lucky, tonight’s detention will be sufficiently traumatic that I can actually talk Galen into a “fur therapy” session before bed.

They’d been rare last year - only on Hallowe’en and once before exams, when she was exceedingly stressed - but nothing soothed her mind like the gentle warmth of his fingers running down her spine, or scratching her chin and ears. The feel of his body against her back as he rubbed her shoulders was heavenly . . . As a human, of course, it would thoroughly improper (though, she suspected, quite satisfying), but her lioness body wasn’t human, and it revelled in the closeness, the physical contact - craved it, even. And she didn’t find her mind racing as much as a lioness - what mattered then were simpler things. It was much easier to relax, and let her cares drift away for a while . . . Like a long soak in a hot bubble bath.

“Time to go in,” Takara noted. “You want to take this one first, Galen?”

He shrugged, and drew his wand. Hermione was about to say something about surpassing the limits of reasonable paranoia, when Galen cast threw open the door and cast a Shield Charm - just in time to stop a trio of rapid Stunners.

Oh yes, Hermione thought. I’m apparently very lucky tonight.






“You’ve got brains,” Moody said. “You’ve got power, and some training, and from what I hear, probably the devil’s own luck as well. But luck runs out, and that’s when you need skill if you’re going to make it through. And I plan to beat it into you, so you’d better pay attention - especially you two!”

He whirled on Neville and Takara, affixing them with a glare that bordered on the malevolent.

“Somebody’s gone to a lot of trouble to set up one or both of you,” he continued, “which means if you’re going to get yourselves out of it, you need to be alert, aware, and prepared for anything. CONSTANT VIGILANCE!”

“I thought you weren’t allowed to help the champions, Professor,” Ginny said carefully.

Moody snorted. “With two underage champions competing from one school, I’d say the rule book’s already been fed to the dragons - and if you think those other two Heads aren’t working directly with their students to give them every possible advantage, you’ve better lose that naive attitude fast. Cheating’s as much a tradition in this Tournament as anything else, Weasley - the trick lies in not getting caught at it.” He smiled grimly, adding, “Besides, I don’t give a damn whether they win or not, so long as they survive.

“So with that in mind, the first thing you’re going to show me is what you can really do,” Moody continued. “Not everything - that’s your first lesson, that only a damned fool shows every card they’ve got - but I figure I’m safe betting my other eye that you lot are capable of more than I see in this room during class hours. We’ve got a limited amount of time, and if we’re going to make the most of it, I need to know what I’m really working with.”

He scowled at them. “Flitwick tells me he trained at least three of you, and the rest of you hold your wands like you know what to do with them - so pair off, and start duelling. And fight like you mean it.”

Hermione automatically squared off against Neville, her usual duelling partner. Not that she didn’t duel everyone else, but he and she had been training for longer than Ginny and Luna, in addition to being older, giving them a certain advantage against either girl - and the trinity often took it upon themselves to spar two-on-one, which neither of them felt comfortable doing yet. But with their uneven numbers, Takara’s speed, and Galen’s defences, it was often easier for those three to practice that way.

And if Professor Moody wants to see what we can really do, this is the best configuration. Ginny and Luna are roughly an even match, as are Neville and I - and the other three can really only let loose against each other.

The memory of Gryffindor Tower shaking in the face of their combined magic surfaced again, and Hermione restrained a shudder.

Yes, I have to ask him for fur therapy tonight - otherwise, I may never sleep soundly again.






“Accio textbook,” Shirou said firmly, and snatched it out of the air when it zoomed towards him. This spell, he had to admit, was damned useful - he could think of more than one occasion in his life when having the ability to cast it would’ve been a literal lifesaver. And certainly, it had saved Galen’s life last year, so its utility hadn’t faded with the change in universes.

Neither, it seemed, had his own knack for finding trouble.

Things in Gryffindor had been relatively tense the last couple of days. Shirou didn’t think for a moment that the house had suddenly changed its mind about Takara and Neville’s forcing their way into the Tournament - but no one had the guts to say so out loud any longer. Between their display in the Great Hall, Galen’s work in the common room, and the surge of wild, angry magic that set the tower shaking . . . No, any Gryffindor who still believed that their champions had somehow cheated their way in didn’t dare say so, for fear that they might be overheard. To be fair, nobody on the Quidditch team believed it, now - but Shirou had to wonder whether or not that was the fear talking in their case, too.

Still, Neville seemed able to deal with conversations stopping as he entered a room better than outright dislike, especially since they tried to make sure he was never alone. The others could see them as bodyguards or babysitters if they wanted - but even though Galen’s theory of how Neville got entered made sense on paper, they’d all agreed it was better to assume that the would-be assassin was in the castle, and ensure that Neville wasn’t easy to get to.

Better to be paranoid than wrong again, Shirou thought grimly. Especially if this goes as far as second year did to make us wrong.

Relations with the other houses were trickier. The Slytherins were appalled, of course - Hogwarts represented by a Gryffindor, and a half-blood at that? Absurd! And the fourth champion who managed to cheat his way into the Tournament also a Gryffindor, and not a Slytherin? Shameful! The Ravenclaws, on the other hand, believed it was all trickery, and seemed more annoyed that they couldn’t figure out how it was done. Especially as Takara’s reputation was primarily as a Quidditch player, and Neville’s as a Herbology student, if he was thought of around the school at all. On the other hand, Takara had been one of their Head of House’s duelling students, so any Ravenclaw inclined to snark about it was very careful to say nothing in Professor Flitwick’s hearing.

The bigger surprise was Hufflepuff - or maybe it shouldn’t have been. The house renowned for loyalty had thrown its complete support behind Neville and Takara, with banners appearing at their house table, smiles and well-wishes in the corridors, and active arguing with the Slytherins who tried anything when they were around. Shirou was somewhat curious about the ferocious stance, so in the break between morning classes, he tracked down Cedric Diggory, whom he knew Quidditch matches against Hufflepuff, to ask about it.

The prefect shrugged. “There’s a bunch of reasons - first, Professor Sprout sat us all down after the Hallowe’en feast and explained what had happened. Something or someone hexed the Goblet of Fire, or it would never have chosen an underage champion. Whether or not it was Neville, I don’t know - but a bunch of the fourth-years say it’s more likely that somebody played a prank on him, and now he’s stuck with it. I mean, supposedly his grades have improved this year, but he’s not exactly a genius when it comes to magic, is he? And Takara’s brilliant at Defence and Potions, but fourth-year spells against the Goblet of Fire?”

He shook his head. “Wouldn’t happen. Now, Hermione Granger, sure - I could see her getting past Dumbledore’s Age Line, or Moody’s runes - but why would she stick Takara or Neville with competing in the Tournament? And besides the fourth-years, there’s also us Quidditch players. Takara’s a bloody nightmare on a broomstick to go against, but she plays as fair as any of us. And her parents are bloody Aurors - for Merlin’s sake, I remember her mother teaching us Defence a couple of years ago, and I have no doubt she’d skin Takara alive for pulling a stunt like this. Since Takara has to know it too, there’s no way she deliberately put her name in.”

Cedric grinned. “And, like it or not, those two are now our official champions - who are we going to cheer for, if not them? Granted, mate, your sister’s a looker and all, but it just wouldn’t be right to root for Durmstrang over Hogwarts.”

Shirou grinned back. “Well, we appreciate it - we’re going to have enough stress dealing with the bloody tournament, we don’t need every student in the school turned against us, too.”

“And we didn’t really need a war in the Hufflepuff dorms, either.” Cedric chuckled at Shirou’s quizzical look, and explained, “Between them, Neville and Takara ferried almost half of Hufflepuff’s first years across the lake this year. None of them believe that anybody nice enough to keep them warm and dry in that miserable storm would cheat like that - and the ones the rest of your little group got are inclined to believe Neville and Takara because you obviously do. I’d have a heck of a time keeping the peace as a prefect if the first-years started a feud with most of the rest of the house. So, being supportive is a lot easier on my nerves, too.”

Shirou smirked. “Good to know.”

Cedric paused. “. . . I don’t suppose you could put in a good word for me with your sister, could you?”

Shirou shrugged. “Sure, but I can’t guarantee it’ll do any good. Ilya tends to make up her own mind about things.”

Which was true enough, as far as it went - and it wouldn’t set the rumour mill flying about his sister wanting to date him.

According to Galen and Takara, we’ll get enough of that when Miss Rita Skeeter arrives . . .

As Shirou hurried across the courtyard to his Transfiguration lesson, he caught a glimpse of pale blue and froze.

Rin was sitting on one of the benches, seemingly oblivious to the November chill, her eyes intently studying the book in her hands - it looked like the magical theory text they’d been assigned in first year. Fleur Delacour - her sister, he corrected himself - sat beside her, watching her just as intently, though her head tilted around occasionally, as though she was making sure they were alone. So far, Shirou hadn’t been spotted - he was half-hidden by a support column, and his distance vision might have been better than hers.

What are they doing that they don’t want anyone to see? he wondered.

The answer wasn’t long in coming. Rin set the book down, gripped her wand, and muttered something that even he couldn’t make out, waving it in the book’s direction.

Those movements . . . The Hover Charm? Why would she be studying a first-year spell so deeply?

. . . And why didn’t it work?

Rin all but hurled her wand to the ground, obviously frustrated. Fleur moved in closer, obscuring his view as she embraced the Tohsaka heir.

Something is very wrong . . . But she wouldn’t tell me if I asked, and I don’t have time to investigate now.

Still, Shirou kept it in mind as he hurried along to Ancient Runes. He knew it was liable to be important, later.

Not that anything involving Rin isn’t important, he thought wryly to himself. But now’s just not the time . . . Story of my life.

And with that thought, he turned another corner, reluctantly leaving the two girls behind.

SeiKeo
March 30th, 2011, 04:05 PM
Proving that Hufflepuff is, in fact, the Bro house.

lethum
March 30th, 2011, 04:10 PM
They can choose to be bros of your foes, though.

Zeranion
March 30th, 2011, 04:14 PM
Uh oh... Looks to me like Rin isn't compatible with the Harry Potter universe brand of magic. If that's the case, I'm curious about what she'll do to get through the tasks or if she'll instead be limited to her Jewel magic and Gandr...

B.B. Rain
March 30th, 2011, 06:32 PM
Uh....It's been a while, so I don't remember the details from the discussions on the old Lair, but wasn't it concluded that a Nasu-verse mage was crazy powerful compared to a Potter-verse mage? Even if she isn't as versitile, or a Servent, or Nanaya, or Grail, wouldn't a Tohsaka Rin in possession of her original magic be a huge game-changer?

Zeranion
March 30th, 2011, 06:52 PM
Uh....It's been a while, so I don't remember the details from the discussions on the old Lair, but wasn't it concluded that a Nasu-verse mage was crazy powerful compared to a Potter-verse mage? Even if she isn't as versitile, or a Servent, or Nanaya, or Grail, wouldn't a Tohsaka Rin in possession of her original magic be a huge game-changer?

The main problem with Rin taking part in the Tri-Wizard tournament isn't power. The problem stems from lack of variety. If you stop and think about it, wizarding magic is far more versatile than Nasuverse magecraft, even if it is weaker in terms of battle capability and other aspects. What's more, for at least the first task, the participants are limited to bringing their wand to the competition. That means Rin can't bring jewels or other weapons and must instead rely on her wizarding and other spells that do not need a foci of some sort.

I don't know about you, but I wouldn't want to put gandr up against even a potterverse dragon one on one. Even if she has something like the Kaleidostick on her, one, that would be utterly humiliating to use, two, that may not count as a wand, and three, it could reveal her as someone from another dimension or at least draw tons of attention to her style of magecraft.

That doesn't even get into the second task and how they have to handle challenges that force them to breathe underwater for an hour. I don't know about you, but I don't believe that Rin would have any aquatic spells in her arsenal in terms of magecraft, that means she'll have to rely on Potterverse magic AGAIN.

All in all, if Rin is actually having trouble with Potterverse magic, she could have something a bit bigger than a small problem. However, if she's allowed whatever she wants in the third task she'll probably dominate.

*Giant Spider jumps out*
Rin: DIE YOU STUPID THING!!!
*Spider destroyed by exploding gem*
Rin: That's it! Screw following the maze. I'm finishing this now!
*Blows a path of destruction using jewels straight to the cup.*
Rin: Now stay out of my way!

Kratosirving
March 30th, 2011, 06:53 PM
So far we don't even know exactly who this Rin is, in terms of canon/fandom/route selected, but yeah this is surprising. If Rin is basically a Squib here, than how the hell did she get put into the Tournament?

lethum
March 30th, 2011, 07:19 PM
Magic. There's more to that, but Rin is just failing at wandcraft, not at magic.

Zeranion
March 30th, 2011, 07:49 PM
Magic. There's more to that, but Rin is just failing at wandcraft, not at magic.

I"m trying to differentiate them via the terms magic and magecraft... I refer to potterverse magic as magic, and nasuverse magic as magecraft unless it is one of the 5 true magics.

Sorry if you misunderstood.

lethum
March 30th, 2011, 07:53 PM
No problem. But I was answering kratos, actually.

Elf
March 30th, 2011, 08:19 PM
Cedric, you damned player. What about Cho? Naughty, naughty boy . . .

But this had some stuff that the version I read didn't and I really liked the part with Moody.

Then, I've always liked the guy.

And . . . I'm curious to see what's going on with Rin. If the Potterverse magic isn't working with her, or if it's her own mindset . . . Or something else. XD

Kieran
March 30th, 2011, 08:33 PM
So far we don't even know exactly who this Rin is, in terms of canon/fandom/route selected, but yeah this is surprising. If Rin is basically a Squib here, than how the hell did she get put into the Tournament?

The answer is in the way you phrased the question, it's just a matter of perspective. :)





Cedric, you damned player. What about Cho? Naughty, naughty boy . . .

Who says they're dating? And besides, Ilya's basically a sex goddess - can you blame him?

hatori
March 31st, 2011, 02:15 AM
fourth book had them dating, when harry first tried asking her out.

Zeranion
March 31st, 2011, 02:21 AM
fourth book had them dating, when harry first tried asking her out.

Actually... All we know is Harry asked her out to the ball and she said that she'd already been asked by Cedric. For all we know this was the first time Cedric had asked her out and it was only after the Yule Ball they began an actual relationship.

Kieran
March 31st, 2011, 07:36 AM
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 Goblet of Fire, 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 Weighing of the Wands



November 4, 1994






As a general rule, Neville dreaded Potions class. It wasn’t that he disliked the subject, exactly, so much as the teacher. Professor Snape was the scariest man he’d ever met, and Snape had been tormenting him from the first class onward. Granted, it wasn’t often - since he usually partnered with Galen, the Potions professor usually didn’t cross too many lines in his abuse (Neville suspected privately that he didn’t dare to, for fear of what Galen might do) - but feeling those cold black eyes on him from across the room was murder on his concentration. Having Double Potions - with the Slytherins, no less - was therefore the main reason he didn’t enjoy Fridays like most other students. His only consolation was that it was the last class of the week.

Since the altercation in Gryffindor tower with Ron Weasley, Neville might have felt more secure in Potions, working alongside Galen - while he’d always known the older boy was dangerous, and that Snape seemed to realise it, too, he now had proof positive that his friend could probably reduce the greasy Potions teacher to an equally greasy stain on the classroom floor, if he put his mind to it. It was the same paradox he’d always faced with Galen - how someone so scary could be so comforting at the same time. Luna seemed to have resolved it easily enough, and Neville admitted it didn’t bother him much any more, unless Galen was in a mood to be menacing. Then he had to consciously remind himself that Galen was his friend - and hope that Galen remembered that. In any case, this class might not be so bad, now that he understood just what Snape was up against.

Unfortunately, the first words out of the Potions professor’s mouth quashed that hope quite thoroughly.

“Antidotes!” he intoned, beady eyes glittering. “You should all have prepared your recipes now. I want you to brew them carefully, and then we will be selecting someone on whom to test one . . .”

Those hateful eyes lingered in Neville’s direction, and he swallowed thickly. He could only hope that Snape meant to test the antidote on Galen - he seemed to hate the older boy just as much as Neville, and this was a golden opportunity to indulge that. There was also the fact that Galen’s lycanthropy gave him better odds of surviving whatever poison Snape might choose, in the event that the prepared antidote failed.

Except wolfsbane, of course, Neville reminded himself.

A knock on the door brought the youth out of his thoughts, as Colin Creevey almost skipped in, flashing a beaming smile at Takara as he moved to Snape’s desk.

“Yes?” Snape demanded.

Colin replied politely, “Please, sir, I’m supposed to take Takara Aozaki and Neville Longbottom upstairs.”

“The Potions class has barely begun,” Snape replied. “They will come upstairs when this class is finished.”

Colin flushed. “Sir - sir, Mister Bagman wants them. All the champions have got to go, I think they want to take photographs . . .”

Neville unconsciously slouched down in his seat. As a rule, he didn’t like attention. Attention, at least up until he’d begun Hogwarts, had meant being put on display, or disapproval when he failed to do something. And now, somehow, he was in a tournament that was going to be international news!

Can’t I stay and be poisoned instead?

The sudden whipping motion of Snape’s head to lock eyes with him made Neville realise he must have said that last thought out loud. The Potions teacher’s face was an interesting study - Snape seemed to be having visible difficulty deciding whether it would be more enjoyable to feed him poison, or force him to embarrass himself as part of a publicity stunt.

Finally he said, “Very well, very well. Aozaki, Longbottom, leave your things here, I want you back down here later to test your antidotes.”

Neville winced at the realisation that Snape had decided to try to have his cake and eat it, too, when Colin nervously spoke up.

“Please, sir - they’ve got to take their things with them. All the champions - ”

“Very well!” the professor snapped. “Aozaki, Longbottom, take your bags and get out of my sight!”

Sighing so quietly that only Galen could probably hear it, Neville gathered his things and followed Colin and Takara out of the room.

“It’s amazing, isn’t it Takara?” Colin chirped as they moved through the corridors. “You being champion - oh, and you too, Neville.”

Neville managed to smother a chuckle into a cough. Colin Creevey’s fixation on Takara would’ve been worrisome, except that not only could she take care of herself if it came to it, in order to get that far, he’d have to go through Shirou and Galen first - and they’d take him apart.

Heck, all she has to do is ask, and either of them would toss him off the Astronomy Tower with a smile. She really doesn’t have to put up with him - but it’s nice of her that she does.

Takara really was a nice girl, in Neville’s opinion, and he thought she and Shirou made a great couple - they came from similar backgrounds, had a lot of the same interests, and could keep up with each other. He was surprised she’d given up so easily last year, but then again, she’d said she’d try again in a couple of years, so maybe she hadn’t given up yet.

“This is for the Daily Prophet, right?” she was asking Colin.

“I think so,” Colin replied excitedly. “Won’t that be great?”

“Actually, I wish it was the Quibbler,” Takara sighed. “At least with them, we wouldn’t have to deal with . . .” She stiffened suddenly. “Colin, do you know what class Luna Lovegood is in right now?”

“Luna?” Colin asked, puzzled. “Divination, I think. Why?”

“Rats!” Takara cursed. “Too far away.”

Neville looked at her, eyebrows raised.

“If the Daily Prophet is covering the Triwizard Tournament,” Takara said carefully, and Neville understood that she was sanitising things because of Colin’s benefit, “then they’ve probably sent Rita Skeeter - she’s a mudslinging hack, but she’s also one of their most popular reporters. I just had the thought that we might be able to avoid her by selling the media rights to ourselves to the Quibbler, through Luna.”

“Media rights?” Neville asked.

“Interviews, photographs, and the like. If we can talk the Lovegoods into it, it means that legally, only the Quibbler could print them, or sell them,” Takara explained. “That would scuttle Skeeter but good - but I didn’t think of it until just now, and it’s too late to try and implement it. We’ll have to take our chances, and hope that we don’t come off too badly in the press.”

Neville scowled. “If they have sent Rita Skeeter, I wouldn’t bet money on it. Gran doesn’t think much of her at all.”

He had no doubt that the Prophet had, indeed, sent Rita Skeeter, and that Takara knew they had. The general tone and urgency of what she’d said told him that much. The plan to enlist the Quibbler was a good one, and the sort of thing Galen usually came up with - Neville was surprised he hadn’t, actually, though its coming from Takara wasn’t unexpected. While she wasn’t in Hermione’s league for grades, Takara was a very clever witch, and quite devious when she wanted to be.

Colin said hesitantly, “Does that mean I could get in trouble if I took your picture, Takara?” He sounded on the verge of tears - she was one of his favourite photographic subjects.

“Only if you planned to publish or sell it, Colin,” Takara assured him. “In fact, you might want to talk to Luna about being the official photographer for the Quibbler during the Tournament, if we end up signing that deal. You probably could be - I know her father was pretty pleased with your work at Sir Nicholas’ party.”

The younger Gryffindor blushed to the roots of his hair. “He said so, but I thought he was just being nice.”

“Colin, the only thing Mister Lovegood cares more about than the Quibbler is Luna,” Neville told the boy. “And I don’t think he knows how to lie. If he said he was happy with your work, believe me - he meant it.”

Colin was momentarily speechless as they walked, before he stopped abruptly in front of a door they’d nearly gone past.

“Here we are,” the boy announced. “Good luck!”

He scurried off back to whatever class awaited him, and Neville met Takara’s glance with one of his own.

“Are you ready?” the Japanese witch asked him.

“No,” Neville replied bluntly.

“Me, either,” she admitted. “But it’s not like we have a choice, is it?”

“No,” Neville sighed. “So let’s get this over with.”

He reached out and knocked on the door.






Takara was unsurprised, upon entering the empty classroom, to see Ilya and Rin glaring at one another. Galen had filled her in on some of the history between the two girls, and their competition for Shirou. She’d known, of course, that Rin had loved him - but not that Ilya had, as well. It was complicated for Takara, given that she both liked and owed both women, but she was interested in Shirou, as well.

Between the three of us, there’s no way he’s not going to be at the bottom of the lake during the Second Task, she thought grimly. The only question is, as whose hostage?

She paused as a sudden thought occurred to her.

. . . And given the catfight that’s liable to come of it, will any of us be able to rescue him?

Ludo Bagman broke off talking to Rita Skeeter as he realised they’d arrived. “Ah, here they are - our Hogwarts champions! In you come, children, in you come . . . Nothing to worry about, it’s just the Wand Weighing ceremony, the rest of the judges will be here in a moment - ”

“Wand Weighing?” Neville asked from beside her.

“We have to check that your wands are fully functional, no problems, you know, as they’re your most important tools in the tasks ahead,” Bagman informed him.

Takara added in Japanese, sotto voce, “Your mind will be your most important tool, Neville, followed by your body - and then your wand.”

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Neville nod imperceptibly.

“. . . And then there’s going to be a little photo shoot,” Bagman was saying. He gestured. “This is Rita Skeeter, she’s doing a small piece on the Tournament for the Daily Prophet . . . Rita, may I introduce our two Hogwarts champions, Takara Aozaki and Neville Longbottom.”

Skeeter’s expression was somewhat dismissive when she glanced at Takara - a look she’d seen before, and personally attributed to the fact that she was yet another girl in the contest. While it might titillate her male readers, Takara suspected that she had no real wish to interview three younger, better-looking women. Neville, on the other hand . . .

“I wonder if I might have a little word with Neville before we start?” she asked Bagman in a butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-my-mouth tone. “The only male champion, you know - to add a bit of colour?”

“Certainly! That is - if Neville has no objection?”

Neville’s eyes flicked to Takara’s, and she shrugged. Skeeter was going to use her poison pen either way, and they both knew it. The only question was whether or not to give her rumour mill something to grind, or let her make it up completely - and Takara left that decision to Neville. To her surprise, his eyes moved pointedly to Rin and Ilya, then back to her, before he said, “Sure, I guess.”

Rita’s smile was positively vulpine. “Lovely.” Faster than you would have expected her to move, she was manhandling Neville out of the room.

Takara wished him well before sidling up to the other two girls and saying in Japanese, “All right, we’ve got some time. Where should we start?”

Ilya smiled wickedly as she said lightly, “Well, I was just laughing over the fact that Rin can never seem to avoid making a big mistake in any ritual she attempts. That really doesn’t say much for a magical prodigy of the Tohsaka line.”

“Still as childish as ever, eh, Ilyasviel?” Rin said loftily, though the flush in her cheeks indicated that Ilya’s comment had stung.

The smile disappeared from the half-Veela’s face, and her reply was far too calm for Takara’s liking. “Oh, I don’t know . . . Perhaps I am childish, but at least I’m not a complete failure in magic. Tell me, Rin - can you use your wand for anything besides a backscratcher?”

The reddening hue of Rin’s face deepened to a level approaching Ilya’s Durmstrang robes. “It’s not my fault the rules of magic on this world are stupid, illogical, and make absolutely NO SENSE! What use is a stick supposed to be . . . Wait - how did you know about that?”

“A little bird told me,” Ilya said with a nonchalant shrug. “Birds like to tell me things.”

“It helps when you have the brain for it,” Rin said snidely.

“Do I need to put you both in the Hospital Wing?” Takara snapped. “I thought you were supposed to seventh-years, not preschoolers!”

Both girls whipped their heads around to glare at her, but Takara refused to back down to either of them. Who Shirou ended up with would ultimately be his choice, and she knew that, but she wasn’t going to be intimidated out of trying by these two, no matter what she owed them. She simply met both witches with a glare of her own that projected what Ilya had said in their first arguing match on Hallowe’en. Try me - oh please, try me.

Ilya finally shook her head. “This isn’t getting us anywhere.”

Rin blinked. “You’re backing down?” She stared at Takara. “Who exactly are you?”

“Takara Aozaki,” Ilya supplied. “Niece to Aoko and Touko Aozaki - ”

“Niece? I’ve never heard of any other family.”

“ - Latest of the Nanaya clan, Master in the Sixth Heaven’s Feel - “

”Sixth? But we just finished the Fifth, and I heard there were plans to dismantle the Grail system . . .”

“And the only person in the history of the Heaven’s Feel to successfully obtain her wish,” Ilya finished. “But more importantly, she’s Shirou’s and Galen’s friend. Even assuming we could take her - and I won’t necessarily say that we could, I’ve seen her train - Shirou will be mad at us if he hurt her, and Galen will hurt us for it.” She paused, then added. “No, that’s not right - Galen will hurt me if we hurt Takara. You, he’ll kill.”

“Why? Is he her boyfriend?”

“No,” Takara snapped. “Damn it, why does everyone assume that?”

“Because no one who’s watched you dance could doubt it,” Ilya said softly. “But no, Rin - he’s her Servant, and by his rules, no one harms her without bleeding for it. As to why your penalty would be so much harsher . . . Once, he was mine, and for what we had, he’d show mercy, so long as Takara wasn’t crippled or maimed. But you don’t have that protection - he would kill you for harming her, plain and simple. He’d have to, because you’re just too dangerous to be allowed to survive whatever he’d do to you.” Ilya smiled. “In its way, it’s quite the compliment.”

Rin shook her head. “No wonder you like her - you both summoned Berserkers.”

Takara refrained from correcting her, and Ilya merely smiled.

The door opened, ushering in Headmistress McGonagall and Professor Dumbledore, along with the other two Heads and Barty Crouch. Finally, to Takara’s surprise, came Neville, Rita Skeeter and Ollivander - followed by her parents!

Both of them were in full uniform for the ICW Security Division - long black robes that flowed easily despite their bulky-looking appearance, the result of layers of dragon hide armour sewn in. Both of them wore dark glasses that Takara knew from experience had several vision-enhancing charms on them. The sleeves were wide and open, and concealed not only wands, but any number of other weapons. They seemed to take in the entire room in a breath, and settled themselves into relaxed but ready stances at opposite sides of the room - the better to catch people in a crossfire while simultaneously making it hard to target both of them.

Despite the professional demeanour, however, Takara had no doubt whatsoever that her parents were very angry.

They went ballistic over the troll and the basilisk, and rightly so. They weren’t too happy about the Dementors, either. This is going to be so much worse . . .

She wasn’t surprised that it had taken them a few days to show up - her father was often out of the country on assignments, and while her mother was nominally an instructor, after the debacle at the Quidditch World Cup, the ICW had stepped up its operations in an attempt to restore international security levels.

Probably in preparation for the Triwizard Tournament, in part, Takara realised. Which means they probably know what the tasks are - no, they really aren’t going to like this.

“May I introduce Mr. Ollivander?” Dumbledore said politely before seating himself. “He will be checking your wands to ensure that they are in good condition before the Tournament.”

The old wand-maker stepped forward, and said, “Mademoiselle Delacour, could we have you forward first, please?”

Takara was startled, before remembering that Rin was, officially, a Delacour here. The dark-haired witch stepped forward, and with obvious tension, handed her wand to Mr. Ollivander -

“Stop,” the old man insisted. “Mademoiselle, would you give the wand a wave, please?”

She did so, obviously puzzled. Ollivander tsked.

“No - that will never do,” he insisted. “Whoever sold you that wand, my dear, cheated you most horribly. It is not at all a match for you. You might as well be waving a block of wood.”

Madame Maxime looked puzzled. “I do not understand - she ‘as always used that wand - ” Her eyes sharpened. “Though since the accident, ‘er grades are very poor . . .”

“Small wonder,” Ollivander said briskly. “No, it is my expert opinion that this wand will never do for Mademoiselle Delacour - I shall have to outfit her myself.” The old wizard smiled. “I assure you, my dear, that I can find you a far more suitable match than this.”

“I’ll reimburse you for the expense, Mister Ollivander,” Ilya offered, drawing several surprised looks. She added, “I want this contest to be fair, after all - or what’s the point?”

“Most kind of you, my dear Miss Einzbein. Would you be so kind as to step forward, please?”

Ilya did, and handed him her wand.

“Hmm, this is a Gregorovitch creation, unless I’m much mistaken? A fine wand-maker, though the styling is never quite what I . . . However . . .”

He gazed at her wand for a very long moment, examining it minutely.

“Yes . . . Maple and Veela hair?” He glanced at Ilya in confirmation.

“Canadian maple, and my mother’s hair,” she confirmed.

“Yes,” Ollivander said absently, “yes, I’ve never used Veela hair myself, I find it makes for rather temperamental wands - however, to each his own, and if this suits you . . . Eleven inches, and quite flexible - Orchideous!”

A spray of snowdrops, encircled by a wreath-like ring of Christmas roses, emerged from the tip, and Ollivander gave the wand a last, lingering look.

“A most curious wand,” he commented. “A cut above Gregorovitch’s usual work, which makes it quite remarkable, indeed . . . Very well, very well, it’s in fine working order. Miss Aozaki, you next.”

Takara handed the old wizard her wand.

“Ah, now this is one of mine, isn’t it?” he said, with a pleased tone. “Yes, I remember it well. Containing the heartstring of a quite ferocious Chinese Fireball. Bit of luck, getting my hands on that one - belonged to an illegal breeder, and they had to put her down after she killed him and his other three dragons, one of them a Hungarian Horntail. She was a fighter, that one . . . Eight inches - holly - springy . . . It’s in fine condition - you treat it regularly?”

“Quite,” Takara allowed. No true warrior allowed her tools to fall into disrepair.

Ollivander drew several lazy circles, conjuring smoke rings from her wand, before handing it back. “And that leaves - Mister Longbottom.”

Neville handed over his wand.

“I sold this to you less than a year ago,” Ollivander murmured. “Cherry and unicorn hair - one of the gentlest souls I’ve ever met - nine and a quarter inches, and quite springy. Gleams as though it just came off my curing rack - Avis!”

A sparrow emerged from the wand, and settled casually on Ollivander’s shoulder.

“Perfect condition,” he announced. “And I can assure you, Mademoiselle Delacour, that your new wand will perform no less brilliantly. If you and your Headmistress will accompany me at the conclusion of this event, I can outfit you immediately.”

The Japanese witch glanced at Madame Maxime, who nodded.

“Thank you all,” Dumbledore proclaimed. “You may go back to your lessons now - ”

Skeeter’s photographer cleared his throat, then abruptly coughed violently. Red-faced, he reached into his robes for a flask, taking a long swallow before replacing it in its hiding place.

“Sorry - bit dusty in here,” he explained.

Unperturbed, Bagman cried, “Photos, Dumbledore, photos! All the judges and champions - what do you think, Rita?”

“Er - yes, let’s do those first,” Rita said, clearly caught off, glancing at Neville. “And then perhaps some individual shots.”

Takara sighed - living with Colin Creevey had somewhat dampened her enthusiasm for having her picture taken. But on further reflection, she supposed that she ought to be grateful. After all, it would postpone the discussion her parents were no doubt here for a little longer. . .

ringlhach
March 31st, 2011, 08:12 AM
Oh, wow, two in one day- well, by my time, anyway. If it was the mind thing, I wonder if Ilya had a problem with her original wand, too... Either way, it seems this Rin is a very different person from the native one.

Looks like Takara agrees with me, though.

Kratosirving
March 31st, 2011, 08:18 AM
Oh dear god, Ciel and Shiki are liable to kill someone.

...Once they get through with Takara and Galen of course. Why Galen? Shiki I'm sure already has figured out that Galen probably knew of the oddities with the Goblet and he didn't warn him about it. He has to be pissed.

ringlhach
March 31st, 2011, 08:20 AM
Not as bad as Kitsurugu will be, now that I think about it.

Kratosirving
March 31st, 2011, 08:24 AM
Well, I dunno about Kiritsugu, tbh. Ilya was selected fairly (yeah right) so he really can't be too mad about it. She has a better chance than if Shirou had been picked instead of Takara. at least I believe so.

ringlhach
March 31st, 2011, 08:35 AM
I meant that they knew that something would go weird/wrong- and didn't tell him. He was pissed enough when he found out last year.

redhelling
March 31st, 2011, 08:40 AM
whooot!! glad i found this again, man was it hard when the forum went down.

anyways, glad to see ur still working hard on the fic, it's so awesome. btw, is it only me or is the photographer kinda conspicuous?

Aodyssey
March 31st, 2011, 08:44 AM
Rita's photographer is a polyjuice'd Death Eater. Because a cigar is NEVER just a cigar.And,you know,I'm calling it just in case I turn out to be right.

lethum
March 31st, 2011, 08:56 AM
I think they told Kiritsugu everything, not only the plot of the Prisoner of Azkaban.

Kieran
March 31st, 2011, 09:20 AM
They did - though how much Shiki was told, we'll find out. And if they know everything, they'll no doubt be displeased to find out that Galen was taken as much by surprise as any of them.




Oh, wow, two in one day- well, by my time, anyway.

Elf was eager, so I promised I'd have it up early - it was already written, so it didn't take long.




If it was the mind thing, I wonder if Ilya had a problem with her original wand, too... Either way, it seems this Rin is a very different person from the native one.

Nope - Ilya set herself up properly. Rin, on the other hand, doesn't seem to have. But then, isn't that just her luck? :)

Elf
March 31st, 2011, 09:47 AM
So, Rin's going to get outfitted for a new wand that actually suits her. You're right, she might have messed up with the placement of herself in this world. After all it's a Rin thing to do.

And I wonder if that little birdy's name was "Shirou".

. . . I'm just more than a little curious on what Rita and Neville talked about.

Also 5 gallions that photographer's a Death Eater.

Kieran
March 31st, 2011, 09:59 AM
[And I wonder if that little birdy's name was "Shirou".

Nope, it was an actual bird. She can talk to them, and vice-versa - as proven in "The Stone."




. . . I'm just more than a little curious on what Rita and Neville talked about.

You'll have to wait for the article, like everyone else. :)

. . . Incidentally, I juggled the timeline a little - because I couldn't see the Ministry waiting two weeks to publicise the champions' identities if they were that big on promoting the Tournament - and I definitely couldn't see Shiki and Ciel waiting that long.




Also 5 gallions that photographer's a Death Eater.

Bit obvious, eh? Still, one wonders why . . . *mwahahahaha*

hatori
March 31st, 2011, 10:03 AM
10 galleons says the flask contains polyjuice potion.

Ergast
March 31st, 2011, 04:05 PM
Not even Shirou is as suicidal as to tell someone one of Rin's weakness.

By the way, 15 galleons says that Shirou would be the hostage of Neville. My reasons:

1.- The guy idolizes him
2.- He won't want a cat fight between three witches that are, at least, at Dumbledore tier of power, if not higher. Hogwarts isn't that resilient.
3.- If he dares to choose, he would hurt two of them, and probably would end dead, by Galen or Rin's hands. Probably both depending of his election and what words he choose to say it, if he didn't choose Rin.

Also, I say that watching Rin blowing up the dragon's head in the first task through the use of her magic without jewels, or the multiple spells stored in her crest would be a funny scene to read. Hell, if she can use some of her more powerful tools in the second task, she could just open the lake in two with an Excaliblast look alike. So I hope she can't tap on her Nasuverse powers, because if she can this wouldn't be considered a tournament, but a curbstomp.

And last but not least: SEIBA!!!!! I recognized her when you described her clothes and put her drinking tea.

BTW


“Indeed,” the elder witch agreed gravely. “A commendable show of school spirit - particular from you, Messrs Weasley. I now begin to wonder if you wouldn’t make suitable prefects.”

In the fifth chapter

Megaolix
March 31st, 2011, 07:07 PM
The answer is in the way you phrased the question, it's just a matter of perspective. :)

...Allow me to put my theories in blue. Because that's what I will believe until it's either confirmed or shot down.

There is no reason for Rin to put her name in the Goblet if she couldn't do magic at this time. That fact may have been hidden and Maxime is possibly looking for the culprit, thinking it was done to sabotage her school's reputation.

Furthermore, since Fate very much hates our heroes, here is another theory of mine. The champions all know each other. While we know there is sabotage for an unknown party, it is possible that Rin's name was added by that person too. There are two possible reasons for this.

1. A certain champion needs to reach the Goblet at the end of the Third Task. However, it cannot be Neville, since Durmstrang would probably also have been sabotaged if that was the case. The target would be Ilya: Takara will be distracted by Neville and look out for him, giving Ilya the best chance to win the tournament.

2. Rin was selected because of her link to Shirou and co. However, since they met very recently, it is not very possible that someone immediately saw a link between the two. UNLESS the culprit is also an Outsider to this universe.

Am I thinking too much on it?

Kieran
March 31st, 2011, 07:26 PM
BTW



In the fifth chapter

That's actually not an error - it's the written plural of "Mister." It's not commonly seen, but there it is.




...Allow me to put my theories in blue. Because that's what I will believe until it's either confirmed or shot down.

There is no reason for Rin to put her name in the Goblet if she couldn't do magic at this time. That fact may have been hidden and Maxime is possibly looking for the culprit, thinking it was done to sabotage her school's reputation.

Furthermore, since Fate very much hates our heroes, here is another theory of mine. The champions all know each other. While we know there is sabotage for an unknown party, it is possible that Rin's name was added by that person too. There are two possible reasons for this.

1. A certain champion needs to reach the Goblet at the end of the Third Task. However, it cannot be Neville, since Durmstrang would probably also have been sabotaged if that was the case. The target would be Ilya: Takara will be distracted by Neville and look out for him, giving Ilya the best chance to win the tournament.

2. Rin was selected because of her link to Shirou and co. However, since they met very recently, it is not very possible that someone immediately saw a link between the two. UNLESS the culprit is also an Outsider to this universe.

Am I thinking too much on it?

Vastly. Think about how the others arrived, and consider what might happen if they screwed it up, as Rin apparently did.

Nice to see you back, by the way. :)

Ergast
March 31st, 2011, 07:52 PM
Oh? Then now I know something new. Thanks for that.

Megaolix
March 31st, 2011, 08:20 PM
Oh? Then now I know something new. Thanks for that.
Glad to know my overthinking helped someone.

FcS
April 1st, 2011, 03:43 AM
Get Aoko or Touko as one of the judges! Get Aoko or Touko! XD
Or are they just gonna be only mentioned on the story :3 And I'm still waiting for the explanation from Rin... *whistles*

Ergast
April 1st, 2011, 04:54 AM
Glad to know my overthinking helped someone.

I was talking about the plural of mister ^^U

Kieran
April 1st, 2011, 07:28 AM
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 Goblet of Fire, but I trust in the intelligence of my readers (and the availability of the books) to recognise them when they see them.



Chapter 15 - Lovers and Loved Ones



November 4, 1994






Shirou was disturbed by the absences at the dinner table in the Great Hall. Galen’s, he’d expected - but with Neville here and chatting with Hermione, he would have thought that Takara would be free from the publicity nonsense by now . . . Especially when a familiar silver-blonde head appeared beside him.

“You don’t mind if I join you for dinner, do you?” Ilya asked with a grin.

“As opposed to any time since you arrived?” Shirou asked drily. “Where’s Takara?”

“Her parents came with Mister Crouch,” Ilya said with a shrug. “They dragged her off for reservations at the Three Broomsticks.”

“And to chastise her about this tournament,” Shirou muttered.

Ilya shrugged again. “Probably.” She blinked. “Where’s Galen?”

“Hospital Wing,” Shirou supplied. “We were testing antidotes in Potions today.”

Her flame-blue eyes widened. “Will he be all right?”

“Madam Pomfrey says so,” Shirou assured her, “but she says he’ll be ill for a while.”

Ilya sighed. “Just another example of the same old lesson - that just because he can recover from it, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t suffer.”

“Yup.”

Her eyes roamed the table, and widened again. Her voice was much lower when she asked, “Why is Hermione here, then?”

Shirou shrugged again. “Missing a meal and study time wasn’t going to do her any good, especially when all he was doing was throwing up for the first half hour, and then he was sedated for the rest. Galen insisted before Madam Pomfrey put him under . . . Though she didn’t argue too hard,” he said reflectively.

“Good for her,” Ilya said decisively. “The way you all described it, she was practically attached to him at the hip, and it’s not a good thing for any girl to be so obsessed over a boy.”

Shirou raised an eyebrow. “I’m sorry, Ms. Pot - have you been formally introduced to Miss Kettle?”

Ilya stuck her tongue out at him. Then she turned to the others and announced, “I’m borrowing Shirou for a while” before dragging him out of the Great Hall.

“Where are we going?” Shirou asked.

“Welll . . .” Ilya drawled. “Since Takara’s not here to glare at me, and Rin’s not here to glare at you, I thought this would be a good time for some private time. And I’ve heard the most interesting things about the broom closets around here . . .”

She giggled at the look on his face. “Just kidding - the seventh-floor sanctuary, of course! How else could I be sure we wouldn’t be disturbed?” Her face turned serious. “Besides, until the next Hogsmeade weekend, this is as close as we’ll get to dating - and with the tasks, we can’t guarantee time for those.”

“There’s always the Yule Ball,” Shirou noted.

Ilya somehow managed to beam, and look both smug and predatory, all at the same time, as she chirped happily, “Why Shirou - of course I’ll go with you! Thanks for offering!”

I walked into that one, he admitted, as Ilya pulled him into the Room of Requirement. Of course, I suppose this puts off the arguments later . . . And if I’m going to give her a chance, why not take her?

The Room’s configuration was very low-key - not as frilly and scented as Madam Puddinfoot’s in Hogsmeade, nor as intimate as might be expected of a half-Veela witch planning to be alone with the boy of her dreams. It was, in fact, as comfortably casual as their living room, or the Gryffindor common room. There was a long chesterfield, a fireplace, two end tables, and nothing else.

Shirou glanced at Ilya and asked teasingly, “What - no flowers, disco lights, or music?”

Ilya shot him an annoyed look. “Do Mama and Papa use those?”

Shirou shuddered. “Please - don’t ask questions like that!” He shuddered again. “My imagination isn’t up to Galen’s standards, but I do not need it focussing on Kiritsugu’s sex life!”

Ilya giggled again. “Fair enough - but my point is, their relationship is based on more than sex.” She smiled coquettishly. “I mean, we could do that if you want - but would you still respect me in the morning? . . . Actually, would you remember your own name in the morning, never mind mine?”

Shirou gave her a sardonic grin. “Someone has a high opinion of herself.”

“Veeee ~ la,” Ilya singsonged with a “cat who ate the cream-filled canary” smile. “Besides, I’ve seen your reactions when I flash my allure - I can guess what going all out will be like.”

Shirou threw her a mock scowl. “I knew those couldn’t all be accidents.”

“And I knew that if I wanted your attention, I needed to hit you over the head with the biggest hammer I could find,” Ilya countered loftily. “Besides, what’s the use of being considered a sex goddess if you don’t take advantage of it?”

“A bit eager, are we?” Shirou observed drily - and stopped, suddenly unable to breathe as he stared at his sister.

The expression on Ilya’s face was vulnerable and hesitant, almost shy - but the rest of her . . . Her silver-blonde hair suddenly gleamed and began to stir as it turned to a crest of ruffling feathers, seeming like nothing so much as a mass of dancing flames caught in the ethereal breeze that suddenly sprang up around her. Her alabaster skin glowed like the moon, as though she was lit from within, and began to give off an intoxicating perfume that was uniquely Ilya. Her wide blue eyes, always fire-bright, blazed with a wild, desperate hunger, and Shirou’s knees weakened even as his heart hammered against his ribs . . .

“No,” the goddess staring at him whispered, her voice suddenly silvery and heartbreakingly enchanting. “I’m so close - I won’t spoil this, I WON’T . . .”

Ilya shut her eyes and clenched her delicate hands into fists, visibly mastering herself. The light and wind died away, leaving her beautiful still, but undeniably mortal. She took great, heaving breaths - almost sobs - as she curled up into a ball on the couch, seemingly exhausted.

“Ilya-chan?” Shirou said uncertainly. “Are you all right?”

“. . . My fault,” she said in a soft, ragged voice. “I shouldn’t have teased - not when I’ve wanted you so badly, for so long . . . When I was trapped as a child, when I was dead - when there was no hope at all that you would ever be mine. And now there’s a chance, and this Veela blood . . . They’re passion given form, Shirou - love, hate, jealousy, and above all, desire. I’m only half, I can control it - but it’s hard.” She looked up at him, and tears glimmered at the corners of her eyes. “Especially now, when you’re starting to grow into the boy I remember - old enough for . . .” She shuddered, and removed her wand from her robes, clutching it like a lifeline.

“I wasn’t joking, Shirou,” Ilya said quietly. “If I really cut loose, I could make you forget your own name, forget everything but the feel of my body against yours, the smell of my hair and the taste of my skin - the sounds I make when you’re locked inside me. You’re strong - your mind would probably recover, but a Veela’s passion would destroy most men.”

“But you’re only half-Veela,” Shirou pointed out.

“Which means I have more control over my ability than, say, Fleur Delacour,” Ilya said, “but less than a full Veela like Mama or Arcueid.”

“I would’ve thought it would be the other way around,” Shirou muttered to himself - or thought he did, until Ilya snorted.

“Why else would Fleur have the allure, and be unable to shut it off, with so little Veela blood in her? And if a full Veela’s allure was that much more powerful than hers, no man would ever be able to function around one. No - human crossbreeds inherit the power, at least by degrees, and lose the ability to control it by equal degrees. But the balance in my blood means I have the hunger, too - the faerie lack of restraint when it comes to indulging myself. I can be so tempted . . .” She stared at him, and shook herself. “I shouldn’t have teased - I’m sorry, Onii-chan.”

Shirou considered his sister for several moments, then sat on the other end of the couch, swinging his legs up and patting his lap. “Come here, Ilya-chan.”

Ilya stared, her face and voice equally disbelieving. “Shirou?”

“Your hair’s a mess after fluttering around like that,” he said calmly, plucking a brush from the end table that hadn’t been there until he reached for it.

“Shirou . . .” she repeated uncertainly.

Shirou sighed. “Look - we already know we love each other, whether or not we’re in love - and we always will. We already know each other secrets, and we share a house during the summer, so being able to live together isn’t a question. The only aspect of a potential relationship we haven’t covered is physical - I know you’re beautiful, and I know you can make me want you . . . I just don’t know if I do on my own. So we’ll try baby steps - see if I can used to the difference between sitting with you on the chesterfield, and sitting with you on it.” He shrugged. “And who knows? Maybe a little indulgence will take the edge off your cravings.”

“Or make them worse,” Ilya muttered.

Shirou looked at her. “If we actually got around to sleeping together, what were you going to do? If this is going to work, we’ll both need to make adjustments in this, Ilya - so we’ll start small, start slow, and see where it goes.”

She took a deep breath, and admitted, “You’re right.” She met his gaze with a wan smile. “When did you get so smart about relationships, Onii-chan?”

Now it was Shirou’s turn to snort. “I figure as long as I avoid doing what I did last time, I’m improving.” He smiled softly. “Now come here, Ilya - even that short, your hair’s a sight that would bring Galen to tears.”

Smiling despite herself, Ilya tentatively crawled into his lap.






Madam Rosmerta led them to a private room, took their orders, and left. Her parents wasted no time in putting up a series of privacy-related wards - more of which Takara recognised than the last time she’d seen it done, a benefit of Mad-Eye Moody’s “unofficial” tutelage.

“So . . .” Takara said uncertainly. “How’s Alex-chan?”

“Fine,” her mother said firmly. “Safe at home, in Arcueid’s care - which is a lot more than we can say for you, young lady! How did you get yourself into this?”

Takara glanced at her father, and winced. His face was expressionless, which was very telling in its way. It meant that he was not inclined to interrupt or disagree with her mother’s tirade - in short, he agreed wholeheartedly with whatever had set her off. Which, in this case, meant . . .

“I don’t suppose you’d believe it was an accident?” she tried lamely.

Ciel Aozaki fixed her daughter with a glare that would’ve done credit to the basilisk she’d encountered two years ago - and unlike her mother, Takara lacked Galen as a shield.

“It almost was,” Takara muttered, staring at the floor. “We only entered as a last resort, just in case anything went wrong - ”

“And it did,” her father said quietly. “Very wrong - because you and Neville Longbottom are both bound to compete, when you assured us that the threat was negligible, if it still existed at all.”

Convincing his partner and their wives of the truth hadn’t exactly been easy for Kiritsugu - but the dimensionally-displaced students had given the ICW Auror enough background information that was easily verified to sway them eventually. A lot of it, the children could’ve known by checking the public records - but the discovery of a prophecy’s existence that involved the Dark Lord (and provisionally, Neville Longbottom) given by Sybil Trelawney to Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore by her aunt Aoko had certainly lent credence to their arguments. The exact contents of the prophecy were a mystery - but she had confirmed it existed, using her credentials - and penetrating the holdings of the British Department of Mysteries was virtually impossible for a trio of third-year students.

As such, Shiki Aozaki had been willing to take Kiritsugu’s word on the matter of Sirius Black and Peter Pettigrew - and that faith had been vindicated last year. Therefore, when the situation as they knew it had been laid out, her parents had been willing to accept that the immediate danger of Voldemort was likely all but extinguished.

And now this, she thought despairingly.

“We thought it was,” Takara said heavily. “Lucius Malfoy is a wanted criminal, Peter Pettigrew is dead, and of the two other people Voldemort could turn to for help, one of them is working for us. Everything seemed to be going really well . . .”

“Then why enter at all?” her mother demanded.

“Because we thought we had the basilisk situation in hand, too, the summer before second year,” Takara retorted. “You know how well that turned out - you nearly died!”

“And now you might!” Ciel fired back. “Damn it, Takara - do you have any idea what they’re planning?”

“Dragons and golden eggs, hostage rescue in the Black Lake, and a labyrinth full of creatures and traps,” Takara recited, taking her mother aback.

“I guess you do,” her mother said. “And since you’re magically bound to compete, that’s good. But do you have any idea why we shouldn’t pull you out of Hogwarts after the Tournament is over?”

She felt the blood drain from her face. Her voice was little more than a croak as she said, “What?”

Her father broke in, “Treasure, look at it from our point of view. You’ve been in danger - willingly, maybe, but still in danger - almost from the day you first entered the castle. Trolls, basilisks, Dementors, this. And now, from what you’ve told us, despite all your actions and precautions, there’s every possibility that the civil war in Britain is going to start up again - and it’ll be worse than ever before. And if we stay here, you would be a prime target. Alex would be a prime target. It would be one thing if it was just us - we’re paid for this kind of thing, we’re trained, and we know the risks - but can you honestly expect us to willingly risk our children by staying in a war zone?”

“But - what about school?” Takara protested.

“It’s not as though you can’t get along at Beauxbatons,” her mother pointed out. “Or we could leave Europe entirely, and go back to Canada - you’d do just as well at the Royal Academy for Magical Instruction, I’m sure.”

“My friends - ” she began.

“Kiritsugu’s talked about moving more than once,” her mother countered. “He could even outright resign from the Security Division - it’s not as though the Einzberns have to work for a living. And Galen’s only here because of the Wolfsbane Potion - with that more common recipe, he could acquire what he needs anywhere, and Canada had less restrictive laws for werewolves than Britain, overall.”

The elder woman looked a tad sour at this. Despite her initial misgivings when they were little, she’d developed a genuine soft spot for her daughter’s first friend over the years - and after he’d saved her life, well! Especially when she learned that he’d known what he was walking into, and come after her anyway, his well-known dread of snakes notwithstanding. No, Ciel Aozaki was a badge-carrying member of LAPIS with pride, and she disliked the anti-werewolf legislation her current home employed as much as any genuine lycanthrope.

“And the people who were born here?” Takara challenged. “Hermione, Luna, Ginny - if Neville really is the prophecy boy, he’ll be forced to confront the war head-on. Should I let him do it alone?”

Before either of the elder Aozakis could answer, Madam Rosmerta arrived with a knock, levitating trays of food and hot, steaming mugs behind her. They removed a couple of the wards, allowed her inside, and paid for the meal. When the argument resumed, the food had been eaten, and they were sipping their drinks.

“Your friend won’t be alone,” her father assured her. “The Ministry - ”

“Is useless at best, and malicious at worst,” Takara snapped. “The last time, they spent a year hiding their heads in the sand - and when they did wake up to reality, spent more time trying to gain a poster boy than actually doing anything. It fell in less than a year, once the fighting began in earnest.

“And as for the Order of the Phoenix - please,” Takara sneered. “They were more interested in peacemaking than taking the fight to the enemy - and their only active contribution was trying to maintain the neutrality of the other magical races, and that rather than recruit them outright. The rest of the time, they were embroiled in carrying out Dumbledore’s little schemes.” She gave her parents a scathing look. “And consider how well he ran the war last time.”

Having been witnesses to the corruption in the British Ministry for four years, not to mention half the problems at Hogwarts having been either engineered or exacerbated by Dumbledore, they had little room to argue her conclusions.

“And that’s assuming Neville survives long enough to even try to face Voldemort - that’s why we entered our names into the Goblet,” Takara snapped. “And God help me, it’s a good thing we did - while I’m not exactly thrilled I have to compete, he’d be completely on his own otherwise. At least this way, I can watch out for him.” She shrugged. “It’s not like I care about winning.”

“And we care about you,” her father said. “And if we can’t shield you from this, then we can at least take you out of it.”

“And leave my friends to die,” Takara said flatly. She shook her head. “Let’s be clear, Mother - if the prophecy says what we think it does, Neville will have to fight Voldemort, and he can’t do it on his own. And despite what you think, Shirou won’t run, and neither will Galen - it’s not in their natures, and they’re both older than they look . . . So am I, and I won’t leave them behind. We’re not children, and we won’t be told what to do.”

Her mother softened. “Kitten, I know it’s tempting to listen to your hormones and follow the boys, but - “

Takara’s mug began to crackle, and they glanced down to see that her hot chocolate was now approaching the consistency of a popsicle. She turned it upside down, and let the solid shape fall onto her plate with a thunk.

Takara raised her eyes, looked at her mother steadily, and said quietly, “This isn’t about my feelings for the boys - it’s about my feelings for me. This isn’t something we want to do, but we’re here, it needs to be done, and we can’t trust that it will be, otherwise. So we stay, and we fight - because why else are we here?”

Takara shook her head. “I don’t want to look over my shoulder for the rest of my life, waiting for Voldemort or a Death Eater to find me. I don’t want to look in the mirror and see the face of a woman who ran when all her friends stayed behind and fought, knowing it was the right thing to do, even when it killed them.

“And I don’t want to look at you, for the rest of my life, and know that you made me abandon them,” Takara said harshly.

Ciel’s face darkened ominously, the prelude to a truly awesome explosion, but whatever she was going to say was cut off by her husband’s sigh. “I hate to admit it - I really do - but she’s right, Ciel.”

Her mother’s head whipped around so quickly that even as short as it was, the elder Aozaki’s blue hair took a moment to catch up. “What?!”

“If she wasn’t our daughter, she’d be the kind of witch the Security Division would be dying to recruit,” he said quietly. “Talented, intelligent, dedicated, eager . . . We’d be proud to have her join up. Since she is our daughter” - here he favoured Takara with a glance - “and wherever she came from, however old she really is, I have absolutely no doubt of that - could we really expect her to be anything less?”

“But Shiki - !”

“You’re not wrong to want to protect her, Ciel,” he said quietly. “And Takara, she isn’t. She’s your mother, and she worries - she cares.”

“I know, Father, and I appreciate it,” Takara answered - and she meant it.

“And for Alex, it’s the right approach - he’s too vulnerable at his age, and if he’s safer out of the country, then we should move him. That’s our right and our responsibility as his parents. But Takara is older, and capable of choosing for herself. If she won’t be protected, then the best thing we can do is support her, so that if and when things do go wrong, she’ll be as safe as we can make her. That means training, equipment, logistics - everything possible. We do the best we can - and trust in Takara to do the same.”

Her mother’s face was pinched. “I don’t like it.”

“I don’t, either - and neither does she. But what we like has nothing to do with what is in life, Ciel - you and I both know that.”

The elder Aozaki woman sighed. “Damn it - I hate it when you’re right.” She looked at Takara. “And he is - if you were anyone else’s child, I’d be proud of you for wanting to fight . . . I am proud of you,” she admitted softly, before sighing, “My little angel - were you always this grown up?”

“Not always,” Takara admitted. “But when my world was burning down around me, and I needed a miracle - I got it. Somebody heard, somebody cared, and they gave up everything for me, in the end. Now I’m the one who’s needed - and I can’t do anything less, or what kind of person does that make me?”

“Human,” her father murmured. “But not a very good one. Not the one we raised you to be - in this world, or the other.”

“No,” Takara said. “And on any world, I am, and always will be, my parents’ daughter.”

“Yes,” Ciel said, embracing her. “Always that.”








Additional Writer's Notes: As you can tell between the werewolves, vampires, and now Veela, I'm playing fast and loose with the details of these races - but Rowling goes into so little detail that I kind of have to in order for them to make sense. Still, I hope it's enjoyable.

ringlhach
April 1st, 2011, 07:51 AM
“Welll . . .” Ilya drawled.
Extra "l," maybe? For me, at least, the ellipsis kinda implies that she's drawing out the last letter.


“My imagination isn’t up to Galen’s standards, but I do not*need it focussing on Kiritsugu’s sex life!”

“You know how well*that turned out - you nearly died!”
Yay, asterisks!

As bad as I feel for Ilya, is it strange that I feel almost as bad for Ciel?

Kratosirving
April 1st, 2011, 08:09 AM
Holy smokes, Ilya almost went into rape mode there. Still, given leeway or not, having a Veela as a partner would be mindblowingly FANTASTIC! Makes me think of the old tales of succubi, and how after they gave their human partners the best night of their lives they would devour them. Makes me think Veela are basically spinoffs of them, or direct descendants of them, hehe.

Kieran
April 1st, 2011, 09:02 AM
Extra "l," maybe? For me, at least, the ellipsis kinda implies that she's drawing out the last letter.

Yup - that one's OK.




Yay, asterisks!

Sorry, forgot to check for them - fixed it. I have got to talk to Roadbuster about that, because they literally do not exist until I actually post the chapter.




As bad as I feel for Ilya, is it strange that I feel almost as bad for Ciel?

Not at all - she's in a bad spot here. Her oldest (and for the longest time, only) child is in terrible danger - and there's nothing she can really do about it. Nothing Takara will let her do, at any rate. And while her history here isn't quite as terrible as in "Tsukihime," Ciel's still the same in that she's obsessively focussed on her family. Takara is still her mother's treasure, and it kills her that she's at risk.




Holy smokes, Ilya almost went into rape mode there. Still, given leeway or not, having a Veela as a partner would be mindblowingly FANTASTIC! Makes me think of the old tales of succubi, and how after they gave their human partners the best night of their lives they would devour them. Makes me think Veela are basically spinoffs of them, or direct descendants of them, hehe.

Since Vila ("Veela" is an alternate spelling) are a type of faerie, I'm basing it on tales like the Leansidhe - literally "fairy lover." You have to figure there are reasons crossbreeds are rare, given how easily they attract men.

Elf
April 1st, 2011, 09:33 AM
Sorry, forgot to check for them - fixed it. I have got to talk to Roadbuster about that, because they literally do not exist until I actually post the chapter.

You know what the strangest thing is? That doesn't happen when I post my stuff. I have no idea what's going on with that either, because it doesn't happen to me . . .


Since Vila ("Veela" is an alternate spelling) are a type of faerie, I'm basing it on tales like the Leansidhe - literally "fairy lover." You have to figure there are reasons crossbreeds are rare, given how easily they attract men.

*NODS* But I was kinda curious when that was going to come to play. I wonder if Shirou will always see Ilya as that tiny snow fairy that was his little sister for so long, despite her Veela looks. However, him going to brush her hair was a nice touch.

But yes, she almost went into rape mode there.

B.B. Rain
April 1st, 2011, 10:32 AM
So, I realise there's probably going to be backlash when Ilya's clever maneuvering pops out, and shenanigans are obvious when Rin gets her hands on a working wand and participates in escalation, whoever starts it. And I've also been playing into the Shirou/Nasu-girls focus of discussion, in my own subdued way.

But how's Neville's Yule Ball experience going to go down?

I mean, since Takara's still putting off romance/hormones for when they're all older local-perspective, and she entered the Tournament to protect him, being his dance partner would be a great excuse for bodyguarding. On the other hand, they could whip out cross-champion fraternization rules, so that might get knocked out...He himself hasn't seemed to espouse any sort of romantic interest, just general admiration.

Gotta get around to re-reading...can't remember if it was mentioned whether he tended to hang out with Luna or Ginny when the Seven fragmented off.

As for the asteriks, and why Elf hasn't had 'em...Formatting issues? Maybe the program you write in, or how you transfer from personal storage to the site? I'm still a couple years off from being able to issue a semi-professional opinion from my programming classes...

ringlhach
April 1st, 2011, 10:51 AM
I have a feeling that it's going to be Luna. Just a feeling, though; she's been working him over pretty hard. Although, now that I think about it, it was weird that she was the one stopping Shirou, not Ginny.

SeiKeo
April 1st, 2011, 01:17 PM
Poor Ilya. So close, yet so far. Wait, if she can wipe memories, what could Arc do? Eeeep.

Bah, Canada. America obviously has better schools.

RanmaBushiko
April 1st, 2011, 02:07 PM
Looks interesting, that's for sure. I'm hoping to see more, too!

Kieran
April 1st, 2011, 03:45 PM
*NODS* But I was kinda curious when that was going to come to play. I wonder if Shirou will always see Ilya as that tiny snow fairy that was his little sister for so long, despite her Veela looks. However, him going to brush her hair was a nice touch.

But yes, she almost went into rape mode there.

Hey, she's has a libido she's been repressing for about twenty-five years - and been focussed on Shirou for 17 of those. Small wonder she's aching to indulge. It does make one wonder how Arcueid manages, though . . .





But how's Neville's Yule Ball experience going to go down?

I mean, since Takara's still putting off romance/hormones for when they're all older local-perspective, and she entered the Tournament to protect him, being his dance partner would be a great excuse for bodyguarding. On the other hand, they could whip out cross-champion fraternization rules, so that might get knocked out...He himself hasn't seemed to espouse any sort of romantic interest, just general admiration.

In this sense, he's more like Galen - "Who'd want me with all these awesome guys around?" Watching him attempt to get a date could be fun, since in the original timeline he asked Hermione before finally going with Ginny. But he and Takara are an option . . . Hm.




Gotta get around to re-reading...can't remember if it was mentioned whether he tended to hang out with Luna or Ginny when the Seven fragmented off.

Both.



As for the asteriks, and why Elf hasn't had 'em...Formatting issues? Maybe the program you write in, or how you transfer from personal storage to the site? I'm still a couple years off from being able to issue a semi-professional opinion from my programming classes...

Probably.





Poor Ilya. So close, yet so far. Wait, if she can wipe memories, what could Arc do? Eeeep.

Not as much - Arcueid can't use wizardry, so things like Memory Charms are out of her league. She can only "wipe memories" in the sense of making you forget to care about anything but her.



Bah, Canada. America obviously has better schools.

In 1994, maybe - and be careful there. :)

Kratosirving
April 1st, 2011, 03:47 PM
Hmm...Takara and Neville at the Yule Ball might turn out to be quite interesting; besides, you get the VERY intriguing plotline and rumor spreading of two Champions falling for each other via a Rita Skeeter lie in the Daily Prophet.

B.B. Rain
April 1st, 2011, 04:03 PM
Hey, yeah, speaking of the beetle, how'd the attempt to interview Neville go? Did that result in anything, or did the senior Aozaki's intervene quickly enough?

ringlhach
April 1st, 2011, 04:38 PM
Actually, something I just noticed about the asterisk thing- do you actually write in forum-code, or do you convert it? They seem to tend to pop up around where you're cutting off fields... if that's the case, you might be mashing */ at the same time. It's stupid, but it might be. *shrugs*

Kieran
April 1st, 2011, 08:15 PM
The published interview will be shown next chapter - which will hopefully be up some time tomorrow. And while I worked manually on the reposts, with these new chapters I highlight the text and click "I." Both cause asterisks. *shrug* Oh well, as long as I remember to check for them, it's just an annoyance.

SeiKeo
April 1st, 2011, 08:34 PM
"Sometime tomorrow"? How do you keep the update pace that you do? It's pretty amazing.

Kieran
April 1st, 2011, 09:19 PM
Well, I had a few chapters written while I was waiting for the Beast's Lair to be restored - so going from Chapter 11 (where I left off) to Chapter 13 wasn't hard. Aside from that . . . My job is part-time and very menial, letting my mind chew on things while I work (sometimes I need the distraction), and I don't do much else, really. None of my friends live in town, and I don't have many other hobbies besides reading and writing fanfiction. So spending 4 - 6 hours a day writing is possible, as long as my wrists can take it - and so far, they can.

RexRox
April 1st, 2011, 09:43 PM
Just because it's possible doesn't make it any less amazing. Goddamn.

Also, although I'm rooting for Ilya in the Shirou contest, I can't wait to see the problems that Ilya's little trick will cause.

ItsaRandomUsername
April 1st, 2011, 11:07 PM
^
Ditto.

FlameStrike
April 1st, 2011, 11:57 PM
Yeah, I believe that lovable little (not so much now though) snow fairy deserves more love. Shirou x Rin already happened in cannon too. x.x;

ItsaRandomUsername
April 2nd, 2011, 12:00 AM
Exactly, by that logic, it's Illya's turn to have a shot. I pray she succeeds.

B.B. Rain
April 2nd, 2011, 08:32 AM
Hell, if you just look at it from the canon of this series...Legacies was ShirouxSakura, Truth and Consequences was ArcherxRin, both had hints of Shirou/ArcherxSaber, The Prisoner had TakaraxShirou, Hermione's pretty firmly off-limits, Ginny might have her crush but she's still a bit young both generally and from his point of view, and Luna's awesome but her nonsensical (I think I may have failed to recreate the word I wanted to use) nature has been slightly off-putting, if not actually disquieting, to him in their interactions.

By process of elimination, if nothing else, it really is Ilya's turn.

And as for the ShirouxTakara date in Legacies, or the fact that it was a different Rin in Truth; first, he was nuttier then a bag of trail mix and plotting to murder her, while she only knew his cover. Didn't count. Second, eh...General archetype counts.

How are we distinguishing the different versions of people in conversations, anyway? (Canon) tags by their name, with story/route name standing in for Canon? Context clues?

Ergast
April 2nd, 2011, 10:17 AM
Legacies!Shirou (or shiro!Shirou) was awesomely nuts. One can only asume that being the hero for so long give him tips about what works at being the bad guy XD

He isn't my favorite Shirou, but he was awesome. And one of the best bad guys I have seen/read. And Archer didn't count as Shirou. Shirou Einzbern counts because he has regained some of his optimism and is much more likeable. Still, I expect this book to be mainly Shirou/Illya. I still don't see those two paired (I get the feel that they are better as siblings that as a pair, but that's just me), but this is Illya's turn.

Kieran
April 2nd, 2011, 05:58 PM
*chuckle* I must admit, watching the speculation is fun. And every so often, I spot a good idea . . . Oh, and this time? The spelling errors ARE intentional. :)


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 Goblet of Fire, but I trust in the intelligence of my readers (and the availability of the books) to recognise them when they see them.



Chapter 16 - Matters of Perspective



November 7, 1994






“The contract looks fairly standard, Nev,” Galen announced. “Your media rights - which include interviews, official quotations, sound recordings and photographs - become the exclusive legal and intellectual property of the Quibbler for the duration of one year, in exchange for the sum of one Galleon.” He gave the other boy a look. “That means if you are quoted, the Quibbler can pursue legal action on your behalf - on the other hand, if you voluntarily speak to any other media outlet, they can pursue action against you, so be careful who you speak to.” He shrugged. “But it’s very clear, and above-board - not that I expected anything else, Luna.”

“Me either,” Neville assured her. “I trust you a heck of a lot more than I’ll ever trust Skeeter.”

“Any amount of trust is an improvement over ‘not at all,’” Ginny pointed out. “I can’t believe that rubbish she printed!”

“Too many people will,” Ilyasviel muttered darkly. “Do you have an extra copy of that contract, Miss Luna? I want to sign.”

“I already did,” Takara confirmed. A small icy smile formed at the corner of her mouth. “Do you suppose that the Ministry will find it hard to cover the Triwizard Tournament when three of the four champions can’t be interviewed by their mouthpiece?”

Neville snorted. “Considering I didn’t want to be in the bloody thing, I don’t think I care.”

“Language,” Hermione chided, but her heart wasn’t in it. After the Skeeter interview, it couldn’t be.

Rita Skeeter’s article had arrived at breakfast, in the Saturday edition of the Daily Prophet, with a thirty-two point headline dominating the top half of the front page. TOURNAMENT OF FOOLS, it proclaimed, and the body of the article was not an improvement.



After much hullabaloo - including enormous amounts of time, effort, and money, Albus Dumbledore has succeeded in reviving the Triwizard Tournament. Once, it was considered a showcase of the bright young things in the magical schools of Europe, a dazzling display of talent, brilliance, and showmanship. Alas, we should have suspected that the involvement of Albus Dumbledore - who, astute readers will recall, was removed from his position as Headmaster of Hogwarts two years ago for gross incompetence - would as thoroughly ruin such an event as he did the reputation of the school he once ran. The so-called ‘champions’ selected are far from the best possible students - half of them fall well below the age limit Dumbledore himself insisted on!

First, the official champions. From Durmstrang, renowned institute for the study of the Dark Arts, we have Illyeasveal von Ainzburn, a sultry temptress who makes no secret of the fact that she’s descended from those legendary temptresses, the Veela. Veela, as you may be aware, are renowned for their ability as seductresses, generally seen in Britain as the mistresses and playthings of wealthy wizards. Small wonder, as only such men can afford the high cost of their ravenous appetites for luxury, and their flighty natures disdain such civilised concepts as fidelity and marriage. Many a loving relationship has been torn asunder by the wicked wiles of a bored Veela, who finds amusement in toying with the hearts of others - and Ainzbern’s inhuman beauty and ice-queen demeanour show her to be cut from the same cloth.



“I wonder if Papa’s diplomatic immunity would cover assassination,” Ilyasviel had mused on reading her description. “If not, Mama’s probably will . . .” Despite her seeming indifference, however, Shirou had been required to take the newspaper from her hands before more than the edges ended up blackened. Not that his temper was any calmer, and the next paragraph had only made it worse.



From Beauxbatons, a school renowned for its beauty, and the charm and grace of its students, comes Ryn Dellacoor, a student who sadly possesses none of these qualities. She has, in fact, been abrasive and secretive since her arrival, going so far as to physically attack the Hogwarts students that attempt to befriend her, according to one source.



Galen had met Shirou’s glare calmly and asked, “Would I talk to her? Honestly?”

Shirou had sighed, and admitted, “Talk, no. Set on fire . . .”

“Absolutely,” Galen had agreed.



Her magical knowledge is apparently as abysmal as her personality. In point of fact, neither she, nor her adopted sister (an apparent Veela, of all things), nor even the Headmistress of her school, realised that her wand was utterly unsuitable to her until it was examined by the renowned British wand-maker, Ollivander. If she can somehow manage to go through school for seven years without noticing such a thing - nor her instructors - I believe I can confidently predict a very poor showing from the Beauxbatons “champion.”

Sadly, the choice of Hogwarts’ champions is no more inspiring. That’s right - choices, plural. Despite the so-called ‘precautions’ insisted on the once-vaunted Dumbledore, Hogwarts has somehow contrived to enter two students, and both of them fall well below the age limit of seventeen - once again, a condition imposed by Dumbledore. Are these two prodigies of magic, capable of circumventing protections placed by the world’s most powerful wizard, and competing with the legally of age foreign witches on their own terms? Sadly, no.

The “official” Hogwarts champion is T’karra Owzaki, a stunningly pretty girl whose main claim to fame is on the Quidditch pitch, where her good lucks allow her to dazzle the opposing Seeker long enough to steal the Snitch out from under them. One wonders at the fact that she apparently had a Veela nurse as a child - with Veela connections to three of the Triwizard champions, can there be any real doubt of a conspiracy?



Takara had rolled her eyes derisively. “Even if a conspiracy like that existed - why, exactly, would Veela care about a wizards’ tournament?” She’d paused in thought before adding, “And I wonder if Cho Chang will realise that Skeeter just implied that she’s a lesbian?”

“It would explain her attachment to Edgecombe,” Galen had snorted, before lifting another spoonful of porridge into his mouth. The poison Snape had fed him had been flushed out - along with the so-called “antidote” - but his stomach still wasn’t up to handling complicated foods yet. He’d be on porridge, eggs, toast and soup for a while. He swallowed, then added, “Or maybe vice-versa. Depending on who Skeeter interviewed for that tidbit, it might be wishful thinking on their part.”

Of course, despite all the venom used in those preceding character assassinations, Skeeter had still managed to save the best for last.



The final champion is Hogwarts’ own Neville Longbottom, scion and heir of the Longbottom family. He holds the distinction of being the sole survivor of You-Know-Who’s last attack, valiantly defended by Dumbledore after the fall of his parents, themselves celebrated Aurors. With such a distinguished pedigree and history, and the fact that he managed to enter a tournament supposed to be limited to three people, one might expect to find a genius, or at the very least, an epitome of class and breeding, but alas, the truth is sadly as disappointing as the rest of the Tournament entries.

According to his professors, Longbottom is “a hopeless dunderhead whose cloddish ineptitude is responsible for the repeated hospitalisation of his classmates,” and a close student peer assets that Longbottom is “a Squib who only got in because his grandmother’s on the Board of Governors.”


“That would Snape and Malfoy, respectively,” Ginny had muttered, without a hint of doubt. “Of course, she doesn’t mention that Mrs. Longbottom took over Lucius Malfoy’s seat the year after Neville started school.”

“The Wrackspurts must have muddled her memory,” Luna had remarked. “Judging by this, she must have one of the most severe infestations ever recorded.”



His grandmother, the well-known society matron Augusta Longbottom, has recently become well-known for erratic, seemingly nonsensical decisions - among them, her sudden public championing of werewolf rights. Given her longtime prior stance against such things, one wonders if the tolls of old age are finally catching up to the grand dame . . . Or could she have suddenly acquired a new, distinctly unfashionable fur coat?



“If your dad can take that assassination, I’m sure Gran would be delighted to reimburse him for his travel and equipment expenses,” Neville had said casually to Ilyasviel, though his eyes were unusually dark.

“I’ll keep it in mind,” the half-Veela witch had murmured.

“I’m tempted to help,” Hermione had snapped. “LAPIS was finally starting to effect real, positive change - and she’s managed to attack and potentially discredit both our spokespersons with a single article!”



Longbottom himself nervously protests his innocence when asked how an underage wizard - much less one so poorly trained - could have possibly entered the Tournament.

“I didn’t enter,” said the boy in question, eyes glimmering My name just popped out - I have no idea how it got there.” The expected denials from a young wizard all agree is an incompetent failure? Or fearful refusals to admit the truth, due to pressure from some powerful threat? This reporter’s investigation into the farce that is the Triwizard Tournament continues.



Shaking off the recollection, Neville scribbled his name on the parchment, and handed the contract back to Luna.

“Thank you, Neville,” Luna said pleasantly. “I do hope you’ll be pleased with our arrangement.”

“Almost certainly more than the Ministry is right now,” Galen chuckled. “If the Triwizard Tournament is Fudge’s last chance to build enough goodwill to stay in office, he’s certainly not getting any from his publicity department. Although why he thought using a muckraking scandalmonger like Rita Skeeter was a good idea . . .” He shook his head. “Never mind - if I understood his thinking, I’d request to be Obliviated of the knowledge.”

Neville nodded. “In the meantime, we’d best hurry and finish lunch - Takara and I have quite a walk to get to Divination.”

“Arithmancy for us,” Shirou said, glancing at Hermione.

“And I actually have a free period,” Galen announced. “So I’ll walk you two young ladies to Charms, if you like.”

Luna nodded. “Thank you.”

Galen nodded back. “And then, time to hit the library - your parents are sure the First Task hasn’t changed?”

Takara smiled. “They didn’t correct me when I listed the Tasks, and were actually a little surprised I was so well-informed.”

Galen nodded again. “So it’s anti-dragon measures.”

Neville felt the bottom of his stomach drop out just from hearing the word “dragon.”

Shirou gave him a reassuring grin. “We might not have been able to get you out of this, but we will get you through this, Nev. That’s a promise.”

He felt reassured on hearing it said out loud - but a little ball of fear still remained.






Four years’ worth of wandering through the stacks and a memory for books that had been near-eidetic before his Occlumency training had left Galen with an inherent understanding of the library that he suspected few students could match - aside from Hermione, of course, and possibly Luna. And unlike a lot of modern-day students, he’d been taught how to use a library in primary school, long before everything was computerised. He understood the nuances of a card catalogue, and how to search through it. In short order, he had every non-restricted book Hogwarts had on dragons gathered in piles in front of him.

In general, there wasn’t much good to be found. Just on a sheer physical level, Neville would be going upon against a man-eating carnivore that ranged several metres in length and several tonnes in mass - effectively around the size of a tyrannosaur. As the Jurassic Park series had proven, that kind of confrontation rarely turned out well for the human. Add the ability to fly and breathe fire up to fifty feet away (for the Horntail, specifically) to the same animal, and the situation got much worse. Then throw in the fact that their hides were magically resistant, to the point where it took something like two dozen Stunners to have an effect . . .

No, this did not look good for Neville at all.

Galen closed his eyes, reliving the scene of Harry facing the dragon. They’re chained to the arena grounds, albeit not well, in the Horntail’s case. Less of a problem for Takara - she can almost certainly outfly the thing - but Neville rides a broom about as well as I do. If it comes to that, he’s toast.

There has to be a way . . .

Cedric tried to distract it with food, Fleur tried to charm it, and Krum went on an all-out attack. Neither of the first two were quite enough to keep them from getting hurt, and the dragon smashed a lot of eggs after Krum’s curse - which cost him points, because the dragon and its eggs weren’t supposed to be hurt, since they’re an endangered species.

Galen snorted. Give the mundane world its due - we don’t stage legal gladiatorial contests with panda bears or Bengal tigers any more. You take a nesting mother and its eggs, tell the contestants they have to get by it, and then assume the dragon isn’t going to be attacked, or its eggs potentially damaged or destroyed? For a school sports competition, no less - not even anything like the magical equivalent of the Olympics. Only wizards . . .

Neville might be able to cast that curse, and hit the dragon’s eyes - but it’s two very big ‘ifs.’ Not worth betting his life on - especially since we’d have to find the curse and learn it in about two weeks. He’s still having trouble with . . . Summoning Charms. Summon the egg, screw the dragon - as long as they haven’t jinxed it against the charm, it should work. Not much for showmanship, but like we bloody care. The goal is to get Neville out of there as fast as possible, and in one piece.

Galen muttered under his breath, “Still need a backup plan . . .” Then he added, at full volume, “And I don’t appreciate people trying to sneak up on me.”

“My apologies,” said a low, musical voice. “You seemed so intent upon your work - I did not wish to disrupt your concentration. When Galen turned to face her, Fleur added with a self-deprecating smile, “I do ‘ave zat effect on people.”

“Granted,” Galen said blandly. “However, I repeat - I don’t appreciate people trying to sneak up on me.”

His legsweep caught Rin completely by surprise as she emerged from the stacks. Galen had already drawn his wand and snapped off a Stunner before Fleur could react, leaving him free to place his wand under Rin’s chin before she could get back onto her feet.

“How -?” Rin gasped.

“Your perfume stands out against leather and parchment,” Galen growled. “And Fleur’s got no reason to talk to me. You, on the other hand . . . ” His eyes narrowed. “What was the plan? Get her to make me more talkative, or just distract me while you used magic to compel me? You have a nasty history of messing with my head, Tohsaka - I’m almost tempted to blow yours off and take my chances with Shirou . . . But I owe you one, too. So this is your only pass. The next time you try anything on me will be the last time, one way or the other.”

He stepped away from her and flicked his wand casually. “Muffliato. All right, we can talk freely.”

Rin rose cautiously. “Ilyasviel said you were dangerous.”

“She was right.” Galen stared at her. “So what is it?”

The Japanese witch shook her head. “I don’t want to talk to Shirou or Ilyasviel, and I figured you’d be easier to talk to than Aozaki . . . Look, all I want is to know what’s going on! I come looking for Archer, and I find Shirou, and he’s in this place - where magic makes absolutely no sense, and everyone thinks I’m this other girl - and I can’t activate my crest, none of my circuits are working . . . And I don’t know what to do!”

Illyria effect, Galen’s mind informed him. More to the point, Rin had to be really frazzled to be breaking down so completely in front of a seeming stranger like this - near the end of her rope altogether, really. How long had she been carrying this around?

“It sounds,” he said carefully, “like you weren’t properly shielded against outside influences when you jumped. The universe rewrote your baseline equation to match its own when you arrived, like it did with the rest of us - which means that you’re not a magus any more, you’re a witch.”

“WHAT?”

Galen winced at the volume and pitch of Rin’s sudden outburst. Sensitive hearing was not always a blessing - especially when dealing with girls who could hit the upper register.

“Look, I don’t know all the mechanics. You need a background in magecraft - and, for all I know, quantum physics - that I don’t have. But if you’ll tell me what happened, maybe I can help you figure it out. I suppose I owe you that much.” He paused. “Just let me put these back, and we’ll go somewhere more private to discuss it.” Another pause. “I suppose you ought to revive your sister, too.”






Shirou spent the time until dinner unable to fully focus on his Arithmancy lesson. He couldn’t shake an instinctive sense that something was very, very wrong. It felt like a dangerous kind of wrong - as though some kind of terrible doom was hovering just out of his sight, waiting for him . . .

Rin, he surmised. Ilya-chan is in too good a mood with me at the moment to be ticked at me.

Shirou felt a smile stretch across his face for a moment, remembering. Brushing his adopted sister’s hair while she sat in his lap might not have counted as much, date-wise - but it had been intimate in a way he’d rarely been with anyone. His first lover hadn’t been any more experienced than he was at the time, and they’d explored any number of things together, with the trepidation of the truly innocent - and Rin, as much as he loved her, had been purely businesslike when he was her Servant. It was necessary to effect a prana transfer, nothing more. Only the last time, before facing Illyria, had it been a thing of passion - and even then, it was a frenzied grasping for some taste of happiness before the end, the seizing of the last chance they’d ever have, more than a thing of closeness and love.

Ilya was different. Her Veela blood inclined her to passion, as she’d shown - passion such as he’d had with Rin, that last time, a wild hunger. But Ilya as he remembered her, the child magus, was built for more innocent things - for the kind of things like being held and brushing her hair. This had been a combination of both, and while it could have easily turned to sex, or forcibly recalled those memories, it had achieved a combination of both. It had reminded him that Ilya was grown up now, and that however grown up she was, she was still Ilya. Child and woman both, wrapped up in a package that was undeniably beautiful - and which loved him just as undeniably.

He had the proof of that now. His will was strong, and he could probably fight off her allure - if not immediately, then given time. But if caught by surprise, she could have made him hers at any time, a fawning sycophant whose only pleasure - whose whole world - was Ilya. With her Veela powers, she was literally enchanting, as all the old tales used the word. She could have owned him, body and soul, for however long or short a time. And once upon a time, she might have tried. But here and now, she hadn’t. She’d flashed the allure to tease, to play - to give him a sense of what she was, and prepare him - but she’d never really tried to control him. And by her own words, she’d waited nearly twenty years - and was still waiting - on the chance that he could be the lover she wanted, when she could have had him at any time.

When I first met her, she wouldn’t have hesitated to use her allure against me - but now, given the ultimate weapon, she refuses to. She fought it back when we were together in a place where we’d never have been found, and I would never have understood what was happening. She wants to earn my love, not just win it - and isn’t that a sign of love in itself? Especially with Rin - arguably the biggest threat she could ever face for my heart - so close at hand?

Rin . . . In retrospect, I suppose I ought to have expected her to show up eventually, he thought drily.

Rin, who wanted nothing to do with him for reasons he was unsure of - with all the memories in his head, Shirou could certainly guess, but that wasn’t the same as knowing. Whatever they were, they had her as mad as he’d ever seen her - and it did hurt. They’d always been close, in one fashion or another, and she’d been a pillar of his existence. Rin, who had been ally, teacher, friend, Master and lover to him. The one constant throughout all the myriad incarnations of his life. No matter her role, she’d always been there with him - until now. If he’d been closer to his persona as Archer, he’d have been able to hide the pain behind a front, or laugh it off. But he was much closer to being Shirou Emiya these days, who didn’t have that skill. But was pining for Rin worth sacrificing Ilya?

Not at the moment, at least, he decided. After all she’s done, Ilya deserves a chance - I’ve said that before, and after seeing the lengths she’s gone to - and going to - for my sake, it’s truer than I ever realised. Besides, Rin doesn’t want anything to do with me, for the moment - what would be the point? Should I try to seduce her, just to prove that I can?

He shook his head. No, let’s see where a relationship with Ilya can go.

. . . Though I’ve gotta admit, the prospect of explaining things to Kiritsugu is - daunting.

SeiKeo
April 2nd, 2011, 06:04 PM
Rita's attempts at phonetic spelling are pretty amazing. Does she even have an editor?


. . . Though I’ve gotta admit, the prospect of explaining things to Kiritsugu is - daunting.

Oh my.

Kratosirving
April 2nd, 2011, 06:15 PM
Oh god, Galen preempting Rin and Fleur's plans there was EPIC.

The article made me laugh, especially the misspelling of Ilya, Rin and Takara's names.

Kieran
April 2nd, 2011, 07:58 PM
Rita's attempts at phonetic spelling are pretty amazing. Does she even have an editor?

Presumably - though the misspellings are canon. One assumes it was because "who cares about the other peons next to HARRY POTTER," but in this case, it's more "Why let facts get in the way of a good story?"




Oh my.

Hey, if he's going to date Ilya, it has to come up eventually. :)




Oh god, Galen preempting Rin and Fleur's plans there was EPIC.

Rin strikes me as the type to overcomplicate things when simple would suit better. Like, for example, just asking. Of course, Galen has a wee bit of a grudge, considering all the times Rin's nearly killed him, and he's not in the best of moods, given the state of the tournament - so, bad plan. Very bad plan.




The article made me laugh, especially the misspelling of Ilya, Rin and Takara's names.

It was fun to write, although it took some thinking to get just the right amount of venom. And poor Takara - they never get her name right. :)

Mechatrill
April 2nd, 2011, 09:38 PM
Well... Rita's definitely in for it...

There are a number of ways this could turn out... The simplest and most merciful is probably just getting her arrested over her unregistered Animagus status. Other options are blackmail with that information, doing what Hermione did in canon, simply squishing her (as a bug or otherwise), or a long legal battle with the full backing of the Baroness Einzbern (possibly Longbottom and Delacour too) over libel...

It'd be interesting to see just which option they'll choose in the end. On the one hand, just getting her arrested is the simplest and requires the least effort. However, it lacks the personal satisfaction of blackmail or a firm squishing, and the last option is the only one that would serve as a good warning against future attacks from the media(preparations for year 5 maybe?). In the end, all of them has its pros and cons...

B.B. Rain
April 2nd, 2011, 09:38 PM
Oh deary deary me.

I don't suppose the Prophet will get desperate enough to try and use the spelling mistakes to claim they were talking about someone else in a remarkably similar situation? Or write rather convoluted third-person general event reports?

And of course, Shirou's capabilities as a real-time diviner are off to a roaring start.

As for the Galen-Rin/Fleur discussion...Too little actual content for more then general forboding. And a hearty cheer for the counter-wiles legsweep-stunner combo.

Kieran
April 2nd, 2011, 09:41 PM
Well, let's say that certain highly-placed people are going to be very annoyed with Miss Skeeter, and her career is likely in for a bit of trouble . . . She's not the only one, either. :)





Oh deary deary me.

I don't suppose the Prophet will get desperate enough to try and use the spelling mistakes to claim they were talking about someone else in a remarkably similar situation? Or write rather convoluted third-person general event reports?

Given how easily they hail Harry as 'the lone voice of truth' against slander (having been the ones doing the slandering), they strike me as idiotic enough to try.

B.B. Rain
April 2nd, 2011, 09:48 PM
*snort* No doubt.

While very grateful for the prompt response, I'm afraid I edited aditional commentary into my post while you responded to my questions. Typing one/off-handed...I now have great sympathy for your carpal tunnel woes. Nothing requiring additional response, but I heard somewhere praise has a better cheering effect if noticed.

Say-if Galen's issues do come to some form of official notice, would a healer reccomend a regimen of constant cheering charms? Would it do any good?

Kieran
April 2nd, 2011, 10:11 PM
While very grateful for the prompt response, I'm afraid I edited aditional commentary into my post while you responded to my questions. Typing one/off-handed...I now have great sympathy for your carpal tunnel woes. Nothing requiring additional response, but I heard somewhere praise has a better cheering effect if noticed.

Sorry to hear it - same syndrome, or different injury?




Say-if Galen's issues do come to some form of official notice, would a healer reccomend a regimen of constant cheering charms? Would it do any good?

Galen: You'd have to chain me down to take them, first. The only thing that cheering charms have over antidepressants is a lack of side effects - as far as I know. Prolonged use has to have drawbacks . . .




And of course, Shirou's capabilities as a real-time diviner are off to a roaring start.

Years of experience - and he is an Archer. Who better to spot distant trouble? :)



As for the Galen-Rin/Fleur discussion...Too little actual content for more then general forboding. And a hearty cheer for the counter-wiles legsweep-stunner combo.

While none of the Scarlet Seven has supernatural senses outside their animal forms (they're well within human limitations), they are sharp. None of them are easy to sneak up on.

B.B. Rain
April 2nd, 2011, 11:00 PM
Heavily inflamed rheumatoid arthritis, plus a bit of accident-incurred nerve damage. I've got days where the meds work okay, and I'm just a little slower as I edit and re-edit, but this is a bad one. The cold weather's a bit soothing, though.

As for responding to your response to my responsive postulations...

Cheering charm therapy could induce difficulty to be as happy after years of the bolstering effect...or produce an inability to get negative emotions going, no matter how valid they are for the situation at hand. Or both. Up to you as to how pronounced, or existant, said effects would actually be, but...Valid objection. And of course, it could just turn him into a gigglingly happy suicider.

Galen, given his genre-savviness. Then again, being at ground zero could obscure the readings...

And it was less admiration of sharp senses, and more the quick, efficient, practical but absolute shut down of a Honey Trap interrogation. Even in otherwise excellent stories, they keep showing up, and playing out, even if the damage is minimal to nonexistant. And fanservice, while appreciable in moderate doses, doesn't automatically make an award winner. It's just nice to see the probable possibility acknowledged, then declined before playing to the hormones of the reader.

Kieran
April 2nd, 2011, 11:17 PM
Heavily inflamed rheumatoid arthritis, plus a bit of accident-incurred nerve damage. I've got days where the meds work okay, and I'm just a little slower as I edit and re-edit, but this is a bad one. The cold weather's a bit soothing, though.

Ouch. I tend to find ice packs and lots of lightening the workload help. Carpal tunnel braces and meds - but mostly time. Hope it won't be long for you to recover from this bout.




Cheering charm therapy could induce difficulty to be as happy after years of the bolstering effect...or produce an inability to get negative emotions going, no matter how valid they are for the situation at hand. Or both. Up to you as to how pronounced, or existant, said effects would actually be, but...Valid objection. And of course, it could just turn him into a gigglingly happy suicider.

There has to be a reason we don't see them often used - either explanation works. In any case, he'd be leery.




And it was less admiration of sharp senses, and more the quick, efficient, practical but absolute shut down of a Honey Trap interrogation. Even in otherwise excellent stories, they keep showing up, and playing out, even if the damage is minimal to nonexistant. And fanservice, while appreciable in moderate doses, doesn't automatically make an award winner. It's just nice to see the probable possibility acknowledged, then declined before playing to the hormones of the reader.

While I fully admit that I do fan-servicey things from time to time - sometimes to please a particular reader, sometimes because I enjoy it, and sometimes because I have a tendency for the romantic - I try to avoid doing things just because I can. I slip occasionally, but I try to adhere to the idea that if something doesn't have a purpose, or a genuine use in the story - then it's a nice idea, but shelve it.

In this case, it's even simpler. Galen's sense of his own self-worth (or lack thereof) automatically makes him suspicious of situations like this, so assuming a trap is obvious. He's a fool, but he isn't an idiot, he doesn't like being played - from there, it was easy.

Elf
April 2nd, 2011, 11:45 PM
Man, poor Rin. She's obviously going through hell right now.

And goddamn it, now I'm pairing conflicted!

Kieran
April 2nd, 2011, 11:47 PM
OK, if I got you, I did really well. :)

B.B. Rain
April 2nd, 2011, 11:59 PM
Ehh. My experience when it hit my knee suggests it'll vascillate between crippling and nearly unnoticable for the next few years it'll take to bludgeon into...remission? Quiescience? Whatever that term was. But the smaller bones in the fingers/hand/wrist should avoid the long-bone problems that really annoyed me, long-term, which is my biggest concern. Pain is...transient enough, and I've spent more years effectively ignoring my original case (and being medically fine to) then I spent suffering from it. What's really tripping me is the physical distortions and contortions that I can't simply concentrate or medicate my way through. I'm just lucky I'm one of the rare totally asymmetrical sufferers, leaving me my good left-hand.

As for the meta-reason explanation....I'm not really a writer myself, but I'd think non-purpose stuff would be hard to effectively resist. You write fanfic because you enjoy it, right? Not because it's purposeful, or genuinely useful, so much as enjoyable. And there's always Jester's words to Shiki, assuming that was more an Author Avatar quote then a Distinct Charactar one.

EDIT: Oooh, yeah. Agree with Elf. Not neccessarily because I'm such an Archer/Rin fan, though I do support and enjoy that pairing, but my familiarity with Shirou and Illya as siblings is shifting and failing to object to romantic development.

FcS
April 3rd, 2011, 04:26 AM
:/ I still need some convincing to agree on that pair... Lol, tbh I'm starting to looking forward to more explanation and action instead of interaction...

Kieran
April 3rd, 2011, 07:31 AM
Well, in theory I could skip right to the dragons - but I think I ought to do a little more with Rin, first. The dragons are going to need some planning to be done right - who's facing what, and what they do, and all. But I'll get there as quick as I reasonably can.

al103
April 3rd, 2011, 05:32 PM
but I think I ought to do a little more with Rin, first.
DOOO IT! Even if I don't like Rin, interaction are priceless.

FlameStrike
April 3rd, 2011, 10:45 PM
I'm looking forward to seeing her discussion with Galen. It's interesting to see this Rin, who has no meta knowledge try to make sense of the crazy wizard world that makes no sense.

On another note, the Archer and Illya interactions have been really sweet. Illya really deserves more love. She went through so much and gains so little. I like seeing more Illya material in fan works.

Kieran
April 4th, 2011, 06:43 AM
Seems to be an even split - and that includes me! I have no idea who Shirou's going to end up with, and this is so far outside what I planned . . . *shakes head* Ah well - at least this derailment's fun to deal with. :)

Kratosirving
April 4th, 2011, 07:46 AM
Well, going by that logic, you hadn't determined who he was going to end up with, but than again, you hadn't decided that Rin would worm her way in either.

With her being in, I'd have to say it's down to either Rin or Ginny get's Shirou's manly ass. Galen's probably going to end up being your average H-game protagonist that can't make up his fucking mind and juggling Hermione and Takara...

If Takara can't get Galen though, I'll give her Luna. Why?

Why not?:eek:

RexRox
April 4th, 2011, 08:58 AM
I've certainly got no complaints about this derailment. The Rin stuff is interesting - all the more so because it involves Ilya and Shirou. I suspect that no matter how the romantic entanglements end up, I shan't be disappointed.

Kieran
April 4th, 2011, 08:23 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 Goblet of Fire, but I trust in the intelligence of my readers (and the availability of the books) to recognise them when they see them.



Chapter 17 - True Selves



November 7 - 19, 1994






Takara sighed mentally as she listened to Trelawney drone on about astrology. Having covered Western astrology earlier in the year (she, like Neville, was a Leo), Trelawney was now exploring the mysterious astrology of the Orient, land of ancient mysteries. In other words, they’d moved on to the so-called Chinese zodiac, in which she was a Snake - at least, in the world she’d originally come from. Here, like most of her class, she was a Monkey. Offhand, she didn’t feel much different. But in any case, she’d grown up in the area of the world where the beliefs were most prevalent - the refresher course really wasn’t necessary.

Not that Trelawney would be interesting to listen to about anything, the Japanese witch mused. The only reason I’m even in this class is because my parents thought it would help me develop my Sight.

Takara thought back to the Quidditch World Cup. While the warning that had woken her was hazy now, the unrelenting pressure of danger was still a strong impression in her memory. For a brief moment, she had known that something was coming, as certainly as she’d known her heart was beating. Hermione had said her eyes were glowing silver . . .

The same colour as my Mystic Eyes. I do have the Nanaya Sight - whatever it is.

In this world, she knew both more and less about her blood family and their inherited abilities than she had before. In her reality of origin, the Nanaya clan had been natural demon hunters - born with inherent physical and psychic powers for the purpose of eliminating supernatural threats to humanity. Most often, the latter manifested as a type of power commonly known as Mystic Eyes, though there were numerous variations, all seemingly individually tailored - her Eyes had been similar, but markedly different to her father’s. She knew little more than that, however, because the clan had been eliminated by the Tohno clan (the main house and its associated bloodlines) long before she was born - and her father had been only a child, barely at the beginning of his traditional training.

When she’d pressed the boys for any details they knew about her family over one summer, Shirou had reluctantly admitted that the Assassin of the Sixth Grail War had been her grandfather - and that he had perished in an attempt to protect her, because he had become a Servant to wish for the continuation of his family. Takara hadn’t actually encountered the Servant in question during the War, but Galen’s memories of doing battle with the silent warrior had been something to see in the Pensieve. Someone who could hold off her Servant and her mother simultaneously was a warrior to be reckoned with - especially when Galen had shared that Kiri Nanaya lacked the sheer destructive power of her father, or the magical reinforcement she was capable of.

If Father had been able to complete his training in the traditional Nanaya style, how devastating would he have been? If he’d been able to train me, with my abilities . . . Either one of us was a force to be reckoned with without the training!

The records of this world’s Nanaya clan were slightly easier to come by, but less informative. Going on information from Hermione, Takara had discovered the Nanaya to be less noble than originally, as they were less protectors of humanity than a family of magical assassins for hire. It was unclear whether they were wizards who trained as ninja as a cover in the mundane world, or a clan of ninja who’d developed and nurtured magical powers - even with the few records that survived the destruction of the Nanaya, secrecy was second nature to either calling. Regardless, they were renowned as oracles who could “See” the deaths of their targets.

Another obscurity - did they actually foresee those deaths, or predict them and then work with magic and shinobi techniques to make them come to pass? I’ve never been able to convince Father to tell me what his Sight shows him, but he’s said that he does have it. If this follows the same pattern as originally, mine will be similar, but distinctly different. Father saw death, whereas I saw “life” - or whatever passed for it - in my targets. And unlike my father, those lines I saw revealed the real nature of my targets, regardless of illusions - whether they were human, demon, hybrid, undead, or a creature of magic. Galen used to say that if Father’s Eyes saw “fate,” mine saw “truth.” But here . . .

I knew there was danger . . . Does that mean any danger, or only circumstances where I might die?

If the latter, it might be useful for facing the dragon - which was barely more than two weeks away, now. Takara was not looking forward to it, but at least she had a plan.

Harry managed to outfly his dragon . . . It’s a good enough plan, and in all honesty, I think I’m a better flyer than he is, or at least as good. The problem is, that still leaves Neville . . .

The First Task was Takara’s biggest worry. In the Second and Third Tasks, the champions were released as a group, and she could help Neville get through them. It was only in the First Task that they were released on their own. There was nothing she could do to help him survive whatever dragon he found himself up against.

I hope Galen can find something . . .

Frankly, Takara thought the real difficulty would be restraining Galen from protecting Neville from the dragon himself. By now, she believed she had a handle on the lycanthropic wizard’s personality and beliefs - and asking him to watch as his friends faced dangerous predators without him was like asking a devout Shinto priest to drink human blood with his tea - an event so unlikely, why bother thinking about it?

But he has to. Competing in the Tournament might cost Neville his life - but being disqualified for cheating, or outside interference at the very least, will. Not to mention he’ll be none too thrilled at Ilya competing, either - or me, probably.

I’m going to have to tell Shirou, Ginny and Luna to sit on him - literally! And steal his wand while they’re at it, just in case.

Takara sighed to herself. On the one hand, there was a certain comfort in Galen’s “mother hen” tendencies, no matter how quickly they could get annoying. On the other hand, though, they could get annoying very quickly. And in this case, they might prove their undoing.

And then, if we survive, there’s the Yule Ball . . .

Last year, she had tried to date Shirou, but a string of bad luck had plagued every attempt. Among the potential hazards had been Ilya, who hadn’t actually done anything, but had nonetheless implied in her behaviour that she was a big sister with an overprotective streak to rival Galen’s.

Still, I’d have asked him despite Ilya - but with Tohsaka-san in the mix, I don’t dare. Even I won’t go up against an overprotective big sister and a jealous ex-girlfriend simultaneously . . . But that doesn’t leave me with a lot of options.

Galen would have been her instinctive second choice - but Hermione had managed to overcome her natural reserve, and his natural stubbornness to get him to take her out. Even if Hermione hadn’t been her friend, Takara felt the accomplishment would’ve merited a pass. She’d banged her own head on that brick wall often enough. That Hermione had succeeded in getting through to him, by any means, meant that she deserved that date.

Lucky girl, muttered a corner of her mind that she refused to listen to, while trying simultaneously to not remember their date last New Year’s Eve in vivid detal. Takara knew that at least some of his behaviour had been “company manners” - trying to make the best possible impression - but Galen had still been very gentlemanly and pleasant company, whatever his motives. She had enjoyed herself, and she had no doubt that Hermione would, too.

Even more than you, probably - because even if she’s never entirely sure how to articulate it, she’s also never tried to deny that she wants him to anyone, least of all herself.

Takara ignored that. Practice was making it easier than it had been, once upon a time.

Still, of her immediate circle of friends, that left Neville, and she wasn’t certain whether or not he had plans already.

If not, Ginny might badger him into taking her, since it’s the only way she can go - and it is what happened last time . . .

Takara shook her head, deciding, I’ll worry about it later - we still have to survive the dragons first . . . Maybe I ought to see if Madam Pomfrey has a headache cure, while I’m at it. I certainly need one with all the thoughts crowding my skull lately.






Fleur had been sent off with assurances of peace and the safety of Rin’s virtue. Once they were safely ensconced in the Room of Requirement, the Japanese magus-turned-witch told her story, which matched the plot of the Fate/Stay night anime. However, her tale went beyond the final episode, with her giving up on a lovelorn Shirou to pursue her magical studies in England, and apprenticing to the Wizard Marshall, Zelretch - master of the True Magic, Kaleidoscope. And as her studies progressed . . .

“I thought about Archer,” she said quietly. “About a man who died for me, to buy myself and my allies time to escape with our lives, when he could just as easily have taken me alone and run. A man who might have survived, if he’d remembered who he really was, and what he was capable of - if I hadn’t botched his summoning. I didn’t want to be Shirou - I didn’t want to spend my life obsessing over Archer, or over an ideal as a way to get close to him - but I thought I owed to him, for what he’d done, to understand who and what he’d really been . . . To know what I’d cost him. And Kaleidoscope could help me do just that.”

It had take painstaking work to recreate the glyph that had represented her Command Mantras, and break down the overall symbol’s meaning. Decrypting it into a form that Jewel Magic could interpret was even more work, but she was Rin Tohsaka, genius heir to her family’s style of magecraft - and she was nothing if not motivated. Finally, after months of painstaking calculation, she thought she had the correct formula to bring her to whatever time and place Archer had come from. She’d set up the circle, cast the spell - there was a brilliant flash of prismatic light . . .

“And when I woke up, everyone expected me to be this ‘Rin Delacour,’” the raven-haired witch finished. “And I had no idea who ‘Rin Delacour’ was supposed to be. Thank God I learned French as a precursor to English - it has a similar sentence structure to Japanese - or I’d have been totally lost.”

“Is that still the case?” Galen asked.

“I get bits and pieces,” Rin admitted. “Flashes of memory about things that were important to her - that would be important to me, like her sisters. She really loves them, even if she is jealous of how easily Fleur attracts boys occasionally, and Gabrielle can be a clingy little pest at times.” She smiled wanly. “I actually think Gabrielle likes her non-Veela-blooded sister better, because she isn’t. No competition or expectations - not the same ones, anyway.” She sighed. “Neither of them is Sakura - but they’ve tried so hard to make me feel at home since the ‘accident.’”

“Accident?” Galen queried.

“Apparently, Rin Delacour is something of an amateur spell crafter - really good at tweaking things, at least. Considering I woke up in a roomful of debris, I’d say one tweak went really wrong.” She shook her head. “At least it served to explain why I didn’t recognise anyone or anything - they think I have amnesia. And I might as well - I’d call this possession, but I don’t have a sense of my ‘other’ being here. There’s just the odd flicker.”

Galen went still. When he spoke, he did so slowly, and very carefully.

“I think ‘possession’ is exactly what it is, Rin - or ‘repossessing,’ in this case.”

Rin was many things, but never stupid. She got the implication immediately. “You think - ?”

“Purely visceral memory flashes, instinctive reactions, probably some muscle memory . . . ” Galen listed off. “I went through a similar experience some years back, with Shinji Matou,”

“But - I’m breathing! I have a heartbeat!”

“And people have been revived on the operating table,” he pointed out. “It’s the only explanation for why you have some of Rin’s memories, but no sense of her - the chemical portion is still in your brain, but the electrical - dare I say, etheric - portion is gone. Gone on.”

Rin turned green, and lurched for a suddenly-appeared toilet. When her lunch had vacated her stomach, she trembled violently for several minutes, wracked with dry heaves. Finally, she turned a pale face and much duller eyes to regard him.

“So I’m dead - or the girl who was in here before me is,” she murmured. “Is it my fault? Did I push her out?”

“I doubt it, if the room was as badly damaged as you say. You just slipped in as she slipped out.”

“Doesn’t matter - the person her family wants back is gone, and I’m here. For Shirou, as it turns out.” Her face twisted. “Damn the bastard to hell - what did he think he was playing at?!”

That seemed as good an opening as any, so Galen told her - all of it. What he knew about the events that turned Emiya Shirou into a Counter Guardian, and then later Archer, the Heaven’s Feel route, the Sixth War, Illyria . . .

“And so we wound up here,” he finished.

“And where, exactly, is ‘here?’” Rin inquired, in a tone that as much as said, “This had better be good.”

“Have you ever heard of Harry Potter?” he tried tentatively.

“Ayako dragged me to the first movie, back when we were in junior high - she thought the kid playing Harry was adorable. It really wasn’t my kind of thing . . . “ She grimaced, adding ruefully, “And now I wish I’d paid more attention.”

“The long version would take more time than we have today. The short version is, Harry’s long dead but events are otherwise still on course. We’re trying to change that.”

“By entering a tournament?” She paused. “Sorry - after that blowup on Hallowe’en, I should know you didn’t enter.”

“Takara, yes - as a secret last resort. But Neville, no.” Galen scowled. “Now I have to figure out how to get him past the dragons - ”

“DRAGONS?!” Rin burst out.

Wincing even as he mentally blessed his foresight for requesting a soundproofed room (no one could have missed that otherwise), Galen gave her a quick explanation of the First Task.

Rin frowned. “This is going to take planning . . .”

Galen grunted in acknowledgement of the obvious.

“. . . Especially since I’m having to relearn magic from the ground up,” Rin said bitterly. “I hope this new wand does something to help, because I still maintain there’s no viability to this system at all.”

“What did you end up with?” Galen asked in curiosity. She pulled it from a pocket in her uniform cloak to display.

“Rowan, thirteen inches,” Rin said. “He said it had a phoenix feather core - and he was so blasé about the fact . . . Are such mythical creatures really that common around here?”

“I don’t know,” Galen said, “but Shirou’s wand has the same type of core.”

Rin levelled a glare at him. “Don’t. Whatever his reasons, he lied to me - and those lies caused me a lot of guilt. I’ll help you out, because I need your help in return, and you’ve been fairly decent so far - although Fleur may not forgive you as easily . . . But she’ll do it a hell of a lot easier, and sooner, than I’ll ever forgive him.”

She rose, and stormed out of the Room. Galen stared after her.

“Well,” he said lightly, to no one in particular, “that went well.”






The days passed in intense studying - not simply because of the subject matter, or the urgency of their need to know, but the clash of personalities. Ilyasviel was unhappy about Rin’s suddenly inviting herself to join them, though Fleur’s presence kept her to a forced civility around the Japanese witch. When asked, the half-Veela sighed and said, “Why punish Fleur for her sister? Besides, she’s a big fan of Mama - so she can’t be all bad.”

For his part, Shirou was no more happy about the new arrival - though that might have more to do with the fact that she’d deliberately put Galen or Takara between them, and beyond the occasional glare, steadily ignore his presence. The rest of the group, however, she was more than happy to meet.

Hermione, for her part, was both thrilled and intimidated. Thrilled, because despite her lack of a formal magical education (such as she would recognise), Rin had a first-rate mind, on par with Luna’s at least - and she learned as quickly as Hermione herself. At the rate she was devouring books on magical theory, potions, and spells, Rin would be at least ready to take her O.W.L.s in a number of months - something Hermione admitted she could probably do now, but she’d rather wait and have more time to study and learn. Regardless, Rin was someone she could discuss things with as an equal, and unlike Luna, the Japanese witch was a serious student, disinclined to veer off topic at odd moments.

On the other hand, Hermione was intimidated because dealing with Rin was like dealing with a girl who blended the best elements of herself and Takara. She was undeniably brilliant, exotically beautiful, athletic - and projected the same bossy, know-it-all attitude that she once had (and occasionally, still did). Hermione had gotten the attitude knocked out of her by troll encounters, and having real friends who taught her how to relax and enjoy the other aspects of life besides books and grades. Rin, clearly, never had - although Hermione suspected it was at least partially a facade.

Nonetheless, Rin clearly intended to work with them for the duration of the Tournament - logical, given that the others were already working together. She’d needed no convincing to sign the Quibbler contract, either, practically ripping it out of Luna’s hand when it was presented to her.

“I should be paying you for this,” Rin muttered through clenched teeth. “Miserable, talentless harpy working at a second-rate newspaper - I spelled my name for her twice, damn it! Don’t they have editors there?”

Rin’s personality was a tad more abrasive and volatile than Hermione would have really liked, but she suspected that she’d become used to that, eventually. It was her hope that by the end of the year, they would become friends. To that end, she’d thrown herself into helping Rin study up on magic, often late into the night - especially as the First Task drew nearer. As she was one of the few who could keep up with the Japanese witch, it was only logical, and Rin among others had thanked her for doing so. Nonetheless, Hermione admitted that she was looking forward to the Hogsmeade outing today - she could use the break.

And as the weather is awfully chilly and damp today - as it ought to be in November, I suppose - a mug of hot Butterbeer wouldn’t go amiss, either.

Hermione dressed appropriately for the day, and headed down to the Entrance Hall, which seemed fuller than she remembered from last year. Of course, last year she’d been a newly-minted third-year, full of excitement over her first sanctioned trip to Hogsmeade - this year, she had to watch that same group, and it was exhausting trying to keep up with them all.

Did I have that much energy? she wondered. How on earth do the prefects keep track of them?

Feeling slightly overwhelmed, she gravitated to the island of calm that was Luna Lovegood. Anyone who knew her could read her anticipation in the glow of her silvery blue eyes, or the shy smile tugging at the corners of her mouth - but she stood with perfect poise, waiting for Mr. Filch to get to her and check her name off the list before she could board a carriage. Ginny, next to her, was bouncing on the balls of her feet in excitement - as always, an irrepressible bundle of energy.

“Hi Hermione!” she chirped. “Won’t this be fun? I’ve been hearing about Hogsmeade for years - and now I finally get to go see it for myself!”

“And we can share a carriage,” Luna offered calmly. “Just us girls - we’ll need to get Takara, of course.”

Ginny shot her a look, and Hermione saw the redhead’s eyebrows lift in sudden realisation, but couldn’t puzzle out why.

“Yeah, that’ll be fun,” Ginny said firmly, though not quite as convincingly as before. “I’ll just go get Takara, then.”

She dashed off, leaving Hermione to regard her blonde house-mate with a raised eyebrow.

“We don’t get enough girl talk in the dorms, or at meals?” she inquired.

Luna’s expression was serious. “This needs to be a private discussion, I think.”

It was serious - Luna’s voice had that lost its usual dreamy quality, and her eyes were remarkably clear, though opaque. It was like looking into a pair of polished silver mirrors.

Almost like Takara’s, that one night, Hermione realised. Like whatever she can see is so much more than I ever will.

Hermione felt uneasy when Takara came back, and even more when she saw the puzzled expression on the Japanese witch’s face - Takara was rarely surprised, and it was even more rarely good when she was. Her blue-eyed friend cast quizzical glances at the three of them.

“I’d have ridden back with you, you know - ” she started.

“Better that we do this now, I think,” Luna said, and there was a tone of finality to her voice that startled both older girls into silence. The silence held until all four of them were in a carriage, and on their way to the village. It was broken when Luna pulled out her wand.

“Muffliato,” she said briskly. “There - now we can talk in peace.”

“About what?” Takara asked. “I still don’t really get what this is about.”

“It’s quite simple, really,” Luna said serenely. “We’ve been wondering about Death Eaters and Polyjuice - and the simplest way to spot someone under Polyjuice is to notice when they wrong, or ‘acting out-of-character,’ as Galen says.” Luna held her wand sharply. “And we have.”

Hermione blinked, and Ginny’s wand had abruptly joined Luna’s in pointing at her. Seeing that, Takara drew her own.

“Me?” Hermione said in disbelief. “You think I’m a Death Eater in disguise? That’s preposterous!”

“Unlikely, but hardly impossible,” Luna said coolly. “Hermione is mundane-born, and thus uniquely vulnerable during the holidays. She’s also prone to staying in the library later than any of us. Getting a hold of her wouldn’t have been too difficult.”

“But I’d need to be taking Polyjuice Potion every hour!” Hermione protested. “How many times have you needed to remind me to eat over the last year?”

Luna’s eyes clouded as she admitted quietly. “There is that. However, the flaw in your act was quite plain to see - and quite glaring, as flaws go. And if Polyjuice isn’t the answer, then something like the Imperius Curse must be at work.”

“Luna, you’re not making any sense!” Hermione cried in exasperation. “I’m quite plainly myself, and I can assure you that I haven’t been near anyone capable of casting the Imperius Curse while unsupervised - or any other Unforgivable, for that matter!”

“No,” Luna agreed, “you haven’t. And that was the flaw, you see. That was the clue which told us something was not at all right with you, Hermione.”

Takara sighed. “Luna, could you just explain without the drama? I’m not getting it, either.”

It was Ginny who answered. “She’s been actively avoiding Galen for weeks - something Hermione wouldn’t ever do.” The redhead’s coppery eyes narrowed into suspicious slits.

“Care to explain why?”

Mechatrill
April 4th, 2011, 08:50 PM
Ah... Right... The "boyfriend kiss" thing...

Elf
April 4th, 2011, 09:55 PM
Ohohoho.

And . . . you know Rin and Shirou are going to need to collide at some point.

SeiKeo
April 4th, 2011, 10:01 PM
Huh. That was unexpected.

Kieran
April 4th, 2011, 10:08 PM
Knew I should've laid more hints . . . :)

Elf
April 4th, 2011, 10:10 PM
Knew I should've laid more hints . . . :)

I got them. <3

RexRox
April 5th, 2011, 05:03 AM
Put me firmly into the camp of "Did not see that coming." Then again, I have a nasty habit of forgetting important plot points...

ringlhach
April 5th, 2011, 07:01 AM
Huh. So it appears we have three constants in the multiverse: Kitsurugu/Iri, Shiki/Ciel/(Arc?), and Rin will fuck up rituals. ^_^

Yeah, I know that there're more- there have to be- but it kinda figures that Local!Rin would blow herself to smithereens or have the magical equivalent of a stroke just as Fate!Rin tries to hijack her.

Kieran
April 5th, 2011, 07:08 AM
Put me firmly into the camp of "Did not see that coming." Then again, I have a nasty habit of forgetting important plot points...

I actually was fairly subtle this time - don't blame yourself for having missed it.




Huh. So it appears we have three constants in the multiverse: Kitsurugu/Iri, Shiki/Ciel/(Arc?), and Rin will fuck up rituals. ^_^

Yeah, I know that there're more- there have to be- but it kinda figures that Local!Rin would blow herself to smithereens or have the magical equivalent of a stroke just as Fate!Rin tries to hijack her.

I wanted something different from what the others had done, and to explain why her "native" memories are effectively a no-go - this worked. For purposes of classification, Rin isn't undead, or a possessing entity, though - the girl that was resuscitated simply isn't the one who died.

B.B. Rain
April 5th, 2011, 08:55 AM
So...Like that story about the twins who were in an accident, became comatose, and then one woke up with the others memories and tries to assume his more successful life, while still being a psychotic screw-up?

Except Rin probably isn't psychotic, and there's only one body.

Also, latest plot twist: Could Hermione actually be screwed up? I mean, from our point of view, romantic entanglements make sense for avoidance and altered behavior, but it's a valid tactic to lull readers into a false sense of surety from their POV, and then turn the madcap unlikely in-universe theories valid.

redhelling
April 5th, 2011, 04:41 PM
@ B.B. Rain
That twins story sounds interesting. Where did u get it?



Another great chapter, like always :)

B.B. Rain
April 5th, 2011, 05:03 PM
I thought it was a fable, but my better half says it was a 2009 flick called Possession (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Possession_(2009_film)) based on a 2002 South Korean film called Addicted (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Addicted_(2002_film)).

Kieran
April 5th, 2011, 07:25 PM
Also, latest plot twist: Could Hermione actually be screwed up? I mean, from our point of view, romantic entanglements make sense for avoidance and altered behavior, but it's a valid tactic to lull readers into a false sense of surety from their POV, and then turn the madcap unlikely in-universe theories valid.

I'm not entirely sure I understand what you mean - please, do explain.

B.B. Rain
April 5th, 2011, 07:35 PM
Okay, we the reader's have seen the interaction between Galen and Hermione that could explain why she's avoiding him a bit, or just acting differently. Not to mention we saw this scene from Hermione's third-person perspective. This makes us, the readers, inclined to disbelieve Luna's accusation, and count it as a case of adding two and two and getting Jupiter.

I was asking if you, the author, were pulling a fake-out, and careful medical examination would show that Luna was at least partially right, and sometime over the holidays, some bastard slipped a control spell, or potion, or something on Hermione which has influenced her behavior without anything her perspective in the sotry would notice.

Satehi
April 5th, 2011, 08:49 PM
On that note, when was the last time we had Hermione's POV? tbh, reading the latest chapter I was unsure whether Luna was correct or incorrect.

Kieran
April 5th, 2011, 08:56 PM
Longer than I thought ago - I'll have to fix that.

Kieran
April 9th, 2011, 06:37 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 Goblet of Fire, but I trust in the intelligence of my readers (and the availability of the books) to recognise them when they see them.



Chapter 18 - A Dark Day in Hogsmeade



November 19, 1994






Hermione could feel her face flushing at the younger girl’s accusation, even as the heat radiating from it seemed to drain out of the rest of her, leaving a ball of ice forming in her stomach.

“I have not!” she insisted. “I’ve just been busy!”

“Too busy to spend time with Galen?” Ginny pressed. “Since when?”

“But I do spend time with him!” she protested. “We eat meals together, we sit in class together, we study together - I don’t understand why you think that’s changed!”

“Because it has,” Luna said softly. “You sit together in the Great Hall, but not next to one another all the time - ”

“Between having Ilyasviel and Rin sitting with us now, not to mention that we occasionally arrive from different classrooms, I don’t always have the time or the chance to get a seat directly next to him,” she countered reasonably.

Ginny’s voice was dry as she answered, “But when Colin Creevey’s brother was asking questions about you, Colin said that the seats beside Galen are unofficially recognised as ‘Takara’s spot’ and ‘Hermione’s spot.’”

“That’s ridiculous!” Hermione sputtered, feeling herself turn red. Was I really that bad? That obvious?

Her mind, being highly logical and rational, replied, Yes, you were. In the beginning, it just felt nice to be close to him - he was gentle, and friendly, and it felt safe. And later . . . Well, it didn’t really work - Galen apparently doesn’t take subtle hints. And now it’s coming back to bite you in the arse.

She pressed on regardless. “Are you really accusing me of being a Death Eater - or at least the pawn of one - on just the basis of an informal seating arrangement?”

Luna shook her head. “Oh, no - there’s more. For example, while your reasoning explains the Great Hall, it doesn’t explain the library. You’re rarely there with us any more.”

“I’ve been out at the Beauxbatons carriages helping Rin! She has seven years of magical education to catch up on - while trying to prepare for the Tournament and keep up with her classes!” She shrugged. “She needs help, and she won’t talk to Ilyasviel or Shirou. Galen doesn’t read French well enough to help her through her textbooks, and Fleur doesn’t read English well enough to supplement with the books in the library, so it has to be me.” She scowled. “Besides, have you seen all the girls that chase after Viktor Krum when he’s in there! They make such a racket . . . He’s not even good-looking! They only like him because he’s famous! They wouldn’t look twice at him if he couldn’t do that Wonky Faint thing - ”

“Wronski Feint,” Takara and Ginny corrected, a smile tugging at the former’s lips.

“Whatever,” Hermione said crossly. “The point is, I’m reasonably sure none of you want Rin to die any more than Neville or Takara - so I’m being nice and trying to help her. That means I have less time to spend with you and Galen, Luna, and I’m sorry that bothers you . . . But would you really want it at the cost of her life?”

“No,” Luna said, subdued.

“Honestly,” Hermione huffed. “I realise this year has put us all under a lot of stress, but still . . .”

“And Galen’s ended up in the Hospital Wing twice,” Ginny pointed out. “You never visited the first time, and he’s there right now - and you’re here, with us.”

“I know he has,” she defended herself. “I took him there the first time, when Snape poisoned him. Madam Pomfrey said he’d be fine, but she kept him sedated - there wasn’t much point in going, since he wouldn’t know I was there. Add that to Rin’s problems, and a again - I couldn’t find the time. As for this trip - he’ll be asleep now, too, and probably for most of the day.” She sighed emphatically. “It’s the same as last year’s first Hogsmeade weekend, just Galen’s bad luck that it’s the day after the full moon. Again, he won’t know I’m there, and I have things I need to get from Scrivener’s. Galen wouldn’t be happy if I skived off replenishing my writing supplies just to sit in a chair beside him, now would he?”

“No,” Ginny admitted, and Hermione smiled in self-satisfaction - only to pause as Takara gave her a measuring look. Unlike the younger girls, she knew perfectly well that Hermione had spent a day with him in the Hospital Wing before.

But I gave the Time-Turner back, so I couldn’t choose to be in two places at once this time around, she thought, jutting her chin out defiantly. I had to make a decision, and I did. It’s not my fault if it’s not the decision you expected.

“Sorry,” Ginny muttered. “I guess we’re getting paranoid.”

“I suppose it’s understandable,” Hermione admitted. “After all, we’re all under a lot of stress - bad enough to have Takara forced to compete in this tournament, but Neville as well - !” She shook her head. “I’m actually surprised that Galen’s temper only went off the once.”

Inwardly, Hermione was proud of herself. That had come out sounding mild, even casual.

“He said he went to the Room of Requirement, when I asked,” Luna murmured. “I expect he spent quite some time destroying things there as a means of venting his frustrations.”

Hermione nodded. “No doubt. I shudder to think what he’s going to be like when the actual tasks are at hand.”

And she did, literally.

They turned in to Hogsmeade Station, and disembarked. As her feet hit the ground, Takara’s hand grasped her arm - rather more tightly than could be considered a friendly grip.

“Why don’t you two go explore?” Takara said to the younger girls before Hermione could register a protest. “You don’t need us tainting the experience for you. I’ll go help Hermione collect her things, and the first pair to the Three Broomsticks reserves a table for the four of us, OK?”

“Sure - see you there!” Ginny chirped, almost dragging Luna along as she raced away.

Hermione glared at Takara. “You’re hurting me - let go.”

Takara’s glare was equally fierce, and her tone was icy. “Did you have to pick this year, Hermione? On top of everything else that’s going on right now, you had to pick now for this?”

“I don’t know what you mean - ”

Takara’s tone was sharp as she cut in with, “He’s going to notice, Hermione - if he hasn’t already.”

Bitterness welled up inside her suddenly, prompting her to fire back, “He never has before.”

Takara’s tone was almost thoughtful, by contrast. “It’s taken years, but I finally figured out that there’s a big difference between what Galen sees, and what he allows himself to see.” Her voice turned icy again. “He’s a fool, but he’s not an idiot.”

“There’s nothing I can do about it,” Hermione said, shaking her head. “It’s just been lousy luck and scheduling - ”

“The HELL it has!” Takara snapped. “You were willing to use a Time-Turner you’d been entrusted with as a privilege, and sworn to secrecy about, to spend an extra day with him, Hermione - if you really wanted to spend time with him now, you’d make the time. You aren’t, so you don’t - and I want to know why.”

Hermione opened her mouth, and Takara added, “Don’t even try lying to me again - you’re no good at it, and I’ve been watching you as much as I have Galen, Hermione.”

Hermione glared at the other girl, but once again, that overly-analytical mind of hers pointed out certain key facts relevant to the case. First, that Takara’s analysis of her ability to lie was unfortunately right - and secondly, that she was the closest friend Hermione had, outside of Galen himself, so the latter part was accurate, as well.

And who else can I talk to about this?

Hermione wilted, and said, in a very small voice, “I got scared.”

Takara’s posture relaxed slightly, but her face was a porcelain mask - lovely to look at, but cold.

“Of?” she asked quietly.

“Galen.” The memory of Hallowe’en night came back, and she shuddered. “I always knew he had a temper, but I always believed that the werewolf was the monster, not him - but he would’ve killed Ronald Weasley without a second thought. He was going to kill him - and it wasn’t a full moon, he hadn’t been attacked first . . .” She shuddered again. “Over words, just words, Galen would have torn him to pieces - and likely not regretted it for a moment. And there was nothing of his curse in that, nothing to excuse or absolve him . . . There was just him.”

Takara absorbed this in silence, and allowed that to stretch for well over a minute. Not for the first time, Hermione wished her friend was easier to read, but whatever the view of the Japanese people on Takara’s heritage, the girl was as good at being inscrutable as any full-blooded citizen of Japan was reported to be, when she made the effort. Hermione would have to wait for her to speak before getting any idea of what she was thinking, or feeling.

Finally, she closed her eyes and said wearily, “It’s not that I’m always right, it’s that I’m never wrong when I want to be.”

Hermione blinked, recognising one of Galen’s favourite sayings. “I don’t understand.”

Takara shook her head. “Don’t ask - it’s not something I want to think about.” She tilted her head. “So what does that mean between you?”

“. . . I don’t know,” Hermione admitted. “I mean, I can forget about it during our fur therapy sessions . . .” Because it’s so easy to lose myself as a lioness, and luxuriate in the feel of his fingers working through my fur, the warmth and scent of his body as it’s pressed against mine - even the low softness of his voice is soothing . . . Hermione shook herself, and finished with, “But I can’t exactly be his pet for the rest of my life, can I?”

“But can you be his friend?” Takara pressed.

Hermione bit her lip. That was the question. She’d sometimes forget what she’d seen, for hours or days at a time - and then he’d get angry, or move suddenly, sharply, and she’d remember. And it would send a little spike of fear through her, because how long would it be before he turned that power, that rage, on her? Or Miranda? Would she survive it if and when he did? Could she survive it? In all honesty, she should probably be afraid of Takara and Shirou as well - they’d shown themselves to be no less powerful, but they’d also shown a discipline, a control of their emotions, that Galen lacked . . . Though, looking at her now, Hermione wondered if Takara’s was about to slip.

“It’s just . . .” The British witch shook her head. “I’ve seen him angry before, I’ve seen him with his power raised, and I know he’s threatened to kill people before, I know he was angry that night - but I never really believed that he would. And he would have - over Ronald Weasley, a boy he hates that’s never done him any harm . . . “ She trailed off, and said, “How big a jump is it from killing him - to killing me?”

Takara was silent again, which surprised Hermione. She opened her mouth to ask a question, and Takara answered it unasked with, “No, I won’t reassure you that he’d never hurt you - he’s afraid he will, so why shouldn’t you be?” Her eyes hardened. “However, you do realise that almost every time he’s tried to kill himself, it’s because he’s hurt you, or thinks he will?”

“I know,” Hermione said in a small voice.

Takara looked at her again, for a long moment, and sighed. “. . . All right. I’m going to do something that will likely send Galen around the twist, but might help you figure out what you’re going to do . . . You and I are going to find a private spot, put up every security charm we can think of, and then I’m going to tell you exactly why he hates Ronald Weasley.”





Ginny was astounded to see some of the things available in Hogsmeade. Zonko’s Joke Shop had everything Fred and George had ever described to her - plus a lot they hadn’t - as did Honeydukes. Even though she’d been able to have the others buy things for her from her first year on, it was still a treat to see the treats for herself, laid out and waiting to be bought. Even the “Unusual Tastes” section was kind of interesting, if more than a little nauseating to contemplate.

“I believed them when they said they found blood-flavoured lollipops,” Ginny said in an aside to Luna, “I just didn’t quite believe in the lollipops.”

“Oh I knew they were real,” Luna said, before her voice dropped to a whisper. “Certain sources claim that they’re the primary weapon of the Rotfang Conspiracy, you know.”

Ginny suppressed a smile. Luna was not, perhaps, as gullible or prone to strange outbursts as she’d been when they were younger - socialising with friends regularly had dampened the habit - but she still carried some odd beliefs. Still, humouring her rarely did any harm.

“What’s the Rotfang Conspiracy?” Ginny whispered back.

“A plot by the Ministry of Magic to secretly defang all monsters, and creatures like the goblins, of course, making them helpless or dependent on wizards to survive.” Luna raised an eyebrow. “You do know that they call the Minister Cornelius ‘Goblin Crusher’ Fudge, don’t you?”

“I did,” Ginny said earnestly. While she might not believe the articles in the Quibbler, she did read it, if only to support Luna and her father. She bought Nargle-free mistletoe at Christmastime, too. “I just must have missed the conspiracy articles.”

“I’ll loan you the back issues,” Luna promised. “It’s quite a serious problem, you know - the effect on the international markets for potions ingredients alone . . .” She shook her head, sending hair that didn’t quite match a Veela’s pale blonde whipping around behind her.

As if summoned by her thoughts, Fleur Delacour walked past them, at the head of the contingent of Beauxbatons students - naturally, they got the chance to visit Hogsmeade as well today, followed by their enormous Headmistress and, oddly enough, Hagrid.

“Well, hello, you two!” he said with a goofy sort of smile. “Luv’ly day, innit?”

“Hello, Professor,” Luna said politely. “It is quite nice.”

“Galen not with yeh today?”

“He’s up at the castle, Professor,” Ginny said. “Dinner didn’t agree with him last night.”

“Shame,” the big man rumbled. “An’ it’s just ‘Hagrid,’ lass - we’re not in class today.”

“All right - Hagrid.” Ginny murmured. She didn’t know the large professor all that well - he was friendly to their group, but closest to Galen, who helped him as an unofficial teaching assistant in planning his lessons for Care of Magical Creatures. Still, he’d always seemed nice enough - and enthusiastic, if a trifle heedless of potential danger.

“Well, if yeh get back before I do, tell ‘im to come by me cabin at midnight,” the teacher said in a surprisingly quiet voice. “Got summat to show ‘im. Shouldn’t be, really, but he’ll be interested - and I know he can disappear right quick.”

Ginny and Luna traded glances. She knew that Hagrid didn’t realise they had an invisibility cloak, but Galen had done enough sudden appearances and disappearances over the years for the big man to know he had a knack for them.

“We’ll tell him, Hagrid.”

“Thanks, ladies. Well, best be off! Have fun.”

Ginny glanced at Luna. “What do you suppose that was all about?”

“Your brother’s line of work,” Luna said serenely.

Ginny frowned - before she remembered what Galen had told them about the First Task, and Charlie’s mentioning he’d be at Hogwarts later in the year the day before they left for school. Occlumency training had a nice effect on her memory.

“Ah.” She thought about it. “Do you suppose he ought to go? I mean, we already know - ”

“We think we do,” Luna corrected. “We thought we had things right about the Goblet, as well.”

Ginny winced. She honestly couldn’t see how they could have handled things any better about keeping Neville’s name out - she didn’t know how it had gotten in there in the first place! And while it might’ve been optimistic to trust Mad-Eye Moody to take care of the problem, she had to admit that the Defence professor knew his stuff, even if he was bloody mental.

She shook her head. “How do they deal with it, Luna? I mean, I’ve never asked about everything they know - it’s a bit much to take as they tell it to us, I’m not sure I could handle it all at once. How do they not go completely barking, knowing what’s happening around them - what’s going to happen - all the time?”

Luna considered the question for a long moment.

“They enjoy their lives,” she said at last, before adding, “Well, most of them, at any rate.”

Ginny didn’t need to ask about the exception to her statement, and anything else she might have thought of on the subject was derailed as they stepped through the door of the Three Broomsticks, and they spotted Takara and Hermione at a table - the latter looking deeply preoccupied.

. . . Haunted, she decided. That’s the word. Hermione looks haunted by something.

“Everything all right?” she asked her two ‘big sisters.’

“It seems to be,” Takara said neutrally, before brightening in both tone and facial expression. “So, what do you think of Hogsmeade?”

“It’s wicked,” Ginny gushed. “Can we go see the Shrieking Shack after this?”

“Of course,” Hermione said warmly, a smile lighting up her features. “It’s liable to be quiet, though - I hope you won’t be too disappointed.”

“Me, too,” Takara said in an edged tone, but before Ginny could ask what she meant, Luna piped up.

“Speaking of quiet, where are the boys? I haven’t seen Neville or Shirou since we got on the carriages.”

Looks were traded across the table, but only Takara said what they were all thinking.

“Bloody hell.”






“Let us get this straight,” Fred Weasley said carefully.

“You want us to design an arsenal . . . ” George continued.

“That can take out a dragon . . .”

“In less than five days?”

The pair traded looks, then said simultaneously, “Are you bloody mental?”

“Not ‘take out,’” Shirou said with a sigh. “Distract, irritate - prevent it from reaching Neville. We’re not looking to kill the damned thing, just keep it away from Nev if we have to.” He paused. “Although, if you’ve got anything that’ll keep him from getting barbecued, that would be good enough.”

Fred shook his head. “We have listened to Charlie - dragon fire burns hotter than just about anything, except maybe a phoenix. With a Ministry-level potions lab, and a couple of months, we could probably whip up something like the salve that dragon keepers use - but even it’s not perfect. Charlie does have burn scars.”

“And dragon hide, as tough as the stuff is dead, is even harder on a living animal,” George said. “Unless you hit a vulnerable point like the eyes, or the inside of its mouth, you’d either need a goblin-made weapon to pierce the stuff, or a heck of a lot of force. There’s a reason those Muggle knights used lances on horseback, you know - lots of weight and momentum can do wonders with a steel point.”

“Poison?” Shirou asked. “Those Skiving Snackboxes of yours, or the Canary Creams - ”

Now it was George’s turn to shake his head. “Dragon constitutions are about as bad as a giant’s - they take lots of stuff before they go down. Depending on the size, weight, and age of the dragon, you’d probably need more than we’ve got to be effective, and even if we can make up enough, how will you get them down its throat?”

“Heck of a prank, though,” Fred said. “Think of it, George - a big fire-breathing nasty suddenly sprouting feathers.”

The two shared a wistful grin, imagining the sight - and Shirou had to admit, it did seem funny. His priority, however, was Neville’s survival. They needed a backup plan in case the Summoning Charm failed, and Galen had suggested the Weasley twins, citing something he called “fanfic solutions.” Apparently, however, expecting a pair of sixth-year students (admittedly brilliant, but still) to easily match the efforts of dozens of specifically-trained wizards when it came to overcoming dragons was a bit much.

Shirou thought furiously, as they all had for the last several weeks. By any logic (and especially given wizards’ lack of logic), the Summoning Charm should work, calling the egg to Neville and eliminating any need for special spells, or dangerous combat. On the other hand, any time they’d gone with certain expectations, they’d been thoroughly demolished. And since that meant Neville would be demolished with them, none of them wanted to take the chance.

Not to mention Takara, Rin and Ilya. I don’t like the idea of any of them being involved, but Takara we’ve got a workable strategy for, even if I’d like a backup plan for her, too. And Ilya, at least, has had seven years of magical training, and she knew about this possibility years ago - the odds are good that she’ll be prepared. Rin, on the other hand, won’t. And from what Galen said, her base sorcery abilities have been overwritten by the local variant - she can’t use Jewel Magic anymore.

Against a local dragon, Shirou would’ve been much less worried - he knew the power of Rin’s magic, and dragons of this world were just mindless beasts. They were dangerous, but nothing she was unable to handle, provided she was careful. But if she was forced to fight them using only whatever spells she could master in the weeks since acquiring her new wand? He shivered.

And she still won’t talk to me. I can understand why she’s angry, but I wish she’d let me help. I might not be able to Trace or Image weaponry any more, but . . .

A flash of memory suddenly assaulted him, and connected to things he’d been told, just now and long ago. A spark of enthusiasm lit within him.

“Do what you can, guys,” Shirou said out loud. “I think I’ve got a plan that might work . . .”

They reached Hogsmeade Station, and separated from there. Neville looked at him curiously.

“What do you have in mind?”

“Something that might work,” Shirou said carefully. “I don’t know if I can pull it off, and I’ll have to talk to Galen to be sure - but if I’m thinking right, it means that only we can pull it off - which means there’s still a problem with Rin and Ilya - ”

“Indeed,” said an unexpected, harsh voice. “Zere is a problem.”

Shirou cursed. He’d been so focussed on the dragon dilemma that he’d actually managed to let them sneak up on him. There were eight, evenly spaced to cut off any retreat.

“We are les chevaliers de la Delacour,” announced their neatly-coiffed leader. “And for ze insults you have offered la belle Rin, we will have satisfaction.”

B.B. Rain
April 9th, 2011, 06:57 PM
So. Schoolboy Idol-club, or genuine family retainers? (EDIT: Waitaminute. Read Ergast's post, remembered the whole 'Beauxbaton's a girls school,' bit from the fandom/possibly-movies, then recollected that bit in the books about how Lavender Brown danced with a Beuxbatons boy. So...Boys, Girls, Both, Crossdressers? What's the fanfic-official take?)

Also, your continued deconstruction of fanfic opinions and arguements remains interesting, even if most specific denounements/details were skipped in this bit.

One particular variation of the First Task I recall (can't remember which 'fic, just the idea), had the protagonist (probably a Harry-variant, possibly an alternative Champion) sneak dozens of large, live animals dosed with sleeping potions, including Draught of Living Death, into the arena the night before the task, transfigured into rocks and scenery. Finishing spells transformed the debri back into animals, which were then compelled to practiacally throw themselves in the dragon's mouth, wearing it down with the drugs. The spectators assumed that, rather then reversing transfigurations on real animals pre-inserted into the Arena, the initial spells were transfiguring debri into false animals, and a combination of a full stomach and a belly full of de-transformed rocks put the dragon to sleep.

Not expecting that particular plan, but d'you think that could work? Gorging the dragon on drugged food, I mean. Or just drugging it, possibly through sheer quantity of drugs rather then some kind of super-drug that could easily overcome even a dragon's constitution.

Also, another story had the same idea about simply summoning the Egg, which didn't work. Since the task was meant for Seventh Years, the eggs were warded against a basic spell they would've learned years before.

And given Fred & George's commentary about the heat of Dragonfire, I'm assuming a flame-freezing charm (mentioned as part of a Third Year history essay) wouldn't be sufficient (though it was used in another 'fic (http://www.fanfiction.net/s/1268849/1/Keep_it_Simple), as well as the 'Summon the Egg' idea), but what about transfiguring the fire before it reaches the contestant, as suggested in yet another 'fic I can't precisely recall at this time.

Also. Shirou's brainstorm: Sword of Gryffindor? F&G mentioned Goblin-made weapons...

Ergast
April 9th, 2011, 07:14 PM
Eight girls are asking for problems. Even if Shirou is a gentleman, I don't think he would let those girls screw him. And he is good enough to kick their asses so...

Very nice, Kieran. We have an informed Hermione, a furious Takara, a saved Neville (I have full confidence in Shirou's skill to pull the imposible) and a endangered Shirou. If the girls gets here before the party begins, I think that two of the trinity would have a nice way to ease their stress.

SeiKeo
April 9th, 2011, 07:28 PM
Oh man, somebody's gonna get their ass kicked, and I don't think it's the former heroic spirit.

Kieran
April 9th, 2011, 08:32 PM
First, I'd like to apologise for the delay - this is final project/exam time, so the deadlines are looming large. Last exam is next weekend, then I can get back to this full-time. Second, I apologise for the delay of the Task - Hermione's scene ran long, and then Beauxbatons decided to attack . . . *shakes head* I'm just sorry. I'll try to get to it soon.

This brings up a question, though - do you actually want Takara's explanation? By now, I think you've all got a pretty good idea of my views on Ronald Bilius (how apt) Weasley and his "relationship" with Hermione. To my mind, the explanation would be another distraction from the story - but if you want it, of course, I'll do it.

That brings me to a third apology, regarding Hermione's thoughts and dialogue. I'm not a teenage girl, nor have I ever dated one, so I have little experience with their thought processes - and trying to reallistically portray a girl who is now terrified of a boy she's regarded as a hero for years, and is still somewhat attracted to, isn't easy for me. I hope it came across all right.



So. Schoolboy Idol-club, or genuine family retainers?

Fan club. With Fleur and Rin in the family, how could they not have one? :)



Also, your continued deconstruction of fanfic opinions and arguements remains interesting, even if most specific denounements/details were skipped in this bit.

I want to unleash what surprises I can - and given how many variations of this bloody Task I've seen, it's hard. But a number of them involve the Weasley twins and their genius. And let's be clear - they are, when it comes to mayhem, but they need time and materials to work with. It took them an entire summer to create Skiving Snackboxes, and longer for the Creams - why should they be able to whip up a dragon neutraliser in days, or even weeks, when dragons are supposed to be a Class 5 hazard that requires a specially-trained wizard to deal with it?




One particular variation of the First Task I recall (can't remember which 'fic, just the idea), had the protagonist (probably a Harry-variant, possibly an alternative Champion) sneak dozens of large, live animals dosed with sleeping potions, including Draught of Living Death, into the arena the night before the task, transfigured into rocks and scenery. Finishing spells transformed the debri back into animals, which were then compelled to practiacally throw themselves in the dragon's mouth, wearing it down with the drugs. The spectators assumed that, rather then reversing transfigurations on real animals pre-inserted into the Arena, the initial spells were transfiguring debri into false animals, and a combination of a full stomach and a belly full of de-transformed rocks put the dragon to sleep.

Not expecting that particular plan, but d'you think that could work? Gorging the dragon on drugged food, I mean. Or just drugging it, possibly through sheer quantity of drugs rather then some kind of super-drug that could easily overcome even a dragon's constitution.

That's basically the Canary Cream plan in a nutshell. So yes, it could work - if they can make enough in time.



Also, another story had the same idea about simply summoning the Egg, which didn't work. Since the task was meant for Seventh Years, the eggs were warded against a basic spell they would've learned years before.

I've read some of those - and some have had it work, leaving the organisers with "egg" on their faces. Personally, I don't see why they'd charm the Egg, having no idea what spell a champion might choose to use ahead of time. And we've already been shown that common sense and wizards are strangers - so overlooking such a basic spell seems plausible to me.



And given Fred & George's commentary about the heat of Dragonfire, I'm assuming a flame-freezing charm (mentioned as part of a Third Year history essay) wouldn't be sufficient (though it was used in another 'fic (http://www.fanfiction.net/s/1268849/1/Keep_it_Simple), as well as the 'Summon the Egg' idea), but what about transfiguring the fire before it reaches the contestant, as suggested in yet another 'fic I can't precisely recall at this time.

Ah, Ruskbyte - his stuff is always fun to at least look at, and deliciously dark at times. :)

Dragonfire is a bit of a mixed message - Madam Pomfrey has no problems healing the contestants, yet we're told Charlie Weasley has burns - despite the fact that they have to be equipped specifically to treat that kind of injury - don't they? *shrugs* Anyway, I assume that if it was easily dealt with, you wouldn't need a dozen dragon keepers to wrangle the bloody things.

This does bring up a point, though - I fully plan to do all the champions and dragons' scenes, since I don't dare skip anybody (*has visions of legions of angry, torch-wielding fanboys with siege towers and trebuchets*). That being the case, should I play them all for drama, or go for the cheap stuff - or the laughs? I do have a backup plsn for Neville now, if the Charm fails (Takara, too, for that matter). Rin's plan is somewhat comedic (and also my only plan, so it stays) - nothing for Ilya yet . . . In any case, drama is an option. Or would it be too much?





Eight girls are asking for problems. Even if Shirou is a gentleman, I don't think he would let those girls screw him. And he is good enough to kick their asses so...

Unfortunately for them, they're (at least mostly) guys - so he has no reason to hold back.



If the girls gets here before the party begins, I think that two of the trinity would have a nice way to ease their stress.


Oh man, somebody's gonna get their ass kicked, and I don't think it's the former heroic spirit.

Oh, yes. :)

SeiKeo
April 9th, 2011, 09:28 PM
Kieran, stop worrying about your update schedule; it's the fastest I've ever seen, even with a lot of other stuff on your plate. We're perfectly happy with what you're doing right now, so don't kill yourself trying to speed it up.

Kieran
April 9th, 2011, 09:41 PM
Well, considering I used to update every day or two . . . *shrug* I know there are people who "need their fix," as one reader put it. And having one or two HP fics I'm following right now that I am dying to have updated, I can sympathise. :D

alfheimwanderer
April 9th, 2011, 09:47 PM
At least your update rate > mine.

B.B. Rain
April 9th, 2011, 10:38 PM
Thanks for the prompt response to my points, first off.

Second, even if you and a couple other authors have wowed me with consistently uploading well-written, lengthy snippets and/or chapter on a daily/weekly basis for months, I'm still used to a decade of authors updating sporadically with months or years between new chapters. And most of the writings I follow still fall under that pattern. Even if your initial pace is an exception, you're still head and shoulders above the crowd right now.

And you aren't the only one feeling exam and project finals, even if I personally am suffering from it cutting into reading time, rather then the far more important writing time others find curtailed. Understood and sympathized with, and I know I'm not the only one.

Moving on...First, depending on brewing/crafting times, could they throw enough money (from Basilisk rewards, savings, whatever) to brute force their way through the 'quantity of substance' problem? Using money to farm out obtaining ingredients and hire professional or semi-competent brewers to mass produce a lot of product in time for the task. If they decide not to use the plan when the task hits, or have surplus, investments could be recouped from a share of the sales.

Second, sure, logic and wizards don't exactly go together, and despite poking holes in clichés, canon-blanks, and fanon, you've kept that particular fundamental going strong. What I'm thinking about is how you had an attack of brains prevent the quick solutions Galen suggested during the scene immediately following Neville's selection. It wouldn't be overdone to continue the trend, since the Trinity are now beginning to face organized, serious, determined opposition; rather then the unfocused, non-specific, or sometimes deliberately under-done precautions from the first three years. And it'll only get worse once war breaks out. Or terrorism, depending on just how much credit you give the Death Eaters, not to mention your personal philosophical distinctions between the two.

Dragonfire severity...Well, from what I recall, Fleur was accidentally lightly singed in passing and by accident, rather then a deliberate, aware effort by a fully-awake dragon. Not sure about Cedric and Viktor, and I assume any fire-based injuries Harry got were quickly ablated by wind and speed as he flew (in case you can't tell, it's been so long since I read my copy of the books rather then fanfiction that my surety of canon vs. fanon is rather fuzzy). Further, we don't know about Charlies actual circumstances. Could be there's less medical at the Reserves then Hogwarts, either generally or when he was specifically injured vs. the Task. Could be his burns came from a dragon with more potent flames. Or that his injuries were more severe, and thus were less healed by the time age caused scarring, so it's comparatively little from massive burns.

And as for the quantity of Dragon Handlers, it might be that dragonfire and other dragon-related injuries are actually pretty easy to deal with...As long as they aren't severe, massive, or comprehensive enough to kill you right away, before medical help can get to you. In which case, a group of dragon handlers can provide multiple competent, capable wizards capable of quickly assessing a situation involving a dragon, independently decide to act, collectively follow their companions lead once they start to act even if they aren't sure why their companion's acting, and collectively overpower a dragon's natural magic-resistance quickly, and split tasks to deal with different parts of a situation simultaneously and better care for injured.

Now, for how to play the individual attacks against the Task...Hmm. You could alternate. Play one attempt for laughs, another for drama; or start out with one approach, then toss in some mood-whiplash and change tracks mid task. The champion starts out anxious, desperately hoping their plan will work, or that they'll be fast enough and lucky enough to survive its failure, their own internal monologue grimly nervous; then their plan goes off without a hitch and the letdown causes them to humorously overreact as the dreaded ordeal becomes a cake-walk, with their expectations, preconceptions, and excessive preparations all for naught. Or vice versa. No reason to pick and stick with an absolute. Unless you'd like to, which could also be enjoyable to prevent breaking the flow and understate or contrast the increasingly grim nature the Trinity's perception of the universe is showing (depending on drama vs. humor, respectively).

Last but not least...Didn't you have Shirou, in one of his 'feeling the weight of years' moments, notice that he'd seen too much combat as Archer and EMIYA to underestimate, or hold back on, a female opponent, since they could be just as dangerous as a male? Or am I mixing my understanding of the character(s) with other stories?

Kieran
April 9th, 2011, 10:57 PM
Thanks for the prompt response to my points, first off.

No problem.





Second, even if you and a couple other authors have wowed me with consistently uploading well-written, lengthy snippets and/or chapter on a daily/weekly basis for months, I'm still used to a decade of authors updating sporadically with months or years between new chapters. And most of the writings I follow still fall under that pattern. Even if your initial pace is an exception, you're still head and shoulders above the crowd right now.

And you aren't the only one feeling exam and project finals, even if I personally am suffering from it cutting into reading time, rather then the far more important writing time others find curtailed. Understood and sympathized with, and I know I'm not the only one.

*Phew!* :)




Moving on...First, depending on brewing/crafting times, could they throw enough money (from Basilisk rewards, savings, whatever) to brute force their way through the 'quantity of substance' problem? Using money to farm out obtaining ingredients and hire professional or semi-competent brewers to mass produce a lot of product in time for the task. If they decide not to use the plan when the task hits, or have surplus, investments could be recouped from a share of the sales.

Point - I can think of six or seven assistants they could draft, easy . . .

I might try it. I mainly just wanted to make the point that it was unreasonable to expect them to have an instant solution, as they so often seem to do in fanfic.




Second, sure, logic and wizards don't exactly go together, and despite poking holes in clichés, canon-blanks, and fanon, you've kept that particular fundamental going strong. What I'm thinking about is how you had an attack of brains prevent the quick solutions Galen suggested during the scene immediately following Neville's selection. It wouldn't be overdone to continue the trend, since the Trinity are now beginning to face organized, serious, determined opposition; rather then the unfocused, non-specific, or sometimes deliberately under-done precautions from the first three years. And it'll only get worse once war breaks out. Or terrorism, depending on just how much credit you give the Death Eaters, not to mention your personal philosophical distinctions between the two.

Excellent points - something else I should keep in mind.




Dragonfire severity...Well, from what I recall, Fleur was accidentally lightly singed in passing and by accident, rather then a deliberate, aware effort by a fully-awake dragon. Not sure about Cedric and Viktor, and I assume any fire-based injuries Harry got were quickly ablated by wind and speed as he flew (in case you can't tell, it's been so long since I read my copy of the books rather then fanfiction that my surety of canon vs. fanon is rather fuzzy). Further, we don't know about Charlies actual circumstances. Could be there's less medical at the Reserves then Hogwarts, either generally or when he was specifically injured vs. the Task. Could be his burns came from a dragon with more potent flames. Or that his injuries were more severe, and thus were less healed by the time age caused scarring, so it's comparatively little from massive burns.

I actually go through the book chapter by chapter, so I don't miss anything - and, as with the second door on the Chamber of Secrets, I can still be surprised. But those are good medical points . . . It's just tricky, given that the only wounds magic seems unable to heal are cursed ones, like werewolf bites or the Sectumsempra curse - yet I can't find a reason to think of dragons as inherently evil, given the way they're portrayed. Which means it ought to be healable, but . . .

I guess the best strategy is to avoid the stuff, eh?




And as for the quantity of Dragon Handlers, it might be that dragonfire and other dragon-related injuries are actually pretty easy to deal with...As long as they aren't severe, massive, or comprehensive enough to kill you right away, before medical help can get to you. In which case, a group of dragon handlers can provide multiple competent, capable wizards capable of quickly assessing a situation involving a dragon, independently decide to act, collectively follow their companions lead once they start to act even if they aren't sure why their companion's acting, and collectively overpower a dragon's natural magic-resistance quickly, and split tasks to deal with different parts of a situation simultaneously and better care for injured.

Well, these are multi-tonne animals (anywhere up to six?) - I assume you'd need a lot of people to handle them - especially four of them, with eggs. But either way, it seems unfair to expect the twins to compete with them.



Now, for how to play the individual attacks against the Task...Hmm. You could alternate. Play one attempt for laughs, another for drama; or start out with one approach, then toss in some mood-whiplash and change tracks mid task. The champion starts out anxious, desperately hoping their plan will work, or that they'll be fast enough and lucky enough to survive its failure, their own internal monologue grimly nervous; then their plan goes off without a hitch and the letdown causes them to humorously overreact as the dreaded ordeal becomes a cake-walk, with their expectations, preconceptions, and excessive preparations all for naught. Or vice versa. No reason to pick and stick with an absolute. Unless you'd like to, which could also be enjoyable to prevent breaking the flow and understate or contrast the increasingly grim nature the Trinity's perception of the universe is showing (depending on drama vs. humor, respectively).

Mix-n-match. I think I can manage that.




Last but not least...Didn't you have Shirou, in one of his 'feeling the weight of years' moments, notice that he'd seen too much combat as Archer and EMIYA to underestimate, or hold back on, a female opponent, since they could be just as dangerous as a male? Or am I mixing my understanding of the character(s) with other stories?

Shirou's been lightening up a little . . . But on the other hand, he's sparred with Taiga, Saber, Rin - chivalry is suicidal, as far as he's concerned. :)

Elf
April 10th, 2011, 01:17 AM
Man, those Frenchies just picked the wrong wizard to fuck with. It would be even more epic if he found some plank of wood that he could break in half to use as a makeshift pair of short swords. (Shirou did do that in UBW when he was starting to "Assimilate" with Archer.)

Still good chapter, but I'm looking forward to the next one.

Man, after this though, I definitely see Shirou going up to Rin and Fleur about being attacked by their fanclub. Especially if they put Neville in danger.

ringlhach
April 10th, 2011, 02:31 AM
Good Lord, what do they think Rin told them? Either way, they're about to get mauled, even if it is just Shirou. I'm guessing a professor or three is going to end up stepping in, and Fred and George are probably going to be in on it too, since if they're not, Ginny'll kick their asses.

I'd like to at least see Hermione's thoughts on Takara's little diatribe; I'm not quite sure how she'll take it, and just what Takara said might change a lot of things.

Cascade
April 10th, 2011, 05:46 AM
I can't believe I'm reading this, lol. I don't like Harry Potter all that much. I stopped reading after Goblet of Fire.
It suffered from what I call FMA syndrome, where the series is lighthearted and exploratory early on, but grows darker and angstier as the children age, due to the changing of its demographic.
Maybe I just like seeing the dumb parts of HP be brought out, but admittedly the original and TM characters are almost too powerful; they sure make the natives look pretty foolish and incompetent. And yet somehow it doesn't bother me... Typically the objection to FF original characters is that they tend to upstage the canon ones and the reader gets a sense that the writer is attempting to achieve wish fulfillment, but I guess that complaint probably arises only when the reader actually cares about how the source material is treated, lol.

B.B. Rain
April 10th, 2011, 06:29 AM
Good Lord, what do they think Rin told them?
Did she have to tell them anything ever? Basically public knowledge: Shirou approached her, said a sentence or two, she paled, shrieked profanity, and snap-kicked him in the testicles. If that isn't enough, he's a close friend of two of her competitors, who are much younger and from the same school, and thus could be construed as insulting her competence if these morons don't accept that they were entered against their will and without their consent ('Your Champion's so pathetic, we don't need to pit contemporaries against her,' sort of thing), and the brother of the third competitor, who she has a (probably obvious) acrimonious relationship with.

ringlhach
April 10th, 2011, 06:44 AM
Did she have to tell them anything ever? Basically public knowledge: Shirou approached her, said a sentence or two, she paled, shrieked profanity, and snap-kicked him in the testicles. If that isn't enough, he's a close friend of two of her competitors, who are much younger and from the same school, and thus could be construed as insulting her competence if these morons don't accept that they were entered against their will and without their consent ('Your Champion's so pathetic, we don't need to pit contemporaries against her,' sort of thing), and the brother of the third competitor, who she has a (probably obvious) acrimonious relationship with.

Not really, no, they're fanboys. On the flip side, though, their Madame Maxine was involved and didn't really do anything other than tell him off, and Rin's public statement (to Maxine) was that he trotted out a really lame pickup line. The operative word was meant to be "think," though I'm sure that's always in question where fanboys are involved.

Trevelyan
April 10th, 2011, 07:02 AM
I can't believe I'm reading this, lol. I don't like Harry Potter all that much. I stopped reading after Goblet of Fire.
It suffered from what I call FMA syndrome, where the series is lighthearted and exploratory early on, but grows darker and angstier as the children age, due to the changing of its demographic.

Just a couple of things your comment brings to mind. Firstly, HP came before FMA. Secondly, FMA is awesome. HP isn't. :P

Anyway, yes, I look forward to seeing how Shirou handles the intimidation and abject fear brought on by a group of idiotic teenaged males trying to look tough. Kieran, you tease.

Kieran
April 10th, 2011, 07:03 AM
I can't believe I'm reading this, lol. I don't like Harry Potter all that much. I stopped reading after Goblet of Fire.
It suffered from what I call FMA syndrome, where the series is lighthearted and exploratory early on, but grows darker and angstier as the children age, due to the changing of its demographic.

And yet it refused to follow through by killing people who deserved to be killed - I know what you mean. And you'd be surprised how many of my readers have said "I normally don't like Potter fics, but . . ." It always gives me a warm glow to read that. :)



Maybe I just like seeing the dumb parts of HP be brought out, but admittedly the original and TM characters are almost too powerful; they sure make the natives look pretty foolish and incompetent. And yet somehow it doesn't bother me...

Partly because there's so much wrong with the series - even logically, never mind personal views - that it's easy to make them look like idiots. I mean, the whole war ultimately came down to three 17-year-olds on a scavenger hunt. :rolleyes: And yes, they are powerful - but they can be outthought, or outnumbered. Not to mention their psyches . . .




Typically the objection to FF original characters is that they tend to upstage the canon ones and the reader gets a sense that the writer is attempting to achieve wish fulfillment, but I guess that complaint probably arises only when the reader actually cares about how the source material is treated, lol.

That's part of it - I do try to keep the rest of the others involved, though, and Neville will get his shot this book to really shine (I hope). Beyond that . . . Well, I have plans for some of the later stuff.




Not really, no, they're fanboys. On the flip side, though, their Madame Maxine was involved and didn't really do anything other than tell him off, and Rin's public statement (to Maxine) was that he trotted out a really lame pickup line. The operative word was meant to be "think," though I'm sure that's always in question where fanboys are involved.

Yeah - this has actually been building for months (how often did Rin glare at their table?) and they're just taking the first opportunity to do something about it - they'd have been caught on the castle grounds, after all.

ringlhach
April 10th, 2011, 08:32 AM
They're going to get caught anyway, when either Hogsmeade ends up on fire around them or they drag their sorry butts to the infirmary. It's just a matter of when.

Of course, there's always the chance someone could get off a lucky shot, but someone should have heard about the "Scarlet Seven." It's not like they're not (in)famous, after all, and there's two of them plus two provisional members.

hatori
April 10th, 2011, 10:23 AM
i sense some random violence occuring again.

Yojo
April 10th, 2011, 12:23 PM
The thing that Shirou remembered, I can only think of one truly applicable quote that fits: "If you can’t defeat your enemy, imagine something that can." What's to prevent this Neville from going all badass and summoning the Sword of Griffindor to him to his aid, or something else even?

Very nice update, and I really look forward to Shirou's response to the fan club. I'm hoping you use it for humor, instead of a fight scene - that and I really want to see what Rin does for the tourney. Take your time writing out everything, because it's a very enjoyable read with the way you've written so far. Keep up the superb work..

Kieran
April 10th, 2011, 07:40 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 Goblet of Fire, but I trust in the intelligence of my readers (and the availability of the books) to recognise them when they see them.



Chapter 19 - Where the Boys Are



November 19 - 20, 1994






Four years ago, on finding himself outnumbered four to one and cornered, Neville would likely have curled up into a ball and whimpered. Three years ago, he would likely have tried to fight back using his fledgling duelling skills and martial arts, and hoping his friends weren’t too far away. Two years ago, he would likely have transformed into his Animagus form - a massive grizzly bear that had only grown in size and mass over time - and tried to scare them off rather than fight at all. Last year, he’d have fought first, saving the bear as a last resort. This year, with a new, fully-attuned wand, additional combat training from a legendary Auror, his black dragonhide duster and Shirou Einzbern beside him - not to mention a whole lot of frustration regarding his enforced participation in the Triwizard Tournament - Neville was, frankly, more than ready to kick some ass.

“Say the word,” he whispered, disguising it as a sigh. Only Shirou, with his proximity and sharp hearing, was liable to actually understand it. Underneath the concealing shroud of his duster, Neville performed a series of muscle contractions and subtle stretches designed to loosen him up for imminent combat.

He felt, more than saw, the other boy’s grin - Shirou, like Takara, could be as unreadable as a stone when he wanted to be. In a move that seemed casual, Shirou brought his hand up to cover a faked yawn, one finger stretched slightly farther than the rest.

Alpha plan, Neville acknowledged with a careful blink. Basically, he threw up the Shield Charms while Shirou fired off the offensive arsenal. It was simple as plans went, and generally effective.

I’d really prefer to hit something right now, but . . . Well, maybe once we’ve pared down a few.

The thoughts running through his head would’ve likely surprised more than a few people. Most people thought of Neville as generally invisible, overshadowed by his more powerful friends, and so mild-tempered as to be nearly spineless. Which, to a certain extent, was true. Personality-wise, he didn’t have Galen’s indomitable ferocity, or Takara’s deadly elegance, or the aura of innate coolness that Shirou projected. He’d never match them for raw power, and certainly not experience! Physically, he was just as strong as Shirou, and possessed a larger frame, but the other boy was faster, and more skilled at hand-to-hand combat. He could match Galen’s endurance, but not his ability to recover himself, and although he was quicker than he looked, only Hermione had a prayer of keeping up with Takara in a contest of speed and agility.

Altogether, it was undeniable - he was overshadowed . . . But, after so many years of training, and pitting himself against them - especially since obtaining his proper wand - Neville had finally come to understand that this was like the difference between being an Olympic medal-winner and just an Olympic competitor. He might not be the best, but he was still a damned sight better than almost anybody his age, and probably several people older. So despite the odds, and the fact that these people were three years ahead of him in education, Neville faced them without flinching.

Compared to a dragon, these guys are nothing.

“Really?” Shirou said to the group. “And what insults would those be?”

Neville was surprised - he’d half-expected Shirou to attack right away. Still keeping himself ready for a fast draw-and-cast, he spent some time wondering on the plan. Was he trying to delay the fight, or make them lose their composure, or both? And why?

The lead boy looked as though he smelled something bad. “It iz true, we ‘ave no understanding of ze full depth of your crimes,” he admitted. “‘Owever, Mademoiselle Delacour’s be’aviour over ze last zree mont’s ‘as been clear. You ‘ave insulted ‘er gravely, and while she may be forbidden to take ‘er revenge, to up’old ‘er image as ze champion of Beauxbatons, we are under no such restrictions.”

Shirou flashed them an annoyed look. “So, let me get this straight - for something I may or may not have done, of which you are not aware, you’re willing to gang up on me eight to two and beat the daylights out of me?” He paused, and then smirked as he added, “For a girl that I will bet every Galleon I have hasn’t even looked at you twice, has she?”

The lead boy reddened, and very few of the others would meet their eyes suddenly.

“Zat is immaterial!” the lead boy cried, even as tremors of anger set his blond curls to shaking.

Seriously, what is up with this guy? Neville asked himself. The only other person I’ve seen dress like that is Lockhart - and it didn’t look any better on him, either.

“So, I’m going to have to take on all of you at once . . .” Shirou mused aloud.

The boy drew back as if offended. “We are not barbarians! We are ze flowers of ze nobility of wizarding France, as you are ze son of a baroness! Surely you realise zere are rules among our kind! We are challenging you properly - to duels of honour. Zat boy may serve as your second.”

It said something about Neville’s self-confidence that he actually felt a little annoyed at being passed off as “zat boy.” While he had no real desire to follow in his Gran’s footsteps as a society darling, and even less to emulate the pure-blood philosophies of the Malfoys, the Longbottom name had been a respected one for generations. Being ignored on the basis of being himself was bad enough, but for them to dismiss his family as being of no importance . . .

“And if we don’t want to duel?” he found himself asking sharply.

The blond boy sneered. “Zen you will be denounced as cowards zroughout society, unfit to even lick Mademoiselle Rin’s boots . . . And, of course, you will be punished for your sins accordingly.”

Shirou absorbed then, then smirked abruptly. “Well, I see two problems with the plan. First, eight consecutive duels are bound to be noticed by somebody - we’ll all get caught and in trouble. But the second problem is even worse.”

“And what is zat?” asked the boy haughtily.

Shirou’s smirk widened. “My friends - including your mademoiselle - are right behind you.”

As if on cue, a flare of heady emotion that Neville identified as Veela allure swept over him. This, however, was different. While the overall sensation was like the flashes he’d occasionally felt from Ilyasviel and Miss Arcueid over the years, it was far more intense. If the regular aura was like being cocooned in a warm, soothing bath, this was like being doused with scalding water. He’d almost say it was closer to Galen’s flares of rage . . .

Ilyasviel von Einzbern, her hair a crest of gleaming, dancing feathers, blue eyes literally aglow, stepped into sight, cupping a crackling sphere of blue fire in both hands.

And apparently I wouldn’t be wrong, a corner of his mind dimly noted.

She spoke, and her voice was like a sword - silvery, elegant, and sharp enough to draw blood.

“Get away from Shirou - NOW!”

Rin’s voice, as she appeared behind the half-Veela witch, wasn’t nearly as pretty, but no less resolute, adding, “And if she leaves anything behind, I’ll finish it off.”

That did it. However terrifying (or arousing, or both) Ilyasviel might be, apparently Rin Delacour’s reputation was sufficient to snuff out any last hope of resistance. They scattered like leaves in a tornado.

“Timing is everything,” murmured Galen, and Neville whirled to see him leaning heavily against a tree.

“What are you doing here?” he demanded. “You’re supposed to be sleeping in the bloody Hospital Wing!”

“Veela medicine works wonders - besides, I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” he retorted, although to Neville’s eye, that didn’t look to be too far off. He was pale, with circles so dark it looked like he had two black eyes, and his movements were a fraction of their normal speed. He was up and functioning, but only just.

Galen continued, “You’re up against a dragon in five days, Nev - we can’t afford to waste time. Beauxbatons is sharing the Hogsmeade weekend with us, and Ilya is kind of The Law Unto Herself as far as Durmstrang’s concerned. We’ll never get a better chance to compare notes and strategies unobserved than now.”

“I could use the help,” Rin admitted bitterly. “I think I’m up to your level of education now - I might manage fifth year before the Task.”

“And I’ve had an idea that might help you,” Galen said. “But I need Takara.”

“Before we get her, I want to run something by you,” Shirou said seriously. “I think it’s a decent backup plan for Neville, but I’m not sure it’ll work.”

Galen nodded. “Shrieking Shack first, then - we’ll get the girls afterwards.” He stepped away from the tree, stumbled, and flung himself back against it.

“Correction - you’ll get the girls. I think getting into the Shack will be my limit.”






Galen admitted that he was running mainly on stubbornness. Ilya’s salves did help, and she’d learned some massage techniques that soothed aching and pained muscles and bones - but while the curse’s effects could be lessened, they could never be entirely overcome.

He snorted. It would hardly be a “curse,” otherwise.

With difficulty, and leaning more than a little on Neville, he managed to drag his sorry carcass into the Shrieking Shack - and judicious use of the Deathcloak meant that nobody saw them go in, any more than they’d seen them emerge from it after using the tunnel in the Whomping Willow . . . Realising that he was woolgathering, Galen forced himself to concentrate on what Shirou was saying, and pick the plan apart for flaws. Unfortunately, the biggest one so far seemed to be Neville himself.

“Are you mental - completely mental?!” he corrected himself after a pause. “I can’t do THAT!”

“Actually, Nev, you can,” Galen said. “You, specifically, can do this.”

Neville looked at him disbelievingly, and Galen winced. He knew Neville didn’t have the highest self-confidence. He also knew that it had been improving slowly over the years - especially lately, with the success he’d been having thanks to his new wand. Admittedly, however, believing himself capable of this was likely a bit of a reach. But there wasn’t any other choice but to convince him. To survive the dragon, Neville would need to be at the top of his game - and if they were going to pull off either plan, his confidence would have to be absolute.

Bless Ilya - she chimed in immediately, “Neville, we’ve watched it happen. Trust me, you can do it.”

He still seemed uncertain - which was both perfectly understandable, and perfectly disastrous. Still, there was time to convince him of the plan’s viability, and at least now they had a plan, rather than relying on the inherent idiocy of wizards.

Overall, that’s worked for us - but at certain points, especially the even-numbered years, they seem to show more brains than usual. Part of that might be the universe’s natural tendency to screw us over on “other” years, and some of it just might be a case of natural progression - every year brought more challenging obstacles, more complicated plots. Add the two - especially if the universe is adapting to having someone more competent and informed than Harry to work around - and things can potentially get really bad.

There was also the matter of Dumbledore and Voldemort. Past history showed that this version of Albus Dumbledore was more willing to step up and fight, given his defeat of Voldemort years ago, although that might simply have been a case of being backed into a corner, since the identity of the prophecy child had been made obvious with the death of Harry Potter. It was why he’d finally fought Grindelwald, after all - he’d said himself that people were dying, and he had to do something.

Not unlike Fudge’s reasons for arresting Hagrid over the Chamber of Secrets - “have to be seen doing something.” As opposed to, you know, actually doing something. And I still maintain that Dumbledore could’ve acted sooner - if Grindelwald was backing Hitler, that means the former was potentially active at the beginning of the war in 1939, or even as early as 1936, when Hitler started gaining power. The War itself came to England directly in 1941, if I have my dates right - the London Blitz, and all. But he waited until 1945 to call Grindelwald out, waited for years of suffering to go by before actually doing anything.

That part of the history hadn’t changed, so Galen was never sure whether Dumbledore was actually different or not - and given the man’s manipulative tendencies, he stayed too far away from the old wizard to find out for certain. Voldemort, on the other hand, was a different kettle of fish entirely.

Voldemort actually has the correct number of Horcruxes this time, so he has more of his own soul, making him more sane. And from what little I’ve seen, he’s everything he was supposed to be in the books - as brilliant and charismatic as he is powerful and evil. This isn’t a Dark Lord who’ll excessively Crucio his followers for failure - that breeds rebellion. No, he’ll reward his followers, encourage them and their loyalty. Discard them when necessary, yes - but waste them, no. This is a man who held Britain in terror using less than a hundred wizards and a handful of magical creatures, which is impressive considering how badly he was outnumbered.

We crossed him directly and indirectly in first and second year, and his schemes always had layers - decisions or actions that accomplished multiple objectives, or had failsafes which would satisfy a lesser goal if it didn’t achieve the primary. We’re up against a Dark Lord with an actual brain, and that means if things go poorly this year, we’re liable to be in trouble.

. . . Especially as he’s the final “challenge,” so to speak.

It still nagged at Galen that Voldemort seemed to have followed up on a number of the smaller things this year - like the disappearance of Bertha Jorkins - but seemed to have made no move at Neville or Hogwarts this year. Especially since he’d be so keen to regain a body, and might actually manage it, since he presumably had the help of as many as three Death Eaters (well, two Death Eaters and Sirius) . . .

There has to be a scheme in play somewhere - I just can’t see it. Whether because it hasn’t gone off yet, or it’s more subtle than I’m expecting, I don’t know . . . Hell, the whole reason for the scheme was because Voldemort was insistent on using Harry’s blood as his “enemy’s," to eliminate his protection. Pettigrew himself pointed out that damned near any witch or wizard would do to satisfy the requirement, though. Could he have decided to “keep it simple, stupid,” and already regenerated himself a brand-new body?

That was a terrifying thought. The only thing that kept it from being worthy of utter panic was the timing. Voldemort had to have wanted Harry at a specific time, not just him specifically. Otherwise, Crouch could have and would have taken him on the first day of classes. No, astronomy or some mystically significant window of time must play its part in the resurrection ritual - why wait, otherwise? Voldemort - especially the fully-insane version - was hardly noted for his patience, after all. He could wait when he had to, but he had a definite yen for instant gratification.

I have to believe that, or we’re already screwed, Galen decided.

“All right,” Neville said abruptly, breaking through Galen’s reverie. “I’ll trust you - but I really hope the Summoning Charm works, just the same.”

“Us too,” Galen said quickly. “And it should - this plan is a ‘just in case,’ Nev.”

He nodded.

“And me?” Rin asked. “You said you had a plan involving me.”

“Yeah - it’s a bit risky, but I think you can pull it off. But we do need Takara here before we can be sure.”

Neville stood. “I’ll fetch her.”

“Thanks, Nev,” Galen said. He smiled wanly, feeling exhaustion tugging at him through the very core of his marrow. “I do appreciate it.”

“No problem,” Neville grinned. “I need the exercise, anyway - you lot cost me my warmup.”

He left the Shack under the Deathcloak, followed by Shirou’s and Ilyasviel’s laughter, the two of them chuckling together in an oddly harmonious, almost musical state of amusement.






Even as they spilled out of the Three Broomsticks in a search formation, Takara kept an eye on Hermione. She hadn’t really had time to sit her down and explain Galen’s hatred of Weasley yet - that was a discussion best left for the Room of Requirement, or maybe the Shrieking Shack - and to be honest, she wasn’t looking forward to it in the slightest.

“Any woman is too smart, and too good, to ever fall for me - but a girl like you, or Hermione? Even dreaming’s a waste of time.” Galen’s words to her from two years ago, spoken with complete and utter sincerity.

I wanted him to be wrong, she thought to herself. I wanted to believe that he was utterly mistaken - that he could be loved, that he was worthy of being loved. And Hermione does love him, or this wouldn’t be hurting her so badly. But if she walks away from him, if she gives up . . .

Like you did, whispered a treacherous voice she didn’t want to admit to hearing.

. . . Then Galen will have been right all along, at least in his own mind. No one who loves him stays - or can love him, once they see what he’s really like. I thought it was rubbish - but if Galen can scare Hermione, who kept him on such a high pedestal, away from him . . .

Quelling a roiling nausea in her stomach, Takara was forced to admit to herself that maybe she’d misread the signals - that what Hermione felt for Galen was in fact not love, but an intense case of hero worship, combined with the kind of intimacy that comes from being close friends. And that seeing him as a flawed human being - really seeing him, firsthand - had damaged or destroyed those feelings, possibly beyond repair.

It’s possible - it’s not like I have much more dating experience than either of them. And my dates have rarely ended well, so who am I to call myself an expert? But the two of them have always seemed so close - like my parents, or theirs.

The kind of closeness she’d had with him, when they were children - a closeness she missed . . .

Takara shoved that feeling down ruthlessly. Even if it was appropriate - which it certainly wasn’t - now was not the time!

Concentrate on Shirou, she told herself firmly. He and Neville should’ve met up with us by now - they should’ve met up with us immediately! Why didn’t I notice they weren’t there?

She strained her eyes and ears for any sight, any sound - any sign - of her missing friends . . .

“Takara,” said Neville’s mild voice from the empty air beside her, nearly causing the Japanese witch’s skeleton to burst out of her skin.

“What are you playing at?!” she hissed angrily. “And how on earth did you get your hands on that?” She knew very well that Galen kept the Deathcloak on him at all times now, just in case of emergencies.

“We’re in the Shrieking Shack,” Neville said calmly. “Galen says he needs your help with something for Rin for the First Task.”

“What’s he doing out of bed?” she snapped. When her only answer was silence, she demanded, “Neville? Neville . . . Damn.”

I could learn to hate that cloak.

With a sigh, she rounded a corner to where Luna was waiting, and left word of where she was going - no need to cause a panic over the epidemic of disappearing Gryffindors. After that, sneaking into the Shack unseen was - well, not easy, but she did have a natural aptitude for stealth, near-animalistic senses to inform her when she was being watched, and a certain level of ninja training, thanks to the few family scrolls her aunts had been able to recover over the years.

Easier for me than for others, Takara amended in her mind. She slipped into earshot just in time to hear Galen say, “ - is dangerous, but it should work.”

“What should work?” she asked, and got a vindictive little thrill out of seeing Neville jump in surprise.

What’s good for the goose, as they say . . .

Galen explained his idea, and Takara’s eyes widened. She’d certainly never thought about that before - but for Rin, it was certainly a possibility. More so than for any of them, anyway. And the “dangerous” part was obvious. She remembered the warnings she’d been given. But still . . .

“It’s not a bad idea,” she admitted. “Given that it relies on only two spells, both of which she should be able to do.” Takara glanced at Rin, and added, “I think. How well are you coming along in your studies?”

“I’m up to about your year,” Rin said with a scowl, obviously displeased. “Not that I agree with half the stuff I’m learning - even knowing the theory behind it, a lot of these spells go against every rule of magecraft I was taught!”

Takara shrugged, never having had formal training despite her supposed potential. “At this point, it just matters that the spells work, right? Still, fourth-year means you ought to be able to do this - have Hermione practice those two with you, and you’ll be fine.” She drew her wand, and sought out a likely-looking target.

“The first spell goes like this . . .”






She was waiting when Galen slipped back into the Gryffindor boys’ dorm, on the far side of midnight. Fortunately for her dignity, Weasley was both a heavy sleeper and a heavy snorer - and the others had long since learned to tune him out. It was probably unnecessary to be as quiet as she’d been, sneaking in - but better safe than sorry. Which was why she didn’t shriek as Galen enfolded her in the Deathcloak with him. She did glare, however. Sadly, he didn’t seem to notice.

“It’s like we figured,” he said softly. “Four dragons, right down to the Hungarian Horntail.”

Takara winced. “Why do I think Neville will get that one?”

“My sense of optimism is rubbing off on you,” Galen replied, deadpan.

That comment brought another wince, though she hid it. Regarding his potential love life, certainly . . .

“So, the First Task is on the 24th,” she mused. “We have four days, and any number of strategies to practice and prepare.” Takara gave him a measuring look. “Do you think it will be enough time?”

Galen’s response was half-determination, half-prayer.

“It has to be.”

B.B. Rain
April 10th, 2011, 08:51 PM
Oh me oh my. Pompous high society? Chained honor duels instead of just ganging up on an opponent and cursing? I didn't expect you to throw a genuine surprise into that, even if the lack of ass-kicking Neville was a disapointment. Lack of Shirou, not so much, since his combat awesome tends to come from more serious battles and more dangerous opponents. Seeing him and Neville work together though, with Neville's POV as the focus, that'd be interesting, and it could serve as a precursor for his (presumably) reputation-changing displays in the Tournament.

The bit about Voldemort...Interesting thoughts, and unnerving, both the improved sanity reprecussions and the fact that without a specific blood-based counter he could use anybody. Surprising choice of point about the timing, I was always more a believer in the fact that there was some kind of mystical signifigence to completeing and technically winning a Tournament officiated by even a confounded Goblet of Fire; making the timing of the ritual more about adding an additional benifit to using Harry at that point then possibly-coincedental neccesity.

Keeping plots unvoiced huh? Okay, build your suspense.

Kratosirving
April 10th, 2011, 08:54 PM
Beauxbatons is sharing the Hogsmeade weekend with us, and Ilya is kind of The Law Unto Herself as far as Durmstrang is concerned.

I know a certain Mistress who is going to be a bit gleeful at this line, hehehe.

Also, yay for update, and thanks for it, since you're all busy with exams and such man.

Kieran
April 10th, 2011, 09:12 PM
Oh me oh my. Pompous high society? Chained honor duels instead of just ganging up on an opponent and cursing? I didn't expect you to throw a genuine surprise into that, even if the lack of ass-kicking Neville was a disapointment.

Well, they are French, and therefore civilised, unlike the barbaric English pigs.

. . . Seriously, though, the portrayal of Beauxbatons (and Fleur in particular) was basically a walking stereotype - so I just took it to its logical (or is that absurdist?) conclusion. They're from the land of the Three Musketeers, after all; Honour duels are a part of their culture. They fully intended to do this the civilised way - they just didn't intend to give him a choice about it.



Lack of Shirou, not so much, since his combat awesome tends to come from more serious battles and more dangerous opponents. Seeing him and Neville work together though, with Neville's POV as the focus, that'd be interesting, and it could serve as a precursor for his (presumably) reputation-changing displays in the Tournament.

*shrug* I've done a sparring session with Ginny - why not?




The bit about Voldemort...Interesting thoughts, and unnerving, both the improved sanity reprecussions and the fact that without a specific blood-based counter he could use anybody.

I know it's mentioned somewhere in the book - haven't found it yet, but I know it's there. And that's proof right there that he was out of his mind - he could've been up and walking using the witch he'd already captured, or Crouch Sr., or damned near anybody, and left no one the wiser. Given how fast he went into hiding once he was resurrected, that's the smart play. He could've taken everyone by surprise. Instead, he insists on constructing an overelaborate labyrinth of a plot to get his hands on a specific wizard, and sticks to it despite the time and effort involved, presumably because he doesn't want to raise alarms by kidnapping him outright. And then he effectively kidnaps him in broad daylight and witnesses - including Albus Dumbledore, the one wizard we assume he's trying to avoid!

. . . Now, I admit - it makes for great storytelling. It does. But from the perspective of a charismatic (and we're told he could've be quite charming - heck, he swindled a thousand-year-old ghost out of her secrets!) genius (the most brilliant student Hogwarts ever produced - and Dumbledore is the one saying it!) of an Evil Overlord . . . Does not compute. :rolleyes:




Surprising choice of point about the timing, I was always more a believer in the fact that there was some kind of mystical signifigence to completeing and technically winning a Tournament officiated by even a confounded Goblet of Fire; making the timing of the ritual more about adding an additional benifit to using Harry at that point then possibly-coincedental neccesity.

Again, it ties back to "Why didn't he have 'Moody' turn a piece of homework into a Portkey and hand it back to him? Or Stun him, carry him outside the wards, and Apparate away?" Some rituals have certain specific time frame requirements - full moons, solstices, etc. Presumably, a resurrection ritual would be tied to the spring equinox . . . But whether that particular time is germane, it's one of the few reasons I could see to wait the entire school year before trying this. Especially since Voldemort is obviously uncomfortable and eager to regain his body.




Keeping plots unvoiced huh? Okay, build your suspense.

What can I say? I want Rin's to be a genuine surprise. :)





I know a certain Mistress who is going to be a bit gleeful at this line, hehehe.

Hey, if I can plug one, why not another?



Also, yay for update, and thanks for it, since you're all busy with exams and such man.

Actually, I'm getting close to finishing, so I thought I could risk it - but you're welcome. :)

SeiKeo
April 10th, 2011, 09:16 PM
The suspense. It's killing me. Please say that the next update is the Task?

Elf
April 10th, 2011, 09:36 PM
Beauxbatons is sharing the Hogsmeade weekend with us, and Ilya is kind of The Law Unto Herself as far as Durmstrang is concerned.

Awesome line is awesome. :)

Still very amusing with them wanting to go the "Honorable Duel" route.

And . . . is it just me, or is Neville going to summon Shirou to kick Dragon ass for him. Or at least distract it enough so he can grab the egg? Or is Neville just going to transfigure the egg?

Kieran
April 10th, 2011, 10:14 PM
The suspense. It's killing me. Please say that the next update is the Task?

Planned to be. Could be a couple of days, though.





And . . . is it just me, or is Neville going to summon Shirou to kick Dragon ass for him. Or at least distract it enough so he can grab the egg? Or is Neville just going to transfigure the egg?

An unprepared Shirou would be a dragon snack - and transfigure it into what, exactly?

lethum
April 10th, 2011, 10:32 PM
A baloon? Or maybe a bird.

Kieran
April 10th, 2011, 10:50 PM
Nice idea, but too fragile, I suspect.

lethum
April 10th, 2011, 11:45 PM
Well , if they do it right, the balloon will just be ignored by the dragon, and can be remote controlled by a breeze. On the egg catching, there's the spiderman solution: conjure rope (or something sufficiently similar) and drag the egg to self (hopefully very quickly). The rope may or may not be dissilussioned(chameleon) and able to disguise the egg from sight.

Garlak
April 11th, 2011, 12:19 AM
Hm. Wonder if using an Invisibility Cloak is legal?

Harry got away with Gillyweed in the second task, but Gillyweed versus Invisibility Cloak seems a bit, eh.

lethum
April 11th, 2011, 12:45 AM
The Champions were only allowed to take their wand to the first task.

Ergast
April 11th, 2011, 04:51 AM
Summoning Charm

But again, letting all the school know that they have access to an Invisibility Cloak is a bit... stupid.

Elf
April 11th, 2011, 09:41 AM
The Champions were only allowed to take their wand to the first task.

Then Harry used that wand to summon his broom for him, then kicking copious amounts of ass on it to get his egg.

Not to mention his way was more entertaining than the others.

lethum
April 11th, 2011, 11:32 AM
Oh, bending/sidestepping the rules is fun, but it helps to know what the rule you are trying to find a workaround of is.

B.B. Rain
April 11th, 2011, 12:01 PM
Nice responses, no quibble beyond saying that if he'd rather murder his way to power rather then charm his way through the system, he's obviously got some knid of impulse-control problem, which could mean he couldn't help but have Dumbledore worrying about him and knowing he was back. Combination of megalomania, self-confidence, and boasting.

Moving back to the first task...

Hey, gold is metallic, right? If a Summoning charm doesn't work, could someone just conjure a big magnet? Or is gold not sufficiently magnetic? Or could the rock be painted/illusionary gold, and actually a big plastic mock-up?

As for transifguring the rock...Maybe not Transfiguration. They already had an exam where they made a pineapple tap-dance across a desk, right? Animate and lure it.

If you want to stick, though...One drabble by Nonjon had Harry self-transfigure into air molecules and move at a few times the speed of sound to get around anti-apparition wards. That wouldn't work here, but maybe creating some kind of vacuum tube directed at the egg and lighten it (either by a direct spell or by transfiguring it into something light as a soap bubble) enough to be yanked down said tube?

forginblade
April 11th, 2011, 05:14 PM
Well, gold conducts electricity really well, but it is not magnetic in the slightest. And yeah, wizards? Using plastic? Those guys have never even heard of synthetic materials.

Although I could see animation working, as long as the dragon is properly distracted ( Why do I see Neville playing a harp in front of it? Oh well, give that dragon a lullaby it will never forget).

And I have learned not to make assumptions or guess what's gonna happen next in Kieran's fics. I'm never right.

jwang
April 11th, 2011, 05:46 PM
Magnetism is specific to certain iron oxides, or wires coiled in a certain manner with electrical currents running through it if I remember my physics and chemistry classes on the topic correctly. Gold unfortunately is stupidly inert, so even if it had certain compounds that can make it magnetic, it would be so rare that it wouldn't be feasible to make magnetic gold outside of ridiculously expensive electromagnets.

On magical aspect side, gold is considered to be one of the more magical metals, as opposed to iron which is considered to be anathema to magic. However, we can probably count out direct magic against the egg, mainly because in the original book if it worked the champions could have used switching charms (4th year due to Neville managing to swap his ears onto the cactus they were supposed to work on the night before the arrival of the other schools) to simply switch the location of the egg with that of a nearby rock.

My money is on using drugged food to dope up the dragon so that it's too incoherent to even think about attacking. Of course, this might require ridiculous amounts of food prepared beforehand...

Kieran
April 11th, 2011, 08:04 PM
Well, I've finished Ilya's, and started Rin's - you should have your answers by Wednesday at the latest. But the speculation is amusing, to say the least - you guys are really creative!

Cascade
April 11th, 2011, 10:36 PM
My money is on using drugged food to dope up the dragon so that it's too incoherent to even think about attacking. Of course, this might require ridiculous amounts of food prepared beforehand...
If I were an HP character in that situation, that's exactly the plan I'd use. There's got to be some simple conjuration spell that will summon food or generic solids that look like food. Hide when you enter the arena and teleport it all there somehow.

... What? I mean, it's not like real predators want to hunt something just for the challenge. The dragon is not gonna pass up a free meal that doesn't fight back, as opposed to a wizard who can scramble about and irritate it with spells. Even supposed "man eaters" aren't really partial to the taste of humans and will probably pick their usual meal over an unlucky swimmer or hiker entering their natural habitat. I doubt dragons find wizards THAT delicious.

Kieran
April 11th, 2011, 11:04 PM
Nice plan, but according to Deathly Hallows, food cannot be conjured - it violates Gamp's Third Law of Elemental Transfiguration. Which doesn't explain the wine-fountain spell Ollivander used, but there you go.

Garlak
April 12th, 2011, 02:41 AM
Nice plan, but according to Deathly Hallows, food cannot be conjured - it violates Gamp's Third Law of Elemental Transfiguration. Which doesn't explain the wine-fountain spell Ollivander used, but there you go.

I kind of get the feeling that I've read about Dumbledore or others conjuring up tea with biscuits and such... but that's either a Beam Me Up, Scotty misremembering, or just creative use of minor teleportation. Or conspiring with House Elves.

Or it could be Rowling contradicting herself...

... Isn't there a spell to create water? Aguamenti or something? You could drink that at least... ugh.


You could go with a variation that Conjured food is not truly... filling? Maybe you could eat and drink delicious food and wine, but you'd never be truly satiated.

Cascade
April 12th, 2011, 03:00 AM
Well, even if you can't conjure food, maybe you could enchant cloth or sponge to look like food, and then soak it in a generous batch of the sleeping solution you made in Potions. The ingredients would probably be used up quickly and Snape would be angry though.

Kieran
April 12th, 2011, 06:57 AM
I kind of get the feeling that I've read about Dumbledore or others conjuring up tea with biscuits and such... but that's either a Beam Me Up, Scotty misremembering, or just creative use of minor teleportation. Or conspiring with House Elves.

The feasts spring to mind - though supposedly that's more like Apparating the stuff from the kitchens to the Great Hall.



Or it could be Rowling contradicting herself...

It would hardly be the first time, would it? :rolleyes:



... Isn't there a spell to create water? Aguamenti or something? You could drink that at least... ugh.


You could go with a variation that Conjured food is not truly... filling? Maybe you could eat and drink delicious food and wine, but you'd never be truly satiated.

True. Of course, it would help if we knew the exact wording of this supposed law, too.

jwang
April 12th, 2011, 09:46 AM
Workaround for the aguamenti spell would be it collects moisture from the surrounding rather than creating it from ether. Of course, this is getting dangerously close to bringing science into magic, which is ludicrous and never ends well. Rowling should have done like Tolkien and thought up the world's history and rules after the first 3 books...

Another idea for getting the egg: incapacitate the dragon's sense through use of flash-bangs for sight and sound and teargas for scent. If you're too busy being blind, deaf, and choking on your own snot, you're too busy to defend your nest.

ringlhach
April 12th, 2011, 10:04 AM
Flashbang might work; tear gas, though, is an incapacitating agent and technically a poison; take this from someone who is required to get a few lungsful every 18 months or so. I don't know if it'd work on a dragon, since they're kinda famous for their constitution.

(<- not a huge HP fan and hasn't read the books in years)

Satehi
April 12th, 2011, 11:46 AM
Actually, they have the ability to turn things into animals in HPverse, and self replicating skills, so they technically can conjure up food.

HPverse magic is full of bs anyways.

Kratosirving
April 12th, 2011, 11:56 AM
Well, unfortunately, magic is always summed up by a stupid little meme: It's magic, you don't have to explain shit about it.

With that being said, I prefer the Nasuverse magic. It always seems to make more sense to me. Plus, Reality Marbles are fucking ballin.

jwang
April 12th, 2011, 08:02 PM
tear gas, though, is an incapacitating agent and technically a poison

Really now? I always thought that it was the chemicals would crystallize upon contact with skin, and when it gets in the eye and nasal cavities it causes the body to automatically enact foreign object removal process due to the irritation caused by the crystals. Kinda like getting a face full of chalk dust. I guess we'll just have to have the dragons choke on their suffering instead.

Edit: Found on wiki on how it exactly works. Not quite poison, but not quite "only dust".


Tear gas works by irritating mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, mouth and lungs, and causes crying, sneezing, coughing, hard breathing, pain in the eyes, temporary blindness, etc. Lachrymators are thought to act by attacking sulphydryl functional groups in enzymes. One of the most probable protein targets is the TRPA1 ion channel that is expressed in sensory nerves (trigeminal nerve) of the eyes, nose and mouth.

It'd be questionable on whether or not it would work on dragons. If the biology is similar enough, you probably can induce the same effects. The question is whether or not if you can generate enough of it and keep it localized enough to affect the dragon.

Cascade
April 12th, 2011, 08:02 PM
What makes Nasuverse magic interesting is that's it's a limited resource in a sense; it's getting weaker in comparison to the age of gods. In Caster's day mages were probably chucking around huge balls of fire like they were spitwads, but now you'd be lucky to even manage enough fire to light a cig. I assumed that was why Cornelius Alba was seen as such an amazing guy, even if he was an idiot.

Mages in TM's universe also have to coexist with normal people and make efforts not to reveal their existence. HP's mages are basically just like another race that looks like humans, only lacking in common sense and brimming with supernatural power. They're cloistered away in their own world which the muggles can't trespass upon unless allowed to, and like Kieran suggested in this fic, developing a sense of superiority over normal humans is a natural result of that kind of isolation. In Nasuverse stuff, mages who think themselves distinct from human beings are usually the most evil.

Kieran
April 12th, 2011, 08:06 PM
Yup. And Rin's scene is now done, which means the chapter is half-complete.

. . . If nothing else, it should earn the title "Most Bizarre Battle." :D

Ergast
April 13th, 2011, 05:43 AM
Rin doesn't know how to do things half hearted so... why am I watching her blowing up the dragon to pieces without knowing how exactly has she managed to do it?

Kieran
April 13th, 2011, 07:55 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 Goblet of Fire, but I trust in the intelligence of my readers (and the availability of the books) to recognise them when they see them.



Chapter 20 - Here There Be Dragons



November 24th, 1994






By the time of the First Task, Shirou had worn himself to a frazzle. Between massive amounts of potion-mixing, desperate drills, and out-and-out worrying over the safety and survival of the champions (to say nothing of regular classes), it was a wonder he could even stand, let alone make his way to the enclosure. But he did so, in a zombie-like fashion, after handing his wand absentmindedly to Hermione when she’d asked for it, Galen’s already in her hand - and only when he was seated, realising why.

They’re really afraid that we’ll interfere, and in doing so, cost them their lives. What a choice . . . That’s going to be two of the women I love, and two of my best friends down there - I don’t think I’m capable of not interfering. They’re up against dragons, for God’s sake!

The nervousness burned its way back through his limbs. As tense as Galen was over everyone’s safety, Shirou felt worse - and it was only now, with no time left to ignore it, really hitting home. He knew they’d made plans, he knew they were prepared - but damn it, he wasn’t used to doing nothing!

I know they’re capable, but . . . !

But Neville wasn’t up to the education of a seventh-year student, and neither was Takara. And Rin, for all her brilliance, was worse off. And if anything happened to Ilya . . .

If she dies . . .

It didn’t bear thinking about. It just didn’t.

Galen met his eyes, and an understanding passed between them. If any of the champions died because of this stupid fucking game, the gloves came off. Fiendfyre, Killing Curses - everything went on the table. They’d stop Voldemort from taking over the wizarding world by making sure there wasn’t anything left to conquer.

Starting with the man responsible for the Tournament: Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore . . .

A pair of hands clasped his arms as Ginny and Luna sat down beside him, and he glanced at the two girls oddly.

“Just in case you feel like doing something stupid,” Ginny explained.

“We hope you won’t be so desperate as to hurt us to do it,” Luna finished.

“Shouldn’t you be stopping Galen?” he queried.

“Fred and George are on top of him,” Hermione said from her position behind and above him. “They have their Beater bats.”

Shirou tilted his head to glance at Hermione from an upside-down angle. “And you’re OK with that?”

She shrugged uncomfortably. “I’d rather not see him hurt, but I don’t think anything else would stop him.”

Shirou frowned. That was odd - normally Hermione would insist on sitting with Galen herself. She’d likely put herself in his lap and trap his arms against his body in a hug, giving her a convenient place to bury her head if she got frightened as well as preventing him from moving. Instead, she was here, watching him.

Something’s wrong . . . he thought, but before he could dwell on it, a whistle rang out, followed shortly by Ludo Bagman’s magically amplified voice.

“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the First Task of the Triwizard Tournament! The specifics of this Task are very simple: Each champion will confront a dragon, and attempt to retrieve the golden egg it’s guarding! Naturally, this will be no easy challenge, and I for one can’t wait to see how they handle it! So without further adieu - apologies to Madame Maxime - let the Task begin! Bring on our first challenge, the Swedish Short-Snout - and our first champion, the aristocratic and exquisite Miss Ilyasviel von Einzbern of Durmstrang!”

Shirou didn’t know whether to thank God or curse him that Ilya was first - was it better to have her out of the way, or wait on pins and needles for her turn? And the choice of dragon . . .

The Swedish Short-Snout was revealed, a long, silvery-blue creature who was rather lovely aesthetically, for a giant lizard. It snorted irritably, producing thin streams of blue flames from its nostrils, nearly the colour of Veela fire. That fire, Shirou recalled, could reduce bone to ash in seconds - and a Short-Snout’s hide was the stuff usually used in making protective gear. It was therefore not only lethal, but very tough, as well as pretty. It was curled protectively around a mound of eggs, the golden one perched upon the top of it.

And Ilya has to get past it . . .

As if summoned by his thoughts, she appeared, a vision of silvery-gold and black as her sable cloak and hair flared out behind her as she moved. Her wand was in her hand, a ridged length of pale golden wood that nearly matched her tresses. From what he could see of her face, she looked utterly unmoved by the three-tonne creature barely sixty feet from her.

Of course she looks calm - she was trained to be. Showing emotions is a weakness, and the Einzberns tempered that out of her as surely as the Tohsaka and Matou families did to their heirs. It’s what makes the rare times they allow themselves to be seen as vulnerable so precious. The real test of how calm she is will be when she tries to cast a spell - her wand only works when she’s at peace.

Ilya studied the dragon for a moment, critically, and then raised her wand, waving it in a pattern that was familiar to Shirou, having seen the spell demonstrated a few times over the years - and then she began to sing. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rolw-K0FKrI) The words poured out of her, liquid and silver, as the notes filled the air, both melding with the Veela aura which was her birthright, warm, and golden, and compelling him to sleep . . .

He started abruptly, as she moved, a slight sidestep, still singing as the dragon’s head began to droop. Realisation caused him to bring up his Occlumency barriers, and suddenly Ilya’s song was much less compelling - though it still drifted softly along the edges of his consciousness, like a half-remembered dream tugging him gently back towards slumber.

Shirou shook his head. He knew that Ilya’s specialities were charms, and mind magic in particular. He knew that her Veela blood gave her an edge in those areas, as they did with fire spells - but he’d never really considered how powerful a witch she really was.

Then again, why shouldn’t she be? Half of Galen’s power is rooted in the fact that he was the Grail’s Mediator, containing the power of all the Servants defeated in the War for the purpose of judging the final survivor - but Ilya was the Grail, the source. And the other half of Galen’s power comes from the strength of his wand - and Ilya’s is its sister. She has to be at least as strong - and probably a lot more, especially when you add in the fact that she’s older, more mature, more experienced, and better trained. Frankly, I really shouldn’t have worried about her at all . . .But it’s Ilya - how could I not?

Once the dragon was well and truly asleep, Ilya cast several Silencing Charms, both on herself and the area surrounding the dragon. Then she tried a Summoning Charm - he could read her lips - and could immediately tell that it had failed.

Shirou felt the sense of calm brought on by Ilya’s spell evaporate. It didn’t work! Son of a bitch, they have jinxed the eggs! That means backup plans all around - and there’s no way to warn the others!

A thought flitted through his head, one of Galen’s earlier comments that he was suddenly in full agreement with: “God damn it, you people had to pick now to grow brains?”

But Ilyasviel von Einzbern was many things - none of them stupid, or prone to giving up. She whirled her wand in a complicated pattern, and whipped it forward with the surety of a master conductor. A dark shape erupted from it, circling upwards towards the sky above the enclosure, just before plunged down from the sky. It covered the golden egg for an instant before launching itself back into the air and soaring towards her outstretched forearm.

Her wand replaced in her cloak, Ilya caught the golden egg in one hand, and the landing of her conjured bird with the other arm. And despite the distance between them, and the fact that the Weasleys were all in attendance, she looked directly at Shirou as she petted the feathers of the golden eagle on her arm, and smiled.

“Oh, well done!” Ludo Bagman suddenly shouted, as Ilya’s spells expired. “Miss von Einzbern has managed to capture her egg in less than ten minutes - and not so much as a hair out of place, ladies and gentlemen! That’s a Triwizard Champion for you - as I’m sure my fellow judges will agree . . .”

Bagman enthusiastically cast a sparkling “10" into the air, followed by matching 10s from McGonagall and Karkaroff. Maxime cast an “9" with an expression that suggested she’d bitten into something sour - but the biggest shock was Crouch, who fired off a “4.”

“Four?!” Shirou bellowed, suddenly incensed. “She got the damned egg in less than ten minutes, and wasn’t even scratched! What more do you bloody want?”

“I wonder,” Hermione murmured. “Still, it’s an excellent showing for her - it’ll be a hard score to beat.”

Bagman seemed to be reading her mind. “Well, ladies and gentlemen, that will be a hard act to follow, but let’s see how our other champions manage - the dragon to beat is the Common Welsh Green, and our champion, the elegant and brilliant Miss Rin Delacour of Beauxbatons!”

Rage turned to ice in Shirou’s heart.

Rin . . .






Hermione stared at the dragon, her mind looking it over almost dispassionately, logically comparing it to the pictures in her textbooks, and instinctively evaluating it as a rival predator. Both the lioness and the human who made up the person known as Hermione Granger nowadays agreed - this was one creature to avoid at all costs.

And it avoids humans, in general - but it’s not as though the dragon has a choice now, is it? Neither does Rin . . .

She remembered the “backups” they’d placed outside the enclosure the night before - items necessary to complete the Task if the Summoning Charm failed (which, from Ilya’s performance, they would). Rin’s was - unusual, and unique to her. Hermione didn’t fully understand its purpose, but she imagined it would be fascinating to discuss with Rin later.

If there is a later for Rin - from what they’ve said, this could end in disaster as easily as victory . . .

She wished she could ask Galen - but Fred and George weren’t on their list of clued-in people, and she really wasn’t entirely comfortable about talking to him yet, in any case.

It’s the other reason Rin and I get along so well. Not just the fact that we can communicate easily in a number of languages, and that we’re both highly intelligent, and atypically (for the wizarding world) logical - but that we both know what it feels like to be lied to by the men in our lives.

Her hand tingled at the thought, and Hermione guiltily remembered the pulsating warmth of Galen’s wand as she’d taken it from him. It hadn’t changed - the wand had still known her touch, and thrilled at it.

But that doesn’t mean that the wand isn’t dangerous to me - to say nothing of its master. But still . . . Doesn’t it mean something, that it’s so easily compatible? So eager to please?

Her train of thought was broken as Rin walked out of the tent, dressed in the pale blue silk uniform of Beauxbatons. She was shivering, unsurprisingly, as the outfit was hardly practical for an English autumn. She looked so tiny next to the dragon, which was on par with the Short-Snout for size - roughly three tonnes in weight, spread out over a good nine metres of length, and about half that for height.

It’s teeth have to be the length of my hand! It would be like dealing with the troll all over again if I had to face it.

Rin, however, showed no discernable trace of Hermione’s anxiety as brandished her wand, her voice clear and ringing as she commanded, “Accio golden egg!”

The dragon stirred, irritated by the noise, and huffed thin streams of flame in warning.

Rin’s next spells were softer, and harder to hear, but Hermione knew what they would be, and so could follow them.

“Accio pouch!” The simple drawstring bag sailed into the enclosure from its hiding place. She tugged it open, and placed the tip of her wand inside. “Reparo!”

Then the pouch fell to the ground, revealing a length of crystal that glittered in the morning light. Her wand still pressed against it, Rin held it aloft to shine - and if her voice had been ringing before, it was now a clarion call.

“Kaleidostick, activate! (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yc4uY4MdqmI)”

The arena was abruptly awash in a brilliant spray of rainbow light, dazzling the eyes of all present for several seconds, even after it faded. Once the spots had been blinked away, however . . .

Blue silk had been replaced by a type of black material more suited to a Batman movie, though it looked harder than simple rubber, and emblazoned with scarlet and gold trim - including a short cape that swept down to the back of her knees. Its inner lining was red, its outer surface black - but ending in scalloping that was limned with gold, giving the impression of sweeping flames. Her face was no longer visible, covered in a full-masked helmet whose bifurcated visor gave the impression of a raptor’s beaked face - including a pair of blazing gold eyes over her brow ridges. She made a number of sweeping gestures, before settling into an unmistakable ready stance.

“Kaleido Ranger - Ruby Phoenix!” she announced.

Hermione’s ears caught Galen’s muttered, “I suppose it’s less embarrassing than Kaleido Ruby . . . Maybe.”

The dragon, on the other hand, seemed neither impressed nor startled by Rin’s transformation - merely irritated. It blasted a stream of fire squarely at her, drawing cries of shock from the audience. However, even the dragon seemed momentarily startled when she swept it off with a swirl of her cape. Rin’s response was to draw a pair of short blades - one black, one white, and hurl them at the dragon.

“Talon Daggers!”

Hermione’s bewilderment increased when she heard Shirou snap, “She has Bakuya and Kansho?! That is so not fair!” However, it hit epic proportions when the daggers’ impacts drew explosions of sparks from the dragon instead of blood - though the creature roared in obvious pain. Undaunted by the general failure of her attack as she caught the daggers flying back to her, Rin braced herself in a new stance and shrilled, “Phoenix Cry!”

The “eyes” on her helmet flashed, and visible waves of sonic force battered at the dragon, causing it to roar and thrash under the assault. Hermione clutched her ears herself - her own sensitive hearing liked this not at all, and she was only getting the backwash. How much worse must it be to be under the full assault?

No wonder the dragon is thrashing about so much . . .

After about a moment, Rin abandoned the tactic as apparently useless, and drew her daggers again. This time, she slammed their pommels together, and there was an audible “click” - and a flash from the jewels in the crosspieces of their hilts. She pulled outward, and the hilts expanded, seemingly extending over the blades until they seemed to vanish - before the points of them erupted, forming new blades of searing flame.

Rin spun her new weapon like a quarterstaff, forming a swirling vortex that was outlined by trails of fire. Once it began to narrow itself into a cone, like a horizontal tornado, she hurled it towards the dragon with the cry, “ASCENDING PHOENIX REBIRTH SPIRAL!”

It snapped towards the dragon like a whip, but on contract, abruptly straightened its course and began drilled through the creature, causing the Welsh Green’s form to collapse in on itself, as though it was somehow Apparating. Its body was awash in flames as it twisted and whirled inward to form a single, blazing point that shone like a newborn star . . .

A dragon’s egg hit the ground as prismatic light engulfed the armoured warrior, leaving Rin clad in her robes once more. She blinked, as though coming out of a trance, before whirling to glare at Galen murderously. Even over the roar of the crowd, which seemed to be mainly hundreds of voices murmuring in confusion, Hermione could hear Rin’s dire tone, which seemed to intensify with the reddening of her face..

“You are SO DEAD . . .!”

With a visible sniff, she pocketed the crystalline object once again in her hand, walked up, and retrieved the golden egg. Dead silence followed her as she walked towards the medical tent where Ilyasviel was beckoning, an odd little grin on the half-Veela witch’s face.

Hermione blinked in astonishment, in no way capable of understanding what had just happened - and it wasn’t a feeling she liked. From the looks on the judges’ faces, she could see that they hadn’t a clue, either, which ought to have made her feel better . . . But it really didn’t. This was reflected in her scores - fives across the board, save for Madame Maxime, who sent a “10" shooting into the air. This caused a number of angry outcries throughout the audience, given the appearance of favouritism, but Hermione, once she thought about it, believed it made sense.

It’s actually perfectly reasonable - even given that she’s Madame Maxime’s own school’s champion, Rin’s overall performance was on par with Ilya’s in terms of time and avoidance of injury, even if they don’t understand how, exactly, she managed it. Really, giving Rin a “5" is a bit of an insult - whatever she did obviously took a great command of Transfiguration, Charms, and . . . Oh, I don’t know what! Now I really want this to be over, so I can go and find out!

Ludo Bagman cleared his throat. “Well, after that - unusual performance, I think it’s safe to say Miss Delacour will prove to be possibly the most interesting champion in the history of the Triwizard Tournament. Moving on from that memorable encounter, however, it’s time to bring out the Chinese Fireball . . . And to face it, the youngest Triwizard champion ever, Neville Longbottom of Hogwarts! (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oRV_q7y8uwc)”

Hermione’s eagerness to learn something new popped like a soap bubble, bringing with it a sense of shame. In her confusion, she’d actually managed to forget that her friends were in this competition as well.

Oh, Neville . . .!






Neville swallowed heavily, knowing that Rin’s effort was the only thing standing between him and his time with the dragon. He traded glances with Takara.

“You’ll do fine,” the Japanese girl said fiercely. “Just stick to the plan, and be prepared to switch if it doesn’t work, all right?”

He licked his lips. “If you’re sure . . .”

“I’m sure, Neville.” Takara smiled. “If all else really fails, try summoning Galen’s wand. I’m sure it will work for you as well as it does for me - and any spell you want to do with it, it will accomplish.”

And land me in the Hospital Wing, assuming I survive at all. By now, Neville knew both the power and the price of the lignum vitae wand - but if the choice was certain death, or a chance at survival . . . He nodded, just as the whistle blew.

“Wish me luck.” He walked out, and while his nose was the sharpest of his senses, the grizzly bear had given his ears enough of an edge to hear Takara’s whispered “Good luck,” even over the roar of the crowd. Then he saw the dragon, and all rational thought flew out of his head.

The Chinese Fireball was larger and longer than either of the two breeds that the others had faced, a full four tonnes stretched over a longer, almost serpentine build. Its scales were much smoother, more like leather than the crocodilian plating of a Welsh Green, or even the snake-like skin of the Short-Snout. Its blood-scarlet hide was brilliant in the daylight, gleaming as though it had just emerged from a forge. Its five-taloned claws dug angrily into the ground, and a mushroom cloud of flame belched in warning from its spike-fringed face, just outside its range. Its long body encircled its eggs protectively, a pyramid of giant ruby ovoids dusted ever so lightly with sparkles of gold. Resting tantalisingly at the pinnacle was the golden egg he sought.

Neville swallowed heavily, and concentrated. “Accio golden egg!” He could feel the blood drain away from his face at the lack of response from the object, and fought down a rising panic.

Easy . . . Easy! We planned for this, remember? Just move on up to the next tactic.

Any number of strategies had been batted around regarding his turn. Transfiguring the egg into say, a bird, and calling it to him - but gold was a very powerful metal, magically speaking, and it was nearly impossible to Transfigure. It was why the pinnacle of alchemy was the creation of a Philosopher’s Stone to create the stuff. Besides, while Neville’s Transfiguration marks were good, transforming the inanimate to something animate was beyond a fourth-year’s capabilities - and probably beyond his, period. He just didn’t have Hermione’s genius, or Shirou’s instinct for the art.

What he did have was muscle memory, honed through countless hours of practice over the last three years. While his new wand made the repetition unnecessary, the fact of the matter was that any spell taught in third-year or below, he could cast nearly as fast as Takara - the wand movements were so ingrained that he didn’t even need to think about them. He also had more than the average fourth-year’s endurance, thanks in part to the need to practice spells so many times - and thanks in part to his Animagus form.

And so he cast Warming Charms at the golden egg - one of the few that might work, because in symbolic terms gold was linked to the sun, and fire. He cast them again and again, as quickly and strongly as he could, until the egg began to show a reddish tint. And more importantly, the eggs beneath it began to smoulder, tendrils of smoke curling up towards the sky . . .

“Not quite sure what he’s up to, but Longbottom certainly seems to be intent on something,” Bagman commented curiously. “He can’t simply be waving his wand around for his health - he apparently has a strategy of some kind, even if I can’t figure it for the life of me . . .”

Dragon eggs, as a rule, had a certain level of immunity to heat damage, and the Chinese Fireball’s in particular. Indeed, like any egg-born animal, they thrived in heat - but like any living creature, certain tolerances were built in. Dragons didn’t build their nests in volcanos, after all, any more than sparrows did. And upon scenting the smoke coming from its clutch, the dragon reared in panic. Heartened, Neville continued building on the spell, with all the speed honed by countless hours of duelling with some of the fastest people he knew.

Roaring in alarm, the Fireball swatted the golden egg - now glowing a dull red - out of its clutch, towards Neville’s head. He ducked and rolled away instinctively, allowing it to land in the dirt, which promptly began to soften into mud.

The heat might damage the mechanics inside, but it’s not as though it really matters, Neville thought. We already know the specifics of the next Task, and the egg was only to give the champions a heads-up, anyways. If I could have simply waited out the time period, I’d have been fine - but that blasted contract meant I had to make a serious try. Still, I am rather pleased that worked.

“Oh, now that’s dashedly clever!” Bagman crowed. “Ladies and gentlemen, our young Gryffindor has demonstrated the wits of a Ravenclaw and the cunning of a Slytherin here by convincing the dragon itself to hand over the egg - using a very simple spell repeatedly, demonstrating the commitment and work ethic of a Hufflepuff! However he managed to enter the Tournament, I think it’s fair to say that Mister Longbottom truly represents Hogwarts! And he’s managed to acquire his golden egg in only fifteen minutes - and like the others, without a scratch on him! He didn’t even have to move!”

Neville panted heavily, feeling as though he’d just done his morning calisthenics twice over.

Merlin, that was exhausting! Still, glad it worked - no matter what the others said, I can’t see the Sword of Gryffindor appearing to help me out.

“Our judges seem to have made up their minds, as well,” Bagman continued, as he fired a “10" into the air. Karkaroff fired off a “4", and Madame Maxime and Crouch each launched a “6.” What surprised Neville, however, was McGonagall’s “9.” She was scrupulously even-handed, he knew, and not likely to give praise where she felt it was undeserved, or out of pity for a poor, overmatched fourth-year.

It wasn’t a perfect score, but the proud smile on his Headmistress’ face was the finest compliment Neville had ever received.

And so he walked off the field, feeling better than ever before about what he’d managed to accomplish. It hadn’t been flashy or spectacular, but he’d gotten the job done just as well as any of the others had, or could have - and there was no small amount of pride to be had in knowing that fact.

He only dimly heard Bagman continuing, “And now , the final event of the Triwizard Tournament! Presenting the Hungarian Horntail, the meanest, most lethal breed of dragon known to wizardkind! And to face it, the youngest Seeker in the last century, that enigmatic flower of the Orient, Gryffindor’s pride - Takara Aozaki!”






Takara spent the time before her turn meditating. It wasn’t easy - she was even more frightened for Neville than she’d been for Ilya-san or Tohsaka-san, and meditation had never been her strong point anyway - but she’d managed to force herself into the contemplative state that had been part of her martial arts training from her earliest memories.

Being paired with Harry Potter’s dragon, Takara knew exactly what she was up against - a beast that was the draconian equivalent of an ankylosaur, and with a fifty-foot range on its flame breath, to boot. Hardly something she really wanted to fight - especially since, if the pattern held, its restraints would eventually break, allowing it to run free.

Bad luck, she wondered, or deliberate design? Despite the presence of two dozen dragon keepers, they never acted to stun the beast and restrain it properly, despite the potential danger to the audience . . .

Whatever the case, she had to assume the Horntail would break free during her Task. Which meant that she had to be prepared.

Harry Potter is an enormously powerful wizard - Voldemort’s equal in strength if not training. And it took the Firebolt at least a minute to reach his position, more probably several. If the Horntail gets loose before it arrives, what do I do?

Takara, as a rule, was loath to harm an endangered species - but less loath to do so when said species was trying to kill her.

I don’t give a damn about the Tournament or its rules - if the chance comes, I’ll kill the bloody dragon. If the judges don’t like it, they should’ve put another monster in as a challenge.

She was dimly aware of Bagman’s announcements regarding Neville’s efforts - enough, at least, to note the futility of using the Summoning Charm on the golden egg - and only really roused herself when Neville’s victory was announced.

He survived . . . And without being harmed - good. That means it’s my turn.

Takara strode out when her name was called - in the end, this was just another kendo or Quidditch match, and she knew how to play those. The first rule was to give away nothing - not fear, or anticipation, or your intent. And so she walked out, seemingly as calm as anything, her face utterly impassive, and her soul cold, rendering her vision as clear as ice . . .

“Accio Firebolt! (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gCtNoWFHYKk)” she announced immediately.

Having placed her broom just outside the enclosure, it arrived in seconds, and she mounted it immediately before blazing skyward. The Horntail, irritated, blasted off several spurts of fire, but she dodged each one easily - only realising after the barrage that she’d moved before they were launched.

The Nanaya Sight - mine reacts to personal danger! Takara realised. I can read the dragon’s movements in advance!

It confused her for a moment, until she realised that she’d never been in real danger before - her previous sparring sessions had been just that. She could have been hurt, but never killed. It required true, life-threatening peril before the Sight would kick in - not unlike her Mystic Eyes in the beginning. She hovered for a moment, curious and waiting . . .

I don’t See it breaking free . . . It must be a movie-specific event. And Galen never told me - ! . . . Well, I suppose I can’t really blame him - it’s better if I’m prepared for the worst, right? That being the case, though - how do I get the egg, if I can’t taunt it into abandoning its clutch?

She had to do that - it was curled over them too protectively for her to reach the golden egg otherwise. With the range of its breath, Takara could only get so close - she either needed to move faster than it could react, or distract it. Taking it out entirely was also an option, but hardly a likely one.

What I wouldn’t give to be able to see its lines for five minutes . . . I wonder if the Kaleidostick would work for me?

Discarding the thought as not useful, Takara considered her situation carefully, very nearly meditating on it atop her broom. Her combat spells were more advanced than the typical fourth-year student’s, but nothing she knew would be able to easily overcome a dragon’s natural magic resistance - and her strategy had depended on being able to draw the dragon away, but since it seemed tightly tethered this time, that wouldn’t happen.

I can’t get past it even with the spells I have in my repertoire - it’s too resistant to magic. And I can’t get around it since it’s effectively trapped by the chain - That means that the only other possibility is to go through it . . .

The knowledge seeped through her bones like cold water soaking through her clothes. And in her current mental state, nearly Zen-like, the fact was absorbed just as quickly - and she understood, suddenly, how Shirou had felt facing the basilisk, or Galen facing Saber. Events and circumstance had arranged themselves, and ultimately gave her no choice. Direct confrontation was the only path available to her . . . And they’d had a plan for that, too. The fact that it would also prove an object lesson for the people who’d conspired to set this situation up sent a cold, cruel thrill through her veins. The boys might’ve been more vocal, but she was no more pleased about this state of affairs than they were - and now she had something to take it out on.

Takara rocketed upward on the Firebolt, out of sight and earshot, and once she was buried in the clouds, sought out the tower which contained the Head’s office. Owl-sharpened sight spotted it easily, and she pointed her wand.

“Accio Sword of Gryffindor!”

She was a Gryffindor, and therefore a candidate for the blade to present itself - but she wasn’t asking, she was taking, concentrating all her rage at the injustices of the Tournament, and the power that was hers as Ciel Aozaki’s daughter. Her hearing caught a faint, distant crunch of breaking glass - and Seeker reflexes snatched the blade out of the air. The sword was of a different style and heft, but the blade was about the same length and width as a katana, and impregnated with basilisk venom - all she really needed to do was scratch the beast.

If they’re so foolish as to place an endangered creature at risk - to say nothing of children, of both species - for mere entertainment, then let them reap what they sow. The thought was more Nanaya than Takara, but she felt no disquiet about it. In her current state of mind, it was merely karma coming back on them - and it was hardly as though the dragon would regret killing her, if it had the chance.

Takara, blade in hand, pushed the Firebolt into a dive. Gravity and the broom’s own impressive acceleration quickly brought her to something approaching a peregrine falcon. She was a blue-and-black blur in the sky, limned only by a faint trail of silver.

The dragon, of course, saw her coming. It blasted fire with both speed and ferocity, but she was on the fastest racing broom in the world, empowered with the reflexes that had made her the youngest Seeker in a hundred years, and the Sight which was her birthright. Even if by the slimmest of margins, the streams always missed - and still she came on. Finally, in desperation, the Horntail reared, trying to frighten her with a display of its size and power, and the training that made her an award-winning kendoka allowed Takara to see the opening - and seize it.

Even with the momentum behind her strike, the resulting wound was not deep - but with the sheer toxicity of the goblin-forged blade, it didn’t need to be. The Horntail seized up almost instantly, before toppling like an ancient redwood - landing upon its own eggs with a thunderous crash that caused the supports of the stands to themselves vibrate ominously for a moment.

Takara leaped off her broom, drew her wand and cast a Cushioning Charm almost negligently, to absorb the force of her landing. She planted the Sword of Gryffindor - the surface of its blade now unmarred by dragon’s blood, but glowing a dull red, as though it had just emerged from a forge - point-first into the ground. A gesture from her wand brought the Firebolt back to her hand, and the witch turned to regard the dragon.

The Horntail lay rigid in death, its body faintly outlined by a corona of dark fluids - blood and the amniotic substances contained within the dragon’s eggs. The wound she’d inflicted looked almost corroded, even against the natural black of its scales.

“Wingardium leviosa,” Takara chanted. The dragon’s corpse weighed several tonnes, and was larger than anything she’d tried to levitate before, but it moved easily if slowly, revealing a badly-dented golden egg, which she slowly walked over to retrieve - more from the need to maintain the Hover Charm than out of any fear of its failing, or a sudden attack from a not-quite-dead dragon - though she was wary of those things, too.

“I . . . I don’t believe it!” Bagman exclaimed. “Aozaki . . . Aozaki has killed the dragon - and destroyed its eggs!”

Takara felt a sense of guilt intrude upon her then, breaking through the battle haze with the end of the threat. However dangerous it had been, it was only an animal . . .

Which is why it needed to be put down, said the whisper of Nanaya in her mind. If it had been a rabid dog, you wouldn’t be regretting your actions. We did not create this situation - we did not place the animal in harm’s way. Nor could it be allowed to kill us. This was the only path we could walk, that which is ours by right - the blood-soaked path of the Nanaya clan.

. . . The natural path of the one who is Master of the Servant Avenger, it added slyly.

Scowling at the reminder, Takara removed herself to the nurses’ tent. Her scores were immaterial. All that mattered that the First Task was over, and they’d all survived unscathed. The rest of the problems would come in their own time - all too soon, in fact.

And one way or another, she would deal with them, too.

Elf
April 13th, 2011, 08:26 PM
. . . . Oh shit.

Takara killed the dragon. That was rather intense and freaking awesome. And certainly not expected. Not to mention, it's going to get her into a LOT of trouble I think.

Also? Rin's "battle" with her Dragon was the most hilarious thing ever especially Shirou's cry of, “She has Bakuya and Kansho?! That is so not fair!”

Which, also makes me wonder if she's repressing more than she's letting on. :)

B.B. Rain
April 13th, 2011, 08:42 PM
...Damn.

Neville: Innovative, a magnificent application of KISS.

Ilya: Heck of a lot more successful then Fleur's canon attempt at subduing the dragon, but that's power for you.

Rin: So, wait...the Kaleidostick works now? For real? Holy shit. Is it limited to only working for Rin because of her improper write-in? Did it take said write in to repair, or just her knowledge of Jewel Magic and the Second to guide the Reparo spell? I mean, holy crap.

Takara: Wait, what? The dragon was vicous, and dragon-slaying is a recognized past-time and all, but this just seems...Harsh. I mean, I don't care about the wizzies, fuck 'em, they drop a murderous predator leagues above the expected capability, they take what happens; but killing the Horntail and destroying its eggs, even if she just didn't think about it smushing them...Could they really not come up with a better/easier plan for her to try? I mean, it's great that we can now equate Takara with a deadly guided missile, and now she knows how her precog works, but this is just screwy, Nanaya ruthlessness or not. I mean, crap, could she have darted in to pull out the egg when it reared, or buzzed it to get it in the air? I mean, even though you said breaking free of the chain was only a movie-specific event, Harry still managed it in the book. And the rabid dog thing doesn't exactly hold up. A dog's around people regularly, and rabies is an unusual, and fatal, condition.

I mean, I get the whole nittier and grittier thing, this just seems to be a major overreaction.

SeiKeo
April 13th, 2011, 09:36 PM
Oh God. That was the literal last thing I expected for Rin.

And Takara passes Shirou in the Trinity Badass Rankings. I lack the words to describe how cool that looked in my head.

Zeranion
April 13th, 2011, 09:38 PM
Well... After this chapter, my theory is that Crouch is the spy being impersonated by his son via polyjuice or something. They share the same name so the Marauder's Map would show the "correct" name if they tried to compare the two, and it would explain him trying to cut Ilya's score in order to give Neville or Takara a better chance at reaching the cup at the end of the 3rd task and send them off to Moldyshorts.

Ace
April 13th, 2011, 09:58 PM
So first off, really awesome chapter and the Shineman OP made me lol.

I'm not sure if this was mentioned somewhere else but what happened to the Rin from Legacy of Fate?

Kieran
April 13th, 2011, 10:15 PM
Neville: Innovative, a magnificent application of KISS.

Yeah, he was tricky - the Sword of Gryffindor or a portable swamp were options I was debating, and then I decided, "go simpler."



Ilya: Heck of a lot more successful then Fleur's canon attempt at subduing the dragon, but that's power for you.

Actually, the only reason Fleur got hurt at all was bad luck - it "snored" a fireburst at the wrong moment. So Ilya, who'd go in expecting it? Big deal. :)



Rin: So, wait...the Kaleidostick works now? For real? Holy shit. Is it limited to only working for Rin because of her improper write-in? Did it take said write in to repair, or just her knowledge of Jewel Magic and the Second to guide the Reparo spell? I mean, holy crap.

You'll see - and obviously, it's going to cause problems.



Takara: Wait, what? The dragon was vicous, and dragon-slaying is a recognized past-time and all, but this just seems...Harsh. I mean, I don't care about the wizzies, fuck 'em, they drop a murderous predator leagues above the expected capability, they take what happens; but killing the Horntail and destroying its eggs, even if she just didn't think about it smushing them...Could they really not come up with a better/easier plan for her to try? I mean, it's great that we can now equate Takara with a deadly guided missile, and now she knows how her precog works, but this is just screwy, Nanaya ruthlessness or not. I mean, crap, could she have darted in to pull out the egg when it reared, or buzzed it to get it in the air? I mean, even though you said breaking free of the chain was only a movie-specific event, Harry still managed it in the book. And the rabid dog thing doesn't exactly hold up. A dog's around people regularly, and rabies is an unusual, and fatal, condition.

I mean, I get the whole nittier and grittier thing, this just seems to be a major overreaction.

She doesn't want to do this, she's been stressing over this for weeks, they hadn't actually planned a backup for her, figuring she could fly her way out, and it didn't turn out like she expected - she was just angry, plain and simple. And undeserving or not, the dragon was a target she could take it out on. There are going to be repercussions, but as regards the Tournament itself, she's past caring.

Takara's not actually used to being jerked around like this - usually it's Shirou or Galen in the line of fire. She's not handling it well.




Well... After this chapter, my theory is that Crouch is the spy being impersonated by his son via polyjuice or something. They share the same name so the Marauder's Map would show the "correct" name if they tried to compare the two, and it would explain him trying to cut Ilya's score in order to give Neville or Takara a better chance at reaching the cup at the end of the 3rd task and send them off to Moldyshorts.

*chuckle*





So first off, really awesome chapter and the Shineman OP made me lol.

I asked myself, "What can I use for cheesy sentai music?" And the answer was obvious. :)



I'm not sure if this was mentioned somewhere else but what happened to the Rin from Legacy of Fate?

Her fate, along with that of the rest of her reality, is unknown.

Megaolix
April 13th, 2011, 10:56 PM
Oh hell, to think it's only the start. Takara's not going to gain any popularity on this, just more fear from others and quite a lot of anger from all dragon handlers and all close to them.

And it's just the First Task. There's still the Yule Ball (Who is poor Rin going to ask... Even if she asks Shirou despite them having, to the knowledge fo others, a three years age difference, Shirou is not going to break his promise with Ilya.) then the hell that will be the Second Task. And I still think someone may suggest in the newspapers that the whole thing could have been arranged if everyoen continue to see all Champions together and quite familiar with each other.

Kieran
April 13th, 2011, 11:03 PM
Yeah . . . The Ball. Oh mercy, this is going to be a headache - I can feel it now. But that's the weekend's problem. My essay's done, but I still have an exam to study for.

And yeah, Skeeter will probably cry conspiracy at some point . . . But I have such plans for her . . . *mwahahahahaha* :)

FlameStrike
April 13th, 2011, 11:06 PM
That was one heck of an amazing chapter. Heh figures Illya would charm the dragon, she's that good after all. Rin's super sentai transformation really caught me off guard though. I mean WTF that damned stick actually works? Does this mean they can use the 2nd for other things too? Neville's method was pretty creative and fit him well, although I laughed at Crouch heaping praise on him. He's being pretty suspicious. Although Takara's extreme method really stole the show. I mean holyshit she slew a dragon! I won't say she wasn't unjustified though. I mean seriously, caging an endangered predator and having it fight someone for entertainment is just not right. The muggles phased out that sort of violent past time after Rome fell.

Cascade
April 14th, 2011, 04:09 AM
I love you man. I never expected tokusatsu in this. That definitely stole the show for the entire chapter, and made sure I imagined Takara yelling ATOMIC FIRE BLAAAAAAADE as she completed her challenge.
Who's Sapphire, Onyx and Emerald? What's their transformation pose?

Ergast
April 14th, 2011, 06:33 AM
Wow. Illya doing what Fleur did but better was a nice touch.

Then Rin doing what a I suposed she would do, pound the dragon. Yeah, I admit that I didn't see that coming (I forget about Ruby, to be honest), but I knew Rin would just beat the dragon.

Neville's plan was very intelligent. Even a dragon would feel, let's say, 2000 ºC.

And Takara's plan was nasty, though I can see why she has reacted like that. She is usually shielded by the boys, having two battle hardened friends, but she didn't really have combat experience besides training and dangerous situations with her friends.

About the scores:

Illya's score makes sense. We don't know why crouch gave her only a 4, though we can suspect a few things (my bet is that he is innocent, and you are using a red herring here), but Dumbledore and Karkaroff 10's, and MAxime 9 are fair.

Rin's 5s aren't fair. I was expecting that from Karkaroff and Crouch, but Dumbledore (or McGonnagall)? That seems too harsh and too unfair.

Neville had a mix of fair and unfairness. Crouch and Karkaroff are, again, doing what I expected from them, but I feel that Maxime has lowered a bit too much the score. A 7 or 8 was more fair, as his plan wasn't exactly spectacular, but it was really intelligent. McGonnagall's 9 was fair and probably had improved Neville confidence by miles.

And let's see what score Takara earns

By the way, talking about the scores gets me to talk about the judges. Who is judging from Hogwarts, Dumbledore or McGonnagall? Because in Illya's turn you wrote Dumbledore, in Rin's turn we have no idea, and in Neville's turn it was McGonnagall.

hatori
April 14th, 2011, 06:42 AM
I agree that Takara's surpassed shirou in the badass rankings this time. but wait till Galen tops her. xD

Kratosirving
April 14th, 2011, 07:07 AM
I agree that Takara's surpassed shirou in the badass rankings this time. but wait till Galen tops her. xD

...*rimshot*

Sorry, couldn't resist.

Kieran
April 14th, 2011, 07:13 AM
I love you man. I never expected tokusatsu in this. That definitely stole the show for the entire chapter, and made sure I imagined Takara yelling ATOMIC FIRE BLAAAAAAADE as she completed her challenge.
Who's Sapphire, Onyx and Emerald? What's their transformation pose?

I'll have to think about it - as well as whether or not Rin gets a giant robot. See, her design was equally inspired by Power Rangers and Kamen Rider, so . . . *shrug* Like I said, I don't know anything about Kaleido Ruby, and the "magical girl" bit had been done with her. So I went shonen. :)





About the scores:

Rin's 5s aren't fair. I was expecting that from Karkaroff and Crouch, but Dumbledore (or McGonnagall)? That seems too harsh and too unfair.

It's a case of "we don't understand what you've just done or how, so we can't judge it properly."



By the way, talking about the scores gets me to talk about the judges. Who is judging from Hogwarts, Dumbledore or McGonnagall? Because in Illya's turn you wrote Dumbledore, in Rin's turn we have no idea, and in Neville's turn it was McGonnagall.

It is McGonagall - I fixed it. Thanks for noticing. :)

Galaxia
April 14th, 2011, 07:20 AM
Wow! Complete agree with the others, absolutely did not expect Rin's method to get the golden egg. Out of curiosity, does this mean that anime (or Fate route?) transplant Rin have more terrible traumatic awesome experiences with the Kaleidostick than FHA Rin? She has learned enough of the Second Magic to dimension jump, after all. That implies quite a bit of time studying the Second, which would mean for many chances for an unknowing Rin to subjected to Ruby's craziness.

Hmm, on second read, it looks like Rin didn't recognize the Kaleidostick when she pulled it out of the pouch, so I guess any hilariously traumatic stories are out of the question.

I have to admit, when Rin slammed the blades together I thought she was going to use Kanshou and Bakuya's Overedge form. A flaming double bladed staff is cool though!

Minor nitpick on the previous chapter - Neville shouldn't know what the Olympics are, given his pure blood background. Arthur Weasley didn't even know what a telephone was, and he holds a milder version of the usual wizard contempt for muggles. Unfortunately, using the Quidditch World Cup as a substitute analogy doesn't quite work, as Quidditch is a team sport, whereas the Olympics have both solo and team competitions.

Kieran
April 14th, 2011, 07:41 AM
True, but he's been getting a quality Muggle Studies education for the last four years - by hanging out with people who actually live with and live like them. Unlike most wizards, he could pass fairly easily in the mundane world, if he had to.

hatori
April 14th, 2011, 12:28 PM
...*rimshot*

Sorry, couldn't resist.

Don;t worry,I just LOVE to do make people think dirty :)

Kieran
April 16th, 2011, 07:10 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 Goblet of Fire, but I trust in the intelligence of my readers (and the availability of the books) to recognise them when they see them.



Chapter 21 - Master and Servant



November 24th, 1994






Galen had forced himself to remain still throughout the First Task. He had done what Ilya’s Memory-Modifying Charm had rendered difficult, but not impossible, and buried every emotion, every reaction - throwing up every Occlumency barrier he could forge, to keep the fear at bay. Thus, he could dispassionately watch his mistress and his friend cast themselves against mighty predators, and feel nothing, because it meant nothing - and even if it did, he was safe behind layers of steel and stone, where it could never touch him. Even their victories meant nothing to him, buried so deep down.

Then it was Takara’s turn, and his heart leaped into his throat. Old, weary and barely human he might be, but Takara would always be a sentimental favourite to him, and the native version of him had loved her, in the clumsy but unreserved way that children do. Twice bound by them, his emotions regarding her were not so easily ignored, or swept aside. Watching her summon her broom, and once mounted, streak across the sky - the dragon balefully following her every move with a turn of its head . . .

No, not easily ignored at all, not with teenage hormones surging behind it.

He watched her dive and weave around the dragon’s bursts - almost solid bolts, like crossbow quarrels - of flame, probing . . . And then she raced upwards, disappearing into the November clouds for several moments, before diving back down with the grace and purpose of an avenging Fury, a flash of blinding silver in her hand. At the speed she was flying, he couldn’t make out its precise nature - but following her movements and the results told him what it was.

Takara did not plunge full steam into the dragon. Witch or not, the force of such an impact probably would’ve reduced her to a literal pulp. Instead, she streaked across the dragon, making only a shallow cut - too deep, and the momentum would either have broken the blade, ripped her arm out of its socket, or both. Still, she didn’t need to cut deep, when the sword was effectively coated in basilisk venom. The effect was almost immediate - the dragon’s muscles seized up, petrifying it as effectively as an actual basilisk, and it collapsed thunderously onto its nest. Pale amniotic fluid slowly emerged, puddling around the corpse.

Galen winced. As a rule, he disliked harming animals - unlike people, the animal usually had very little choice in attacking. And Takara was usually better than . . .

He shook his head. Given the darkness he and Shirou carried around, it got easy to think of her as the “light” of their trio - the personification of virtue, the flawless one. And in comparison, yes, Takara was the good girl. But she wasn’t so one-sided as that, either. She could lose her temper, and it was as terrible as theirs. She sweated, she panicked, she got angry . . . She was young, and human, and made mistakes. And given her stress levels over the last little while, it wasn’t too hard to guess that she had overreacted to the situation - and it was a testament to just how “good” Takara was that unlike he or Shirou, she was liable to regret it once she cooled down.

He slipped out of the stands, not particularly caring about Takara’s scores. Nor did he go to the hospital tent, where Madam Pomfrey was no doubt looking her over, and there was equally no doubt that she would be chastised by someone for harming the dragon. No, he went to Gryffindor Tower instead, and retrieved his wand and a few other supplies, before moving to the kitchens under the Deathcloak. Once his tasks there were finished, he carried his burden up to the Room of Requirement, and waited.

Takara opened the door barely ten minutes later, stepping onto the polished wooden floor of the dojo - and starting in surprise at the sight of him, sitting seiza-style on a cushion, with the tray in front of him on a tea table.

“Galen! Why . . .?” she began, before glancing at the wall where the door had closed behind him. “How . . .?”

“As to ‘how,’ I asked for a room only you and I could enter,” he said quietly. “A room whose entrance would only be seen by you when you asked for one. As for ‘why’ - because I know you very well . . . “ Even more quietly, and without the slightest hint of mockery, he added, “Milady.”

“Don’t call me that!” she snapped. “It wasn’t funny then, and it isn’t now - not when it’s long over and done with!”

Galen raised his eyebrows, trying his best to ask silently, “Really?”

Her shoulders slumped, and she whispered, “But it isn’t, is it? I thought it was - I thought she was gone . . . But she’s still here.”

“She was always there,” Galen said. “Arcueid’s blood just separated you. You’re just integrated now - one person, like you were always supposed to be.”

“I liked the way I was!” Takara cried. “I was just a normal girl - I liked a good match, but I didn’t want to fight, to kill - but now the dragon’s dead, and so are its babies, and . . . “ She took a deep breath, and her voice broke. “And it felt good.”

“Because you’re alive, and the dragon would’ve killed you,” Galen said flatly. “It was trying to kill you - it wasn’t sneezing on you, was it? A moment’s hesitation, a heartbeat too slow, and I would be writing your parents about funeral arrangements now. But you didn’t hesitate, you weren’t slow - and you didn’t lock yourself in a cage with an massive, man-eating, angry predator so a bunch of schoolchildren could have a fun day.” He took a slow breath of his own. “This is my fault.”

Her head snapped up, eyes and cheeks glittering from tears, face twisted with anger. “Not this again!”

“I put your name on that parchment. I did it so that you, specifically, could face the dragon - because I wasn’t sure Shirou or I could handle it.” Galen’s voice held no anger, no condemnation, only the hammered-iron certainty of indisputable fact. “I didn’t choose the circumstances of the Task, Takara, or to put you in the Tournament - but I am responsible for making the choice possible. Your pain is my fault, Taka-chan - and I’m sorry.”

She stared at him, astonished. “You haven’t called me Taka-chan since I was seven.”

“I haven’t seen you cry since then.” Galen smiled wanly. “You’ve been so strong, so stoic - I occasionally forget you’re still a girl.”

“Hey!” Takara snapped.

“Still so young, I mean,” Galen clarified.

She was visibly not mollified. “I’m in my twenties!”

“Barely, and only in terms of years experienced. In terms of the quality of those years - you were seventeen initially, and you’ve relived years eleven to fourteen now. It’s more like a really long adolescence, and your body clock says you’re a lot younger than you think you are. Your hormones are charged up again, and your emotions are going to fly away from you - which means you are going to overreact, Takara.” He grimaced. “Believe me, I know.”

“How do you deal with it?” she asked quietly.

Galen looked at her for a long moment, and thought he knew what she was really asking. “The hormones? The only cure is time - to wait it out. I was in my twenties before the blowups stopped, but they did stop. But if you mean the killing . . .” He closed his eyes and sighed. “This one is not your fault, Takara. They chose to use an endangered species and its young in a meaningless tournament - and in such a way that violence was virtually inevitable.”

She tilted her head inquisitively. “Oh?”

“ If they were really concerned about the dragons’ safety, they could have been used as one of many monsters in a maze that could be encountered, like the Third Task,” Galen pointed out. “Or they could’ve used just one, and set it up as all four champions competing for a single egg. That would’ve made more sense, since it would actually be an accomplishment and an advantage to the winner, and only endangered a single dragon in the process. Instead, they chose four separate species - including one that is generally regarded as the most vicious and lethal on the face of the earth - and gambled them all, including their young. A male dragon could’ve been used as a treasure guard just as effectively, but the Ministry insisted on using nesting mothers - because they’d be more vicious, and because the females are larger and more impressive than the males.”

“For a better spectacle,” she said bitterly.

“Exactly. And they didn’t think to change the Tasks with the addition of two underage competitors, or add handicaps - if it was supposedly to be potentially lethal for seventeen-year-olds, what exactly did they expect you to do, other than die? Because they’d damned well made sure you couldn’t forfeit.” Galen shook his head. “No, Takara - in that situation, you had to go in willing to kill, because you wouldn’t survive otherwise.”

Takara’s expression was sombre. “I still don’t like it. If it been a fight for something important . . .” Now it was her turn to shake her head. “I’ve been in school competitions before, but this isn’t like them. It’s not a yearly competition, or one that every school can compete in - just three, and only once every five years. And no one can name the last winner, so the ‘eternal glory’ . . .” She shook her head again. “As I think Saber-san would say, this was not a worthy battle.”

“No, it’s not,” Galen agreed. “It’s a silly game - and you shouldn’t have had to kill for it. Still, at least you limited the collateral damage.”

Takara blinked. “‘Limited?’”

“I would’ve killed the dragon, just like you,” Galen said evenly. “And then I would’ve killed the judges, for forcing me to kill it. And probably started in on the audience, for being forced to kill the dragon for their entertainment.”

She snorted. “You always did like animals more than people.”

The answer was emphatic. “Yes - and I’ve learned to use Fiendfyre quite well.” And with my wand wholly unrestrained, nothing would have survived.

Takara looked at him for a long moment, measuring . . . He didn’t know.

“That’s how you destroyed the locket,” she whispered.

He nodded.

“And whatever it showed you, it was terrible, wasn’t it?”

“Yes,” he said flatly. Likely to happen, maybe even proper at some points, depending on who you ask, but terrible in its way, yes.

“How did you recover from it?” she asked, her blue eyes wide and almost innocently earnest. The expression was familiar, as was the tone of voice. He’d encountered them four years ago, when she’d asked if he really could heal her father.

“I never really learned to deal with pain,” Galen said. “I carry my wounds and scars with me, and just ignore them, or work around them. But I’ve been learning, lately - and I find it helps to be with friends.” He poured the green tea into a cup, and slid the other plate towards her. “Brownie?”

“Brownie?” Takara repeated, taking one even as the scent wafted from the cup beneath her nose. That nose twitched at the scent of the tea - imported at some expense, but he missed real green tea at times. When the other confection got close enough, however . . .

“This is . . .!” She stared at him. “Chocolate fudge icing made out of the really good chocolate?!”

“I asked Neville to pick me up a couple of bars from Honeydukes last week,” Galen said. “I figured we’d need something to sweeten our dispositions - and I wanted to see what I could do with it.”

Her eyes widened. “You mean these . . . “ She swallowed heavily, and began to tremble. “These aren’t elf-made, they’re - ?”

Galen grinned.

Takara shuddered visibly. “Galen’s homemade brownies - with really good chocolate fudge icing . . . I think the dragon must’ve killed me, because this has to be Heaven.”

“You never got the hang of them?” Galen asked curiously. He knew she could bake just about anything with chocolate in it -

“No!” came the indignant, nearly infuriated response. “It was the only recipe I could never master!”

“And the only one I have,” Galen muttered. “Everything else I make comes out of a microwave.”

“Who cares?” she snapped. “I’d marry you just for these!”

Galen smirked, and drawled, “I’ll keep it in mind.”

It was easy to recognise the exact moment that Takara realised what she’d said - he could follow the blush from her cheeks up into her hairline, and probably down to her toenails.

“That doesn’t count,” she mumbled, suddenly very interested in her lap. “I was under an intoxicating influence.”

“Like your mother at an all-you-can-eat curry restaurant,” Galen agreed. “But you feel better, don’t you?”

“Yes,” she admitted, still not willing to look at him.

“Then that’s all that matters. Now, eat your brownie - the Warming Charm should’ve kept it soft.”

Takara bit off half of it, and the moan that escaped from her gave him a pretty good idea of what she would sound like in mid-orgasm. She swallowed slowly, visibly savouring the taste.

“Heaven,” she repeated emphatically.

“A little bit of it, at least,” Galen said softly. “For a little while. Milady, I have not the strength to strike down your enemies, so I cannot be your sword. I have not the skill to turn aside their attacks, so I cannot be your shield. But I can be your armour. I can take their malice in your place, and I can shelter you from it - for a little while. This, I can do for you.”

Takara looked at him. “I never did thank you, did I? Not properly, I mean.”

“I didn’t do it to get thanked, Takara,” Galen said. “And considering a lot of what happened during and after as a result, I’m pretty sure Nanaya’s second response was the right one.”

Takara winced. “I admit, it was - satisfying, on certain levels.”

“Like the dragon.”

“Like the dragon,” she admitted softly. “It was nice to have something to vent on, and prove to the organisers just how bloody this bloody Tournament was going to be for forcing us into it.”

“Execute one to warn a hundred?” he offered.

“Something like that.”

“It’s not a bad message, Takara,” Galen murmured. “If they’re smart, they’ll warn the merpeople and other intelligent creatures to stay the hell out of your way. If not, well . . .” He shrugged. “I don’t see Fudge getting good publicity out of this. On the one hand, he got a nesting mother of an endangered species killed. On the other hand, he endangered an underage witch - both for what amounts to a publicity stunt. There’s just no way to spin that and look good, so I don’t see him lasting long in office. That means, if everything really goes to hell, and we have to deal with Riddle, we might have a competent Minister in place.”

Takara scoffed, “You and your fantasies.”

He shrugged. “So, how was your score?”

She blinked. “You don’t know?”

“I was baking,” he pointed out.

“Right, much more important,” Takara said firmly, helping herself to another brownie. “Well, Crouch gave me a 3, Maxime gave me a 5, that idiot announcer gave me a 8, Durmstrang’s Headmaster gave me a 4, and McGonagall gave me a 6.” She scowled. “Apparently, the dragons weren’t supposed to be hurt, much less killed, so I lost a lot of points.”

“OK, that explains your scores - what about the others?”

“Neville’s scores were for poor showmanship, Ilya’s were low because this is the Triwizard Tournament, not the TriVeela Tournament - and nobody could figure out what Rin had done, so they didn’t have a clue how to judge it properly ”

“In other words, rife with the ignorance and prejudice so typical of the wizarding world,” Galen sighed. “How did the Kaleidostick go over?”

“Officially, it’s a piece of her birth family’s work that was rediscovered by aunt Aoko and given to me as a good luck charm,” Takara said, repeating the cover story they’d come up with. “Rin just repaired it when she realised what it was - and no one can legitimately take it from her. Yet, at least.”

Galen nodded. “And Rin?”

“Is annoyed and embarrassed, but wondering just how much use she can get out of it,” Takara said. “Apparently the sentience of the thing was destroyed when it was broken, so some of its usefulness was lost - but she thinks she might be able to do something with it, anyway.”

Galen smirked. Given the Beauxbatons champion’s complaints about this universe’s style of magic - most of them justified, he admitted - he suspected Rin would be tinkering with it for a while, trying to regain her lost powers.

“The sword caused just about as big a ruckus,” Takara added. “It’s still that red colour.”

“Well’s it’s absorbed dragon’s blood now, if not outright dragon’s fire,” Galen said with a shrug. “Heaven only knows what that’ll do to it - there are twelve alchemical uses for dragon’s blood, whatever they happen to be. Maybe it picked up all of them, maybe only one - I haven’t a clue. Whatever the case, it ought to be even more effective at destroying Horcruxes now.”

“Mmm,” Takara mumbled in agreement, her unfocussed eyes indicating she was lost in thought. When they cleared, she looked at him. “What do you think about Crouch? He was consistently the lowest scorer, and even if Dumbledore’s the one who put Neville in the Tournament, we can’t assume Voldemort will pass up the opportunity.”

“And if the pattern holds, Crouch is under Voldemort’s Imperius Curse right now,” Galen acknowledged. He considered the concept and related possibilities for a long moment before answering.

“It could be,” he admitted. “I mean, there’s no point in having an undercover agent at the school when you have an undercover puppet that will be attending all the relevant events of the Tournament by necessity. In fact, it’s smarter - there’s less chance of being caught than by forcing someone to hide in plain sight all year than with a couple of doses of Polyjuice Potion. And if the pattern is holding, you could always use Junior to impersonate his father - who would know him better? And it would even fool the Marauders’ Map, if Sirius had been forced to tell him about it - they show up on it with no distinction between their names.” Galen shook his head. “It’s an infiltrator’s dream opportunity, if you think about it.”

“But you don’t think so,” Takara said flatly.

“I don’t know,” Galen sighed. “The problem is, we have nothing to indicate that Voldemort’s even aware of the Triwizard Tournament. Bertha Jorkins is missing, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything - she was prone to getting lost before, it’s why no one worried about her when she was missing. The Dark Mark was probably Junior’s doing - but it doesn’t follow that he and Voldie met up like before. There was no disturbance at Mad-Eye’s - so infiltrating that way is out the window. And while Hagrid had to be coerced into showing off the dragons originally, he showed me this time, instead of one of you. Maybe because someone told him to, but maybe just because he knows I like magical creatures, and he trusted me to keep my mouth shut. There’s no evidence one way or another, really.

"The short version is this,” Galen said firmly. “Whatever the plan is, if there is a plan, I can’t see it yet.” He sighed. “And the one person who could tell us for sure is currently incommunicado.”

Takara frowned. “Father hasn’t mentioned any communications . . .”

“And he wouldn’t. From that end, this is now an ICW black op - no civilians allowed. And officially, that’s what we are.” Galen shrugged. “As usual, it’s back to watch and wait - at least until we figure out what, exactly, we’re up against. And planning for the Second Task, of course.”

“You forgot the Ball,” Takara said drily.

“It’s not that important, is it?”

“Says the one of us who has a date,” she drawled. “And between Rin and Ilya, I don’t think Shirou’s really an option, either.”

He shrugged. “Well, you could always negotiate with Hermione. Maybe I could escort you both - I suspect she could be quite amenable to handing me over, depending on why she’s been avoiding me lately.” He smirked at her expression, asking drily, “Oh, I’m sorry - was I not supposed to notice?”

“I just figured you’d be more depressed over it,” Takara admitted.

Galen shrugged again. “I had it chalked up to a surprise birthday present initially, but I don’t think that even Hermione would go to that much trouble to hide a book. Besides, she’s still doing it - so I suspect that if you really wanted me, you could have me.” He paused. “That sounded a lot less like a pickup line in my head.”

Takara didn’t smile, and her voice was soft as she asked, “Give her time?”

So Takara knew what was going on - no real surprise, he supposed. Girls were supposed to tell each other everything, weren’t they? Why not this? It wasn’t as though Hermione could tell him, could she?

“All right,” he agreed. “In return, don’t meddle? If she wants to let go, don’t stop her, punish her, try to change her mind . . . Just - just let it happen.”

Takara opened her mouth as if to protest, then froze. After a moment, she closed her mouth and sighed.

“. . . All right,” she said reluctantly.

“All right,” Galen agreed. “Now, if you’ll pardon me, I need to get these back to the kitchens and cleaned.” Galen gathered up the plates, and offered, “Fare thee better, Milady.” Then he turned, and was gone.

He dropped the plates off back in the kitchens, then wandered up to his dorm to change into a uniform not covered in sweat and chocolate stains - and froze. The dorm room wasn’t empty, and top his bed was almost the last visitor Galen had ever expected to have.

“Kreacher has a message for the young master,” the house-elf said gravely, bowing from the waist. “Master Sirius has instructed Kreacher to say that the young master’s suspicions are absolutely correct.”

jwang
April 16th, 2011, 08:19 PM
Oh gingersnaps. This is going to cause a storm of no small scale involving excrement. I can only imagine what kind of plotting is going to go on now in Galen's head.

Elf
April 16th, 2011, 08:37 PM
Yay, Takara and Galen "fluff". Well, as fluffy as they get.

Also, the plot thickens.

RanmaBushiko
April 16th, 2011, 08:45 PM
So it does. And I'm eager to see how this will go. Kieran's stuff is always enjoyable, after all.

SeiKeo
April 16th, 2011, 09:07 PM
Always nice to see Galen in his kind-of-fluffy knight mode. And now, the Sword of Griffindor is probably the most powerful magical artifact on the planet. And Dumbledore has it. Not sure if good thing.

B.B. Rain
April 16th, 2011, 10:00 PM
But is Sirius confirming Galen's current suspicions, his ones when he first sent Sirus out, when he last contacted Sirius, or what Sirius thinks are Galen's suspicions?

I mean, I'm assuming: Voldemort, Nagini, Lucius, Sirius, Jr., and Sr. under an Imperious are in England at the Riddle property, and they've killed Bertha, but what else? Is Snape in contact with them? Is Jr. constantly away on deep-cover? Was Bertha just murdered, or turned into some kind of Menial Laborer Inferi? Has Voldemort assumed Baby Form, tried possession again, or gone ahead and created an adult-sized temporary body, since I think you confirmed he'll need the end of the Triwizard to make a permanent new body.

And of course, even if I spent the next half-hour typing out guesses and theories (I can't, by the way; little brother's B-day celebrations to get to), I probably would miss at least half-a-dozen big things.

Kieran
April 16th, 2011, 10:09 PM
Yay, Takara and Galen "fluff". Well, as fluffy as they get.


Always nice to see Galen in his kind-of-fluffy knight mode.

Well, neither of them is exactly made for sweetness and light . . .

*shakes head* It occurred to me that for all that I'd mentioned about their being inseparable as children, and still the best of friends, I never really show a great deal of the pair of them, alone together. Takara and Shirou, yes, Galen and Hermione, yes - but not them. Strange, when they're supposed to be so close . . . So I thought the current situation called for a demonstration. They really are close, and comfortable. Galen will go to her when she's hurt, and she will tell him things she would never trust to another living soul - and vice versa.

Takara may debate with herself whether she's in love with him, but she does love him - and Galen will always love her. When I created them, I never envisioned them as lovers - my readers were, and are, the ones who believe in the possibility of that - but the two of them connected to each other, reflected in each other - that, I believed.




And now, the Sword of Griffindor is probably the most powerful magical artifact on the planet. And Dumbledore has it. Not sure if good thing.

Actually, McGonagall/the school has it, so it might not be so bad . . .




But is Sirius confirming Galen's current suspicions, his ones when he first sent Sirus out, when he last contacted Sirius, or what Sirius thinks are Galen's suspicions?

I mean, I'm assuming: Voldemort, Nagini, Lucius, Sirius, Jr., and Sr. under an Imperious are in England at the Riddle property, and they've killed Bertha, but what else? Is Snape in contact with them? Is Jr. constantly away on deep-cover? Was Bertha just murdered, or turned into some kind of Menial Laborer Inferi? Has Voldemort assumed Baby Form, tried possession again, or gone ahead and created an adult-sized temporary body, since I think you confirmed he'll need the end of the Triwizard to make a permanent new body.

And of course, even if I spent the next half-hour typing out guesses and theories (I can't, by the way; little brother's B-day celebrations to get to), I probably would miss at least half-a-dozen big things.

You'll see - and give him my best. :)

hatori
April 16th, 2011, 11:56 PM
I'd marry you for just these!


This line just sounds like saber making that miso soup confession of marriage.

xD and the plot thickens indeed.

ringlhach
April 17th, 2011, 06:32 AM
You know, the more I think about that last chapter, the way the Master Sword Sword of Godric Gryffindor is picking up powers/affinities/whatev is going to end up being very, very important, because I'm pretty sure that's not going to be the last one it picks up. I'm not quite sure how, though... maybe turning it into a sword-shaped wand at some point?

Sure, the basilisk thing happened in canon, but that was it, and from there, it gained the ability to destroy Horcruxes.

Ergast
April 17th, 2011, 06:40 AM
I'll give it two more years before officially calling it a NP.

Very interesting. So now the one who is far ahead in the tournament is the only one who isn't fully a wizard, but a veela, and the only one who has the complete education that a champion should have, huh?

Anyway, nice chapter. A bit of a breather, but the plot needed it. Now I want to know what were Galen's suspicions.

Kieran
April 17th, 2011, 06:54 AM
You know, the more I think about that last chapter, the way the Master Sword Sword of Godric Gryffindor is picking up powers/affinities/whatev is going to end up being very, very important, because I'm pretty sure that's not going to be the last one it picks up. I'm not quite sure how, though... maybe turning it into a sword-shaped wand at some point?

Sure, the basilisk thing happened in canon, but that was it, and from there, it gained the ability to destroy Horcruxes.

Hmm - not exactly what I had planned, but maybe I can do something there.

Kratosirving
April 17th, 2011, 07:54 AM
.........Kieran, I'm sorry, but now I must kill you.


Why, you ask? Simple.




YOU KILLED RUBY-CHAN!!!!!

Garlak
April 17th, 2011, 08:23 AM
You know, the more I think about that last chapter, the way the Master Sword Sword of Godric Gryffindor is picking up powers/affinities/whatev is going to end up being very, very important, because I'm pretty sure that's not going to be the last one it picks up. I'm not quite sure how, though... maybe turning it into a sword-shaped wand at some point?

Sure, the basilisk thing happened in canon, but that was it, and from there, it gained the ability to destroy Horcruxes.

Hmm - not exactly what I had planned, but maybe I can do something there.

Hmm.

Thus far the sword has brought glory slaying a basilisk and a dragon.

The sword will be used to destroy one of the Deathly Hallows. The ring almost certainly -- maybe others. Possibly the ghost will then be used to kill Voldemort's ghost. Or maybe it'll cut the Veil. This will give it a legend of being able to conquer death, or at least of being able to affect ghostly things...

Or the sword will cut a time-turner or the Kaleidostick once Voldemort has stolen it, having found it to be the source of his foes' powers! Actually, you should totally have it do that! The sword that slays monsters, cleaves evil, cleans windows, parts the veil of time, slices probability, and perfectly butters the bread!!

jwang
April 17th, 2011, 08:37 AM
Don't forget it also makes julienne fries. Just be careful with the basilisk venom still on it, it makes making food a pain.

Kieran
April 17th, 2011, 09:26 AM
.........Kieran, I'm sorry, but now I must kill you.


Why, you ask? Simple.




YOU KILLED RUBY-CHAN!!!!!

*whines* Did nooooot! She's still back in her own universe, all safe and happy - I just didn't use her! What I killed was the Kaleidostick's inherent need to screw with its users . . . Of course, with Rin's luck, she'll recreate the bloody thing. :D

ringlhach
April 17th, 2011, 10:10 AM
Hmm - not exactly what I had planned, but maybe I can do something there.

Didn't mean to even imply that you should, but there's a reason there's "Master Sword" in there. There are way too damn many upgrades to that thing, and some of them you got in just flat-out weird ways.

Kieran
April 17th, 2011, 09:54 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 Goblet of Fire, but I trust in the intelligence of my readers (and the availability of the books) to recognise them when they see them.



Chapter 22 - Dates, Desserts, and Disasters



November 28th - December 10th, 1993






The days following the First Task were something of a blur for Neville - the sheer relief of having survived his encounter with a dragon would have been heady enough, but added to the fallout of the others’ actions . . .

There had been a vicious battle over Takara’s method of dealing with the Hungarian Horntail. In one stroke (literally!), the population had taken a severe blow. Karkaroff and Madam Maxime were all for giving her a disqualification for excessive force, and Professor Dumbledore was “severely disappointed.” None of them, however, had reckoned with the anger of Professor McGonagall - or the Aozakis themselves. On learning the full details, Mrs. Aozaki had promised Luna’s paper absolute disclosure on Dumbledore and the Ministry’s decision, via Dumbledore and Crouch to jeopardise an endangered species and underage children for a publicity stunt - and Mr. Aozaki had threatened to duel both men on the spot - simultaneously.

Knowing the man’s reputation, Neville decided he’d have preferred to face the Horntail, himself.

The Ministry had been another problem. As a result of the exclusivity contract - a binding magical contract, as all the champions had been keen to remind them - the Daily Prophet could not legally interview, quote, or publish pictures of the champions. Any attempt to do so would result in immediate legal action on behalf of the Quibbler and their clients, the champions themselves. And while the Lovegoods might not have the resources to have the best solicitors available to them, the Einzberns could certainly afford to hire them - and the Longbottoms, while perhaps not as wealthy, had enough social cachet to do the same. The courts could be a long, expensive time sorting things out if the Prophet tried anything, rendering the Tournament’s purpose as a goodwill source for Minister Fudge almost useless. Only a small minority of the witches and wizards Britain read the Quibbler - though admittedly, there were more since the foundation of LAPIS, and the publication of the Wolfsbane Potion recipe last year.

And then there was Galen. The older wizard had been as grim as ever when he’d ushered them all (plus Rin and Ilyasviel) into the Room of Requirement the day after the Tournament, and told them what he’d learned.

“Voldemort’s active, he’s got Malfoy, Sirius, and Crouch Junior with him, and he’s planned something for the Tournament,” he had all but growled.

“You’re sure?” Shirou had asked.

“The source is about as direct as it can get - Kreacher.”

“Do you trust him?” Takara had asked sharply. “He’s a conniving, treacherous little -“ She’d broken off, shaking her head.

“He likes me,” Galen said simply, causing Takara to stare until he added, “The locket.” She’d nodded sharply.

Once upon a time, Neville might have just written off their conversation as “things I don’t really want to know,” or the kind of speech people who’d been together a long time could have - where they were so close they knew what the other was thinking without much need for actual words. In this case, however, he’d understood, as they’d all been briefed on the Horcruxes and how to get at them years ago, just in case.

“Did he know where they are?” Shirou had asked, and his thoughts hadn’t been hard to guess, either. An anonymous tipoff, or a trip over the Christmas holidays, and that threat could be dealt with quite handily.

Galen’s response had been a sigh. “Fidelius Charm - never let it be said that Voldie isn’t too proud to adopt a decent trick. And the Keeper’s Crouch Junior, so the Aurors couldn’t torture information out of the two Death Eaters they know to look for, because they think he’s as dead as his master . . . Which he is, but that’s not as dead as they want to believe.”

“What do we do?” Neville had asked.

“Keep our eyes open,” was Galen’s answer. “We know that Crouch Senior’s under the Imperius now, and that Junior’s capable of brewing Polyjuice Potion” - Hermione had shivered a little at that, for some reason - “so we look for anyone suspicious, particularly around the tasks. If Voldemort’s playing it smart, he’ll use somebody who’s only here at those times to minimise the risks, like Bagman. And we need to assume he is playing it smart, because he has before - but I’ll keep an eye on the Map, just in case. In the meantime, we concentrate on your surviving the Tournament, because it’s the more immediate threat.”

He paused, then added, “Actually, it might not be a bad idea to look up Junior’s school records when we have the time, and find out what else he can do - Sirius and Malfoy too, for that matter, just in case. Always handy to know what your opponents are really capable of.”

So more stress had been added to his performance, in addition to the troubles with the Ministry. Oddly enough, this was the least of things, as he measured it. Dangers like this had been happening to him for four years now, and he was used to this kind of stress, in a strange sort of way.

It might have been odder if we weren’t in danger.

Still, even as used to it as he was, on top of the rest it might have been enough to push Neville to the brink of going stark, raving mad - but there had also been another element added, which was just as stressful, in its way, and it boiled down to a simple concept that could be expressed in one word: respect.

Neville’s performance against the dragon hadn’t been as flashy or enchanting (he thought guiltily of Ilyasviel there - he hadn’t been able to see her from inside the tent, but he could hear, and she could really sing!) as the others’, but a number of the students apparently found it impressive nonetheless. He supposed that from an outsiders’ perspective, it was, as he’d basically convinced the dragon to hand him the egg it was guarding. Anybody who was close enough to see the spells he’d actually cast might not be as impressed - rumour was saying that he’d used a long-forgotten dragon compulsion spell - but then again, perhaps they would.

Parvati Patil said her Ravenclaw sister called the strategy “quite clever,” he reminded himself. And I know Susan Bones and Hannah Abbott in Herbology this morning were impressed - they kept talking about the power and stamina needed to cast the same spell so many times . . . His brow furrowed in confusion. Though I keep thinking they meant more than just that, somehow.

In any case, he was getting any number of enthusiastic greetings these days, and it was a quite a rush. They were impressed with him - not as the friend of Takara, Shirou, or Galen - just him. Nobody had ever been impressed by him before, not in his entire life so far.

Well, Galen and Takara were. And Shirou was impressed because they were. But practically the whole school? I never imagined it was possible!

. . . And it feels really good, he admitted to himself.

The pleasant feelings carried him through Care of Magical Creatures, even as he helped Hermione round up one of the Blast-Ended Skrewts after they’d escaped an experiment to see if they hibernated for the winter. Professor Hagrid didn’t want them hurt, but as Neville didn’t want to get hurt either, he fired off a quick Stunner. He wasn’t in Shirou or Takara’s league for accuracy, but he could hold his own - and it was too big a target to really miss.

“Well, well, well,” said a familiar and distinctly unwelcome voice. “This does look like fun.”

“Who’re you?” Hagrid asked.

“Rita Skeeter, Daily Prophet reporter.” The reporter’s grin flashed her gold teeth.

“Thought McGonagall said you weren’ allowed inside the school any more?” the big man said in surprise.

“She’s not,” Neville said loudly, drawing both the reporter and the professor’s attention. “It was very clearly stated that any attempt made by Ms. Skeeter to interview the Triwizard champions - ”

“Oh my dear boy,” Skeeter interrupted smoothly. “I’m not here to interview you. I’m here to do a story on Hogwarts. After all, it is the school being represented in the Tournament, isn’t it? By you, but it’s all about Hogwarts’ reputation, after all.”

Damn - she found a loophole, Neville fumed. He traded knowing looks with Hermione. This can’t be good - I’ll have to set Galen on her.

He glanced over to see the wizard in question looking at Skeeter through narrowed eyes, in a familiar and frequently terrifying expression - the one that meant he was deciding exactly how important it was to let someone live . . . Oddly enough, this time Neville felt a warm glow at the sight. He turned back to grin at Hermione - and was astonished to see her face had gone unexpectedly pale.

She’s afraid . . . But why? He blinked. With all we’ve set up to protect ourselves, how bad can Skeeter possibly be?

Worried now, but nonetheless confident that he and his friends could handle it, Neville turned his attention to another serious problem: the upcoming Yule Ball. It hadn’t been announced yet, but they knew about it, and he wanted to be prepared. He’d been to formal balls before, thanks to his Gran’s insistence on throwing and attending the things - and he knew how to dress, how to behave, and how to dance. Their martial arts practice over the years had helped him there. He’d managed to stop stepping on his partners’ toes, at least . . . But that said, even though he’d gone with girls before, he’d never actually had a real date - which he’d been told that the champions had to have.

So, where can I find a date?

The easiest place to start was his circle of friends - most of whom were girls, after all. He’d unofficially escorted Ginny and Luna to parties during the Christmas holidays once or twice, but while Ginny would undoubtedly enjoy the spotlight the Ball would put him under, he didn’t. Luna, on the other hand, would’ve been content to stay on the sidelines for most of the night and just enjoy watching the crowd, but formal events weren’t really her thing, so he doubted she wanted to go at all - she’d certainly seemed to indicate as much when Galen brought it up on the train.

Hermione would’ve been easy to go with as friends, and the smartest girl in Gryffindor was pretty enough to have nothing to be embarrassed about if she was singled out by being a champion’s date - but she had a date already, with Galen. And there was no force he could imagine that could get her to cancel that, much less for him. Takara might be an option - they were in the same boat as far as needing a date went. And if Takara wasn’t going to go with Galen or Shirou, she might have some trouble finding a date - her reputation wasn’t exactly comforting after killing the dragon. She wasn’t shy enough to fear the spotlight, but didn’t especially enjoy it, so he could probably fade into the background easily enough, and she wouldn’t mind.

But . . .

An image flashed in Neville’s mind’s eye: Takara and Galen, waltzing on New Year’s Eve - she with her usual breathtaking grace, he with an unconscious sense of her movements, her needs, and the determination to meet them. They moved so well together, and so easily, as though they were flying instead of dancing . . . The only other boy Neville could imagine rivalling that feat was Shirou, because he was that good, and they were that close. But it was more than that which made him doubt the idea of taking Takara - Neville wanted that, wanted to be with a girl he was so intimately connected to that they moved in perfect harmony without seeming to even need to think about it. And he wouldn’t have that with her. They were friends - good friends, he believed - but not like that.

Still, if neither of us can find a date, then maybe . . .

Neville shook his head. He had almost a full month to consider the idea, so there wasn’t an immediate rush, really. The Ball wouldn’t even be announced, according to Galen, for nearly two weeks. But it was something to keep in mind.






Ginny was proving to be her brothers’ sister, she thought, by sneaking into the kitchens for a quick after-curfew snack - there had been a custard at dinner she was simply dying to taste again. And while Ginny might not have an invisibility cloak or a magical map to help her evade detection, but she was petite in build, and good at moving both quickly and quietly, even without using her fox form. Moreover, she knew which portraits could see from which angles by now, having spent a lot of time in her first year here learning to avoid them.

That really isn’t fair, though, her mind pointed out. They don’t really need those things to sneak about. Galen’s pretty quiet, Shirou’s wicked fast for someone his size, and Takara’s a bloody ninja! Maybe not a giant turtle, but definitely a ninja.

Ginny smiled to herself. She hadn’t realised those creatures weren’t real the first time she’d watched the movies at Takara’s place - her world had things like dragons and house-elves in it, after all, so why couldn’t there be giant talking turtles? It made her wonder though, how many witches or wizards might do these “special effects” - was it called “Industrial Light and Magic” for a reason?

I do like the cinema, she admitted. It’s a lot more fun than listening to the wireless. I’m starting to understand what Dad likes about mundanes - I mean, with what we can do with Pensieves, photographs and portraits, we should have had motion pictures years ago. They don’t have any of those things, but they managed it anyway - and they keep trying to do things better. We’ve been using the Hogwarts Express since they invented locomotives, when the tube they have in London now goes so much faster. It wouldn’t take all day to reach the castle that way.

She smiled to herself. When they finally manage real lightsabers, I want one! Lightsabers are cool. As she tickled the pear gently to enter the kitchens, Ginny wondered if Luna and Hermione could help her figure out a way to build one with magic . . . The sound of someone crying - from the pitch, possibly a small child - broke her train of thought. She scanned the kitchens, and finally located the house-elf responsible - a very familiar house-elf. Occlumency training brought her name to the forefront of Ginny’s mind.

“Winky?” she said softly. “Are you all right?”

The tiny figure started from her hunched-up position on the stool by the fire, and peered at her with big brown eyes not unlike Ginny’s own, which quickly dampened with tears again.

“How did you come to be here?”

“Is only place that would take Winky after she - she was freed!” The last word was an anguished howl, and preceded even heavier sobs. “Winky is a bad elf, Winky was given clothes . . .!”

She leaped from the stool suddenly and began beating on the floor, resembling nothing so much as a child throwing a tantrum.

“Winky is a disgraced elf, Master was right to free Winky - !”

“No,” Ginny said sharply. “Winky is not a bad elf, Winky did as she was told, as best she could.” The redhead stopped, and readjusted her idioms. “Winky is a good elf.”

“Winky is disgraced, miss,” she repeated. “Winky has no family, Winky was freed - ” She began beating on the floor again.

Ginny wracked her brain. The poor thing was obviously unhappy, even here - a marked contrast to the other elves working busily at cleaning up the remains of dinner from the kitchen. Hermione would likely say she was better off being free - but was it really better for her to be so miserable?

“Winky has no family, but Winky keeps family’s secrets . . .”

Having been briefed at the beginning of the year, Ginny already knew what those were, so she wouldn’t upset Winky further by prying. But she didn’t want to leave the poor thing alone . . .

Bloody hell - this “saving people thing” is contagious.

She frowned. No Weasley had owned a house-elf in centuries - but if it was a family Winky wanted . . .

“Winky? If I can convince Headmistress McGonagall, would you like to work for my family?”

Wide brown eyes looked up suddenly. “Miss would . . . Miss would take a bad elf like Winky?”

“I would,” Ginny affirmed, smiling ruefully. “Don’t know how my mum would take it I did, though - she likes ruling her kitchen. But I’ve got three brothers, all out on their own. At least one of them could use looking after, and a couple are old enough to start thinking about marrying. It might not be as big a family as you’d like - but I’m the youngest of seven, and so was my dad, so with a little patience . . .”

“Winky can wait!” she bellowed with sudden excitement. She was standing now, and hopping from one foot to the other. Her eyes were sparkling, and Ginny could practically see her counting the babies in need of feeding, changing - and then there was all that washing . . .

“I still have to talk to the Headmistress,” Ginny warned. “She is your employer.”

Winky nodded so rapidly the redhead was afraid the elf’s would pop right off.

“Miss will be quick?” she asked eagerly.

“Quick as I can, Winky - hopefully tomorrow.”

“Thank you!” she carolled. “Young miss is the most wonderful, kindest, beautiful miss - ”

“All right, Winky,” Ginny said, unable to restrain a blush. “I’ll do what I can, as quick as I can, and come see you when it’s done, all right?”

Another nod at light speed.

“All right - good night, Winky,” Ginny said.

“Good night, Miss,” Winky said, looking better than she had when Ginny entered by several orders of magnitude.

It wasn’t until she was back in the dorm that Ginny realised that she’d forgotten all about the custard.






Hermione was sitting in the library, researching for the Tournament. While they’d already planned on using Gillyweed - and having the time, owl-ordered it from a magical plants distributor Neville knew of - the First Task had already proven the value of having backup plans handy. There was the Bubblehead Charm, of course - they’d already found it easily enough. But she wanted to be absolutely sure, because there was a very good chance that Shirou would be down there, waiting to be rescued by one of the champions - which meant even more of her friends would be in danger.

Rin sat beside her, going through the books. Fortunately, English and French used the same alphabet, so teaching her to read the language hadn’t been nearly as difficult as teaching her to speak it. And she was brilliant, even if, like Luna, she was a little strange at times.

“So,” Rin said idly, as she tapped her wand against the odd crystal piece experimentally. “Will you need any help getting a date for the Yule Ball?” The event had been announced that day at breakfast, and was currently the talk of the school.

Hermione paused for a moment. She had a date - she had virtually bullied Galen into taking her. But when that had happened, he hadn’t come within a hair’s-breadth of slaughtering a classmate and tearing the castle down around their ears. Given that every time he tensed, now, she was afraid something was going to die, the thought of being so close to him that she could feel every twitch of his muscles wasn’t as appealing as it had once been.

And she still wasn’t sure how to feel about what Takara had told her about Ron Weasley . . .

“Kuso!” Rin snapped suddenly, as red and green sparks erupted from where her wand met the crystal. “Stupid - idiotic - !”

“What are you trying to do?” Hermione asked curiously.

“Trying to fix this so that I don’t need my wand to activate it,” Rin said sharply. “Unfortunately, I seem to have repaired it enough to function, but not enough of the more delicate spellwork to make it operate as smoothly as it used to - it doesn’t seem to want to use its own innate magical guidelines over the laws of this reality.”

Hermione frowned as she took that in. “I don’t understand.”

“Since this place insists on using wands, it seems to only want to work when I use a wand on it - and it never had that limitation before.”

“That’s what I don’t understand - why didn’t it?” Hermione inquired. “You’re from an alternate timeline to the one Shirou, Takara and Galen come from, which is an alternate to ours . . .”

“With completely different physical laws and frames of reference,” Rin said. “It’s an alternate, yes - it still takes place on an Earth with magic, and the Gregorian calendar, and a lot of familiar stuff. But where we’re from, Hogwarts and that is all from movies and books.”

Hermione felt the blood drain away from her face, and devoutly hoped she’d misinterpreted that as she said, “Yes, they said that Harry’s story was made into movies and books for mundanes and wizards to enjoy . . .”

“And it was all created by some Englishwoman working as a waitress or something,” Rin said offhandedly. “I never really paid much attention - I was too busy refining my magecraft and preparing for the Holy Grail War. Who has time to deal with fictional wizards when there’s real sorcery to work with?”

“. . . Created?” Hermione whispered. “. . . Fictional?”

Rin finally glanced up from her work, her look shifting to one of sudden concern at whatever the Japanese witch saw on her face. “Hermione? Are you OK?”

Hermione was definitely not OK. She was numb. She was reevaluating her time at Hogwarts on the basis that it had all been fictional - that her entire life was fictional. And that they had known, the entire time . . .

. . . And that on a day two years, when Galen had sworn an absolute oath to tell her the complete truth - he’d lied to her.

“. . . Excuse me,” she said thickly, somehow getting up despite suddenly-numb extremities and great difficulty breathing. “There’s something I need to do.”






She had no sense of where she was going, and barely one of moving. She couldn’t hear anything past the roaring in her ears, couldn’t feel through the emptiness inside herself, and her vision was clouded, even as it searched relentlessly through the corridors, and the crowds. Once, she wouldn’t even have needed to look. Even if she hadn’t been with him, she would simply have known where he was - but she had been forcibly estranging herself from Galen for the last six weeks, and thus she had to look for him in order to find him. But it really wasn’t hard - outside of the library, there were only a few places he would be. And when she finally found him, it was in the ideal place - the paddock below Hagrid’s hut, near the edge of the Forbidden Forest.

Hermione rehearsed things in her head, and then approached him at a fast clip.

Galen no doubt heard her boots crunching through the snow, because he glanced up. Recognising both her and her obvious agitation by the speed of her stride, he set down the snow shovel and hopped to the fence to meet up with her sooner.

“Hermione, what is - “

Hermione used every ounce of speed bonding with the lioness had given her, a gift honed until she was at least Galen’s equal in reflexes, and possibly second only to Takara herself.

“Expelliarmus,” Hermione snapped. “Incarcerous. Muffliato.” The lignum vitae wand was hurled over the fence, and Galen would’ve followed, save for the ropes that caught him in mid-fall, dropping him in a cocooned heap - and with the final spell, no one would hear a sound over the winter winds.

Anger flashed over his face when she rolled him over to face her, to be replaced by bewilderment.

“Have you had fun playing with my life?” she demanded in a far too quiet tone for the rage that was seething through her. “Have you ever felt guilty about it? Or did you reassure yourself it was perfectly all right to play with me like a toy because, after all, I’m NOT REAL?!”

Elf
April 17th, 2011, 10:10 PM
Damn it Rin, you always manage to fuck up at the worse possible moment.

Someone needs to have a talk with her.

Kieran
April 17th, 2011, 10:23 PM
Wasn't actually planning this - but variations on this scene have been floating in my head since I started this series, and never gone away no matter what I do - so I suppose it was inevitable. Eventually, you've got to take a hint. Now, of course, the question is "What the hell do I do about it?"

Elf
April 17th, 2011, 10:28 PM
Well, honestly Hermione bondaging the crap out of him is going to make her less scared of him.

(Oh, there was a formatting error I fixed.)

Zeranion
April 17th, 2011, 10:42 PM
You know... It's been so long since the story started that I'd forgotten that Galen hadn't told them the full truth regarding where they got their information from...

Oh boy... Let's hope this doesn't lead him to another suicidal tendency period. Then again, Shirou did warn him about manipulating girls. He has personal experience after all.

FlameStrike
April 17th, 2011, 11:11 PM
Heh, and even now Shirou is STILL suffering the consequences of manipulating girls. Rin hates him after all. But holyshit, I have no idea what's going to happen with Galen. He might really die this time, and surprisingly it might not be by suicide!

ringlhach
April 18th, 2011, 03:37 AM
Dammit Rin...

Takara's probably going to kill her, since I'm pretty sure that Galen's not going to explain that, to him, so are Shirou, Takara, Rin, and Ilya. And then he's going to try to go off himself again, which is going to piss off Shirou and Ilya... ooh boy, this is not going to end well.

B.B. Rain
April 18th, 2011, 05:01 AM
Crap.

The 'Technically True, just Not the Whole Truth,' arguement isn't going to fly, I really doubt he'd have enough time to explain World as Myth with an appropriate Chicken & Egg spin to work, and even if he was willing to out his status relative to Type-Moon, that probably wouldn't do much but focus her ire even more on him and exclude Takara, Shirou, and Ilya. This is going to get messy.

Although it would be kind of nice to see Tournament!Rin get counter-comeuppance, finding out about Fate/Stay-Night. Did Truth/Legacies Rin ever find out about Galen in the pre-Hogwarts works?

Actually...I remember the Trinity debating comparative ages between this reality and their own. If they waited long enough here, would they be able to buy a first-release of Tsukihime and the rest as they came out?

Kieran
April 18th, 2011, 06:32 AM
Crap.

The 'Technically True, just Not the Whole Truth,' arguement isn't going to fly, I really doubt he'd have enough time to explain World as Myth with an appropriate Chicken & Egg spin to work, and even if he was willing to out his status relative to Type-Moon, that probably wouldn't do much but focus her ire even more on him and exclude Takara, Shirou, and Ilya. This is going to get messy.

Yeah, that's why I tried to avoid it - but as I said, it kept coming up, so I figured it was better just to deal with it. I hope (dear God, I hope) that Hermione's mature enough to handle it now.



Although it would be kind of nice to see Tournament!Rin get counter-comeuppance, finding out about Fate/Stay-Night. Did Truth/Legacies Rin ever find out about Galen in the pre-Hogwarts works?

In "Truth and Consequences" (a title which seems somewhat ironic now), she knew enough to suspect - but decided that she really didn't want to know.



Actually...I remember the Trinity debating comparative ages between this reality and their own. If they waited long enough here, would they be able to buy a first-release of Tsukihime and the rest as they came out?

Possibly. Hard to say, as they are now in-universe elements.

Ergast
April 18th, 2011, 06:47 AM
Why am I picturing a duel between Galen and Shirou now? I mean, of course Shirou would be pissed, but not pissed enough to let Galen kill Rin.

Anyway, I think Rin would have the moment of her life when they told her that "Yes, she is also a fictional character in other alternatives".

B.B. Rain
April 18th, 2011, 07:07 AM
Although, her reaction when she finds out she's the star of an H-game, versus the locals being from children/teen novels...

Ergast
April 18th, 2011, 08:18 AM
It would be Gold.

hatori
April 18th, 2011, 09:35 AM
oh dear lord..

Kieran
April 20th, 2011, 04:57 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 Goblet of Fire, but I trust in the intelligence of my readers (and the availability of the books) to recognise them when they see them.



Chapter 23 - The Sundering of the Scarlet Seven



December 10, 1994






Shirou and Ilya stood on the balcony at the top of the Clock Tower, enjoying the view. Shirou admitted that after spending so many months of the year here - and so many years, at that - he’d gotten a bit jaded about how pretty the countryside could be. Scotland was a far cry from Japan, but it was still familiar, in ways - just an island in the north rather than the east.

“It’s even colder here than in Germany,” Ilya admitted, leaning in close to him - though he expected warmth was only one of the objectives for it. “But it’s still better than Durmstrang - this is almost balmy. And at least there’s some scenery.”

Shirou blinked. “I always thought Durmstrang was in Germany.”

Ilya shook her head. “Geographically, it’s in part of the former Soviet Union, actually - longer reach into the European countryside. But basically, anywhere the Nordic culture could take hold, Durmstrang’s territory touches on. Beauxbatons is more the Gallic and Roman provinces, and Hogwarts deals in the British Empire.” She tilted her head and said teasingly, “What’s the matter, Onii-chan? Don’t you pay attention in History of Magic?”

“Hermione and Galen are the only two Gryffindors that can stay awake in that class,” he grumbled. “Besides, Binns has an obsession with the goblin rebellions - we hardly ever seem to learn about anything else.”

“You mean you sleep through all the rest of it,” she said with a pixie grin. The expression didn’t last, though, and she sobered before asking, “Do you suppose they’ll patch things up - whatever happened between them - by the Yule Ball?”

Shirou shrugged. “Couldn’t tell you - I didn’t even really notice they were avoiding one another until Takara pointed it out.”

“Well, you are a male,” she said reasonably. “And you and Galen have proven, over the years, to be spectacularly dense specimens of the gender - hey!” She broke off as Shirou poked her in the ribs, tickling her into a giggling fit. It took her several minutes to catch her breath. “Shirou! That’s not - that’s not fair!”

“Don’t blame me,” he said in a deadpan voice. “I’m too dense to know that.”

“Ooooh - if you weren’t already going to the Ball with me, I’d make you go for doing that,” she warned. “But since you already are, now I’ll just have to think of another suitable punishment.”

Once upon a time, this pronouncement would’ve caused him more than a little terror - Ilya was one of the scariest people he knew. In fact, it seemed to be a law of physics in his life that the smaller a female was, the more terrifying and powerful they were. But in this case, her eyes were sparkling, and her cheeks were flushed. Cold and exertion might’ve been the cause of some of it, but Shirou was certain that she was genuinely pleased, despite the indignity of his assault.

She always wanted someone to play with her, he mused with a grin. I can sympathise - it’s part of being an only child, I guess. Although the Einzberns would’ve kept her isolated above and beyond even normal only children.

Shirou had never asked about her original life. He knew some of it, of course, but he’d come to the conclusion that she didn’t want to remember it, or be reminded of it. To Ilya, this was her life now. And he couldn’t really disagree with the sentiment - compared to the hell of Archer’s existence, or the death and impromptu resurrection of Shirou Emiya (at the hands of one of those same Einzberns), Shirou Einzbern had a pretty nice life. Living and loving parents, good grades and better friends, and a sister who loved him.

A sister who loves me as more than just a sister - and who loves me enough to try and woo me by my rules, instead of hers.

Would he have gotten the same treatment from any of the others? Shirou had considered the question a fair bit since Ilya’s revelation at the World Cup. Of all the other women in his life, would they have given him the same courtesy that Ilya was showing by going against all her training, all her instincts, and pursuing his affections fairly?

Saber wouldn’t have known how. She was a warrior first, and then a king - but she’d never been allowed to be a woman. She wouldn’t have had the experience to show affection like that, or try to entice it from me. It wouldn’t have been a question of playing fair, so much as her not knowing how to play the game at all. Sakura was even worse - she was too timid, too broken to even think of trying. Not that I was any help there . . .

Memories of his last summoning as Archer flitted across, mixed with memories gleaned while Archer’s arm had been grafted to his past self.

She was the most obviously affectionate of the three - and I was dense enough not to notice a thing. Just look at what it took to get me to understand that she was interested! But no, if Saber didn’t know how to woo someone, Sakura just didn’t bother. Much as she wanted to - and he wanted her to, in the end . . . It wouldn’t have worked. Sakura wouldn’t have stood up for herself, didn’t have enough of a “self” to do it - and wouldn’t have wanted to, against me. She’d have meekly accepted anything I did or didn’t do, if for no other reason than because I was her sempai and she loved me.

Which left Rin . . . It always came down to Rin . . .

We loved each other, and were lovers, but that was late in life. As teenagers, we were friends, and maybe attracted to each other - “maybe” on Rin’s part, at least. Rin wouldn’t have wooed - her pride wouldn’t have allowed it. I’d have had to come to her, and on a couple of occasions, as Shirou or Archer, I have . . . But if Saber wouldn’t try because she didn’t know how, and Sakura wouldn’t because she didn’t believe in her worthiness to, Rin wouldn’t have because it was beneath her. And as a teenager, it was - she was the heir to the Tohsaka family’s magical heritage, under a big amount of strain over her inheritance and the Grail War. Boys weren’t really on her radar then.

. . . And as much as I will always love and admire Rin, especially for the woman she became, it’s the teenager I’m dealing with now. And it isn’t Shirou she came for, it’s Archer - and I don’t want to be Archer any more than Ilya wants to go back to being the Grail. What she wants is Shirou - and she can live with the blood on Archer’s hands, as I can live with the blood on hers.

The analysis was cold, logical, and mostly true - but Rin was still tempting, because she was Rin, the one true constant in all his myriad lives. But for now, he was in Ilya’s company, and enjoyed it as such. It was a time and place that was quiet, peaceful, and theirs alone -

“Um . . . Ilyasviel?”

Damn it, I thought that only applied if you spoke of the devil. I didn’t say a word!

“Rin,” Ilya acknowledged frostily, obviously neither pleased with the other girl in general, nor her interruption of their private time in specific. “What is it?”

“Well, I think I may have done something stupid,” Rin admitted, trying to sound as if it was no real importance, but at the same time, not looking up from the floor. That was a good thing, as she didn’t see Ilya visibly bite back at least three retorts that immediately sprang to her mind. That would’ve led to a fight. Rin was being timid, and guilty, and not even defensive - which meant that whatever she’d done, she thought it was really bad.

“Rin?” Shirou inquired carefully. Her behaviour was setting off all sorts of alarm bells, and he had a sinking feeling that he really wasn’t going to like this.

She answered him directly, her animosity apparently forgotten in the face of the situation. “I was in the library with Hermione, and . . .”






The Room of Requirement was at the top of the north tower, not far from the Divination classroom - and it didn’t technically exist, as such. As a result, it was fairly well-insulated from outside sounds, most of the time.

“YOU WHAT?!”

Even muffled through the distance and thick stonework, the voice had a silvery, ringing quality that was unmistakable as belonging to Ilyasviel von Einzbern - and a thoroughly enraged Ilyasviel von Einzbern, at that.

Ginny and Neville halted their hand-to-hand session to trade looks of confusion, and worry.

“What do you think that was about?” Ginny asked.

Neville shook his head, confessing, “No idea - but I wouldn’t want to be Shirou right now.”

“Takara,” said Fred - or was it George? - uncertainly from where they’d been duelling, two-on-one. “Do you know that your eyes are silver right now?”

“And do they do that often?” asked the other Weasley twin.

Takara said, in a very distant voice. “It isn’t Shirou . . . “ She shuddered. “This is bad - I don’t know what it is, exactly, but I know it’s very, very bad . . .”

Then the Japanese witch knew, as she felt her hand begin to burn, so suddenly and intensely that she gasped.

“Galen!” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_DSq-LhOyU)






For all his combat training, all his paranoia, and all the sharpness of his senses - Galen could still be caught off guard. This instance was a prime example of that fact, because one of the last people in the world that he’d ever expected to attack him was Hermione . . .

Then he heard her exclamations, and corrected himself: he’d always expected this attack, sooner or later. And given his decision, following Saber’s advice, to allow Hermione to pursue him, Galen realised that he really ought to have expected it would be “sooner” than “later.” It was a defining rule of his existence that things never went well for very long - and they more often went from bad to worse than “well.” She stood above him now, dark amber eyes nearly black in her anger, the vine-wood wand she’d borne since they’d met held as though she meant to stab him rather than hex him, cheeks flushed with both fury and cold. Her breath was smoky in the winter air, like the prelude to a dragon’s scorching flame - something they’d all had good reason to take note of recently.

“Well?” Hermione demanded, her tone brittle, but sharp. “Nothing to say for yourself? No clever lies to spin - or have you finally decided that toying with the little figment of someone else’s imagination isn’t worth it any more?”

Galen would’ve shrugged, if he could move his shoulders. What was there to say?

I knew from the moment I started playing puppet master that it would catch up with me, unlike Dumbledore, or Shirou. My entire history - whether as Galen, Jester, Avenger, or the man before - has been about lies, one way or another. And they always come out, in time. I don’t know how you found out, but I knew that you would. I just hoped that when it happened, you’d have built enough of a life for yourself to be happy without me - because I knew that when it happened, I’d be leaving your life one way or another. Maybe I’d live through it, and maybe I wouldn’t. Maybe I’d die by your hand, maybe by mine - but no matter what happened, you’d never forgive me for it, and I wouldn’t take forgiveness if it was offered. I did the wrong thing for the right reasons - maybe - but it was still the wrong thing.

Hermione was visibly impatient with the silence. “Say something!”

A piece of dialogue from Order of the Phoenix seemed appropriate - it didn’t even need much adaptation.

“You know the spell, Hermione - use it.” His voice sounded strange, even to himself. “An Unforgivable’s only fair for the unforgivable, after all. I doubt you’ll go to Azkaban for it - and LAPIS’ efforts aside, I’m still legally a Dark creature, so it isn’t technically a crime. You can even claim self-defence, if you use a Finite on the ropes first. Hell, this close to the forest, you could take the Deathcloak out of my pocket and cover the evidence, and I doubt I’ll be found before a scavenger picks me up. We know it has a lesser effect on animal senses - and there are things big enough to consume an entire human in there.”

He looked at the dark pits of her eyes, and added, “If you’re feeling especially vindictive, you could always use the Torture Curse instead of the Killing one. Muffliato will cover my screams as easily as they did yours - and though you might have to bleed me a bit, since I won’t attract predators by rotting, the plus side is that I’ll still be alive when I’m eaten.”

Her face drained of blood until it matched the snow around her. “What are you - why are you helping me?”

“Because that’s all I’ve ever been trying to do - and I’ve wanted to prevent you from growing into a witch Dark enough to Obliviate her own parents in the back, because they’re obviously not intelligent or capable enough to make decisions for themselves, being only mere Muggles.” He looked at her. “My failure might as well be an absolute one, don’t you think?”

He should be angry - his choice of words certainly indicated that he was. But there was no heat in his voice, nor even the emptiness of his killing voice, that indicated he was keeping the fire under tight control, but was primed to explode at the right or wrong provocation. There was just a sense of weariness, of sorrow.

And why shouldn’t there be? This is the culmination of my failures. I’ve endangered Takara - more than once, and this might be the time that kills her. Damned little of anything I try to change in this world takes hold with any significance - poor Dobby is still the Malfoys’ slave, Sirius is just a different sort of prisoner now, and the destruction of Lucius Malfoy’s social standing hasn’t changed either him or his son. This world is as ripe for being destroyed as the day we arrived, and in some ways it’s even worse, despite years of work - and now . . .

“I’ve always known I would destroy you, Hermione,” he said. “I told you I would, years ago. And I always knew you’d realise it eventually. You’ve every reason to want to kill me, and every right to do it - so why shouldn’t you?”

Galen wondered what exactly it was that he was trying to accomplish here. Did he want to goad her into killing him, or horrify her until it broke through her anger and she changed her mind? He could feel the precipice they hovered on. Beyond it was death, yes, but also darkness. Whatever happened here would wound Hermione - it was only a matter of whether or not it would infect her. So was this a last, desperate act to try and save himself - or her? And if it was the latter, what would accomplish it? Once upon a time, the answer would’ve been simple. He would have closed his eyes and laid down to die - but to spare her this hurt, this moment. Now the damage had been done, and simply sacrificing himself couldn’t undo it, nor could he guarantee that the act would heal it. The fact should enrage him, cause his power to seethe and storm such as it never had before . . .

But there was nothing. No anger, just exhaustion. No determination, just resignation. There was pain, but no passion to be ignited by it. He just felt empty, and tired . . . So very tired . . .

“ . . . Why?” Hermione demanded at last. “Why do this? Why lie to me, manipulate me - for years? Was it just a game to you, playing with my life? Was it fun? What was the POINT?!”

“To protect you, obviously,” came the quiet answer, but not from Galen.

The angry witch whirled to regard another, whose blue-gray eyes were silvery, sombre, and serene.

“The Thestrals are fed, Galen,” Luna said calmly. “Shall I finish shovelling out the paddock for you, or will Hermione be releasing you soon?” She tilted her head quizzically. “If not, I suppose I could always help her hide your body . . .”

She said it in perfect seriousness, and made not the slightest move towards Hermione or her own wand - either of which would have been necessary had she planned to disarm the older girl.

Hermione frowned uncertainly. “Luna?”

“Don’t mind me,” the little blonde said earnestly. “Please, go right ahead with what you were doing.” She tilted her head again. “Have you decided how you’re going to kill him yet? If not, I can recommend a nasty little curse I learned while Daddy and I were in Sweden last summer -”

The brunette witch’s eyes widened. “Luna?!”

“What?” the named girl asked innocently. “That is what you plan to do, isn’t it? You’ve discovered his last secret, that in the world he came from, you’re a fictional character - which wasn’t kept very well, by the way, Galen,” she added to the bound wizard. “I figured it out ages ago.” She tilted her head at Hermione. “I hadn’t realised until now that you hadn’t - but it does make a great many things make sense.”

“What? But -“ Hermione’s mouth worked silently for several minutes as she stared at the younger Gryffindor. “You knew? But why didn’t you say anything?!”

“I thought you knew,” Luna said innocently. “As I said, it was rather obvious - “

”Obvious?!”

“Well, yes,” the girl admitted. “In the first place, if they were from an alternate future, why would they need to make such efforts to learn spells they should already know? And then, there’s the pattern of what they do know - some of it significant, some of it mundane, but not enough of either to come from the kind of complete history that would’ve been worked up by the Ministry of the future, or personal accounts. Only something fictional would skip around from the serious to the silly so often - therefore, they learned it from something fictional.”

Her head tilted once more as she added, “Books, I’d imagine - it’s the only way to have gained so much insight into people’s ways of thinking, but only some people, and only some of the time. Not to mention other details, like how eager he was to hear me speak when we met - anticipating my accent, which means he’s heard it before and liked it, so the bit about movie adaptations is probably true, as well.” She shrugged. “In any case, it’s not as though it’s particularly relevant.”

“NOT RELEVANT?” Hermione shrieked.

“Of course not,” Luna chided. “They live here now too, so the concept of the world being ‘fiction’ doesn’t really apply - it’s our world, and theirs, which means it’s as real as it needs to be. Besides, it’s entirely possible that their original world is fictional to someone else, too - who’s to say?” She glanced at Galen. “I’m beginning to understand why you didn’t tell her - you were afraid she’d react like this, weren’t you?” She read the answer on his face, and nodded to herself.

Hermione whirled back to Galen. “Which brings me back to why, Galen? Why do all this? Why the secrecy, why the games - why did you think you had the right to lie to and manipulate me?”

“The ‘why’ is even more obvious than the ‘what,’ Hermione,” Luna sighed. “You must have a near-fatal infestation of Wrackspurts not to have noticed. It’s because he loves you, of course.”

“No.”

The thunderous sound was absolute, the voice of Doom that indicated something was about to die - horribly. Both witches jumped at the sudden interruption.

“ . . . No?” Hermione’s voice was small, her eyes wide and cheeks pale, looking as though she suddenly was afraid he’d break free of his bonds and tear her to pieces.

Luna arched an eyebrow and repeated, “No?” Her tone was something neither of them had ever heard from her before - sceptical.

Galen tried to keep his voice even, but the fury had been ignited, and its heat was tangible. The bitterness was almost strong enough to taste.

“No one who loves her could choose to hurt her like this - and I did. Look at her - look at what I’ve done to her, and tell me how, exactly, that this can be the result of love.”

I’m no more free of that fact than Weasley is. If I can condemn him on that basis - and I wholeheartedly do - then I deserve the same. Maybe worse, really, because he does what he does mostly on the basis of being a hopeless moron, whereas my actions were all deliberate.

For a moment, he wished he had the kind of abilities that people from his world always seemed to have when they entered a “fictional” setting - the knack for perfect plans that never failed, despite the obstacles in the way. And even more, the ability to charm any male or female they were interested in, or group of same, regardless of age, cultural or preexisting relationship differences. He had to admit, the idea of a willing harem had its temptations . . . But Luna was right in a key respect. Whatever his original perspective, here and now, these were real people he was dealing with, with real feelings and minds of their own - and in the real world, nobody was ever that lucky as to find so many cooperative partners.

Least of all me. But it’s nice to think about - because if I could’ve talked Hermione into it, then talking to just her would be even easier. I’d have had the confidence - and presumably, the lack of morals - to have half-seduced her when she was twelve, and we’d probably be at least halfway towards full-blown coitus by now. Instead . . . Oh hell, I was right all along. Even if I could’ve moved past the fact that I’m twenty years older than she is, even if she loved me - I don’t deserve her, plain and simple. This mess is the ultimate example of that fact -

Gravity abruptly took hold, dropping him face-first into the snow. It took a moment for him to clear his nose and mouth so that he could breathe, and more to clear his face, once he’d realised the ropes were gone. He blinked the snow out of his eyes slowly - his glasses had taken most of it, but some had still slipped around the lenses, and they were difficult to wipe clean with no handkerchiefs handy. It was several minutes before he could look at Hermione with anything approaching clarity, and she was still confusingly blurry.

Which is a fair approximation of my mental state, come to that.

“. . . Hermione?” he asked carefully.

The named witch was trembling. “Stay away from me,” she answered in a tone that was half-warning, half-pleading. “Stay away. Just . . . Just leave me alone.”

He nodded tiredly. “As you wish.”

She nodded back uncertainly, whirled and left without another word.

Luna watched her, then peered at him. “Should I go after her, or should I be here on suicide watch?” she asked seriously.

“There’s no point, now,” Galen said, closing his eyes. “God willing, I’ve done all the damage I could possibly do to her - my dying won’t save her from it. But you can do something for me.”

“What?” she asked curiously.

“Pass the word along to the others,” Galen said. “You’re Hermione’s friends, and she’s going to need all of them she can get to get through this. That means of right now, I’m persona non grata. You don’t talk to me, you don’t look at me, and you don’t want to.”

“You’re asking us to pick sides,” Luna said.

“No - I’m telling you to take hers. If she decides to complain about me, you agree with every word she says. If she decides to pretend I don’t exist, you don’t notice me even if I’m on fire. If she decides to turn the school against me by outing me as a werewolf, you start passing out silver bullets.”

“That’ll leave you alone,” Luna said worriedly. “It hardly seems fair to you.”

“This isn’t about what’s fair - it’s about what Hermione needs. I’ve been her best friend for years, and I’ve betrayed her. She’s going to be reevaluating every word, every action, every thought - everything she was certain she knew and believed in. She needs to know she still has friends she can trust - and to do that, you can’t trust me. You can’t be seen with me, be seen as sympathetic to me - I have to be the most monstrous person you’ve ever heard of, and she has to believe that, because she needs the reassurance.” He sighed, and gave the little blonde a sad smile. “I’ve been a pariah before, Luna - I don’t like it, but I can do it again if it will help her.”

“And that’s all you were trying to do here. I’m certain Hermione will recognise that eventually - “

Having already quoted one movie earlier, he borrowed one of his favourite speeches from The Dark Knight. “You’ll hunt me, you’ll condemn me, set the dogs on me - because that’s what needs to happen. Because sometimes, the truth isn’t good enough. Sometimes people deserve more. Sometimes people deserve to have their faith rewarded.”

“And what about what you deserve?” Luna pressed.

“Oh, let’s not get into that,” he said bitterly.

Luna frowned. “Galen - ”

Frustration boiled over into a roar. “Look - you don’t have to like it, you just have to DO IT!” He winced at her expression, and added softly, “Please, Luna. Please, just do this for me.”

“And what will you do now?” she asked.

“I’m going to finish shovelling out the paddock,” he said wearily, “and then I’m going to the Owlery. I need to write a letter to apologise.”

“I really don’t think Hermione would read it right now . . .” Luna said.

Galen shook his head. “Not to Hermione - it’s for Miranda. I made her a promise, and there’s no way on heaven or earth that I’m going to be able to keep it.”

Luna studied him for a long moment. Then she sighed, and said simply, “Goodbye, Galen . . . You sweet, romantic, stubborn, stupid man.”

“I love you too, sunshine,” he said wearily as he climbed up out of the snow and turned to reach for the shovel. He didn’t hear her reply, and by the time he’d turned back, she’d vanished back the way she’d come.

Galen sighed. “Goodbye, friends.”

It was nice while it lasted . . .

FlameStrike
April 20th, 2011, 05:42 PM
Wow, a powerful chapter. Galen really took a blow there, I just hope he can remember his friends and recover from his hell. Hermione too. I don't think she'll be in any state to listen, but Shirou and Takara were also fictional characters in perspective to Galen's original dimension. The thing is, it's just not relevant now. They live HERE; it's something that Luna understands, but Hermione just can't accept.

Kieran
April 20th, 2011, 06:33 PM
I admit, it was bloody brutal to write. You have no idea how hard I worked, trying to decide what was going to happen, and how far things were going to go. I owe Elf for her generous gift of time and use as a sounding board. Thank you muchly, dear lady.

Amusingly (if you tend toward the darker shades of it), this was basically my original plan for the last book, but having to confess to Hermione as much as they did in "The Chamber" made it seem repetitive, so I scrapped it. I really didn't think I'd need it - and certainly not in Book 4, where I already had so much plot going on . . . Shows what I know. :rolleyes: In any case, it's anybody's guess as to how long this will last, and if I'll actually be able to accomplish my future story goals because of the rift. Believe me, I'm open to suggestions at this point - because as of now, I have no idea what's going to happen next.

FlameStrike
April 20th, 2011, 07:30 PM
Hahaha yeah I too was wondering how the hell this could possibly go down. Unfortunately my creativity isn't very good, hence why I'm an avid reader and not a writer myself. You really did an excellent job with this chapter though. It's very in character but not filled with emo like it could have easily been. It reflects Galen's character development very well. He has gone beyond just the thoughts of ending himself and realized that if he were to die, there would be consequences left behind.

Elf
April 20th, 2011, 08:02 PM
Ah, the Dark Knight Theme. :)

You already know my thoughts, me being the Sounding Board and all. :)

hatori
April 20th, 2011, 09:08 PM
and you write angsty like it's going outta style. I like the way this is going.

Kieran
April 20th, 2011, 09:15 PM
It's very in character but not filled with emo like it could have easily been. It reflects Galen's character development very well. He has gone beyond just the thoughts of ending himself and realized that if he were to die, there would be consequences left behind.

*blinks* You must have a higher emo scale than I do.





Ah, the Dark Knight Theme. :)

I was going to use "Harry and Hermione" from the "Half-Blood Prince" soundtrack, but I figured as long as I was borrowing the speech . . .



You already know my thoughts, me being the Sounding Board and all. :)

And I do appreciate it.




and you write angsty like it's going outta style. I like the way this is going.

Not easy to deal when I write to stay out of depressive funks, though. Then again, I suppose I should use what I'm good at. *chuckle* :)

B.B. Rain
April 20th, 2011, 09:22 PM
Pshhh, they're not gonna actually follow his Luna-delivered orders, right? I mean, that's just plain unlikely, at least in the other traveler's cases.

Probably in the native's cases, too, depending on if/how this particular revelation is gonna get explained/broken to them.

jwang
April 20th, 2011, 09:42 PM
I love how you add in these little bits of soundtracks into the stories, though for some of it I really can't agree with the tone and the scene that your portraying. The Dark Knight theme you picked is more of a "running fight" tune for me rather than one where emotions clash, revelations are made, and perceptions are shattered. Maybe something a bit slower? Tastes in music aside, another excellent chapter, full of conflict, plot progression, and character development. I can see the group splintering into two, with the original trinity backing Galen, the girls going with Hermione either due to personal beliefs or at Galen's urgings, and Neville stuck in the middle trying to help his friends and role models. Extrapolation from here would probably see Hermione going to the ball with either Krum or Ron (just for spite perhaps), but any further I really can't tell.

FlameStrike
April 20th, 2011, 10:24 PM
Holyshit! I hadn't even thought about the possibility that Hermione might go out with Ron to spite Galen. Although that's still highly unlikely at this point. For one thing, Ron hates/is scared shitless of Galen, so going out with one of Galen's best friends isn't exactly something he'd feel inclined to do. Also Hermione isn't really looking out to hurt Galen I think. If she was, she had the perfect chance to do so. In fact, she can just call up Galen any time and exact punishment. I doubt Galen would resist.

I can't see this as something that will last long term though. Hermione's shock over learning the truth is something unique to her. It's because she fell in love with Galen and was influenced and saved by him so much that she feels betrayed. The other HPverse characters aren't likely to care that much. They'll probably take the Jack Rakan "What's that got to do with my life?" view much like Luna did. After all, they are real, and the things they've experienced are real. If Hermione stopped to think it through, she'd remember that Galen risked his life to save her, more than once I might add. He risked life and limb and was prepared to die for a "fictional" character.

FcS
April 21st, 2011, 12:21 AM
The only one who could (and probably would) talk some sense to Hermione about this is probably Takara... if she'd listen to her. :S After all, they talked about many things and already best-friends, but who knows if she won't...

I don't know if this problem will be solved in time for the Ball, but if it doesn't get solved... Can I expect more Galen/Takara? /kicked

Cascade
April 21st, 2011, 02:42 AM
Yeah, to be honest it's a pretty esoteric concern to be told you're "fictional."
Even if the data is processed by your brain, you won't really be able to recognize it due to the fact that you remember your entire life and have memories and personal experiences that are comparable to the people ostensibly enjoying a segment of those experiences as fiction. So in effect, your existence is the same, only you've been told you're fake. Realistically that wouldn't actually change much. You're still bound by the laws of reality within your fictional world, and in this case you'd live a full life like a normal human, with experiences that people reading will watch and enjoy with or without your knowledge. So it's actually not that different from being real.

If they looked back and realized their memories of their past were fuzzy, and they can't seem to recall much beyond the events spoken of in flashbacks and stuff actually detailed within the canon, then that would be unnerving. It makes the feeling of being fictional much more tangible to a person when they can't recall anything but what the audience is interested in knowing.

ringlhach
April 21st, 2011, 03:53 AM
Hold up, Soviet Union? Didn't that fall in '91? Did that change here, or is Durmstrang hidden by time, too?

re:Galen/Hermione: I can see her befriending Ron, but I don't think she's going to be able to stand him for long. He's too much of a moron. Someone from the Fate 'verse needs to sit down and explain what, exactly, Galen is/was, and it's probably going to be either Takara or Ilya. My money's on Ilya, though. Someone's going to have to pick up Galen's pieces, after all, and I'm pretty sure it's not going to be Luna.

Ergast
April 21st, 2011, 04:46 AM
Well, I think it would help that someone tells her that Shirou, Rin, Illya and Takara are also, in theory, fictional for Galen. Except that Takara is an original and inexistant character in a fictional world, at least to Galen's knowledge.

And I doubt they would follow Galen's orders. Shirou and Takara can't be persuaded or forced, at least.

Kieran
April 21st, 2011, 07:02 AM
Hold up, Soviet Union? Didn't that fall in '91? Did that change here, or is Durmstrang hidden by time, too?

Yeah, it did - but I couldn't remember the exact year it did at the time. In-story, assume Ilya is being deliberately vague, to appease the paranoia of Durmstrang. She's giving just enough information for Shirou to have a context, but not enough for him to actually find the place.

ringlhach
April 21st, 2011, 10:39 AM
Maybe "old Soviet Union" would work better, then. It was pretty big news when it fell, after all- although I don't know that wizards would have noticed such muggle matters... :p

Kieran
April 21st, 2011, 07:49 PM
Point - it's changed.

Megaolix
April 22nd, 2011, 07:10 AM
Hmmm... Is it normal that I feel like punching Galen in the face (repeatedly) for his damn constant self-persecution complex?

Barret
April 22nd, 2011, 01:11 PM
Yes, it is a perfectly normal impulse.

FlameStrike
April 22nd, 2011, 03:05 PM
Hmm I don't know about that. While I too am annoyed when Galen goes off on a tangent, you have to take context into account. Considering Galen's experiences and how it fits his character, I can give him leeway. The problem is that my empathy only goes so far. Even though I know that he has every right to act the way he does, I can't help but be annoyed since I don't really "understand" him. His concerns are too deep, his pain too great, and I lack similar experiences in my own life to truly be able to put myself in his shoes. I can't fault him for his complex though, because if I was in his position I'd be already dead, and I sure as hell cannot put up with all the painful experience he went through. Galen is a brilliant character. He isn't perfect and tends to put all the blame on himself, but in the end his faults only serve to make his character more interesting. There is a reason why no one likes Mary Sues and etc. Being able to complain about the faults of a character in a horrible situation is naivety of an outsider looking at character's situation from the safety and comfort of his home.

Kieran
April 22nd, 2011, 07:21 PM
And I can see the validity of both of your viewpoints - but I appreciate the defence. :)And now, on with the show . . .






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 Goblet of Fire, but I trust in the intelligence of my readers (and the availability of the books) to recognise them when they see them.



Chapter 24 - Leading a Merry Dance



December 18 - 24, 1994






To say that Takara was frustrated would be like calling Hogwarts “old” - technically accurate, but an understatement so severe it should really be considered criminal. The pressures of the last week had not been kind - not only the loads of course work expected as they approached the end of term, plus the buildup to the Yule Ball (which she still had no date for), but the strain within her own circle of friends. Ilya and Rin were back to sniping at each other, Hermione wasn’t talking to her, and Galen wasn’t around to be talked to!

Agreeing to his request for a day or two had seemed to make perfect sense - it would give Hermione time to calm down and think about things under minimal stress, and they’d have a better idea of how she was handling things, and what they needed to do about it. Her stance had surprised Shirou, who’d been expecting her to go find Galen and smack him upside the head for even thinking they’d abandon him, until she’d pointed out that she had her own experiences of being in Hermione’s position.

“My Servant had just been killed protecting me from Saber,” Takara had said. “My father was dying in slow agony, my mother had abandoned us both - and there was nothing I could do for any of them, no one left I could turn to. And then the handsomest, most popular boy in school called to ask me out on a date. Me - the half-breed, the tomboy - all the girls in my grade would’ve sold their souls to go out with him, and he’d asked me. I thought I was dreaming . . . Until it turned into a nightmare. He tried to kill me - wasn’t even interested in me at all, except for use as a blood sacrifice. My entire life - my world - had fallen apart. I can understand how she feels, and why Galen’s worried. So I’ll do as he asks, for now - stay with her, watch over her, if only to make sure she doesn’t harm herself.

“For now,” she’d repeated firmly.

Shirou had winced at her example, and reluctantly agreed. Takara hadn’t been surprised, since by now, she knew how to push his buttons as easily as Galen’s. They’d followed his request and backed off, to see what Hermione would choose to do. But after a few days, when it seemed she’d decided to simply ignore them all - Shirou and Takara outside of class, and Galen completely - Takara had decided it was time to confront Galen, since leaving him alone to brood over things in a situation like this was never good, regardless of what Luna had reported he’d said.

Except he was nowhere to be found. Talking in class or the common room was, obviously, out of the question - but he somehow disappeared before they got up for their calisthenics, took no meals in the Great Hall, was never in the library when she looked . . . He didn’t even show up to collect his dose of Wolfsbane Potion this week, though they’d seemed to vanish anyway. If he hadn’t kept showing up for class, she’d have assumed he’d left the school!

He still might have, Takara noted. I know the plan was to stay at the castle, with the Ball and everything - but Hermione told him to “stay away.” Back to London is apparent as “away” as it gets, and it’s not as though McGonagall could keep him here if he really wanted to go. Today was the end of term, and he could always be home-schooled by his mother. And nobody’s seen him for two days, when term ended - but his trunk’s still here, and he’s getting his doses somehow.

The problem with tracking him down was that Galen carried both the Deathcloak and the Marauders’ Map with him at all times. This meant that when he wanted to avoid somebody, he had not only an unparalleled stealth system, but what amounted to a real-time GPS lock on every resident in the castle, and free access to nearly every password and secret passage, as well. This meant that he could literally see you coming, vanish, and sequester himself somewhere you couldn’t follow. It was, to criminally understate things, frustrating. Tonight, however, there would be no escape. They always locked him in the same classroom during the full moon - if Galen was still in the castle, he would be in there by dark. And while she might not have the Deathcloak to sneak around with at the moment, she was not without resources of her own.

Slipping out of Gryffindor Tower itself was easy - they’d done it so often she could practically do it blindfolded. The corridors required a bit more caution, as they were patrolled, and ghosts were easy to run into, being inherently silent. But the portraits wouldn’t automatically announce her presence, so being slow and careful gave her all the edge in the world when it came to avoiding Filch - and Peeves. In no time at all, Takara had reached the upper walkway on the fifth floor, leading into the open air - which meant that it was time to deploy her trump card. Concentration turned blue-black hair and pale gold skin to ash-gray feathers, and the world rushed up suddenly, before it rushed away in a flurry of sudden, powerful beats of her wings. She launched herself aloft, and then swooped down and around, towards the classroom she sought.

Drifting silently through the winter night sky was as relaxing as a kata, in its way. Given that her Animagus form was both secret and illegal, Takara didn’t get to be an eagle owl very often, or for very long - but she had to admit she enjoyed it. Even more than her broomstick, in some ways. She wasn’t as fast or manoeuvrable as an owl as she was on her Firebolt, but it was all her own effort that let her fly, which was rewarding in its own way.

Like the difference between jogging and driving, she mused, before realising that she was deliberately distracting herself - trying not to think of the room being empty.

Takara banked and alighted on the classroom windowsill - barely comfortable for an owl, let alone a girl. Still, she’d need her hands to open the window, and possibly her wand. Slowly, she transformed back, easing through the process and focussing on maintaining her balance . . . Once she was satisfied she wasn’t going to fall, she drew her holly wand, whispered the spell to disable the Locking Charm, and opened the glass pane before slipping inside, dropping to the floor with a muffled thump.

“What are you doing here?” Galen hissed.

“Making sure you’re actually still here!” Takara hissed back. “We were starting to wonder." A flourish of her wand re-locked the window. “Just because I’m not supposed to act like your friend doesn’t mean I don’t worry! Besides,” she added bitterly. “Hermione seems to blame all three of us for this, so it’s not like it really matters if we’re seen with you, does it?”

Galen grimaced. “Damn. I’m sorry, Tak - ” The Japanese witch cut him off by slapping her hand over his mouth.

“Don’t start,” she warned. “Hermione’s behaviour towards us is on Hermione, nobody else. She’s fifteen, hurt, and confused, so I’ll let some things slide because of that - but it’s still her choice.”

He still scowled. “How are the others taking things?”

“Ginny, Neville and Luna are playing along. Gin and Nev don’t know what’s going on, I honestly think they’re afraid to know, if it could turn Hermione against you - and don’t look at me like that!” She put her hands on her hips. “I’m not telling you this to lay on a guilt trip - it’s just a fact. She’s been as loyal to you as she ever was to Harry, if not more, so anything that can shake her like this has to be major.”

“I half-expected her to taint the potion,” he admitted softly. “She showed an unnerving capacity for doing things out of spite when she got older - even after she regretted some of the earlier stuff.”

“I’d have known - and then I’d have caved her skull in, and she knows it,” Takara said this without a trace of hyperbole, then she shook her head. “Besides, I don’t think she’d go that far. Not yet, anyway. Her limit appears to be agreeing to be Viktor Krum’s date for the Yule Ball - she made sure Luna and I saw her accept his invitation while she was helping me look for spells to use against merpeople.”

Galen shivered in response - at least, Takara thought so before she recognised the action. She had about five minutes before moonrise.

“So . . . You’re free, and I need a date to the Yule Ball,” Takara said lightly, trying to sound casual.

“I kind of figured you’d go with Shirou or Neville.”

“Shirou’s going with Ilya,” Takara muttered. The worst part was, the half-Veela witch had been too cheery to even be properly smug when she’d told Takara. She was more like a little girl that was going to finally get her pony, and Takara hadn’t had the heart to feel jealous or spiteful over it.

“And I think Neville’s a little too intimidated by the situation to ask, now,” Takara added. “And the Weasley twins are going with the Delacours, so I’m out of boys I know that I’m comfortable with - except you.” She widened her eyes and pouted.

“Wait - Fred and George are going with Rin and Fleur? Not Katie and Angelina?”

Takara shook her head. “Rin asked Fred, and he joked that if she could talk Fleur into taking his brother - but she didn’t know he was joking, I guess.”

“Hm. Another change, but nothing big . . . I hope.”

“Look at it this way,” she offered with a smirk. “My Ball date is liable to be my hostage for the Second Task - and would you really want to put anyone else at risk by being held underwater, unconscious?”

“You know I hate being manipulated,” he muttered.

“Yes - but I also know exactly which buttons to push. If you’re going to be the martyring type, I might as well use it to my advantage.” Takara glared at Galen, even as another shudder went through him. “Now - yes, or no?”

He smiled weakly. “I did say if you couldn’t find anyone else, Takara - though I still think you could - yes, YES, I’ll go! I’ll take you!” he babbled frantically as she began advancing on him menacingly.

She smiled. “Good. Thank you.”

“Any time . . .” he muttered, then shook his head. “I am suddenly very glad you and Hermione aren’t speaking - I have enough trouble dealing each of with you on an individual basis. If you two ever decided to double-team me . . .” This shudder had nothing to do with the moon.

Takara smirked. “In your dreams, Galen - and only then.”

“I didn’t mean it like - “ he cut off with a scream as the moon began having its typical effect. Takara reverted to Animagus form and flew up to perch on a chandelier, out of the reach of lupine fangs and claws.

After all, she had faith in Hermione’s sense of morality and fairness . . . But Galen was never wrong when he wanted to be.






Ginny glanced from her textbook to Hermione in concern. The older witch was still studying, supposedly, and deliberately not acknowledging Shirou, even after he reached across her range of vision to dip his quill in the ink pot beside her, and delicately fished out the sleeve of her robe in the process.

She traded glances with Neville and Luna. The former just looked concerned, like herself, but Luna seemed on the verge of rolling her eyes in a “what an idiot” fashion. Given that Luna wasn’t generally as sardonic or sarcastic as the rest of them, that seemed a fairly strong indicator that she wasn’t happy with Hermione’s behaviour. But she couldn’t get details out of either witch - just that something had happened between Hermione and Galen to hurt her, and that Galen felt guilty enough to tell them to organise a lynch mob, if she told them to.

Of course, Galen feeling guilty isn’t exactly a rare occurrence, Ginny thought, rolling her own eyes. I swear, there are times I wonder why I ever bothered being frightened of him.

It had taken several years - and more than a few full moons together under Wolfsbane Potion - but she was finally comfortable with the older wizard’s presence. They’d likely never be as close as she wanted to be with Shirou - or even as close as she was with Neville, the only wizard who lived like one in their group - but she could reasonably think of him as unofficially being another big brother. He’d probably be Charlie’s substitute, loving animals as he did. And if he didn’t have Charlie’s size, he was still bloody intimidating in his own right.

And Shirou would be like Bill - the really cool, good-looking successful one. He’d left home when she was very young, but Ginny had always been impressed by her eldest brother. She’d wanted to marry someone like him - and Shirou certainly fit the bill . . . She blushed, remembering what Shirou had looked like in that apron.

Pity I can’t get him to notice me, she thought dejectedly, but between Takara, and now that Rin girl - not to mention having his big sister here, doing her best to monopolise his time - how can I compete?

This question had been on Ginny’s mind for some years, ever since Shirou had rescued her and her brother Percy from a millennium-old basilisk, but it had a special urgency now. The Yule Ball was just days away, and she had a brand-new gown just begging to be worn . . . But it was age-restricted, meaning she wouldn’t be able to go unless an older student invited her. Of her close friends, both Galen and Shirou were off-limits. Ginny knew that, realistically, there was no point in asking Shirou - not with Takara, and Rin here. By the same token, even without the current unpleasantness, there was no point in asking Galen - Hermione had gotten him at the beginning of the year, and Takara likely would’ve have gone for him if she hadn’t - and had gone for him, according to the older witch, when Hermione had broken the date.

That left only one eligible wizard in her immediate circle of friends: Neville Longbottom.

To be fair, Neville wasn’t a bad guy. He was a little too shy and retiring for her liking, but he was kind. His face was a little plain, and his hair wasn’t much to look at, but he had broad shoulders and the beginnings of some really impressive muscles. And they’d been friends for a while . . . But on that basis, she could easily ask Dean Thomas, too. He was over at the Burrow every summer since Ron’s first year, and he was an artist, which was kind of neat. He’d drawn her portrait a few times, and done really well. The only thing was, she was fairly certain Ron would explode if she did - both because he’d feel compelled to be overprotective as a big brother, and because he was jealous of her having a date while he didn’t.

Neville, on the other hand, wasn’t likely to let Ron get to him - and he was a Triwizard champion, whether by accident or plot. He had to have a date, and she hadn’t heard of him asking anyone yet (unlike Ron, who’d been shot down by Fleur Delacour yesterday). Dean, on the other hand, might’ve asked Parvati Patil or Lavender Brown by now. In Ginny’s ideal world, none of this would’ve been necessary. Takara would’ve asked Galen, and Neville would’ve asked Hermione, and she would’ve been free to ask Shirou before that Delacour girl ever showed up. But it hadn’t happened, so now she just had to adapt and make other plans - which meant that contrary to her expectations, she might have to end up asking Neville to take her.

The problem is, we don’t share classes, so we’re rarely alone. The closest we get to it now is sparring sessions where we’re paired off together - and that’s not exactly a very romantic time or place to make a date, is it? But I can’t get into the Ball unless my date is fourth-year or older, and I’m running out of time . . .

Fox-sharpened ears picked up Neville’s whisper, “Um, Luna . . .? I don’t suppose you’d be interested in going to the Yule Ball with me - would you?”

“I’d like to,” Luna replied, causing Ginny’s heart to sink at another lost option. Then the blonde added, “Unfortunately, I’ll be working.”

“Working?” Neville blurted in surprise. “On what?”

Ginny turned her head, curious herself.

“On the Ball, of course,” Luna said. “The Quibbler is the Triwizard champions’ official media representative, and the Yule Ball is a Triwizard event - so I have to write the story, have pictures taken . . . It’s a very big responsibility, and it wouldn’t look good professionally if I was one of the champions’ dates. It might lead to accusations of bias - and the Quibbler’s integrity would be questioned.” She shook her head. “That just can’t be allowed. So, I’m sorry, Neville, but I can’t go with you. I will want to interview you later, though - maybe during one of the slow dances?”

“Sure, Luna.” Neville sighed. He looked at Ginny, “And you’ve already got a date, so -”

“No, I don’t,” Ginny said quickly. “Why did you think I had a date?”

“I overheard your brother talking to Dean about how to treat you on your date, and where to hold you - “

”What?” Ginny interrupted, certain that her face was the colour of her hair. All right, granted, it was kind of sweet that Ron would look out for her, and try to get her a date - but to do so without asking? And then to presume to dictate her date’s behaviour?

Like I’m not capable of getting my own dates, or looking out for myself. And as though he’s got the right to dictate what happens on my dates - why doesn’t he just go all the way, and use the Imperius Curse?

Ron needed to learn to stay out of her business, and especially her love life. For a brief moment, Ginny considered breaking Galen’s “no contact” rule - the werewolf would definitely know how to make a lasting impression . . . She remembered how he’d threatened Draco Malfoy the year before, and shuddered inwardly.

On second thought, just Fred and George ought to be fine. They’re too afraid of Mum to do anything really nasty to Ron - but he’s not liable to forget the lesson any time soon, either.

“I would love to go with you, Neville,” Ginny said, smiling, though she suspected it looked a trifle icy. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go find my brothers, so we can talk to our other brother about meddling in my business.”

I just hope they leave enough of him that a Bat Bogey Hex at the end won’t seem like overkill . . .






Shirou was down in Hogsmeade, picking up the last things he needed for the Ball the next night, when he ran into Rin. He was surprised to see her - he’d had to slip through the Honeydukes passage to get to the village, himself - but the presence of other teenagers in blue silk sort of explained it.

“Didn’t you guys for to Hogsmeade last weekend, with us?”

“Madame Maxime allowed us the day off - last-minute Christmas shopping, and all,” the Japanese witch explained. “I expected it to be busy, but not this busy! What happened to the quiet, quaint English village?”

“Christmas,” Shirou said, deadpan.

Rin sighed. “I suppose so - it just means this is going to be awfully hard. Fleur doesn’t strike me as the type that’s easy to buy for. I put it off since the carriage is only so large, and there weren’t too many places to hide things for long periods, but . . .” She sighed again. “I don’t suppose you know anything about her that could help?”

“You’d really have to ask Galen - or Ilya,” Shirou said flatly, and Rin grimaced.

“I like having my head attached, thanks. But it’s not my fault you never told them - and nobody told me you hadn’t!”

Shirou drew her to a corner and cast the requisite privacy spells. “You could’ve asked, Rin. You’re the one that decided not to talk to me, remember? But even then, it never occurred to you to question Ilya, either.”

“I had reasons not to talk to you,” Rin said. “I still do. You lied to me, used me - and it looks like your friend picked up the same habits.”

Shirou stared. “Were you listening to Ilya at all? Did anything of what she said get through?”

“I got the gist - the guy’s a suicidal nutcase you’ve spent four years trying to pull back from the edge,” Rin muttered. “Personally, it sounds to me like you just don’t know when to write him off as a lost cause.”

“Like you did?” Shirou sniped. If she wanted to play catty about his best male friend, he could return the favour. Galen’s pessimistic and suicidal tendencies were irritating, and took a lot of energy and will to deal with, at times - but only at times. And in the last year or so, he’d been improving.

Damn it, he’d been improving . . . And this could send him right back to where he was, and further.

Rin didn’t need further information to see where that taunt was intended to lead her, and fired back, “Look what it got me! I help out a complete idiot of a magus because I feel sorry for him, he somehow becomes my Servant, who toys with me like a marionette - except I’d never have known that if I hadn’t come out to this reality with nothing resembling intelligent magecraft chasing him and found you instead! And now it doesn’t matter, because I’m stuck here!” She exhaled slowly, seething. “At least Hermione knows the truth.”

“For all the good it’s doing her,” Shirou’s voice was just as bitter. “When I first met her, I thought Hermione was like you - brilliant, knowledgeable, eager to learn - compassionate.” The last was added drily. “And she is.

“But she was like you with Sakura’s self-confidence level - no friends, a mountain of insecurities - and she was entering a world that was largely run, or at least influenced, by a powerful minority that hated her for being born.”

Which, taking Shinji into account, is also like Sakura, he thought.

“Left by herself, Hermione would’ve died before Christmas in first year - but she had Galen. She’s always had Galen. He does everything he can to support her, help her, encourage her, protect her. . . Half the bloody problems we have with him are because he goes too far in trying to keep her safe from himself! But she always knew she could count on him, trust him to be there when she needed him - and now she doubts. Now she wonders how she missed it, and what else she missed, for all her intelligence. And I don’t need to be an expert on teenaged girls to know that it’s tearing her up inside.”

Rin’s cheeks had two bright red spots. “He shouldn’t have lied to her.”

“I told him that when he did it! Hell, he knew it when he did it!”

“Then why?”

There was an undercurrent of real anguish in the question. It might have been surprising - but a teenaged Rin was not nearly as subtle as her elder counterpart, so Shirou easily understood the real question being asked of him.

“Because at first, he was afraid Hermione would think he was crazy and avoid him, and he wouldn’t be able to be close enough to save her when she needed it - because she would need it. And later, that she wouldn’t be able to handle the idea that she wasn’t real - she’s intelligent enough to truly consider all the possibilities that entails.” Shirou sighed. “Whereas in my case, I knew you’d try to stop me if you understood my plans - especially my backup plan.”

Killing Emiya Shirou had been a means to end his contract, not the goal. He’d always hoped that he’d be summoned to a War in a reality where the Grail was actually as advertised, and won it fairly. But if the alternative was the only way - well, he’d been prepared to take it.

“I would’ve had to kill you to get to my target,” Shirou said. “And I didn’t want to find out if I’d actually fallen that far. Because I was afraid the answer would be ‘yes.’ So it was easier to lie, and pretend, and manipulate . . .” He trailed off and snorted in sudden laughter. “Now I’m starting to understand why he didn’t listen to me when I warned him. It’s the difference between us - the reason. He lied to Hermione to try and protect her . . . But I lied to protect myself.”

“If Hermione’s as smart as you say, she’ll figure that out,” Rin pointed out. “Eventually, anyway. She’ll forgive him.”

“I hope so,” Shirou said grimly. “But I hope you realise just how much damage you’ve done, Rin. Our group is fractured, at a time when we need to be working together to make sure we all survive - but more than that . . . You’ve taken away Hermione’s first friend, her closest friend, her first love. She may be a long time recovering from that, if she ever does. And Galen . . .”

Shirou paused. “Galen basically has two modes of dealing with stress: depression, and anger. Right now, he’s depressed, which means he’ll take it out mostly on himself. Isolation, brooding, suicide attempts - that kind of thing. But the anger’s there, looking for a target, and if he finds out you’re the one who told Hermione . . .”

Shirou stared at her steadily. “Ilya says she had a good reason when she chose him as her ‘protector’ - especially since the job really means serving as her judge, jury and executioner. Pray he doesn’t find out you told Hermione, Rin - or we’ll find out exactly what that reason was.”

The Japanese witch swallowed heavily.

“Enjoy your Christmas shopping.” And on that note, Shirou walked away.

He cared for Rin - she was his friend, if nothing else, and had been his friend when they were very hard to come by, under very stressful circumstances. But that didn’t mean that he wasn’t angry at her over this. Galen and Hermione were his friends, too.

Damn it, Galen had been getting better - after Hallowe’en, even with all the stress of the Tournament, he seemed more relaxed, a little more open . . . I think he was finally beginning to adjust to the idea of living in this world, rather than just existing. And Hermione had gotten him to take her to the Ball, even if she had to be sneaky about it. It could’ve gone so well, for both of them. And now it’s come to this . . .

No, as much as Rin was angry with him (and with good reason, he admitted), Shirou was equally angry at her right now. It had been an accident, a genuine slip made without malice intended, and he knew that - but it still rankled. He wasn’t accustomed to letting people who hurt his friends get away with it, any more than Galen was accustomed to it. Or Takara, for that matter. But, ultimately, kicking Rin around wasn’t going to fix things.

Everyone seems to think that Hermione will eventually forgive him - and I hope to God that’s true. Under normal circumstances, knowing what I know about her, I’d agree . . . But given the way this year is playing out, I don’t think we can really guarantee it. Nothing else has gone the way we expected. Hopefully, the Yule Ball will give everybody a chance to calm down, relax, and rethink things. Maybe we’ll be able to salvage the situation before it gets too far out of hand.

But a cynical whisper that sounded far too much like Archer for Shirou’s liking retorted, When have things ever been that easy?






Additional Writer's Notes: To "lead (on) a merry dance" is British version of leading a merry chase - or in other words, to give someone a hard time. I thought it particularly appropriate, as we head into the Yule Ball (and hopefully, the halfway point).

B.B. Rain
April 22nd, 2011, 08:22 PM
I want to have something witty and insightful to say about this chapter, and how it affects the story, but frankly I'm kind of hung up on your deconstruction of Shirou-As-Canon-Archer's motives and plan.

I had no idea about the 'Grail working as advertised,' thing, as it was never mentioned in the fanon I've had access to, and I can't stand going through recorded play-throughs of games, even if in the case of a visual novel it'd be more like a stilted, really long movie. This really puts a shift on my understanding of Archer, and my interpretation of him as a character in both canon and 'fics. I understand other authors don't necessarily share or know that viewpoint, whether it's actually canon or not, but still...

*sighs*, (re-focusing)...

The comparison of Hermione to both Tohsaka sisters is pretty interesting. I don't necessarily agree with it, mostly on comparing the pureblood bigots to Shinji. I mean, the verbal bit in general, minority opinion with near-absolute control, but I'd align that more with the combination of Shinji, Zouken, and the general traditional-magi approach to both non-heirs and pseudo heirs (Tokiomi and Zouken respectively); and there's a world of difference between the very direct, constant, personal influence of the Matous upon Sakura; vs. the initially impersonal, unfocused, societal influence of the purebloods, with little to no personal interaction so far beyond Draco Malfoy calling names and getting the shit beaten/cursed out of him in your story (and at this point in canon), and the frankly minimal direct contact of the later books. I realize it was just a quick analogy drawn more for impact by Shirou then a 100% factual analysis projected by a supercomputer, but I need something story-relevant to type about, and this was a convenient point I was actually initially cognizant of.

On a lighter note, ah yes...More deserved Ron abuse. Will there be a humorous anecdote?

As for Hermione's Yule date, wasn't that Galen's big initial plan for diverting her? I'm surprised you're having that turn up again! Semi-sucessfully, no less! If you aren't careful, you'll make Galen an accidental mastermind (though in this specific case, I think it's more of an Unintentional Backup Plan then a proper Xanatos Gambit or Roulette)...

Last, and hopefully making a mountain out of a molehill...This fractioning of the group. Is this...Could it be...The first step to bringing about that Bad (But Oh-So-Delightfully Vicious) End you drabbled on the old forum? Where, surrounded by the corpses of her friends, Takara used the DeathStone to unleash Counter-Guardians Archer and Avenger upon the world?

Kieran
April 22nd, 2011, 09:00 PM
I want to have something witty and insightful to say about this chapter, and how it affects the story, but frankly I'm kind of hung up on your deconstruction of Shirou-As-Canon-Archer's motives and plan.

I had no idea about the 'Grail working as advertised,' thing, as it was never mentioned in the fanon I've had access to, and I can't stand going through recorded play-throughs of games, even if in the case of a visual novel it'd be more like a stilted, really long movie. This really puts a shift on my understanding of Archer, and my interpretation of him as a character in both canon and 'fics. I understand other authors don't necessarily share or know that viewpoint, whether it's actually canon or not, but still...

Well, it's always been kind of nebulous, to me. From my understanding, Archer became a Servant in the Grail War because he was disillusioned about being a Counter Guardian - which implies that he had to have some level of awareness/free will as a CG in order to do that. A desire for the Grail to fulfill, at least. And given that his Grail War experience as Shirou did not include EMIYA as as Archer, that they can be summoned across divergent timelines. And the impression of Archer I have is that he's not averse to soaking his hands in blood to accomplish his goals - but that he's also so damned tired of it.

Ergo, it's not unreasonable to me that he might hope for the path least soaked in blood - that somewhere, there's an untainted Holy Grail he can fight for. But, failing that, he'll take the other one-in-a-million shot, and kill his younger self.



The comparison of Hermione to both Tohsaka sisters is pretty interesting. I don't necessarily agree with it, mostly on comparing the pureblood bigots to Shinji. I mean, the verbal bit in general, minority opinion with near-absolute control, but I'd align that more with the combination of Shinji, Zouken, and the general traditional-magi approach to both non-heirs and pseudo heirs (Tokiomi and Zouken respectively); and there's a world of difference between the very direct, constant, personal influence of the Matous upon Sakura; vs. the initially impersonal, unfocused, societal influence of the purebloods, with little to no personal interaction so far beyond Draco Malfoy calling names and getting the shit beaten/cursed out of him in your story (and at this point in canon), and the frankly minimal direct contact of the later books. I realize it was just a quick analogy drawn more for impact by Shirou then a 100% factual analysis projected by a supercomputer, but I need something story-relevant to type about, and this was a convenient point I was actually initially cognizant of.

Fair enough - and you're right. But this was the quickest (and dirtiest) way to drive the point home to Rin.



On a lighter note, ah yes...More deserved Ron abuse. Will there be a humorous anecdote?

About his attempt to ask Fleur out, the unholy beatdown the Weasleys are about to administer, a future scene of (possibly literal) Ron-bashing, or all of the above?



As for Hermione's Yule date, wasn't that Galen's big initial plan for diverting her? I'm surprised you're having that turn up again! Semi-sucessfully, no less! If you aren't careful, you'll make Galen an accidental mastermind (though in this specific case, I think it's more of an Unintentional Backup Plan then a proper Xanatos Gambit or Roulette)...

Or another frightening example of the universe wanting things to go A Certain Way, now that I think about it . . .



Last, and hopefully making a mountain out of a molehill...This fractioning of the group. Is this...Could it be...The first step to bringing about that Bad (But Oh-So-Delightfully Vicious) End you drabbled on the old forum? Where, surrounded by the corpses of her friends, Takara used the DeathStone to unleash Counter-Guardians Archer and Avenger upon the world?

I'd forgotten that was gone now - I suppose I'll have to rewrite it, won't I?

Maybe add to it, too - I always wanted to write Avenger's assault on the Ministry . . . *sinister chuckle*