DISCLAIMER: Lunar Legend Tsukihime, Fate/Stay Night, and all related characters and concepts are the creation and property of Kinoko Nasu and Type-Moon, along with anyone who's happened to license them, like Geneon or Funimation. Harry Potter and all related characters and concepts are the creation and property of J.K. Rowling, along with her publishers and Warner Bros., as regards the movie material.
This is a not-for-profit, just-for-fun project.
Writer's Note: Certain dialogue sequences in this story are lifted from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, but I trust in the intelligence of my readers (and the availability of the books) to recognise them when they see them.
Chapter 5 - Raining Cats and Dogs (and Wolves)
September 19 - 23, 1991
No matter what universe she was in, or what identity she presently held, Takara Aozaki clung to certain truths. Among those was the firm belief that mornings absolutely should not start before noon. Ideally, they might not even begin until three. However, it seemed that the universe (or at least, any variant of it she’d encountered so far) had other plans, and was determined to include her in them.
Thus, she found herself literally up and running (if not exactly cheerful, or even awake) at 6:15 every morning for the purpose of doing laps around the lake. She didn’t like it. She grumbled about it repeatedly. She was even worried by the fact that after two weeks of this, she almost seemed to be getting used to it! But she did it anyway, knowing that sooner or later she was going to be up against supernaturally powerful foes - without her accustomed abilities. Lacking the power to slice just about anything into pieces left her at a severe disadvantage, especially when she was effectively eleven, with an eleven year old’s conditioning - and training in the magical arts.
So she ran, because she suspected she’d be doing a lot of it, and the better at it she was, the more likely she’d be to survive. She still hated having to do it first thing in the morning, though - and she suspected that once Quidditch practice was added to her schedule, she’d hate it even more.
Takara couldn’t help but grin at the memory. It had gone pretty much like the movie sequence - she’d caught Neville’s Remembrall and been drafted onto Gryffindor’s team. Flying, she admitted to herself, was fun. And Malfoy seemed to be even angrier at losing to her than he’d been at Harry - probably because she didn’t have the name value of the “Boy Who Lived,” and was a girl to boot.
She lived to show up people like that. She could hardly wait until he bought his way onto the team next year, so she could do it up close and personally. If they ended up being stuck here that long, it was good to have something to look forward to.
Takara glanced at her two running mates. Galen, she knew, was looking forward to a lot of things - his first full moon as a werewolf being one of them. He was already taking the Wolfsbane potion in preparation, and had said emphatically, “Repeated exposure does not improve the taste.” Still, better half-poisoned than a murderous, rampaging beast, right? She guessed they’d find out in four days.
Shirou, on the other hand . . . What he might be looking forward to, she couldn’t say. He was quiet, and said little to anybody. He was garnering attention, though. His looks were exotic enough that many of the girls in Gryffindor were marking him as a “future hottie.” Having seen at least a version of what he looked like at seventeen, she could hardly disagree. It didn’t, however, mean that she planned to pursue him. Once was enough for that particular mistake.
On the other hand, if we’re actually here long enough for me to worry about dating, I may be desperate enough to try.
Takara followed the boys back towards the portrait of the Fat Lady (the woman was remarkably sweet-tempered for having such a terrible name), intent on a hot shower to cleanse the sweat off before she dressed for breakfast. Her thoughts and intentions, however, were interrupted by an odd, ear-splitting sound. It was a “squeeing” sort of noise that sounded strangely familiar.
Momoko-chan makes that sound when she finds ice cream, or something really cute, she thought, dashing in to see what was the matter. It was always possible it was an attack . . .
It wasn’t. The sound came from the whirling form of one Hermione Granger, the next-earliest riser in Gryffindor, who was clutching something to her chest as she spun around the room. The bushy-haired girl came to a dead stop on seeing her classmates, and faced them with the brightest smile Takara had ever seen on anybody, never mind her!
“Isn’t he gorgeous?” she asked enthusiastically, displaying the bundle in her arms.
“He” was a ginger-furred cat that looked about a year old, and whose face looked like it had survived a high-speed impact with a brick wall. Bowlegged, to boot, the cat’s eyes were nonetheless bright and penetrating, a red satin ribbon was tied around his neck in a bow, and he purred when Hermione pulled him closer to her again.
“His registration papers say his name is Crookshanks,” she told them breathlessly. “And he’s apparently half-Kneazle! I’ve read about Kneazles in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them - they’re supposed to be ever so intelligent! He must have been horrendously expensive . . .”
Her voice sounded touched with guilt at that, but if her face started glowing any brighter, it would be a literal one.
“Your parents must really love you,” Takara said, a little surprised. The cat wasn’t supposed to show up yet, was he? He was certainly smaller than she remembered him looking in the movies. She covered the surprise by saying, “I’ve wanted a cat for years.”
“Oh, they didn’t buy him,” Hermione said, a little uncertainly. “My parents gave me my birthday presents before I left for school. I don’t know who bought Crookshanks - he was just sitting down here in his box, with his papers, some supplies, and this note.”
The note said, in nondescript printing, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, HERMIONE.
“Sounds like someone has a secret admirer,” Shirou broke in, sounding mildly amused.
Hermione’s cheeks turned rosy. “. . . You really think so?”
Galen interrupted the conversation by saying quietly, “You never told us it was your birthday.”
He sounded vaguely chiding, which Takara thought was a good trick - since it wasn’t hard for her to figure out exactly who the cat had come from.
Her blush, if anything increased. “Oh. Well . . . No one - no one ever made a big fuss of it before. At school,” she said hastily.
“Next year we’ll remember cards, at least.” he answered. “In the meantime, I’d offer you a birthday hug, but I really need to shower first if you’re going to enjoy it. Excuse me, Hermione.”
“Me too,” Takara added. “Pardon me.”
Shirou nodded, and Hermione did the same, cuddling up to Crookshanks as she let them pass.
Crookshanks, for his part, watched the trio with wary eyes.
As they reached the staircase to the individual dormitories, Takara asked in quiet Japanese, “So, how horrendously expensive was he?”
Galen replied in the same language, equally quietly. “Between buying him and the supplies, paying his licensing fee and the shipping and the goblins’ commission for doing it?” He nodded towards the girl, who was still hugging and stroking her new pet. “Every Knut he’s worth, for that attitude. A little fur therapy can go a long way,” he added wistfully, eyes focussing on something none of them could see.
Takara frowned. “But what if it screws up the timeline? What if he finds that rat guy?”
“I don’t think it’s likely,” Galen replied. “Ron and Hermione don’t really seem to have made friends, without Harry between them - and I don’t think even Weasley’s dumb enough to bring his rat into the common room with a strange cat in residence. ‘Scabbers’ will probably stay in the boys’ dormitory, and Crookshanks will be in the girls’ dorm, most of the time.”
He shrugged. “ Besides, if the rat is caught, then maybe Sirius gets out of Azkaban sooner, and we won’t have to worry about Dementors in third year. Maybe not even Voldemort’s resurrection in fourth year. Either way, why not? The sooner we deal with the main plot, the sooner we can focus entirely on going home.”
He walked upstairs.
“You sounded kind of jealous,” Shirou said from beside her, and Takara cursed herself for jumping at the sound - and for forgetting he was there at all. She glared at him for startling her, and he simply smirked in response.
“Don’t be ridiculous!” Takara snapped. “I’m not interested in him that way!”
The smirk widened, and she fought the impulse to smack it off him.
Then a devilish idea popped into her head, prompting her to add with a smirk of her own, “And even if I were . . . He gave her a cat. He gave me my parents’ lives back. I think I’m ahead on points.”
She was up the stairs before he could think of a suitable reply.
Four days wasn’t a lot of time, not really. Even on the human scale, it was less than a hundred hours. Barely more than half a week. Hardly any time at all, unless you were waiting for something. Then it was an eternity. And, Galen knew, if you were waiting for something bad, it somehow managed to be both an eternity and not damned near long enough.
Having to take regular doses of Wolfsbane Potion in the week prior to the full moon didn’t help his nerves. The stuff - however useful, however necessary - tasted worse than any cold medicine or antibiotic he’d ever had. And it didn’t help that it was coming from Snape. Yes, the man knew how to brew it correctly. Yes, he had a vested interest in doing so, for his own safety and that of the school. And yes, he probably had Dumbledore breathing down his neck over it. However, this Severus Snape was, to Galen’s mind, not as stable as the canon one, and therefore suspect.
He continued to harass poor Neville in Potions class - though Galen had worked out a system that had served to minimise the damage. He set Neville to organising and preparing the ingredients, while he did the actual adding, stirring, and whatnot. It had cut down on the spills, explosions, and melted cauldrons. It didn’t eliminate them entirely - accidents did happen when working with volatile substances - but not often enough or severely enough to do more than irritate most professors.
Snape was obviously not most professors. When the man took points from a student for breathing too loudly, it indicated some serious social issues. And as Neville wasn’t Harry Potter, the son of his beloved (in Snape’s mind, at least) Lily Evans and the hated James Potter, what was the point of such animosity?
To be fair, it wasn’t just Neville. Snape didn’t seem to like him, Takara or Shirou, either. In his case, it was understandable - the man had a history of bad experiences with werewolves. Knowing one was in his class couldn’t be pleasant. Takara might remind him a little of Lily - she was just as outspoken, and at least as good at Potions - but the same could be said of Hermione, and he didn’t seem to actively antagonise the latter girl. Belittle her at every turn, yes - but he didn’t make the first move in doing so.
No, the only thing that would have him single out the three of them specifically - aside from the fact that they hung out together a lot - was the fact that they all had some level of Occlumency training in shielding themselves, and wouldn’t meet his eyes when they looked at him. It took some doing, but they’d all learned the trick of it. It had to be extremely frustrating to Snape to be unable to use Legilimency on them . . . Especially since their behaviour implied that they knew he was going to try.
As a result, Galen was more than a little leery of drinking the man’s concoctions, but it wasn’t as though he had a choice. Aside from not especially wanting to turn into a rampaging killing machine (unless he happened to be near the Slytherin dorms, anyway), McGonagall had him on notice for that outburst over the flying lessons.
He’d argued his position well, he’d thought, and McGonagall had always struck him as a sensible woman. But, in the words of Rowling, “Common sense and wizards don’t mix.” Everyone was required to take the lessons, regardless of their actual utility to the student, therefore he had to. No student deserved special treatment.
He probably shouldn’t have pointed out that by that logic, supplying him with Wolfsbane potions was totally unnecessary. In addition to the week’s detention and ten point penalty, he’d then been told that he had to help Madam Hooch clean up and maintain the school brooms for the rest of the year.
The only good thing about that was that he was learning some interesting diagnostic charms that might prove handy somewhere down the line. And he did get to watch Takara practise, when he could finish his homework early enough.
She was a natural, he admitted. He’d never be as easygoing, mounted on a broom. He’d ridden horses, and enjoyed it, so he suspected a Hippogriff or Thestral might be a different story - but a thin wooden rod, going at tens of miles per hour, several dozen or hundred feet in the air? All the Cushioning Charms in the world wouldn’t make him feel comfortable on it. He’d avoided getting his driver’s license for a reason.
Still, there had been distractions. Hermione’s birthday had been one - whenever she was in the common room, Crookshanks was never far from her. He suspected she could only be more pleased with the cat if she could figure out a way to smuggle him into the library. For Crookshanks’ part, he was still wary of the three of them - him in particular. It made sense that he might be able to tell that they didn’t belong here, and it was a no-brainer that he knew Galen was a werewolf. Still, he was only outright hostile if Galen got too close to Hermione, and in the last week or so.
Hermione had apologised for Crookshanks’ last outburst, which had threatened to turn the lower hem of Galen’s robes into shreds, even as she repaired it.
He’d shrugged. “Don’t sweat it. He’s being cautious and protective of you, so I can hardly disapprove. Besides, cats are mercurial - they decide whom they like, and when. Maybe, after a few years, he’ll change his mind about me.”
Since then, he’d avoided her in Crookshanks’ presence, restricting their hanging out time to the library.
Truth be told, he was impressed by the cat’s guts. Werewolves in this universe were very close to their Type-Moon counterparts in that they hunted humans almost exclusively. Any animal (or Animagus in animal form, by extension) was almost totally safe from a werewolf, because of its preferences. In fact, the presence of animals was calming to the beast. So Crookshanks’ animosity was wholly aroused on Hermione’s behalf - he knew that Galen was dangerous to his witch, and was reacting accordingly. The fact that, should his werewolf side ever encounter Crookshanks trying to protect Hermione, it would tear the ginger-furred beast apart as an afterthought didn’t seem to concern the cat at all.
Galen admired that. Just the same, knowing that someone as intelligent as Crookshanks hated him so violently (never mind how much it hurt to have a cat reject him) did not make him feel better about his upcoming transformation. Still, when you added to that his studies, his worries over Takara being hurt in a Quidditch match, his being forced to learn to ride a broomstick, his distrust of Snape . . . He wasn’t quite at the explosive point he’d been a week ago, but it wasn’t far off, either.
And then, the day of the full moon, the letter came, delivered by owl in the Great Hall at lunch. With an unfamiliar seal on the back, and addressed to him in an unfamiliar hand, it contained just ten words, delicately written in English:
Snap out of it, and calm down.
Ilyasviel von Einzbern
Galen looked up and glared at Shirou, growling, “You son of a bitch.”
“I thought I might have to go over your head to get you to listen,” Shirou said.
Anger boiled near the surface of his skin, and the urge to draw his wand - if only to use it as a stabbing implement, preferably in Shirou’s oh-so-marvellous eyes - began to grow overpowering.
The windows in the Great Hall rattled ominously.
“Did it work?” he asked grimly.
Galen reread the note, and said flatly, “It’s an order.”
“But did it work?” Shirou persisted.
Galen trembled for a moment, and closed his eyes. When he opened them, he replied in a harsh tone, “It. Is. An. Order.”
Shirou and Takara traded glances, understanding that he wasn’t really talking to them.
Hermione glanced at her friends in confusion, before turning her attention to the wax seal on the back of the envelope.
“Durmstrang?” she asked. “What and where is that?”
“It’s another magical school, in Eastern Europe,” Shirou replied. “My elder sister goes there. Since they were so close, way back when” - here he shot Galen an ironic glance - “I thought he might listen to her if she told him to ease back on his temper.”
“That’s a good idea,” Hermione agreed. “I was amazed you weren’t expelled after the broom argument. That would be terrible.”
Galen sighed, and the tension seemed to leave his body with it.
“I guess so.”
Lunch had been rather quiet after that, with Hermione quizzing Shirou on Durmstrang and trying to get comparisons to Hogwarts. And now he was here.
The classroom was on the third floor, in the forbidden corridor. Fluffy hadn’t reacted too well to his presence - the dog could undoubtedly smell him - but it couldn’t do much, chained inside the classroom. And since all he intended to do was sleep, it should be all right.
He’d taken his final dose of potion an hour ago. Now it was just a matter of waiting for the m . . .
The Wolfsbane potion was designed to allow him to keep his mind in werewolf form, and not be submerged under the raging ferocity of the curse. Given sufficient long-term exposure, Galen understood that he might even be able to avoid transforming altogether, so long as he wasn’t put under direct moonlight.
The potion, however, did absolutely nothing for the physical pain of the transformation. It was like living the scene in An American Werewolf in London. Hands became paws, his tail bone extended visibly. His hair, nails and teeth increased in length and thickness dramatically. His skull and spine were literally stretched into altogether new configurations.
Overcome by agony, he screamed - and was not at all surprised to find the cry warping into the long, drawn-out howl of a wolf . . .
Shirou woke at the echo of a monstrous cry, and was not surprised to find himself far from the only one. Dean and Neville were also awake, and more than a little frightened. Shirou assumed that Ron hadn’t heard a thing over his own snoring.
“W - what was that?” Neville asked out loud.
“I don’t know,” was Shirou’s answer - and he didn’t. He had a reasonably good guess, of course, and it had to do with the empty bed in the dorm. If that was the case, either the potion hadn’t worked, or the pain of the change had been just too much.
After a few minutes, nothing was heard, and Shirou shrugged. “Well, maybe it was Peeves playing another joke. May as well get back to sleep.”
Dean did so, and fell back to sleep almost immediately. Shirou wasn’t far behind him . . .
“Trevor!” Neville cried suddenly. “He’s gone!”
Shirou showed (dare he say it?) heroic restraint in not groaning. How did Neville keep managing to lose that damned toad?
“I’m sure he’ll be fine,” Shirou reassured him.
“But what if that - whatever it was - gets him?” Neville insisted. “I have to find him!”
With that, the rotund boy leaped out of bed and headed downstairs to the common room.
Shirou groaned. “Please tell me he’ll find the toad in the common room, and not go looking in the corridors.”
Deciding that he’d never been that lucky, he got out of bed. If the kid really was supposed to be the hero of this world, Shirou supposed that he couldn’t let Neville get killed.
To his surprise, Takara and Hermione were racing down the girls’ dormitory steps at the same time he was.
“What is it?” he asked.
“Crookshanks just scarpered off!” Hermione said. “We heard - something - and it terrified him!”
Shirou glanced at Takara, who shrugged and said, “I figured it was better she not wander off on her own.”
The Servant-turned-schoolboy sighed. “Neville had the same problem with his toad. Hopefully, they’re just - “
The sound of the portrait door swinging interrupted him.
“Oh, no,” Shirou muttered. “Come on!”
For a toad, Trevor moved awfully fast. Crookshanks, they expected speed out of, but not something that fit in the palm of an eleven-year-old boy. Unfortunately, Neville and Hermione were both out of shape enough to keep either Shirou or Takara from overshooting their companions and attempting to corral their animals.
Shirou frowned in annoyance. “Two flights of stairs at full speed, and you’re exhausted. That’s it - you two are joining our morning runs.”
“Let’s worry about tonight,” Takara suggested, as they rounded onto another staircase - which took the opportunity to shift positions, forcing the four students to hold on tight until it settled in place.
Not so the animals, which leaped onto the new landing and dashed down the hallway.
“I wonder if I can remember Mother’s recipe for frog’s legs,” Takara muttered to Shirou in a low undertone. “I didn’t like them when I tried them, but I have this sudden craving . . .”
Shirou nodded, then followed the three of them into the hall before them.
“Crookshanks!” Hermione hissed. “Come here, before we get in trouble!”
The cat was in full dudgeon, expanded as though there was a threat directly in front of him. He paced uncertainly, alternately growling in front of a side door, and an obviously locked one at the end of the hall - which Trevor, naturally, wriggled under.
Neville moaned in despair, staring at the door.
“Oh, move over,” Hermione sighed as she picked up and held her agitated cat with one hand and drew her wand with the other. “Alohamora!”
The lock clicked, and the door swung open. Neville’s eyes, fastened to the floor, immediately found Trevor, and the boy dove to scoop up his pet . . .
. . . Only to spot an enormous paw in the way.
The other three were looking straight into the eyes of a monstrous dog, a dog which filled the whole space between ceiling and floor. It had three heads. Three pairs of rolling, mad eyes; three noses, twitching and quivering in their direction; three drooling mouths, saliva hanging in slippery ropes from yellowish fangs. It was standing quite still, all six eyes staring at them, and it was obvious that the only reason they weren’t already dead was that their sudden appearance had taken it by surprise, but it was quickly getting over that, there was no mistaking what those thunderous growls meant.
“I’d recommend we all start running,” Shirou said quietly. “Very fast, and very far. Now.”
“Great idea,” Takara said tightly. “But it looks like we’re surrounded.”
Shirou risked a quick glance over his shoulder, and saw a large (though puny in comparison to the dog) lupine form stalking over from the corridor behind them. Its black eyes narrowed, lips peeling back to expose teeth that wouldn’t have looked out of place on an appropriately-sized model of the three-headed dog,
Shirou summed up their situation nicely.