Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 37

Thread: Trinity II: The Chamber (Type-Moon/Harry Potter X-over)

  1. #1
    The Jester Kieran's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    According to most, my own little world
    Age
    34
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    5,895
    Blog Entries
    156

    Trinity II: The Chamber (Type-Moon/Harry Potter X-over)

    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 Chamber of Secrets, but I trust in the intelligence of my readers (and the availability of the books) to recognise them when they see them.



    Chapter 1 - Lazy Summer Days



    August 18, 1992






    The battlefield was littered with bodies. Dozens of bodies, splayed out across the ground where they had fallen - where they had been ambushed. Some of them had taken each other out, some of them he had done in, and the rest . . . The rest were his.

    Shirou admitted, somewhere in the back of his mind, that the skill required to create this kind of carnage was admirable. Almost every kill had been made with a single shot, straight to a vital point. He was very good with guns, Archer class notwithstanding. The bow might be his traditional weapon, but he was also a warrior of his time. Firearms might not be the stuff of epic legends, save in a very few cases, but they were just as common and widely used as swords, in modern times. As such, Shirou knew how to use them, and use them well - and also, how to judge the skill of those who used them against him.

    He was good. Very good. As good as Shirou himself. Possibly even better, though Shirou was loathe to admit it - at least with these particular weapons, at these close distances. Where firearms were concerned, he was first and foremost a rifleman. Shirou believed that if he could see the whites of his enemies’ eyes through any other means but a sniper scope, he was too damned close to use guns. Whereas he thrived on being at the centre of it all, a whirling storm of leather and lead that tore down everything that stood against it.

    Shirou had no choice, though. The circumstances were what they were, his weapon was all that was available - and he had reasons enough to go on, regardless. Those reasons had names: Neville Longbottom, Hermione Granger, Takara Aozaki - and Ilyasviel von Einzbern. Every single one of them had been cut down, ruthlessly and efficiently, with as much thought and effort as Shirou would put into swatting flies - and an equal amount of remorse. For them, Shirou would fight under any conditions, even these.

    His eyes scanned the gloomy interior, seeking cover and concealment points. Evenly matched as they probably were, his best bet for victory involved spotting his target first - a tricky proposition, since he had to make an extraordinary effort to keep quiet, lest he lose the element of surprise . . .

    The sound of a weapon being primed brought an abrupt halt to Shirou’s stealthy efforts. Shirou turned, and saw the killer standing before him, weapon not raised but ready, as if he planned to give him a fighting chance.

    All we need is a tumbleweed to roll between us . . .

    Shirou felt a lazy smirk cross his features at the image, as he held his own weapon in a similar position.

    “You know,” he said, almost casually, “I always figured that somehow, it was going to come down to you and me one day.”

    The right side of Galen’s mouth twitched, a spasmodic half-smirk. “Bring it.”

    Shirou’s reflexes were faster than those of anyone else he knew, bar one - and she was gone. That said, Galen had never been a slouch when it came to reacting to a threat, and especially when it came to protecting himself. Every shot Shirou took wasn’t dodged, it was countered - negated in mid-flight. One, two, three, four - not one was allowed to hit. Shirou abandoned the tactic as useless and dove to one side, hoping to exploit a vulnerable angle . . .

    Galen, however, had spent hours learning to read Shirou’s body language in self-defence practice, and countered by rolling in the opposite direction, out of Shirou’s field of fire. The two warriors rose as one, fired another exchange of blocked shots, before Shirou dove behind a raised plate for cover and took off running.

    It was a delaying tactic. While Shirou was a far faster runner, especially over longer distances, Galen had better endurance. Shirou could run at a good clip, and for far longer, but Galen would recover his breath faster and be able to put on bursts of quickness for a longer period than Shirou could maintain his best speed. He could gain a lead, even hold it for a long while - but Galen would run him down in the end.

    Shirou cursed. He hadn’t really believed they would be that equal . . . But then again, he should have. Pistols were his weapons, as much as a sword was Saber’s. Where Shirou could kick Galen’s ass in a match of blades, bows, even bare hands - though admittedly, not without at least a few licks in the latter arena - this was what Galen was made to use. This situation was precisely his kind of fight. So if Shirou wanted to win, he’d have to do what Galen usually took as his own prerogative: change the rules.

    The converted warehouse they were fighting in was large, spacious, with many nooks and crannies to hide in, and more than a few things to hide behind. It had been designed to be the ideal arena for large groups of competing forces to fight it out . . . Not that those facts had saved anyone here. No matter their age, conditioning, experience or allies, every single person here had fallen . . . A desperate plan suddenly blossomed in Shirou’s mind.

    Worthy of Galen himself, noted a corner of the selfsame mind sardonically. Lacking better options, he ignored the commentary and decided to run with it. He ducked around a corner and into a room. As expected, it was filled with bodies - five of them. Each lay where they had been shot, scattered across the surface area, but he quickly spotted a space sufficient for him to have a good field of fire for the room’s only entrance, and he threw himself into it.

    Shirou had never been much into meditation. He was a creature of action first and foremost, and the concepts of stillness and quiet communion ran counter to his natural inclinations. Still, he’d managed to pick up the gist of it, and so he ran through techniques in his head to slow his breathing, relax his body, and quite simply, play dead. Having done so successfully, he watched the room through near-closed eyelids - and waited.

    It took a while. Galen was many things, but never stupid, not when it came to dealing with threats. Once Shirou was out of line of sight, Galen would have slowed his approach, quieted his movements, opened his senses. When ambush became a possibility, the key lay in awareness of one’s surroundings and above all, patience. It had now become a waiting game between them - and the first to break would fall. With that in mind, Galen wouldn’t be in any hurry to pursue, so Shirou had to resign himself to waiting, silent and still.

    Eventually, of course, the stalemate had to end. Shirou didn’t hear Galen enter, but he was aware of the blur through his slitted eyelids that moved into the room. He might have been able to pop off a shot immediately, but given Galen’s proven reflexes, Shirou forced himself to wait for the ideal opportunity, when Galen’s weapon was so far out of the zone he couldn’t possibly bring it to bear in time.

    . . . Of course, if Galen remembered how many bodies he’d actually left in this room, waiting would probably get him killed.

    It seemed not, however, as the gunslinger scanned the area carefully before stepping into the room cautiously. Given the areas of potential cover, he’d actually have to step past Shirou to examine every possible hiding place, and eventually, he did. Shirou allowed him one step further before he shifted to raise himself up . . .

    Shirou would never be entirely sure what betrayed him - a noise he didn’t hear over the sound of his own pounding heart, Galen’s natural paranoia suddenly realising there was an extra body, or maybe just the blind luck that seemed to follow him around like an overexcited puppy. Whatever the case, as Shirou began to aim, Galen turned to look behind him, his own gun raising.

    Shirou fired, and so did Galen - at his own head. Shirou wondered if he’d decided to go for suicide rather than allowing Shirou to beat him, but decided it didn’t matter as he saw the other stiffen and fall to the floor . . . And then he realised that the bastard had managed - somehow - to simultaneously hit him with a ricochet of his last shot.

    “Son of a bitch!” Shirou snapped.

    “OI!” Galen’s “corpse” snapped, as he got up and dusted himself off. “Don’t talk about my mother that way!”






    “You managed to refract the beam off your glasses to hit him?!” Hermione said in disbelief. “Do you realise the odds of a shot like that?”

    Her voice was mostly inaudible, over the din in the pizza parlour. It was partly why they’d chosen the place - so much noise, a careful conversation could be held in private without the use of magic to assure it.

    “Never tell me the odds,” Galen grumbled, in a lousy impersonation of Han Solo.

    Takara chuckled. “Hermione, in case you haven’t figured it out yet, he excels at impossible things. It’s the normal stuff he’s rubbish at.”

    “HEY!”

    She smirked at him, not at all happy about his taking her down earlier. She’d been faster than him, and expecting it - though admittedly, she’d thought it would be Shirou who’d be the one to eliminate her. Galen had managed to play on that expectation expertly. She’d never seen it coming.

    Still, it had been fun to do, so she pressed on, “So, the manager was pleased?”

    “The manager was ecstatic,” Shirou corrected. “Said the footage will make for a great ad campaign. He even offered to double what we’d agreed to if the two of us would come back next summer for an exhibition match in a tournament he’s planning.”

    Galen shrugged. “With the exchange working out to an extra twenty Galleons, I was game if Shirou was.”

    Takara read the unspoken subtext: he’d needed the money. She knew very well that his parents had raised hell over his expenditures last year - though they couldn’t say much, as they’d all been gifts for other people - and set a strict limit over what he was allowed to withdraw for spending money this year. They would also be keeping his Gringotts key, after school supplies had been purchased and said amount had been withdrawn.

    To his credit, Galen hadn’t exactly shirked earning money to replace what he’d spent. In addition to his usual paper route, he’d been doing yard work for the neighbours all summer. Combined with enduring two full moons without Wolfsbane Potion, and she was privately impressed the guy was still conscious, much less capable of a conversation.

    Shirou shrugged in response to Galen’s statement. “It’s extra money. And besides, it was kind of fun. The guy also said that as long as we called ahead so he could set up a few extra cameras and competitions, we and our friends could get in for free any time we wanted.”

    Neville shook his head. “No thanks. This ‘laser tag’ thing is fun, but I think it’d get old if we did it too often.”

    “Still, it was a nice birthday present,” Takara admitted. “Thanks, guys. I had fun then. I even had fun on this trip, despite the fact that you killed me this time.” She scowled at her onetime Servant.

    “He killed me, too,” Ilya grumbled. She pouted at him. “Some chevalier you are.”

    Galen smiled apologetically. “Sorry, Milady. We had to do our best, to make the footage for the commercial worthwhile.”

    “I’d say taking out the entire population in less than twenty minutes counts,” Shirou drawled.

    Hermione shook her head. “The pair of you are monsters, you know.”

    Shirou mock-scowled. “Hey, I’ve been trained to use firearms - he’s the freak of nature.” He gestured at Galen, smirking. “Bloody gun god, right there.”

    Takara watched as a shocked expression crossed Galen’s face, followed by his visibly deciding that Shirou couldn’t possibly have meant whatever Galen thought he did. She supposed it was a testament to how relaxed he was becoming around them that she could read his face at all - usually it was so hard.

    But as the day got closer to Hogwarts’ beginning of term, she knew he wouldn’t stay that way. Not with what lay ahead of them.

    In a way, Takara knew, they were lucky. They knew what was going to happen, and the easiest way to stop it. They knew who, where, and when. With a little bit of luck, they could forestall everything with an hour’s work, and enjoy a nice, quiet year at school.

    If they couldn’t . . .

    If they couldn’t, a lot of them would be in danger. First and foremost, to Galen’s way of thinking, Hermione. And that would drive him crazy.

    Takara admitted to herself that the boy in front of her was more than a little frustrating. He said he loved her, but didn’t treat her . . . No, that wasn’t fair. He did treat her as someone special. It was just that she wasn’t the only one he did that for. Hermione and Ilya got the same treatment - though in Ilya’s case, it was quite clearly and firmly demonstrated to be platonic on both sides. Hermione, though . . .

    Galen fixated on her like only an otaku could. Her well-being seemed to be his obsession. He went out of his way to compliment her, give her presents, keep her safe. And for this, he’d managed to inspire a level of devotion and affection from the young witch that could best be described as “puppy love.” Yet he never seemed to acknowledge that, beyond friendship. It confused Hermione, and it confused Takara - did he love her, or not? He certainly acted as though he did, but there would always come a point where he’d pull back, or ignore what was in front of him. Takara wasn’t sure why that was . . . And she was afraid to ask if it was because of her. Afraid, because it might not be - and afraid because it might.

    Takara had promised herself, as a small girl, that she would marry a Japanese boy. That her children wouldn’t have to suffer the same kind of prejudices she had, growing up. It was cowardly, prejudiced, and shameful - but it was also part of who she was. She didn’t like it, didn’t usually think about it, but it was there. If Galen was holding back from Hermione on her account . . .

    He can be a good man, even if he is infuriating and occasionally frightening. He’s even kind of cute, when he makes an effort to dress up - here, memories of Neville’s birthday party, a formal dinner, flashed through her mind - but he’s not Japanese. Even if I gave in, he’d always be an outsider . . .

    Except . . . We’re not
    in Japan, are we?

    At Hogwarts, they’d been isolated from the world. It was only this summer that she was coming to realise what staying here, in this reality, really meant. She might be Japanese by birth and upbringing, but she was living in England. She was a witch, in a society of witches and wizards which set less store by racial and ethnic background than blood purity - though from what she remembered of the visit to Hogwarts by Beauxbatons, it wasn’t entirely ignored.

    In the issue of blood, she was still somewhat behind, being half-blood - but Galen’s blood was no less, and neither her European nor her Japanese features counted against her. So long as she lived here, there was a real possibility that she could marry and raise a family without being subject to the kind of circumstances she’d endured while young.

    Except . . . a little whispering voice in her head reminded her.

    Except that Galen was a werewolf, a Dark creature who was required to be registered with the government, and subject to laws and restrictions not applied to the rest of the citizenry. No matter how nice a person he was, the curse would be all they saw.

    And that would apply to his wife and children, as well - assuming he was ever allowed any, Takara thought grimly.

    Perhaps that was why he was shying away from Hermione. Galen had to know the status of werewolves in British wizarding society better than she did. It was entirely believable that he was trying to ignore Hermione in order to protect her, as being “Muggle-born,” as they called it, would count against her as it was - but was still tempted by her.

    Takara wished her own motivations were as noble.

    She came back to her senses just in time to hear Galen say, “So, everybody up for Diagon Alley tomorrow?”

    Hermione nodded. “I’m looking forward to Flourish and Blotts. We have a lot of books to buy this year.” She smiled. “I’ll be able to use that certificate you got me for Valentine’s Day, and maybe some of the gold in my Gringotts vault . . . “ She paused, glancing at Ilya.

    Guessing at the reason for Hermione’s hesitation, Takara supplied, “She knows.”

    Hermione paused to assimilate that, then pressed on. “Did you have any luck getting hold of Nicolas Flamel?”

    Takara winced. They’d been dreading this question since the Daily Prophet had released the Flamels’ obituaries three weeks ago. Now it was a matter of how much Galen was willing to lie . . .

    “He’s dead,” Ilya said bluntly. “He and his wife both.”

    Takara froze, not having expected that. Shirou winced. Neville shrank into himself. Galen flashed his lady a look just shy of murderous.

    Hermione, however, went white. She whispered, “We killed them . . .”

    “You did not,” Ilya said sharply. “They created the Philosopher’s Stone in the first place, and the first thing any idiot would do is stockpile sufficient quantities of Elixir in order to sustain them long enough to create another one, in the event the Stone was lost, stolen, or destroyed. They’d lived for over six hundred and fifty years, and they chose to let the Stone go out of their possession for nearly a year - so that stockpile existed, all right.” Her face and voice softened. “You didn’t kill them, Hermione. If they died, it was because they chose to, not because they had no other choice.”

    Takara found herself snorting. “Ten Galleons says Dumbledore convinced them it was ‘for the greater good’ that the knowledge of how to create the Stone be lost.”

    “No bet,” Ilya said. “I hate wasting money.”

    It was a measure of how disturbing they found the conversation - or the weakening of their faith in Dumbledore - that neither Neville nor Hermione leaped to the Headmaster’s defence. The “protections” around the Philosopher’s Stone hadn’t kept them out, and Dumbledore had been responsible for them. Given how he’d chosen to guard a priceless magical artefact, some sarcasm was probably justified.

    Takara changed the subject. “The Animagus potion is nearly ready, by the way.”

    Ilya’s eyes lit up. “Oho! How long have you been planning this?”

    “Since November,” Takara answered. “After you gave Galen . . .”

    Ilya nodded. She remembered the time perfectly well, of course.

    “And you’ve managed to keep it from your parents all summer?” Ilya giggled. “Perhaps there’s a bit of Slytherin in you, Little Miss Gryffindor.”

    “If so, I’m hardly the only one,” Takara said in a lofty tone.

    “True enough,” Ilya agreed. She glanced at her watch - an old-fashioned mechanical timepiece. “Oh, my! We’d better finish our food - we’re supposed to meet Papa in the car park in ten minutes.”

    Predictably, there was a run on the last of the pizza.





    Thus far, Galen admitted, the summer is an overall success.

    It hadn’t been perfect, by any means - and the full moon was only part of that. Without Wolfsbane Potion, he had no control over himself, and no real awareness save hazy flashbacks long after the night was over. No, problems had been had in the form of his parents - neither of whom had been particularly pleased at his spending three-quarters of his vault’s contents in a single year. Only the fact that his marks ranged from acceptable to excellent had kept him from being completely grounded all summer.

    Besides, I’m twelve years old and never really had money to spend before - what did they expect?

    The excuse was flimsy, because he wasn’t really twelve and he knew it, but he’d stick to it, nonetheless.

    Still, by working like a dog, he’d managed to put back a good chunk of what he’d spent, and today’s bonus money actually put him in better shape than before. His expenses would hopefully be lower this year, to - it helped that he didn’t plan on buying the full set of Lockhart books. He, Takara, and Shirou had come to an agreement - they’d each buy two (he’d won the draw that got him out of buying a third), and share as necessary. Only the fact that they were considered required had them buying the books at all, since they all knew they were effectively worthless. Well . . . It was possibly useful if you could read through the florid self-aggrandising, but he didn’t really have the patience for it.

    Still, Lockhart was only an annoyance. Unlike last year, the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher was not a lethal threat, and thus could be (relatively) safely ignored. No, this year the problems came from much higher up, on the Hogwarts’ Board of Governors.

    Lucius Malfoy.

    Lucius Malfoy was, without a doubt, one of the most dangerous characters in the Harry Potter series - possibly the most dangerous. This year was the proof. The only reason to give the diary to Ginny Weasley was if he knew exactly what it was, and what it was capable of doing. He had gambled with the anchor for his Dark Lord’s soul, knowing it could be the only thing tying Voldemort’s spirit to this earth (though, presumably, not knowing about the others. Galen wouldn’t have trusted any follower with the knowledge that he had more than one Horcrux). He might not have intended for the diary to be destroyed - but Galen wouldn’t have made a similar risk unless he was absolutely certain of being either beyond the Dark Lord’s reach, or his superior in power and resources. But if the diary hadn’t been destroyed, Malfoy could’ve retrieved it at his leisure, with Voldemort presumably none the wiser.

    No, Lucius was the most dangerous Death Eater alive - Bellatrix, for all her terrifying power, was simply a mad dog. Lucius was a spider, content to weave his webs and wait.

    Malfoy had to have been nearing a position that would’ve allowed him to fully take over wizarding Britain - until Harry Potter mucked it up by killing the basilisk, and causing a chain reaction that saw him ousted from the Board. No, Malfoy was more dangerous than any other Death Eater - Bellatrix was simply vicious. And none of them was Harry Potter. None of them was a Parselmouth, capable of opening the Chamber of Secrets. If things went that far, if it became necessary to do so in order to save someone, or stop something . . .

    If it comes to that, we’re finished, Galen thought.

    And if it came that, Hermione would’ve been attacked already . . .

    No. I’ll forge transfer papers to Beauxbatons first. I’ll pick her up and throw her through the damned Floo network. I will not let her come to harm!

    Galen took a deep breath, trying to calm the sudden surge of adrenalin. He got up from his bed and began to pace.

    It was happening again - puberty. Hormones that had already come and gone once before were reasserting themselves, and he was already sick of them.

    And I’m not even thirteen, yet.

    His temper had been terrible as a teenager. The arguments he’d gotten into with his parents had nearly landed him in the street, more than once - or the hospital. He was not looking forward to going through it again.

    And God only knows what else puberty does to a werewolf . . .

    Worse yet, he wasn’t in the body of the proverbial 98-pound weakling anymore. He’d been exercising, getting combat training . . . Only his self-preservation instinct - the voice that said anyone could slaughter him - had kept him from getting violent before. And the situation was different now. There was every possibility that his next fight could turn nasty, and he might seriously hurt or kill someone.

    If it was Malfoy, I might not mind. But Hermione, say?

    He’d mostly repaired his relationship with Hermione over the summer, he thought. She’d been upset because he’d been keeping secrets from her, when they were supposed to be friends. Given how many he actually was keeping from her, he could see her point. But she’d also made it a point to tell him that she was learning how to read him - that one day his ability to lie to and manipulate the people around him would fail against her, and she would be able to start understanding how it was he knew what he knew.

    That would be bad.

    In his defence, he didn’t particularly like lying to her - or lying in general, for that matter. But what was he supposed to say?

    Oh, by the way - you’re a fictional character in my home universe, but I won’t hold that against you? . . . And while I think of it, I don’t suppose you’d mind going out with a guy almost twenty years older than you are, biological appearance aside?

    Galen cursed his hormones for adding the last part, and cursed Hermione for being cute.

    It didn’t matter. If he opened his mouth and said anything like that, he’d be hauled off to the psych ward of St. Mungo’s hospital, or Oblivated before sunrise. It was just as bad an idea to tell Hermione that as it would have been to tell Takara and her family . . . And in the latter case, if he did it now, only Takara would have a clue as to what the hell he was talking about.

    Takara and Shirou seemed to have a better handle on this - but Takara didn’t have as many years between the age she was and the age she looked, and Shirou seemed to be living the life he’d always wanted. Settling into being a kid again wasn’t hard for him, under those circumstances.

    Galen . . . Well, it could be argued that he’d never grown up, but he had grown old. He wore his age not well, but familiarly. And now that it was gone, he was off-kilter. He didn’t know what he wanted. He wasn’t sure what he should want. Or “if” - experience had taught him that wanting anything was leaving an opening for the world to hurt you.

    Especially in the feminine aspect of life.

    Fact: No girl has ever been interested in you, romantically or sexually. Fact: While different, your existence here isn’t that different. Ergo: They won’t care, either of them. Even if they show signs of it now, that will change when something more appropriate to them - more right for them - comes along. We’ve been through this already - repeatedly.

    And even if those facts weren’t self-evident, they’re children, you pervert. Hands off, eyes off, mind off!

    Galen decided he’d had enough angsting for one day. Takara and Hermione were friends, which was as much or more than he’d ever had with a girl before - largely, they’d just ignored his existence. In any case, their feelings weren’t and never would be his problem, end of story. There was need to concentrate on more important things.

    The diary . . .

    Tom Riddle’s diary was the key. If they could get to it before Ginny found it in her things, they could chuck it in the Room of Requirement with the other Horcrux until they had a means to destroy them. No diary meant no basilisk, no attacks on mundane-born students, and a nice quiet year to worry about inconsequential things until Sirius Black showed up. He might even have time to try making friends with people in other houses - like say, Ravenclaw’s Luna Lovegood - she was supposed to start this year, wasn’t she?

    Galen consulted his memory.

    . . . Yup, she was! Poor girl could probably use a friend now instead of three years from now.

    Takara was fast enough. Shirou was sneaky enough. He could cause distractions with the best of them, if Lockhart and Arthur Weasley’s fight with Lucius wasn’t distraction enough. They should have enough time, and it would be easy. He’d even bring the cloak, just in case.

    A little vigilance, a little luck, a lot of speed, and this year’s problems could be secured in less than an hour. Outright eliminated in twenty-four hours. It was just a matter of timing, and hard work.

    Galen yawned, and found himself deciding to get ready for bed. A very taxing day was scheduled in the A.M.

    It might be almost two weeks before school started again, but as of tomorrow, summer vacation was over. It was time to go back to work.
    Last edited by Kieran; January 11th, 2013 at 10:12 PM.

  2. #2
    The Jester Kieran's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    According to most, my own little world
    Age
    34
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    5,895
    Blog Entries
    156
    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 Chamber of Secrets, but I trust in the intelligence of my readers (and the availability of the books) to recognise them when they see them.



    Chapter 2 - Moody Morning Musings



    August 19, 1992






    Takara was up late the next morning, as was her habit when she could get away with it - she liked sunshine, but generally preferred not to face it until she had to. As it was still summer holidays, the usual fuss wasn’t made over it - it wasn’t as though she had to be somewhere. Well, actually, she did, but that wasn’t until the afternoon.

    Takara’s family lived in a townhouse not far from the Ministry of Magic building in London - one of several government housing facilities leased by the International Confederation of Wizards. It wasn’t as spacious as the cottage she’d lived in back in Japan (which now had two slightly different sets of memories attached to it), much less the mansion she’d been preparing to move into when her world had been that of a Slayer, but it was comfortable enough for a three-person family, even if it lacked the association of “home” she had with the other places.

    Or, she added, a certain suburban two-storey house in Canada. That place felt like home to her, as well - though she only remembered living there, and never actually had. While it, too, had been a wizarding home, it had been much closer to the mundane world than any of the others. The townhouse, on the other hand, was most assuredly a wizard’s house, in a wizarding neighbourhood - mundanes need not apply.

    Because of where her family lived (and where her parents worked), Takara had the shortest commute to Diagon Alley of any of her friends, assuming one didn’t use the Floo network, as Neville and Shirou undoubtedly would. As such, she could afford to take her time dressing, choosing what to take with her, and deciding where she needed to go. Galen and Hermione, being further from the magical side of things, would have a much longer trip, using less efficient methods.

    Takara considered her closet carefully. She wasn’t exactly a fashion plate - she tended to prefer practical clothes that she could move and fight in easily - but she liked to look pretty as much as any girl, and so she chose to consider her outfit carefully. Her friends had agreed to meet at Gringotts bank in Diagon Alley itself, so she didn’t necessarily need to dress in order to blend in with mundane London. On the other hand, if they decided to go out afterwards . . . It would all come down to their success or failure at retrieving the diary, she supposed.

    To be honest, she was nervous. It was one thing to steal the Philosopher’s Stone when the entire school’s attention was rivetted elsewhere, and another thing entirely to snatch something in a crowded public venue - especially in front of Lucius Malfoy. The man was dangerous, and revealing herself as an enemy of his would not make her life very pleasant - or much longer, probably. And given what they were trying to prevent, failure wasn’t really an option. They had to get the diary, and they couldn’t be caught.

    But hey, she thought to herself sourly, no pressure.

    Hopefully, the spectacle that was Gilderoy Lockhart would hold everyone’s attention. If there was one thing the man was good at, it was taking full advantage of an audience. With luck, everyone would spend all their time paying attention to him.

    Including Hermione, Takara realised suddenly. I wonder if Galen remembers she’ll have a crush on Lockhart? And I wonder what he’ll do about it? If nothing else, it might force him to be clearer about his feelings . . .

    Yes, she was twelve - but she was also eighteen, and thought more about things than a twelve-year-old would. Things like boys who told her they loved her (more accurately, one to date), and then proceeded to toss mixed signals in her direction. If she knew for a fact that he loved her, or that he didn’t because he was, perhaps, interested in Hermione . . .

    Well, the decision about what to do with him might not be easier, but it would be simpler.

    Takara finally decided on a yukata made of leaf green silk, stamped with a pattern of pink cherry blossoms and matching-coloured obi. It wasn’t a witch’s robe, but it looked similar enough to draw no real attention, and she was well-accustomed to moving in it. The fact that she knew how to hide things in its wide sleeves was also handy. That it also resembled, at least superficially, the outfit she’d worn to the last summer festival she’d attended was a coincidence . . . Although Takara admitted to herself that she did remember Galen saying he’d liked that one.

    He might like it more if I had a figure to fill it out with, she thought ruefully - but at twelve, she really hadn’t. Her growth spurts were a couple of years away.

    Cleaned and dressed, Takara went downstairs for breakfast and grabbed a chocolate-chip muffin. It was another advantage to living in England - chocolate wasn’t nearly as scarce. The English breakfast, though - ugh! Tea was about the only part of it she could handle easily, Much of the rest was far too heavy for her stomach, at least first thing in the morning.

    Her culinary cultural musings were interrupted by her father entering the kitchen.

    “I’ll be taking you to Diagon Alley today,” he told her. “Just let me know when you’re ready to go.”

    Takara’s eyebrows lifted. “Don’t you have a case to work on?”

    “Loads,” her father confirmed. “But nothing that can’t wait a day - especially since you’re home for so few of them.”

    Takara smiled, touched. “Thank you, Father.”

    “Any time, Takara - you should know that.”

    She did. It was one of the things that had made deciding to stay in this world and live this life so easy - as different as it was, her parents, however changed, were still fundamentally her parents, and they loved her just as much as they always had. Still, it was one thing to know it, and another to hear it. The affirmation, while not strictly necessary, was always appreciated.

    “I do,” Takara said, vocalising her thoughts, “but it’s nice to hear anyway. I love you and Mother both for that.”

    “And we love you,” he assured her. “Now, do you have your booklist?”

    “Yes - and they’re almost all Gilderoy Lockhart books.”

    Shiki winced. “Not cheap.”

    “No - that’s why Galen, Shirou and I agreed to only buy a few each. We’ll share.”

    His eyebrows lifted. “Is that a good idea? I mean, I’m not really in favour of blowing that much money, but for study purposes - “

    Takara shrugged. “We almost always study together anyway, with Hermione and Neville. And you know Galen’s reading speed - he’ll be finished his by the time we hit King’s Cross and borrowing at least one of our books to read on the train. It should be fine.”

    Shiki chuckled. “I suppose he will, at that. Well, if that’s how you want to try it, I suppose I shouldn’t complain. How many Lockhart books do you need?”

    “Seven, total - but I only need two. Shirou lost the toss, so he’s the one who gets to buy three.”

    Seven?” Shiki repeated. “OK, I take it back - this plan has my full approval!”

    “I’ll also need to restock my Potions ingredients,” Takara said,”pick up some new parchment and quills . . . Unless I have a growth spurt, my robes should be fine for another year, but a broom-servicing kit would be nice - and could we stop at Florian Fortescue’s for ice cream, after?”

    “That will depend on how long this takes,” Shiki said. “And are you planning to meet anyone there?”

    “Galen and Shirou - and Hermione wanted to show her parents Diagon Alley,” Takara admitted, “so we were going to meet at Gringotts before heading over to the Leaky Cauldron for lunch.”

    “That’s still a couple of hours away. Get your list of what you need together - go through all your things from last year, just in case there’s something else that you’ve forgotten about . . . And Takara?”

    “Yes, Father?”

    He smiled sadly. “You look very pretty, and I’m sure the boys will appreciate it - but try to not grow up too quickly on me, please?”

    Takara blushed slightly, but she was smiling, too.

    “I’ll always be your little girl,” she said softly. “No matter how old I get.”

    Physically or mentally, she added.





    In his original life, Galen had been born almost three full months prematurely. At five years old, he had begun a tradition of sneaking downstairs at six AM to watch cartoons. Starting school at nine in the morning for thirteen years had reinforced the habit. As a result, he was hardwired to be an early riser, often awake and active long before the sun’s arrival. And once awake, falling back to sleep was almost impossible unless he was very, very ill.

    Unfortunately, he was no more a morning person than Takara was. And coffee wasn’t going to be an allowable option for at least three more years. So it was with no small amount of staggering and grumbling that he’d removed himself from his bed to go eat a small breakfast and double-check his shopping list for Diagon Alley. Potions supplies, textbooks, quills and parchment - why weren’t paper and pens acceptable? They didn’t even have the excuse that magic would interfere with their internal electronics!

    Because it’s not traditional - or more accurately, it’s Muggle. Can’t have that, of course - it’s so much better to pretend that the other five billion people on the planet are incapable of good ideas . . . Or better yet, that they don’t exist at all.

    Galen paid attention in History of Magic class, unlike most of his year. History was actually one of his best (and favourite) subjects, even if the current teacher was quite possibly capable of boring people to death - rumour had it that Professor Binns had managed that feat on himself, hence his current ghostly status.

    In any case, despite diligent research, he’d yet to hear of a witch or wizard landing on the moon - a feat the mundane population had managed almost thirty years beforehand. Witches and wizards appeared to have no knowledge, much less understand of, DNA. Certainly, there might be less pure-blood mania (or at least less inbreeding) if they had. And for all their spells and the horrors of their Killing Curse, they sure as hell didn’t seem to have anything even approaching a weapon of mass destruction.

    The magical population’s consistent inability to grasp the potential of the mundane world was their single biggest flaw. Society seemed to regard them as quaint, at best - like house pets who could do clever tricks now and again, but certainly were nothing like equals. Lucius Malfoy was an exemplar of the worst of them - he treated them like game animals, at least when he could get away with it.

    Voldemort used the prejudice, but he wasn’t the cause. The Death Eaters believe in what they do, as much as any mundane extremist - and magical society is too willing to foster the environment that spawns them.

    So many Death Eaters had bought pardons from Azkaban using the Imperius defence - but what of the ones who hadn’t? Left in Azkaban, whatever their crimes - but not killed, oh no. Torture, rape, murder - with the exception of Sirius Black, most of the inmates there had been guilty of what they’d been accused of. More, they’d revelled in it, and jumped right back into it fifteen years later, despite a decade and a half at the “mercies” of the Dementors. If the Ministry had intended to imprison them as a deterrent, it hadn’t worked.

    And then they’d been free to pick up right where they’d left off.

    Not this time. They always called this a war - and unlike them, I intend to fight it like one. Whether it makes us Light or Dark, I don’t care - we don’t fight to capture the Death Eaters, we kill them. We kill them because they’ll kill us if we give them the chance. We kill them as a warning to the rest that they get no more free passes - turn aside from Voldemort or die. We kill them so they can’t harm anyone else, ever again.

    Galen shook his head. He must still be half-asleep, he was brooding after being awake for only twenty minutes. God, he missed coffee.

    In short order, he’d poured a bowl of cereal, and reread a favourite Forgotten Realms novel while he ate - the book much newer now than when he’d first started reading them a decade hence. His reading selection was a lot more limited nowadays - so many of his favourite authors and works hadn’t been published yet. The same was true of beloved movies and TV programs - the latter much more difficult to deal with, as England’s programming was entirely different. And he didn’t dare do any writing. Fiction, he might be able to get away with - but he was too afraid of being tempted to do a journal entry - and in whose hands it might end up.

    Galen sighed to himself and thought, I need a hobby. Unfortunately, reading and writing were his hobbies, and neither was capable of satisfying him at the moment.

    By the time his parents awoke, he’d fed and dressed himself, delivered his morning papers, run through his self-defence katas, had a shower, and changed clothes, finished his list, packed all his school nonessentials (the summer homework he’d finished three weeks ago, the supplies he wasn’t going to need until he got to Hogwarts, the textbooks he’d used last year which would be continued in certain courses), and was back to his novel. The clock read ten forty-five.

    It was going to be a long wait until Diagon Alley.






    Shirou went to the practice room as soon as he was awake, and ran through a few exercise routines to wake up. Like Galen, rising with the sun had become an ingrained habit over the years - born of having too much work to do over the course of a day, whether menial or militant in nature.

    By the time he stepped out of the shower, Ilya was awake and yawning cutely into her morning tea.

    “Diagon Alley today, huh?” she said. “Papa’s going with you, right?”

    It was still a little strange to hear Ilya speak with English with a slight Germanic accent, but Shirou was getting used to it well enough to parse out the bits of her speech that the accent altered.

    “Yeah,” Shirou confirmed. “They didn’t think Iri . . . Kaa-san coming was a good idea.”

    Calling Irisviel “Mother” still wasn’t quite natural to him. He felt bad about that - to all intents and purposes, she was the mother he’d never known, and she wanted to be. She made Kiritsugu and Ilya happy just by being there, and it wasn’t as though she was a horrible person. She was the kind of woman he’d have been happy to have as a mother. But it was still so new to him . . .

    He was fortunate that his parents seemed to be taking it as some kind of phase. He hoped that by the end of this year, he’d have adjusted.

    His thoughts were startled by Ilya’s sudden giggle. “I almost wish she would - Lockhart’s reaction to a Veela would be priceless!”

    Shirou grimaced. “It’s still annoying that you know more about this stuff than I do.”

    Ilya shrugged in a casual way that would’ve sent many teenage (and some grown) males scrambling for either a cold shower or a private place. “You know why I do.”

    Shirou did - it was the reason she was able to be here at all. When they’d been flung across dimensions, Ilya had been joined and partially manifest in her Servant, Galen. Using that connection, she’d piggybacked herself along for the ride, escaping her existence as the Grail spirit, using what power she could bring with her to write herself into the local reality. But that joining had cut both ways - what Galen had known at the time, she knew, and that included memories of the Harry Potter series.

    “Yeah,” he said aloud. “And I’m willing to live with it, if it means I can have you here.”

    Ilya’s smile could’ve been mistaken for the sunrise.

    “I love you too, Onii-chan,” she said. “I’ll miss you when I head back to Durmstrang - especially when I know what you’ll be getting into.”

    Now it was Shirou’s turn to shrug.

    “It should be OK,” Shirou said. “Galen’s plan seems reasonable, and if we can pull it off, we’ll be able to avoid the whole mess this year - just go around as normal students.”

    Ilya shook her head, smiling sadly. “Oh, Shirou . . . You don’t know the rules of this world like I do.”

    Shirou tensed slightly, trying to read whether or not she was teasing him. The worst part was, he didn’t think so.

    “What rules?” he asked.

    “In this case, at least, an important one. What it boils down to is this: every year, things are bad. But every other year . . . They’re so much worse.






    Takara was unsurprised to see the boys waiting for her outside of Gringotts - neither was particularly patient. Galen especially, once he had an appointment to keep, a task to accomplish, could be a ball of nervous energy that as much annoyed people into going out the door and getting moving as anything else.

    Seeing Hermione wasn’t much of a surprise, either. The better part of a year spent rooming with her meant that Takara could pretty accurately guess how she’d react to a day trip with her friends and parents to shop for school supplies. Offhand, the same way most kids would react to an upcoming trip to Tokyo Disneyland.

    Nobody seemed to have minded the wait - Hermione’s parents were deep in conversation with Einzbern-san and Galen’s mother, a round woman who measured “five-foot-two-and-a-half,” according to herself. Galen’s eyes, particularly with the glasses, were hers, and maybe something of the nose. Her hair was a dark chestnut to Galen’s light, though, and his face was far more angular.

    Takara’s memories of her were of a warm, welcoming woman that made really good chocolate cupcakes filled with cream cheese and chocolate chips (hey, she’d been five, and it was chocolate!). She’d actually taught Takara bits and pieces of how to bake, which helped Takara master brownies at ten.

    She could be stern, though, she wasn’t prone to yelling. Takara mentally tagged Mrs. Salvatore as “Molly Weasley Lite.”

    Takara smiled a bit at the thought before heading off to join Hermione and the boys.

    “Sorry, am I late?”

    “Right on time,” Shirou assured her. “These two are just eager beavers.”

    Hermione flinched slightly, and Takara winced, saying quickly, “It’s just an expression, Hermione. He didn’t mean anything by it.”

    “No, I didn’t,” Shirou agreed. “But I’m sorry anyway.”

    “Still haven’t talked your parents into letting you shrink your teeth?” Galen asked in a low voice.

    Actually, Takara reflected, almost all his voices were low. He seemed to have two primary volume modes: Too Quiet to Really Hear, and Too Loud to Miss in Australia.

    Hermione shook her head. “I think they’re being unreasonable.”

    “Understandable - but maybe they’re afraid of being rendered obsolete?” Galen offered. “What’s the use of their skills if you can just wave your wand to get better results? And if you don’t need them as dentists, how long until you decide you don’t need them as parents?”

    He shook his head. “It’s why we’re trying so hard to let them feel welcome, Hermione - you disappear for most of a year to school, and then, for the little time you are home, they’re not allowed to share in what you’ve learned because of the underage magic restrictions. Think about what that will be like four or five years from now - how big will the gap be then, when you’ve spent a third of your life and most of your formative years in the magical world, and they’ve been forced to sit on the outside. What will you talk about? What connection will be left? Will you still be the Hermione Granger they know and love, or just the Smartest Witch of Her Generation?”

    Galen’s tone darkened. “And would the Smartest Witch care too much about a pair of Muggles?

    Hermione flinched again, and Takara suspected that Galen’s choice of words was as much to blame as his voice. After a year to deal with the implications, “Muggle” was a term none of them used unless forced to, such as when referring to “Muggle Studies” class, because they all felt and disapproved of its derogatory connotations. Hermione was observant enough to have noticed that, and had probably figured out why, even if she’d never outright asked about it.

    “That’s enough,” Shirou said firmly. “Calm down, man - you’re scaring her.”

    It was like flipping a switch. Suddenly he sighed, seeming to expel the tension with a long breath. Takara couldn’t help a tiny headshake. Once again, mention harming Hermione and he jumped all over whatever the cause was - even himself.

    “The magical world is isolationist by nature,” Takara said quietly. “While there are some valid security reasons for this, the conditions created by that nature have given rise to at least the last two Dark Lords. All their atrocities can ultimately be blamed on a sense of superiority fostered by the magical world’s view of the mundane. Whereas we, who have been raised in the mundane world, see the value of such people as people, rather than slaves, livestock, or sport. Galen is - passionate about the subject, but he’s right. We want you to be able to live in this world and still be a member of your family. We don’t want to see you forced to grow apart as you grow up.”

    “Family matters,” Galen said, and if his voice was no longer so angry, it was still grim. “Ultimately, it’s the only thing that matters.”

    “. . . Not even friends?” Hermione said hesitantly.

    Takara couldn’t help it - she laughed. The other her’s experiences told her the answer to this one, and her own experiences said it was just as true. Shirou and Hermione gave her bewildered looks.

    Smiling, she leaned in to whisper in the other girl’s ear, “He counts his closest friends as family, Hermione - and some of his relatives as simply ‘blood.’ Believe me, though - you’re on his list with the rest of us.”

    Shirou glanced between the two girls, trying to figure out why Takara seemed amused, and Hermione was suddenly blushing.






    His confusion did not end when they got to Flourish and Blotts.

    All these people are here to see Gilderoy Lockhart?”

    The crowd was so thick around the front doors he could’ve walked on it if he’d wanted to.

    “Disgusting, isn’t it?” Galen whispered.

    “Now, now,” Takara chided gently in his ear. “They don’t know he’s a fraud.”

    Hermione hadn’t noticed their conversation, but that had less to do with their attempts at stealth than with the fact that she had suddenly gone starry-eyed.

    “We can actually meet him!” she squealed. “I mean, he’s written practically the whole booklist!”

    “Yes,” Galen agreed, “but ask yourself who set that booklist?”

    Unfortunately, she didn’t seem to hear him.

    Takara had that Cheshire cat grin on her face again. Shirou had to admit that on her, it was a becoming expression - although it was almost as terrifying as Rin’s.

    “You had forgotten about this, hadn’t you?” she teased Galen.

    “Yesss,” came the weary answer. Then, surprisingly, he shrugged. “Ah, well.”

    Takara blinked. “‘Ah, well?’”

    “It could’ve been worse - the last thing I forgot was a dragon.”

    Shirou laughed at Takara’s expression. When he saw Galen smirk, he knew there was a bigger laugh coming.

    Galen stepped closer into Takara’s space and said, just loud enough for the three of them to hear, “If you were expecting my eyes to turn as green as that pretty little yukata of yours, O Former Mistress, I’ll admit I’m surprised. Knowing Lockhart as you do, exactly what did you expect me to be jealous of?

    Shirou laughed as Takara’s expression soured further. Whatever she’d hoped for, this was clearly not it. Then Shirou’s eyes spotted something that drove all humour out of his thoughts.

    “Red hair at ten o’clock, about thirty metres and closing,” he reported. “The Weasleys are here, guys - it’s show time.”
    Last edited by Kieran; January 11th, 2013 at 10:23 PM.

  3. #3
    闇色の六王権 The Dark Six lethum's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    About 75º west of Greenwich.
    Posts
    4,713
    Blog Entries
    2
    You have a [i[refract[/i] in the beginning of the second scene of chappie 1. The fics still seems nice.

  4. #4
    The Jester Kieran's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    According to most, my own little world
    Age
    34
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    5,895
    Blog Entries
    156
    Thanks, fixed it.

    . . . On the one hand, I can avoid errors like these by recoding them just before posting, using the "I" buttons, and so on. But by manually recoding them, I can prepare to upload multiple chapters in one go - hard to say which is better.

  5. #5
    闇色の六王権 The Dark Six lethum's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    About 75º west of Greenwich.
    Posts
    4,713
    Blog Entries
    2
    Mm...you can always open several "+ Reply to Thread" tabs, one for each chapter, I think.

  6. #6
    I only just noticed the youtube hyperlink on the date - were they always there? Nice song, regardless.

    Also, you have written oodles of fic, Kieran. Oodles upon oodles.

  7. #7
    The Jester Kieran's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    According to most, my own little world
    Age
    34
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    5,895
    Blog Entries
    156
    Quote Originally Posted by lethum View Post
    Mm...you can always open several "+ Reply to Thread" tabs, one for each chapter, I think.
    *shakes head* My writing computer is not my Internet computer, so I have to transfer files physically from computer to computer. My current method is manually recode several chapters at once, save them as separate files, and upload in sequence - but as you've seen, I make errors. The other option is to not both adding the [] stuff to the chapter files until I'm ready to post, and use the buttons here - but that means it takes longer to upload them, as opposed to having a bunch ready to go.



    Quote Originally Posted by RexRox View Post
    I only just noticed the youtube hyperlink on the date - were they always there? Nice song, regardless.
    Nope - I wanted to add that the first time around, but never got around to it. So I added it this time. Hope it suits.



    Also, you have written oodles of fic, Kieran. Oodles upon oodles.
    The Trinity series alone comprises 1400+ pages - so I have to agree. It just makes reuploading all this stuff a pain . . . But worth it, because it's appreciated.

    Nice to see you back, too.

  8. #8
    死徒 Dead Apostle ringlhach's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utah, USA
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    939
    Advanced posting'll let you preview, if that helps any.

    Of course, you probably already know that, so... I'm gonna go bug someone else now.

  9. #9
    The Jester Kieran's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    According to most, my own little world
    Age
    34
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    5,895
    Blog Entries
    156
    I did - but I so rarely used it, I'd honestly forgotten about it. Thanks.

  10. #10
    The Jester Kieran's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    According to most, my own little world
    Age
    34
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    5,895
    Blog Entries
    156
    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 Chamber of Secrets, but I trust in the intelligence of my readers (and the availability of the books) to recognise them when they see them.



    Chapter 3 - The Fireworks Begin



    August 19, 1992






    Galen resisted the urge to growl as they literally squeezed into the store. He hated crowds. It was part of why he’d stopped going to conventions - he’d had claustrophobia attacks just trying to view the vendors’ stalls. Lines had never been his thing, either, and there was a big one winding its way to the back of the shop, and the blond fop perched there signing autographs.

    Fortunately for his sanity and the probable continued existence of the bookstore, he had no intentions of joining the queue. Getting Lockhart’s signature on his autobiography was a pleasure he ranked right below having the Grangers fill a cavity for him after he’d announced his intention to have sex with Hermione. Unfortunately for Galen’s aforementioned sanity, he was required to at least keep an eye on the damned thing because the Weasleys were going to join in.

    Timing was going to be everything here. They had to wait until the Malfoys showed up, and Lucius slipped the diary into Ginny’s Transfiguration book, and then try to steal it while everyone was distracted - probably by the fight between Lucius and Arthur Weasley. It was a very small window of opportunity, but unless they could come up with a better one, it was all they had.

    Galen patted his left side pocket. In there, folded too many times to be believed, was the Peverell cloak of invisibility, the third of the Deathly Hallows. Takara was quick, and this might give her the edge she needed - but they had to be careful. An advantage like this was only useful if no one knew about it - and the Malfoys were the last people they wanted to reveal its existence to.

    Galen considered. By itself, the cloak was a silvery mass of fabric, light as air and thin as spider silk. It was only when it covered something (usually people, but he’d found it worked on objects, too) that it became “active,” and therefore undetectable. They’d considered hiding the Philosopher’s Stone with it, but ultimately discarded the idea as useless, since Dumbledore had given them the cloak in the first place - for a reason that Galen still did not know, and was therefore suspicious of. If nothing else, he’d have wondered where the cloak had vanished to, if he chose to search their belongings.

    There were any number of ways it could be useful, so long as they weren’t seen using it . . .

    The Weasleys were getting closer to the middle of the line - the confrontation with the Malfoys would happen soon after they hit the head of it. Draco had to be somewhere in the stacks, though Galen couldn’t see him. He chose to focus on his shopping, first, picking up The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 2 and Lockhart’s Voyages with Vampires and Wanderings with Werewolves. If he absolutely had to have the man’s books, they might as well be about stuff he was interested in.

    He also selected a gift book for Hermione’s birthday and prayed she hadn’t decided to buy it already - though with the expense of Lockhart’s books, he hoped she wouldn’t be able to afford much more. After he’d paid for his purchases, Galen joined Shirou and Takara - neither had elected to join Hermione in line.

    “Anybody have any clearer ideas about what to do?” he whispered, though the crowd noise hardly made it necessary.

    Both shook their heads.

    “I wish we could use magic,” Takara muttered. “We’d be assured of a distraction with the right spells.”

    Galen shook his head. “No good - the Trace spell on an underage wand will go off around any nearby magic, and while this is Diagon Alley, I’d rather not give the Ministry reasons to look at us too closely.”

    “Speaking of wands,” Shirou said abruptly, “Ilya said it might be helpful to remember yours.”

    Galen scowled. “Well, I brought it, even if I can’t really use it. It just seemed silly to not have it when it’s expected of every wizard to have . . . A wand from Ollivander’s,” he finished in a breathless tone. “Ilya, you clever, deceitful, brilliant little minx!

    Takara looked at him. “Meaning . . .?”

    “My wand isn’t British-made - and it’s a custom job,” Galen smirked ferally. “Anybody want to bet Galleons that Ilya didn’t tell the wandmaker it was for an underage wizard?”

    Both of them had parents who were Aurors - they got it instantly.

    “OK, so magic’s an option,” Takara said in a hushed voice, “if we’re careful. So what can we do?”

    Galen began flipping through the Grade 2 spellbook quickly, before sighing. “Damned little. I’d give a lot to be able to do a Summoning or Banishing Charm right now.”

    “What else do we have to work with?” Shirou asked.

    Galen looked at his spell repertoire - and the answer was, not much. Basic levitation, several counter-jinxes, the Shield Charm, the bluebell flame spell Hermione had taught him . . .

    “We’re in a bookstore,” Galen murmured. “That means wood and paper, lots of it. And my wand loves fire.”

    “That’s Veela hair for you,” Shirou murmured back. “Ilya’s got the same knack - she can conjure fireballs without a wand. No transforming outside of turning her hair feathery, though.”

    “That would be pretty,” Galen mused.

    Takara glanced at them impatiently. “They’re getting closer to the head of the line, boys. What’s the plan?”

    Galen frowned. “On second thought, this place has to have Flame-Freezing Charms, or something like them - fire and explosions are too common around wizards. Short of maybe dragon’s breath or Fiendfyre, I doubt I could do any real damage.”

    “You’re sure?” Shirou asked. “These are wizards we’re talking about. They’ve got a knack for doing bloody stupid things.”

    “Have to assume the worst,” Galen said grimly. “If we don’t, and we’re wrong . . .”

    “OK, then what?” Takara prodded. “We’re almost out of time to get into position!”

    Galen glanced over at the Weasleys - it looked like everyone short of the two oldest boys, who didn’t live at home. Ginny was a cute little sprite, looking much more vivacious without the shyness produced by Harry Potter’s presence. She was talking animatedly to her twin brothers, Fred and George . . .

    A page from the book flashed into his head.

    “New plan,” Galen said. “Shirou, I need you to play spotter - help me get under the cloak unnoticed. Then I need you to head over to the twins, and tell me where they’ve hidden something we need . . .”






    Shirou kept all his senses open as they disappeared into a corner of the store, two boys hunting a particular book. While the enclosed stacks hindered his sight, motion was easy enough to spot in a place like this, even from the other side of a bookcase. And while his hearing wasn’t on par with Galen’s, he was far from deaf.

    “Are you sure this is going to work?” Shirou hissed. “This could endanger a lot of people.”

    Galen vanished along with the cloak, and the voice that emerged from the empty air where he stood was eerily muted. Almost always quiet, his whispers could be almost impossible to hear - and under the quieting of the cloak, it was more like hearing a voice in his head than actual sound. Shirou had to fight the urge to shiver.

    “Your dad and Takara’s are trained Aurors - they can minimise the damage, hopefully. I’ll use a Shield Charm if I have to. We’re just trying to make people look in one particular direction - away from her and Ginny’s cauldron. And you have to make sure they don’t look at me.

    “Right,” Shirou agreed. Invisible or not, if someone sees a flame emerge from somewhere . . . It would lead to questions nobody wanted to have to answer.

    “Get to the twins - we’re almost out of time.”

    Shirou got, and emerged from the raised level to meet Takara in mid-conversation with the twins.

    “Galen’s going to be a while,” Shirou informed her. “He just found three new books on magical creatures, and his allowance will only let him buy one.”

    “He’ll be at least twenty minutes, then,” Takara said, playing along with the ruse. When the chaos started, there had to be a reason Galen wasn’t seen.

    “Blimey,” said Fred (or was it George?). “The only other bloke I know as monster-mad as Galen is Hagrid.”

    “On the other hand,” added George (or Fred), “Galen’s just plain mad, isn’t he?”

    “No argument,” Shirou said with a laugh. “He’d even agree with you. Although, it makes choosing next year’s electives easier for him.”

    They all got a good laugh out of that one.

    “Shirou,” said one of the twins, “you should meet the last ickle firstie of the Weasley clan, our sister Ginny.”

    “Ginny,” said the other, “this is Shirou. His eyes are Japanese, his last name’s German, but it’s obvious from his hair that he’s a Weasley who got adopted.”

    “We figure that Mum decided she couldn’t handle twins again after us,” the first one grinned, “and gave him up to keep Ron.”

    The other snorted. “She picked the wrong one to get rid of, obviously - Shirou’s loads more fun!”

    The little girl (and she was little - Ilya-chan’s size, he thought) had alternated looking at her brothers as they spoke, before turning to stare at him with incredulous brown eyes.

    “They’re having you on,” Shirou assured her, before smirking, “Although, I was adopted, so then again . . .”

    The twins staggered back as if struck, hands clutching their chests in unison.

    Brother!” they cried at once, grabbing him in a simultaneous bear hug, actually managing to lift him off the floor. “Welcome back to the family!”

    Takara smothered a laugh, and noticed the Weasley matriarch beckoning in their direction.

    “Ginny, your mum wants you,” she said, gesturing with her eyes.

    The girl scampered back to her place in line.

    “So . . .” drawled one of the twins. “Anticipating any more interesting problems this year?”

    Translation, Shirou thought, “Need another dragon’s egg smuggled out of Hogwarts, or something similar?

    “Actually,” Takara said calmly, “we’re hoping to avoid all kinds of problems this year.”

    “Pity,” said the other twin. “On the other hand, it’s not as if -“

    ”- We don’t have our own ways of livening things up,” finished the first. He opened his bag, and gestured within.

    Shirou glanced in, and saw exactly what he needed to see.

    Bingo, he thought.






    Takara was a bundle of nerves, however stoic she seemed. Years of kendo practice and tutoring in Japanese tradition had given her the ability to put on that traditional mask of inscrutability, regardless of her actual feelings, and she’d learned to wear it well. It had made learning Occlumency relatively easy - she was already halfway there.

    She watched as Ginny and her mother moved to the head of the line with a cauldron full of books. Ginny was not what she’d expected. She’d been waiting for the girl to be shy, almost mute - this one never seemed to shut up. She was definitely the twins’ sister - a bouncing ball of a girl, full of questions about Hogwarts. Hermione hadn’t been this inquisitive . . . Well, all right, she had - but Hermione had actually waited for the answers, and paused to take breaths.

    The bushy-haired Gryffindor appeared as if summoned, signed autobiography in hand, and an expression of pure delight on her face. She took one look at Takara’s face and laughed.

    “Wore you out, did she?” Hermione asked, amused.

    “She’ll be the second coming of Fred and George,” Takara muttered. “All by herself.

    “Really?” asked one of the twins. “You hear that, George? We trained her well.”

    “Always a bittersweet moment,” George agreed. “When the student outstrips the masters.”

    Takara glanced at them. “Since when do you two know anything about martial arts?”

    Fred shrugged. “We see you lot down by the lake every morning, and we got curious. That stuff really work?”

    Takara smirked. “There’s a reason I’ve never been afraid of Malfoy and his goons, boys - I could put all three of them in the Hospital Wing without my wand.”

    George looked thoughtful. “Might be worthwhile to know a few moves ourselves, then. Like the Muggle lock-picking tricks - always handy to have when wands aren’t useable.”

    Mundane,” Takara stressed. “‘Muggle’ makes them sound like a different species. And the pure-bloods didn’t just drop out of the sky, you know - we’re all human.”

    “How magnanimous,” drawled a new, and definitely unwanted voice. “Such sympathy for the Muggles - though I should’ve expected as much from a half-blood like you, Aozaki.”

    Takara met Draco Malfoy’s gaze unflinchingly, even contemptuously. He wasn’t Japanese, but he was otherwise every inch the type of bigot she’d faced growing up. She knew his kind, and had dealt with them for years. She could play their game, as well.

    Takara schooled her face to its coldest mask, and made each word an icy needle of utter disdain. “The Aozaki clan has been a recognised and respected family in Nihon since the eighth century A.D., Malfoy - has your blood endured so long? ‘Mal foi' is ultimately French, after all.” She gave him a copy of his own sneer, and from the twins’ expressions, she copied it well.

    “My family has gained wisdom in its time that upstarts like you have yet to even conceive of,” she said. “I have little time, and less patience, for the mewling of ignorant children.”

    Draco’s face was nearly purple. “When my father hears of this - !”

    “He will no doubt remind you that you will soon be at school, beyond his reach - and trapped within mine,” Takara purred. “My bloodline has plied many trades in our centuries, Malfoy, but we have excelled at one above all others . . .” She gave him an icy smile, and whispered, “Death.

    Had Crabbe and Goyle been anywhere nearby, Draco might have held. Had his father been in sight, he might have felt more secure. As it was, he was alone, facing a girl in whose eyes he could read his own bloody end.

    He ran, leaving a whiff of urine behind.

    Takara sighed, relaxing. That had been kind of fun, but it wasn’t a mask she liked to wear - any more than she’d enjoyed letting Nanaya loose.

    Fred and George were staring at her as though she’d suddenly become a panther.

    “What - “

    “ - the bloody -“

    - hell -

    ” - was that?!” they demanded.

    Takara could feel herself blushing. “That was every pure-blood bigot I ever met back home,” she said quietly. “You hear something often enough, and you can copy it pretty well.”

    Hermione looked subdued. “Is everywhere in the wizarding world like the Malfoys?”

    Takara glanced at her in surprise. “No - that was because my mother was a gaijin, not a Mundane-born. Being a witch had nothing to do with it.”

    “Explains why you hate the pure-blood stuff so much, though,” Fred mused.

    “Yeah - you’ve heard the Muggle - sorry, mundane version all your life,” George added.

    Takara flashed him a grateful smile for the correction, then shrugged. “My childhood wasn’t all bad.” She smiled at a sudden memory. “When I was four, some of the kids in my neighbourhood thought I looked weird, and didn’t want to play with me - but I met a boy who thought I was the prettiest girl he’d ever seen, because I had ‘pretty kitty eyes.’”

    “I suppose they do sort of look that way,” Hermione admitted. “With the shape, and the colour.”

    “They do,“ Takara admitted. “And I liked pretending that I was a cat, so it was a very big compliment. But then, he always has been sweet that way - right, Hermione?”

    Hermione blinked. “You mean Galen - ?

    “Who else?” She laughed, as much for the irony of her next statement as anything else. “We didn’t just appear on the Hogwarts Express as best friends, you know.”

    Any other discussion was cut off by the hollow, metallic thunk of a cauldron hitting the ground - and Takara whirled in horror. She’d been caught unprepared - and the fight was on! She’d really need to hurry if she was going to make this work!






    Galen resisted the urge to curse aloud as he saw Takara talking to the twins - and Hermione. First the Quidditch match last year, and now this - ! That girl seemed to have an unwitting knack for drawing people into conversations at the worst possible times!

    He kept an eye on Arthur and Lucius, otherwise. Malfoy had already handled Ginny’s book, and dumped it into the cauldron - that part was in play. Now it was just a matter of waiting for -

    The Weasley patriarch lunged at the long-haired platinum blond, and the fight was on.

    Chaos reigned supreme for several minutes. Ginny was shrieking, her mother was trying to convince her husband to calm down, Ron was egging him on - and now Takara and the twins were on-scene. The twins were focussed on the fight, and no one seemed to notice as Takara bent down to gather the spilled books up and out of harm’s way . . .

    Things began to wind down almost immediately after the crowd got involved - quick reactions on Shiki and Kiritsugu’s parts, but Takara hadn’t quite finished yet. Looked like there was no choice but to go for the second distraction . . .

    With a whispered incantation, Galen conjured a tiny bluebell flame and sent it speeding towards Fred and George’s open bag - and a collection of “Dr. Filibuster’s Fabulous Wet-Start, No-Heat Fireworks.”






    As the world exploded into rainbow flashes and thunderous cracks, Shirou’s only consolation was that nothing was burning. It already felt like a war - being trapped in a blazing bookstore would only have gotten people killed.

    Of course, as no one could tell immediately that there wasn’t a fire, it hadn’t stopped people from trampling themselves on the way to the exit. Or conjuring streams of water, or casting Flame-Freezing Charms and stunning people who were standing behind the explosion of the firework.

    Lockhart had been the first to flee under the onslaught. The crowd hadn’t noticed in its panic, but Shirou was hopeful that somebody would point it out eventually. As it was, he had his hands full getting to Takara, and then his father, and helping gather everyone to evacuate the building - and keeping anyone from noticing Galen’s absence. Though Shirou knew he wasn’t that absent - the odd silver flash was definitely a Protego being cast, and they seemed to occur around the Grangers, in particular, whenever a firework or stampeding patron got too close.

    Takara had a look on her face when she joined them that, to anyone else, would’ve been impassive. But he was Japanese, too, and he’d known her for years - she was tense. Whether because she was worried or elated, he couldn’t tell. But there was hardly anything to be said when they were surrounded by people they didn’t want to overhear. It would have to wait.

    Once outside, Takara handed off Ginny’s cauldron of books to Mrs. Weasley, who thanked her for her kindness, before drawing off her family for what would no doubt be a royal raking over the coals for their behaviour. There was no sign of Lucius Malfoy or his son - like Lockhart, they’d been among the first to go. Hermione was the first after Galen’s mother to notice his absence, and the very first to tackle him when he emerged from a side alley.

    “I’m okay, Hermione,” he grunted. “I headed for a wall when the explosions started and worked my way around to a side door. I figured it was safer keeping the bookcases between me and the booms rather than try and walk out the front door. Sorry to worry you all.”

    She released him, reluctantly, then followed his gaze to Takara, then Shirou. Shirou thought he was the only one to see her eyes narrow slightly.

    Galen had turned his attention to the Grangers. “I’m very sorry for the mess - if you want to go home now, we’d understand. But is there any chance we could talk you into ice cream first? There’s a quiet little parlour not far . . .”

    Galen’s mother looked at him oddly.

    He turned to her and shrugged. “They were the ones most at risk in there, Mum. They couldn’t defend themselves, and Hermione wasn’t allowed to defend them. I know Aozaki-san and Mr. Einzbern could have and would’ve, but . . .”

    Shirou broke in. “It doesn’t change the fact that they were helpless - and that’s a terrifying thing to be.”

    The Grangers gave them both odd looks. The three of them got them on occasion, and there really wasn’t much helping it - they sounded like adults in children’s bodies because they were. But sometimes, it made it easier to get people to listen to them, too.

    Hermione gave them the look the three of them called the Mystic Eyes of the Sad Puppy. “Please? I’ve heard about Fortescue’s - it’s supposed to be very good, very peaceful. It would be nice, right about now.”

    The Grangers acquiesced, the shocks of the trip apparently overriding their dental instincts to avoid sugar, and the group walked towards Florean Fortescue’s, the Grangers subtly ensconced in the middle, Hermione on their right side.

    She glanced to her own right, at Shirou, and asked in a casual tone, “Are wizarding fireworks usually silver?”

    Shirou shrugged, and said truthfully, “They can be pretty much any colour you want them to be, Hermione. Why?”

    “An odd pattern,” she responded, and Shirou winced, reminded anew of just how dangerous Hermione Granger’s mind really was. She might not notice things in the heat of the moment, but once she was given time to calm down and think about it, she could notice very minute details that others would easily overlook.

    And Hermione had very good reason to know the colour of an active Shield Charm. She might not know what had happened, and certainly not why . . . But there was no way she didn’t have a damned good notion of who was involved.

    Still, as long as Takara had managed to get the diary, it wouldn’t really matter. This would all be over and done with . . .

    It wasn’t until halfway through the meal, however, while Hermione had gone to the washroom and left them alone in their booth, that he was able to look Takara in the eye and ask in quiet Japanese, “Well?”

    Takara lowered her eyes. “I didn’t get it.”

    Shirou swore a quiet oath in German - a fine language for invective. Galen’s language of choice sounded like Italian. He hadn’t even known that Galen knew any Italian swear words.

    Takara looked mortified. “I almost had it, and then the fireworks went off, and there was such a rush to get outside . . . I’m sorry.”

    Shirou shook his head. “Not your fault.” He glared at Galen. “And not your fault, either - so don’t even start. They would’ve caught her anyway, if you hadn’t. We need to focus on a backup plan.”

    “Meet her on the train,” Galen said immediately. “Takara needs to become her best friend, so that she can get access to Ginny’s things more easily. With luck, she’ll have the book with her on the train, but she might not notice it until classes start - depends on how soon she opens her Transfiguration text. No matter what, we’ve got to get it before she starts using it, or Riddle’s soul fragment might be able to call her to it no matter how we hide it.”

    “And we’ve got to be careful,” Shirou added. “Hermione’s already suspicious - too many Shield Charms.”

    Galen looked defensive. “I wasn’t taking chances.”

    Shirou shook his head. “Doesn’t matter. None of it matters right now, beyond that book. So far, we’ve got strike one. Let’s not get to three, shall we?”
    Last edited by Kieran; March 24th, 2011 at 11:22 PM.

  11. #11
    The Jester Kieran's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    According to most, my own little world
    Age
    34
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    5,895
    Blog Entries
    156
    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 Chamber of Secrets, but I trust in the intelligence of my readers (and the availability of the books) to recognise them when they see them.



    Chapter 4 -Terrible Truths



    September 1, 1992






    Shirou double-checked that he had everything packed before he headed out to King’s Cross station to meet the train to Hogwarts. Books, clothes, supplies, wand . . . Yes, everything seemed to be in place.

    The redhead admitted to himself that he was nervous. Last year, they’d appeared on the train proper, without the need to do this. Even coming back from Christmas break, they hadn’t faced this - the mad scramble. There would be a new crop of first-years this year, more people to get lost in.

    Ilya had already left the day before, needing extra time to reach Durmstrang as it was on the continent. It had been - interesting - living with his big/little sister for the summer. She wasn’t quite as silly an older sister as Fuji-nee had been, but there was a smaller age gap between them, and that only physical. Like Galen, he’d died nearer to thirty than twenty. Ilya might have been older than he was at the beginning, despite her looks - but the reverse was now true.

    Still, Ilya was obviously enjoying herself in this world - certainly, she seemed to like wearing the skimpiest outfits she could get away with. When Shirou had called her on it, she’d responded with a glare and a fringe of fire licking around her fingers.

    “I’ve waited over twenty years for boobs and legs like these,” she’d told him. “I intend to enjoy them.”

    What could you say to that? Although, he suspected her allure “accidents” were less frequent than she made them appear - especially since he was often in the vicinity when it went off. Unfortunately for her, he was about as immune to the allure as Galen - it only worked when she caught him by surprise, and never for long. Whether that was because his mind was hardened against it by virtue of his experiences, or because his body didn’t have enough of the right hormones yet to really respond, Shirou wasn’t sure. . . He was definitely praying for the former, though.

    Still, that was a problem for another year - his sister was safely ensconced in her castle, as he was soon to be in his - with a soul-devouring diary and killer snake.

    That, he admitted, was something else that made him nervous. They’d missed the best opportunity to get their hands on the diary - and breaking into the Burrow to get it hadn’t been an option. Aside from whatever standard wards might be around the place, Galen had pointed out that the eldest son was a professional cursebreaker, and almost certainly would have tweaked them for his family’s security. While the three of them had some interesting talents and magical items handy, none of them would’ve likely helped.

    That had limited their window of opportunity even further. The train was the next best bet - either Ginny would have it on her person, or in her luggage. If they eliminated one possibility, they could pursue the other freely. Getting into the first-year girls’ dormitory to ransack her things would be tricky, but doable - but if they didn’t have to, why borrow trouble?

    We never need to borrow trouble, Shirou snorted to himself. It throws itself at us, free of charge.

    He grabbed a drawstring pouch on a leather thong holding a collection of pocket money for the snack trolley, and tapping the rune on his trunk that activated the built-in Shrinking Charm, placed the trunk in the pouch as well. Checking to make sure that his wand was snugly secured in its wrist-holster - Ilya’s latest birthday present to him - he glanced around his room one last time to ensure he hadn’t forgotten anything. Seeing nothing obvious, he put the thong around his neck and tucked the pouch under his shirt, out of sight.

    He then headed downstairs to meet his dad for the drive to the station. Kiritsugu had been irritated by the fiasco at Flourish and Blotts, but he didn’t seem to suspect Shirou of anything specific. His questions to Shirou had been phrased more as though he was confirming his own suspicions of what he’d seen and heard. Like Hermione, he’d noted a number of silver “fireworks” in and around the red and blue bursts - but he’d said nothing about other than to note their existence . . . And their frequent proximity to the only mundane people in the store that he knew about.

    It was a sobering reminder to Shirou that his father, while perhaps not a genius, was no dummy, either - and he was not only trained to detect and neutralise Dark wizards, he excelled at it.

    It wasn’t until they’d pulled into the nearest parking lot to the station, however, that Kiritsugu stopped to really speak to him. He turned off the car and turned to face Shirou.

    “I used to face Filius Flitwick on the duelling circuit, a long time ago,” he remarked casually. “He was a tricky little guy, even then - our matches could usually go either way. So when he tells me that my son and his friends are some of the most natural wand-wielders he’s ever seen, I know he’s not saying it just because he thinks I’ll like to hear it. More to the point, I’ve never heard of him taking students in duelling - Charms, yes, but not duelling.” Kiritsugu’s voice turned dry. “Then again, I suppose any first-years who can successfully tackle a fully-grown mountain troll might be impressive enough for him to want to train them.”

    Shirou’s surprise must have been visible in his eyes, because his father laughed. “You thought because I didn’t say anything, I didn’t know? Come on, Shirou - I work in the same department as Shiki Aozaki! The only reason I didn’t make a fuss was because I knew he and Ciel were handling it - or your mother would been down there in full feathers and flame within the hour afterwards, believe me! She was ready to tear that castle apart stone by stone to get at whoever had let that thing in - and drop them all on Dumbledore’s head for allowing it to happen!” He chuckled. “Why do you think Arcueid went with them? She was a compromise!”

    Kiritsugu sobered. “The point is, son - I know you’re good, especially for your age. Fil says that your spells have got punch and range like nobody’s business, and with Takara and Galen backing you up, there’s damned little a second-year should encounter that you can’t handle without breaking a sweat - but the troll thing has still got us uneasy. Dumbledore’s one of the best alive, but he’s been alive for a long time - and time takes its toll. And with the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher this year being Gilderoy Lockhart, well . . .”

    Shirou widened his eyes, as if in surprise, and said, “Dad! Are you telling me you don’t believe in Gilderoy Lockhart, after everything he’s done?”

    Kiritsugu snorted. “I hunt Dark wizards - and your mother’s not only a Baroness, she’s been a model and an ambassador, too. I know how to spot liars, Shirou. Lockhart hasn’t broken any laws I’m aware of, but if he’s as competent as he says is, it’s time for me to retire.” The older Einzbern’s face turned hard. “The point is this, Shirou - if things turn dangerous this year, don’t try and throw yourself into it. Contact us, first. This is our job, after all.”

    “I’ll try, Dad,” Shirou promised.

    Kiritsugu sighed. “Best I can hope for, I guess. Well, good luck at school, enjoy yourself but try to stay out of trouble, and we’ll see you at Christmas.” He reached over the seat to hug his son.

    As Shirou was leaving the car, Kiritsugu added, “And Shirou?”

    “Yeah, Dad?”

    Kiritsugu’s eyes glinted with amusement. “Tell Galen I’ll understand if he doesn’t want to say how he managed to stay hidden, but he throws a nice Shield Charm - and damned quickly, too. If you and Takara are as good as that, the Aurors could use you all.”

    Shirou turned as red as his hair.






    Galen arrived early at King’s Cross station mainly out of habit - the train left at eleven sharp, period. And it wasn’t as though they’d been dealing with a desperate house-elf all summer . . . Hm, that sounded like a potential series of bodice-rippers: Desperate House-elves. The first book’s title was almost too easy - At Her Master’s Pleasure . . .

    Dear God, he was actually considering writing romance novels! He needed a hobby, stat!

    Problem was, the wizarding world didn’t seem to have a whole heck of a lot by way of entertainments. He didn’t fly by choice, so Quidditch and Quodpot were out. He’d never been any good at chess, even without pieces that would back-talk him. Gobstones was basically marbles, which he’d never gotten the point of. Exploding Snap was a card game like Concentration - a quick diversion, but nothing to build anything on. He could collect comic books, but the only one he knew of was The Adventures of Martin Miggs, the Mad Muggle . . .

    No. Bloody. Way. Not even to stave off romance novels.

    It was strange that for a society capable of animated photographs and Pensieves, they hadn’t yet developed the motion picture, or television. Their sole mass media outlet that wasn’t printed appeared to be the Wizarding Wireless Network, which was radio. Not much to be done with that, either, at least in terms of a hobby - unless he could somehow rig a pirate radio station . . . Hmm . . .

    “Well, here we are,” his father announced, drawing Galen from his musings. “This is where we part ways, son.”

    “Thanks, Dad - see you at Christmas,” Galen said. “Take care?”

    You take care,” his father returned. “The potion will help - but your godmother told us about the other times you landed in the infirmary.”

    Galen reddened. “Sorry, Dad - didn’t have much choice. It was either me or - well, her.

    He pointed at the rapidly-approaching Grangers - Hermione being early wasn’t unexpected. She was going back to school, to learn. Naturally, she couldn’t wait.

    “Hello, Hermione, Mr. and Mrs. Granger,” he greeted them with a smile. “Good to see you. I hope you’re all right, after the problems at the bookstore?”

    They assured him they were.

    Galen spotted another form, and bowed his head. “I’m sorry, Miranda. You were hidden behind your sister - I didn’t see you. How are you today?”

    “Good,” Miranda said brightly.

    Galen smiled. Miranda Granger had quickly become one of his favourite people - or maybe it was the other way around. Like the Grade 1 students he’d had co-op with, once she’d found out he’d read stories or sing to her, it was never long into his visits before she’d turn up. Not that he minded much - it was nice to be able to make someone so happy with something so simple. It had beating off trolls as a way of making friends beat by the proverbial country mile.

    He glanced at Hermione. Though that method isn’t without its benefits . . .

    “Well, you be a good girl, and we’ll see you at Christmas,” he told her. “If you’re really good, maybe I can talk Dad into making some fudge for you.”

    Hermione gave him a mock glare. “I remember that fudge. It’s almost pure brown sugar!”

    Galen grinned. “I know.”

    The Grangers, being dentists, tended to avoid the usual sweets with their daughters. However, like all small children, the mere mention of candy was enough to set Miranda’s mouth watering.

    “OK!” she chirped.

    “Deal,” Galen agreed. He glanced at the station clock. “We’d better hurry if we want good seats - goodbye, Grangers. Bye, Dad - love you.”

    He walked through the barrier, Hermione tagging along seconds later.

    She gave him a puzzled look. “Why didn’t your father bring you through to the platform?”

    “He can’t,” Galen said flatly. “Not any more than your parents can.”

    Hermione blinked. “I thought your father was a - “

    ”Mundane-born? No, he’s pure vanilla mundane, the only one in the house. Think about that, Hermione. He has to handle the stresses and arguments of a marriage, and raise and discipline two children, knowing that any of them could accidentally or on purpose blow him through a wall, or turn him into a toad, if they got upset - and you know my temper. Then add the fact that his only son has a disease that turns him into a rabid killing machine every four weeks.” Galen shook his head. “Anybody with any sense would say he has plenty of reasons to turn alcoholic, or just cut and run - but he never has. And to the magical world, he’s practically nothing. Just another common Muggle, after all - and it’s not as though they matter.

    Hermione gazed at him appraisingly. “That’s why you’re so against the pure-blood agenda. Why you’re so careful of my parents. Because of your father.”

    “Oh, I think the prejudices are stupid on principle - but yeah. I’ve seen firsthand what the magical world can do to mundanes if they’re not protected, or at least prepared. And I’ve lived in their world all my life - I think they deserve at least courtesy, if not respect. I’m not saying that the entire world is ready to embrace witches, wizards, and all that comes with them, but given the rising number of mundane-born versus the declining birthrates of pure-bloods, only a collection of idiots would continue to run things the way they are.”

    “Really? I haven’t studied that.”

    “Just look around the school. Most of the major pure-blood families have only one child enrolled. One heir, and not even a spare, with very few exceptions. Whereas mundane-born usually end up having family members who enroll, too. The pure-blood gene pool gets shallower with each generation - pretty soon, they’ll evaporate it altogether.”

    Galen shook his head again, and caught sight of a familiar form with the movement. He called out, “Hey, Nev!”

    The stocky boy turned, and it was fun watching his face light up. Here, too, was a simple pleasure - that he could bring them pleasure just by being there, and being glad to see them.

    “Galen! Hermione!” he called, as though it had been a year instead of a week and a half since they’d all last seen each other. “Come on - I’ll save you a compartment!”

    Neville boarded the train, and Hermione bit her lip.

    “Should we wait for Shirou and Takara?” Hermione asked.

    Galen shook his head. “They said something about wanting to talk to Fred and George Weasley - they’ll catch up. But we should grab one more person, just to have filled up the compartment when they do arrive . . .”

    He scanned around for a familiar, friendly face - and caught sight of a tiny blonde girl struggling with a trunk that was nearly her own size. Her robes were a bright, flamingo-like pink - and even at a distance, her wand was visibly tucked behind her ear.

    Perfect. Galen strode over to the girl with the biggest smile he could muster.

    “Need a hand, miss?” he asked politely.

    Wide, silvery-blue eyes locked on to his in surprise. They gazed at him searchingly for a moment.

    “Yes, please,” she said in an almost dreamy voice, an Irish lilt adding music to its tone. “Daddy forgot to put the Featherweight Charm on my trunk before he left. He’s a wonderful man, but a bit absent-minded.” Quickly, she added, “I’m Luna, by the way. Luna Lovegood.”

    “Nice to meet you, Luna - I’m Galen Salvatore, and that’s Hermione Granger.” He gestured. “Hermione, mind grabbing the other end with her? We’ll get an idea of whether this thing’s really heavy, or just awkward.”

    “Awkward” proved to be the winning option, so Hermione was relegated to the role of spotter - making sure the train corridor was clear, and the doors open, as Galen hefted the trunk through it, and into the compartment where Neville was waiting.

    “Oof!” Galen grunted as he heaved the trunk into the upper holding bay of the compartment. “Wow, that was work! I thought I was in shape - guess I’ll have to exercise harder.”

    “I’m sorry,” Luna said contritely.

    Galen shook his head. “It’s not your fault, Luna. If I needed the workout that badly, I’m glad I got it. So tell me, are you just starting Hogwarts?”

    “Yes - I expect I’ll be in Ravenclaw, like my Mum and Dad. You’re not Ravenclaws, are you?”

    Neville shook his head. “We’re Gryffindors.”

    “Oh, sorry,” Galen realised. “Neville Longbottom, Luna Lovegood. Luna, Neville.”

    “Pleased to meet you,” Luna said, and she sounded genuinely so.

    “Ravenclaw’s not so bad,” Galen said in a thoughtful tone. “I know the Head of House, Professor Flitwick, fairly well - if you have any trouble, go to him and he’ll fix it. And if he doesn’t . . . Find me, Luna - and I’ll fix it.”

    His tone was soft but dire, and Hermione flashed him a sharp look.

    “You think I’ll have trouble?” Luna said quietly.

    “You shouldn’t,” Galen stressed. “Your house is supposed to be your family at Hogwarts - and real family looks out for each other. But you’re also going to be with kids, and kids aren’t always nice, are they? Professor Flitwick should be able to keep anything bad from happening in Ravenclaw house - or stop it quick if it does. But if he doesn’t, or can’t, then find a Gryffindor - and they’ll find me, and my friends . . . And I promise you that anyone who hurt you will be very, very sorry.”

    “Galen!” Hermione protested. “You can’t just arbitrarily declare war on Ravenclaw!”

    “I let it slide in Gryffindor last year, Hermione - and you almost got killed,” Galen said sharply. “Not this time. Anybody I find bullying another student is going to get a taste of their own medicine - and I intend to shove whole damned bottle down their throats, sideways.

    “You can’t just do that! They’ll expel you!”

    Galen’s eyes emptied of any quality that could qualify as human, and the other three students held their breath. Fred and George Weasley would have recognised the look instantly - Takara had worn it when dealing with Malfoy. More than their age or dimensional origins, this was what separated the trinity from the rest of the Hogwarts student body. A Nanaya, a Counter Guardian, and the Holy Grail’s judge - all three of them were killers by nature, if not necessarily inclination, and in that moment it was plain for everyone in that compartment to see.

    Then he blinked, and said mildly, “A school which permits such abuses like the ones I’d be fighting is not one I’d consider worth attending.”

    Neville’s cheeks suddenly had colour back in them. “Y - you . . .” He swallowed. “You can be really scary, you know that?”

    Galen deliberately pitched his voice softly, so as not to frighten them further. “I have rules, Nev. There are things I’ll do, and there are lines I won’t cross. I will keep my word when I give it, if I can. I won’t allow an innocent to come to harm if I can prevent it. I don’t lie if I can avoid it - I may not speak, or I may not tell the whole truth, but a deliberate lie is rare from me. And I will support my family as best I can - including defending them, any way I have to, from any and all threats.” He paused. “ . . . And that includes myself.”

    Luna, surprisingly, was the first to break the silence. “Interesting - I’ve never met anyone who can actually frighten away Wrackspurts before. What kind of effect do you have on Nargles?”






    Takara took a deep breath as she saw the Weasleys cross to the train. As she’d hoped, Percy went directly to the Prefects’ car, and Ron was corralled by Dean Thomas for another football-versus-Quidditch argument. That left Ginny and the twins, and she had Shirou grab Lee Jordan in anticipation of that. With a call and wave, they managed to entice the remaining Weasleys into sitting with them.

    “Hi, Ginny,” she said to the girl who’d ended up sandwiched between her and Shirou. “All ready for school?”

    “I hope so,” the redhead said. “You’re all in Gryffindor, right?”

    “That’s right - is that where you want to be?”

    Ginny smiled. “Well, the entire family has been - it’d be weird to not be.”

    “Being the only girl’s weird enough, huh?” Takara smiled. As an only child, that wasn’t a specific condition she could understand - but she understood what it meant to be unique in a crowd.

    Ginny nodded, smiling back. She asked shyly, “What do you use on your hair?”

    Takara blinked. “Just shampoo - why?”

    “Oh - it’s just so straight,” Ginny said. “I get all kinds of kinks, especially in the morning. I thought maybe you had a special potion . . .”

    Takara shook her head. “Sorry - afraid it’s just good genes. At least your hair’s a normal colour - mine’s supposed to be black, but in the right light, it looks blue! Like I don’t look odd enough!”

    “But you’ve got ‘pretty kitty eyes,’” Shirou teased.

    “Quiet, you!” she huffed. “He was five!

    “He who?” Ginny asked, confused. Then her eyes widened in shock. “Do you have a boyfriend?

    “No,” Takara said, and Shirou said with a smirk, “Yes.”

    “We’re not dating!” Takara protested, her skin darkening in embarrassment.

    “Yet,” Shirou qualified. “Next year we’re allowed Hogsmeade visits. Think he’ll ask you, or Hermione?”

    Ginny goggled. “Your boyfriend’s cheating?

    No,” Takara repeated through gritted teeth, glaring at Shirou, daring him to contradict her.

    After a moment, she continued, “Galen’s an old, good friend - and we’re both friends with a girl named Hermione. Hermione likes Galen, but he hasn’t figured it out yet.”

    Shirou snorted, but said nothing.

    Takara ignored him. “Even if I did like him, though, I’m just twelve, and he’s thirteen - we’re too young for boyfriends and girlfriends.” And I’m getting flustered by an eleven-year-old - this is ridiculous.

    Ginny pouted. “It would’ve been nice to have a friend I could ask about that stuff for when I get a boyfriend.”

    “Like T.M. Riddle?” Shirou asked suddenly, and Takara snapped her head to stare at him. What was he playing at?

    Ginny looked at him in confusion. “Who?”

    “Takara was telling me that a strange book came out of your pile of books when she was picking them up in the store,” Shirou said. “It had ‘T.M. Riddle’ written in it. It’s not a textbook either of us had, so we wondered if it was something new they added to the list this year, or a gift from a relative . . .” He paused, before adding with a smirk, “Or a boyfriend.”

    Ginny stared at him, before shaking her head. “I never saw anything like that - and it wasn’t in my cauldron when you handed it back, Takara.”

    “Maybe it fell out again when all the fireworks went off?” Takara said, an uneasy feeling growing in the pit of her stomach.

    “Probably,” Shirou said. “It was a madhouse in there.”

    Ginny giggled. “Mum lost her voice for three days after yelling so much at Fred and George for that.”

    Takara barely heard her, instead concentrating her attention on Shirou. His face, to anyone not versed in the subtleties of Japanese expression, was a mask - but she was, and more importantly, she had a pretty good understanding of Shirou, in particular.

    And his eyes were letting her know that Ginny had been telling the absolute truth - she’d never seen or heard of the diary before.

    But, if she didn’t have it - who did?

    Strike two . . . Takara thought glumly.
    Last edited by Kieran; May 28th, 2011 at 08:29 AM.

  12. #12
    The Jester Kieran's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    According to most, my own little world
    Age
    34
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    5,895
    Blog Entries
    156
    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 Chamber of Secrets, but I trust in the intelligence of my readers (and the availability of the books) to recognise them when they see them.



    Chapter 5 - That Which Is Most Feared



    September 1, 1992






    “What was that all about?” Hermione demanded after Galen and Neville had helped Luna and her trunk off the train - the former to Hagrid, the latter to where the castle’s house-elves could transport it.

    “What?” Galen asked.

    “You seemed awfully keen on Luna’s safety,” she remarked. “Do you really think she’ll be bullied?” Her eyes narrowed at a sudden thought. “Or do you know she will be?”

    Galen closed his eyes and sighed. “When I was in first grade, there was a boy like Luna. I never found out exactly what was wrong with him, but I know the medications they had him on made him more than a little loopy - he kept talking about things like tomatoes on the ceiling. His condition persisted for years. The kids made fun of him, few of us felt comfortable around him, and while I tried to be polite, I wasn’t always kind.” His eyes opened, and they were as angry as his voice. “And I had more reason than anyone to sympathise with him.”

    It was a small regret - one of those you didn’t get until you were able to look back as an adult, and see where you’d gone wrong. But it hurt, just the same, especially when the boy’s older sister had once thanked him in high school for being as much of a friend as he’d been to her brother . . . And he’d realised that he could have, should have, done so much more.

    He sighed. “Luna is one of those people who mean no harm to anyone, but will be harmed, simply because they’re different - ‘odd.’ Surely, Hermione, you can understand why I’m concerned?”

    Her lips pressed into a thin line, but she nodded. “I’ll get us a carriage.”

    Neville glanced at her retreating back, then turned to Galen and said accusingly, “You did it again.”

    Galen blinked. “Did what?”

    “You answered her question without actually answering it,” Neville said. “That really annoys her, you know.”

    “I’m not doing it - well, all right, I am doing it deliberately,” he admitted. “But I’m not trying to annoy her.”

    “Then why -?”

    Galen looked away from Neville for a moment, and then locked eyes with him. As before, they were empty of all recognisable emotion and human traits. The pupils were gaping voids into endless dark, limned with rings of bright blue fire.

    “I don’t lie, Neville,” he said softly, like a dagger’s tip drawn slowly across skin. “Remember that, before you finish that question. Ask yourself whether you really want to know the answer of who and what I am, and why I act as I do. Think very carefully.”

    Neville paled, then shook his head so fast that it seemed in danger of flying off.

    “I - I don’t need to know!”

    As before, Galen blinked, and the terrible emptiness went away. His voice, while still quiet, held warmth again.

    “All right,” the older boy said. He shook his head. “I don’t mean any harm, Nev - I swear I don’t. But I think you’re all better off just leaving the questions of ‘how’ and ‘why’ alone where I’m concerned, all right? Just be aware that I’m trying to do the best I can for everybody, even if I can’t explain it.”

    Neville was quiet. “You are scary,” he admitted. “All three of you are, but you show it more than they do. You’re not . . . You’re my age, but you’re not kids. You’re like some of the Aurors I’ve met who worked with my parents. They look as though there’s something missing from them, sometimes.”

    “A good enough description,” Galen agreed. “And we know it, and value it, when we see it in others - it’s why we’ll fight so hard to protect it.”

    “Protect what?”

    “Some might say, ‘humanity.’ I prefer innocence.

    Galen shrugged. “Come on - Hermione’s waiting.”






    Shirou brooded as he, Takara, and the twins rode the Thestral-drawn carriages up to the castle. He’d run into a situation which required brooding - Galen had been wrong. It had happened before, but not often, and not about something this big. Every fact they’d had, every plan they’d developed, had revolved around the fact that Ginny Weasley was given Tom Riddle’s diary. Without that, nothing of this year could be sure - nothing could be trusted. And they had absolutely no idea what to do next.

    Galen was going to go spare. This was his strength, the thing he relied on to let him equal Shirou’s and Takara’s more physical assets - that he knew what was happening, what was going to happen, and could predict what might. It was how he’d survived the Grail War, it was how they’d made it through the last year with as little trouble as they’d had. Even when he’d forgotten something, it hadn’t been major, and they’d been able to cope.

    Galen hadn’t forgotten this. He had been wrong.

    Shirou was disturbed to realise just how much that disturbed him. He realised that he, too, had come to rely on Galen’s - and, to a lesser extent, Takara’s - knowledge. It was comforting to know that he knew what was going on, that he was always at least one step ahead - that he always had a plan, or at least an idea, of what to do when things were bad. As much as Shirou had learned about this world, he didn’t know it as his friends did, and to find himself in a situation where even they would be stymied . . .

    It scared him. And he hadn’t been scared in a very long time. He found that he hadn’t missed the feeling.

    Every other year, it’s so much worse, he thought, recalling what Ilya had told him. And he also remembered a theory Galen had been half-convinced of last year: that the universe was intent on following the same pattern, regardless of their efforts. If that was true, then anything and everything they did to try and change things for the better was ultimately useless.

    Shirou shook his head. Galen didn’t want to believe that, Takara didn’t, and he wouldn’t. In his original life, that had proven true - but he had fought the world then to make it otherwise, and he’d do it again if he had to. Because this world was different, and he had more to fight for. Not just an ideal, but family and friends who shared it, who would support him in it.

    Alone, he had failed. Together, they would change the world.

    If, he added with a touch of mordant humour as they walked into the Great Hall, I can keep Galen from dissolving into screaming hysterics over this.






    Takara’s preoccupation with their current situation was broken by a touch of humour as she saw everyone arrange themselves in what had become the customary position at Gryffindor’s table: Neville and Hermione across from Shirou and Galen, respectively, while the boys sat on either side of herself, corresponding to the marks she bore on the back of her hands - Shirou to her left, Galen to her right. The space in-between the two British natives was usually piled with books, or used as “guest seating” whenever somebody wanted or needed to talk to one or more of them. As yet, no one had complained about the permanent empty seat.

    Of course, given their reputations, who would? Takara was one of the youngest and fastest Seekers in the last century, Shirou was one of the most aggressive and multi-talented Quidditch players around, with a positive genius for Transfiguration, Hermione knew more spells (and presumably jinxes, hexes, and curses) than were contained in half the library, and Galen was reputed to have blasted a twenty-four-hundred-pound mountain troll through a wall with a single spell (this last was not entirely accurate, but close enough to make people wary). Neville, as yet, didn’t have a particular trait or achievement ascribed to him - but he hung around with the rest of them, and most students had long ago figured out that attacking one of them meant attacking all of them.

    . . . In short, despite being known as a near-Squib, and therefore an automatic target, Neville Longbottom was all but officially the safest student in Hogwarts. Even Professor Snape, the meanest (and most anti-Gryffindor, most especially Neville Longbottom) professor at Hogwarts, treaded lightly around them. Oh, he was still a bastard - but he seemed to have figured out exactly where the line was, and took great pains not to cross it. A repulsive example of a human being Snape might be, but he’d never been accused of being an idiot.

    Speaking of idiots . . . Takara thought, staring at Gilderoy Lockhart, who was resplendent in golden robes. The widely-smiling man was the subject of a number of stares throughout the Great Hall, most of them female - including one Hermione Granger. Takara noted that Galen didn’t seem to notice, but while she was distracted . . .

    “We talked to her,” Takara said in quiet Japanese. Neville had begun learning, but didn’t have enough understanding of it to follow their conversation - not when all three of them spoke it as natives, with the corresponding speed.

    “And?” Galen asked.

    “And . . . Shirou asked her directly about the diary. She had no idea what we were talking about.”

    Galen’s complexion, always tending towards pale, went bloodless.

    “What?” he mouthed.

    Focus,” Takara hissed. “Panic, scream, and beat yourself up later, focus now - what happens next?

    The question set off flashes of ideas behind his eyes. Galen didn’t have Hermione’s raw, analytical intelligence, or her ability to memorise complicated logistics and facts - but his imagination equalled or outstripped hers. Given a concept, he could create and discard a dozen scenarios with incredible speed. Given the paradigm shift she’d outlined, he immediately set himself to reconciling it with what he knew, and considered what effect the change would have.

    “Possibility one - the diary’s still in the shop,” Galen said. “Best case, someone finds it and turns it into the Aurors as a suspicious or Dark artefact, and they either impound or destroy it. It’s out of our hands, but it can’t be used here. Next worse case, it’s still there, waiting to get picked up. We’ll really lose track of it, but again - it won’t be here.

    “Possibility two - someone else picked it up in the chaos. If Malfoy retrieved it, no harm no foul - we know where it will be, even if we can’t get at it. If it’s someone else . . .”

    “It could be anyone who was in the store,” Takara said. “Anyone here, or somewhere else.”

    “And with no handy Parselmouth to hear the damned thing, the only way to know is Hallowe’en,” Galen murmured. “That’s when the attacks start - it seems to be a rule that bad stuff happens on Hallowe’en. Other than that, we watch the roosters - if they start being killed - ”

    He broke off as the first-year students entered the hall, since that focussed everyone’s attention. Luna was easy to spot - the pallor of her hair contrasted sharply with the black of the school robes she’d changed into. It didn’t hurt that she gave their part of the table a shy smile as she walked by - almost skipped, in fact - with the rest of her year group.

    Takara gave Galen a flat look. “Hermione, Miranda, now her - how do you manage to charm every young girl you come across?”

    “I wasn’t trying to charm her,” Galen protested.

    “Well, she wasn’t smiling at me,” Takara pointed out.

    Hermione muttered waspishly, “I’m amazed she didn’t take one look at him and run.”

    Takara blinked in surprise. Hermione rarely said anything bad about Galen, unless it was to chide him over forgetting homework. She was practically stuck to his shadow, in fact.

    “All right,” Takara demanded. “What happened?”

    Hermione tossed Galen a glare. “He basically threatened to flay every Ravenclaw alive if they so much as touched a hair on her head - and he was very convincing. I thought poor Neville might wet himself.”

    There was more to it than that, Takara suspected. That Galen was taking an interest in a strange girl, maybe?

    “Well, he never has liked bullies,” Takara offered.

    “It’s different when he automatically assumes that someone is going to be bullied,” Hermione retorted. “Especially someone he’s never met before.”

    Ah, Takara realised. It’s not that Luna’s sweet, cute, and vulnerable - at least, not totally - but that Galen once again knows things, and isn’t sharing.

    Hermione’s eyes narrowed. “And you’re not surprised, either, are you?”

    Takara shrugged, and said truthfully, “I’ve given up questioning why he does what he does. It’s enough that he usually means well, and is right more often than not.”

    Of course, she added silently, when he’s wrong, apparently he’s really wrong.

    McGonagall’s voice called out a familiar name which caught the attention of the entire group.

    “Lovegood, Luna!”

    Galen watched with a smile, and Takara couldn’t help one herself. The book and movie had skipped over the Sorting, because Harry and Ron had missed the feast. It would no doubt have been a treat to see Luna get Sorted, especially if the movie had included any conversation with the Hat . . . It was unlikely that the book would have bothered.

    The little blonde seemed to dance more than walk towards the Deputy Headmistress. Takara heard Shirou murmur, “She looks kind of like Ilya-chan when she was a little girl.” Takara had never seen Ilya young, but she agreed on reflection that the half-Veela’s pale blonde hair and eyes gave her a superficial resemblance to Luna’s.

    The girl in question plunked herself on the stool, presented the crown of her head for the Hat, and almost disappeared under its brim. The Hat hummed and hawed as it always did to outside listeners - whatever conversation was taking place between it and Luna was strictly private, otherwise.

    Still, Galen and Takara knew how this would go, and with a shared glance, began to mouth, “Raven -

    ”GRYFFINDOR!” the Hat announced proudly.

    Galen’s mouth hung open as they traded stares again. Takara’s thought process boiled to down to one word - WHAT?

    Luna slipped into the empty seat in front of her, a serene smile on her face. “Hello, everyone. Do they serve pudding at this feast?”






    Galen had a headache. Not just the “been on a train for eight hours straight and was hyperactively up six hours before that” kind of headache, but the “I have no idea what the hell is going on anymore and we’re probably all going to die because the universe hates me and revels in my suffering” headache. Last year, they’d been caught by surprise when they showed up, but had managed to handle things relatively well. They’d settled in over the summer, made plans, and been prepared to tackle things this year quickly, efficiently, and easily.

    Ginny didn’t have the diary. Luna was a Gryffindor. He wanted to ask what was next, but knew better than to even voice the thought jokingly - only an idiot tempted Fate, because the woman had absolutely no self-control.

    As he sat on a sofa in the common room, skimming the last chapter of Voyages with Vampires, he became aware that Hermione was glaring at him.

    “What?” he asked quietly.

    For a moment, he thought she’d answer - but her eyes suddenly darted upwards, over his shoulder, and narrowed.

    “I’m going to bed,” she muttered.

    Galen blinked, glanced over his shoulder and saw Ginny and Luna entering the Tower, escorted by Percy Weasley. By the time he’d turned back, Hermione was halfway up the stairs.

    Galen leaned back and glared up at the ceiling. Terrific - now I don’t have to say anything, Fate can apparently read my mind!

    Shirou sat down beside him, and said in Japanese, “You do realise that Hermione has a crush on you the size of Gryffindor Tower.” It wasn’t a question.

    Galen sighed, replying, “I was afraid of that . . .” Then he shrugged. “She’ll grow out of it.”

    Shirou gave him an annoyed look. “She certainly will if you keep this up.”

    Now Galen looked bewildered. “Keep what up?”

    “Oh, come on,” Shirou protested. “You really don’t know? To start with, you’re keeping things from her, again. She’s never liked that.”

    “Nothing I can do about it.”

    “You could tell her the truth.”

    “So could you. Or Takara. Neither of you have opened your mouths yet.”

    “Because it all sounds in - !” He paused, then conceded, “All right . . . But you could at least warn her of what you know, if not how.” Galen gave him a look, and Shirou glared back. “You’re the creative one, you figure out how!”

    “Because that’s the first thing you did with Rin, right?” Galen said quietly. “Or don’t you remember?

    The blood drained from Shirou’s face. “Leave her out of this.”

    “No, let’s not,” Galen retorted sharply. “Let’s discuss your qualifications as a relationship counsellor before we get into the psychoanalysis, eh? Establish bona fides. You ignored the girl who would’ve done anything in the world for you, walked away from the one who loved you for a dream you already had the word of a man you believed in above all others couldn’t be accomplished. And when you finally figured that out, you played puppet master with the only friend you had left when she was young, innocent, and believed in you - for yet another dream you were more than half-convinced you wouldn’t be able to pull off in the first place!” His voice was quiet and dangerous. “Let’s not pretend you have the moral high ground here, Emiya Shirou.

    “And you do?” Shirou snapped.

    “Not a chance in hell,” Galen fired back. “But I won’t pretend otherwise - that just because what I’m doing serves a ‘greater good,’ if it does, that it’s right.

    Shirou closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and said, “Look, this is getting out of hand. All I’m saying is that I’ve been where you are, when it comes to women and relationships. I’m trying to prevent you from making my mistakes - ”

    “No problem,” Galen said immediately. “I won’t.”

    “Oh?” Shirou scoffed. “You have two, maybe three girls interested in you now - “

    Galen snorted.

    “You have to have noticed.”

    “I did - it just doesn’t matter.”

    Shirou stared in utter bewilderment. “How the hell can a guy who goes absolutely ballistic when one of those girls is even under the threat of being hurt say that their hearts don’t matter?”

    “Because they’ll never be mine,” Galen said flatly. “It’s why I won’t make your mistakes with relationships, Shirou - there won’t be a relationship to screw up in the first place.”

    “Hermione, at least, seems to think otherwise.”

    “Hermione’s twelve - when she’s grown up enough to know what, or more accurately who she wants, she’ll go after him.”

    “And you're so sure it won’t be you.”

    Galen’s answer contained absolute conviction. “I know it won’t be.”

    Tired of the conversation, Galen got up and stormed off to bed. His hearing, however, was sharp enough to catch Shirou’s followup comment.

    “OK - I’m beginning to see why Hermione hates it when he ‘knows’ things.”






    Takara’s hearing was pretty good, too - enough to catch raised voices firing Japanese back and forth, anyway. Unfortunately, the distance between the common room and the dorms - not to mention the stone walls and thick, wooden doors - muffled the sound too much to catch more than the odd word, so she couldn’t be sure whether or not she had to go and play peacemaker.

    And in the current circumstances, she wasn’t sure she could’ve gotten away, anyway.

    If Galen’s the one with the weakness for crying girls, she thought, what am I doing here?

    “Hermione?” she said tentatively.

    “Go away,” came a muffled moan.

    Takara frowned. The four-poster’s curtains were closed, so she couldn’t tell just how badly off Hermione was - but given that the last time she could actually remember Hermione crying, they’d ended up having to fight off a troll, Takara figured it was bad.

    The Japanese witch walked over to the foot of Hermione’s bed and opened Crookshanks’ cat carrier. The ginger-furred cat leaped for his mistress, and mewled pitifully as it became apparent that the curtains were held in place with a Sticking Charm. Velvet paws batted at them ineffectually.

    “Sorry, Crookshanks,” came the apologetic reply, “but if I let you in, she’ll come, too.”

    “And I shouldn’t?” Takara snapped, offended. “You’re hurting! Should I not care about that?”

    “Why should you?” came the angry retort. “You’re just like him - you know things, and you won’t tell me, won’t trust me - and he’s even got a new charity case for this year! Will she get a cat too, or is she worth an owl?”

    Takara hissed. She hadn’t realised the situation with Luna had hurt her this badly.

    “I’ll kill him myself,” she muttered. “He’ll try to do it when he figures out what he’s done, but I’ll beat him to it - literally.” She glanced heavenward. “Could we have one thing go right this year? Just one?!

    She closed her eyes, inhaled deeply, and asked, “Is that what Miranda is? A ‘charity case?’”

    There was a stunned pause from behind the curtains. Then, finally, “I was talking about Luna.”

    “I know - but if Miranda walks into a room with a book, he’ll drop almost anything to sit and read to her. If she asks for a lullaby, he’ll go tuck her in. I also noticed, when we were at your house last week, that there’s suddenly a supply of chocolate ice cream in the freezer . . .” Takara trailed off. “Does he do these things for Miranda because she’s a charity case? Does he pity her, for some reason?”

    “. . . No - at least, I don’t think so . . .”

    “He does it because he’s putty in the hands of little girls,” Takara informed her. “Throw in the fact that he’s got a ‘saving people thing’” - I’m quoting Hermione, the irony! - “and there’s a fairly good reason why a scared-looking Luna Lovegood, or a crying Hermione Granger, can get him to give them almost anything to make them happy. Ilya once told me that he needs to feel needed - so in this case, it’s got almost nothing to do with you, or her, and everything to do with who he is.”

    “. . . So I really am nothing special,” came the miserable reply.

    “I never thought I’d meet a girl whose self-esteem was as low as his,” Takara muttered to herself. “I didn’t think there could possibly be two of them . . .” She sighed.

    “Hermione, I’ve watched Galen be shot, burned, and impaled - and get up again to fight back,” she said. “I’ve watched him fight things that could kill him in a heartbeat, if they were so inclined, and not flinch - I’ve watched him deliberately piss them off. Pain means nothing to him, and fear . . .”

    She shook her head. “As near as I can tell, there are only three things in this, or any other world, that he’s really afraid of - because they’re the only things, I think, that can really hurt him. One of them is Ilya. One of them is you.

    Hermione’s curtains opened, just enough to show a sliver of face, and a single chocolate eye. “And the third?”

    Takara took a deep breath, and admitted it to herself, as much as her friend.

    “. . . Me.”
    Last edited by Kieran; January 11th, 2013 at 10:51 PM.

  13. #13
    The Jester Kieran's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    According to most, my own little world
    Age
    34
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    5,895
    Blog Entries
    156
    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 Chamber of Secrets, but I trust in the intelligence of my readers (and the availability of the books) to recognise them when they see them.



    Chapter 6 - Conversations



    September 2, 1992






    Shirou was not a happy camper at breakfast the next morning, so the gray, cloudy skies of the Great Hall suited him just fine. Sleep had been hard to come by, as he’d tried to figure out what the hell to do about . . . About anything.

    The diary wasn’t where they thought it was, and it could be up to a month before they found out if it was even a problem. Galen was in full sulk mode, and not inclined to listen to anyone - or at least not him - at a time when he needed to be devising possible plans for ways to track down the diary if it did go active. Hermione was miserable, and angry at them for keeping secrets, so there was no chance of her help until this mess was resolved, either.

    And, if he was honest with himself, some of what Galen had said last night had stung. It wasn’t as if he was wrong about what happened - put the worst possible slant on it, maybe, but not wrong. He’d ignored Sakura the first time around, when she had really needed his help. He had followed his ideal past every warning, every well-meaning piece of advice, and wound up in a hell literally of his own making. And he’d manipulated Rin to get what he wanted - because at that point he’d cared more about what he wanted than her. If he’d told her the truth from the beginning, she might even have helped him - but it had been easier to lie, because he’d known her so well. He’d known which buttons to push, and how, to get what he needed from her.

    Shirou supposed that he wouldn’t be keen to accept advice from him, either.

    They were too much alike, really. Dark reflections of each other. A small change here or there, and they’d be each other. It made it easy for there to be understanding between them, but trust was harder. For Ilya’s and Takara’s sakes, there was tolerance, even a certain mocking friendship - but Galen didn’t trust himself, much less Shirou. Shirou’s history had too many betrayals in it for a man who prized loyalty so highly to blindly ignore.

    On Shirou’s part, he thought Galen was a self-destructive idiot who was deliberately cutting himself off from his humanity, and then having the nerve to cry “woe is me” over it. Takara or Hermione could do a lot about that, if he’d just let them - but if they started acting interested, he’d be looking for mind-control spells, potions, or anything else that would explain it. Because he was honestly convinced that there could be no other reason for it.

    And the worst part was, he was completely open about that fact, and just about anything else. He didn’t claim to be a saint, or unfairly maligned. His existence was what it was, just a collection of facts. Any feeling he had about it was muted, at best. He just seemed occasionally sad.

    Like now, Shirou thought.

    Their usual six-person area was full again, but that was because Ginny Weasley had taken over Galen’s usual seat, and was chattering away with Neville and Takara, with the occasional comment to Luna across the table. Galen had deliberately placed himself as far from any of his friends as he could get, on the other side of the Gryffindor table. Several of the other Gryffindors, including Luna as she went by, engaged him in conversation, but soon gave up. His answers were flat, and monosyllabic where possible. He wasn’t impolite, but neither was he enthusiastic about conversation. The implication was quiet, but clear: Leave me the hell alone.

    He’s shutting down,
    Shirou sighed. If he could get away with it, I doubt he’d bother eating - and it’s Hermione’s doing, again.

    He was tempted to dose the pair of them with the strongest love potion he could lay his hands on and lock them in a broom closet long enough to see if that sorted anything out. Maybe throw in Takara for good measure, too, judging by the non-looks that Hermione was giving her. The fact that it would be nearly impossible to get a hold of and illegal to use didn’t stop him so much as the fact that he wasn’t sure they were biologically capable at this point in their physical development.

    Shirou made a mental note of the idea, however. If they were going to go through this every damned year, then sooner or later, it would be an option. And if they did go through this every damned year, it’d be an option he’d take.

    McGonagall passed out the schedules, and the first class listed was a double period of Herbology with the Hufflepuffs. Shirou was mildly relieved - in present circumstances, he’d almost certainly have to keep Draco Malfoy from being killed the minute he opened his mouth, along with anyone else stupid enough to stand between them, within reach, or just in the line of sight. Galen might have locked himself away for the moment, but if he had an actual target for his frustration and bad feelings . . .

    No, Hufflepuff was much better - lower potential body count.

    As the group got up from the table, Luna and Ginny scarpered off to join the rest of the first-years, and Galen lagged to be the last of their year to follow - but Hermione deliberately brushed by Takara to lead Neville ahead.

    “All right,” Shirou sighed as they walked out to the greenhouses, “what happened?”

    Takara’s face darkened. “Let’s just say that when trying to comfort a heartbroken girl, it’s a really bad mistake to out yourself as her competition.”

    Shirou raised an eyebrow.

    “She thinks Luna’s her replacement - that he wasn’t looking out for her because she’s special to him. I tried to point out that only three people could really hurt him, because they mean something to him.”

    “Ilya, Hermione, and you,” Shirou finished. At her startled look, “I don’t need an Archer’s eyes to see it, Takara. Part of me fought him for you once, remember? It didn’t matter if he had silver knives impaling his limbs or Hydra venom running through his veins, he still got up to try to get to you. Not to kill his enemy, not to save himself - you. He came for your mother knowing full well that I knew his identity, and had probably passed it on to every Servant waiting there. For all he knew, he was dead the moment he arrived - and he came anyway.” Shirou shook his head. “Most Servants aren’t anywhere near that loyal.”

    Takara was silent as they joined the group outside, only to move again when Professor Sprout instructed them head to Greenhouse Three, where the “interesting” (dangerous) plants were kept. Then she continued, in quiet Japanese.

    “In any case, Hermione’s convinced that if comes down to her - the buck-toothed, bushy-haired bookworm - or me - his oldest friend, who’s also popular, exotic - ”

    “And has ‘pretty kitty eyes,’” Shirou couldn’t resist adding.

    Takara scowled. “Stop that. In any case, she’s convinced that she’s already lost, has no friends, no hope - it’s first year all over again, and we’re fresh out of trolls.” She glared at him. “Tell me you did better with Galen.”

    Shirou wasn’t sure if that was a challenge or a plea. Either way, he sighed.

    “It’s hard giving advice to a guy who knows damned well that you made the same mistakes - and a few more he never would,” he admitted. “And there’s that damned self-esteem problem - he seems utterly convinced that Hermione would never want him, or at least not once she wised up and found something better, which she ultimately would, of course . . .”

    Takara closed her eyes and moaned. “She thinks she’s replaceable, and he thinks he’s expendable. They’re a match made in hell, I swear.”

    Shirou grunted in acknowledgement of the point. Then he considered a little longer, and said, “Maybe we’re too close to this? Galen wouldn’t listen to me, because I’m too much like him, in this regard. Hermione won’t listen to you, because you’re the ‘other woman,’ but maybe . . .”

    Now it was Takara’s turn to raise her eyebrows. “Switch?”

    “Hermione’s less mad at me than either of you - and you are his mistress.”

    “Deal - when we partner off in Herbology,” Takara said. “I mean, what have we got to lose?”






    “Four to a tray,” Professor Sprout instructed. “There is a large supply of pots here - compost in the sacks over there - and be careful of the Venemous Tentacula, it’s teething.” She gave a sharp slap to a spiky, dark red plant as she spoke, making it draw in the long feelers that had been inching sneakily over her shoulder.

    Takara and Galen were joined at their tray by two Hufflepuffs: a curly-haired boy and a blonde girl with pigtails that she recognised - Hannah something.

    “Justin Finch-Fletchley,” said the boy, extending his hand. “Know who you are of course, Miss Aozaki - youngest Seeker in a century. And Galen Salvatore, the only boy who actually manages to stay awake during Binns’ lectures.”

    “Nice to meet you, Justin,” Takara said politely, taking his hand to shake it. Galen did so as well, but there was a definite neutrality to his tone and movements. Not impolite, exactly, but distant.

    Takara glanced over at the others. “Would you excuse us for a moment or two? I need to have a word with Galen regarding some problems in Gryffindor.”

    Hannah smiled hesitantly, but her eyes glanced over to where Shirou was speaking to Hermione, with Neville as an uncomfortable spectator. Takara supposed that in a house that prized loyalty, the split between their group was noticeable. Aside from Quidditch matches, they had rarely been apart for over a year. When Hannah’s eyes moved back to hers, Takara nodded.

    “We can wait a few minutes,” the blonde said.

    “Thanks,” Takara said gratefully. She turned to Galen, and switched to Japanese.

    Fix this,” she hissed.

    “I am open to suggestions,” Galen said flatly.

    “Tell her the truth - all of it. Tell her you love her. Tell her you’re sorry. Tell her anything, because you have managed to hurt her so badly that there’s a good chance she’ll give Moaning Myrtle a run for her money! So badly that she should be back in that bathroom you worked so hard to get her out of!”

    Takara’s cheeks were flushed, and if she weren’t whispering, she’d be screaming.

    “And you don’t even know how you’ve done it, do you?” she asked bitterly, noting the utter lack of expression. “You were the first person to ever try to be her friend. You gave her presents - whether you told her or not - you saved her life, repeatedly! Any time she was in trouble, any time she needed someone, you were never far away, and she felt special. But you keep things from her, you won’t tell her why . . . And when you see another odd little girl on the train, you treat her exactly the same way you treated Hermione.”

    Takara closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Her voice was very quiet. “Do you have any idea what it’s like to be treated like you’re the most important person in someone’s world - and then watch them turn to someone else so easily?”

    “. . . Do you?” came the soft response.

    Takara opened her eyes, and saw the first flicker of something on his face all day - regret.

    “We’re not talking about me,” she said sharply. Even if you said you loved me, and then went straight to her . . .

    Now it was Galen’s turn to close his eyes. For a brief moment, he looked the age he should have been in her time period - which, on a twelve-year-old face, was so terribly old.

    “Your father talked to me about that, you know,” he said wearily, not seeing the look of shock cross her face. “While we went after the Grail, before fighting Illyria. He was more than a little concerned about someone like me loving his daughter . . . And he had every right to be.”

    Takara wasn’t sure whether to feel grateful that her father cared, or annoyed that he didn’t trust her enough to make her own decisions. Galen’s next words drove the ambiguity right out of her head.

    “I told him that I wasn’t in love with you - though falling wouldn’t be hard. But even then it wouldn’t matter. 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.”

    “And what we think or feel about it doesn’t matter?” Takara’s voice was uncomfortably close to its Nanaya range, and she felt a certain wistfulness at the lack of a cross-hatching pattern over his skin.

    Galen responded with a heated edge to his voice that would’ve thrilled her killer personality - the rival predator was rousing. “Inasmuch as such thoughts and feelings, in my experience, never include me - no, it really doesn’t.”

    Takara was fighting contradictory urges - on the one hand, she wanted to throw him down and beat him to within an inch of his life for even thinking such a thing. On the other, a quieter part of her wanted to throw him down and kiss him until the lack of oxygen to his brain caused it to realign its train of thought. It would be hard for him to sound so certain of his beliefs then.

    She settled for doing neither. Instead, her crueler impulses hit on a new plan. He liked blunt statements and melodrama, so this should work just fine . . .

    Takara pulled out her knife, opened it, and handed it to him hilt first.

    “You’ll need this, then,” she told him coldly. “Because compared to what you’re doing to Hermione now, killing her is kinder.”






    Hermione had glanced at Shirou once since they started repotting the Mandrakes, but said nothing. Neville looked uncomfortable, bordering on miserable. He didn’t necessarily understand what was going on, but he knew things were bad between his friends. Really, Shirou felt sorry for the guy - if he chose Hermione’s side, he was up against the three of them (or so it seemed, at least), whereas if he didn’t, Hermione had no one. It was a lose-lose scenario, at least from an outside view.

    Finally, Shirou decided that she wasn’t going to begin any conversation, and took it upon himself to do so.

    “Do you have any idea, Hermione,” he asked casually, “just how amazing you really are?”

    Hermione stared at him. Whatever she’d expected him to say, that definitely wasn’t it.

    “Last year, on the Express, Galen was ready to die,” Shirou said. “I think, once he’d figured out we were happy, he would’ve just quietly faded away. At most, he would’ve kept his head down and not bothered anyone while he went through the motions of living . . . But he met you, and once he’d realised who you were, he was desperate to keep you safe, to keep you happy.”

    “Because it’s what he does,” Hermione said bitterly. “It had nothing to do with me.

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

    Hermione stared at Shirou, who said, “His words, when I asked him why it was so important we work to save you from the troll. You’re right, to a point - he’d help innocents in trouble, and he’d die for them if he had to. But even if that was the only reason for acting as he did, Galen could’ve never stopped the troll. He cast a NEWT-level Charm, with all his potential power. You can’t do that just out of habit, Hermione - you have to want it, more than anything. He tried to save you because it’s what he does - but he succeeded because it was you he was trying to save.”

    Hermione absorbed that in silence.

    “There are three people in all the world who can not just cause him pain, but hurt him,” Shirou continued. “One of them is Ilya, because she’s his sworn lady, and he’s given her that right. Another is Takara - at least in part because he swore to her once, as well . . . And the last one is you. He wouldn’t give you that right unless he considered you their equal in importance, Hermione. And it’s not something he does lightly.”

    “But I’m not important enough to tell secrets to,” Hermione retorted. “Not to any of you.”

    “Because he thinks you’re safer and happier not knowing, and we’ve followed his lead,” Shirou answered. “But if you’re sure you want to know, ask him. Make him give you his word to tell you the truth, the complete truth - and you can do that - and then ask him. At worst, he’ll keep silent, but he won’t lie. Not to you.”

    Hermione was silent again. “. . . Maybe I will.”

    Shirou sighed internally. He supposed it was the best he could hope for.






    If you ever needed concrete proof that you need to stay the hell away from Hermione Granger, that was it. Even Weasley didn’t fuck her over so badly - he just abandoned her in situations where she could die. You make her want to. Even with all his abuse, his belittling of everything she was, knew, stood for, and believed in, Weasley never managed that.

    Of course, from all indications, she’ll get the joy of that, too. Something sure as hell seems keen on making this come out as close to the original ending as it can, Harry notwithstanding. Absolutely no reason for her to be in the bathroom, but come Hallowe’en, there she is! Absolutely no reason not to be able to grab the diary - but oops, it’s gone, and to add insult to injury, Ginny hasn’t got it! Which means we’re back to Harry’s square one - without a fucking clue!

    Wonder if she’ll be in the Chamber, this time . . .? Wonder who she’ll end up with, without Harry? Well, there’s a skinny, glasses-wearing kid with a thing for redheads here, isn’t there? Molly will have to break out the love potions to get it to work, but you half-suspected she did that, anyway. It’s the only logical way to explain the sudden eruption of feelings, when it wasn’t even hinted at when they were staying at the Burrow a couple of weeks prior.

    . . . Of course, Rowling having the romance writing capabilities of George Lucas works, too, but as an in-universe explanation - the woman admitted that’s how she landed her own husband, didn’t she?

    Screw this. Shirou and Takara can handle the snake - for Hermione’s own good, you need to get the hell away from her
    now. Call your parents, arrange a transfer to Beauxbatons, Durmstrang, back to fucking Canada - anywhere but here, where you can keep hurting her!

    If Herbology was bad, Transfiguration was worse. Turn a beetle into a button? Hell, no. Turn a beetle into a bonfire? Don’t even have to think about it!

    After the desk had finished burning, Professor McGonagall had sent him to the Hospital Wing for a Calming Draught - she recognised that his temper had been set off, though by what, Galen hoped she wasn’t sure. Regardless, she advised him to not use his wand again until he’d drunk the potion, because, “You caused enough damage the last time this happened.”

    By the time lunch rolled around, he was feeling less inclined to explode - if no better about the situation. He was on his way to the Owlery to put his plan in motion when a petite brunette with wild hair was suddenly blocking his path. If she hadn’t been the person he least wanted to see right now, it might have been fun, given the confines of the corridor.

    Then she said the four most dreaded words in the female vocabulary, and the remotest possibility of “fun” died a horrible death.

    “We need to talk,” Hermione informed him.






    They went to the spot by the lake where, in another world, Harry Potter would go when depressed, and wanted to be alone. Usually, it was Hermione who found him there, and coaxed him out of his shell. Galen was in no mood to appreciate the irony.

    What do I do here? The smart play would be to finish it - drive her away, before she gets in any deeper, so she can move on. But if Takara’s right, “moving on” means she’ll be wading into the lake straight afterwards. I keep thinking of Hermione as mature - and she is - but she’s also twelve, not fifteen or sixteen. The more confident Hermione of the later series has yet to be born - and even she was heartbroken when the twit left, when she could mention rewriting her parents’ minds almost as an afterthought. Hermione isn’t quite thirteen yet, as well as shy and insecure about her looks, and general appeal - she can’t handle it if I treat her roughly. But if I don’t . . .

    Damn it, even if I deserved her, she’s twelve, and I’m
    not . . .

    Hermione’s words broke his train of thought.

    “You need to promise me something.”

    “Yes?” Galen said carefully.

    “When I ask you a question, you will tell me the complete truth, or refuse to answer. No more evasions, no more misdirections.” Her eyes blazed, in a striking counterpoint to the chill of her voice. “I want your word, Sir Knight.”

    Galen groaned. “If Shirou coached you on this, I’m going to kill him.”

    Hermione was implacable. “Your word,” she repeated.

    He closed his eyes. I’m going to regret this . . .

    “I swear, on my honour, at this time and place, to answer all questions Hermione Jean Granger puts to me with complete truthfulness, or to abstain from answering entirely, for as long as we remain on this spot, on this day.”

    “Very precise,” Hermione noted coolly.

    “Oaths are important in the magical world - so you want to be very careful about how they’re worded, and what, exactly, you’re agreeing to. This should cover until the end of lunch, unless there’s a reason to return here before sunset. I’d suggest you ask your questions quickly, but carefully.”

    Now she hesitated. He could understand that. As of now, she could literally learn anything she wanted to - so she had to wonder what she really wanted to know. And beyond that, what first?

    “. . . Do you love me?” she said quietly.

    “Yes,” he said instantly, before adding, “but I don’t think that’s what you really want to know.”

    Indignation flashed in her eyes. “Oh? And what do I want to know?”

    “Whether or not I’m in love with you.”

    She paled. He was right, and they both knew it. The real question was whether or not she would ask. At seventeen, she had been confident enough to ask boys out on dates, strong enough to make her jealousy clear. At twelve, not quite thirteen . . .?

    “. . . Are you in love with Luna?” she asked at last.

    “No, though I’ll admit I probably could be.”

    “Are you in love with Ilya?”

    “No, though I’ll admit I probably could be.”

    “Are you in love with Takara?”

    “No, though I’ll admit I definitely could be.”

    Galen waited for the last one, her own name. He wouldn’t hand it to her - she had to ask.

    “Why do you keep secrets from me?” Hermione asked, and he couldn’t decide whether or not he was disappointed.

    “Because a lot of what I know would derange, disgust, or frighten you. I think’s it better for you overall if you don’t know - I value innocence, remember?”

    “Would the bookstore incident qualify?”

    “Only in that explaining how we knew would have done that, and taken too much time.”

    We,” Hermione said fiercely. “So you all do know . . .”

    “Takara knows some of it. Shirou relies on what we tell him. I’m the only one who knows it all.”

    “What, exactly, is ‘it?’”

    “What’s going to happen over the next six years.”

    Hermione bit her lower lip. “Six years . . . No, seven altogether. You somehow have records of someone’s time at Hogwarts - from this time period - don’t you?”

    “We’ve had access to them. They’re not available to us here.”

    “Whose records?”

    “Harry Potter’s.”

    “Harry . . . Who?” She blinked. “Didn’t Voldemort wipe out the Potters? They were his last victims before the Longbottoms, weren’t they?”

    “Yes, and yes.”

    “Then how can you know what happened when a dead boy came to school?”

    “Because in our timeline, he was the Boy-Who-Lived, the boy who defeated Voldemort.”

    Galen was skirting the very edge of his oath here. It was the complete truth - it just failed to mention that he was a fictional character in their timeline.

    “You’re claiming to be from an alternate timeline?” Hermione said in disbelief.

    “I think that’s the best explanation for what happened,” Galen said carefully, and her eyes narrowed in anger.

    “You’re equivocating,” she said.

    “Hermione, I don’t know what to call this! We had lives waiting for us when we got here, ones that were reasonable parallels to our own, with all the associated memories! That shouldn’t be the case in a true alternate timeline. You have a sister you didn’t previously possess, and most major alternates have only one branch point - which in this case, should be the premature death of Harry Potter!”

    “What happens this year?” Hermione said.

    “Lucius Malfoy was supposed to slip a cursed diary into Ginny Weasley’s schoolbooks. Under its influence, she would open the Chamber of Secrets hidden in Hogwarts, and release a basilisk to attack mundane-born students. Due to a series of accidents, none were killed, only petrified - including you. Harry eventually found his way to the Chamber, killed the basilisk, and destroyed the diary.”

    “You said ‘was supposed to.’ Why?”

    “Because we attempted to stop it, but lost track of the diary in the scramble. Ginny has no knowledge of its existence, and therefore it isn’t in her possession. We have no way of knowing if the diary is here at Hogwarts until someone is attacked - and even then, we don’t know who might have it.”

    “I knew it was you,” Hermione said. “I knew that spell.”

    Galen blinked. “What do you mean?”

    “Your Shield Charms,” Hermione said. She blushed. “They’re - warm.

    He blinked again. He’d never felt anything like that - then again, when had he cast one to protect himself?

    Hermione turned back to business. “So you think something bad might happen, but you don’t go to the professors. Why?”

    “Because Dumbledore set Harry Potter up as a sacrificial lamb to stop Voldemort. He showed either gross incompetence, or a chilling willingness to use any means necessary to achieve his ends - including the lives of innocent people - and all for the ‘greater good.’”

    “But he’s the greatest wizard alive!”

    “And he follows the same credo as Gellert Grindlewald, the last Dark Lord he defeated, just with a slightly different interpretation. And there are signs he’s trying to manipulate Neville as he did Harry.”

    “What do you mean?”

    Galen glanced at the Clock Tower. “If I answer that, we’ll be late for Defence Against the Dark Arts.”

    Hermione struggled, obviously torn between answers and a class with Gilderoy Lockhart.

    “I promise I will answer that later, in a location I’m convinced is secured against prying ears and eyes,” Galen said. He sighed wearily. “You know enough now, Hermione - you can hear the rest. God knows, we could use your help.”

    “I’ll hold you to that,” she warned.

    “It’s why I promised,” Galen told her. “And, Hermione? I’m sorry I hurt you. I wasn’t trying to.”

    She blinked.

    “Still here,” he pointed out. “Still compelled to tell the truth. Thought I’d use it while I had it.”

    She stared at him, and he saw her eyes begin to glisten.

    “Lockhart awaits,” he reminded her, and she jumped in surprise, before picking up her books and dashing off.

    Galen took a moment to ponder the question she hadn’t asked, and wondered if Hermione regretted that she’d kept silent.

    He wondered if he did.

  14. #14
    The Jester Kieran's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    According to most, my own little world
    Age
    34
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    5,895
    Blog Entries
    156
    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 Chamber of Secrets, but I trust in the intelligence of my readers (and the availability of the books) to recognise them when they see them.



    Chapter 7 - Practices with Pixies



    September 2 - 13, 1992






    As two of the last to enter the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom, Galen and Hermione were forced to grab seats where they could. Unfortunately, this split them up, as only Takara had been able to save a seat for one of them - Shirou and Neville were sitting together. As Galen gestured for Hermione to sit first, he manoeuvred his way to a seat on the far side of the room.

    Takara didn’t like the implications of that. They’d thought Shirou’s idea would smooth over the argument between them - but Galen was isolating himself, still. Then again, maybe she was overreacting - the class was fairly packed. You had to take a seat where you could find one, at this point.

    Hermione, sitting down, looked lost in thought. Her eyes glanced over to Takara once, then Shirou, and back to Galen, before locking onto the front of the room - but her mind was obviously elsewhere. It wasn’t even a matter of her continuing to ignore Takara, so much as she seemed to be a million miles away. Whatever Galen had said was visibly weighing on her mind.

    Did he actually tell her the truth? Takara wondered. He never did that unless forced, in her experience - although, to be fair, his powers had depended upon the suspension of disbelief. If she’d known who and what her Servant was from the beginning, he’d never have been able to accomplish what he did.

    Gilderoy Lockhart swept into the room, garbed in turquoise robes and a matching pointed hat. The colour looked hideous with his rosy complexion - and especially the cherubically curly, golden hair that was no doubt a reason for his name. He walked to the front of the room as though it was a fashion show runway, and Takara heard more than one feminine voice sigh was he swept past. Reaching the front of the class, he swept up one of Neville’s textbooks and pointed to the animated photograph of himself on the cover.

    “Me,” he said, pointing at it and winking in unison with the picture. “Gilderoy Lockhart, Order of Merlin, third class, Honorary Member of the Dark Force Defence League, and five times winner of Witch Weekly’s Most Charming Smile Award - but I don’t talk about that. I didn’t get rid of the Bandon banshee by smiling at her!”

    When no one laughed at the joke, he continued, “I see you’ve all bought a complete set of my books - well done. I thought we’d start today with a little quiz. Nothing to worry about - just to see how well you’ve read them, how much you’ve taken in . . .”

    After he’d handed out test papers, he returned to the front of the class and said, “You have thirty minutes. Start - now!

    Takara glanced at it briefly, noted that every question was about Gilderoy Lockhart in one form or another, and traded glances with the boys. Shirou looked as though he’d swallowed something bitter, and Galen was rubbing his fingers together as though itching to draw his wand and set the paper on fire.

    She considered, briefly, just doing the quiz and going along with the flow. Then she remembered that they’d be stuck here for almost two months before the basilisk attacks would begin, and mentally shrugged. If there was nothing they could do, she might as well have some fun. Her parents might crucify her for this - well, her mother, at least - but . . . Takara set down the test, gathered her books, and stood up. Hermione, beside her, gave a sudden start, and stared with wide eyes as Takara made her way to the door.

    “Miss?” Lockhart questioned. “Is there a problem?”

    “Yes, Professor,” Takara said politely. “I’m very sorry for causing a disruption, but I’m apparently in the wrong classroom.”

    Lockhart was nonplussed, and a number of the students suddenly turned to look at her.

    “What gives you that idea?” the blond wizard finally asked.

    “Because according to my timetable, I’m supposed to be studying Defence Against the Dark Arts right now, not Popular Wizarding Culture,” Takara answered, still in the oh-so-polite tone her mother had drilled into her. Had someone placed butter on her tongue, it would not only have failed to melt, it might actually have churned itself into whipped cream.

    Lockhart’s face reddened. “I assure you, Miss - ”

    “Aozaki, Lockhart-sensei,” she replied, adding a perfunctory bow. Just the picture-perfect Japanese schoolgirl here, nothing special.

    “Miss . . . Ow-saki,” Lockhart said, “I assure you that everything you learn from my books will serve you well in defending yourself from the many menaces that lurk within the darkest corners of our world.”

    “Truly, Sensei?” Takara said in wide-eyed innocence. “Please, tell me - which deadly creature can be repelled by your favourite colour? What horrible curse can be countered with the knowledge of your ideal birthday gift?” Her tone and posture didn’t alter one iota - she still projected complete respect, in spite of the words coming out of her mouth. It was sarcasm at its finest.

    Shirou’s eyes glinted with sardonic amusement. Galen’s body was shaking in an attempt to hold back laughter. Neville’s eyes looked like they were about to pop out of their sockets, and Hermione was so pale Takara was afraid she was going to faint. Judging by the ruddy colour of Lockhart’s face, however, he’d obviously somehow drained the blood from Hermione remotely.

    “That will be five points from Gryffindor, for cheek,” Lockhart ground out. “And as you think you’re so well-prepared . . .” He placed a large, covered cage on top of his desk.

    “I had intended this exercise to be for the entire class - but you’ve just volunteered to demonstrate your prowess, young lady,” the teacher informed her, “Let’s see how you handle these!” He whipped the cover off to reveal -

    Freshly caught Cornish pixies,” Lockhart said in a dangerous tone.

    Takara’s birthday gifts had included a wand holster, such as Galen wore. Strapped to her right wrist, it could, by means of a ritualised gesture or mechanical trigger, release her wand into her hand instantly. She took advantage of that fact now to allow eight inches of holly wood and a dragon heartstring core to settle into her palm.

    “When you’re ready, Lockhart-sensei,” Takara said coolly.

    “Don’t be so confident,” Lockhart said smugly. “Devilish tricky little blighters they can be!”

    He opened the cage.

    Takara was the Gryffindor Quidditch team’s Seeker - the youngest in a century - for good reason. Her reflexes were more or less unparalleled, as far as anyone could tell. And unlike most witches and wizards, she also had no reason to shout her spells when a whisper worked just as well.

    Four of the dozen pixies were hit with Stinging Hexes almost the instant they left the cage. While a Stinging Hex didn’t do much of anything against a huge, tough-skinned brute like a troll, against an eight-inch tall pixie, it was the equivalent of flinging lightning bolts. What hit the desktop were just mangled, electric blue remains.

    The rest of the pixies attempted to spread out - but she hit three who were heading for the blind spot to her left before they could get out of reach, and then another three circling to her right. The other two circled above her head at high speed, making spirals and figure-eights, until one dove straight for her.

    Takara stung it, but the last pixie used her focus on its brethren as a distraction, and actually managed to grab her wand. It zipped around the room, buzzing with laughter.

    Lockhart looked smug as he saw Takara fidget with something under her robes, taking her actions for a sense of dismay at the loss of her wand. He leaned back, placing his right hand on his desk to balance himself.

    “A fair showing,” he admitted, “but you lost badly at the end there. It just goes to show that no matter how good you think you are, you have so much still to lea - “

    His statement was interrupted by a sudden thunk, and he was suddenly aware of the cold touch of metal around his hand. Lockhart looked down in astonishment.

    The final pixie was impaled through its chest on a long knife whose hilt bore an elaborate crest. The blade had buried itself in the wood of his desktop, at least an inch deep, and the sharp edges of it just barely avoided kissing the flesh of his splayed fingers. Droplets of blue blood slid down the sides of the knife, and as its wings beat spasmodically, but with increasing slowness, the pixie dropped Takara’s wand.

    Lockhart stared at the tableau in an uncomprehending daze, until Takara reached out to retrieve both her weapons. Returning her wand to its holster, she removed a silk cloth from a pocket in her robe and began to carefully, almost lovingly, wipe the blood off the knife. When it was clean, she folded the blade closed, and replaced it as well.

    “Did the aftermath of your battles teach you any useful spells for removing blood from cloth?” Takara asked innocently.






    Several days later, Shirou and Takara were halted from their morning exercises by the sudden appearance of Oliver Wood.

    “Quidditch practice!” said Wood. “Come on!”

    Takara grumbled loudly. She’d been forced to go without a lot of sleep for the last few days. Despite answering Lockhart’s challenge, and slaughtering all twelve pixies in less than thirty seconds, she’d only been given back the five points she’d lost earlier - and a week’s detention for “reckless endangerment and damage to a professor’s property.” The detentions in question so far had ranged from eight PM until midnight, and seemed to consist of answering Lockhart’s fan mail. Shirou was therefore unsurprised that Lockhart insisted she bring neither her wand nor her knife with her to serve them.

    If she did, she’d be too tempted to use them, he thought.

    Shirou dug out his Quidditch robes and headed back down to the common room. Only a couple of heartbeats after he and Takara had reached the portrait entrance, he heard the clatter of someone else in a much bigger hurry come down behind him.

    “I thought I heard your voice, Takara! Do you go running, too?”

    The speaker was a very small boy with wide eyes and mouse-brown hair, bearing a camera around his neck. He was a first-year student named Colin Creevey - and following the tales that had emerged of Takara’s pixie takedown, he was her number one fan. For the last three days, he’d been following her, asking for photographs. It was almost cute, in a stalker-ish kind of way - and he was so innocently earnest that she hadn’t had the heart to tell him to go away and make sure it stuck. The girls’ dormitory had been her only refuge from him, and she’d managed to avoid him during their morning calisthenics because Colin didn’t want to get up that early, and no one had told him she participated. Not that new people hadn’t joined them.

    Ginny Weasley preferred her beauty sleep, but the twins had taken to them with good humour, saying that they weren’t nearly as tough as Wood’s practice drills. They’d been suitably impressed when Neville, whose coordination hadn’t been exactly stellar last year, had managed to disarm and take down both twins in less than two minutes. Granted, he’d been exhausted - the boys were two years older, and not exactly slow, weak, or light - but Neville had felt pretty good that day.

    Fred and George freely admitted they’d probably never get as serious about it as the rest of them, but looked on the skills as just another opportunity to prank people - most wizards relaxed once an opponent had lost his wand. Finding out that their target was just as deadly without one . . . In any case, they tended to join in a few times a week, rather than daily, but they seemed to be noticing improvements, anyway.

    Luna had started coming because all her friends did, and she seemed to be enjoying it just for the company. Not being particularly violent by nature, the martial arts she picked up tended towards the softer styles - but she learned them, regardless. As to the general exercise, she’d seen the benefits immediately, since there was no telling where in the world, or under what conditions, she might have to hunt for creatures like the apparently elusive Crumple-Horned Snorkack. The better shape she was in, the easier it would be for her.

    Shirou admitted that he was baffled by Luna, and took solace in the fact that it seemed to be the general consensus. Only Galen and Neville really seemed comfortable around her - the former, because he was prepared for her, and the latter, because they seemed more on the same level. They were general outcasts who weren’t supremely fast, powerful or confident. Not that they weren’t grateful that their friends were, but it was easier for them to relate to one another - especially since they were also both pure-bloods, and wizard-raised. They could talk about certain things and not get strange looks - or be totally lost in a conversation peppered with references from the mundane world.

    Hermione had accepted Luna’s presence with some tolerance. The younger girl was surprisingly open about the way she was treated, and Hermione was nothing if not sympathetic. The matter of Luna’s menagerie of unusual creatures, like Snorkacks, had initially caused some friction, until Galen had asked, “Hermione, how does it feel to not exist?”

    Hermione had given him a puzzled look. “What?”

    “Well, there’s no such thing as witches, wizards, or magic. Everyone knows that. Five billion people can’t be wrong - there’s empirical evidence to prove that magic is all tricks, or outright impossible, as any library can tell you.”

    Hermione had reddened. “But that’s different!”

    “How?” he’d asked reasonably. “Five billion people, and five hundred years of reason and rational thought, can collectively know and prove that magic doesn’t exist, except as deception - but we’re here. If Luna believes that there’s a creature out there that the magical world says doesn’t and can’t exist, who’s to say it doesn’t anyway, as we do? In the face of a lack of concrete proof, Hermione, it doesn’t hurt anyone for her to believe, and look for the truth. That kind of faith is rare . . . And while I may not understand it, I can respect it where I find it.”

    That had effectively silenced Hermione on the issue of Luna’s strange beliefs - she still didn’t believe the younger girl was entirely sane, but had been forced to acknowledge that there was nothing truly wrong about her beliefs, as she did no harm by believing. And, as Galen had pointed out, one never knew - tomorrow might bring the possibility of evidence.

    Aside from that issue, though, the two girls were actually getting along well. Luna’s thought processes were more intuitive than Hermione’s analytical thinking, but both of them were quite intelligent, and the discussions between them on higher-level spell mechanics had everyone, including Galen, quickly fleeing a room in search of migraine medicine.

    Shirou’s thoughts were interrupted by the babble of Colin Creevey as he followed them out to the Quidditch pitch. He was trying to get Takara to explain the game to him - Colin was mundane-born, like Hermione - and she was attempting to be polite, as usual, although Shirou suspected that in about five more minutes, it would be a good thing her Quidditch uniform didn’t have a pocket for her knife. Thankfully, Colin shut up and disappeared into the stands to watch as they reached the pitch.

    Overall, he noted, the Gryffindor team did not look entirely up to snuff - no doubt owing to the early hour. He and Takara were used to rising around dawn, but the rest . . .?

    Fred and George looked a little owlish - their infrequent presence at calisthenics meant they weren’t totally unused to being up so early, but neither were they especially accustomed to it. The Chasers, on the other hand - Alicia was sagging against the wall, her head bobbing up and down, and Angelina and Katie were holding each other up and yawning in sequence. Wood was the only one other than him who was really awake, as even Takara was a little sluggish, given her recent late nights.

    Shirou followed Wood’s complicated new plays - more or less - but even he couldn’t resist a snicker as George said, “I’ve got a question, Oliver - why couldn’t you have told us all this yesterday when we were awake?”

    Wood scowled. “Now listen here, you lot. Gryffindor may have won the Quidditch cup last year, but that’s no excuse for resting on our laurels. We’re easily the best team, but if we get lazy . . . “ He shook himself. “So this year we train harder than ever before . . . OK, let’s go and put our new theories into practice!”

    Shirou was the only one who followed him easily out of the changing rooms.

    Practice was a little more complicated as a steady, mechanical sound echoed through the stadium.

    “What’s that funny clicking noise?” Shirou heard Fred ask.

    Colin was firing away with his camera, exhorting shrilly, “Look this way, Takara! This way!”

    “Who’s that?” asked Fred.

    Shirou smirked as he heard Takara answer, “I wish I didn’t know.”

    Naturally, the fuss attracted Wood.

    “What’s going on?” he demanded. “Why’s that first-year taking pictures? I don’t like it. He could be a Slytherin spy, trying to find out about our new training programme.”

    Shirou ascended to join the conversation. “He’s a Gryffindor, Taichou.

    “And the Slytherins don’t need a spy, Oliver,” said George.

    “Why’s that?”

    “Because they’re here in person,” answered George, pointing.

    Green-robed, broomstick-carrying people were entering the pitch. Shirou, from his higher vantage point, saw someone else nearby, and waved as discreetly, but forcefully as possible. An answering wave, and abrupt change of direction and speed, came in response.

    “I don’t believe this!” Wood growled. “I booked the pitch for today! We’ll see about this!”

    He rocketed down to a hard landing. Shirou, Fred, George, and Takara followed at a safer speed, to lighter impacts with the ground.

    “Flint!” Wood roared.”This is our practice time! We got up specially! You can clear off now!”

    The Slytherin Captain, Marcus Flint, was bigger and burlier than even Wood. Unfortunately for him, he had a troll-like brain to accentuate the physical resemblance. However, no one could accuse him of being low on innate nastiness, and it showed in his grin.

    “Plenty of room for all of us, Wood,” he replied.

    The rest of the team clustered around Wood, focussing on the Slytherins, who by and large out-massed the Gryffindors. For his part, Shirou had to work to keep the smirk off his face. This was going to be good.

    “But I booked the pitch!” Wood protested, enraged. “I booked it!”

    “Ah,” Flint replied with a smug satisfaction, “but I’ve got a specially-signed note here from Professor Snape. I, Professor S. Snape, give the Slytherin team permission to practise today on the Quidditch pitch owing to the need to train their new Seeker.

    Wood opened his mouth to reply, when an almost purring voice from behind the Slytherin team drawled, “Really.

    As everyone turned, Galen glanced over to his right, “Hermione, you’ve studied the school bylaws - remind me of the relevant ones regarding pitch time?”

    She replied, as though reading directly from them. “Practice times on the Quidditch pitch are pre-booked by the team captains, with permission of their Head of House. In the event that practice times are required to be rescheduled, and conflict with an existing session, twenty-four hours notice is to be given to the interrupted team’s Head of House, who will inform the team.”

    Galen turned to Wood. “Did Professor McGonagall mention anything to you yesterday, Wood?” he asked casually.

    Wood’s face, which had been flushing red in anger, was rapidly acquiring a beatific grin.

    “No,” he replied delightedly. “No, she didn’t.”

    Galen shrugged. “There you have it, then. I admit, I’m surprised Professor Snape didn’t think to do things through the proper channels - but he’s a busy man. Best go back and remind him of existing procedures, Captain Flint.”

    Flint’s face began turning the same colour Wood’s had. “I’ve Snape’s permission to be here! You can’t tell us to clear off!”

    Galen glanced to Neville. “Remind me - we just told him his note isn’t worth the parchment it’s written on, and to clear off, didn’t we?”

    Neville nodded. This movement wasn’t as fearful as it might have been a year ago.

    Flint focussed on Neville. “Why, you - !”

    “Careful there, Flint,” Fred advised with a grin.

    “Ickle Neville knocked us both arse over teakettle a couple of days ago,” George explained. “Did it with his bare hands, too - “

    ”- And he says he’s the least dangerous of the lot,” Fred finished.

    Shirou chuckled. “Seems like a pretty simple choice, guys - book yourselves a practice time like you’re supposed to, or - “

    ”Or what, Einzbern?” came a familiarly sneering voice. The mass of massive Slytherins parted to reveal Draco Malfoy’s form.

    “Or you leave anyway,” Shirou advised him. “It’s just a question of whether you walk out of here under your own power.”

    “You think we can’t take a bunch of shrimps like you?” Malfoy sneered. “They’re only four more of you, and they’re all scrawny - “

    ”But armed,” Galen said quietly. “Unless your nice new Quidditch uniform has a pocket for your wand, Malfoy, I’d really recommend clearing off. Because this won’t be a duel - it’s a fight.

    The Slytherins whirled at the statement, and saw the four Gryffindors with wands drawn and raised. The situation was plain: not only was the Quidditch team prepared to fight the Slytherins, the others would hex them in the back while they did.

    Malfoy’s face reddened. “Professor Snape will hear about this! And my father!”

    “We’ve already told you to tell Professor Snape, you idiot,” Shirou said with disgust. “And as for your father - does he enjoy hearing how you make a fool of yourself?”

    Malfoy’s face was nearly purple. “This isn’t over!”

    “Of course not,” Takara said loftily. “See you at the game, Malfoy. Well, actually, I’ll probably be in front of you, catching the Snitch - so I guess not.” She smirked.

    For a moment, they thought the fight would start anyway - but Malfoy whirled and stormed off in high dudgeon. Apparently his self-preservation instincts were still working. The rest of the team followed.

    Wood sighed in relief. “Thanks for the assist, I guess. You realise they’re be hell to pay.”

    Galen shrugged. “They had no right to show up in the middle of Gryffindor’s practice and expect to be handed the pitch, note be damned. No spells were fired, and no one was hurt. Snape aside, there’s not much they can really call us out on.”

    “Shame,” Neville said, surprising everyone. “After our run, I was all warmed up for a hard-contact sparring session, too.”

    Galen chuckled. “Well, we should get back to our practice, and we’ll leave you to yours - cheers, guys.”

    With that, the four Gryffindors jogged off the pitch. Wood turned to Shirou with a gimlet eye. “And they just happened to show up?”

    “I may have spotted them passing the pitch when the Slytherins showed up,” Shirou admitted.

    “And they came in anyway? You might’ve just been waving hello.”

    “I don’t wave,” Shirou said flatly.

    Wood had a thoughtful look on his face. “That Lovegood girl’s small enough for a Seeker, and if you could teach Longbottom and Granger to fly decently - they move well enough for Chasers. I’d like to see the Chaser who’d dare try to score on Salvatore when he’s a Keeper - bloke’s right scary. I reckon he could make a Bludger change its course with a look . . .”

    “Uh oh,” Fred said.

    “Wood’s thinking again,” George added.

    The larger boy flushed. “I was just considering that with Shirou here, and the rest of them - you’d almost have enough for a reserve Gryffindor team, never mind just one player.”

    “Have to coax Hermione, Galen and Luna out of the library first,” Fred informed him,

    “And good luck on that,” George agreed.

    Wood sighed. “Pity.” Then he grinned. “Guess I’ll just have to settle for having the best team at Hogwarts, rather than the best team and a bloody good set of alternates.”

    Shirou found himself grinning. “Then we’d better get practising, if we’re going to stay that way.”

    Wood roared, “Now that’s what I like to hear! Let’s go!”






    Galen awoke with the usual symptoms: extreme weariness, lingering pain in the joints, bones and muscles, and spasmodic twitching of the extremities as his nerves readjusted to their former positions. Roiling nausea, too, as his stomach and other internal organs were returned to their original shape and distribution. His eyes were blurry again, his ears felt stuffed with cotton, and his nose was practically dead. Still, he was at least vaguely aware of another presence.

    “I was half-afraid Snape had poisoned that batch of potion,” said a familiar voice. Takara. “I thought he might, after that stunt with the Slytherin Quidditch team last week.”

    “Mkgngll . . .” His throat was raw, and his tongue didn’t want to work properly.

    “Yes, I know Professor McGonagall backed you - and so did the Gryffindor team. No points lost because you were being rule-abiding, no detentions because it was just their word that you threatened them. But if he was going to get revenge, this would be perfect. You know he’s that petty.”

    Galen tried to shake his head - and then tried not to wince at the dizziness and pain the movements brought him.

    “Too . . .” He forced himself to speak carefully. “. . .Ob - vi -ous.”

    “Good point,” Takara admitted. “Since’s he’s brewed it for a year with no problems, a botch now would be harder to explain - and the faculty knows about the scene on the pitch.”

    “Why . . .?” Galen began.

    “Am I here?” Takara finished for him. “A couple of things. First, I thought I’d remind you that with luck, this will be your last full moon alone: the Animagus potion will be ready in two more weeks. I’m actually looking forward to it. I wonder what I’ll turn out to be?”

    She smiled at the thought, before turning serious. “The other bit’s a little less fun. Since it’s Sunday, and Neville and Hermione know to leave you alone on these days, Shirou and I figured that we could discuss how, exactly, things went with your little talk with her, without eavesdroppers or classes to get in the way.”

    Her smile returned, but was distinctly more predatory. “And you’re in no condition to run or lie your way out of it.”
    Last edited by Kieran; March 24th, 2011 at 10:35 PM.

  15. #15
    The Jester Kieran's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    According to most, my own little world
    Age
    34
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    5,895
    Blog Entries
    156
    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 Chamber of Secrets, but I trust in the intelligence of my readers (and the availability of the books) to recognise them when they see them.



    Chapter 8 - Understandings



    September 14 - 19, 1992






    Shirou entered the infirmary and went straight to Madam Pomfrey. The heavyset, matronly witch gave him an appraising look.

    “And what seems to be the trouble, Mister Einzbern?” she inquired briskly.

    “Galen asked me to fetch a Pepperup Potion, some Essence of Murtlap, and Essence of Dittany,” Shirou said. This was a lie - Takara had asked him, not Galen.

    The nurse’s eyebrows raised. “Problems with his transformation? He doesn’t usually need more than a day’s rest and some easily digestible food.” She normally wouldn’t have said as much, but Shirou and Takara’s medical history cleared placed them in Galen’s company for several years - she was aware they knew his secret.

    “He has an assignment due for Professor Snape that he hasn’t finished,” Shirou explained. Another lie - Galen, with Hermione’s help, made a habit of completing any work due around the full moon early because he’d be laid up.

    Madam Pomfrey frowned disapprovingly. “He ought to be resting - but I suppose it makes no sense to antagonise Severus, if it can be avoided.” She handed Shirou several vials. “Pepper-Up, Murtlap, Dittany. He’s to drink the first, and the other two are rubbed on where the pain is. And tell him not to force himself to stay awake - if he needs to sleep, he’s to sleep!”

    “Yes, ma’am,” Shirou said earnestly. “Thank you.”

    “Thank me by getting him to work more diligently,” Madam Pomfrey sniffed. “The boy’s under enough strain as it is - no need to make it worse!”

    You don’t know the half of it, Shirou thought.

    He wasn’t entirely in favour of cornering Galen like this, but they needed confirmation that he’d cleared the air with Hermione. In the last week and a half, the girl had been less hostile, but still distant - and without knowing what had been said, they had no way of figuring out what to do next. Granted, it wasn’t all Galen’s fault - between Quidditch practice, class, and the near-constant presence of Ginny and Luna (not to mention Colin Creevey), finding a quiet time and place to talk hadn’t been easy to do. Even switching to Japanese would’ve alerted Neville and Hermione that something was up, as both of them were becoming passably fluent after almost a year of study.

    Today, on the other hand, was ideal. Neville and Hermione knew that Galen would be effectively useless all day, and wouldn’t try to disturb him. Neville, at least, would attempt to distract Luna and Ginny if they came looking - as neither girl was yet aware that Galen was a werewolf. His and Takara’s absence might be noted, but hopefully not long enough to make anyone suspicious. With luck, they could get the information they needed from Galen, and leave him to his rest. And then they could settle things with Hermione.

    Shirou wondered what Galen had told her. If Hermione had extracted the oath like Shirou expected, possibly everything. How would she handle it? Could she handle it?

    . . . Could his father?

    Kiritsugu was not a stupid man, and he already suspected something. Also, Shirou could understand the need to lie to him, but it didn’t mean he liked it. It wouldn’t take much to blow his cover entirely, one way or another. He had to consider the possibility it might happen, and what could result from it.

    Shirou shook his head as he entered the deserted classroom where Galen had spent the night. “What if” was Galen’s thing, not his. Maybe if there was time later, he’d pick the other guy’s brain over it . . .

    Takara watched Galen to make sure the medicines were administered properly, though her face was scarlet when he began rubbing the two Essences into his sore muscles - mostly because it involved Galen’s taking his shirt off to do it. The twelve year old’s physique wasn’t exactly a champion bodybuilder’s - but it showed a certain wiry strength, nonetheless.

    “OK,” Galen said in Japanese, with deliberate slowness. “I’m as awake as I’m going to get, and in less pain. What do you need to know?”

    “What exactly did the two of you say?” Takara demanded in the same language.

    Galen repeated their conversation, and Shirou was certain it was pretty much verbatim. When he got to the bit about an alternate time line, however, Takara interrupted.

    “You lied,” Takara said, her eyes wide. “Under an oath to tell the complete truth - you broke your word.

    “I did not,” Galen snapped. “She made an assumption, which I agreed with in principle. She did not ask for a detailed explanation of just how ‘alternate’ our timeline was - and I wasn’t obligated to provide one unless she did.”

    “That’s pretty thin,” Shirou observed.

    “It was the only option I had,” Galen hissed. “I was not about to tell a girl you described to me as being borderline suicidal that she doesn’t really exist!

    “Is that how you see her?” Shirou asked. “Really?”

    Galen closed his eyes, weariness evident in every line on his face.

    “I agree in principle with the idea that all fictional creations are alternate realities whose existence can be tapped into by certain minds,” he said. “Coming from where I do, however, it’s difficult for me to think of Hermione Granger as anything but a book character - or at best, a beautiful young actress that I will never be lucky enough to meet. And then she sits down besides me, and smiles - at me - and . . .”

    He shuddered. “My grasp on reality was never that good to begin with - this place isn’t helping.”

    Shirou snorted. “Like our universe was any better?”

    Galen’s eyes snapped open.

    Takara shook her head. “We might not be as smart as Hermione, Galen, but we’re not stupid, either. Whether here, at home, or in that twisted Slayerverse, you’ve reacted exactly the same way - like you know everything that’s going on, and everyone of importance . . . And you usually do. Knowing why you act that way in two of those realities, it’s not that big a stretch to assume it’s true about the third, as well.”

    “So what were we?” Shirou asked. “Book, movie, TV series?”

    “Visual novels,” Galen said tiredly. “And associated anime adaptations. Though the main one was about Takara’s dad - she came as a complete surprise.”

    Takara grinned. “So Mother has often told me.”

    Galen stared. “You think this is funny?

    She shrugged. “Why not? You’ve said my reality is fictional, to you - but to me, it’s real. You’ve even pointed out that you weren’t expecting me, which means I’m closer to real than the fiction you know. And I’m sure there’s every possibility that somewhere out there, there’s someone to whom you and your life are just fiction, too.”

    “A Self-Insert writer,” Galen muttered. “I’m the only person I know who’s a big enough bastard to put me through all this.”

    Shirou said, “The point is, whatever our realities were to you originally, here and now, for us, it’s just real. Anything else gets into a level of metaphysics I really don’t want to think about - because there’s no point to thinking about it.”

    “Nice sentiment,” Galen said with a yawn. “Wonder if Hermione will see it that way.”

    “Maybe she will,” Takara offered, “but for what it’s worth, you were probably right to hold back - she was pretty fragile.”

    “One step at a time,” Shirou agreed.

    “Let’s hope it’s just not off a cliff,” Galen murmured, before falling asleep.






    Takara found out when Hermione joined her in Myrtle’s bathroom a day or two later to oversee some of the Animagus potion’s final stages.

    “What happened to me - the other me, I suppose - last Hallowe’en?” she asked quietly.

    Takara didn’t take long to understand. “When the troll’s presence was announced at the feast, Harry realised you didn’t know and snuck away from the Gryffindors being led back to the tower, convincing Ron to go with him. When they saw that the troll had already found you, Harry jumped on its back to distract it, and Ron managed to levitate its club and drop it on the troll’s head.”

    “He had to convince Ron?” Hermione said sharply. “He was the last straw, and he had to be convinced to come and rescue me?”

    Takara shrugged. “So it seems, anyway.”

    Hermione said nothing to that, biting her lower lip in thought. “So I really would be dead now, if you hadn’t come. There’s no Harry here to have saved me.”

    “He didn’t want to have to,” Takara said. “Galen tried everything he could think of to keep your spirits up, to keep you out of that bathroom - “

    ”And when that failed, he came running anyway,” Hermione finished softly. “And unlike Harry Potter, he knew exactly what he was walking into when he did it - but he still came.”

    “We all did,” Takara said. “But would you have believed us if we’d told you?”

    Hermione shook her head. “Maybe if you’d pretended one of you was a Seer - Divination is a course at Hogwarts, after all - but time travel and alternate universes? It would’ve been a bit much.”

    “And now?” Takara asked gently.

    “. . . I suppose I can’t really complain, can I?” Hermione said. “Your reasoning for not saying how you knew makes sense - they’d probably be locking you up in wizarding Bedlam if you went around mentioning it. And it’s saved my life a number of times now - about as many as it’s nearly gotten him killed in the doing.”

    Hermione held out her hand. “Hello, I’m Hermione Granger - and I think I’d like to be friends.”

    Takara smiled, and shook it. “Aozaki Takara desu, Granger-san. Pleased to meet you.”

    Hermione smiled briefly, before turning serious. “Galen doesn’t trust Headmaster Dumbledore. He said it looked like the Headmaster was trying to manipulate Neville.”

    Takara nodded. “That’s what we think.”

    “Is that why the traps last year were so easy? It was a test?” Hermione nodded to herself. “Yes - foreknowledge might’ve helped you prepare for them, but any serious defences would have been beyond the physical or magical skill of a bunch of first-year students. You’d have only known that you couldn’t beat them. Fluffy was vulnerable to anyone who knew Greek mythology and enough magic to create music. The Devil’s Snare acted too slowly to be more than an impediment unless you’d landed wrong. The flying keys - I’ve read about Summoning Charms, they’re taught in fourth year, apparently - the broom wouldn’t have been necessary. And it would’ve been smarter to have all those animal Transfigurations go off when the wrong key was touched - bury the thief under a horde of beasts rather than just one target at a time.”

    “That one had us worried,” Takara admitted. “It was supposed to be a giant chess set.”

    “A chess set?” Hermione repeated. “Why would anyone use a giant chess set as a security measure?”

    “Because Ronald Weasley is good at chess.”

    “. . . Tailored traps,” Hermione whispered. “It’s too big a coincidence to really be one. It really was all a test.”

    The young witch’s expression hardened. “Do you know why?”

    Takara’s mouth set into a grim line. “There’s this prophecy . . .” She repeated it for Hermione, who grew thoughtful.

    “Neville’s birthday is July 30th,” she admitted, “and I don’t know anything about his parents - but he was never ‘marked as an equal.’ And Dumbledore was the one who beat him.”

    “For the moment, anyway,” Takara said.

    “For the moment?

    “Who do you think was controlling Quirrell?” Takara asked rhetorically.

    Hermione paled.

    “It’s a long story,” Takara said, “and the time and place for it isn’t here and now. What you need to know is that both Dumbledore and Voldemort apparently believe in the prophecy. And we’re only assuming the prophecy is the same as the one about Harry. It might be different here, but we can’t access it to find out. We’ll have to wait for an opportunity to try - and in the meantime, we help out Neville as best we can.”

    “And any other people you happen to come across?” Hermione asked with a lifted eyebrow.

    Takara shrugged, but she was smiling, too. “What can I say? Galen and Shirou both have a ‘saving people thing’ - and if I don’t keep them out of trouble, who will?”

    Hermione laughed with her, before her face sobered.

    Takara tilted her head. “What is it?”

    “Galen,” she admitted. “I’ve been treating him badly, again.”

    “You had reason to, this time,” Takara pointed out. “We weren’t exactly being open and honest - and where Neville, Luna, and Ginny are concerned, that’s not likely to change.”

    “It wouldn’t be much of a secret if everyone knew,” Hermione admitted. “And few people would believe it. Even if they did -

    ”We’d end up in a research lab, or a mental ward, or something,” Takara finished.

    “Good reasons not to say anything,” Hermione agreed. “And if it was just that, I wouldn’t be upset - but it’s not the first time I’ve made a snap judgment about him, is it? I cried about his not trusting me - but I don’t seem willing to have much trust in him, either.”

    “He doesn’t make it easy to trust him,” Takara admitted. “I think he honestly likes it that way - or maybe he just figures that anyone willing to trust him in spite of everything is someone he can trust.”

    “Do you?” Hermione asked curiously.

    “With my life? Absolutely,” Takara said. Then she added softly, “With my heart, though - that’s another story.”

    “You think he’d break it?”

    “. . . Not intentionally,” Takara said at last. “But he’s lied to me, when he thought he had to. And I look at what he does - at how easily and often he throws himself into situations where he’ll get hurt, or killed, and I can’t honestly say to myself that I could survive loving him. Because he’s always been that way, and he always will - and I don’t know that I can stand it, waiting for the day to come when he isn’t fast enough, tough enough, or lucky enough to survive.”

    Hermione was quiet. “Is he trying to die?”

    Takara closed her eyes. “Ilya has his word he won’t kill himself, but that’s not the same as saying he won’t be killed by one of these stunts. And as Shirou said once - Ilya’s given him a reason to exist, which is not the same as a reason to live.

    “So you think he is.”

    Takara had asked herself this a lot, over the last year. “I think . . . He’s reached a point where living or dying don’t matter to him - any more than it makes a difference whether he wears a red or blue shirt.” She opened her eyes. “You should keep this in mind, if you plan to start dating him next year.”

    Hermione flushed red. “Who said that I - ?”

    “You’ll both be fourteen, and Hogsmeade weekends are an option next year,” Takara pointed out. “I figured you’d want to try.”

    “. . . Do you think he’d want to?” she asked hesitantly.

    “If you can get him to take you seriously, probably.”

    Hermione gained a puzzled expression. “What do you mean?”

    “Shirou says Galen’s had a - a complicated history with girls. He’s not likely to believe that any girl really wants to date him. If you want to convince him, you’ll have to do it carefully, I guess - slow enough that he doesn’t start checking you for love potions, but firmly enough that he can’t just ignore you, either.”

    Now it was Hermione’s turn to cock her head. “You’ve always sounded mature, Takara, but . . . How old are you?”

    “In the timeline we came from, I was about to turn seventeen before we ended up here. The boys are older.”

    “How much older?” Hermione asked, a little fearfully.

    “I’m not completely sure - but older. It’s another reason you’ll need to be careful. Galen will probably feel like a dirty old man.” Takara looked at her. “Does it change things, to know he’s that much older than you are?”

    Hermione considered this for a long while, before she finally decided aloud, “He’s been the same age since I’ve known him - it’s just what makes him who he is. And no matter how old his mind is, he’s my age now.”

    “Try telling him that,” Takara muttered. “Repeatedly and loudly - and if we’re lucky, maybe it’ll sink in.”

    Hermione was pensive as she finished the last steps for this portion of the potion’s progress.

    “I still need to find a way to apologise,” she muttered. “He said he was sorry days ago, and I never gave him an answer.”

    Takara considered. “Well, it is your birthday in a few days - and it might be a good first step . . .”

    Hermione looked at her friend with a mixture of confusion, anticipation, and nervousness. “What?”






    Galen had spent the last week in relative peace. The moon’s effects had passed, allowing him to resume his regular routine. His classes were going reasonably well - due to Hermione’s influence on his study habits . . .

    Hermione.

    Their relationship was cordial, now, but cool - as though she was channelling Crookshanks. She didn’t make a point of sitting close, or exchange much more in the way of words with him than would be considered polite. She didn’t insist on looking over his work, though she would if he asked. She was speaking to Takara, though - which meant that it was all on him.

    And that was good, Galen reminded himself. He was dangerous to Hermione - and far beneath what she deserved, in any case. Hell, Weasley looked like a better option than he did, at this point. It was far better that she realise it now, rather than later.

    You always knew it would come to this. You can’t be surprised that it has. And you know, damned well, that it should. So let it be.

    And he did. He did his work, did his exercises, practised his duelling. He was Hermione’s acquaintance, at best her friend. And he could be content with that. It was all he’d ever expected.

    He’d watch over her regardless. Over all of them. It was what he did. And when it was done with - when Voldemort was finished, and Ilya’s last command was carried out - maybe then, he could finally rest.

    . . . In the meantime, Hermione had a birthday to celebrate, and he wouldn’t spoil it for her. As he couldn’t just sneak it onto her bed, he’d wish her well, hand her the gift, and get out as quickly and quietly as he could politely manage so that she could enjoy herself with the rest of her friends.

    With that thought in mind, he walked into the Gryffindor common-room, brightly wrapped package in hand. Hermione was just coming down the stairs of the girls’ dorm.

    Timing is everything, he thought.

    “Good morning, Hermione,” he said pleasantly. “Happy birthday. I hope you’ll enjoy it - and the gift, of course.”

    Gently laying it in her hands, he nodded to her, then moved to head down to the Great Hall for breakfast.

    “Galen,” she called.

    He turned.

    “Thank you . . . For the gift, I mean,” she said awkwardly. “But I wanted . . . I wanted something else.”

    He shrugged. “You can exchange it, or get a refund - I always keep the receipts for that reason. I’ll go get it - “

    ”No!” she blurted. “It’s not that.”

    His eyebrows raised. “Then what?”

    “Will you - hold still?”

    “‘Hold still?’” Galen repeated.

    She nodded, flushing. “Just hold still.”

    Galen considered. Detecting no Fred and George specials, flying knives, or trap doors in the immediately vicinity, it seemed safe enough. Maybe she wanted to hit him, and needed to be sure of her target. Or hex him. Either way, he could hardly complain - it wasn’t as though he didn’t deserve it. And it was her birthday - she should get what she wanted.

    He shrugged. “All right.”

    Hermione firmed her resolve, visibly. Her jaw set, her eyes narrowed, her lips thinned, and she stalked in feline fashion into his personal space, reaching around to pull the back of his head down until her lips were level with his ear.

    “I forgive you,” Hermione whispered. “And I’m sorry, too.”

    Then she kissed him.
    Last edited by Kieran; March 24th, 2011 at 10:42 PM.

  16. #16
    The Jester Kieran's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    According to most, my own little world
    Age
    34
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    5,895
    Blog Entries
    156
    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 Chamber of Secrets, but I trust in the intelligence of my readers (and the availability of the books) to recognise them when they see them.



    Chapter 9 - Awakening the Beast



    October 4, 1992






    Takara stared into the cauldron full of bubbling liquid. Like many potions, it smelled terrible. In this potion’s particular case, it had an animal stench, raw and rank - leather, fur, feathers, fish. While appropriate in the case of this particular potion, it wasn’t at all pleasant. She didn’t look forward to drinking it.

    “So,” Neville asked, “it’s done?”

    Takara nodded. “All set. A dose of this, and our Animagus forms will be - unleashed.

    Shirou winced. “I thought bad jokes were Galen’s thing.”

    “Hey!” Galen protested.

    Takara shrugged. “It fits.” She glanced at Galen and smirked. “In both cases.”

    “HEY!”

    “How many doses do we have?” Neville asked.

    Hermione answered, “We couldn’t use a really big cauldron, and you’re only supposed to take it once, so we weren’t trying to make a lot . . . But then again, the dosing phials aren’t very large. Three, for certain, but perhaps as many as six?”

    “Thinking of Ginny and Luna?” Galen asked.

    Neville coloured a bit, but didn’t stammer. “Yeah - they’ve been around us so much since school started, it just seems wrong to leave them out.”

    “You realise,” Takara said carefully, “that we’ll have to tell them why we’re doing this.” She glanced at Galen.

    “I don’t think Ginny would blab,” Galen said. “Not intentionally. On the other hand, if her mother finds out - ” Visions of Howlers broadcasting throughout the Great Hall filled his head. There would calls for his expulsion as soon as the school owls could get the word out.

    “You’re not worried about Luna?” Shirou asked.

    Galen gave him a look. “She’s one of the most accepting souls around - I really can’t believe she’d tell.” He glanced at Hermione. “How long does this stuff keep, anyway?”

    “One lunar year, once it’s brewed,” Hermione answered.

    “So we don’t need to worry about mentioning it right away - we can dose you all first, and if it works, and if we have enough left, we can think about asking the girls.”

    Takara nodded. That seemed sensible.

    Neville nodded, too. “I wonder what I’ll be . . .”

    Takara did, too. Galen had told them that according to the author, one’s Animagus form and Patronus form were the same animal. This was a nice theory, Galen had said - until you considered that Dumbledore’s Patronus was a phoenix and Snape’s a doe. Magical beasts had never been mentioned as possible Animagus forms, only animals - hence the name. And the transformation was so keyed to the specific witch or wizard that constantly-worn items such as glasses were part of the animal form, in the form of markings. With that evidence, a spontaneous sex change seemed unlikely in an Animagus transformation. Therefore, to hell with the author’s idea. It was another case of using an opportunity to screw with her readers’ minds.

    And in her case, it really didn’t matter, as she hadn’t learned the Patronus charm yet, anyway. Though Takara expected she’d have to, next year.

    But first, we have to see if we need to - and can - survive the basilisk . . .

    Neville’s next question interrupted her thoughts. “Should we just take it now?”

    Galen shook his head. “Not here. If somebody turns out to be an elephant Animagus, things are going to get awfully cramped in here.”

    “The Forest, then?” Shirou offered out loud. When he saw Neville shiver. “Not in it, but around the borders, like Hagrid’s hut. I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t tell.”

    “Not intentionally,” Takara agreed, “but he does have a habit of spilling secrets accidentally. And it’s fairly open to unintended spies, not to mention far from the Hospital Wing if something ends up going wrong.” She shook her head. “What we need is a room inside the castle.”

    Galen stiffened suddenly, then said with profound venom, “Idiot! What the hell do you use for brains?!” He got up, and ran out of the bathroom, still cursing. “Right there in front of you, just bloody waiting the whole damned time, and you sit here . . .”

    Neville, Hermione, and Shirou exchanged bewildered looks for a moment. Takara, on the other hand, had seen him in similar circumstances, and so her voice held a curious mixture of dry amusement and genuine relief as she remarked, “Oh, thank God - he’s thought of something.”

    Then she got up to follow him. Hermione, after grabbing the cauldron, was right behind her, then Shirou and Neville.

    Galen had, impressively, managed to navigate three levels of the staircases ahead of them. Takara could tell, because she caught glimpses of his fast-moving form above them, and the acoustics allowed them to hear echoes of his curses as he ascended.

    Neville was breathing hard, but evenly, as they ascended the fourth level staircase. Without wheezing, he said, “He has to be running full-tilt, up flights of stairs, and he’s still swearing. Who’s he so mad at?”

    Takara answered, “Himself. He’s been reminded of something so obvious it should have occurred to him straightaway.”

    “What?” Hermione wondered.

    “If I knew, I wouldn’t be trying so hard to catch him.”

    The sound of rumbling stone above them caught their attention - one of the staircases had decided to move. More surprising, however, was the roaring response it provoked.

    “OHHHH NO! YOU, BACK THERE - NOW!

    Improbably, the sound of movement stopped - and then began to recede back in the direction it had emerged from.

    Shirou’s eyes were wide with disbelief. “Did he just intimidate a staircase?

    Neville shivered. “I’ve never heard him that angry. It’s scary.”

    Scary. Uh-huh. If anyone asked Takara why she was shivering, fear was the excuse she was using. Of course, she was more flushed than pale . . .

    Her Nanaya side had always been intrigued by Galen when he was angry - wondered whether the fires that drove him could be snuffed by her own icy precision, or whether he could manage to melt her down, instead. Takara had always assumed that it related to a need to determine which of them was the better killer, an intolerance of rival predators.

    Now, though, hearing the passion running through that command, and feeling her reaction to it, she was forced to consider the idea that it was Nanaya’s twisted idea of foreplay.

    A hungry whisper in the back of her mind, like that snow-soft voice, remarked, Fire can do more than simply destroy . . .

    Takara shuddered. Damned hormones - if they were this bad already, the next five years were going to be hell.

    The sound of shoes storming up steps had stopped, and they soon caught up to where Galen had gotten off the staircases, which turned out to be the seventh floor. His steps were still audible, but slower, quieter.

    He’s looking for something - but what? All I said was that we’d need a room -

    And then it hit her.

    “I’m an idiot,” Takara muttered, causing everyone to look at her. “I just realised what he’s looking for, and I should’ve thought of it, too - it would’ve been perfect for so many things.”

    Shirou raised an eyebrow. “Care to enlighten us?”

    Takara glanced around - no portraits in sight, but that didn’t mean they weren’t in earshot. She lowered her voice as a precaution.

    “It’s called the Room of Requirement . . .”






    Shirou looked at the ornate door, which Takara opened without hesitation. The idea of a room that only appeared at great need didn’t seem too farfetched, but Shirou wondered about the level of magic that would have to go into something that could adapt itself to fit any circumstance. It seemed at least partially similar to his Reality Marble, and Shirou wondered - if he understood what had gone into making the Room, could he recreate Unlimited Blade Works?

    Wouldn’t they be in for a surprise if I could?

    Galen stood before a massive, ornate bowl, reading intently from a book in his left hand, his wand upraised in the other. The room had no other features.

    “What’s this?” Shirou asked.

    “This,” Galen indicated the bowl with a wave of his wand, “is a Pensieve. And this is instructions on how to use one.”

    “And a Pensieve is . . .?”

    Takara answered, “It lets you review memories - but not just from your perspective. It recreates them like one of those hollow thingies on Star Trek.”

    “Holodeck,” Hermione supplied, causing everyone to look at her. She shrugged and said, with some embarrassment, “My mother likes Patrick Stewart. And Miranda thinks Wesley Crusher is gorgeous.”

    Shirou understood Galen’s purpose immediately. “The bookstore.”

    Galen nodded, holding his wand to his temple, and carefully drawing out an iridescent silver strand, halfway between light and mist. He flicked it casually into the bowl.

    Neville appeared confused. “What bookstore?”

    Shirou explained briefly, and to his amazement, Neville simply nodded. When Shirou remarked as such, Neville replied, “This is something Galen knows - by now, I’ve learned not to question it. I just wish he didn’t know only about bad things.”

    “Well,” Galen drawled, “the next time your grandmother gives you a hard time about your Charms mark, you can always remind her that she failed her O.W.L. in the subject.”

    Neville goggled. Galen just smirked, and added, “Gather round, folks - we’re all set. Just look into the bowl, hang on, and remember - keep your eye on the little black book.”

    Shirou leaned over the bowl, and was caught in a sudden vortex . . .

    The Pensieve’s recreation was astonishing. It was like being in spirit form as a Servant, except reversed - the world was the illusion.

    He watched as Draco’s father picked a fight with the eldest Weasley male - and Shirou could see, as he wouldn’t have as a teenager, that it was deliberately provoked. Clearly, though, brawling hadn’t been expected - Malfoy Senior had his hand on his wand, ready to duel, not fight. Neither combatant was really built for hand-to-hand combat, much less trained, so the fight was more or less even, in Shirou’s mind . . . But it wasn’t ultimately important.

    Shirou ignored the fight in favour of the cauldron. Takara was going through the books as quickly as she could, but not quite fast enough, and then the world exploded as the fireworks went off. From then on, it was harder to keep track, but he saw one firework explode too close to Takara, causing her to accidentally hurl the diary into the air . . .

    . . . Where a second firework collided with it, blasting a new flight path that caused it to sail overhead and through an upper window.

    As the group emerged from the Pensieve, Shirou groaned, “If it ended up outside, anyone could’ve picked it up.”

    “I don’t remember seeing it - but I was headed out of the alley at the time,” Galen remarked.

    “And we weren’t looking,” Shirou grumbled. He sighed. “No choice, then, I guess - we’ll have to wait until Hallowe’en before we can find out if it’s here.”

    Neville frowned. “There’s no chance it was destroyed, is there? I mean, that firework was pretty big - ”

    Galen shook his head. “Afraid not, Neville. That thing is as Dark as it gets - and powerfully protected in the bargain. If the firework did more than ruffle its pages, I’ll be surprised.”

    “So if there’s still nothing we can do,” Shirou mused, “we may as well try the potion now.”

    The Pensieve, as if sensing it was no longer needed, vanished, leaving only an empty room. The five friends glanced at each other, and Galen said, “Hermione and Takara had better go last - they brewed it, they’ll be better prepared and equipped to handle side effects if something’s wrong. That leaves you and Neville, Shirou.”

    Shirou glanced at Neville, who responded immediately, “You first.”

    Shrugging, he took one of the empty potion vials Hermione handed him, dipped it in the cauldron, and raised the filled glass to his eyes. It looked the same - a mixture of brown, green, and gray, and smelled like a zoo. A zoo that, unfortunately, hadn’t been cleaned in a while.

    “The vials have been charmed to be unbreakable,” Hermione assured him. “You needn’t worry about dropping it.”

    “Good to know,” Shirou muttered. Bracing himself, he said, “Kampai” - and downed it in one shot.

    Then the world began to whirl away . . .

    When Shirou came to, the others were all kneeling over him, staring. He stared back, and was suddenly aware that he could count the pores on their faces. He had his Archer vision back - and judging by the size of that bowl, he was now a lot smaller.

    He opened his mouth to ask a question, but all that came out was a raucous cry.

    “It shouldn’t last more than five minutes,” Hermione said, “and probably less than that. The idea is to force the transformation, so that the witch or wizard’s body and mind can become aware of, and used to, the possibility of it. Having done it once, they can then practice to achieve it again.”

    “Anybody figure out what kind of bird he is?” Galen asked. “Aside from snowy owls, peregrine falcons, and bald eagles, most raptors are just birds to me.”

    Takara held out a book. “Golden eagle.” She glanced at Shirou critically. “Maybe half-grown, from the look of it.” She turned to Hermione. “How long have you been carting these around?”

    “Just since last week,” Hermione said, colouring. “I wanted to be sure we could identify what we became when the potion was finished. Although maybe it didn’t work - I would’ve expected Shirou to be fully grown.”

    “Well, we are still kids,” Galen pointed out. “You’d assume the forms will grow with you.” He smirked. “Then again, he is kind of a shrimp - AAH!” His arm flew up to block a suddenly-launched avian form.

    “Son of a - ! Those talons are sharp, y’know!” Galen yelled. Then he sighed. “Well, I guess that proves he’s in there. If that potion wears off in a few more minutes, it ought to be safe for the rest of you.”

    Sure enough, after a time Shirou found himself to be - himself. He launched a fierce glare in Galen’s direction.

    “The eagle glares better,” Galen informed him smugly. “And is someone sensitive about their height?”

    “Laugh it up, beanpole,” Shirou growled. “I could snap you like a twig.”

    Galen grinned. “You’d have to be able to reach the other end of me, first.”

    Hermione and Takara rolled their eyes in unison. “Boys.” Galen and Shirou gave them looks that they ignored.

    “Shall I try next?” Neville asked, obviously hoping to avert another fight by changing the subject.

    Shirou nodded. “Go ahead.”

    Neville quaffed his dose, and assumed a large ursine form.

    “Grizzly bear,” Galen murmured. “Either that, or a Kodiak. Has to be, with that size. Well, no worries now - an animal that size can definitely keep a werewolf in line . . . OK, one worry, based on a caveat: it can keep me in line, assuming that it can catch me. Bears are fast runners, but I don’t know if they’re werewolf fast.”

    The bear grunted.

    Shirou shrugged. “I can probably strafe you long enough for him to catch you, if it comes to that - and there are still the girls to reckon with. It’s part of why we decided to do this as a group, remember?”

    “Point,” Galen admitted.

    “Speaking of us girls,” Takara interrupted. She reached out to acquire her dose, and brought to her lips, nose wrinkling.

    “I really hope this tastes better than it smells,” she muttered, before downing the liquid. There was a brief instant in which her face registered that it unfortunately did not - and then she shrank in wide-eyed surprise. When the change was done, she remained wide-eyed.

    “A great horned owl,” Galen murmured, then paused. “No, sorry - it’s an eagle owl in this part of the world. Silent in flight, tends to pounce on its prey, and excellent vision in the dark.” He reached out to gently stroke the top of Takara’s head.

    “It suits you,” he admitted. “But I think between you and Shirou, I’ll have to get some falconry gear. Shoulder pads, gloves - give you two somewhere to land.”

    Takara cried out at that, and the tone, at least, was not complimentary. For his part, Neville chose that moment to resume human form, and he blinked in astonishment.

    “That was . . .” His mouth worked silently. “I was huge. I felt like I could tear Snape in two without even trying.

    “Hold onto that thought,” Galen advised. “It might come in handy.”

    Takara changed back shortly after, and she, too, blinked rapidly.

    “First it’s too bright, now it’s too dark,” she grumbled.

    “I got a little of that,” Shirou admitted. “Getting used to having eyes that sharp will take time.” Though hopefully, in my case - not much.

    Takara grinned. “But flying will be cool.

    Hermione shuddered. “I really hope I don’t turn into anything with wings.”

    Nervously, she dipped her vial in the potion, and swallowed it hurriedly.

    She blurred, brown-and-black becoming tan, then gold, and finally settling into . . .

    “Oh my,” Galen said softly. “Here, kitty kitty.”

    Shirou said in a deadpan voice, “Still have that weakness for ‘pretty kitty eyes,’ huh?”

    Takara punched his shoulder.

    Neville looked a little more afraid. “She’s a lioness?

    “Well, she is a Gryffindor,” Shirou pointed out.

    “Well, yeah - but . . . Hermione? Takara I could understand, but Hermione’s not . . .”

    “Hermione’s a lot more than most people have let her be,” Galen said quietly. “And she could be even more than that. Just like you.”

    The lioness rose from its crouch and padded over to the bespectacled wizard. As one of the truly big cats, lions were incapable of purring, but the growl coming from Hermione’s throat was reminiscent of it just the same, especially when her flank brushed against him. Of course, even a half-grown lioness outweighed Galen, and he was knocked to the ground by the gesture.

    Neville gave a cry of dismay, which he echoed louder when the lioness whirled in obvious alarm at Galen’s fall, her forepaws landing on either side of his head. The chuckles coming from the body underneath her own allowed the lioness to relax - though she sniffed at his face worriedly.

    “I’m fine,” he assured her. “Just startled, that’s all. You don’t know your own strength yet.”

    The lioness bared her teeth in a mock-growl before heaving a sigh.

    Takara looked at Neville and said in an undertone, “What’s wrong? It’s just Hermione.”

    Neville swallowed hard. “Yeah, but . . . She’s really big. And look at her teeth!”

    “The bear’s bigger,” Shirou pointed out.

    “Yeah, but I’m the bear!” He sighed. “When you guys were so small, I figured she’d be something . . . I don’t know, harmless. Not something scary, anyway.”

    Galen proved his hearing was still uncannily sharp. “That’s what she is, Nev - ‘brilliant, but scary.’”

    The lioness rubbed her face against his - gently, this time, still rumbling low in her throat.

    The potion abruptly chose that moment to wear off, and Galen suddenly found himself with Hermione lying curled up on his torso, as she was no longer big enough to straddle him as the lioness had been. Suddenly realising her new position, Hermione rolled off with a squeak, her face a furious scarlet.

    Shirou turned to Takara abruptly and said in a frantic tone, “Quick - how do I get that Pensieve back?!”
    Last edited by Kieran; March 24th, 2011 at 10:43 PM.

  17. #17
    The Jester Kieran's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    According to most, my own little world
    Age
    34
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    5,895
    Blog Entries
    156
    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 Chamber of Secrets, but I trust in the intelligence of my readers (and the availability of the books) to recognise them when they see them.



    Chapter 10 - An Unhappy Deathday



    October 27 - 31, 1992






    The next few weeks passed quickly. October proved to be cold, and damp, and brought with it the expected spate of cold and flu sufferers. Galen, thankfully, wasn’t one of them. It was one of lycanthropy’s little side effects - while he was basically as human as anyone, the curse protected him a lot of the more common ailments, for the same reason that it bolstered his healing: it wanted him to suffer as long as possible. Dying from a severe flu attack because the strain of the change had weakened his immune system did not serve that purpose, and so it was eliminated.

    It wasn’t perfect - Galen doubted he’d be immune to an Ebola virus outbreak, and he doubted it would dispel genetic ailments like certain cancers - but it was an edge he could live with, especially given how much of a hypochondriac he’d become in his later years. From the congested sounds of Shirou and Takara that morning, neither of them were so lucky - but that could be blamed on Oliver Wood’s insistence on holding Quidditch practice in the pouring rain a few days ago. Still, while it was painful to hear them, it was nice knowing that he couldn’t catch it.

    The full moon for October had passed two weeks earlier, and to his delight, all his friends had managed to achieve their transformations in the week prior to it. Access to the Room of Requirement had helped - a nice, private space where no one could see you, find you, or interfere with you was invaluable. Still, it had been fun watching them try, seeing Shirou grow talons on his feet, Takara’s hair turn into a mane of gray feathers, or Hermione’s eyes go catlike. Neville achieving a Wookie-like appearance, all dark fur, had to be the prize-winner, though.

    As he still took the Wolfsbane Potion, Galen didn’t have any different reaction to his friends in animal form - but their closeness, their scents, would no doubt help the werewolf recognise them when the time came for him to change without its influence. He realised that for the first time, as long as one or more of his friends went with him, it might actually be possible to take an extended summer vacation somewhere, rather than risk being out of reach of his prison.

    That would be cool, he admitted to himself.

    His musings were interrupted by the sudden appearance of a silvery figure.

    “Hello, Galen,” Myrtle said, a little shyly. “Are you busy?”

    Galen closed his Potions book. “For you, I can make time.”

    The silver of the ghostly girl’s face darkened, but it was true - the assignment wasn’t so arduous that he needed his full concentration, and it wasn’t due so soon that a ten or fifteen-minute break was impossible. Besides, it was rare to run into Myrtle outside her bathroom. She wasn’t always there when they visited, but wherever she roamed, they’d never come across her. That she had come looking for him . . .

    “Well . . .” Myrtle said with hesitation. “Nearly Headless Nick’s Deathday is coming up - his five hundredth. He’s throwing a party, and I wondered if you might . . . That is . . .”

    Galen smiled. “If Sir Nicholas will allow a living guest to intrude upon the festivities, Miss Myrtle, I will happily escort you. Please ask him, and see whether or not it’s to be a formal affair - I would hate to be underdressed.”

    Myrtle’s eyes widened. “Really?

    “Considering what we’ve asked of you, Miss Myrtle, it seems a small thing to give in return. And between you and Sir Nicholas, I can be assured of pleasant company.”

    Her blush was incandescent now - literally. “I’ll ask him right now!” She shot away through the wall, giggling madly.

    Galen shook his head. He was aware that Myrtle could be childish, spiteful, and prone to tantrums - but considering the circumstances of her life and death, it was understandable. And a little kindness, in that light, was so little to ask for . . .

    It was then that he remembered that Sir Nicholas’ Deathday was on Hallowe’en - the eve of the first basilisk attack.

    In the words of the immortal Captain Jack Sparrow - “Oh bugger.”






    “You’re going on a date with Moaning Myrtle?!” Ginny Weasley said in stunned disbelief at the lunch table.

    “I’m a little young to date,” Galen drawled. “But I’m escorting her, yes. Sir Nicholas was kind enough to agree.”

    “A date,” the redhead repeated flatly. “With Moaning Myrtle. Are you mental?

    “Yes,” said Galen and Shirou simultaneously - though in the latter case, his smirk was cut off by a series of sudden coughs.

    Ginny’s eyes widened at the response, before turning to Shirou with sudden sympathy. She passed him a goblet full of hot tea, which he gratefully drank.

    Galen leaned over and whispered to her. “Don’t let your brothers know you fancy him - he’s not well enough to fight them all off, and I’ll have to.” Then he considered that the one most likely to raise a fuss was Ron, and added, “On second thought, do.

    Ginny drew back sharply with a wide-eyed look and a blush.

    Hermione glanced at Shirou worriedly. “Maybe you ought to do what Takara did, and go to Madam Pomfrey - Pepperup Potion can cure that quite quickly. Of course,” Hermione added, “she went right to bed to recover from the aftereffects.”

    Shirou nodded mutely. “Not a bad idea.” He rose unsteadily, and began walking out of the hall. Ginny glanced at everybody, and said, “I’m going to make sure he gets back to the Hospital Wing.” With that, she rose and left.

    Neville stared after her. “If she wasn’t so young, I’d say she fancies him.”

    “She’s old enough,” Hermione said primly. “She’s just too young to really do anything about it.”

    “So the bounds of decency and good taste would have you hope for, anyway,” Galen muttered under his breath. Not really wanting to debate it, given Hermione’s proximity, he turned to Luna. “Did you owl your dad about the party?”

    “Oh yes,” Luna said excitedly. “Daddy was ever so pleased - the Quibbler will be the first newspaper to ever have a story like this.”

    Hermione’s eyes widened. “Luna is going?”

    “And Colin Creevey,” Galen said. “I convinced Sir Nicholas to allow them to do a feature on his Deathday party - so, a writer and a photographer. It’ll look good on their resumés to have a published news article, and Sir Nicholas will get some publicity and a commemorative copy, which will make him look good in the spectral community - including the Headless Hunt, who have snubbed him again this year.” He shrugged. “Besides, we’re Gryffindors, and he’s the Gryffindor ghost. Why shouldn’t we celebrate and support him?”

    Neville shook his head. “I really don’t understand you.”

    “Oh?” Galen asked.

    Neville shrugged. “You are the scariest person I have ever met. Two of the coolest people I know usually do what you tell them to, without even blinking. You get a look in your eyes sometimes like you’re measuring someone for a coffin - like killing them means nothing to you. You treat mountain trolls and three-headed dogs like garden gnomes, and even Professor Snape walks around you carefully, like he’s afraid to provoke you.”

    Neville looked at him steadily. “And every time somebody’s in trouble, you’re right there between them and it. You insist on mundanes being given as much consideration as wizards, and you treat ghosts like they’re living people, even flatter them, because you think it’s the right thing to do.” He shook his head. “I don’t understand how you can be two different people - and such different people - at the same time.”

    “I could be schizophrenic, hypocritical, or just a very good actor,” Galen replied.

    Neville shook his head. “I don’t think you are. I just don’t how to explain it.”

    Hermione glanced at Galen, who shrugged and said, “I’m complicated.”

    Neville laughed. “No kidding!”

    “In the case of ghosts,” Galen said, “let’s just say I’m not without sympathy for their condition. It can be a terrible thing, to be a spirit. Not fully dead, but not truly alive, bound to the earth but unable to affect it. A forced observer of events, as the world moves on without you, taking everything you knew with it, in time.”

    Not so dissimilar from my original life, he mused.

    “A little kindness, a little respect,” he continued. “These aren’t a lot to ask for - and it’s almost all they can appreciate any more.”

    “You sound as though you’re speaking from personal experience,” Luna said curiously, her large eyes peering at him.

    Galen closed his eyes, and remembered falling, fire, and then darkness. He remembered the light which had followed it, and the voice, saying that he could still make a difference, if he would agree to perform just one service . . .

    “Close enough,” he said wearily.






    To Takara’s extreme annoyance, her ears released wisps of smoke for the better part of an hour after consuming a Pepperup Potion. She could’ve lived with that, except that between the weather and other students, she continually caught the same cold, requiring repeated doses. She felt like an incense burner by the end of the week. By the time Hallowe’en rolled around, however, it seemed as though the virus was finally dying out around the castle, meaning no more trips to the Hospital Wing.

    Just in time for the snake, she thought. If things went to the usual plot, it would happen tonight, near the end of the feast - and catch the caretaker’s cat. Much as she liked cats, Takara didn’t feel much sympathy for this one, although she supposed it gave the vile caretaker a more human touch, that he could be so distraught over her.

    Takara toyed with the idea of borrowing the invisibility cloak and staking out the bathroom while Galen was at Sir Nick’s party. With luck, she could catch whoever had the diary when they opened the Chamber (if there was such a person), and steal it from them. On the other hand, while the cloak might protect her from the basilisk’s killing gaze (could it truly meet her eyes if she was invisible?), there was no guarantee of it - and the least she could expect would be petrification. Not really fancying the idea of being trapped in her own body for months, assuming anyone even found her under the cloak, Takara decided all she could safely do was wait. Instead, she prepared herself for the feast - and the confirmation as to whether or not they’d have problems this year.

    It felt strange, going to this without Galen. Oh, they’d had meals and such without him before - he generally missed breakfast, and often lunch, the day after the full moon - but it was the first time she could remember him being off doing something without them since they’d started at Hogwarts. Even when she was playing Quidditch, he was in the stands.

    Hermione was somewhat more anxious about it, though, and the amusement that generated kept Takara from dwelling on it too much.

    “You should switch forms,” Takara informed her. “Then you can lash your tail - it’s the only thing missing.”

    Hermione glared. “I can’t help it! Galen’s going to be alone, in a room full of strange ghosts, with only Luna and Myrtle to look out for him!”

    “Don’t forget Sir Nick and Colin Creevey,” Takara pointed out with a grin.

    “Neither of whom inspire confidence, either! Peeves is an annoyance, but ghosts like the Bloody Baron are dangerous! What if he runs into one - or more than one?”

    “Do you really think he can’t protect himself?” Takara said, before taking in Hermione’s expression and guessing, “Or are you more afraid of who he might have to protect himself from? Jealous of Luna and Myrtle, maybe?”

    Hermione slumped. “A little. Myrtle’s the obsessive type, you can’t deny it - and he still dotes on Luna.”

    “The same way he dotes on Miranda,” Takara pointed out. “He’s been better about that, since you got upset. He adores Luna, but he’s not looking to date her.”

    “I guess,” Hermione sighed. “It’s just . . .”

    “He’s your first friend,” Takara said softly. “Your best friend. You miss him when he’s not around, there’s nothing in the world like seeing him again - and you’re afraid to lose him.”

    Hermione nodded. “I was really hoping to enjoy a Hallowe’en feast at Hogwarts with all my friends - you know, as opposed to last year.”

    “A bad Hallowe’en seems to be a tradition at Hogwarts,” Takara sighed. “We’d better get used to them. In the meantime, most of your friends will be happy to eat with you. Shall we go?”

    “Let’s,” Hermione said.






    The Great Hall was a definite sight. The jack-o’-lanterns were almost the size of a dining booth, glowing lambently. Live bats flapped in circles across the ceiling, casting ominous shadows. Much of the food was orange, black, or red - including pumpkin-flavoured ice cream topped with dark chocolate sauce. Entertainment was provided by a troupe of dancing skeletons, of all things. Takara wondered whether they’d used necromancy, or some kind of spell to make dancers appear skeletal, like a lesser version of the invisibility cloak.

    She was quite sure that, either way, Colin Creevey would’ve been snapping photos - and trying to get her into them. There was no way that he wouldn’t have, given the spectacle. Takara was just as glad, then, that Galen had roped him into going with him, instead.

    I owe him something extra nice for his birthday, she reminded herself. The chance to enjoy a party like this without having to dodge photo flashes was worth more than Galleons, especially since it was unlikely they were doing the same.

    His description of the party - a freezing dungeon, rotten food . . .Ugh! Not exactly a pleasant setting. Hopefully, they won’t be long.

    Hermione was quieter than usual, Takara noted, but Ginny Weasley was making headway on getting her to open up. The two girls had Luna in common, if nothing else, and Hermione was intrigued to hear stories of what the little blonde had been like as a child. Ginny, for her part, seemed fascinated by Hermione’s description of her own home life - mundane instead of magical, and with only one sibling - and that one younger and female, to boot!

    Neville was chiming in now and again, too, adding details of what he’d seen of the mundane world over the summer, or explaining facets of magical life to Hermione.

    Shirou, on the other hand, was almost grim. Of course, it wasn’t hard to guess why.

    “How much longer, do you think?” he murmured in Japanese.

    “End of the feast,” Takara answered in the same language. “We’ll spot it as we’re let out.”

    Shirou resumed brooding throughout the meal. He wasn’t unfriendly to anyone that engaged him in conversation, but his mind was clearly elsewhere.

    Hermione leaned over to Takara. “I miss Galen, but Shirou shouldn’t feel the need to imitate him for me.”

    Takara couldn’t help it - she giggled.

    Finally, the Hallowe’en Feast was declared over, and the students were gathered up to return to their dormitories. Takara unconsciously held her breath - this was it. The proof of whether or not this year was going to be a major problem.

    Here we go.






    Shirou had been prepared for this for weeks. In some senses, this was easier for him than for Takara or Galen, neither of whom were really warriors. Oh, they fought well enough, and had been through some major battles - and there were few people he’d trust or want at his back more. But they lacked the years of honing themselves for the fight, in fights, that he had, and the skills that came with them. Foremost among those was patience. It was a sniper’s greatest tool - the ability to wait, until the critical moment presented itself.

    By the end of the night, he would know whether or not a battle was coming. He knew that, and could wait for it. It wasn’t what troubled him. No, what troubled him was what would happen after that confirmation, embodied in a single question: Should he tell Kiritsugu?

    If he did, there was every possibility the Aurors would get involved. It would surely have repercussions that would invalidate what his friends knew of the timeline, and almost certainly make their efforts to stop or counter them impossible. It would be very difficult to sneak around the castle when it was swarming with Dark wizard hunters on high alert. And even then, there was no guarantee that the Aurors would be able to stop it - that they would be able to find anything, or that they might not make it worse.

    But he’d promised Kiritsugu - and promises were as important to him as they were to Galen. And that was perhaps the worst thing, that neither of them would likely be angry about it if he did tell. Galen wouldn’t necessarily like it, but he’d understand, and if Takara didn’t for some reason, Shirou felt confident that the two of them could convince her.

    But what if it made things worse?

    Galen was hoping the Chamber wouldn’t be opened because he was apparently afraid of snakes. Takara was hoping the Chamber wouldn’t be opened because she wanted a nice, normal school year. He agreed with their hopes, for his own reason - that it wouldn’t force him to make the choice.

    But as he walked out of the Great Hall with the rest of the student body, he was quickly shown that his hopes were in vain. Clearly visible, in foot-high letters of blood, a message was visible on the wall, glistening in the torchlight:


    THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS HAS BEEN OPENED.
    ENEMIES OF THE HEIR, BEWARE.



    From one of the torch brackets hung the limp form of a cat - the caretaker’s cat. Shirou studied it, and his eyes narrowed. If the cat was magically petrified, it shouldn’t be limp . . .

    The cat wasn’t petrified, he realised. It was dead.

    “Enemies of the Heir, beware!” he heard Malfoy crow suddenly. “You’ll be next, Mudbloods!”






    They emerged from the Pensieve provided by the Room of Requirement not a full hour later, after reviewing that very scene. “They,” in this case, meant Shirou, Takara, Galen and Hermione - Neville wasn’t yet in on enough to have useful ideas.

    “The cat wasn’t petrified,” Shirou said. “It was dead. What changed?”

    Galen closed his eyes, no doubt reviewing the scene. Then he cursed, “My fault.”

    The other three stared at him.

    “There was no water on the floor,” Galen explained. “Nothing to catch its reflection in. So Mrs. Norris got the full thing, and it killed her.”

    Takara blinked. “And that’s your fault because - ?”

    “There was no water because Myrtle hadn’t flooded the bathroom,” Galen explained. “She was in too good a mood to throw a tantrum.”

    Hermione did her best to sound casual. “Oh?”

    Galen shrugged. “After fifty years of ridicule, even a little attention goes a long way. And as her escort, I was obliged to at least try to make sure she enjoyed herself.” He sighed. “I didn’t expect it would cost Mrs. Norris her life.”

    “Feel guilty later,” Shirou said brusquely. “Does this change anything?”

    Galen’s eyes unfocussed as he went through every possibility he could think of. Finally, he shook his head. “I don’t think so, beyond an increase in tension. It was just a cat, after all. As long as nothing interferes with the petrifactions after this, it should still follow what we know.”

    “That doesn’t eliminate all our problems,” Shirou sighed. He explained about his conversation with Kiritsugu. “He’s already suspicious - if I don’t bring him in on this . . .”

    To his surprise, however, Galen immediately said, “Call him in.”

    Shirou blinked. “Are you sure?”

    “Look, the killing shows signs of advanced Dark magic - which means they’ve got probable cause to investigate. If they investigate, they might find the Chamber, and be able to deal with the giant killer snake so we don’t have to. At the very least, an actual investigation might turn up enough evidence to keep Minister Fudge from hauling Hagrid off to Azkaban ‘to be seen doing something.’”

    “Hagrid?” Hermione repeated.

    “Long story, fill you in after,” Galen promised. He turned back to Shirou. “There’s a legitimate concern, you gave your word. More to the point, it’s stupid to say we’re going to try and change the timeline for the better, and then not make the attempt when we have a chance to. By all means, call him in.”

    Shirou still hesitated. “You realise they could close Hogwarts down - ship us off to other schools.”

    Hermione paled.

    “If it’s not safe here, then I would be disappointed if they don’t,” Galen said. Then he grinned. “Besides, Ilya made me promise to fight Voldemort and his evil whenever possible - but she never said I had to do it from here. Now go on, write your father.”

    “I’ll get my parents in on this, too,” Takara said. The two took off at a quick but stealthy pace, as they were out of bed after hours.

    Hermione stared at him. “You’d really let Hogwarts be closed down?”

    “If the alternative is to see somebody killed by keeping it open, yes,” Galen said. “I’ll burn it down myself, first.”

    “But . . . What happens then?”

    “There are other schools of magic in Europe, Hermione. You could just transfer to one of them - or, since home-schooling is an option in the magical world, see if Shirou’s parents will hire tutors. They probably would - I don’t see Shirou willingly going to his sister’s school.”

    “And you?” Hermione asked.

    He shrugged. “I’m only at Hogwarts because Wolfsbane Potion is readily available here. Magical Britain isn’t that hospitable to werewolves, so I’d probably either forget about magic altogether and live mundane, or leave the country and start over. Depends on what my parents want to - OOOF!”

    In retrospect, he probably should have seen a Hermione Tackle Hug coming. Fortunately, the Room was quick enough to provide cushioning to land on.

    “I don’t want you to go,” came her sobbing voice, somewhat muffled by his body.

    Galen fell into his standard response to soothing crying girls: embrace tightly and stroke hair. Keep your voice quiet and warm until crying ceases.

    “It’s a worst-case scenario, Hermione. It might not happen. We could always get lucky, and the Auror investigation will turn up what needs to be found. It’s not a certainty, it’s just a case of, ‘if this happens, then this.’”

    Hermione looked up at him, her teary eyes suddenly blazing. “Then we need to plan, don’t we? We need to find a way to show the Aurors exactly what they need to see.”
    Last edited by Kieran; March 24th, 2011 at 10:40 PM.

  18. #18
    The Jester Kieran's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    According to most, my own little world
    Age
    34
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    5,895
    Blog Entries
    156
    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 Chamber of Secrets, but I trust in the intelligence of my readers (and the availability of the books) to recognise them when they see them.



    Chapter 11 - A History Lesson



    November 1, 1992






    The day that followed the opening of the Chamber were was tense. Filch patrolled the spot of his cat’s death incessantly, as though hoping he’d catch the culprit returning to the scene of the crime. Students speculated in hushed whispers about Mrs. Norris’ fate, and the nature of the Chamber. Shirou and Takara grimly awaited the results of their letters home, while Hermione tackled the library voraciously, bemoaning her inability to bring her own copy of Hogwarts: A History to school because she’d needed room for her Lockhart books. Apparently, the rest of the student body had decided to snap up all the library’s copies before she could get to them.

    While there wasn’t any way to research the legend of the Chamber, or speed up responses from their parents, Takara decided that there was something she could do to take one mystery off her mind.

    “Berserker,” she said to Galen, mid-Sunday morning. They were in the library, helping Hermione run down references.

    Galen blinked. “I beg your pardon?”

    “You beat Berserker, in the Grail War,” Takara said. “Mother couldn’t do it - Saber couldn’t do it - but you did. I want to know how.”

    “A year and more since, and you’re only asking now?”

    “We didn’t have access to a Pensieve before now,” Takara said. “I want to see that fight.”

    “Me, too, come to think of it,” Shirou said, emerging from the stacks. “I fully expected him to kill you, you know. It should’ve been easy.”

    Galen considered, then shrugged. “I suppose there’s no harm. Let me just tell Hermione where we’re going.”

    Takara wasn’t sure that was a good idea, and was proven right when the bushy-haired girl followed him out of the stacks.

    “Hermione, it’s OK - we’ll only be about fifteen, maybe twenty minutes,” Galen was saying.

    Hermione was adamant. “If you’re reviewing memories, I want to see it. Maybe I can help.”

    “It’s nothing to do with the Chamber - it’s just something they missed out on.”

    “I want to see it,” she repeated. Hermione turned a look on him, and Takara knew it was over. Hermione had somehow managed to mix her own brand of steely determination with the Mystic Eyes of the Sad Puppy. Galen didn’t stand a chance. And from the way his shoulders slumped as he sighed, he knew it, too.

    They trudged up to the Room of Requirement, with Takara shooting This is a bad idea looks at Galen, and his expression all but shouting, I’m open to better suggestions.

    As before, the Room opened up to display a Pensieve, and Galen dropped memory threads in the stone basin.

    “I’ve seen the show before,” he murmured dryly. “I’ll wait.”

    Takara nodded, exchanged a glance with Shirou, and dove in . . .






    The three students stood atop a tower composed of stone slabs - a tower of black, red-veined marble. Dark clouds hung in the sky overhead, and what little breeze there was wafted over them like the chill of the grave. On the far side of them, across the tower’s breadth, stood a tall, ominous figure in black armour.

    “Berserker,” Takara whispered, as the memory of the Servant’s power, his seeming invincibility, returned to the forefront of her mind.

    Hermione blinked. “Who?”

    “Someone Galen killed,” Shirou said. “Even though he was supposed to be impossible for anyone to kill.”

    “Galen - killed someone?” Hermione repeated. “When? How?”

    “The ‘how’ is what we’re here to find out,” Shirou answered. “As for when? Right about . . . Now.

    The crimson veins of the marble stones glowed with a sudden, ominous light. The air above that light rippled, seeming to gather wisps of the dark clouds from the air, and shape them into a human form. Finally, the mist seemed to blow away, revealing a human figure in a forest-green cloak, a sword at his hip.

    “Pretending to be Lancer again,” Takara murmured.

    “I guess he hoped I hadn’t told everyone who and what he really was,” Shirou remarked.

    Hermione opened her mouth, no doubt to ask another question, when the armoured figure sighed abruptly, and spoke in a low, rolling voice.

    “So - instead of a worthy opponent, I am forced to deal with you. How unpleasant.”

    “For you, it will be,” Lancer’s usual growl was laced with enough venom to make a cobra envious.

    “Bah! I do not wish to sully my hands on such as you when such a warrior as the woman knight is available! I will leave you to my pets - TAKE HIM!”

    Snarling wolves sprang from the shadows, of an unusual size for their breed. Lancer snarled in turn, with all the anger at his command, and the pack immediately became docile. Berserker stormed forward five yards, banishing the wolves with a gesture.

    “Stop wasting my time and DIE!” Bats plunged out the clear sky in a screeching cloud that would have obscured the sun, much less the moon. They descended on him like a plague of locusts - and were immediately descended upon by a silent horde of owls, seeking the treat of flying mice that their summoner had promised them.

    Berserker advanced again, trembling with fury. “How dare you mock me? Storm, rise!

    A tempest sprang from nowhere, equal to a hurricane in force, yet its howling winds seemed to have no effect at all upon the cloaked warrior. Lightning flashed, and impossibly, missed. With a gesture, Lancer caused the storm to vanish, revealing the clear, bright moon once more.

    “My turn!” the druid snarled, drawing his blade in mid-lunge, moving at inhuman speed as he brought the wicked edge of the sword to bear on the weak point in the black knight’s neck armour . . . And as though his enemy was moving in slow motion, Berserker drew his sword, slamming the hilt forward towards the other’s face.

    Lancer exploded as though made of glass, fragments of his body dissolving into wisps of smoke. The back of Galen’s skull impacted the tower floor some fifteen feet away, and Hermione screamed, recognising the face of the man who lay at the point of impact, wasted though he was.

    Takara turned to Shirou. “So he knew.”

    “They all knew. I intended to win, Takara - any way I had to. As long as Galen could keep surprising him, he could fend him off - but in a direct, physical confrontation . . .”

    For his part, Berserker sneeringly ignored the blood dripping from the pommel of his sword. Even this much of the fool was unfit to be worthy of his attention.

    “Arrogant worm - you attempt to make me break my vow? I will not sully my hands with your destruction - you are not worth it! You are a pretender, a snivelling stripling who deludes himself as the equal of legends, when even the merest of us could slay you in the blink of an eye - and Dracula is far from ‘mere.’ To face you is an insult to my power, and I will not debase myself by personally meeting you in combat.” He spat, blood-tainted spittle impacting the stone beneath.

    “Fortunately, I have many means at my disposal. If beasts cannot slay you, nor the elements, there remains the dead. Come forth, my armies!”

    Black stone cracked, erupting into the air, as pale, ragged arms clawed at the sky. From beneath they emerged, the walking, rotting dead, eyes gleaming with crimson hunger. First in pairs, then quartets. Then tens. Then scores. In minutes, thousands of ghouls - possibly all those Vlad the Impaler had slain in his lifetime - seemed to be standing around him. And they were undeniably dead, they nonetheless walked. And they were hungry.

    “Inferi,” Hermione whispered with horror.

    “Kill him,” their lord commanded.

    To his credit, he tried to resist. Despite being outnumbered by more than he could reasonably count at a glance, and having the physique of a scarecrow, he nonetheless made a game effort to deal with his attackers. He ducked, dodged, went for vital points, tried to turn them on each other. In short, he used any and all tactics he could think of to try to buy himself even a few more seconds of life.

    What he got was one second. More specifically, a fraction of one. Quantity has a quality all its own, and it was more than enough to outdo anything and everything the Servant could manage. The tide of undead swarmed him, and he could do nothing. Bony hands clamped on his limbs, even as he thrashed in resistance, and he was literally buried under bodies, and the armoured man literally hovered into view, hanging in the air above the mountain of flesh.

    Insolent fool!” cried the watcher. “You still attempt to master my will with your feeble mind? You can never be my equal! I am Vlad, called Tepes, Prince of Wallachia! I am the Lord of the Undead! The King of the Night! A spirit so powerful that I was given immortality by the earth itself!”

    Hermione whirled on Takara. “I thought you said he won!

    “He did!” she protested.

    This is winning?!”

    A sudden, literal splash of red caught their attention - arterial blood spraying into the air. And the world suddenly went black . . . Then white . . .

    Abruptly, the three of them were standing on gray concrete, at the heart of a maze of alleys. Faint stars shimmered in the sky, but weren’t bright enough to diminish the blackness. A blue-white crescent moon illuminated the piles of scattered autumn leaves on the ground, and the shimmer of frost that coated everything, casting odd shadows in the cold, clear, but undeniably dark night.

    “Thank you.” The voice echoed through the alleys, coming from everywhere and nowhere - but it was unmistakably Galen’s. “I had forgotten how weak you truly were.”

    The armoured man didn’t like hearing that, as he began to tremble with rage.

    “WEAK?” he bellowed. “WEAK?! How dare you - come forth, my armies, and make him crawl before he dies!”

    Silence and emptiness were the only responses, followed by a weak chuckle, threaded with malevolence.

    “These are my mean streets - and your Romero rejects don’t belong on them.” A shadow shifted, some twenty feet away, and Galen’s form detached from it to face his opponent. He was whole once more, and his eyes gleamed with a malicious confidence.

    “Of course, even if you had them, I would still kill you.”

    The armoured man drew his sword. “I will not tolerate such insults from a lowly - “

    None of the observers saw him move - they couldn’t. Galen was just suddenly there, and his casual backhand drove the armoured warrior through a Dumpster to impact the wall behind it. Almost immediately, however, the offending garbage container was hurled into the air, to land on a low roof above them. The armoured man stood, and his body contorted, darkening with rage and power, even as his words increased in timbre and volume, until they filled the alley with a force not unlike the Voice of God. His body doubled, then trebled in mass, becoming batlike and undeniably demonic, and as he changed, before rage consumed his human mind completely, the Servant bellowed a challenge.

    “I AM DRACULA! WHAT ARE YOU, MORTAL, THAT YOU DARE TO STAND AGAINST ME?!”

    The transformation complete, the man-bat creature that had been the black knight managed to find enough mental strength to repeat its demand.

    “WHAT ARE YOU?!”

    Hermione screamed at the sight and sound, and Takara shivered. As terrifying as the Servants she’d fought had been, they’d all looked human. This thing wasn’t. It was a creature of nightmares, the kind of monster conjured by the word “demon.”

    Galen answered in a voice that was human only, and so soft that few humans would be able to hear it clearly. Nonetheless, it rang throughout the alleys with a hardness, a conviction, that rivalled diamond. It was a voice they all recognised - his killing voice.

    “Real.”

    The bat-thing lunged at him, but Galen was ready. The pair spent several seconds trading brutal blows - there was no finesse or skill about their technique. It was about causing pain to the enemy, nothing more. Bones broke, flesh tore, and organs were crushed. Blood spilled on both sides - but their bodies repaired themselves nearly as quickly as they were broken, leaving neither the victor.

    Hermione stared. “How is he doing this? It must outweigh him by a factor of four, at least!”

    Shirou answered grimly. “He’s as strong as he believes himself to be - and right now, he thinks of himself as being realer than his enemy. And if nothing the creature can do to him is real, then he can win.”

    The monster’s body slammed abruptly into the asphalt street, returning their attention to the fight. Galen had it pinned momentarily by his weight, and was holding the creature’s head in his hands, pressing with all his might, trying to pop the bat-thing’s skull like a balloon.

    Scream, damn you!” he roared. “SCREAM!!”

    The bat-thing slapped its wings up, boxing Galen’s ears hard enough that they heard his skull crack, then pushing off the ground to heave the injured man off before taking to the sky. The creature screamed, and the force of the sound drove Galen to his knees. The alleyways shattered, revealing the roof of the obsidian tower - and the storm Berserker summoned to rage above it. The three students covered their ears in agony - even outside the physical reality of the memory, its sheer strength was agonising. Galen had it worse. He was driven to his knees with the force of the howl, audible even over the thunder, his ears bleeding from the pain - and still it came. The monster screamed across the raging tempest, untiring, eternal, and Galen writhed in torment.

    Suddenly, he stilled, and a pair of guns snapped into his hands, one stainless steel, with a smiling face imprinted on it, the other matte-black, with a frowning one. He let loose a fusillade of bullets, which hurtled through the sound waves as though they didn’t exist, and ripped through their target like wet tissue paper. In seconds, the bat-thing had exploded into a bloody mist, raining down with the now-dissipating storm.

    Galen slowly began to rise, visibly gathering the strength left to him, dropping the gun in his left hand to push himself slowly, shakily, upwards. Slowly, casually, he walked to the bloody stain that was collecting on the ground, which began dissolving into mist as he watched, and then past it.

    Hermione stared at the scene, then turned to her companions. “Are you going to tell me what this was all about?”

    Takara opened her mouth to answer, but was distracted by Shirou’s muttering, “I can’t believe it was that easy.”

    The storm clouds faded from view, revealing the clear night. Under the renewed moonlight, the mist coagulated into the armoured form of the warrior once more, silently gliding forward, hands poised to rip the head from Galen’s shoulders . . .

    Takara only saw it because she was watching for Galen - a length of wood slipping into his left hand. It wasn’t until he thrust it up and back without even a glance, and Berserker staggered away, that she realised what it was: the wooden blade she’d inadvertently used to summon him in the first place. He’d brought it with him, knowing even then he might need to use it.

    Galen whirled, and slammed the muzzle of his stainless steel gun against Berserker’s throat before pulling the trigger. Dropping the gun to steady the falling body, his empty hand snapped up to catch the flying head.

    Gripping both pieces tightly, he tensed, then roared, “BUUUUURRRRNNN!!

    The air swirled in heat shimmers around his hands, before the remnants of Berserker ignited into blue-orange flames. They were consumed to ash in a heartbeat, even as Galen’s own skin began to blacken. The sheer heat swirled upwards, lifting the ashes above and beyond, across the night.

    That’s - how you kill . . . A Romanian vampire!” he rasped. “Never -.mess with a - monster otaku . . .

    Galen’s eyes were watering. His limbs were trembling. His hands had been burned almost to the bone, and he sank to his knees again, this time in weariness.

    Shirou’s tone was impressed. “He used the illusion against itself. Since it acted like a traditional vampire, he destroyed it like one - and so it was destroyed.”

    Neither of the girls answered. Their eyes were locked on Galen. Takara found it a little strange, to be seeing his original self again after so long - she could only imagine what it was like for Hermione, to see him like this, not merely older, but so painfully gaunt and malformed. And clearly, used up. In addition to the blackened ruins of his hands, his skin was an unhealthy gray tone, exhaustion plain with every breath. But there was something else, too - an expression even Takara had never seen on his face: satisfaction.

    She understood. He’d won his victory, and even if it cost him his life, he’d done his best. He could trust Saber to care for her father’s health - and he’d managed to eliminate a major threat to their well-being. As she watched, the gray pallor of his skin softened, grew pale and bright, as he began to dissolve into light . . .

    A sudden crimson flash erupted from his core, reaching out to encircle his fading being, granting it renewed solidity before he vanished altogether.

    Takara gazed at the remains of the mark on her hand - his mark - and murmured, “Avenger, come to me.”

    Then the world was whirling away, as the trio was ejected from the Pensieve . . .






    Shirou thought, for a brief moment, that Hermione could give Takara a run for her money in terms of reflexes, given the speed with which she whirled on them, demanding, “WHAT WAS THAT?!”

    The look in her eyes reinforced Galen’s description of her, weeks earlier: “Brilliant, but scary.” He wasn’t entirely sure that her pupils weren’t catlike. He saw Galen out of the corner of his eye, leaning against the wall and smirking, his chest shaking silently. The look on his face was as plain as spoken words: See how you like dealing with her.

    Takara’s voice, uncharacteristically quiet, interrupted his fuming anger. “You’ve never asked about the scars on my hands, Hermione.”

    Hermione blinked in obvious confusion. “What does that have to do with anything? You said they were . . .” The light dawned on her face. “They’re not from kenjutsu practice, are they?”

    “No,” Takara said simply. “In our timeline . . . My father was sick. Dying, in fact, and my mother didn’t seem to care. I entered a ritual - a tournament, almost - where the winner could be granted a wish, any wish, in order to see him healed. The tournament was participated in by witches and wizards, who used the spirits of ancient warriors to fight. The strength of the losing spirits would empower the ritual. And every witch and wizard was branded with a mark, to show their mastery over a spirit.”

    “That can’t be legal,” Hermione said.

    “Times were different, by then,” Takara said simply, proving that she could use half-truths as well as he or Galen. “By then, I wouldn’t have cared, anyway - I was desperate. And my desperation called to a particular spirit, one that would do anything he could, to help me.”

    It was a sign of how well she knew him that Hermione automatically turned to glance at Galen.

    Takara continued, “And he swore an oath to me - ”

    “In blood,” Hermione finished, understanding. “That’s what Ilya meant.”

    Takara nodded. “We fought a number of battles, and in time I acquired a second spirit from my mentor in magic. When I got my wish, it rewrote my family’s history so that my father’s illness didn’t happen - so that it never could. And because I was still connected to them, it brought them with me. And we’re the only ones who’ll ever remember that.”

    “Except Ilya does, doesn’t she?” Hermione said. “She knew about the oath.”

    Shirou chose to answer that one himself. “Because she was my master, in the original history.”

    A lie, but true in its way. All that Emiya Shirou had ever done was try to save her, in any version of history he’d lived or encountered him, upon learning of her existence. Saber might be his inspiration, Sakura his love, and Rin his companion - or the other way around, depending on the timeline - but Ilya was his last tie to Kiritsugu in addition to being the Einzbern heir. It made her simultaneously the only family Emiya Shirou had left in the world, an innocent victim, and the Grail, as well. In a very real sense, Ilyasviel von Einzbern had always been the true master of his fate.

    Hermione accepted his statement at face value, glancing between the two boys. “But you’re not dead - and you” - she looked at Galen - “you look - better.”

    “My original condition was replaced with lycanthropy,” Galen said quietly. “So I have an entirely different set of problems. In many ways, though, it’s an improvement - even if going through puberty again is going to be a pain in the ass.”

    Hermione scowled at him. “I’ve let your language slide for far too long.”

    He shrugged. “If you can break me of the habit, please do. I never wanted to pick it up in the first place.”

    Hermione’s eyes gleamed wickedly. “Challenge accepted.”

    Shirou interrupted. “So, now you know the hows and whys of our arrival, in a nutshell. Is there anything else?”

    Hermione obviously considered the question, then shook her head. “We’d best get back to the library. I’m still hoping we can find something on the Chamber of Secrets . . .” She trailed off as she looked at them. “Since you know what’s in it, can I assume that you also know where it is?”

    Shirou nodded. “We just can’t get in.”

    Hermione flushed angrily. “And you’ve let me ransack the library all morning, desperately trying to find information, without telling me?

    “Because there’s no knowing how what you learn by trying to find this might help us later,” Galen said. “What if you don’t research a particular topic, because we already know the answer, but something you found along the way originally proves vital down the road? It doesn’t hurt to look, even if there isn’t as much urgency to it.”

    Hermione grumbled. “All right, then - back to the library it is.”

    Neville met them on the stairs. “There you are! It’s time for lunch!”

    Hermione looked even more disgruntled at this, but followed them down to the Great Hall for food. In mid-meal, the owl post arrived - including letters for Shirou and Takara, from their parents.

    “That was fast,” Galen commented. “I’d have thought it would take more time - that they’d be busy, if nothing else.”

    “‘Dark magic’ and ‘murder’ are magic words all their own,” Takara said dryly. She looked up at Shirou. “Does yours say the same thing mine does?”

    Shirou finished scanning his letter, and sighed.

    “Dad says thanks for the information, but as it doesn’t involve his own child, he can’t personally investigate - and until an actual student is harmed, the British Aurors aren’t likely to make an effort. And by law, he has to let the local establishment have priority, unless it poses a clear threat to someone or something within ICW jurisdiction. In the meantime, keep my head down and my eyes open, and report anything substantial immediately.”

    Takara nodded. “That’s pretty much it. Essentially, until a real person is harmed with Dark magic, there’s no legal basis to raise an alarm. They assume it was Dark magic used on Mrs. Norris, but there’s no actual proof. We’ll have to wait until it attacks again.”

    “Then, assuming the schedule’s still accurate, we have a week,” Galen said grimly.

    Shirou’s tone was equally grim as he responded, “Of course, the way things have gone so far, why should we be so lucky?”

    No one had an answer to that.
    Last edited by Kieran; January 11th, 2013 at 10:24 PM.

  19. #19
    The Jester Kieran's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    According to most, my own little world
    Age
    34
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    5,895
    Blog Entries
    156
    Chapter 12 - On Their Own



    November 2 - 8, 1992






    The rest of the week passed in something of a blur. Knowing the attack was due to happen had them on edge, and wishing it would hurry up so they could either try to stop it, or report it and get the Aurors in. On the other hand, they needed time to plot, and plan, so the wish that it would get put off was equally strong.

    As directed, Hermione asked the question in History of Magic that got Professor Binns explaining the legend of the Chamber of Secrets. Not that any of them needed it, per se, but the information needed to be out in the school for some of the later events to occur, and there was always the possibility that Galen had forgotten something. His recall was good, when it came to book text - with his Occlumency, it was verbatim almost every time - but he’d managed to overlook things before, so the refresher was worthwhile.

    One of the things he’d missed was how Hermione had managed to get her hands on a copy of Most Potente Potions last year (the source of the Animagus potion), when it was a book housed in the Restricted Section of the library. When he asked, she blushed and admitted she’d snuck a look at it when one of the older students had accidentally left it in the common room. However, as they needed it again, it was necessary to convince a teacher to give them a pass to the Restricted Section. Enter Gilderoy Lockhart, who was all too pleased to help “the best student of the year.” He signed the pass with nary a glance - they had more trouble getting Hermione to release it to Madam Pince.

    “Just win the essay contest, Hermione,” Galen murmured in her ear. “Then you’ll have a book with his signature on it - and he might even personalise it for you.”

    That did the trick. Madam Pince (looking disapproving all the while) retrieved the book for Hermione. Once the text was in her hands, Hermione charged off to their former potion-brewing sanctuary: Myrtle’s bathroom.

    Shirou gave Galen a glance. “You’re encouraging her crush on Lockhart?”

    Galen shrugged. “Is there a specific reason I shouldn’t?”

    Takara stared at him. “There are so many things wrong with that question, I don’t even know where to start.

    Galen shrugged again. Lockhart was an idiot, but mostly harmless. Hermione could have worse crushes. Himself, for example.

    “So,” Shirou said, as they headed to join Hermione, “remind me again: why are we trying to prepare this Polly-something potion?”

    “Polyjuice Potion,” Galen supplied. “Simply put: it’s a backup. If the attack happens like we think it will, you can call in your parents - but they might not find anything. In which case, we’ll have to hunt for the diary ourselves, and this will make it easier. Considering that anyone could have it in their possession, we’ll need to search every dorm we can get into. Kind of hard to do that, looking like ourselves.”

    “There’s the cloak,” Shirou said.

    “Oh, I fully intend to use it,” Galen said, “but as a backup for whoever searches the dorm. It’ll be too difficult sneaking in and out while invisible, unless a student who belongs to the dorm helps out. And if the potion wears off too quickly, or something else goes wrong - there’ll be an extra wand there that no one knows about to lend a hand.”

    “Sounds like a decent plan,” Shirou admitted.

    “With everything that’s gone wrong so far, I intend to take no chances,” Galen said grimly, as he pushed the door to Myrtle’s bathroom open. “From here on out, the contingency plans will have contingency plans, damn it.”

    “Language!” Hermione snapped, without looking up from her book. Neville, sitting beside her, gave a sudden start at the explosion.

    “Sorry,” Galen muttered.

    “I’m going to start using Rictusempra on you,” she threatened, still reading. “See how a minute or two of uncontrollable laughter works to help you remember to curb your tongue.”

    “Or I could just tickle him,” offered Myrtle, as she emerged from her customary stall. She was blushing slightly. “Hello, Galen. Another project brewing, I see.”

    Galen smiled. “Yes, Polyjuice Potion this time. May we be so presumptuous as to once again rely on your discretion, Miss Myrtle?”

    The ghostly girl got a sly look on her face. “It’s almost Christmas, you know. They’ll be hanging mistletoe in the castle soon . . .”

    Galen’s smile widened into a smirk. “I suspect this potion will need such care taken in its brewing that we’ll have to stay at Hogwarts for Christmas this year. Would I be correct, Hermione?”

    The girl flipped through the book and winced. “This is the most complicated potion I’ve ever seen. Lacewing flies, leeches, fluxweed and knotgrass. Well, they’re easy enough, they’re in the student store-cupboard - we can help ourselves. Powdered horn of a Bicorn - don’t know where we’re going to get that . . . Shredded skin of a Boomslang - that’s tricky, too - and of course a bit of whoever we want to change into. And even assuming we can get all the ingredients, it’ll take a month to brew!” She sighed. “Yes, I would say we will definitely be here for Christmas - and my family won’t be happy about it.”

    “Nor ours, I’d imagine,” Galen murmured, “but in this case, it’s for a good cause.” He turned back to Myrtle. “Shall we say a kiss for each of the twelve days of Christmas, and one for New Year’s Eve, Miss Myrtle?”

    “Deal,” Myrtle said quickly. “Though I think I’m being far too soft. I should hold you to all thirty-one days of December.”

    “But then, what would we bargain for the next time we need your help?” Galen asked innocently.

    Myrtle’s dark eyes took on a gleam. “Quite right. Always better to have a goal to look forward to. Well, I’ll be off for a bit - always easier to say I don’t know what you’re doing if I’m asked when I haven’t actually seen you do anything. See you later.”

    Neville stared at the spot where Myrtle went through the wall, then at Galen, and then shook his head.

    “Are we going to need to brew potions in here next year?” Hermione asked carefully.

    “I doubt it,” Galen admitted, “but it never hurts to leave options open. And compared to what she could be doing, Myrtle has been very generous about letting us invade her private space.”

    “Any ideas how we’re going to get some of the harder ingredients for this potion?” Shirou asked, really wanting to change the subject.

    “Somebody is going to have to raid Professor Snape’s private stores,” Galen said grimly.

    “I think I’d better do the actual stealing,” Hermione volunteered. “I’ve got a clean record. All the rest of you need to do is cause enough mayhem to keep Snape busy for five minutes or so.”

    Galen grinned. “Nev, Potions mayhem sounds right up your alley. I’ll even give you a hand. When you need those ingredients, Hermione, just say so, and we’ll give you as much cover as we can.”

    “Me too,” agreed Takara.

    “And me,” Shirou added.

    “Well, it’ll be a ways off,” Hermione muttered, double-checking the instructions. “It’s got to be fresh, and the potion won’t be ready to add those ingredients for weeks, yet.”

    “In that case, we may as well start preparing what we can, and move on,” Galen said. He turned to Shirou and Takara. “You two have a Quidditch match to win tomorrow.”

    “I thought you didn’t like Quidditch - or anything to do with brooms,” Takara said, puzzled.

    “I don’t - but I’ll take any available chance to see Malfoy plow himself into the ground at high speed,” Galen answered with a grin.






    As eleven o’clock approached the next day, the school as a body headed for the Quidditch pitch. Takara admitted to herself that she was slightly nervous as she sat down on the bench in the Gryffindor changing rooms. This, she vividly remembered, was the movie with the rogue Bludger. She did not enjoy the thought of trying to duck an iron ball hurtling through the air with the express purpose of making her too hurt to stay at school.

    Of course, Galen had reminded her that their lives had been house-elf free all year, so it was unlikely Dobby would start interfering now - a consequence of not having the great Harry Potter in need of protection. Comparatively speaking, she was a nobody, so even if the elf had gotten into his head to do that, why would he pick on her?

    It didn’t fully ease her tension, unfortunately. Still, Wood-taichou’s speech did help.

    “Slytherin have got better brooms than us, no point denying it. But we’ve got better people on our brooms. We’ve trained harder than they have, we’ve been flying in all weathers - ”

    “Too true,” George Weasley muttered. “I haven’t been properly dry since August.”

    “ - And we’re going to make them rue the day they let that little bit of slime, Malfoy, buy his way onto the team,” Wood finished, as though he hadn’t heard. He gazed at Takara intently. “It’ll be down to you, Takara, to show them that a Seeker has to have something more than a rich father. Get to that Snitch before Malfoy or die trying, Takara, because we’ve got to win today, we’ve got to.”

    “So no pressure, Takara,” said Fred, winking.

    With all due respect to her captain’s coaching ability, the possibility of a Takara-seeking Bludger was putting far more pressure on her.

    The game proceeded, and Takara got as high a vantage point as her broom could manage, hoping to spot the Snitch early and end the game before the madness started.

    Malfoy shot up from underneath her in a deliberate attempt to intimidate her, and show off his Nimbus 2001's speed.

    “All right there, Slant-eyes?” he yelled.

    That insult had been old when she was six. Takara rolled the eyes in question, which gave her peripheral vision plenty of opportunity to spot a shiny black Bludger headed for her skull. A quick barrel roll swung her safely out of its way.

    “Close one, Takara!” George called, lining up to give the Bludger a powerful whack towards Adrian Pucey. Takara tensed, waiting for it to rebound towards her - and watched in surprise as it knocked the Slytherin off his broom.

    Right, she told herself. No Takara-seeking Bludger - so let’s go get that Snitch!

    It was a gruelling game - the Slytherins’ brooms did give them an edge, but the game was easier for Takara than it had been for Harry, because no Bludger was trying to kill her, and the Weasley twins weren’t forced to focus on her for her own safety, allowing other players to get nailed by the normal Bludger.

    By the time it started to rain, Lee Jordan was announcing, “Slytherin lead, sixty to twenty.” When it got heavier, he said, “Slytherin lead, ninety to forty.” Clearly, if she wanted to get Gryffindor a win, she’d have to find the Snitch soon, before Slytherin’s score became too high for it to matter. And that meant she’d have to deal with Malfoy.

    In all honesty, Takara wasn’t too concerned about the Slytherin Seeker. Yes, he had a better broom, and yes, he was nearly as good a flier as Harry Potter - but he’d never been Harry’s equal, and she wasn’t a scrawny, malnourished twelve-year-old boy. She was an actual athlete, and martial artist. Her overall conditioning was far better than Harry’s, and that meant she was actually in a better position than Malfoy altogether. After all, a faster broom wouldn’t help him without the strength and reflexes to keep up with it.

    As a result, she launched into a dizzying series of aerobatics such as even Shirou, when he’d filled in as Seeker last year, hadn’t, and wouldn’t have attempted. He simply wasn’t light enough, or quick enough, to perform the subtle shifts and movements needed to pull them off.

    “Training for the ballet, Aozaki?” Malfoy called, apparently amused. Takara, however, saw the Snitch hovering just above his left ear, and knew her plan had half-succeeded. She hadn’t managed to goad him into trying to keep up with her, but she had distracted him long enough for her to lock onto the Snitch before he realised its location. Now to make the most of the opportunity.

    She launched into a power dive, straight at Malfoy. No doubt presuming she meant to attack him, Malfoy called upon the full acceleration of his Nimbus 2001 to dive out of her path - which meant that she could grab the Snitch easily. By the time Malfoy realised what she was doing, he was much too far away to stop her.

    Aozaki grabs the Snitch!” Jordan announced gleefully. “Gryffindor win, 200 - 130!

    “Thanks for the assist, Draco!” Takara called sweetly.

    Even at the distance between them, she could see his too-fair complexion flame to a scarlet hue. And because it was Draco, she was half-expecting what came next - a charge at top speed, intending to force her to the ground. However, this was where she proved Wood-taichou’s point about being the better person on a broom. It took very little effort on her part to dip out of his way. He only managed to ruffle her hair.

    Of course, suddenly getting a face-full of long dark hair didn’t help Draco’s flying at all. It might not have mattered, had he not let go of his broom in shock - a bad thing to do when pointed downwards and moving at a high rate of speed. The Slytherin Seeker hit the pitch with an audible crunch.

    Takara stared, aware that he was still moaning, and moving, and clutching his arm. When she saw Gilderoy Lockhart stroll out onto the pitch, decked in resplendent jade-green robes, she started giggling. She’d seen the movie - she knew what was coming next!

    And it couldn’t happen to a more deserving guy.

    “Not to worry, Mister Malfoy,” Lockhart said brightly - literally, as his teeth were gleaming. “I’m about to fix your arm.”

    No!” Draco cried, apparently more intelligent than past actions gave him credit for. “Get away from me, you quack!”

    “Doesn’t know what he’s saying,” Lockhart announced loudly. “Poor boy must be delirious with pain. Lie back, Mr. Malfoy, it’s a simple charm I’ve used countless times.

    “Stand back,” Lockhart announced, rolling up his sleeves.

    No!” Draco protested, but Lockhart was already twirling his wand. Takara’s eyes and position gave her an almost-literal bird’s-eye view of the bones vanishing from Malfoy’s arm.

    “Ah,” Lockhart said. “Yes. Well, that can sometimes happen. The point is, the bones are no longer broken. That’s the thing to bear in mind. So, Mr. Malfoy, just toddle up to the Hospital Wing, and Madam Pomfrey will be able to - er - tidy you up a bit.”

    Takara descended to the ground, still snickering as she went off to the changing room. That memory was going in the Pensieve for her repeated viewing pleasure!






    The morning after the Quidditch match, Shirou was tense. The reason was simple - he knew that another attack had been due to happen, and should be announced today. That would require writing Kiritsugu, and setting the Aurors’ investigation in motion. Whether they’d turn anything up or not, not even Galen could be sure - hence the backup plan. But there was every possibility that the plan wouldn’t be necessary - and every possibility that it would.

    The one bright spot had been viewing Takara’s close-up view of Malfoy getting deboned by Lockhart. Because of the way a Pensieve portrayed memories, they’d even been able to get a view from the ground. He, Takara, Neville and Galen had thought it uproariously funny. Hermione hadn’t been so pleased.

    “Anyone can make a mistake,” she said of Lockhart’s actions, defensively.

    Still, he thought the seed of doubt had been planted - which meant, hopefully, that she would soon go back to mooning over Galen, so that he could go back to mocking the guy. It had rapidly become one of his favourite hobbies.

    Shirou shook his head. He was trying to distract himself from the possibility that someone had been hurt - or killed. It wasn’t supposed to be that bad, but nothing so far this year had gone the way it was “supposed to.” He wondered why that was. Was Harry Potter really that critical to the unfolding of events in this world, or was it their own interference - or was Ilya simply right, and the “every other year” curse was just screwing them over as best as it possibly could?

    If the latter, I don’t want to be here for fourth and sixth year, Shirou decided.

    Morning calisthenics was tricky in the winter at Hogwarts - it got bloody cold in Scotland, and adding snow slowed their runs and movements considerably. Luckily, snow was still a ways off, it seemed, but it was going to mean a lot less sleep for them all.

    Or maybe not, he realised. The Room of Requirement could configure itself into a track with a set of practice mats, couldn’t it?

    Shirou was now beginning to understand why Galen and Takara had been mad at themselves for not thinking of the Room sooner - it really would have saved them a lot of trouble last year.

    Still, for the time being, he went on the regular routine with the rest - as of yet, neither Luna nor Ginny knew of the Room, although Shirou suspected they’d have to let slip some of their secrets soon. Luna was inquisitive by nature, and Ginny showed a tendency to be pushy. If they weren’t told something, they’d keep looking until they discovered the reasons for themselves . . . And Shirou had seen for himself just how well that had worked out with Hermione.

    And if I happen to upset Luna as badly as she was, I’ll have to kill Galen in order to keep him from killing me.

    No, explanations of some form were surely due the girls - but not now, not when Aurors of British or ICW stripe were likely going to be crawling all over Hogwarts soon. Some time later, somewhere safer, yes - but their secrets were going to be hard enough to hide as it was.

    When the sparring sessions were done, the six Gryffindors trooped back into the castle, changed, and went down for breakfast. They had no sooner sat down to eat, however, when a sudden flash lit the air.

    Three wands were out and pointed menacingly before anyone else had reacted. Hermione and Neville had their wands drawn, but not aimed - and Luna’s was half-drawn. Shirou noted all this at the same time he noted who they were targeting.

    “I - I’m sorry!” Colin Creevey gulped, clutching his camera and crossing his eyes trying to watch all three wands that were just shy of touching his throat. “I just - I didn’t get a picture of Takara yesterday, at the match. I didn’t think you’d mind!

    Shirou didn’t, but judging by the looks on Galen and Takara’s faces, they found something wrong, to be sure.

    I get the feeling I’m not going to like this . . .






    He didn’t.

    “What do you mean, he’s supposed to be Petrified? Why isn’t he?” Shirou’s nerves were approaching a breaking point. Galen had been wrong about something critical - again!

    Galen’s eyes were closed as he sifted through the contents of the book. After a moment, he said wearily, “This one’s on Harry.”

    “Meaning?” Shirou demanded.

    “After hurting himself trying to outrun Dobby’s Bludger, Harry was supposed to get his arm buggered up by Lockhart, and spend the night in the Hospital Wing. Colin would’ve snuck out to try and see him, and been caught by the basilisk. Since it wasn’t Harry, and Takara wasn’t hurt, he would’ve never left the dorm - never been caught.”

    “So who did?

    “Maybe no one,” Galen offered. “The basilisk is being set against mundane-born students - if it can’t find any . . .”

    “Then maybe nothing happens,” Takara finished. “What does this change?”

    Galen grimaced. “A lot. Tensions aren’t as high, so we can’t guarantee the Duelling Club - I was looking forward to trouncing Malfoy, damn it - ”

    “Language,” Takara chided, in a fair imitation of Hermione’s tone. When he gave her a glare, she shrugged. “I figured I ought to stand in.”

    “On the other hand, we have more time to use the Polyjuice and conduct a search.”

    “Always assuming,” Shirou said dryly, “that something else doesn’t go wrong.”

    Galen’s grimace deepened. “Don’t remind me.” He closed his eyes. “The next scheduled attack is the week before Christmas - that Hufflepuff, Justin Finch-Fletchley. And Sir Nicholas, as well - he takes the brunt of it. And Hagrid mentions losing a second rooster around the same time . . . There’s our in. If we can manage to catch whoever it is when they’re killing the rooster - ”

    “Then we can grab the Horcrux from them, and go about disposing of it,” Shirou finished, understanding.

    It wasn’t a particularly good plan. It would need a lot of work - but they had time to iron out details. And they’d still avoid having to fight the basilisk, and prevent the Hufflepuff kid from being hurt.

    If, Shirou reminded himself, we can pull it off. So far, nothing has gone right about this year, has it?

    Still, no humans had died yet, and the Polyjuice Potion was still an option. They had ways out of this mess. They could still manage to prevent anyone from getting hurt, or killed. In the end, all the hassle would be worth it if they could manage that.

    Still . . .

    “December’s weeks away,” Shirou pointed out. “Isn’t there anything we can do right now?

    “Train, and keep our eyes and ears open for clues,” Galen said heavily. “Even the Polyjuice won’t be ready before Christmas. We’re back to the same problem - it’s a waiting game, and none of us like waiting. But trying to force a confrontation won’t help, because we don’t know who to go after.”

    “Can’t we - I don’t know - bust into the Chamber now and just kill the damned snake?” Shirou asked.

    Galen gave him an odd look. “I swear you’re regressing - that suggestion is way more Shirou than Archer.”

    Shirou grunted. “Active hormones and the natural impatience of youth . . . So, can’t we?”

    “Not without a Parselmouth - can’t open the door. And I’m betting it’s immune to most unlocking and blasting spells, if it managed to stay hidden for a millennium. Dynamite might work, but we’d have to get it here - and there’s another problem. The chamber’s under the school, and the rock isn’t exactly stable. There’s at least one cave-in while Harry’s down there. If we try to blow a hole into the Chamber, we could end up collapsing the whole thing. And while that might deal with the basilisk, tearing up the foundation of the castle over an open cavern wouldn’t do Hogwarts much good.”

    Shirou grunted again, knowing what he meant. They could end up collapsing it, trying to get into the Chamber. That would be bad. So Galen was right - they were effectively back to a waiting game, unless something unexpected happened, or information fell into their laps.

    The situation, in Shirou’s estimation, wasn’t good. They didn’t know who their enemy was, or have a firm grasp of when or where he or she might choose to strike again. Kiritsugu couldn’t do anything, and even Galen and Takara’s knowledge base was in danger of becoming completely useless, due to all the changes. For the first time since entering this world, the three of them were, to all intents and purposes, truly on their own.

    From the looks on Galen’s and Takara’s faces, they realised it, too. And they were just as frightened as he was.
    Last edited by Kieran; March 24th, 2011 at 10:47 PM.

  20. #20
    The Jester Kieran's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    According to most, my own little world
    Age
    34
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    5,895
    Blog Entries
    156
    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 Chamber of Secrets, but I trust in the intelligence of my readers (and the availability of the books) to recognise them when they see them.



    Chapter 13 - A Change in Plans



    November 11 - 12, 1992






    Takara yawned as she made her way down the stairs to the Gryffindor common room to meet the others for breakfast in the Great Hall. Owl animagus or not, she still wasn’t a morning person, despite almost a year of going running at virtually dawn. And spending the last night sleeping as an owl, whose instincts insisted she ought to be awake, hadn’t helped.

    Being an owl was strange. Her sight and hearing were so sharp - she could almost hear the heartbeats of her friends while they rested in the same room. Her sense of touch, always sensitive, was also different. She could feel the air around her very keenly, and the sensation of it sluicing through her feathers . . . Takara shivered.

    And the owl form came with a set of its own instincts - almost like its own personality - that influenced her behaviour. She tended to go to the highest corner in whatever room Galen was spending the moon in and roost - partly to watch for food, but partly because there were four large, dangerous predators in the room. Eagles and owls were natural rivals, and the rest of them had fangs and claws. And at the same time, they were her friends . . .

    Neville and Hermione, oddly enough, seemed to be having the least trouble adjusting. Or maybe it wasn’t so odd - Takara imagined that bears were fairly confident and easygoing, being the biggest, meanest things around generally. And lions were social animals - Hermione’s lioness self probably just translated “friends” as “pride,” and no matter that they didn’t look or smell like lions. And certainly, Galen had no trouble - but his mind remained human, thanks to his potion. The real test would be in the summer, when he had to go without it.

    As she hit the common room, she saw no one waiting for her - not unusual, they might’ve gone on ahead rather than hold the entire group up, and they’d save her usual spot - but she noticed Fred and George coming down from the boys’ dorm. That was odd - while the twins weren’t early risers, exactly, they generally were halfway through breakfast by the time Takara and her friends entered the Great Hall.

    “What’s up, boys?” she asked curiously.

    Fred turned to her. “We’ve just been up to check on Ronniekins - ”

    “ - And he’s still asleep,” George added.

    “And?” Takara asked with a shrug. Ron Weasley’s love of sleep could only be challenged by his love of food and his love of Quidditch - it was always a gamble as to which would win out at any given time.

    “Well, we noticed a few empty beds in the second-year dorm,” Fred said.

    “Shirou and Galen - no surprise, really,” George continued, “what with those mad exercises you lot do every morning, but - ”

    “Dean Thomas isn’t exactly known for being up at the crack of dawn,” Fred finished.

    Takara frowned. Admittedly, of just about anyone in her year, she’d had the least contact with Dean Thomas. He and Ron Weasley comprised “the other boys in Gryffindor,” as Shirou, Galen and Neville were fairly close. Still, the twins had a point - what little she knew of Dean suggested that while he wasn’t as lazy as Weasley, neither was inclined to give up sleep he didn’t have to. Of course, she could be wrong. All she really knew about Dean was that he was a football fanatic (a sport which was still soccer, to her mind), he liked to draw, and that he was -

    Takara gasped as the last fact percolated through her tired brain, along with an implication that hit it like a direct injection of caffeine.

    Dean Thomas was mundane-born.

    “You’re right, guys, someone should look into it,” Takara said quickly. “I’ll let McGonagall know.” Right after I tell the others . . .

    She waited until she’d cleared the Fat Lady’s portrait before breaking into a run. Only her reflexes saved her from three near-collisions through the hallways, but unfortunately there was no sign of Dean anywhere in the vicinity. She ran into the Great Hall, only slowing to a walk when she’d crossed the threshold.

    Her eyes, so sharp on the Quidditch pitch, scanned the Gryffindor table for a trace of Dean. Unlike her group, he didn’t have a set spot - but he wasn’t there at all. She broadened her search to the other tables, hoping against hope that he was visiting a friend . . . No, no luck there, either.

    Praying he’d gone to the bathroom, or the library, or something, Takara leaned into usual seat without sitting down and asked, “Have you seen Dean Thomas?”

    Looks of confusion passed back and forth, and Takara’s heart sank.

    “Should we have?” Ginny asked, puzzled.

    Takara shook her head. “Fred and George said he wasn’t in his bed - which is strange, because he’s not usually up early.” She flashed Shirou a look.

    Shirou’s face said he’d caught the implication.

    “I don’t get it,” Ginny complained.

    “They think the Chamber of Secrets has claimed its first victim,” Luna said. The sombre tone in her voice was at odds with its naturally dreamy qualities.

    Takara was reminded anew of just how perceptive Luna was, her flaky behaviour aside. She wondered if the latter was on purpose, so that people would naturally underestimate her. Hermione, for her part, was pale, and Takara couldn’t blame her. Having confirmation that there was a monster hunting her just because she existed would make Takara sick to her stomach, too.

    “We ought to visit the Hospital Wing before class,” Takara said in a low voice.

    “Don’t be late,” Hermione admonished them. “Professor Flitwick won’t like it.”

    “I’ll come with you,” Neville offered. “I wanted to check on Galen, anyway.”

    “He’s in the Hospital Wing again?” Ginny said in disbelief. “This is what - his third trip this year? I thought Neville was the accident-prone one?”

    Neville flushed in mortification, and Shirou scowled - but seemed to remember at the last moment that she was only eleven. Still, another statement like that and Ginny was liable to end up with a goblet of pumpkin juice in her hair.

    “It’s a very bad allergic reaction,” Takara said quickly, but with conviction. “He’s had them ever since he was a little boy, and they flare up every now and then. The attacks don’t usually last more than a day or two, but they’re pretty awful for him.”

    “They must be really bad,” Ginny said, her face suddenly sympathetic. “What’s he allergic to?”

    With a completely straight face, and a deadpan voice, Shirou said, “Moonlight.”

    Luna chose that moment to suddenly remark, “Oh, dear - moon allergies are awful. The best treatment is to use a salve made from the powdered horn of a Crumple-Horned Snorkack mixed with honey, but they’re terribly rare and shy creatures. They’re very difficult to find - Daddy and I have been looking for years.

    The group commiserated with her on her lack of success, but Takara wondered, given the intuition she’d shown earlier, if Luna had already figured out Galen’s secret. If so, she didn’t give any sign of being unsettled by it . . . But Luna rarely gave any sign of being unsettled, period.

    Galen trusted her, and Takara thought she understood why. There was an innocence to Luna, mixed with that odd but insightful wisdom. She made you want to protect her, even when she didn’t need it, because that innocence was precious. It was pure. And the only the risk of ruining that prevented Galen from declaring his lycanthropy.

    Ginny was trickier. She was a nice enough girl, but she was - normal. She didn’t have incredible intuition, or a brilliant mind, or an extra lifetime’s worth of experiences. She was an average girl, which meant her reaction to the revelation of Galen as a Dark creature could go badly. It was even more likely considering how - opinionated her mother was. Ginny had a similar stubborn streak.

    But they’d all agreed that they couldn’t leave her out. If they told Luna, they told them both. And so for the moment, the issue waited.

    “Well, if we’re going to do it,” Takara said aloud, “we’d better hurry. C’mon, boys.”

    Takara, Shirou and Neville left the Great Hall, and were about to turn the appropriate corner to head for their destination when Takara’s peripheral vision caught sight of a flutter of black robes. Curious, she peeked around the corner, then turned back.

    “Can either of you think of any good reasons why Lucius Malfoy would be here? First thing in the morning, no less?”

    “I can think of lots of reasons,” Neville said in an uncharacteristically dark tone. “But unfortunately, none of them are good ones.”






    Galen didn’t sleep in the Hospital Wing, so much as he lay still in a bed, with periods of a drowsing half-awareness. His body was too attuned to being awake and up during the daylight hours - if not for the sheer exhaustion and lingering pain brought on by the strains of his forced transformation, he would be - and sleep did not come easily. The problem was exacerbated by his natural attunement to soft, subtle sounds. He’d been known to sleep through a fire alarm (a false one, thankfully), but surreptitious sounds, as of someone trying to sneak up to him, immediately roused him.

    As a result, he was aware when a patient was brought in, with three of the staff.

    “What happened?” Madam Pomfrey whispered - and the response told Galen it was to Dumbledore.

    “Another attack. I found him near the kitchens.”

    “Petrified?”

    “Yes,” answered a third voice - McGonagall. “But I shudder to think . . . If Albus hadn’t been on his way downstairs for hot chocolate, who knows what might have . . . What does this mean, Albus?”

    “It means,” Dumbledore said gravely, “that the Chamber of Secrets is indeed open again.”

    “But Albus - surely . . . Who?”

    “The question is not who . . . The question is, how . . .”

    Cold terror shot through Galen, as his weary mind processed those words entirely differently from how he’d usually understood them, because they indicated a factor he’d never before considered.

    Dumbledore knew. He knew the Chamber existed, and who had originally opened it, and even possibly some idea of what was inside. He also had to have some idea of the method needed to open the Chamber - he had to, or he would be more concerned with who than how. Which meant . . . He knew Voldemort was responsible, if not how, and might even have an idea of who his proxy was. There was, of course, no way for them to get it out of him - but it meant that the old wizard was even more culpable in this than Galen had initially believed.

    Was the whole Chamber incident allowed to go on simply as another “test”? Maybe . . . And it’s not so far-fetched. He was willing to allow Katie Bell to be cursed and Weasley to be poisoned in sixth year, so that Draco Malfoy might have a chance at being redeemed. I’m certain the possibility of his turning to the Light would’ve been of great [i]comfort to the students’ families, had Harry not been quick enough, and lucky enough, to save their lives. And certainly, the deaths of the Flamels as a consequence of his scheme with the Philosopher’s Stone never seemed to trouble him, either. But then, any man who can claim he wanted Harry to have a “normal” childhood, and in the same sentence declare that he knew Harry would never have any such thing . . .

    Galen felt sick - and it had nothing to do with his physical condition. He’d always known that Dumbledore played puppet-master with those around him, but he’d hoped that believing he did it to this extent was sheer cynicism on Galen’s own part. Apparently not, however.

    Right. This just proves the validity of Harry Potter Self-Insert Rule Number One: Figure out when you are on arrival, and then determine whether you need to kill Voldemort or Dumbledore first - because you can’t trust either of them.

    Killing Dumbledore might not be necessary, in this case - but trusting him was an absolute impossibility. If they were going to stop things, the Headmaster (and by extension, his Order) were going to have to be planned for, and worked around.

    It wasn’t until he was nearly asleep that Galen realised the dialogue regarding the camera hadn’t occurred, and he began to wonder who the victim was.






    Shirou had plenty to think on following their visit to the Hospital Wing. Galen had been dead to the world, but Dean Thomas had been there, Petrified - which meant that after a number of delays, it looked like Fate was finally getting things back on schedule. However, what had his attention at the moment was the snatches of argument they’d caught between Dumbledore and Lucius Malfoy, the latter having caught the Headmaster in the halls as they were leaving.

    Unfortunately, they couldn’t be seen eavesdropping, so they’d had to be far enough out of sight not to be noticed - which had cut back on what they’d been able to hear, as well. However, it had been clear that Malfoy had not been happy, and several pointed threats had been made. The name “Lockhart” had come up in conversation, and so Shirou surmised that Malfoy had heard about Draco’s arm almost the minute it had grown back. That was confirmed at lunch - the look of venomous glee on Draco’s face as he stared at Lockhart, and the man’s own depressed demeanour, were easy to spot. However, it wasn’t until supper that any official announcement was made, when Dumbledore rose from his customary seat at the Head Table, and addressed the student body.

    “Before we begin what will no doubt be another excellent repast,” the Headmaster announced, “it is incumbent upon me to inform you of coming changes at Hogwarts. Recent events have unfortunately forced our Defence Against the Dark Arts professor, Gilderoy Lockhart” - here, Dumbledore was forced to pause, as a large segment of the female population began applauding - “to tender his resignation from his post in order to tend to personal matters. However, he has consented graciously to remain in his position until the end of term, that your schooling be disrupted as minimally as possible by his departure.”

    Shirou snorted. Reading between the lines, Malfoy had demanded his head, and Dumbledore had negotiated a compromise. However, that left them without a teacher - Galen had told him that Lockhart had gotten the job by virtue of being the only applicant. Did that mean the course was cancelled?

    As if in answer, Dumbledore continued, “In order to ensure a smooth transition, and consistent continuity in your lessons, Professor Lockhart’s replacement will be joining us at Hogwarts to observe your classes and the castle’s routines, and formally assuming the position of Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher when classes resume in January. While she may not possess the charisma of Professor Lockhart -”

    Shirou almost didn’t need the natural sharpness of his eyes to see Dumbledore’s own twinkling from where he sat.

    “We are fortunate in that she has spent several years teaching professional Aurors much of what she will teach you.”

    Takara blanched. “Oh, no.

    As if on cue, the doors to the Great Hall opened, allowing a compact figure in a hooded cloak to pass through them. Little was visible under the lengths of the cloak, beyond heavy, high-cut combat boots and tantalising hints of shapely, muscular legs.

    “She has served for nearly twenty years as an agent of the International Confederation of Wizards’ Security Division - roughly half of that in the investigative arm,” Dumbledore pronounced, “and the last ten years in the capacity of Combat Instructor, with regards to their accelerated training program. The rank she holds within the Security Division is equivalent to a Senior Master Auror’s within Britain.”

    The figure stopped, turning in a swirl of cloak, and reached up to lower the hood as the Headmaster concluded his speech.

    “Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce - Ciel Aozaki!”

    Amidst the polite applause, Shirou winced. This wrinkle was no doubt going to change a lot of things.






    Mother! What are you doing here?!” Takara hissed. The named woman looked away from the shelves of books in Gilderoy Lockhart’s office smiled at her daughter.

    “I thought the Headmaster made it fairly clear,” Ciel answered. “I’m to take over your Defence Against the Dark Arts classes from January until June.”

    “But - don’t you have duties with the ICW?”

    “I do,” her mother acknowledged. “But Dumbledore was in a bind, and I volunteered. Since he’s the Supreme Mugwump, it’s an official reassignment.”

    “You volunteered?

    The older Aozaki woman explained, “Lucius Malfoy pulled every string he could manage in order to get leverage on Albus Dumbledore - including the Board of Governors, Gringotts, and the Ministry of Magic. I suspect he wanted Dumbledore removed for incompetency, Lockhart jailed for criminal malfeasance, or both - and the attack on your classmate put Dumbledore in a bad position to defend himself. Are you with me so far?”

    At Takara’s nod, Ciel smiled, and it wasn’t a kind one. “Unfortunately for Mister Malfoy, he wasn’t exactly subtle in his power grabs - Kiritsugu was already keeping an eye on events involving Hogwarts after your letters, and notified me of what was up. With me in place, Dumbledore has a qualified instructor and an experienced investigator in matters of Dark magic in residence at the castle. I can hunt for the culprit quietly, without the media fanfare of a full investigation - and my record as both teacher and investigator are good enough that Malfoy can’t question my competence. As such, Dumbledore’s own competency is no longer in doubt - he had to hire Lockhart, because no one else applied, but he fixed his mistake as soon as the opportunity presented itself.”

    The iciness of her smile dissipated, and she continued, “Besides - you told us you wouldn’t be home for Christmas, so this gave us a chance to come to you!”

    Takara winced. On the one hand, her mother’s ability as both a warrior and teacher couldn’t be denied - she’d been in training for one form of combat or another since she could walk. On the other hand . . .

    Trying to sneak around under Dumbledore was bad enough - add Mother to that, and we’re in real trouble.






    “Isn’t this a good thing?” Neville asked - quietly, as they were in the library. “I mean, we wanted the Aurors to come and investigate, didn’t we?”

    Shirou’s voice was dry. “The Aurors, yes. Our parents, specifically - no. The Aurors could just have us imprisoned for interfering. They can do worse.” He paused. “How would you like to have your Gran teaching health class?”

    Neville blanched.

    “And we do have to give up Professor Lockhart to have Mrs. Aozaki here,” Hermione pointed out, a mournful expression on her face.

    Shirou glanced at Galen, who seemed engrossed in his textbook. Granted, Lockhart wasn’t much to be jealous of - but he’d expected some reaction to her behaviour.

    Instead, all Galen said was, “We’ll have to be careful - Ciel’s not an idiot, and she knows most of us well. We can’t do anything to arouse her suspicions . . . But at the same time, we can’t take the chance that she won’t catch onto the diary, either. We’ll need to keep as low a profile as possible.” He glanced at Takara. “It means you can’t act as cover in Potions - she’ll come down on you if you do. It’ll be up to me, Neville, and Shirou to get Hermione the distraction she needs.”

    “She still might ask me what went on,” Takara pointed out.

    “Yes, but as long as you’re not directly involved, it should be OK. And Neville’s well-known for accidents in Potions - sorry, Nev, but it’s true - so it shouldn’t seem too suspicious. But three cauldrons going off at the same time, and all of them ours?” Galen shook his head. “That screams ‘conspiracy,’ which will lead to her investigating.”

    Shirou grunted. “So we have to work around a competent eye, not just Dumbledore’s - terrific.”

    “Gets worse once you think about it,” Galen pointed out. “Ciel will be here for Christmas, which probably means Shiki will be coming, too. If the Polyjuice Potion’s ready by then, there’ll be no way Takara can use it - her family isn’t likely to let her disappear for a couple of hours with little to no explanation.”

    “And Kiritsugu, at least, might show up too,” Shirou mused. “Just for a progress report on Ciel’s findings. Which means neither of us will be able to search the dorms, at least for this first pass.”

    “That leaves Neville, Hermione and myself,” Galen murmured. “I’d really like another girl, just in case. I can stay with Neville, but even with the cloak, I couldn’t enter the girls’ side of the dorms . . .”

    “Ginny’s staying,” Takara said. “Her parents are off to Egypt to visit the oldest brother, so the rest of the family will be at Hogwarts for Christmas.”

    “And Luna’s going back home to be with her father,” Galen finished. “I guess we’ll have to start bringing them into things now, instead of later.”

    Hermione sighed. “At least we have time to ease them into things.”

    “Unless there’s another attack,” Shirou said grimly. He shook his head. “I don’t get it - you were only off by a day or so. Does this thing actually run to a schedule?” Or is the universe really trying to conform to a predetermined series of events? he added silently.

    “And why Dean?” Shirou continued. “Yes, he’s mundane-born, so a valid target - but what was he doing up and out of the dorms? He’s not the type to go wandering at night.”

    “Dumbledore said he found him outside the kitchens,” Galen added.

    Takara’s eyes widened, and Shirou could see a connection being made on her face.

    “What is it?” he demanded.

    “Fred and George were up yesterday, when Dean was found. They said they’d shown their brother how to get to the kitchens - ”

    “And Weasley is just the type to go for a midnight snack,” Shirou finished. “Whether Dean got dragged along, or he followed to try to keep Weasley out of trouble - he wasn’t alone.”

    Galen’s voice was ominous. “We need to talk to Weasley. More specifically, we need him to talk.”

    His tone suggested he would enjoy making that happen.

    “We’ll have to find him, first,” Shirou pointed out. “But there’s no time like the present. Let’s go.”

    They went.
    Last edited by Kieran; March 24th, 2011 at 10:49 PM.

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Single Sign On provided by vBSSO