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.”
“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.”