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 Order of the Phoenix, but I trust in the intelligence of my readers (and the availability of the books) to recognise them when they see them.
Chapter 1 - Summer of Changes
July 12, 1995
To the world at large, Shirou Einzbern was not yet fifteen years old. Within the last four of those years alone, he had faced a giant, three-headed dog, various magical traps, a millennium-old basilisk, Dementors, and various wizards whose idea of fun was his torment. To his closest friends and family, he was also Shirou Emiya, a former Counter Guardian who became the Servant Archer of the Fifth Holy Grail War. Within that identity’s lifetime, he had faced Epic Spirits, enemy magi, the Dead, the Church, and various military and quasi-military forces the world over. As a result, it could very understandably and reasonably be said that there was very little that could ever be expected to frighten him. He was simply too experienced, too jaded, for much of anything to faze him, much less cause him to feel fear.
And Shirou reminded himself of this - repeatedly - as he attempted to convince his knees to stop shaking.
In all honesty, this was ridiculous. He was going to speak to the parents of the woman he loved about their relationship, and that was all. Granted, it was by nature an undertaking fraught with emotional stress, but hardly the kind of situation that ought to bring on a panic response of this intensity - Berserker and Gilgamesh hadn’t made him this afraid!
But then again, as his would-be lover was not just any woman, these weren’t just any parents. Irisviel von Einzbern was a pure-blooded Veela, a faerie whose views and customs did not necessarily match the social mores of humanity, and known to transform into a literal avenging angel, complete with feathered wings and fire when her anger was roused. And like the legendary Sirens, she was preternaturally alluring, capable of entrancing men to their doom, if she so desired, with no more than a smile. Even without such powers, she was a German ambassador, with all the intelligence, ruthlessness, and political savvy - and resources - that such a position required. Anyone who saw her as just a vapid blonde whose main assets were on her face and chest were always disabused of the notion - and usually disembowelled, as well.
For all that, her husband was probably worse. Kiritsugu Einzbern was a human wizard, and by all accounts a strong one. More, he was an Auror, specifically trained in the arts and skills of identifying, tracking, and neutralising Dark wizards and their minions wherever they might be hiding, in spite of whatever defences they might have. He was assigned not merely to hunt the criminals of the wizarding world, but the monsters, the ones who couldn’t be reformed, or controlled - or usually, even contained. More often than not, a successful mission for Kiritsugu ended in a shallow burial for his target - and anyone or any thing else that happened to stand between them. He was internationally renowned for his skill at the task, every bit as ruthless and dangerous as the “Magus Killer,” Kiritsugu Emiya - and he doted on his only daughter as only the proudest and most loving of fathers could.
No, anyone attempting to date Ilyasviel von Einzbern needed either a spine of steel, or a skull of diamond. Having been accused of being dense beyond belief, and having once been (on a metaphysical level, at least) made of swords, Shirou supposed he qualified as having both. He must have - because in addition to the sheer menace of their justly earned reputations, Kiritsugu and Irisviel had been the only parents he had ever known.
Announcing my intention to date my own sister would be bad enough, no matter who my parents were - the fact that it’s them, and Ilya, will just make things so much worse, he thought grimly.
But it was Ilya - a girl he had known, in one incarnation or another, for nearly twenty years. A girl who had only recently been liberated from the prison of her existence, first as an eternal child, then as a higher concept, where she had been trapped for longer than even that. A girl who had waited for him, and wanted him, all the time they’d known one another - and who, despite her Veela blood, and her greater experience in magic, loved him enough to try to win him as any girl tried to win a boy, instead of any of the numerous ways she could have simply won. Ilya had loved him enough to wait, and to simply try, even knowing - and fearing - that he might refuse her, because it was what he would have preferred she do, and because she wanted more than the puppet her magic would make of him. She wanted his heart, not his body - and how could she not have won it, for that?
Knowing that, how could he not try to face this trial as bravely as she had her own?
Taking a deep breath, Shirou knocked on the door of Kiritsugu’s study. “Dad? Do you have some time?”
“Come on in, Shirou,” came the faint, muffled voice through the thick oak door. With another deep breath, he did so.
Kiritsugu’s study was mostly in shades of brown and gray - more a Spartan retreat than any place to get comfortable. It was designed to give him a quiet place to do his more tedious paperwork, as well as quick communications and travel access via a private Floo point. It was dominated by a mahogany desk, currently piled with various sheets of parchment, some of which he was reading, others he was making notations on. Opposite him were three relatively comfortable guest chairs, and he gestured to his son to sit while he finished up. Shirou did so, mentally rerunning arguments in his head as he lowered himself into the chair. He was quite sure that this was going to be one of the toughest battles of his life - any of them - and he wanted to be appropriately prepared.
Finally, Kiritsugu put the last sheet down, sighed, and said, “What can I do for you, son?”
Shirou had decided to try a “safe” topic before bringing out the bombshell, so he asked, “How’s progress on the hunt going?”
Kiritsugu scowled. “Not well, I’m afraid - on either front. Agent Grim’s reports are irregular, since they’re mostly hiding under that Fidelius Charm, and as a small group, in close contact with one another. There aren’t too many times or places he can write a letter, or Floo, without arousing suspicion. And since he’s effectively outnumbered four to one, using him as an assassin isn’t too viable, either - and believe me, we considered it. The problem is, these are all highly paranoid people - Grim wouldn’t likely be able to take out more than two of them before the others caught on, and he wouldn’t survive the retaliation. Right now he’s more valuable as an information source, even with as little as he can manage to give us.
“As to the Horcruxes - well, there’s no way we can get to the snake right now. It never leaves Riddle’s company. And the ring we’d prefer to leave in place, for now.”
Shirou blinked. “Why?”
“Because it’s safe where it is right now,” Kiritsugu told him. “More to the point, he thinks it’s safe - that they’re all safe, except maybe that diary. And because of where it is, it’s the easiest one for him to check on. If he decides to get paranoid and do that, then he’ll be able to confirm that at least one of them is still in place, still protected - and never realise that we already know it’s there. If we’re lucky, he’ll assume that if it’s still there, so are the rest of them, and think no more of it. If he knew that half of them had already been destroyed - ”
“He’ll assume we know about the rest, and move them - maybe to his headquarters, maybe halfway around the world,” Shirou finished. “And then we really will have to hunt for them.”
“Right,” Kiritsugu said. “It’s why your mother’s gone to the Longbottoms’ - she’s trying to talk Augusta into that Reparations Act.”
The Reparations Act was Iris’ brainchild. As proposed, the Act would award the contents of the vaults of convicted Death Eaters to their victims’ families - or the Ministry of Magic, in the event of no survivors. It made sense, from a practical point of view - the Death Eaters were serving life sentences in a prison that was supposed to be inescapable. In that sense, they were as good as dead already - meanwhile, their gold was just sitting there, compounding interest. Almost fifteen years’ worth, so far - and it was gold that the Ministry, if no one else, could use for better purposes. Even if the corruption inherent in the system meant that only a tenth of it was actually released, the Act would also serve the purpose of bringing Hufflepuff’s Cup, one of Voldemort’s Horcruxes (and the most difficult to get to), out of the Lestrange vault and into the open, where it could be quietly and legally seized as a Dark artefact - and summarily destroyed.
“As long as we can get the Cup out of those vaults, Shiki and I’ll snatch it ourselves if we have to,” Kiritsugu muttered. “Anything to avoid having to break into Gringotts to get it - to avoid another goblin war on top of this. But even if the Act’s defeated, we’ll have an idea of the number of potential Riddle supporters - crosscheck that with the names of pardoned Death Eaters, and we should at least be able to guess how far the news of his return has spread.”
“But the best case scenario denies the Death Eaters their funding, gives us some more to work with, and lets us destroy a Horcrux without giving Voldie any idea that it was the target all along,” Shirou noted. He shook his head. “I have to admit, Kaa-san is just as scarily smart as Hermione or Luna.”
“Contrary to popular belief among young people,” Kiritsugu said drily, “we’re not all dumb old fogies. Shiki and I haven’t been idle, either. We can’t exactly go around proclaiming the return of Riddle without evidence, but general warnings about a rumoured increase in Dark activity in Britain, with the potential to spread into other countries? Easy. And Shiki was going to hit some of the giant reserves in Russia - try to convince them to stay out of it. They respect strength, and there’s not much that’s scarier than him.”
Shirou couldn’t resist smirking in agreement. The Mystic Eyes of Death Perception might not be able to exist here, but Shiki Aozaki’s reputation was just as terrifying as that of the Satsujinki - and just as well-earned.
“Meanwhile, your mother’s been working overtime with LAPIS activities,” Kiritsugu continued. “Hopefully, we’ll keep the werewolves and the giants out of the fight, if not on our side. If it works, that’s two sources of soldiers Riddle won’t be able to tap. Add that in to a passed Reparations Act - ”
“And his power base will be a lot smaller, this time around,” Shirou finished. “As long as we can at least deny him resources - limit the potential damage he can actually do - we’re still ahead of the game, especially with half his Horcruxes already gone.”
“It’s the only reason I’m letting you go back to Hogwarts,” Kiritsugu said seriously. “The only reason I haven’t requested a transfer the hell out of the country is that the situation, while bad, isn’t quite hopeless - not yet. We can still control the fire, stamp it out before it spreads. Remember, a conservative estimate has one quarter of your classmates as potential Death Eaters - and that makes Hogwarts hostile territory. Only a complete idiot would even contemplate sending you back there without a qualm.”
“We can take care of ourselves, Dad,” Shirou pointed out. “We’ve had a fair amount of training by now, from pretty good teachers.”
“You might have the training and mind of a soldier, and more power than any wizard should, but you’re still my son,” Kiritsugu said soberly. “I’d worry if you were Merlin himself - it’s a father’s prerogative.”
Shirou winced inwardly. This was not the best jumping off point to segue into his relationship with Ilya. Still, he wasn’t going to just be handed a better opening, and he was supposed to be a Gryffindor . . .
The Floo point flared green abruptly, and without being granted access, the only person who could have stepped through - Irisviel. On seeing her, Kiritsugu broke into a wide smile, as he invariably did.
“Hello, darling,” he greeted. “How did it go? Best case, worst case, somewhere in-between?”
Iris shook her head grimly, as she answered, “Augusta never even got a chance to propose it, anata. The Wizengamot’s agenda was interrupted by a call for a vote of no confidence and it passed. As of sundown today, Cornelius Fudge will no longer be Minister . . . And his potential replacements seem to make electing a new Minister a choice between the least of all evils.”
Hermione blamed the dream on stress. She was feeling guilty over the events of last year, and upset over the loss of her former closeness with her friends. She had subconsciously called up memories of when she had been most comfortable with them, which had been filtered through the charged hormones that were running rampant through her teenaged body, and caused reactions that the actual events had not. That was the only logical explanation . . . Well, the only acceptable one. Because while she would freely admit that Takara Aozaki was a very attractive young woman (with no small hint of envy), Hermione did not think of girls in that fashion. And then to add Galen in, as well . . .!
She tried not to wince at the thought. Galen Salvatore was both the source of her problems, and the source of her guilt. For nearly four solid years, she had all but worshipped the ground he walked on. It was sad to admit, for a young woman who prided herself on her independence, but it was true. Galen had saved her life - repeatedly - at no small risk to his own, and he’d never asked anything of her for it. He’d simply cared about her, wanted to see her safe, and happy, as no one her own age had ever done before, and she had loved him for it. They’d had bad patches - he had a habit of keeping secrets, and she had a habit of jumping to conclusions, to say nothing of their mutual self-esteem issues - but by and large, Hermione had expected to keep being in love with him for the rest of her life, even if, as it certainly seemed, he would never notice, or acknowledge it if he did.
Then she had learned the truth - all of it. Everything about who and what Galen Salvatore was - and what, exactly, she was to him. And that was, precisely, nothing - she was a wisp of imagination, a character in a children’s storybook, an image on a cinema screen. No more a real person than a department-store mannequin - less, really, for one could touch one of those, and hold them in the real world. And years ago, in a moment when he’d sworn his most solemn oath to tell her the complete truth, when this fact had been touched upon - he’d lied to her.
And that had caused her to question everything - everything about her life, and her relationships. What else had he lied to her about? Had he manipulated her into loving him? And if so, why would he do nothing about it? They were fifteen, and they hadn’t even kissed! Surely he ought to have at least tried to snog her, touch her up, or even get into her knickers, if that was what he wanted? But he hadn’t - and why not? Why do so much to make her want to please him, and not reap the reward of it? And if he didn’t, why do it at all? Galen had always been confusing to her, but this was contradictory. She hadn’t understood it, hadn’t known how to understand it - and in her hurt over the lie, she had disregarded her usual instinct to pursue puzzles and lashed out, instead.
And Galen had taken it, like he always had. Any time she was angry, any time she was frustrated, she took it out on him, and he let her. If she’d been Shirou, or Neville, Hermione had no doubt that he would have killed her for some of the things she’d said to him, and never mind what she’d done. Luna had said he loved her, and Ginny had concurred - but heaven alone knew why. Whether or not it had been justified (and there was evidence on both sides), she’d been an utter shrew to him all year . . . And now, she was paying the price for it.
It had started with the Third Task of the Triwizard Tournament. Galen had been as tense as she’d ever seen him, positively dying to break out of the stands, storm the blasted maze, and tear through anything that stood between him and their friends. His protective instincts - the same ones that had driven him to stand between a mountain troll and a bushy-haired, buck-toothed know-it-all - had been screaming all year, desperate to do something to stop Takara and Neville’s enforced participation. And they’d now reached the endgame, the final move that would bring them to face Voldemort himself - and he’d been terrified. Hermione had already forgiven him at this point, and been halfway to apologising herself, and so she’d surrendered to her normal instincts, and stroked the back of his hand . . . And he had flinched.
Flinched. From her. As though the last thing in the world Galen had ever expected her to do was to touch him. And this despite four years of exposure to her tendency to hug people under stress, and almost three full years of experience with her more “touchy-feelie” behaviour, courtesy of the leonine instincts of her Animagus form.
Which was probably halfway responsible for the dream, too, Hermione thought bitterly. My heart and mind miss the comfort I used to get from my pride, and my body interpreted it as that . . .
It had been a shock to Hermione, how quickly he’d become uncomfortable around her. He didn’t like being touched, she knew that - he tended to panic when people were too close, to react to every touch as a potential attack - but he’d always allowed her to, and never shown any displeasure over it. If she was a lioness at the time, he’d even seemed to enjoy it. But it was a sign of how quickly, how dangerously, their relationship had deteriorated, if he automatically flinched from the smallest, gentlest contact she could give him.
When did it get so bad? Hermione asked herself. How did I let it get so bad, that he can’t even bear to let me touch him any more?
It was then that Hermione began to realise just how much she’d cut herself off over the year. She was still friends with their friends - they left the subject of Galen alone, and she didn’t bring it up, by mutual unspoken consent - but Galen seemed to regard her as an acquaintance, someone to be talked to, but never with. Much like treated some of the Ravenclaws in Arithmancy or Ancient Runes - she said hello, and was polite, but never anything deeper. And Galen had been her first friend, and bar none, her best friend. She liked everyone else, and was close to Takara and Luna, but Galen had been there for her from the beginning - for her, specifically. And now, he wasn’t.
This was most evident today. They had been home from school for exactly nine days, and any other summer, she’d have encountered Galen at least every third day, with their group of friends, but likely more often, with a few personal visits or phone calls. This year, he hadn’t visited alone, and he’d called only once - to talk to Miranda. Her little sister rated more personal attention than she did!
As problems went, Miranda was an entirely different kettle of fish. For as long as Hermione could remember (and given her eidetic memory, that was effectively “always”) her little sister had idolised her. When she’d gotten her Hogwarts letter, Miranda had cried for days, knowing she’d be going away to school, but had been comforted by the thought that she might attend one day, too. But she’d turned eleven this year, and no letter from Hogwarts had come. For the first time in either of their lives, Hermione was on a path that Miranda couldn’t follow - and Hermione was certain that she must have been heartbroken over it. So she’d been careful not to mention magic too much, or her homework, or anything that might hurt Miranda’s feelings - but so far, she’d seemed fine.
Does she really not care? Hermione wondered. Or is she bottling it up?
She didn’t know, and there wasn’t really a way to know short of asking directly - and that kind of bluntness was as likely to produce a lie as it was the truth . . .
And we’re back to truth again, which brings us back to Galen - of course.
She’d meant to try and patch things up between them after the Tournament - she really had. But between the fanfare over Ilyasviel’s victory, the pressure of waiting on her exam results, and dealing with Viktor, she just hadn’t had sufficient time to properly devote herself to the task.
Viktor, Hermione thought with a grimace. She hadn’t been too happy with the Quidditch star since Ginny had said he’d tried to claim her as “his” - like she was just an object, or a prize. But apparently he’d been no more convinced of Galen’s denial of having feelings for her than Ginny had, because he suddenly became a lot less the gentleman. He’d always had a very physical presence, using little touches, like she did - stroking the back of her hand with his thumb, playing with a lock of her hair . . . But he’d tried to increase the frequency and intimacy of the contact a little faster than she’d wanted to, and gotten irritated when she’d pulled away. Apparently, like a lot of famous men, he wasn’t used to hearing the word “No.” Fortunately, Ilyasviel was nearby - and she had pointed out rather forcefully while duels were illegal, she had diplomatic immunity, as did her brother.
“We can challenge you, and use the Killing Curse, and they can’t ever touch either of us for it, Viktor,” Ilyasviel had said, with a fey light shining in her eyes. “Or I can skip the challenges altogether, and just kill you. And I will, if you don’t walk away right now.”
He had run, and afterwards Ilyasviel had apologised - she seemed to think it her own fault that he was such a cad. She had, after all, been the “unattainable goddess” at Durmstrang, immune to even the draw of an international Quidditch star. She felt continued refusals had driven him to react badly to rejection from any other girls. Hermione, shaken, hadn’t disagreed - nor had she asked whether or not Ilyasviel would’ve carried out her threat. She’d already seen the young woman’s past, and knew that the darkest parts of Galen’s personality - what scared her about him - had also prompted Ilyasviel to bind him as her servant, because they were alike. In any case, it had all been a terrible mess, and she just had been in such a tizzy that there hadn’t been a chance to . . .
Sighing to herself, and accepting that she was not going to be able to concentrate on her Transfiguration essay, Hermione capped her ink bottle, set down her quill, and went downstairs for a drink, and possibly a sandwich. She was intercepted on the stairs by her mother.
“Your father’s about to run out and pick up some steaks for tonight’s dinner,” the elder Granger said. “Will you be eating with us, or at Galen’s tonight?” The last was said a touch uncertainly.
“Galen’s?” Hermione queried. “Why would I - ?” She stopped, eyes widening as she suddenly realised exactly what day it was.
“You forgot that tonight’s a full moon?” her mother said in disbelief. “Hermione, dear, are you quite all right?”
No, Hermione was not all right - Hermione was numb. She’d been left out of the Animagus rotation at school, by mutual unspoken agreement, since they’d begun fighting. And Galen had learned to brew his own Wolfsbane Potion by the time they’d left Hogwarts, meaning that as long as he did a proper job of it, he didn’t need Animagi to keep him company at night, nor her to brew it for him. Meaning that she had two less chances to spend time with him, and try and repair their friendship.
Meaning that not only doesn’t he want me around - he doesn’t need me any more . . .
Hermione’s vision blurred suddenly, and she realised that she was crying, before bursting fully into tears.
“Mum, I’ve made a horrible mistake,” she sobbed, quite certain that no one could possibly be having as bad a day as she currently was.
The Torture Curse was, by nature, the most powerful pain inducing spell in existence - so much so that its use on a human being automatically earned the caster a lifetime sentence in Azkaban. But like all such Dark magic, it was powered by malice - by the desire, the need to inflict pain. In order to be effective, one had to mean it. And Severus Snape thought the Dark Lord had never before meant the curse so strongly as he did now - or he would have, had he the capacity for thought at all. No, every nerve ending was currently screaming as the sensation of a tidal wave of burning acid washed over them. Thought was currently far beyond his ability.
Finally, the agony receded to a dull roar, and the world was almost tangible again. The bursting lights were fading from his eyes, the keening in his ears was softening, and he could almost feel the cold stone floor underneath his tingling cheek . . . Almost.
“A fine jest, was it not, Severus?” came the guttural growl of the Dark Lord from somewhere beyond that near-numb state. “‘My most ferocious enemy,’ you said - I thought Dumbledore, or Longbottom - BUT NEITHER OF THEM IS A WEREWOLF! CRUCIO!”
The world vanished in a sea of pain once more, and Snape began to pray for salvation. He had felt the Dark Lord’s magic before, but even at the height of his powers, it had never been so puissant. The werewolf blood had not been enough to fully curse him, perhaps - but its innate affinity for Dark magic, the Dark Lord now possessed in full. Only the rage of a werewolf could so empower the Cruciatus to this level.
He expected no help from the others - even had they been inclined, which they were not, all the Death Eaters present had suffered the sudden berserker rage that gripped their master. The moon might not change him into a wolf, but the beast was certainly prevalent. The Dark Lord’s serpentine features were now draconian - small, narrow scales, like thickened hairs, instead of flesh, pointed ears and clawlike nails, and the piranhna-like fangs, numerous and sharp within a widened jaw. And with all that, the wild, burning anger - the need to kill, and rend, and destroy.
“Why should you live, Severus?” his master growled, and Snape was suddenly aware that the pain had lessened again. “After this mockery, why should you live?”
“S . . . Sp . . .”
“To spy on Dumbledore? Possibly - but I asked you for Longbottom’s blood, Severus - and you gave me a beast’s. You failed me - so WHY SHOULD YOU LIVE?!”
“P . . . Pr . . .”
“What, Severus? Do SPEAK UP!”
Snape gathered all his strength, what little remained of his wits, and croaked, “Protected!”
“Protected? Who, Severus? Longbottom?”
Snape prayed that his nod was visible through his tortured spasms.
“By what - by who?”
“Who, Severus? Someone protects him?”
“I see . . . Tell me what you know of this protector, Severus - and if I am pleased, you may live. If not . . .Well, perhaps I’ll see if this infection can be shared . . .”