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Thread: But For A Stone (A Matou Shinji Series AU)

  1. #861
    All speed to the Senpai train!

    At least until there's some closure and Shinji can at least admit things to himself. It's a good opportunity for growth.

    [x] - Say yes, ask Senpai if she would join him, as he wants to spend time along with her

  2. #862
    [X] Say yes, ask Amber if she will join him for a walk, as he "needs a bit of air"

    Hey people...remember that part about wanting to talk to Amber so that Shinji and Amber can work past their awkwardness with each other. And remember how we wanted this talk to not actually happen in front of Natsumi or Miyuki...yes?

    I do believe this is the moment that for that to happen. A talk with just the two of them.

    Side note: Its always amusing to see Miyuki ship Shinji with basically anyone of her friends but not herself.

  3. #863
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    [x] - Say yes, ask Senpai if she would join him, as he wants to spend time along with her

  4. #864
    [X] Say yes, ask Amber if she will join him for a walk, as he "needs a bit of air"

  5. #865
    The Dread Nekomancer alfheimwanderer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skull Leader View Post
    Side note: Its always amusing to see Miyuki ship Shinji with basically anyone of her friends but not herself.
    Oh, she's just saying Shinji and Amber have quite a bit in common, given their backgrounds. After all, Miyuki of all people would know how painful loneliness can be, when one is isolated by one's...circumstances.

    That, and is it so wrong to hope that Shinji keeps being Natsumi's friend? After all, they're classmates of the same age and seem to get along...
    Last edited by alfheimwanderer; April 17th, 2018 at 09:31 AM.
    "The palaces of kings are built upon the ruins of the bowers of paradise." - Thomas Paine

  6. #866
    [X] Say yes, ask Amber if she will join him for a walk, as he "needs a bit of air".

    Following that discussion we make our way to Phelan's compartment.

  7. #867
    The Dread Nekomancer alfheimwanderer's Avatar
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    Hm. So it seems we're 3-3 for Senpai and Amber!
    Last edited by alfheimwanderer; April 17th, 2018 at 03:19 PM.
    "The palaces of kings are built upon the ruins of the bowers of paradise." - Thomas Paine

  8. #868
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    [X] Say yes, ask Amber if she will join him for a walk, as he "needs a bit of air"

  9. #869
    The Dread Nekomancer alfheimwanderer's Avatar
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    [X] Say yes, ask Amber if she will join him for a walk, as he "needs a bit of air"




    "Yes. I think some air would be good," the boy remarked, shaking his head. "Though..." He glanced over at Amber, his cheeks reddening even more as their eyes met, green to grey. "Lady Gainsborough, would you do me the honor of accompanying me for a bit? I don't want to say, collapse and inconvenience anyone else."

    "Well, we can't have that, now can we, Mister Matou?" Amber quipped, with Miyuki moving aside so that the copper-haired girl could slide out. She waited as Shinji rose from his seat, his eyes roaming over her form, then looking away, embarrassed, his body a bit unsteady. "Do you need to lean on me a bit? Or--"

    "No!" Shinji exclaimed, wincing at how abrupt he'd said that. "I mean, no, that's not..."

    "Give me your arm then," she murmured. "So I can steady you if you are indeed in danger of collapsing."

    "I wouldn't want to--"

    "I took a dose of Mopsus earlier. I daresay, I won't have much trouble holding you up, Mister Matou," the girl related airily, her lips curving into a sly smile. "Especially since I'll know when you're about to fall."

    "...you and Natsumi love that potion a little too much, wouldn't you say?" Shinji quipped. Still, he offered her his elbow as she requested, as she wrapped her hand around it and drew him close. "Erm. You don't..."

    "I don't have to be this close? True, but I would rather not be accosted by some of the more boorish elements on this train," Amber remarked as she glanced over at him. "You'll protect me, won't you, Mister Matou?"

    "I, um, yes. Yes of course," the boy answered, his voice perhaps a bit higher and more strained than usual as the two of them left the compartment and stepped out into the hallway. "Thanks."

    And when the door closed behind them.

    "So...did you want to be alone with me that badly? I would have thought last night would have made you quite tired of my company," the copper-haired girl murmured, with Shinji flushing. "Haven't you had enough?"

    "Oh, never that," Shinji shot back, as they chose a random direction, their feet carrying them along.

    "So you'll never be tired of me, or will you never get enough of me? The first is charming - the second, oh how greedy, Mister Matou," Amber teased, as Shinji's whole body went red.

    "Um, uh..."

    "Girls don't like a boy that is too demanding, you know," she whispered, looking away. "Even if..."

    And then it was the young noblewoman's turn to trail off.

    "Even if...?"

    "Even if that boy is a little bit handsome."

    Shinji swallowed, feeling a bit dizzy as Amber's fingers began to trace small circles on his upper arm.

    "You uh...you think I'm handsome?" the boy said, letting out a sigh as he felt her warmth seep into him.

    "Just a little bit. One of the few to have an appreciation of culture too, unlike those boors in Gryffindor," she noted, glancing over at him with a mischievous smile. "I wouldn't be able to talk to them like this, you know. They'd be confused, probably getting the wrong idea entirely."

    "...the wrong idea?" Shinji echoed, their gazes locking for a moment before his slipped, and he noted just how close - how moist - Amber's lips were. "Whatever do you mean, Lady Gainsborough?"

    "Oh, just that they might think I like them or some nonsense like that."

    "I uh...I see," the boy stated, feeling a little unsteady - only for the touch of an invisible hand to keep him upright - and to tease his spine in the process. What was she saying? That she didn't like him? That she did, and didn't like the others? That--

    "You're confused too, aren't you?"

    "No."

    "No?"

    "Yes."

    "First no, then yes. Which is it?" Amber quipped, chuckling at Shinji's bit of disorientation.

    "...maybe a little," he admitted, with a sigh. "I just..." The boy shook his head, as his words failed him. "What do you think of me?" Shinji asked finally.

    "Ah. That question."

    "Yes. That question," Shinji confirmed, feeling rather nervous now that he'd asked it.

    "Are you terribly sure you want to know?" the copper-haired girl asked tonelessly, the absence of emotion in her voice sending a chill down the boy's spine, even as she gripped his arm more tightly. "You might not like the answer, Mister Matou?"

    "I..."

    "Think carefully before you say yes or no," Amber said, glancing over at the boy. "Because if I tell you, I won't be able to take it back. Things will change, no matter what I say. No matter how you reply."

    "...even so, I want to know," Shinji answered, looking down. "I...last night..." He swallowed. "We, uh..."

    "Go on."

    "We...k-kissed, didn't we?" the boy asked, feeling very fragile all of the sudden. It had been his first kiss too, and never in a thousand years had he expected to have it taken from him in an accident.

    "...so uncertain are you, Mister Matou?" Amber quipped, whispering into his ear. "Weren't you the one who pulled me down? So daring...you do know that...doing something like that to a noblewoman was once grounds for...terrible things, yes? At the least, you would have pay some great penalty."

    "Um..." Shinji was sweating now, wondering if the copper-haired girl was going to make him participate in some punishment game for what he'd done accidentally. He supposed he would deserve it, since a maiden's first kiss was something special.

    'Then again, it was mine too!'

    "...if I didn't like you, that is."

    Shinji froze in place as Amber's words echoed in his skull, over and over.

    "...you like me. As in like like me?" he squeaked when the ability to talk returned to him.

    "At least, I'm fond of you. Fond enough that I'll forgive you stealing my second kiss," the girl said to him, with Shinji's eyes widening at her statement. Second kiss? Then...who had been first? His mind reeled, unable to really process what he was feeling right now. "So...what do you think of me?" she asked lightly, almost shyly.

    "Well, I..."

    But before he could answer, he was interrupted by a tremendous crash, as a door just a few meters before him was torn off its hinges, with a red-haired boy slammed against the wall by a bolt of blue light, his feet thrashing about as if in the throes of some twisted dance.

    "You take that back, Weasley," came a low, dangerous voice, as Hermione Granger stepped out from the compartment, her wand pointed at the helpless boy, before she was hurled back into the compartment by a jet of sickly green.

    "Never. Eat slugs, Granger!" he snarled, brandishing his own wand, a savage look on his face as the sounds of retching filled the air, followed by thud after thud as wriggling things crawled out of Granger's mouth and fell to the floor. "Had enough?"

    'Huh. Almost like the worms in the basement,' Shinji mused idly.

    A moment later, Ron's wand went flying, as a beam of red blasted him in the chest, with the boy being hurled against the wall once more, his body slumping to the ground with unseeing eyes.

    With something like a growl, Hermione Granger stepped forward, catching the Weasley boy's wand and leveling both implements at the boy's prone form.

    "Mucus ad Nauseam Tria!"

    A bolt of green struck the boy, as Ronald Weasley's body jerked.

    "Mucus ad Nauseam Tria!"

    Another bolt, a violent convulsion.

    "Mucus ad--"

    What does Shinji do?

    [ ] Disarm Granger - whatever this is about, no one should be hurting another student when he's already down
    [ ] Step in front of Weasley, shielding the boy from Granger's spell; She wouldn't attack an uninvolved party, right?
    [ ] Turn and walk away - this isn't any of his business
    [ ] (write-in)
    Last edited by alfheimwanderer; April 19th, 2018 at 12:26 AM.
    "The palaces of kings are built upon the ruins of the bowers of paradise." - Thomas Paine

  10. #870
    [X] Step in front of Weasley, shielding the boy - Granger wouldn't attack an uninvolved party, right?

    Ok I know this sounds crazy, cause Hermione would totally attack Shinji regardless of his next action. But at this point people are watching, so we need to look like we are not the aggressor here for PR reasons. Standing here blocking Ron from her is going to get her attention and she will like a bull focus solely at Shinji as the threat. Plus she is likely to suspect that Shinji would try to snap her wand again and might have learned something to stop him if we go to disarm her ourselves.

    But Shinji knows that Amber is right here, under Mopsus who can predict when Hermione is about to strike and rip the wand from her hand if she moves against Shinji. And while Hermione would be wary of anything Shinji might do such as disarming her, she would not be suspecting Amber's move.

    Best course of action is to grab her attention and block further attack and be ready to defend himself while waiting for Amber to finish this. Have faith in Amber. And after the fight we can have Shinji give first aid since Miyuki has taught him some tricks on that field.

    Thought I am not completely against the disarm vote, its just seems far more risky. It might not work and I hate for her to snap Shinji's wand. Just don't pick walk away here. I don't think Amber would like it. Certainly not Natsumi.
    Last edited by Skull Leader; April 17th, 2018 at 11:14 PM.

  11. #871
    [x] Step in front of Weasley, shielding the boy - Granger wouldn't attack an uninvolved party, right?

    Oh boy, yolo I guess. Hopefully Amber doesn't receive a lost spell or something in the confusion. That would trigger Shinji so bad...

  12. #872
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    [x] Step in front of Weasley, shielding the boy - Granger wouldn't attack an uninvolved party, right?

  13. #873
    The Dread Nekomancer alfheimwanderer's Avatar
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    [x] Step in front of Weasley, shielding the boy - Granger wouldn't attack an uninvolved party, right?




    Unwilling to see someone be ruthlessly cursed over and over before his eyes, Matou Shinji moved, his limbs carrying him forward faster than he would have thought possible to interpose himself between Granger and her fallen foe. The bushy-haired brunette, for her part, froze mid-cast upon seeing the hated face of her mortal enemy before her, her aim going wide as the spellbeam meant for Weasley harmlessly impacted the wall instead.

    "You."

    "If you have any decency, Granger, you will stand down this instant," Shinji demanded, glaring at the girl. "Weasley's had enough."

    The girl had no response except to raise her cherry and dragon heartstring wand to cast a spell, the deadly words falling from her lips as...

    "AHHHHHHHHH!"

    Granger collapsed to the ground screaming, her wand falling nervelessly from an arm that had...been wrenched from its socket, as Shinji looked on, unable to comprehend exactly what happened.

    "...has it ever occurred to you that taunting a woman with a deadly weapon might be a bad idea?" Amber inquired, regarding the brunette on the ground impassively. "Not everyone as forgiving as I."

    "...remind me not to get on your bad side," Shinji said nervously. "Speaking of which, I'm...uh, not, right?"

    "Oh, you'd know if you were, Mister Matou," Amber quipped. Then she turned her attention back to Hermione. "Poor you, that seems like it hurts."

    "You..."

    "Let me fix that for you."

    With another surge of telekinetic force, the arm was wrenched back in place as Granger's eyes rolled up in her head, and the girl mercifully went silent - mostly due to passing out.

    What does Shinji do next?

    [ ] Pull both into their compartment and treat them
    [ ] Go back - he's done enough
    [ ] Defer to Amber
    [ ] Tie Granger up - she's proven herself to be dangerous; Check on Ron, who seems to be shivering uncontrollably and turning a strange shade of green
    Last edited by alfheimwanderer; April 18th, 2018 at 09:08 AM.
    "The palaces of kings are built upon the ruins of the bowers of paradise." - Thomas Paine

  14. #874
    [x] Step in front of Weasley, shielding the boy - Granger wouldn't attack an uninvolved party, right?

  15. #875
    [x] Treat them, move them back into their compartment and place the two wands into the care of a Prefect.

  16. #876
    [X] Tie Granger up - she's proven herself to be dangerous; Check on Ron, who seems to be shivering uncontrollably and turning a strange shade of green

  17. #877
    BC First year Shinji would have taken an attacker down himself or at least together with Harry. But Hufflepuff Shinji stands in the way and lets someone else neutralizer her. I am not sure which approach is overall the better method to have. One where you tackle everything yourself, or the other where its more a team effort, but Shinji acts more like bait.

    Well this is a important fundamental character choice we have here. Does Shinji put aside the rather aggressive past he has with Hermione and treat her just the same as any one else like a medic would? Maybe while under some restraint still. Does the action that would be seen as being the bigger man and help both, be the better action for others to see to boost how people view Shinji? It would be an action that Phelen might approve of. Or does Shinji stop trying to consider her harmless and treat her like the danger she is? Like a girl that just tried to curse him when he made no actual motion to attack her. And its not the first time Hermione has tried and failed to harm Shinji.

    Bury the hackett that the other side will not respect, or be ruthless and prove her right?

    No matter how I look at this, in the end of the day she tried to attack a person that was trying to stop the violence when the other was down. If she tried to pull a gun on a Officer of the law in the muggle world because they got in her way, she would be dead at this point. No matter who started it. At this point, Hermione has had her three strikes (more like 4 or 5 when I think about it), I see no reason why Shinji would treat her if she is not actively dying at this very moment. She keeps pointing her wand at other children with the intention to harm, and she is not using small spells here.

    [X] Tie Granger up - she's proven herself to be dangerous; Check on Ron, who seems to be shivering uncontrollably and turning a strange shade of green

    Sad thing is that I kinda like the idea of a semi-healer Shinji (well as much as Shinji could ever be one with his yin imbalance) that heals both sides, but she keeps crossing lines that makes her just as bad as the abyss she keeps staring into.
    Last edited by Skull Leader; April 18th, 2018 at 05:32 PM.

  18. #878
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    [X] Tie Granger up - she's proven herself to be dangerous; Check on Ron, who seems to be shivering uncontrollably and turning a strange shade of green

    Hope we end killing this idiot.

  19. #879
    The Dread Nekomancer alfheimwanderer's Avatar
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    [X] Tie Granger up - she's proven herself to be dangerous; Check on Ron, who seems to be shivering uncontrollably and turning a strange shade of green

    To be fair, the Knockback and Disarming spells are incredibly basic. Her wand just ups the threat level.




    Chapter 21. A Knotty Situation

    Matou Shinji dreamed, and in the dream, he found himself seated on a picnic blanket on top of the Astronomy Tower, looking over the moon-drenched lands of Hogwarts. In one direction, the Forbidden Forest stretched on into the mountains. In another, the path to Hogsmeade, where the train would soon come to bring him back to a land without magic.

    'And yet it isn't quite the moonlit world I know, is it?"


    "Hm, is there something on your mind, Matou?" a voice murmured from beside him, with Shinji turning as a beautiful girl pressed a saucer of tea into his hands.

    "Just thinking, that's all."

    "That much is obvious,” came the rather dry response. “The question is what are you thinking about?"

    From high above, the moon washed out the colors of the world, making everything a pale silver-grey, as if it had forgotten the colors in which it was supposed to be painted. The greens and browns, yellows and purples, reds and blues, the tint and hues of life.

    There was so much in the world he didn't know, which he yearned to know. And yet...

    ...knowing could be so painful.

    "Just...this and that," the boy replied evasively, not really wanting to talk about it.

    The two were silent for some time after that, sipping tea together under the moonlight, and then...

    "What is your favorite color, Matou?" his companion inquired of him, her calm voice startling the boy.

    "Huh? That's a bit random, isn't it?" the boy quipped, glancing over at the girl beside him and flushing at how, in the light of the moon, she seemed so…ethereal. So delicate. So very…otherworldly.

    "Hm? Is it so secret you won't tell me?" she questioned, her eyes regarding him evenly.

    "Well, no," Shinji admitted with a sigh. He closed his eyes, shaking his head. "If you really want to know, my favorite color is black," the boy said quietly, opening his eyes as he took in the beautiful features of the young woman sitting beside him. "It reminds me of your hair, Miyuki-senpai, which is beautiful, like everything else about you. What's yours?"

    The expression on Tsuji Miyuki's face was mostly unreadable in the moonlight, though a particularly astute person might detect a hint of melancholy.
    "Black as well.”

    “Because it is like your hair?” Shinji teased, though his words fell flat as she didn’t really react.

    “Black, like all-embracing darkness in which the stars are held," the older Hufflepuff murmured, as if he had not said anything, as she looked out over the silver lands of Hogwarts. "Like the color of the human heart. Or at least...the color of mine."

    "...senpai..." But his voice failed him, as his breath was stolen away by how beautiful she was - and how lonely her proud figure seemed in the moonlight. "I...you're not..."

    Why...? Why was she saying this? For the person who had accepted him to call herself black-hearted was...

    'It’s too cruel.'


    "A monster?" Miyuki supplied, seeming to read his thoughts, as she smiled sorrowfully. "Even when I let you grow attached to me? When I listen to your secrets without sharing many of my own? When I will inevitably leave you behind, in spite of how you feel?"

    "How I...how I...feel?" Shinji echoed, the last word coming out as something like squeak as he felt his heart pounding in his chest. "W-what are you talking about, senpai?"

    The raven-haired Hufflepuff turned and looked at him, really looked, as if seeing through every facade, every excuse, every protective layer with which he warded his innermost thoughts.

    "Pretending ignorance does not suit you, Matou-kun, but if you insist on playing this game, so be it," she murmured as she turned away, looking up at the stars twinkling in the firmament. "Even so, the moon tonight is beautiful, is it not?"

    "Yes," Matou Shinji replied, looking not at the moon, but at her shoulders and back. "Beautiful would be the word."

    "Hm. Will you always think so, I wonder?"

    "I..."
    Shinji began putting shape to his thoughts, but before he could answer, the world around him shattered, as cracks shot through the breadth and depth of it, and everything broke apart. The castle beneath him. The lands spread out before him. The sky above him. And...

    "Senpai!!!"


    The scream tore itself from his throat as the boy bolted upright, his blood pounding in his chest as he reached out his hand towards...towards empty air.

    'Huh?'

    He was sitting in bed, having moved so quickly that he'd nearly hit his head on the bunk bed, his blood rushing in his veins, his breathing ragged, a terrible expression on his face.

    That...all of that had been...a dream. Yet it had felt so real...

    The brisk chill of the night air. The glow of the moonlight. Senpai's gentle warmth and voice.

    The world breaking apart around him. Senpai...senpai falling from the Tower, slipping beyond his reach forever.

    It wasn't real. It wasn't real. So why...why was he crying?

    'I...I...'


    In spite of how the dorms were heated, Matou Shinji shivered. Today, he and many others would be leaving Hogwarts for Christmas Holidays, with senpai going off to Japan for several weeks, and him wintering over at Exton Hall – the ancestral home of the Noel family.

    'I wonder. Will it really be ok?'


    The boy found that he didn’t really know, and that grappling with the uncertainty of it was one of the hardest things he’d ever done.




    Four people sat in a private compartment in the Hogwarts Express, as the venerable train, kept in good repair after its long-ago theft from the factory in which it had been made, made good time from Hogsmeade down to Kings Cross, from which those who had spent so much time together would split once more, each to what awaited them over the holidays.

    'It seems like only yesterday I was riding the train to Hogwarts, after arriving in Britain all alone. When Miyuki-senpai and Natsumi first approached me and asked if I was alright.'


    Because he met them, he wasn't alone anymore. He wasn't alone - and he knew that someone would accept him for who he was, no matter what he did, or what he became.

    'Even if...even if senpai might be going far away.'


    Even now, the dream he'd had the night before lingered with him, and he found himself watching the raven-haired girl as she elegantly poured tea into four gleaming teacups – cups that they’d created together, with her transfiguring a napkin into an elegant vessel of porcelain and him duplicating it for her using the Gemino spell.

    ‘It’s nice that we…made something together.’


    Sometimes Matou Shinji cursed at how simple of a boy he was that he would smile so at Miyuki-senpai’s praise, and be so happy just to do something small for her, so long as he could stay by her side. Other times, he thought perhaps it was best he was so simple, lest, like Icarus, flying too close to the sun, he would plummet to his doom.

    "I didn't know you could do that, Mister Matou," Amber had noted after seeing his spellwork, her eyes full of curiosity as she glanced between him and the cups. "That's not something we learned in class, is it?"

    "It isn’t,” Natsumi confirmed, as she looked over at Shinji with a warm smile. “He was already able to do it from the first time we met."

    "Huh. That’s right, you do come from a magical family," Amber said, her bright green gaze meeting his grey, as she looked over him appraisingly. "Though Natsumi didn't mention you were already able to do magic before Hogwarts."

    "Mou...well I don't tell you everything, Amber," the chestnut-haired girl pouted.

    "Oh? Even after all our time together, Nats?"

    "I have to have some secrets," Natsumi quipped in a voice full of mischief. "After all, every girl does."

    "Hah,” Amber snickered. “Even the quiet ones, huh?"

    "Especially those."

    The two shared a look and knowing smile, as Miyuki placed steaming cups of tea before each of them, with the fragrant aroma filling the room – and bringing Matou Shinji a sense of peace.

    ‘It feels…like home.’


    Like the concept of home, anyway, not the actual, dysfunctional home which waited for him back in Fuyuki.

    "Have you been well, Amber?" the older Hufflepuff asked as she looked over at the copper-haired girl, her tone as gentle as ever.

    "I have, Lady Tsuji," Amber replied demurely, with...was she blushing? "Thank you for asking about someone like me. And you?”

    “Things proceed according to my expectations,” Miyuki responded, her elegant features betraying no sign of what she felt. “For the moment, I have no complaints.”

    "So, you don’t make Miyuki-senpai call you Lady Gainsborough?" Shinji asked, glancing over at Amber. "Even when you do it to everyone else?"

    "I don't make Natsumi call me that either," the young noblewoman pointed out, with Shinji acknowledging that with a nod. "Bit of a mouthful when you live with someone, you know. Speaking of which, it's too bad I'm not in Hufflepuff with you again, Nats.”

    ‘…that’s right. They were roommates once.’


    "Mhm," Natsumi agreed, chuckling just a bit. "Those were fun days, even without magic."

    "The best,” Amber noted, with the two sharing a rather meaningful look between them that Shinji had no idea how to even begin to read. “You, me, and Lady Tsuji, all against the world.”

    “We did alright, just the two of us, after she went to Hogwarts. Though it is nice to all be together again,” Natsumi murmured.

    "Just so,” Miyuki noted, favoring the two younger girls with a warm smile. “Though, I warn that it would be unwise to think that the best is already behind you," she said, raising an eyebrow as she sipped her tea. "Who knows what choices and possibilities might bring, after all?"

    "...surely you would, Lady Tsuji," Amber noted. "After all, you're a year wiser than all of us."

    "Were it only so," Miyuki murmured, shaking her head, with the unreadable expression that graced her features making Shinji's heart ache. "Were it only so." But then her warm, amber-colored eyes was drawn to something Natsumi was toying with – a chrome and black cylinder. "Natsumi, is that what I think it is?"

    "And what do you think it is, Miyuki-senpai?"

    Natsumi's voice...was more playful than Shinji remembered hearing before, as if she knew a secret she didn't think her older friend knew.

    "A lightsaber," the raven-haired girl said blandly.

    "...you knew?"

    Natsumi blinked, almost fumbling the so-called saber in her surprise.

    "You did have me watch Star Wars, and act out some roles, when I first came to Britain, Natsumi. Three times, actually." Miyuki noted wryly. “I believe you called it a chance to practice my English?”

    "Nats, you did that to Lady Tsuji?" Amber asked, both of her eyebrows rising high towards the ceiling, as she glanced over at her friend. "There's a limit to these things, you know. Besides, I didn't think Lady Tsuji liked movies with flashy effects, as a rule.” She looked over at Miyuki, her expression softening. “You prefer character pieces and dramas, right?"

    "When I choose to see films, which is not often,” the older Hufflepuff qualified. “I much prefer reading, with my imagination filling in the scenes from the words on the pages. Generally, I find a poor substitute for storytelling, all flash and no…substance."

    "Only generally?" Shinji questioned, curious about Miyuki’s tastes in entertainment – and not just in the very unlikely case that they might one day have a chance to watch a film together or something.

    "Star Wars is something of an exception, given how it builds on the Hero's Journey."

    “The…hero’s journey?” Shinji echoed, not having heard the term before.

    “A pattern seen in the oldest myths. Along with the seven basic plots that most stories follow.”

    “Huh. I didn’t know you studied stories so intensely,” the boy noted, curious about why this was so. He’d always thought of his beautiful senpai as someone who was more…serious about her pursuits.

    “And why not? Stories, after all, are how we understand the world and our place in it,” Miyuki murmured. “Whether we are hero or villain, human or monster, and more.”

    “…ah.”

    “On that note, what is your favorite story, Lady Tsuji?” Amber inquired. “A book, perhaps? A play?”

    “A film, actually,” Miyuki supplied, with Natsumi being the only one not surprised. "Blade Runner."

    "I, uh...do you like science fiction, senpai?" Shinji questioned, almost at a loss for words.

    "Not nearly so much as Natsumi does," the older Hufflepuff teased. "She did write once that she wanted to be a Dark Lady of the Sith for an assignment. The teacher in charge was...less than impressed."

    "...Miyuki-senpai," Natsumi groaned, with a hint of exasperation. "That was years ago."

    "So it was," Miyuki agreed, glancing at the chrome and ebon cylinder in Natsumi’s hands. “And yet…”

    It struck Shinji then that the other people in this compartment had all known Tsuji Miyuki far longer than he had, that they knew a senpai that he didn't, that they'd shared her smiles and laughs, her triumphs and frustrations from long ago.

    He'd thought…he’d thought he was special, just because she accepted him – just because he’d shared an intimate moment with her, but…

    "Are you feeling alright?" A voice jolted him from his thoughts, with Shinji looking up to find Amber looking at him worriedly, her cheeks reddening – just like his – as he met her eyes. "Your expression just now..."

    "I was just thinking," the boy murmured, shaking his head in an attempt to pre-empt this whole line of questioning.

    "Thinking? About what?" the young Gryffindor pressed.

    "The past. The present. The future,” Shinji said airily, with Amber smiling wryly at his words.

    "...A bit vague there, aren't we, Mister Matou?"

    "Perhaps, Lady Gainsborough," Shinji replied, shaking his head. "I guess I'm just wondering what...surprises the spring will bring.” He glanced over at Miyuki, hoping she’d pick up on his bit of distress. “What do you think, Miyuki-senpai? What are your hopes for the coming year?"

    "I hope to finish the current stage of my project," the young woman remarked.

    "Oh so...what you showed me?" Shinji asked, not wanting to say exactly what it was, in case she hadn’t shared it with someone else, yet wanting to make his own claim on senpai's time – to say that she’d shared something special with him too.

    "In part," Miyuki confirmed, with a slow, thoughtful nod. "There are a few other possibilities I am exploring with a collaborator."

    "Anything else?" the boy wondered aloud.

    He knew she probably wouldn’t say she hoped to stay, or that she hoped he would continue to be by her side, but there was a part of him that...

    "I hope that you continue to be a reliable friend to Natsumi," Miyuki replied with a gentle smile, her word both warming him, yet driving a dagger into his heart at the same time. "And that perhaps you will even stay awake in History class?" she added, almost as an afterthought.

    "...urk..." A strange sound escaped the boy's throat as the three girls chuckled at his expense.

    "What are your hopes, Matou-kun?" the young woman inquired, with Shinji’s stomach doing somersaults as she looked at him so…so gently.

    "...that every day I will be better than the day before." The boy swallowed, not sure what he was about to say was wise, but he continued on nonetheless, as he looked into eyes the color of the dawn. "And that maybe, in some small way, I can make…the people I care about…happy.”

    His words came out almost as a squeak, with his face red as a vine-ripened tomato.

    "I see. Natsumi?"

    "That I continue to make wonderful friends at Hogwarts, like Matou-kun and Lady Selina," the chestnut-haired girl noted, shaking her head. "And that we keep crushing the competition in challenges," she said, sharing a sly smile with Amber.

    "That much, I can agree with," Amber quipped. "Though I would also like...to find someone who understands some of my troubles. It's a bit lonely being in Gryffindor if you're not an utter boor like Phelan is, you know. There are people from big families, but they're..." Her expression was somewhat complicated. "You know what I mean, Lady Tsuji."

    "Indeed,” the older Hufflepuff agreed. “In that sense, I think you and Matou-kun would get along."

    "O-oh?" Amber remarked, her slightly less composed than before. "W-why Mister Matou?"

    "Your circumstances," Miyuki noted, with Amber's eyes widening as she glanced over at an equally startled Shinji.

    "C-circumstances?" Shinji squeaked, his face reddening as senpai turned to regard him.

    Miyuki sighed.

    "The matter with which you shared with me," she remarked obliquely. “It is something…you have in common.”

    "Oh. Ooohhhh," Shinji stated, almost sagging with relief. He'd thought...he'd assumed...that perhaps Miyuki had seen the tension between them, after what had happened at Quirrell's Christmas party.

    "Did you think I meant something else?" Tsuji Miyuki questioned.

    "Ahahaha, no. Not at all," Shinji said, not at all convincingly, since his face was beet red.

    "I see," the raven-haired girl noted blandly. Perhaps she did – perhaps she did not, and perhaps she simply didn’t care. "Matou. You do not seem well. Do you require a moment alone?"

    "Yes. I think some air would be good," the boy remarked, shaking his head. "Though..." He glanced over at Amber, his cheeks reddening even more as their eyes met, slate grey into dancing green. "Lady Gainsborough, would you do me the honor of accompanying me for a bit? I don't want to say, collapse in the hallway. It would trouble me to inconvenience anyone else."

    “So you would rather just inconvenience me then, Mister Matou?” Amber quipped, with Shinji making a rather sour face at her teasing. “Well, that’s fine. We can’t have someone else doing terrible things to you when you faint. Who knows what might happen in a hallway in a roving train?”

    “Who knows indeed?” Shinji questioned, shaking his head and rising from his seat.

    Miyuki moved aside so that the copper-haired girl could slide out, with Amber moving over to the dark-haired boy, noting how his eyes roamed over her form, then looked away, as if embarrassed.

    "Do you need to lean on me a bit? Or—"

    "No!" Shinji exclaimed, wincing at how abrupt he'd said that, though he noticed that perhaps he was a bit unsteady. "I mean, no, that's not..."

    "Give me your arm then," she murmured. "So, I can keep you upright if you are indeed in danger of collapsing."

    "I-I wouldn't want to—"

    "I took a dose of Mopsus earlier. I daresay, I won't have much trouble holding you up, Mister Matou," the girl related airily, her lips curving into a sly smile. "Especially since I'll know when you're about to fall."

    "...you and Natsumi both love that potion just a little too much, wouldn't you say?" Shinji muttered. Still, he offered her his elbow as she requested, as she wrapped her hand around it and drew him close, as she had so many times before. "Erm. You don't..."

    "I don't have to be this close?” she remarked coyly. “Well, that’s true, but I would rather not be accosted by some of the more boorish elements on this train." She glanced over at him, her eyes wide and faux-innocent. "You'll protect me, won't you, Mister Matou?"

    "I, um, yes. Yes of course," the boy answered, his voice perhaps a bit higher and more strained than usual as the two of them left the compartment and stepped out into the hallway. "Thanks."

    And when the door closed behind them…

    "Tell me…did you want to be alone with me that badly?” the copper-haired girl murmured, her tone rather more sultry, with Shinji flushing at the closeness of her. “Really, I would have thought last night would have made you quite tired of my company. Haven't you had enough?"

    "Oh, never that," Shinji shot back, as they chose a random direction, their feet carrying them along.

    "So you'll never, ever get enough of me? Oh, how greedy, Mister Matou," Amber teased, as Shinji's whole body went red, as he realized how what he said could be interpreted.

    "Um, uh..."

    "You know, girls don't like a boy that is too demanding," she whispered, looking away. "Even if..."

    And then it was the young noblewoman's turn to trail off.

    "Even if...?" Shinji pressed, seizing the chance to win back the initiative.

    "Even if that boy might be a little handsome."

    Shinji swallowed, feeling a bit dizzy as Amber's fingers began to trace small circles on his upper arm.

    "You uh...you think I'm handsome?" the boy asked numbly, letting out a sigh as he felt her warmth seep into him.

    "A little bit,” she admitted, flashing him a mischievous smile. “One of the few to have an appreciation of culture too, unlike those utter boors in Gryffindor." She lowered her voice as she leaned against him. "I wouldn't be talk to them like this, you know. They'd be confused, probably getting the wrong idea entirely."

    "The uh, the wrong idea?" Shinji echoed, their gazes locking for a moment before his slipped, and he noted just how close – how moist – Amber's lips were. "Whatsoever do you mean, Lady Gainsborough?"

    "Oh, just that they might think I like them or some nonsense. Boys can be silly like that, you know. So easily charmed by a smile and a song."

    "I uh...I see," the boy stated, feeling a little unsteady – only for the touch of an invisible hand to keep him upright – and to tease his spine in the process, making him gasp.

    What was she saying? That she didn't like him? That she did, and didn't like the others? That—

    "You're confused too, aren't you?" the young noblewoman asked with a cute chuckle.

    "N-no, of course not," Shinji replied, perhaps just a bit too quickly. “I’ve – I’ve never heard you sing, either, so it’s not like I was charmed or anything.”

    "You weren’t?"

    "I, uh...”

    "Well, yes or no. Which is it?" Amber quipped, chuckling at Shinji's bit of disorientation.

    "...maybe a little," he admitted, with a sigh. "I just..." The boy shook his head, as his wits and clever words failed him. Perhaps…perhaps he should just be direct. "I…what do you think of me?"

    "Ah,” the noble girl noted, her smile taking on an odd quality to it. “That question, hm?"

    "Yes. That question," Shinji confirmed, feeling rather nervous now that he'd asked it. Had he just…had just made a big mistake?

    "Are you terribly sure you want to know?" the copper-haired girl asked tonelessly, the absence of emotion in her voice sending a chill down the boy's spine, even as the tips of her fingers dug into his arm. "You might not like the answer, Mister Matou."

    "I..."

    "Think carefully before you say yes or no," Amber said, glancing over at the boy. "Because if I tell you, I won't be able to take it back. Things will change between us, no matter what I say. No matter how you reply."

    “Even if I pretend I didn’t hear?”

    “If you were going to do that, I might as well not bother answering.”

    "...I...please…I want to know," Shinji answered, looking down. "I...last night..." He swallowed. "We, uh..."

    "Go on."

    "We...k-kissed, didn't we?" the boy asked, feeling very fragile all of the sudden. It had been his first kiss too, and never in a thousand years had he expected to have it taken from him in an accident with a pretty foreigner.

    "...so uncertain, Mister Matou?" Amber quipped, whispering into his ear. "Weren't you the one who pulled me down? Who boldly accosted the daughter of an earl and captured her lips? How unexpected daring.”

    “I…”

    “...you do know that in the old days, doing something like that would be grounds for terrible things, yes? At the very least, you’d have to take responsibility. At the worst, you’d lose your life."

    "Um..." Shinji was sweating now, wondering if the copper-haired girl was going to make him endure some particularly cruel punishment game for what he'd done accidentally. He supposed he would deserve it, since a maiden's first kiss was something special, but—

    'It was mine too! Doesn’t that mean anything?!'


    "Well...if I didn't like you, that is," she concluded.

    Every other sound in the world seemed to fall away. The sound of the train moving on the tracks. The whistling of the engine. The food trolley in the distance. All of it – except for her voice.

    "...you…like me?” he repeated, finding it hard to believe. “As in like like?" he squeaked.

    Was this…a confession? That…that had never happened before. Ever. The one girl he’d liked before coming to Hogwarts, well, the Second Owner had laughed in his face, and that was without him trying to confess or anything rash like that.

    "Maybe. At least, I'm fond of you. Fond enough that I'll forgive you stealing my second kiss," the girl murmured to him, with Shinji's eyes widening at her statement.

    ‘She’s…fond of me,’
    he thought, his lips involuntarily twitching into a smile. But then the rest of her words hit him. ‘Wait. Her second kiss? Then who was her first?’

    His mind reeled, unable to really process what he was feeling right now, and in that moment…

    "So...what do you think of me?" she asked him, her voice…almost shy.

    "Well, I..."

    But before he could answer, reality chose to interrupt, with the rest of the world reminding him that it existed with a tremendous crash.
    Shinji almost jumped as a door just a few meters before him was torn off its hinges, with a red-haired boy hurled after it by a bolt of brilliant blue light, his wand thrust out with a cry of Rictusempra.

    “You…haha…take that…hahahaha…back, Weasley," came a low, dangerous voice, as Hermione Granger, laughing stepped out from the compartment, her wand pointed at the redhead, before she was hurled back through the doorframe by a jet of sickly green.

    "Never. Eat slugs, Granger!" Ron Weasley snarled, not in any mood to deal with the bushy-haired brunette’s overbearing personality. He looked haggard, with blood dripping from his mouth, and a savage look on his face as the sounds of retching and hysterical laughter filled the air, followed by thud after thud. "Had enough, or should I continue?"

    Some of those thuds revealed themselves to be wriggling thing – giant slugs, which to Shinji’s mind, seemed almost like the worms in the Matou basement.

    'A spell to make someone vomit slugs?'
    Shinji mused idly. ‘Handy.’

    He was about to step in when Ron's wand went flying, as a jet of crimson light blasted him full in the chest, slamming him half through the wall of another compartment, his body slumping through the hole as his eyes rolled skywards.

    With something between a growl and a hysterical laugh, Hermione Granger stepped forward once again, catching the Weasley boy's wand and leveling both implements at the boy's prone form.

    "Mucus…hehe..ad Nauseam Tria!"


    A bolt of green struck the boy, as Ronald Weasley's body jerked.

    "Mucus ad Nauseam…heheahahaha…Tria!"


    Another bolt, a violent convulsion.

    "Mucus ad—"


    Unwilling to see someone helpless be ruthlessly cursed over and over before his eyes, Matou Shinji moved, his limbs carrying him forward faster than he would have thought possible to interpose himself between Granger and her fallen foe. The bushy-haired brunette, for her part, froze mid-cast upon seeing the hated face of her mortal enemy before her, her aim going wide as the spellbeam meant for Weasley harmlessly impacted the wall instead.

    "You, ha, hahaha," she began, but the effect was ruined as she choked, with a slug tearing its way out of her mouth.

    "If you have any decency, Granger, you will stand down this instant," Shinji demanded, glaring at the girl with a mix of pity and disgust. "Weasley's had enough. And you…you need help."

    The girl had no response except to raise her cherry and dragon heartstring wand to cast a spell, deadly words falling from her lips as...

    "AHHHHHHHHH!"


    —she collapsed to the ground screaming, which coupled with the laughing and vomiting of slugs, made for a very disturbing sight indeed.

    ‘What…?’


    And then the boy noticed it – the reason for Granger’s sudden defeat.

    ‘Her arm.’


    It was…twisted, like the bone of her upper arm had been wrenched clean out of her shoulder, and both wands lay on the ground, forgotten.

    ‘How…?’


    Shinji looked on, unable to comprehend exactly what happened.

    "...has it ever occurred to you that taunting a woman with a deadly weapon might be a bad idea?" Amber inquired, walking up beside him and regarding the brunette writhing on the ground impassively. "Not everyone as forgiving as I, after all."

    “…if this is you being forgiving, remind me not to get on your bad side," Shinji said nervously. "Speaking of which, I'm...uh, not, right?"

    "Oh, you'd know if you were, Mister Matou," Amber quipped. Then she turned her attention back to Hermione. "Poor you, that seems like it hurts."

    "You...he…haha…he…." More slugs shut her up, with that and the laughter stealing away her breath so her face was quite red.

    "Let me fix that for you," the young noblewoman said beatifically.

    And then, with another surge of telekinetic force, the arm was wrenched back in place.

    Granger screamed once again, her body going limp as her eyes rolled up in her head, and the girl mercifully went silent – mostly due to passing out – though that didn’t stop the slugs from crawling out of her throat.

    “Matou, could you cast Finite Incantatem on her, please?” Amber requested. “I would rather her not choke to death, as unpleasant as she is.”

    “Uh…right,” Shinji stated, going to do just that.

    “You may want to paralyze them as well, so that neither will be able to do you any harm if they awaken,” the Gryffindor girl suggested. “Besides, it might be wise to do so with Mister Weasley anyway, since he did hit his head.”

    “…right,” the boy grunted, doing as Amber requested. “What next?”

    “I’ll take their wands and report this whole thing to the prefects,” the young noble replied. “You should…check on Weasley. He seems to be turning an odd shade of green.”

    “Ah. Will do.”

    Amber had just left when Phelan, who had gone to visit the bathroom, and on his way back, had dallied over at the food trolley, buying a number of snacks, finally returned, the smile draining from his face as he looked upon the wreckage of what used to be his compartment.

    The door had been torn from the hinges.

    Part of the wall on the other side was quite demolished.

    Papers and books were scattered, knocked to the ground.

    And inside…

    Matou Shinji was there, stooped over the battered, sickly form of Ron Weasley, with an unconscious Hermione Granger laying on the floor like discarded sack of potatoes, and both their wands were gone.

    “…what in the bloody blazes happened here?”

    A bloody good question. How will Shinji respond?

    [ ] Report what he saw - the two were in a duel that ended...badly
    [ ] Blame Granger for causing this mess and blasting Ron through a door
    [ ] Tell him to wait for Amber to get back, as she was the one who stopped it
    [ ] (write-in)
    Last edited by alfheimwanderer; April 18th, 2018 at 06:49 PM.
    "The palaces of kings are built upon the ruins of the bowers of paradise." - Thomas Paine

  20. #880
    [X] Tell him to wait for Amber to get back, as she was the one who stopped it

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