One, Two, Three.
Disclaimer: I do not own Katekyo Hitman Reborn or Harry Potter.
General Warnings: Fem!Harry; Somewhat AU in both HP and KHR verse; Skull is not just a cowardly/stupid lackey for the Arcobaleno; some liberties taken with his history.
Summary: He'd been on the verge of giving up on ever finding his Sky, then... "My name's Elanor Potter. I've been looking for you!" (For Elanor, harmonizing with Skull was easy; falling in love with him even more so. That it surprised the heck out of everyone else in the Mafia was just a bonus.)
Author's Notes: I've read and enjoyed several HPxKHR crossovers and, of course, many ideas bubbled up. This entire story sprung from a single line that was actually cut from this story, but will be used in a future one that I hope to have up in the next couple of weeks. I can't recall off the top of my head if there are any Fem!Harry/Skull pairings and figured I should throw one out there.
Saying that Skull did not get along with the other Arcobaleno was like saying the sky was blue.
What wasn't as obvious was the reason. Sure, the surface reasons – he was a civilian, he was weak, he was annoying – were true and did play a part; but, there was an underlying reason, one that made up the majority of the answer as to why there was tension between him and the others.
More importantly, the lack of it.
Skull was an outsider, an intruder in the otherwise happy little family forming right before his eyes. He was the stranger, the outlier, the leper.
Because Skull had not – and would not – harmonize with Luce. In fact, the expecting Sky had pulled him aside not long after meeting and told him that she refused outright to harmonize with him.
Not out of cruelty or because there was something wrong with him, but because he was meant for another Sky and, out of those gathered, he was the one she least wanted to risk. She'd told him that she didn't want to risk his chance at a true home with his intended Sky for a bond with her that would always be half-formed and shaky at best. Because Skull had the most to lose if he missed his chance with his true Sky, would never find a home as suited for him as the one waiting for him.
And he understood, and could appreciate it, once he'd moved past the hurt – which, give him a break, he was only 19 and had been thrown into a whole new world and had just had the chance to finally, finally find a home taken from him. He was allowed to be hurt, damn it.
But that didn't mean the others understood. Especially not Reborn, who, of those gathered, had harmonized the best with Luce despite her already having a full set of Guardian bonds and thus the bonds with the Arcobaleno would never fully form.
(Strongest Sky in the world or not, Luce herself could only encompass so many.)
All they saw was that Luce would not bond with Skull, would not form even the frailest of bonds with him as she had with the others.
And it hurt. To once more be a pariah, to be a freak, to be disliked and abused for something that he had no control over.
(It was his childhood all over again).
And he... Regretted accepting the invitation from Checker-Face, regretted leaving behind his stunt work for this, for being forced to watch others find a home, find a family, right in front of him.
And he resented it. Resented his pride for making him accept the invitation to be one of the World's Seven Strongest and he resented watching the others find belonging, find acceptance, find affectionate jokes, while he only ever got stilted conversation, cold shoulders, and heartfelt apologies.
And then came the Fated Day.
And he could no longer resent the bonds that had formed between the others and Luce because Luce had known what was coming and hadn't told them, hadn't even given them a hint.
And if Skull had had his trust broken like that – had been betrayed like that – by his Sky, he knew that something irreparable within him would've broken.
He was still furious, still devastated by the Curse, by being turned into a toddler, by losing his chances of ever returning to a normal life of stunt work, but… He was also grateful to Luce.
He understood now.
If he had harmonized with her, even the slightest bit as Viper and Verde and Fon and Lal had, his trust in Skies would have broken completely in the aftermath. He would have never again trusted a Sky and he would've missed his chance at a home because of it.
Now, even Cursed as he was, he still had a chance.
He made sure to thank her and promised to visit her and her family once in a while, just to check in.
Years passed. One, then two, then three until a decade had gone by. Then another year passed, and another and another and another. And another.
And then so did Luce.
Skull did not attend her funeral, but he did stop by afterwards to pay his respect to the woman who had ensured that he would have a chance for a real home, no matter how much it hurt at the time, no matter how slow in coming his home was.
Skull continued to stop by once in a while, checking in on Luce's daughter, Aria, whom he had watched grow through the years. He never stayed long, two days a most, long enough to catch up because while Aria remembered him as a favored cousin or uncle, she still had a family to lead and he didn't want to get in the way.
He wandered the world, doing jobs here and there, even managing to somewhat get back into stunt work, though nothing as big as he had before the Curse. For the most part, he avoided the other Arcobaleno, only seeing them when a meeting was called or if he ran into them by chance.
And all the time, he wondered when he would find his Sky. Wondered if it was worth it to keep waiting, to keep hoping. He'd gone this long without a home, without a family, and was happy enough, relatively speaking anyway. What if he had already missed his chance, had already crossed paths with his Sky but had somehow missed them?
It was a sobering – horrifying – thought.
A year passed.
It was now 1999. Skull had been Cursed for eighteen years.
He would turn thirty-seven this year, not that he looked it, being permanently stuck as a two year old and all.
He'd decided to wander around England for a while now that all the terrorist activity that'd been going on had finally stopped last year. He'd been ambling through London, debating going on a tour of the Tower, and had turned down a street that was somehow startling empty of all other beings.
The hair on the back of his neck stood on end, his instincts clamoring for his attention, insisting that something was about to happen, something big.
He whipped around, ready to walk back towards the center of London, and slammed into a pair of legs.
He swore viciously as he toppled backwards and was already halfway through an insult about 'idiots who run into the great Skull-sama!' when he actually looked up.
It was a girl in her late teens, with messy black hair that fell to her waist, eerily green eyes, and a faded scar that looked like a lightning bolt on her forehead. She was dressed casually in a pair of faded jeans, a red-and-gold jersey with '07' on the front, and a pair of worn sneakers.
And she was smiling, bright and warm, as she crouched down in front of him.
"My name's Elanor Potter. I've been looking for you," she said cheerfully, holding out a hand.
Something within clicked into place, as easily as that.
Something that felt like home.
Elanor Potter, the Girl-Who-Lived, the Woman-Who-Won, learned of him a year after the War ended.
Having never been in the Peverell family vault before, not even when she first learned that it had fallen into her possession, Elanor had set aside a day to go poking around in it. Three hours in, she'd been through several piles of jewels, found two trunks full of medieval dresses, and a rather questionable book that looked to be a magical version of the Kama Sutra (clearly, someone in the family had been a bit of a pervert) when she saw it.
Covering the entire expanse of the far back wall hung a tapestry detailing the entirety of the Peverell family from the famous three brothers. She'd traced her own heritage all the way back to Ignotus when it occurred to her that all three brothers had recent descendants.
She had ignored the line from Cadmus, already knowing what had happened to his, and instead focused on Antioch's line, which led only to the name 'Skull' and a birthday – November 2nd, 1962*.
The thread was a dull shade of silver which indicated that this Skull had some magical power; not enough to be considered a full blown wizard, but more likely a hedge wizard of some sort. Not that that mattered much to her; she honestly cared more about the fact that there was no death date. Was it really possible that somewhere out there, she had a potentially decent distant, distant, distant relative?
(Seriously, there was no sign of any marriage between Skull's ancestors and a magical British family for at least a century and a half so while the connection was very distant, especially according to British Pureblood standards, Elanor reasoned if they still showed up on a family tapestry together, it was enough to look into them.)
She had stumbled out of the vault and rode the cart back up to the surface where she paid a hefty fee (and then some because the Goblins were still a bit tetchy with her for not only breaking in, but getting out) for a ritual to track down Skull Peverell.
Elanor marveled at the Potter Luck when it turned out that Skull was currently in England, more specifically London, and she'd barely restrained a squeak of excitement. She'd thanked the Goblins for their time, wished them good fortune, and then had power-walked from the building like she'd stolen something (again). (She didn't want to risk running lest she end up making a Goblin guard think she really had stolen something because then she'd be delayed for hours).
She'd slipped into muggle London easily. Then came the real problem.
How the hell was she supposed to track him down in London when she had nothing of his and didn't know what he looked like!?
She'd been scouring the city of London for hours and found no sign of anyone who could be a Peverell, hadn't apparently even come within a ten foot radius of anyone who could be a Peverell. She was sure that family magic would ensure she noticed a relation, even one so distant as Skull, because they were, quite literally, the last two of the Peverell lines what with Cadmus' line having ended with Tom, her being the direct descendant of Ignotus, and Skull the only living one of Antioch with all others dead decades ago.
Family magic had a survival instinct almost as powerful as a Slytherin's. Family magic didn't want to go extinct, so when it became a little too endangered, it ensured that family members – no matter how distantly related or how conflicting their ideals were – recognized one another and felt a need to look out for each other.
She hadn't felt a single blip at all.
With a resigned sigh, Elanor gave up the search for the day and started for Grimmauld Place; she'd promised Andromeda she'd be over for dinner and to spend an evening with Teddy. She would apparate, but she just didn't feel like it, currently much preferring to walk and sort out her thoughts before she was faced with a three year old Metamorphamagus.
She'd turned onto her street and froze.
Not just because a toddler smaller than her Teddy wearing a purple-and-black stunt-suit and a helmet was an odd sight but because her magic blared at her, screaming 'FAMILY' the moment she was within range.
She'd finally tracked down Skull Peverell.
She just… Hadn't expected him to be a baby when she found him.
Not that that was going to stop her, of course; if anything, it encouraged her to look after him more because what the hell had he been doing to get involved in a Curse that dark, and cursed or not, whether he accepted it or not, Skull was now important to her, a part of her family.
She just didn't know where he fit in that family yet.
But she kneeled down in front of him, held out her hand and introduced herself. "My name's Elanor Potter. I've been looking for you!"
And just like that, something clicked into place, a bond between her and Skull, but not one made of family magic. No, this bond was one like what she shared with Hermione and Ron, with George and Luna.
This was something more. Something different. Something right.
Skull was her's.
In the beginning, just after they'd found each other, despite how cautious he was with her, he'd still stayed for over a month. They didn't do much; mostly, Skull just lingered around her, reveling in the new-found bond between them and all the feelings that came with it.
But he had to leave before long, not just because it was his nature, but because, weakest or not, Skull was still an Arcobaleno and the world tended to keep track of him and his movements. If he disappeared for too long, people would start asking questions. And he refused to risk his new-found Sky, the one who'd only nodded in understanding when he told her he had to leave, the one who told him only to be safe and that she hoped he would be able to visit again soon, the one who provided him with supplies and then set him free.
He returned for Christmas, appearing on the Grimmauld Place doorstep on Christmas Eve just as they were getting ready to sit down for dinner. She introduced him to Teddy and Andromeda, to Hermione and Ron, showed him that everyone in her little family was scarred just like him, was a little broken and a little crazy and yet still fit into her heart just right.
Some of his wariness faded; not all of it, but that was okay because when he left a week later, he'd promised to return for her birthday at the very least. And that alone, that promise to return and the words he'd used to make it – "I'll be back home for your birthday, Ellie-chan!" – were more than enough for her.
During one of his visits, Skull found Elanor lying on the roof of Grimmauld Place, watching the clouds lazily drift across the sky. For a moment, he considered turning back around and leaving her alone; what if coming to find her was a bad idea? What if she wanted to be left alone and he was ruining that? What if he was being too clingy!?
His worries were put to rest when Ellie tilted her head back and smiled at him, waving a hand in invitation to the spot beside her. Relieved, he plopped down beside her, and for a time, the comfortable silence held. Then, a quiet question from Ellie was answered with an equally quiet answer from Skull and before long, he was telling her about his time as a Stuntman. How he'd started out as little more than a stagehand, how he'd found himself starting small with things like knife-throwing before finding his niche in stunts, how any kind of performance that had his feet leaving the ground were his favorite to do because those few seconds he was in the air, he was happy, he was free, he was alive.
He'd cut himself off, realizing that he'd told her more than he meant, more than she probably wanted to know and even though he dreaded it, he looked to meet her eyes, ready for the ridicule.
He blushed because there was no ridicule or derision, only understanding in her eyes and a kind of awe and wonder that he'd only ever seen hints of in the eyes of the children who'd seen his performances, but it was somehow more.
"I want to show you something," she said after a moment.
A broom of all things zoomed out of a window below them and to her hand.
The sheer love and joy in Skull's purple eyes when he'd told her about his past as a stuntman had Elanor convinced that if she hadn't already Harmonized with him, it would've happened in that moment because she felt the same way about flying. The frustration and sadness that had appeared when he'd said that he could no longer do it because of his size was the same as she'd felt during fifth year when Umbridge had banned her from flying.
So when she'd seen those feelings in his eyes, seen them slowly morphing into bitterness, all she'd wanted in that moment was to help Skull get his feet off the ground once more, so she'd summoned her Firebolt and settled him before her on the broom.
And they flew.
They flew for hours, Elanor indulging in the kind of reckless, daredevil flying that had so often seen her scolded by Hermione in school. She flew above the clouds themselves to angle her broom straight at the ground into perfectly controlled plunges, pulling up at the last possible second; she zoomed through an invisible obstacle course; she flew in loops; she did it all just to hear him laugh.
(Later, she would look back and realize that this was the moment that her heart opened to the possibility of loving Skull, all set to sound of rushing wind and his wild, ecstatic laughter.)
(So would Skull.)
Hermione and Ron married. As did George and Luna.
Skull drifted in and out, always making sure to be there for her birthday and for Christmas, but still coming and going as he pleased. Sometimes he'd show up and stay only for a few days; sometimes he'd stay for weeks.
Sometimes, when he showed up, he was energetic enough to wear Teddy out, bouncing to and fro, boasting loudly of 'the great Skull-sama's skill' and they would end up in prank wars with each other, laughter echoing through halls and up the stairs until the entire house radiated with joy.
Sometimes, when he showed up, he was quiet, solemn, as distant and aloof as his element named him. They would often curl up with one another on a couch, in a chair, sometimes even sharing a bed because the warmth of another human helped to lighten the weight of the nightmares, remnants of war and battles and death, always so much death. Sometimes, she would sit up late into the night, fingers combing through his purple hair, gently tracing the scars on his face that were usually hidden with makeup and well placed bandages, doing her best to ease the pain from his face.
(Sometimes, he did the same, easing small fingers through the mass of raven hair, watching in fascination as it slipped like silk through his fingers, his mind occupied by the way it looked like moonlight on a still, black pond spreading across the pillows in the cold light of the moon. There were few things as soothing to him as playing with Elanor's hair.)
(And sometimes, especially as the years went on, Skull would lay awake, staring up at Elanor's peacefully sleeping face, wondering what it would be like if he could be the one doing the holding and hating the fact that he would probably never know because while he'd finally found his Sky, how long would he get to keep her? Would he outlive her, or would the Curse kill him first?)
She and her Mist guardian were on their second pot of tea in this week's round of 'tea and conversation' that was Luna's preferred setting when it was her bonding time with Elanor. Their topics of conversation were always wide and varied, sometimes intellectual and philosophical and other times completely nonsensical, it really just depended on where the conversation took them.
For a few moments, they had lapsed into silence, and Elanor had just lifted her cup to take a sip when she paused, eyes wide and wondering with realization. "Oh," she said faintly.
"There it is," Luna beamed, giddy at her Sky's realization and amused at how long it had taken her to come to it.
"I'm in love with Skull," Elanor said slowly, more so to herself than to Luna, eyes staring sightlessly at her tea.
She was in love with Skull.
She was in love with the way he would swear he wasn't brave, then turn around and perform daring, life-threatening stunts like it was nothing, leaving her with sudden understanding of how her friends must've felt during all of her stunts on the Quidditch pitch.
How he swore he wasn't smart – not like Hermione, he would insist, only for Elanor to scoff because was anyone smart like Hermione, really? – but give him the layout for a stunt and he could calculate the minimum speed needed to make a jump safely, adjusting it easily based on wind speed, distance of the jump, what direction the wind was blowing in and position relative to it, all without paper or even proper measurements.
She was in love with how he insisted he wasn't strong, while bearing the weight of a Curse that could take his life on his shoulders but not letting it change his outlook on life, not letting it take away his joy in life, not letting it twist him into a bitter, hateful shadow of himself that he had every right to be.
She was in love with the way he interacted with Teddy, both friend and mentor to her godson, the way he was there to listen to Teddy about anything and everything, unsure of what he should or could do but willing to try, willing to help the young boy in any way he could.
She was in love with him and all his little quirks, all his scars, all his faults and all his strengths.
She loved him for the surprised joy that appeared on his face when she or Teddy or anyone in their little family, really, surprised him for his birthday, when they sought out his company just because, when they cheered for him when he performed.
She loved him for the way he'd almost cried the first time she'd told him "Welcome home!" and how his eyes still softened when the phrase was repeated. She loved him for how he struggled to completely overcome the scars his childhood had left even now, decades after they'd first happened. She'd loved him for the way he paid homage to the man who'd practically raised him, had at least given him the tools to survive, through his obsession with and adherence to Japanese customs and culture.
She loved him in his quiet moments, when the abuse he'd suffered as a bastard child in a traveling circus and at the hands of the other Arcobaleno reared its head, when the injuries he'd gained from being thrown into fights with other Mafia without proper training ached, when his usual optimism failed and he was left to mourn all he'd lost and all he still stood to lose.
She loved him in his loud moments, when he got into an argument with Hermione to rile her up and would deliberately get things wrong just to see how far he could push her patience, when he would lose a match of Chess and, even though there hadn't actually been any cheating, accused Ron of it anyway until the pair of them were shouting increasingly bizarre insults at the other and laughing uproariously, when he and Teddy ended up on a pranking spree through the house and he would cheer encouragement to the toddler as the metamorph tried and failed to prank his godmother.
She loved Skull.
With a content smile, Elanor accepted this new fact of her life and continued on, taking a sip of her tea.
Falling in love with Skull had not happened as fast as their harmonization, but it had been as easy as one, two, three.
Skull knew he was not exactly the best guardian out there.
He was not the strongest, not the bravest, nor the smartest.
But for Ellie, for Elanor, for his Sky, he could be those things. He could be strong, he could be brave, and he could be smart.
But when she looked at him one day over tea, nearly seven years after their first meeting, and said "We should hand-fast to one another" in a completely serious manner, he was none of those things.
In fact, he'd promptly choked on the gulp of tea he'd just taken, coughing and hacking and spluttering. "W-what?!"
"We should hand-fast," she'd repeated, eerie green eyes looking at him seriously.
"Like, get m-m-married?" He'd squeaked, ignoring the high pitched sound for the sake of what little was left of his dignity.
"Basically," she agreed, propping her chin in her hand and giving him an unsure-but-game smile.
"Ellie. Elanor. W-what…?"
"I'm in love with you," she said, only the tightened hold on her mug of tea giving away her anxiety at having announced it so bluntly. "I know we can't exactly have a normal wedding, or even a normal marriage, but… But I want to marry you. I want to at least be able to know in my heart that I'm your wife, even if no one else recognizes it," she explained, flattening her bangs over her forehead in a familiar sign of nerves.
He stared at her, unable to tell if his thoughts were whirling a thousand miles an hour or if they didn't exist at all. Only two things were really coming through.
She was in love with him.
She wanted to marry him.
"Are you sure about this?" he asked hesitantly, almost not wanting to lest she realize what she'd said and change her mind. "You're right; we won't have a normal marriage. We won't kiss. We will never be able to go out on dates, or announce that we're married to anyone else. We will never have children," he warned, voice quiet and more serious that he'd probably ever been before.
Her eyes were firm as they held his, sure in her decision, even as she held back tears. "Yes."
He shouldn't agree to this, he thought. He shouldn't do this to her. He should tell her no, tell her that she needed to find someone else, someone she could have a real life with because he was Cursed and he would probably always be that way, up until he died, if he could actually die. Skull was not strong, nor brave, nor very smart. He was considered the weakest of the Arcobaleno, he was a coward, and he had many, many bouts of utter stupidity.
But he was also selfish and he wasn't stupid enough to pass this chance by and he knew that if there was ever a time to grab onto something and hold it tight, it was now. Because he loved Elanor Potter with his whole heart, his whole soul, his whole being. From the moment she had taken him flying, from the first time she'd told him "Welcome home!", he'd loved her and he would love her till the day the Curse took his life, likely even after that.
He shouldn't do this.
But… He wanted this. Desperately.
"Alright, let's get married."
It was a small ceremony held in the back garden of Grimmauld Place. Andromeda and Teddy attended, of course, as well as Hermione, Ron, George, and Luna.
It was just a hand-fasting ceremony, no real legal documents or even a ring involved, but Elanor never did anything by halves, apparently, and managed to end up magically binding the pair of them together in the closest-thing-to-marriage-that-wasn't-quite-a-marriage bond known to Magicals.
Even Skull laughed at the disbelieving expression on her face when the one presiding over the ceremony told her what she'd done. But once it was done, they sat down and ate dinner just like any other day, except now things were inevitably different.
Despite the fact that theirs was, perhaps, the most platonic marriage out there given Skull had the body of a two year old, they were happy. Skull remained at Grimmauld Place for three weeks after the marriage before he was off to wander once more, doing jobs for the Mafia (not that he needed to now) and indulging in small-scale stunt shows (which Ellie did her best to attend as often as she could).
Nothing had really changed.
Except now Skull sent back small gifts, trinkets he picked up from markets in the most recent city because he thought she would like it or because it reminded him of her, and all of Ellie's letters were signed "Love, Ellie" rather than just "Be safe!"
It was during this time that Skull received memories of the Future That Wasn't.
He hated several things, but he learned quickly that he had an especially deep well of hatred for Byakuran because in that Future…
Skull had been the first Arcobaleno to die in the fight against Byakuran. It was not surprising to him, but not for the same reasons that it was unsurprising for the other Arcobaleno, though Yuni, the then Sky Arcobaleno, seemed to have known something of the real reason.
Elanor had died at the hands Byakuran.
His Sky had died. His wife had been murdered.
And then Byakuran had boasted about it, mocking the titles she had earned, how hard she had fought, and had even gone so far as to throw Elanor's snapped wand at Skull's feet.
There had been no real reason to stay alive then, not when he could already feel the Anti Tri-Ni-Set Radiation affecting him, even with his Cloud aspect propagating healthy cells.
So, he had showed them why even though he was labeled the Weakest Arcobaleno, he had still been a member of the Strongest Seven.
(The other Arcobaleno only have flashes of the memory of Skull's death. Byakuran had forced Yuni to watch, but the Sky Arcobaleno had been half out of her mind, so in the rush of knowledge as they are restored, they saw the infamous Cloud temper finally show through in Skull, they saw the absolute rage and desolation on his face as Byakuran throws something at the Cloud Arcobaleno's feet, and they saw that Byakuran himself had to be the one to take down the enraged Cloud.
It played like a silent movie in their heads, each scene only seconds long.
Faintly, Yuni's voice was heard in the back of their minds: 'It was for her, he died for her.'
And they wondered…)
He rushed back to England, bursting into Grimmauld Place in the middle of the night and nearly getting his head blown off when he slammed open the door to their bedroom to find Elanor sitting up in bed, wand in hand and wild-eyed with fear at his violent entrance.
He didn't even stop to swear, only adjusted his balance and flared his flames to reassure her it was him and then leapt into her arms because she had died, she had been murdered, and he hadn't protected her because he hadn't even been there when That-Bastard-Byakuran attacked.
"Skull…" She trailed off, words failing her in the face of her Cloud's, her husband's, grief-anger-relief and need of reassurance. Skull's small hands ran through her hair, traced over her face, then twisted in her nightshirt as he laid his head right above her heart and listened to it beat.
He didn't move, not even when the tears started.
Elanor doused the lights, laid back down, pulled the blankets up, and curled around Skull's shaking form.
She said nothing, only held him until the tears ended and they fell asleep.
Skull did not leave. Instead, he remained in Grimmauld Place with Elanor, never very far from her side, constantly orbiting her like he was the Earth and she the sun.
No one questioned his actions, only accepted and worked around them.
Honestly, it made his heart nearly burst with affection at their easy acceptance, at how they did not ridicule him for his clinginess or call him childish, only understood and even encouraged it because it was helping him.
And he was reminded of why it had never happened before; why this place, why these people, were his family, were his home, were just his.
It came as no surprise, then, to any of his family that he reached a new level of twitchy when a letter from Reborn arrived and had parts that were so fucking illegible that he couldn't read them without aid, aid that he can only receive from a pacifier spring, the closet of which is in France.
He destroyed two of the dummies Elanor kept available for training while he tried to decide what to do and was halfway to ruining the third when his wife had swept in, announced she desperately needed a bottle of white wine from the Château-Chalon as a gift for a friend, and had asked him to accompany her to Jura, France to pick it up.
(He hadn't known it was possible to fall even more in love with her.)
It was only years of experience and the lack of Reborn that had gotten Skull through the meeting with the other Arcobaleno. As it was, Fon still seemed to pick up something beyond Skull's feigned casual air as he reclined on a rock and listened to the others; but that wasn't too big of a surprise because it was, after all, clouds that stirred a storm.
Fon was remarkably in tune with Skull, even if they weren't and hadn't ever been elements of the same Sky.
All the same, thank God for his jump suit and helmet. He'd been sweating bullets just at the thought of Elanor in the same country as other Arcobaleno; that she was in the same province, literally fifteen minutes away from their location, was enough to make him want to faint.
When the meeting concluded, Skull swore mentally the entire time Fon lingered, as if waiting for Skull to crack and spill what was bothering him.
Any other time, for any other reason, Skull would have, but the secret he was protecting was Elanor and nothing, nothing, not even Reborn would make him divulge that.
Fon had left with his curiosity unabated and Skull ensured he wasn't being followed before rushing back to Ellie's side.
When the dream came and with it the chance – the offer – to break his Curse, Skull only had to take one look at his wife to know that he was going for it, was willing to risk everything for the chance to hold her, willing to bet everything for the possibility of them achieving true happiness.
The only issue was finding representatives for the battle; he supposed he could always trick the Shimon family into fighting for him…
"We'll go with you," Elanor volunteered, emerald gaze gleaming with determination from across the table where they sat as they'd discussed his dream and what it could mean for them. Skull barely had to think about it before he turned her down flat.
"No, Ellie, you're not getting involved with this," he refused, mentally wincing when her eyes narrowed. He started talking faster. "I know you want to help me because this is a chance we never thought I'd get, and that makes me nervous. It's possible, more than likely really, that there is something more going on than we know about and I'm not willing to draw attention to you. I'm not willing to risk you," he finished stubbornly.
She pursed her lips, finger tapping her mug once, twice… It paused before the third tap and curled instead around the edge of the mug and Skull released the breath he'd been holding. Good, she was annoyed but willing to compromise with him.
"Ron and Hermione will go with you. And they will be in contact with me, so if something goes wrong, I will know and can aid you. This is the only way I will agree to remain behind," she offered.
"Only if you agree to certain codes that have to be said by me, Ron, or Hermione before you are allowed to come and help so you won't be running there the first chance you get," he returned, fondness filling him when Ellie she pouted at him. They stared at each other for a moment, trying to make the other give in, before she groaned.
"Fine," she agreed.
"Then you have a deal," Skull grinned.
Hermione freely admitted that when she had first met Skull Peverell, better known as Skull de Mort, she had not been impressed with him. The Curse that had turned him into a two year old was fascinating but she didn't understand what it was about the purple-haired child that had resonated so strongly with Elanor that they had harmonized on first meeting.
He was loud, childish, and a complete idiot but she had tolerated him for Elanor because he was a fellow element in the same sky, he was a distant relative of Elanor's and she needed all the (relatively) decent ones she could get, and because something about the man-turned-child completed Elanor in a way previously unseen and unknown.
It had taken a year, no small amount of eavesdropping, and one unplanned visit to Grimmauld Place for her to change her mind about him. To see the loud and childish declarations of his greatness for the shield it was, to see the lack of interest in learning was not because he was just an idiot who held no stock in knowledge as she had first labeled him but that he struggled to read and thus learn, having never been properly taught beyond the absolute basics because what need did a bastard child who threw knives and did stunts for the circus have for reading beyond a third grade level?
And then she'd floo'd to Grimmauld unannounced and had found Elanor and Skull comparing stories of scars, the results of abuse and battle, and she'd been so ashamed of herself, so disappointed that she'd fallen into the same mindset that she and others her age had risked their very lives to see ended that she'd turned right around without letting them know she'd even been there.
She'd gone home and cried; the next day, she emerged with a game plan.
She was the 'Brightest Witch of Her Age' and Skull was family now; it was only right that she help her family out anyway she could. So the next day, she'd returned to Grimmauld, snatched Skull up from where he sat with Elanor, and had taken him to the library where she proceeded to drill him on his knowledge and then set about improving it.
(Elanor had cornered her later and hugged her so tightly as she whispered her gratitude that Hermione had worried for a moment that her ribs would crack even as warmth flared within her at the sheer pride and love and joy radiating from her Sky.)
Since that day, Hermione had been unable to tolerate anyone who treated Skull with any kind of disrespect. Not just because Skull was her fellow guardian, nor just because he had gone on to later become her best friend's husband, but because he was her friend, her family, and she liked him for who he was and on his own merits, and she refused to let anyone look down on him or find him lacking, not even himself
Needless to say, she rather strongly disliked the other Arcobaleno on principle alone.
So when Elanor had asked her and Ron to go with Skull, to represent him in a tournament for the chance to break his Curse, to fight for him when he refused to let her do it, she had agreed to do it without a second thought, practically leaping at the chance to show the supposed World's Strongest what happened to those who messed with Hermione Granger's family.
After all, war had taught her many things, ruthlessness among them. To grab at any chance for happiness and hold onto it was another, and this was Elanor's, was Skull's, chance at happiness and if there could be only one victor in this battle to have the Curse broken, then it was damn well going to be him, hang the rest.
She would see him win and see his Curse broken if it was the last thing she did.
Skull still sought out the Shimon family and asked them to fight for him as a way to distract the others from his real family. Sadly, his plan failed and only Enma agreed to help him out, though it was a close call because not long after he'd gotten Enma's agreement to represent him, Reborn and Tsuna had approached to ask Enma to join them.
Enma had refused, telling them he was already Skull's representative, but was willing to make an alliance when Tsuna had offered one.
Skull and Reborn both refused.
Skull didn't want Reborn near his family as often as the Hitman would be as an ally. The less the others knew about his life outside of their previously known knowledge, the happier he was.
When Reborn and Tsuna were gone, Skull introduced Enma to Hermione and Ron, calling them simply the Twin Lieutenants. Enma was relieved that he was not the only person representing the Cloud Arcobaleno, but also felt a healthy dose of wariness and respect for the pair who stood behind Skull.
They were dangerous.
The first day did not go as Mammon and the other Varia members expected it to.
They had chosen to eliminate Skull first; it was public knowledge the Cloud was the weakest Arcobaleno and not exactly well liked by anyone, so it was unlikely for him to have many representatives, if any. It would be an easy fight, so they assumed.
So that first day, they'd stalked the Cloud down, saw he only had that Shimon kid with him, and had attacked without another thought, sure of their victory.
Then two people they hadn't known about had appeared from nowhere and, combined with Shimon's power of gravity, the Varia had their asses absolutely handed to them.
Their only consolation was that Xanxus, and thus the boss watch, weren't with them, so they didn't lose anything beyond their pride.
When Squalo, Belphegor, Leviathan, and Lussuria described what they remember of the pair who'd ambushed them after dragging themselves away, Mammon went still.
"You're sure?" the illusionist asked, baffling the Varia.
"You recognize that trash?" Xanxus had growled, his eyes alight with bloodlust.
"The descriptions sound familiar, I need to be sure," the Mist replied.
So the Varia hunted down the Cloud Arcobaleno and his team once more and found them lingering in a park, the rest of the Shimon brat's family now with them.
At the sight of the two adults sitting a bit further away, talking with Skull, Mammon paled beneath his hood.
"Lieutenant Granger. Lieutenant Weasley," the illusionist said, the sheer disbelief, confusion, and almost fear in Mammon's voice catching the Varia's attention and making them uneasy.
The Mist Arcobaleno floated slowly closer, as if unwilling to go near them, but unable to stop and by the time the illusionist was within range, the area was silent and all were watching Mammon's movements.
"How?" Mammon demanded of Skull when he was close enough. "How do you know them!?"
The eyes of the brunette and the red-head narrowed, then exchanged glances with both each other and Skull; silent conversation passing between them that undercut any potential excuse Skull could give.
And for the first time in the decades Mammon had known Skull, the Cloud refused to say a word.
Mammon tried to warn the other teams to beware of Team Skull, but was largely ignored, the other Arcobaleno unwilling to listen or consider the possibility that the Skull, the weakest, had found allies capable of actually giving them a problem.
The Varia gave Team Skull a wide berth, not willing to engage them until Mammon informed them of what they were up against, but the Illusionist could only get out the words "War heroes" and "dangerous" before words failed and nothing more could be said on the topic.
At the end of the second day of the battle, members of the Vindice appeared and attempted to steal the wrist watches of Team Skull.
Attempted and failed.
Oh, several of the Shimon family had been eliminated from participating but just when the Vindice thought they were successful, that they had completely eliminated Skull from the battle and had already warped away, the wrist watches they had taken quite literally disappeared from their hands.
Further attempts at taking them also failed, even when the members of Team Skull were beaten to within an inch of death.
The Vindice sought easier prey
Despite Reborn's lack of belief in Mammon's warning, that they should be wary of Team Skull because he had two "aces" that would make him a difficult opponent, Tsuna had not forgotten it. It was better to say that his intuition refused to let him forget it, pinging in a warning anytime his mind drifted to Skull's team and whoever it was he had gathered.
This whole battle confused him.
Something about it was just off and it was constantly making him itch, making him uneasy.
So when it finally clicked for him what the result of this whole battle was, he had not hesitated to first call on Team Skull and request they gather with him and the others for a meeting because 'he had an idea.'
He just… Hadn't expected it to be so tense.
And it was tense.
The moment Skull had stepped into the clearing and saw Byakuran, tension had filled the clearing, murderous intent unlike any had previously felt from the Cloud Arcobaleno focused on the ex-Mare ring holder.
Skull did nothing. Said nothing. He sat and listened to Tsuna's plan, to what the Vongola heir had to say, to his plan to truly break the Curse, to his request for others to join him in his plan.
It is only when Byakuran cheerfully added that 'bringing in another Sky and its elements would help and would Skull happen to know one?' that Skull's control fractured, his shadow warping as it stretched and shrunk repeatedly in a visual sign of how the Cloud struggled to reign in his rage.
"She did say we should call on her if we needed the help," the red-headed man at Skull's back said cautiously, eyes on Skull as he ignored the sharp glance from the brunette woman at his side.
"No," Skull snarled. "We are not bringing her here. Especially not around him," the Cloud gestured to Byakuran.
"Maa, Skull-chan -,"
"Don't. Speak. To. Me."
The Arcobaleno shifted at the deadly rage in Skull's voice, seeking each other's gaze in hopes of the other having knowledge as to why Skull bore such a grudge towards Byakuran. Only Yuni's eyes were filled with a sad kind of understanding as she watched Skull, watched as the possessive Cloud temperament broke through Skull's no-good mask.
"After all you did, you stand there and expect me to pretend that it never happened just because your mistakes were fixed? You expect me to forget the words you said, the actions you committed? You dare expect me to forgive you? Like hell," Skull spat. "I'll help with this plan, but you'd better pull some more Sky flames out of your ass, Gesso, because there will be no other Skies," he declared and then, without another word, Skull stalked from the clearing, shadow still writhing with rage.
When he was gone and the two representatives with him, all in the clearing breathed a sigh of relief as the air grew light, though many stared at Yuni and Byakuran in question.
The man said nothing, only shifted uncomfortably, but Yuni answered their unspoken question quietly.
"In the other timeline, Byakuran killed Skull-nii's Sky."
They were left reeling by the revelation that Skull had found his Sky, especially the Arcobaleno who had known him for decades, but it all made a terrible kind of sense now.
His plan had worked. Thank God, Tsuna had thought fervently.
Checker Face – no, Kawahira had been convinced to try the system Tsuna had come up with, passing the responsibility of watching over the Tri-Ni-Sette to the Vindice, and even donating his own Mist flames to the process.
Skull's two representatives had also helped out, the strength of their flames only slightly trailing behind that of the Arcobaleno.
They had left not long after the Curse was broken though Skull remained behind to stay with the other Arcobaleno in hopes that Verde might find a way to return them to their adult forms faster.
It was two of the worst months of Skull's life, but Verde managed it.
Three days later, there was a celebratory picnic in honor of the Curse being broken and the Arcobaleno being returned to their original forms. Tsuna had had to have Vongola rent out an entire park in Namimori to accommodate the sheer amount of people present – from the Shimon and the Giglio Nero to the Varia and all the Chaos they brought with them.
But not even the chaos could distract the former Arcobaleno from the fact that something was disturbing Skull.
He was anxious, his purple eyes darting constantly in the direction of the front gate, his fingers fiddling with his stunt suit.
Honestly, it was all a bit fascinating how wound up and restless the Cloud was getting; no doubt he would have vanished days, weeks, ago if Verde hadn't demanded they stay together for at least another few days so he could ensure that nothing would go wrong with hastening their return to adult form.
All the same, Skull's nerves were getting on theirs and Reborn had just opened his mouth to demand an explanation from the lackey when everything about Skull stilled, his focus narrowing in on something in the distance.
They followed his gaze – and blinked.
Where no one had stood before, about twenty yards away, there now stood a woman. She was rather petite, dressed in casual clothing and too far away to make out any features beyond her pale skin and midnight hair.
That was apparently enough for Mammon because the Illusionist stiffened, hand darting out to catch Skull's wrist as the Cloud stood, but Skull avoided the movement easily and loped off with a never-before-seen grace.
They could only stare as Skull approached the woman, towered over her, his posture and every movement reverent and protective as they shared a few words.
Then the purple haired man simply reached out, sank his fingers into the hair at the base of the woman's head and pulled her to him, drawing her into a long kiss. When Skull – finally – pulled away, his fingers stroked the contours of the woman's face tenderly, then he kissed her forehead and dropped his hand to lace his fingers with her's.
Before they could full recovery from what they'd just seen, Skull and the woman were right there.
She was a pretty woman, not even the fading scar on her forehead taking away from her appearance, rather adding an edge to it. Her eyes were a green so vibrant they were almost inhuman and set in an aristocratic face with smiles tucked into the corners of her lips.
She was smiling now, but there was something almost predatory hiding behind the friendly expression.
Then, in a move parallel to the one that had changed Skull's life so many years ago (not that they knew that), she held out her hand.
"My name's Elanor Peverell. I'm Skull's wife."
Colonello and Lal choked on their drinks.
Verde's right lens shattered.
Fon blinked, silently stupefied.
And Mammon made a strangled noise, swaying dangerously on the bench.
Yuni only giggled and reached out to shake Elanor's extended hand, wearing a wide smile as she mentioned how nice it was to finally meet Skull's Sky as the man himself laughed himself silly at the similarity of the words Elanor had used to introduce herself.
Pleased at the small scale devastation she had caused, Elanor had returned Yuni's smile and pleasantries before she was dragging Skull away to meet more of those who had been involved in the breaking of his Curse.
By the time Elanor and Skull left, a trail of chaos a mile wide was left behind.
Later that night, back in Grimmauld place where they belonged, Elanor smiled up at Skull from where she was curled in his arms. The purple-haired man could only smile back, helpless not to return the expression in the face of such love and accepting adoration and, for a moment, he feared he was dreaming.
His arms tightened around her waist and then Elanor was stretching upwards, kissing him once, twice. A third time.
She pulled away, but just barely, and she smiled at him once more, a hand lifting to comb through his hair and gently trace the scars on his face that were usually hidden by makeup and carefully placed bandages.
Then, quietly came three words that made his heart swell with emotion and had since they'd first been said to him.
"Welcome home, Skull." I love you.
"Tadaima, Elanor." I love you too.
*This isn't Skull's canon birthday, but I just couldn't quite resist the idea of "The Immortal Stuntman" being born on All Soul's Day/Day of the Dead.
I'm quite fond of this little (pfft, little, try 9,000 freaking words) story for it having been written entirely in roughly three days.
Hope you enjoyed~