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I also want to thank amitai because that writer proves that damn it is never too late to update!

Chapter 13: arithmancy over divination

"I don't want to." Luffy actually stops eating the first breakfast feast of the new school year to cross his arms.

Ace sighs. His little brother is incredibly stubborn. Anyone else would likely have folded by this point at his utter mulishness. As it is, the only one to match Luffy's pigheadedness is Ace himself, which is why they're still having this argument.

"Don't be like that," Ace says.

"But it sounds stupid!" Luffy replies.

"Hermione's not exactly psyched about it either, but she's going," Ace says.

Hermione nods. "It's important to try as many things as you can! Even if it does seem... farfetched."


"Just agree to take Divination already," Ace gripes. "You're only dragging it out."

"I'd appreciate if you made a decision sooner rather than later, Mr. Potter. I'd like to move on to other students, if you don't mind," Professor McGonagall says with an arched brow.

Her disposition is usually strict (particularly when she deals with Ace and Luffy), but in this instance, it's especially deserved. Hermione and Ace have been trying to convince Luffy to take Divination with them for the past ten minutes, all under the eyes of their house head. It isn't their fault they're so unprepared! Ace never anticipated Luffy would be so unwilling. It's not like his brother has ever minded trying strange and improbable things, so his stubbornness on this subject is frustrating as well as curious.

"Oh, come on, Luffy," Ace urges.

"Luffy?" Professor McGonagall asks. "Another nickname I presume?"

Ace nods, feeling a little flush under her amused and exasperated gaze.

"The two of you possess perfectly sensible names, yet you insist on these strange pseudonyms."

"But Ace doesn't look like a 'Ron' to me," Luffy says. "That's weird."

Ace looks to the side and murmurs something about Luffy being good at flying and the leading edge of a ship's sail. McGonagall only sighs.

"Mr. Potter, in order to complete your third year, you must fulfill the required elective hours. Either pick something else or agree to take the class." The professor makes a short motion to nip Luffy's arguing in the bud. Luffy then turns to Ace.


"No. I'm not taking anything else, Luffy."

McGonagall taps her foot for a moment before finally saying, "If it is truly unbearable, I will allow you to change your schedule, so long as you do it sometime this week. Afterwards will be too late."

"Fine, I'll take it," Luffy mutters.

With a flick of her wand, three schedules float in the air which the trio take.

Luffy's face is an exaggerated frown as he looks his over, but Ace beams. Divination is placed in the same spot as it is on Ace's schedule. He almost thought Luffy was going to pick a different class and then they really would have gotten into it. Ace glances over at Hermione to see her schedule (though he knows they share most all the same classes), but sees her tucking it away. Probably afraid of losing it and missing the first day of class. Likely one of Hermione's nightmares, Ace thinks.

"Thank you, Professor," Ace says, exhaling. He's glad this is over.

"Now then. You all ought to hurry or you may miss the first Divination lesson." With that, Professor McGonagall departs, heading to a group of second years.

Ace turns to ask Hermione if she's ready to leave, only to discover she's already gone. The redhead blinks. She was here a few moments ago, he thought...

"Let's go," Luffy says with a sigh.

"Hermione—" Ace cuts himself off, glancing around. The hall is steadily emptying so he stands and shoulders his bag. "I guess it's not like she's going to miss class."

The two begin the long trek up the spiraling stairway that leads to Professor Sybil Trelawney's classroom. The brothers run into Dean, Seamus, and Neville on the way up (all rather out of breath) and walk the rest of the way together, wondering to each other what the class is going to be like.

Covered with smoke and very... vague in general isn't really what Ace was imagining. He's at one of the middle tables with Luffy, waiting for the Professor to finish her long introduction so class can start and he can find something substantial among this smothering atmosphere...

"...on, Ron, Ronald!"

Ace jerks awake. He lifts his head to find Professor Trelawney staring down at him with narrow eyes while many of his classmates giggle and smirk. Ace turns to find Hermione, who must have slipped in sometime after he nodded off, an exasperated and unamused expression on her face. Ace isn't the slightest bit surprised to realize he drifted to sleep. The air is too thick to keep a clear head.

"Ron!" Hermione snaps again, and Ace starts at the suddenness.

"Now that we're all awake, I'd like it if you each drank the tea in front of you and then switch cups with the person opposite you," Professor Trelawney says.

Ace rubs his head as he notices the shiny pink teacup placed in front of him. No wonder she noticed he was asleep. The three of them try to drink the tea quickly to actually start doing something in the class (besides sleeping), but the liquid is hot, and Luffy and Hermione have to pace themselves. The heat doesn't bother Ace though, and he finishes in record time.

Hermione stares at him for a moment before blowing on her tea and holding out a hand for his cup. He shrugs and passes it over. The witch stares at the black splotches of tea leaves at the bottom of his teacup before sighing and pulling out her copy of Unfogging the Future.

"Well, if I'm reading these remaining ground up leaves right," she says with a sudden dose of sarcasm "You are destined to suffer and enjoy the fact."

Ace blinks and leans over to stare at what prophecy rests in the bottom of his cup.

No prophecy, just black gunk. "Where'd you get that?" he asks, meeting her eyes with a dry smile.

"This clump of tealeaves very slightly resembles a crooked cross. That represents suffering," Hermione points out for him. "And this is a blob, so according to the book it's a sun, which stands for happiness. Happy suffering."

"Oh." Ace doesn't really know how to reply to that. "I'm a masochist, apparently."

Hermione gives him a wry grin as she finishes her tea. "Apparently."

"My turn!" Luffy eagerly reaches forward and claims Hermione's teacup. He hums to himself as he examines it from multiple angles. Ace rests his head on his hands and waits with a smile. "Okay, I'm pretty sure this blob is meat. And this one is also meat. There's some more meat in the corner. So I guess you have a lot of meat in your future. Lucky!"

From the table beside them, Seamus, Dean, and Neville start chuckling at Luffy's typical words.

"Oh, come on, Harry, try a bit harder," Hermione says with exasperation.

Luffy's lips twist in concentration and he tilts the teacup so far forward the wet leaves almost spill out. "Well, this bit sort of looks like a book," he says.

Hermione nods in approval. "Knowledge, that sounds about right. I've always been interested in becoming more knowledgeable."

"...No, actually I'm pretty sure it's a steak." Luffy starts flipping through Unfogging the Future. "This is alphabetical, right?"

Ace laughs merrily as Hermione sighs with frustration.

"Never mind," she mutters. "Who knew Divination would be so enlightening?"

"Ace's turn!" Luffy tells him, shoving his own teacup into the older brother's hands.

Ace takes the cup and looks over the rim and sees... just dark, wet tea leaves. How is he supposed to find a shape in this?!

"What is it? Do you see meat?" Luffy asks. Ace opens his mouth to lie to his brother and say that he sees pork, beef, duck, chicken, alligator, lamb, and bear, but Trelawney is suddenly beside him.

He hesitates under her wide, bespectacled gaze.

"Do not feel inadequate, dear. The gift is harder for some to access than others." She stares down at him with a pitying smile that Ace is sure isn't purposeful. That may be more annoying. Hermione even makes a face at the Professor as she settles near them.

"Let me look at the cup," Trelawney says. Ace rolls his eyes and hands the pink teacup to the professor, wondering what she's going to uncover in the black smudgy mess.

When she drops the cup and gasps, Ace sits up straighter. Professor Trelawney staggers away from their table, a pale look on her face. Now everyone's staring, their own teacups forgotten.

"What is it, Professor Trelawney?" Padma Patil asks.

"My dear boy," Trelawney says to Luffy and Luffy alone. "You have the Grim!"

Her words set off a rush of small exclamations and murmured questions about what exactly a 'Grim' is. Ace already knows. He remembers stories Fred and George used to tell Ace to frighten him as a child. He remembers his mother letting him know that the Grim was nowhere near the house and would never visit. He remembers how she never denied the existence of the omen.

And Luffy is...?

"What's a Grim? Can I eat it?" Luffy asks.

"The Grim is an omen shaped like a black dog. It foreshadows great misfortune," Dean reads from the textbook, having turned straight to the page. "Often times it can be— it can be an inauspicious sign of death."

The class seems to gasp as one. Luffy stares at the professor, unfazed by what's just happened. Hermione is crawling over the table to reach the teacup to investigate for herself and Ace's mind is finally thawing from its frozen state.

"That is the stupidest thing I've ever heard." Ace stares at the professor with narrow eyes. An entirely different kind of gasp overtakes the classroom but Ace isn't paying them the slightest bit of mind.

"Excuse me," Professor Trelawney says, stunned. "You will not make such comments about the complex art of Divination, even if you find the readings difficult to accept."

"More like difficult to believe." Hermione enters the conversation. "This doesn't resemble the image in the textbook at all!" Now everyone is trying to see what Hermione's talking about. Seamus goes so far as to walk to their table and lean over Hermione's shoulder. The witch's face is defiant as she shows her classmate.

"Divination lies within the mind's eye!" Trelawney exclaims. "As I said in the beginning of class, one either has the Gift or not. It cannot be divined from the pages of a book. Books only cloud one's Inner Eye."

Ace shouldn't. It would be rude and unnecessary and he'll probably get scolded by Hermione later... but it's too tempting. "It's not just your outer eyes that need glasses," he retorts.

The professor's mouth falls open and everyone stares at him. Luffy alone starts laughing into the silent classroom. The clock bells go off, signaling the end of class. Ace wastes no time getting his and Luffy's books back in their bags. Grabbing his brother by the hand, he speeds them out of the door before the still dumb-struck Trelawney can take away points from Gryffindor or assign detention.

He grips his brother tight, all but seething as he goes down the steps. It's ridiculous of her to say something like "Luffy will die." Because it won't happen. Not while Ace is here to protect him. He already failed once; to admit there is even a possibility of failing again is something his mind and heart can't take. He's resolved this within himself. Ace will take anyone who challenges his resolve down.

Suffice it to say, they will not be returning for a second class.

Luffy's still laughing by the time Hermione comes down the stairs. Her expression is stern and Ace sighs and prepares to accept his lecture.

"That was incredibly rude, Ron... but also a rather brilliant retort." She turns and heads for Transfiguration with many of their other peers who are descending the stairway. Ace and Luffy follow after exchanging surprised smiles.

"You don't like her, do you?" Luffy says.

"Imagine Hermione not liking a professor, how strange," Ace teases.

Hermione shrugs. "I don't have much respect for such an inaccurate and soft art like Divination. Not like Arithmancy. Now that is an interesting class."

Ace blinks. He could have sworn Arithmancy was set at the same time as Divination. Plus Divination was the first period of the day... Ace shakes his head and enters McGonagall's classroom with Hermione and Luffy in tow.

As they sit down, Ace senses the stares and whispers of their peers and grins. He wonders if they're gossiping about him or Luffy; there's really no way of telling.

A few minutes into the lesson, Professor McGonagall purses her lips. "What is it that has you all so stirred up? You've not been silent this whole class! Tell me, Longbottom."

Neville stares at her with startled eyes. Ace respects the Transfiguration teacher a great deal, if only for her ability to get to the bottom of a matter in moments.

"Well, uh, we were in Divination and—"

McGonagall sighs. "Who's dying this year?"

Everyone blinks, except Luffy, who shoots his hand in the air.

"Me!" And, Merlin, why does his brother have to chirp?

"You certainly don't seem too put out by this," the professor notes with amusement.

"I don't want to die or anything," Luffy says. That's good. But his brother goes on. "But if I do, I'm kind of excited to find out what I'll be reincarnated into! I hope it's like a centaur or something awesome like that!"

"Reincarnation?" The professor raises a brow.

"Stupid." Ace shakes his head at his little brother. Of course it's the reincarnation aspect he's focusing on. That's so typical of him. But Ace won't have it. "That reading she gave was utter rubbish! The whole thing is rubbish."

"Two points from Gryffindor," Professor McGonagall says, and Ace should have seen that coming. The teacher continues, "Having said that, while I would not have used those very inappropriate terms, Mr. Weasley is correct. Divination is one of the most... imprecise branches of magic there is. So, you must forgive me, Mr. Potter, if I do not let you skip out on the essay I'm assigning. If you do die, I won't make you turn it in."

With a dry smile that provokes easy laughter from the class, the lesson continues with only minimal staring and whispering.

After the class finishes, Ace, Luffy, and Hermione stay behind. McGonagall seems to have been expecting this, and she wordlessly guides them to her office. It's a tidy room, filled with shelves of thick books and the occasional magical device. Ace eyes at the dark green curtains, a shade similar to one of her preferred robes.

"Correct me if I'm wrong, but I feel rather safe in assuming that at the very least neither you nor Mr. Potter will be continuing the course?" she asks.

He sighs and nods. While the somewhat smug look on his brother's face is slightly irritating, not having to face Trelawney again is a massive relief.

"I told you it would be stupid!" Luffy exclaims.

"While the branch is not as precise as other branches, it is inappropriate to look down on and discredit the art," McGonagall says, lips tight.

"I don't think it's rubbish," Luffy says. "I just think trying to foresee the future is dumb. Why would I want to know what happens? That ruins the entire adventure!"

"Of course." Ace should have caught on to his brother's train of thought far earlier.

"Typical." Hermione grins as she speaks.

Even McGonagall can't help but offer one of her small smiles at Luffy's words and shake her head. "Well, as that is the case, I need to assist you two in finding another class."

"Oh, Professor, I don't think I'll be staying in Divination, either," Hermione informs her, looking guilty for admitting she's less than in love with a class.

"Very well, I'll remove all of you from the class roster," Professor McGonagall says. "But the pair of you need to pick another elective. While Miss Granger is taking multiple electives, neither of you two are meeting the criteria now."

Hermione breaks out in a pleased blush.

"Do we need some kind of elective to be Aurors?" Luffy asks, surprising Ace with his forethought.

McGonagall also looks surprised. "No, most of the recommended classes are core classes. I suspect being an Auror is a career choice you are considering quite heavily?"

Luffy shrugs. "It's the only one with lots of adventure from what I know."

"Curse-Breaking is another rather dangerous profession," McGonagall tells them, dryly. "Which I imagine might speak to you."

Ace grins. "Of course! Curse-Breaking! Why didn't I think of that?!"

"Curse-Breaking?" Luffy asks.

Hermione has it covered. "Curse-Breakers are individuals who go to cursed temples or houses, usually in remote areas, and break the spells blocking the entrance or the curses that would hurt people who try to enter. After that, they usually get to help in the excavation of the artifacts or treasure they may find."

"Treasure?!" Luffy exclaims. "That's the best sign for adventure ever!"

Ace feels similarly. That isn't a bad option at all! "What classes do we have to take for Curse-Breaking?"

"To open that possibility, the two of you would have to take both Arithmancy and Ancient Runes," McGonagall tells them. The two brothers exchange looks. While those classes sound difficult, the pay-off of having Curse-Breaking as an optional career path would be great. Ace just hopes Hermione would be okay helping them through it. From the wide, beaming smile on her face, he figures she's alright with it.

"Sign us up!" Luffy says determinedly.

"Please, Professor," Ace seconds.

"Very well." McGonagall dips her head. "I must warn you that these two classes are some of the most challenging Hogwarts currently offers, but I encourage the two of you to stick with it at least for a year. I do not want to see you back in my office anytime soon."

"Okay," Luffy says, grinning.

"Thank you." Ace smiles. The Transfiguration professor pulls out her wand and makes a movement to create two new schedules for the brothers. While it seems intimidating, Ace thinks it'll be worthwhile.

Besides, surely it can't be too hard...

He turns to ask Hermione for her notes only to find her mysteriously absent.

"Here, boy!" Luffy's cry rings through the clearing at the edge of the forbidden forest. He scares away rather than encourages closer any living thing, and that includes Buckbeak and all their classmates who recoil from Luffy's enthusiasm.

Ace can't help but smile as he watches from his place a little behind Hagrid.

Despite Luffy's love of animals and creatures of all kinds, they don't tend to love him back. This has been true for a while because Luffy's version of playing with animals often includes his monstrous strength as he struggles to control himself when he gets excited.

Animals get him excited.

Even in this world, an animal's fear was ensured well before he even fully developed his Conqueror's Haki. Now that he has, Ace can only look on sympathetically as Buckbeak skitters back from his brother's outstretched hand.

Hagrid and the rest of their third year class look on, baffled, as Luffy whines.

"Poor thing," Hermione says, appearing literally from nowhere. Ace whips around to her, noting how her body tenses into a defensive posture at his sharp gaze.

"How are you doing that?" he asks.


"The appearing thing!" Ace exclaims. He pauses. "Wait, are you apparating?"

In the background, Luffy starts trying to bribe the hippogriff with meat he'll get later tonight, but keeps doubling back on himself and offering less and less until he's suggesting eating the hippogriff instead. Buckbeak backs away from Luffy.

Smart animal.

Hermione snorted. "No one can apparate in Hogwarts except Dumbledore. Besides, you would have heard a crack."

"Then how are you doing it?" Ace asks. "I know you weren't here before."

"I don't know what you're talking about." Hermione sniffs. "And how can you be so sure?"

Because Ace has been honing his Observational Haki since after Ancient Runes when she promptly disappeared again, only to show up for lunch, disappear again, and show up again now.

"A regal beast, eh? Seems as pathetic as his owner," Malfoy says, stalking ahead towards the bird without an ounce of caution or respect. Buckbeak meets eyes with the blond and rears back with a harsh squawk, followed by Malfoy's piercing shriek.

Ace jolts forward to pull the stupid blond out of the way, but Luffy is already there, standing in front of a cowering Malfoy. Luffy's narrow eyes set on Buckbeak who jerks to the side and away from the two boys, back to the edge of the thick trees.

"Awww, you'll play with him, but why won't you play with me?!" Luffy sighs.

Ace glances at Malfoy who's up over himself on the ground, muttering about his father and avoiding eye-contact with Ace's brother. Malfoy's attempt to steer clear of the two brothers is a pleasant after-effect of their last year here. Ace knows he scared Malfoy to death with his fire display, and he doesn't know precisely what his brother did, but Luffy's shrugs and Malfoy's twitchiness tells about some kind of encounter. Ace is only sorry he missed it.

Luffy walks over to Ace and Hermione with a disappointed look. "This sucks." Luffy pauses. "Oh. Hi, Hermione. When did you get here?"

Hermione physically starts.

"What?! Why do the two of you insist on being so dense? It's not my fault you're unobservant. I was here the whole time."

"No, you weren't." Luffy tilts his head. The certainty in his voice makes her look away.

Ace shakes his head. "Seriously, just tell us what's going on!"

"There's nothing to tell!"

Ace takes a step closer and opens his mouth—

"Maaa, you don't have to share the mystery with us," Luffy says, cutting Ace off. There's a pause and Ace deflates. Luffy is right, of course. Ace crosses his arms and nods. Hermione's defensive hunch fades and she looks at them with cautious gratitude.

Ace should probably know better than to pressure his friends, especially his friends that are still really in their early teens, but he can't help his intensity at times. It's just who he is. But people like Hermione still don't know how to stand up properly to that kind of force. She doesn't know she can say 'Back off, or I'm telling Marco about you reading his journal entries. You are such a nosy little shit, Ace,' and Ace will laugh at her, tease her, not give up, obviously, because secrets are endlessly entertaining to unravel, but that it can be part of their interaction with no real risk to their friendship. Maybe one day they'll be that close…

At the moment, it's sort of hard to imagine being that close with anyone in the future like he was before with his crew.

The trio head back after what Ace and Luffy at least consider to be an uneventful class. The rest of their year seem to have found it interesting enough because they're muttering about Ace's brother being cursed, and the side-effects of the grim, and a whole load of other tosh.

"You know," Hermione says, fiddling with something beneath her shirt. "I'm not allowed to explicitly tell anyone exactly what's going on."

Ace and Luffy look at her patiently as they enter the great hall.

"But, if you were to guess— well, I think I'd be allowed to nod or shake my head." She looks over and finds their beaming faces.

"Is it teleportation?" Luffy asks.

"That's basically apparition," Hermione says. "So, no."

"Memory tricks?" Ace guesses. She shakes her head, looking pleased with his thoughtfulness.

"Hypnotism?!" Luffy exclaims. Hermione barely says no before he launches into the story of a hypnotist he met once —in a dream, Ace says for Hermione's benefit— that kept hypnotizing himself to sleep, and in no time at all, their laughter bounces up and down the great hall.

Ace is especially proud, because she wants to share it with them, and this is her way of meeting them halfway. She's really come quite far from first year.

After hearing glowing reviews about Lupin's class, Ace finds himself once more hopeful for a decent Defense Against the Dark Arts class. Perhaps it's foolish thing, but having met Lupin and seen how level-headed (if somewhat bland) the man is, he can't help but look forward to the class near the end of their week.

When it does come, Ace is impressed to see the room is done professionally, with the walls lined with benign dark creatures instead of headshots of the teacher. Ace supposes that after Lockhart, Lupin would be hard pressed to do worse.

Their class of Gryffindors and Slytherins are standing in a mob, watching the teacher make his opening statements attentively. He's picked to open his class with a demonstration, jumping right into dark creatures. Ace and Luffy exchange toothy grins at the chance for real application.

Lupin asks a question—

And then Hermione's suddenly there, predictably with her hand already raised.

"Magic?" Luffy guesses.

Hermione huffs a laugh and Ace smiles.

"Miss, ah…"

"Hermione Granger, Sir," she says. "It's a shape-shifter. Boggarts show the wizard or witch closest their biggest fears."

"Excellent, ten points to Gryffindor." Lupin strolls to a large bureau and the more he talks the more the third years stir with excitement. All except Ace, whose brows knit together.

Will it shift into images from their memories? The idea of stepping up to face his fears and conquering them symbolically is dead tempting.

But then he remembers seeing his crew members at Marineford. Pops with the spear in his shoulder. Luffy's last, gasping hack with blood flowing to his lips, just visible through Ace's failing vision…

They repeat Lupin's incantation dutifully, but Ace is already doubting they'll be able to use it just for a practice.

"Let's go first, Ace!" Luffy says, already trying to bump to the front of the line (very successfully). Ace catches his brother by the arm and levels him with a serious look.

"Lu," he starts, softly. "I think it can pull things from our memories."

Ace watches his brother's energy dim, and even his hair seems to flatten. He lets Ace position the two of them at the back of the line, ignoring Hermione's concerned eyes. She doesn't stare for long because Luffy's shoving was successful enough to get her to the start of the line. Luffy gets on his toes to see over Ace's shoulder as the door to the bureau opens and… Professor McGonagall steps out.

Ace stares in plain surprise as he sees Hermione's biggest fear—being less than perfect—revealed in McGonagall's form. He'd almost laugh if he couldn't see how much she had to work up to using the incantation.

"Beat her up, Hermy!" Luffy shouts, earning a wide-eyed look from Lupin and laughter from his classmates.

"Harry! Your sentiment is appreciated but your execution is all wrong!" Hermione says. He's jolted her from her fear though, because she twists her lips, no longer shaking, and points her wand at McGonagall.

"R-riddikulus!" she cries. The failing paper in McGonagall's hand becomes a gleaming trophy.

"Fantastic, now Neville!"

Hermione moves to the back of the line and exchanges high-fives with Ace and Luffy each before they turn to see the spectacle of Snape in what Ace suspects are Neville's grandmother's clothes. The whole class falls into hysterics.

A sharp gasp as Seamus reveals a banshee standing before him. "Riddikulus!" The creature hacks and gasps it's throat, sounding for the world like a mummified opera singer now.

Ace, Luffy and Hermione keep good spirits watching everyone else go. Thankfully, Hermione knows better than to ask why they're avoiding the front of the line—

"Too scared, Potter?" Unlike Malfoy.

"Not wanting to see my family members dead, maybe," Ace says, voice so steeped in sarcasm it's nothing less than cutting. Malfoy goes paler than usual, and all their classmates nearby go quiet.

"What's this?" Lupin asks, noticing a hush. "Where's everyone's energy gone?"

"Professor," Padma asks. "Is it possible that the boggart could… could show us someone we love, but…"

"Dead?" Ace finishes for her, unflinching as he stares at Lupin, who goes still. The caverns of his face seem exaggerated as he whisks his wand and sends the boggart back into the cupboard.

The latch shuts with a 'click.'

The class circles up around Lupin again, a fearful hush spread over them.

Lupin does something Ace doesn't expect any adult in this world to do with kids— he gives it to them straight.

"Yes," Lupin says. "As a witch or wizard ages, it gets more likely that they will see the dead bodies of the ones they hold dearest. Much of what a boggart shows us are blanketed forms of our actual fear of death, and as we grow, the fears become rawer the closer we get to our own end."

He turns, catching the eyes of his arrested audience. Hermione steps closer to Luffy and Ace, brushing shoulders with the two of them as she bites her lip.

"However, while death cannot be stopped or prevented, there is something to be said about the power of laughter in putting it off and allaying those thoughts. Laughter is an expression of how we live in the present," Lupin says, eyes gleaming. "It's an overflow of emotions so pressing that the most we can do is let it out in a rancorous, graceless sound, a happy shout that celebrates where we are and the people we are with. It's life-affirming. That is what laughter does, and I hope you remember that as you face boggarts —and death— in your life."

There's a pause.

Then, the bells go off.

The class as one seems to exhale the stress and fear from before and a small giggle breaks through the crowd at the perfect timing.

Lupin clasps his hands together.

"Please read the first chapter of your books on Red Caps for class next week. Thank you for your participation today."

"Thank you, Professor," Hermione crows as everyone files out of the class, broken up in their small cliques as they chat eagerly about the class. Ace is pleased to see it's largely positive. Even the Slytherins are mostly impressed with Lupin's impromptu lecture.

Having faced death and even experienced it, Ace has to say that Lupin knows what he's talking about. As he meets eyes with Luffy, he can't help the bubbling sound of laughter from filling the air. Something that's shared by Luffy and Hermione.

Because it's true.

It's the people he's with.









Thank you dearly for your patience.

Please leave a review if you are moved to do so.