Before any of you ask, Yes, I have gotten hooked on Reborn! to the point I've almost finished the manga. Expect a mass explosion of Reborn! crossovers in the near future.
Oh, and if any of you have problems with death and the casual disregard for life (specifically Umbridge) I would advised avoiding the bottom half of the chapter when the Toad goes too far and ends up dead. When this gets posted as a full story, it will be rated M for exactly that reason.
It all started as a silly class project. One that most children would do to humor their parents and the teachers, but forget about when it was over.
It was a pen pal program, and this year it was set to Italy.
Naturally the school they picked at random had English speaking students (multiple languages was a requirement), so the language barriers should be at a minimum.
Most of the children wrote the bare minimum required to get a passing grade, even if it was mostly an exercise to improve their English skills.
By the end of the year, only one student kept writing to their new friend. One lonely girl named Iris Potter.
The teacher felt sorry enough for the girl to help her buy the stamps required to continue sending letters to the child that had been selected as her pen pal for the project.
The girl had zero friends, though not through any fault of her own. Her cousin made a point to ensure that anyone who tried to be friends with her regretted it in short order, and nothing the parents of said children did had any effect.
So in exchange for a few small 'chores', so the girl didn't think of it as charity, the teachers would help pay for the stamps and act as the go-between so she could continue writing the boy in Italy.
After a few months of this, she started to try and learn Italian, so they could communicate in his language.
It took little effort to find someone fluent and have them temporarily transfer in long enough to teach her, all under the guise of detentions. After all, it was rare for the girl to express an interest in something she wanted. And Dudley hated learning anything to the point he wouldn't try to ruin this for her as well.
They openly suspected her family's influence in that.
The subterfuge lasted until Iris was eleven, by which point she found a new method to deliver her letters.
They wished her the best of luck, and soon forgot about the matter.
Renato almost shot the rather beautiful owl who wouldn't take the hint during his lunch break. Then he spotted the letter in it's claws, and curiosity took over. He checked for poisons...before he recognized the handwriting.
Iris was an odd girl who seemed thrilled to have someone to talk to. The impression he got from her by-now frequent letters...she always waited until she got a reply before sending another, and didn't seem to mind the weeks it took for him to write her back... was that her aunt's family didn't exactly like her, much less want her, but had no other choice but to take her in.
He openly doubted familial obligation was the reason.
Her cousin had quit writing months ago to his 'pen pal', and from the complaints he heard, the boy's handwriting was absolutely atrocious and almost illegible...to say nothing of the kid's personality.
But she had kept up the correspondence, to the point she was learning Italian purely so she could write to him in his own language. Sure some of her words were a bit off, but considering she was learning how to speak a new language with limited help from a dictionary it was still pretty impressive.
Renato honestly didn't know how to react to the fact that a girl who was either his age or within a few years of it going so far as to learn a new language just to make it easier to talk to him without worry of a language barrier. Never mind he could already read and speak English fluently.
Reading the new letter, he eyed the owl...Hedwig...with new appreciation. Paying to send international letters could get expensive fast, and with the fact she was going to a boarding school in September (the man sent to deliver the letter had told her they didn't have a post office, but relied on carrier owls to deliver letters) meant that the only way to talk to Iris was through Hedwig.
Renato took out a pen and paper, and wrote a letter back. The owl was very patient, waiting for him to put it in the envelope before taking off with a hoot. But not before stealing all the bacon on the table while everyone was busy trying not to find out why Renato had gotten a letter delivered by owl of all things.
He quickly found their letters increasing in frequency... Hedwig soon became a common sight in Assassin school to the point where most barely registered her presence, and she never bothered him while on field assignments... and he could honestly say he was happy for Iris.
She had seemed lonely before. He would have wondered if she would soon forget about him, but apparently loyalty was something she favored to the point she refused to give up her letters to him.
That, and she honestly didn't have anyone else to write to. Hedwig certainly didn't seem to mind the exercise.
For a few years, it seemed things were finally looking up for her. At least until shortly after his graduation from school.
About two years ago Hedwig had delivered an odd book to him, which he quickly found out delivered messages back and forth like some sort of online message board without the internet, and her appearances tapered off to nothing without much warning. The few times she did appear, she looked haggard and almost like someone had taken a shot at her.
And that made him angry. Enough he didn't complain when Iris begged him to let the owl stay with him, as a teacher had damn near tried to kill the owl while delivering a letter to her. Apparently the Toad didn't want her activities getting out, and as her most vocal opponent, Iris' owl made a prime target.
Fortunately Hedwig and Leon got along swimmingly, even if his only means to talk to Iris was through the book. A book which soon had to be replaced with a second one by the time Iris turned fifteen. It saved conversations, and it helped to calm him down on bad missions.
It was during Christmas (when he had another owl he found to deliver her present, since he was very fond of her at this point) that he got a message that rang several kinds of alarms in his head.
Ren...which would be the most effective way to murder someone using a butter knife? Heart, spine or eyeball? Because I honestly can't make up my mind on how quickly to brutally murder that damn Toad.
He took a pen (he found the book responded better to ink for some reason) and wrote back...
Why ask me?
You work for the mafia right? And I remember you complaining about anatomy classes for ages. I figured if anyone would give me a straight answer without keeping an eye on me around the cutlery it would be you. If Hermione knew, she'd never leave me alone.
He would honestly say he damn near had a heart attack.
Who said I'm in the mafia? As for your question, the heart and spine are too difficult for how dull the average butter knife is. Your friends might come out of shock enough to try and stop you, to say nothing of the teachers. However if you angle the knife just right and use enough force, the eye is doable. It leads straight to the brain, so it would take the woman several seconds to realize she's dead.
He did not want to be accused of breaking Omerta. Never mind what the families would do to him, Iris would almost certainly get into trouble because that's what always happened.
He could almost feel the amused sarcasm in her voice...even if he had never heard it before.
Honestly Ren, do you take me for an idiot? Besides, you should have seen the looks I got from the local underground when they found out I was asking for someone with your name and nationality. Something about how there were cheaper options if I wanted to go local.
...How the hell did you find the local underworld?
Third year, I was alone without proper "adult supervision", remember? Like I wouldn't abuse the cloak and my natural sneaking skills to go into London for some proper shopping. Found a middleman by accident by listening, figured it would be interesting to see if I could track you down that way. You have no idea how hard it was not to actually pay someone to 'deal' with my aunt Marge after what she said about my parents.
Was this before or after you gave me the first book?
I had a sneaking suspicion with how cagey you were by second year, finding out changed nothing. Your secrets are not mine to share, and frankly I could care less if you do kill for money. You're still Ren to me.
Finding out his civilian friend had found out by accident he was a mafia-contracted hitman and had known for years without breaking contact with him...it threw him for a loop. Most of his 'colleagues' were lucky to find a wife or husband that understanding. The general reaction to finding out the truth was either an attempt to get their spouse or lover to give up that life, a dead body, or there being a rather unhappy visit for breaking Omerta which would end up with two dead bodies.
To have someone who knew the truth and was so accepting. It was something you only heard of in stories from those who were still hopeful that there was a Sky out there waiting for them.
They either burned out early, realized the painful truth and turned cynical, or were killed off.
Ren sometimes fantasized meeting Iris and finding out she was a Sky. That they would end up Harmonizing and he could quit being a hitman. Which was a joke.
He was one of the strongest Suns around...Skies had tried to Harmonize with him for years now since he graduated, and nothing had clicked, so he drifted from place to place.
The odds of him finding a Sky, much less being his best friend in England... life didn't work like that.
Thanks for giving me an honest answer Ren. I'm so tired of this. I'm sick of Hogwarts and I'm sick of the stupidity of the people around me.
When it gets too much, give me a time and place, and even if it means having to finish a hit early I will come find you.
Because Iris was worth it. Of that he had no doubt.
You have a deal. I have to turn in... Mrs. Weasley is heading in this direction and she might read this. Night Ren.
Dumbledore was chased out of the castle. Umbridge's reign of terror had only grown worse. Malfoy looked like a damn peacock, preening about how much 'power' he supposedly had.
So when the "Headmistress" went to steal the book Iris was always writing in, and never seen without, her self restraint for violence snaps.
Like a twig carelessly stepped on by someone Hagrid's size. Or maybe Dudley.
Iris stood, her hand firmly closed around the butter knife she had jokingly asked Ren how to kill with.
Because honestly, without Dumbledore there to give her that disapproving look or make it feel like things might become better, she finds herself strangely calm and unable to give a damn about the crime she is almost certain to commit in the next few minutes.
Besides, that bastard had been avoiding her all damn year, and his platitudes had been wearing thin long before she saw what his idea of safety really entailed.
Forcing Sirius to stay in a house where his worst memories were held, that he had fled from at the age of sixteen when it got to be too much...
Azkaban was hell on earth, but forcing him to live in Grimmauld place because of that damn Peter rather than send him abroad where he might heal...that was cruel and unusual torture.
It would be like making her still live with the Dursleys after this damn war was over, even though he OPENLY admitted to knowing that they didn't treat her like family SHOULD.
No. Just no.
"Give. That. Back."
Her voice was deadly calm, her gaze devoid of any emotion. It was a terrifying combination, and one Hermione should have known was a Bad Sign.
"Tut, tut. I think I'll be confiscating your book. Can't have you spreading lies," said Umbridge patronizingly.
"I'm giving you one last warning, Toad. Give me the book back or else."
That tone in her voice should have sent alarm bells in the minds of everyone around her, but she could tell without looking that every student and teacher in the hall had become so indoctrinated against real violence to the point they wouldn't know how to react if they saw it happening in front of them.
In other words, herbivores who had long forgotten what a true carnivore was.
Umbridge's expression said everything. She had no intention of handing it over, and would likely read from it at the first opportunity. Well, time to dissuade her and the rest of the sheep that she was not a nice person.
Somewhere in her genetics ran the same blood as Bellatrix fucking Lestrange, except she wasn't limited to magical methods of killing.
It was purely instinct and the knowledge Ren had jokingly shared with her on the best place to shove a simple butter knife to the point it became a lethal weapon that had her twirl the blade into a proper grip and then surge forward with just the right amount of force to lodge the knife in the Toad's eye.
Umbridge barely registered that she was about to be attacked before she felt pain, and then her body took notice that the activity from the brain had ceased entirely before she keeled over.
Dead silence. No one believed that they had just seen that, not even the teachers or the Slytherins.
Iris caught her book before it fell, and put it firmly in her bag. She didn't trust that damn Toad not to snoop in her trunk (and to be honest her trust in the security of the tower had shattered when Ginny broke into her trunk second year) and had taken to carrying everything she would genuinely miss in a bag she kept with her at all times. She looked around the hall, and realized that not a single one reacted like they should have when this confrontation began.
Not one of them had stood up to defend her personal property, and EVERYONE knew how important that book was to her.
Well, if they weren't going to defend her in a minor matter like this, then there was zero reason to believe they'd do the same in a real life or death situation.
Iris took out her wand, and suddenly there was a mass flinching. Several of the teachers snapped out of it long enough to get off their ass, and she Sneered at them all in a way that Snape would have felt an odd sense of pride...if he weren't still in absolute shock.
As a Death Eater, he knew when someone had been pushed too far, and after murdering the Toad in cold blood, it was pretty damn obvious to anyone with a brain that Iris had been pushed well past that ledge.
He was not getting in her line of fire, thank you very much.
He almost wanted to be the one who told the mutt, or better yet the Headmaster exactly how badly they screwed up.
Well adjusted teenagers did not take butter knives and calmly shove them into someone's left eye hard enough to reach the brain and kill someone and not react immediately after... like throwing up for instance or sobbing hysterically.
Better the Toad than him though. Then again he had enough common sense not to push a volatile witch who shared the same ancestry as Bellatrix to that point in the first place. She might dislike him, but she didn't hate him to the point she would kill him without hesitation.
To the shock of everyone save Snape, Potter took her wand...and snapped it into as many pieces as physically possible before spitting on the remains. The message was pretty damn clear.
She was washing their hands of them.
No one stopped her from leaving the Great Hall, let alone the borders of the wards.
By the time the children and staff processed what had just happened, she was long gone and not likely to return of her own volition.
Snape managed to make it to Grimmauld place before any of the others had the forethought to tell Sirius what happened.
He just wanted to see the mutt's reaction first. And if he were really, really lucky he'd see Dumbledore's as well.
Renato was finishing a rather unpleasant hit when he felt the book "buzz", almost like a phone on vibrate.
What he found had his heart break for the loss of his friend's remaining innocence.
She shouldn't have had to feel so alone and isolated to the point she felt she had no other choice to make the Toad back off.
You were right. Eyeball was the way to go.
Heading to London to settle a few things. Lock down my accounts. From there, who knows? I'm never returning to that school again though. The woman tried to steal the book and not a single one of my friends stood up to stop her, even when I was obviously furious beyond the point of caring if I killed the bitch. And none of them were in any state to stop me from walking out the door and leaving.
He dreads the answer. Bad enough his friend had felt the need to bloody her hands roughly the same age he had. She never should have been put in this situation.
Renato openly curses the complacency and foolishness of Albus Dumbledore, for putting her into this situation.
I really hate herbivores. They were in such shock that I am in fact a carnivore instead of a sheep that they were unable to respond to the presence of being around an actual wolf.
He should feel relief, but he knows better. Everyone had a reaction to their first kill, though from what he was getting from her, she was still firmly in survival mode and would only snap out of it once she realized the reality of what she had done.
Which meant she would crash and crash hard. He would have to bribe that idiot Shamal to be on standby, just in case.
God knows when it happened to him, the results hadn't been pretty. It was actually a test at the school, to see how well you coped with your first kill. Some were given mercy killings, but that was thankfully rare. Most of those who couldn't take it washed out or went into the clergy.
He didn't hear from her for four days, but he knew she would need someone she trusted to be there. Shamal would arrive within the week, and he was openly interested in meeting his civilian friend. Especially since it was a girl.
Finally, he got a random address somewhere in the slums near were several contacts to the mafia could be found, and looked around. It wasn't until he found a girl huddling in a relatively clean (clean in that there weren't any rats or debris around her) with a cloak wearing an odd gold ring with a chameleon with red eyes that looked almost identical to Leon, his pet.
She lifted her head long enough to look him in the eyes, and he knew.
It was Iris.
She was too frail, and her bones were as light as a bird. She was far too skinny for her age, and he made a note to fatten her up properly (he'd heard more than a few complaints about Molly Weasley's overbearing attitude after second year) before they could even consider getting her back to normal.
How Iris knew it was him enough to cling to him like she had, he had no idea.
Though perhaps bringing Leon helped.