I'm baaaaaack! I actually like how I started this story. Originally I wanted it to start at the end of Year 3 and have the whole story told in a flashback but decided against it. So, I guess you can say I have the ending planned out already.
Mephisto Pheles, or Johann Faust V, or simply Samael stood on an outcropping looking out over the North Sea. If he leaned forward and squinted, he could see a sort of structure poking out of the horizon. Azkaban, the prison and home to the most dangerous criminals of the wizarding world. It was guarded by creatures known as Dementors. Mephisto shuddered at the thought of them. He was a demon, yes, but even demons could be somewhat affected by certain magical creatures. He learned that a few months ago after learning about the events of last year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
A pair of binoculars appeared in a puff of smoke next to Mephisto. He grabbed them and put them up to his face. A small shape was swimming towards the shore. The demon grinned.
'Right on time.'
Mephisto walked towards the shore and waited. Sure enough, a massive black dog made it to shore. He shook the excess water off him in an effort to dry off.
"Enjoy your swim?" Mephisto asked the dog. The mutt in question looked up at the demon and growled at him. "Now, now. Is that any way to behave towards the one who can help you achieve your goal?"
The dog stopped growling and tilted his head as if to say, "I'm listening."
"I'm quite familiar with your history, especially with the Potter family," said Mephisto. The dog's ears perked up. "Now, I understand that you want to avenge your friend and his wife as soon as possible, but there are do's and don'ts to pull this off." The dog's ears went flat on his head and started growling again.
Mephisto held up his hand to silence the dog. "Hear me out. I know who sold the Potters out and so do you." Mephisto gave the dog his signature cunning grin. "Shiro Fujimoto's known you were innocent since the beginning. If he weren't a Muggle, perhaps the Ministry of Magic would have listened to him about you." The dog once again stopped growling and his ears perked up at the mentioning of Shiro Fujimoto's name.
Happy that he had the dog's attention, Mephisto continued. "Now, I don't know what the Ministry does to escaped magical convicts, but if you want to clear your name you'll have to stay on the downlow for awhile. That means staying the way you are for several months. No walking around on two legs."
The dog's ears drooped and let out an irritated woof.
"Annoying, I know, but you can't be seen in public, wizard or Muggle," Mephisto said. "Luckily I know someone in Godric's Hollow who also shares Shiro's opinion about you and is willing to look after you for a few weeks. As long as you stay a dog, of course."
The dog shook off more water before looking at Mephisto with a pleading look in his eye. The demon tried to look away but he was caught in the universal spell that was the puppy-dog look. It didn't take long for him to crack.
"Okay!" Mephisto exclaimed. "I know what you want to do first. We'll take a quick detour to Surrey but we can't stay long. Just a quick peek and then we leave."
The dog wagged his tail in delight.
"I never thought your escape would cause such a nationwide panic and you've only been out a few days," Mephisto remarked as they walked down the streets of Godric's Hollow. "The boy is getting a little taller but he's still as thin as a twig." The dog walked next to the demon with his head low to the ground and his ears flat.
Mephisto noticed the dog's melancholy attitude. "I told you we should have stopped at the groomer's first before going to Little Whinging, but nooooo. You insisted on going there ASAP. Why do you think we made so many stops along the way? One look at you and the kid automatically thinks you're a mangy stray," Mephisto remarked. The dog just grumbled. "Ah, here we are! St. Jerome's Church, your temporary home."
Mephisto walked up to the doors and knocked three times. It opened and a middle-aged priest stepped outside. Graying maple colored hair matched his sideburns. A red and blue True Cross pin could be seen on the left side of his robes complete with a clerical collar.
"Sir Pheles, hello," Reverend Steven Swain greeted. He looked down at the dog at Mephisto's feet. "Is this him?"
Swain hesitated before continuing. "Y-You do realize that this is aiding and abetting a fugitive, right?" he asked. "I know what I said about him, but it's still technically breaking the law."
Mephisto waved his hand dismissively. "Details, who needs them? For all everyone knows, you're taking in a poor stray. As long as he doesn't turn into a human, who's gonna know?"
The dog in question barked irritably as if to say, "Hey! I'm right here!"
Mephisto looked down at the dog. "Fine, you can change into a human… in private! As in, you do it in a room with a locked door and no windows." He then pulled out a pocket watch and checked the time. "Well, I hate to leave you like this but I have to drop by the Ministry of Magic. I've got a bone to pick with the Department of Mysteries." He tightened his grip on his pocket watch then turned and walked away into the dark streets.
Swain sighed and looked at the dog. "Well, I guess this will be your home for the next few weeks," he said. He led the dog to the clergy house behind the church. It was a quaint little house. The inside was small but comfortable. "You'll be staying in the storage room downstairs. It's a pretty decent size, big enough for you to sleep and with plenty of space to move around. In fact, the church used this room to house a Jewish couple fleeing Germany during World War II. The church still gets Christmas cards from their kids to this day."
The dog's ears drooped and he tilted his head with a whine, as if he was saying, "I have no idea what you're talking about."
Swain sighed again. "I have some books on the subject in my room you can read during your stay."
They went downstairs where the air was moist and musty. A washer and dryer along with a clothesline stood at the far end opposite of the stairs. The only other piece of furniture in the room was a second refrigerator. To the left side of the room was a door that led to the storage room. Like Swain said, the room was big enough to store several boxes of decorations for every occasion, yet there was still enough space to put a cot in the far corner.
"It's not much," said Swain, "and I know it's far from comfortable, but I hope it's an improvement from what you had in Azkaban." The dog wagged his tail in approval. "I'll be back with a pillow and blanket for the cot." He quickly left the room and went upstairs. When he returned downstairs to the storage room, he was shocked to see not a dog but a man fast asleep on the cot. The corner of Swain's mouth twitched into what was almost a smile as he heard the man lightly snore. Very carefully, Swain slipped the pillow underneath the man's head and draped the blanket over him. He didn't so much as twitch as Swain did so.
The inn room they were staying in was quiet and tense. It was almost like those American Wild West movies where the climax of the film takes place in the center of town with no one in sight except the hero and the villain. All the room needed was a dust bunny tumbling past them like a tumbleweed as they stared down the beast that was peeking out from under the bed.
"All right, Yukio, you ready?" thirteen-year-old Rin Okumura asked his fraternal twin brother. He was standing on the easy chair with an umbrella in his hand, ready to strike.
"Armed and ready," answered Yukio Okumura who was standing on the bench in front of the desk and armed with a book strap. "You have the bait?"
Very carefully, Rin used the tip of his umbrella to pick up a spare sock from his trunk. He carefully lowered it towards the floor and whistled like he was calling a dog. Their opponent shot out from under the bed like a bullet and attacked the sock.
"NOW YUKIO!" Rin yelled.
The bespeckled boy jumped onto The Monster Book of Monsters and started wrapping the book strap around it. It struggled and jerked in Yukio's grip.
"Rin! Help me! It's trying to escape!" Yukio grunted as he tried to secure the book strap around the homicidal book. Rin jumped down and used the pointed end of the umbrella to pin the book in place. He put both feet on the book for good measure. After a few attempts, Yukio managed to get the book strap around the book and tightened it as best he could. "There! Hopefully that'll hold it."
Rin carefully stepped off and removed the umbrella. "Whose bright idea was it to make a book like this?" he asked exasperatedly.
"If this book covers my hands in paper cuts this year, I'm suing the author," Yukio muttered.
"Likewise," Rin agreed.
The door opened and Father Shiro Fujimoto entered. One look at the room and seeing that his adopted sons were in the center of it all, he asked, "Okay, what happened here?"
The twins looked at each other before Yukio answered, "Would you believe us if we told you that one of my textbooks tried to maul us like a wild animal?"
"Under normal circumstances, I'd say no but since we're in the wizarding world where almost anything is possible, I have no choice but to believe you," Shiro answered. "Where's your copy, Rin?"
"In Kuro's carrier," he answered.
Shiro blinked. "Why?"
"It growled at me," Rin said fearfully. The carrier in question shook as if whatever was inside knew it was being talked about.
Shiro looked around the room. "Then where's Kuro?" he asked. Yukio pointed to the top of a nearby wardrobe. A two-tailed cat demon was crouched on top of it. "You two realize that Kuro's gonna need that by September 1st, right?"
"We'll cross that bridge when we get there," Rin affirmed.
Yukio hesitantly picked up his copy of The Monster Book of Monsters and put it underneath his trunk and quickly sat on it.
"So what were you up to, Dad?" he asked.
"I was talking to Tom, seeing what's been going on in the wizarding world since the summer started," Shiro answered.
"And?" Rin pressed.
Shiro snorted. "Your friend Harry accidentally blew up his aunt the other night."
"WHAT?!" the twins yelled.
"'Blew up?' as in blew her to smithereens?!" Rin panicked.
"Why would Harry do that?! I know he doesn't like his relatives, but not enough to kill one of them!" Yukio exclaimed.
Shiro started laughing. "He didn't blow her to pieces," he explained. "He blew her up like a balloon."
That didn't make the twins feel any better.
"Harry knows we're not allowed to do magic outside of school!" Yukio yelled.
"Please tell us he's not expelled!" Rin pleaded.
Shiro waved his hand dismissively. "He's not. It was a complete accident. Loss of control of his magic or something like that. The Ministry of Magic sent some people to fix the whole thing. The lady doesn't remember a thing about it," he explained.
Both twins released sighs of relief.
"Where's Harry now?" asked Rin.
"In one of the rooms on the floor below us," said Shiro. His tone suddenly changed. "The Minister of Magic is talking to him."
The twins blinked at the sudden change in their father's demeanor. They got a glimpse of the Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge, last year. He wasn't much. He didn't have the authoritative aura most people in power seemed to give off. Rin had seen many world leaders on TV and most of them had a presence that said "I'm in charge" and Fudge did not have that.
"I think I'll make my presence known to the Minister. If I see Harry, I'll tell him where you two are," said Shiro. He walked out of the room and closed the door.
Harry Potter and Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge were about to part ways when there was a knock at the door.
"Come in!" Fudge called out. The door opened and a Japanese man wearing black robes with a clerical collar and glasses that hid his unnatural red eyes. "Shiro Fujimoto! Didn't expect to see you here. Come in, come in. I was just finishing my business with young Harry Potter here."
"Yeah, we've met," Shiro said bluntly. "I actually want to speak with you, Cornelius." He smiled at Harry. "How've you been Harry?"
"Uh… I-I'm fine," Harry stammered, caught off guard at the priest's sudden change in demeanor. "Nice to see you again, Father Fujimoto."
"Rin and Yukio are upstairs if you want to see them."
"HOW THE HELL DID YOUR COPY GET OUT OF KURO'S CARRIER?!"
"HOW SHOULD I KNOW?! I JUST WENT TO GET A CAT TOY FROM MY TRUNK AND IT JUST BURST OUT OF THE CAGE!"
"AAAHHHH! GET THE UMBRELLA! GET THE UMBRELLA!"
"DON'T LET IT GO UNDER THE BED!"
The three of them listened to the commotion upstairs.
"Sounds like they could use your help," Shiro told Harry.
"So that's what's going on upstairs," Fudge muttered.
I loved how I wrote the second half of this chapter. The game is set.
I've also been thinking about including little tidbits of information in the author's notes that didn't make the final cut in the past two stories. Little trivia bits, so to speak. Here's an example: When Seamus Finnigan tried to turn water into rum, Rin tried to stop him, saying only one person was able to turn water into alcohol over 2,000 years ago and He wasn't even a wizard. Of course, Seamus's attempt ended in an explosion. He should have listened to a boy who was raised in a monastery (hint, hint).
I'd like to dedicate this chapter to my Ukrainian readers and reviewers. This is my way of cheering them up while they get through the nightmare they're in. We love you, Ukraine!