Quatre: Ack! Gomen ne! Gomen ne! Please don't shoot me!

Yami Quatre: I'm sure they understand why you have not updated for a while.

Quatre: But they're going to shoot me!

Yami Kenshin: Let them.

Ame: I wouldn't mind.

*Quatre glares at Ame. Ame whistles innocently and munches pizza.*

Quatre: Anyway, the reasons for the late update are listed in my bio, so go there to see why. This chapter is Malik-centric, as some people wanted it.

Ame: No Tok'ra?

Quatre: No Tok'ra.

Ame: Poo.

Quatre: Please read and enjoy! Reviews requested too.

Light's Failing, Hope's Rebirth 8

Harry walked into the Great Hall the next morning with Karasuhebi draped over his shoulders, still sleeping. He shot a sour look at the dragon as he headed for his customary spot at the Gryffindor table. Hermione was up, as was Yugi, but most everyone else was asleep, no doubt enjoying the fact that there wouldn't be any classes today. Harry was up for a reason, though and, sure enough, the Millennium Item Holders walked in a few minutes later.

Why, pray tell, were they up when they could be sleeping?

Why, it was the day Malik was supposed to be Sorted, of course!

Yugi settled onto the bench next to Harry, with Yami taking Harry's opposite side. Bakura sat in Ron's usual seat, and Ryou was sitting on the other side of Hermione. Their dragons were absent.

"I guess they needed their beauty sleep, hm?" Harry joked.

"Give them a break," Yugi said kindly. "They only hatched yesterday and they fought against those monsters with us. They deserve a little extra sleep."

Karasuhebi's tail twitched as if to accentuate Yugi's point.

Their attention was drawn to the teacher's table, where Dumbledore had stood. The Hall immediately fell silent.

"I'm sure you're all aware of the attack on our castle yesterday," he began. "You need not worry any longer. A friend of mine who has knowledge of the magic used in the attack has placed wards around the castle grounds and Hogsmeade. This will prevent any further incursions into our school, which is the reason why your scheduled trip next week will not be cancelled.

That is not the main point of my speech, however. You all recall our mysterious visitor of Halloween, correct?" Everyone in the hall nodded. "He is a student that Voldemort captured and has been torturing since the beginning of term. He escaped, evidently. He will be permitted to enroll here, and I encourage every student to help him catch up on all of the work he's missed."

He motioned to someone standing off to the side. Professor McGonagall carried a familiar stool with a familiar hat onto the dais and set it in its customary spot.

"Ishtar, Malik," she called.

The doors to the Hall opened again, and Malik walked in, cautiousness evident as he walked slowly down the aisle dividing the house tables.

Harry took a good look at him as he walked. His left arm was bound up in bandages and held in a sling, and a bandage peeked out of the shoulder of the robes he was wearing (borrowed from Harry). There was a slight limp as he walked, but other than that, he seemed fine, his violet eyes narrowed in determination and he finally reached the dais and climbed up.

Professor McGonagall lifted the Sorting Hat from the stool and motioned for Malik to sit. Malik did so, and the hat was placed on his head.

It was an agonizing few minutes for the Item Holders. Yugi and Yami had filled Harry, Ron, and Hermione in on the history between the Item Holders and the Tomb Keeper (with the appropriate details changed/omitted and told to Harry through their link) and everyone was anxious to see what house Malik would be put in. Would the Hat hold Malik responsible for the crimes he committed while under the influence of Marik? Or would it judge the change in him? There was no possible way for anyone to know.

Finally, the tear near the brim of the hat opened. Harry, Yugi, and their respective friends leaned closer in anticipation of the Hat's decision.

"GRYFFINDOR!"

Several held breaths were released as Malik slid off the stool, let Professor McGonagall take back the Sorting Hat, and walked over to where Yugi and Ryou were waving madly amidst scattered applause from the other Houses.

"Wha? Who's that?" Fred or George asked as he and his twin sat down next to them, both rubbing their eyes sleepily.

"Malik Ishtar, Fred and George Weasley," Bakura answered. "Malik, I believe that you would enjoy being in the company of these two. They are the school's most notorious troublemakers. We have a few pranks planned, actually, that I'm sure you would enjoy being a part of." The Tomb Robber's eyes glittered with mischief as he spoke.

"Bakura!" Yami reproached him. "It would not be a good idea for Malik to get in trouble before he's even begun attending the school proper!"

Malik shrugged. "I'm probably going to flunk out," he said moodily. "I have four years to catch up on plus what you've covered this semester so far."

"Not necessarily," Yugi answered, slipping back into Japanese. Harry listened closely; he's heard the transfers talking enough that, because of their mind link, he'd become able to understand most, if not all, of what was being said. Despite that, his pronunciation was atrocious. "We've been using the Millennium Necklace to go back in time a few hours at a time in order to finish our homework. By doing that, it shouldn't be too hard to catch up, should it?"

Malik shrugged. "Maybe," he answered vaguely. He looked at his watch. "I can't talk anymore. I have ten minutes to eat breakfast and meet Dumbledore in the entrance hall so that we can go to someplace called Diagon Alley to get my supplies." He pulled several plates towards him and began munching.

Harry turned to Yami. Something that Dumbledore had said before Sorting Malik had just suddenly hit him. He didn't want Hermione to know what he was asking, though. "Dumbledore said something about wards around the school," he asked hesitantly in Japanese. "Do you have anything to do with it?"

Yami raised an eyebrow but replied, "Yes. I approached Dumbledore yesterday after you had finished talking with him and he gave me permission to place the wards. They're various magic and traps cards that'll be activated when a monster walks over the place where the traps are set. There're wards around Hogsmeade also, so the village should be safe."

"I see."

"And keep practicing your Japanese," Yami said. "You're getting much better."

Harry flushed and turned back to his breakfast. Hermione had been talking to Ryou and Yugi, and he listened to what they were saying.

"- a good idea to use today to use today to catch up on our homework," Hermione was saying. "How about I meet you guys in the library in a half hour?"

"I scheduled a duel with someone from Slytherin house," Ryou said apologetically. "He tricked me into it, and now I have to go through with it. I'm sorry. I'll meet you guys there afterwards, though."

"I'll be there," Yugi said. "And try not to get into a Shadow Game, would you?" he asked Ryou in Japanese. "We've been lucky Yami or Bakura hasn't tried something with Snape yet," he murmured under his breath.

"Too late," Bakura said cheerfully, also in Japanese. "Yami and I cornered him during the summer. Haven't you wondered why he didn't come over for two solid weeks?"

"I'm sure the pink hair and bunny ears had something to do with it," Yami added, an unusual mischievous look on his face that scared everyone in the immediate vicinity.

"My other half is turning into a prankster," Yugi muttered, pillowing his head in his hands. "Ra help us!"

"What was that?" Fred asked.

"Bakura somehow gave Snape pink hair and bunny ears," Harry translated.

"Bakura gave Snape bunny ears?" George asked, blinking. Fred's head perked up from where it has been in danger of falling into his toast. "Do share."

Yami chuckled. Bakura smirked and began to tell the story. A completely fictitious story. Still, Fred had borrowed a piece of parchment from Hermione and was taking notes.

"You'll get them in trouble!" Ryou protested in Japanese.

Bakura shrugged. "Not really," he said while he paused in his story so that Fred could catch up in his note taking. "They can pull it off this way, too, if I help them."

Ryou sighed. "I can't believe I'm going to ask this." He looked Bakura squarely in the eye. "Help them with this prank or I'm going to tell Yami some of your secrets."

Bakura paled. "You wouldn't!"

Ryou smirked. "Would you like to see how much you've rubbed off on me, really?"

If possible, Bakura paled further. He turned back to the twins and continued his story.

Harry shook his head. Karasuhebi stirred on his shoulder and opened one bleary blue eye.

\What time is it?/

Harry checked his watch. "9:30 in the morning."

\Oh./ He unfurled his wings and took off. \You humans are too noisy. I'm going to sleep on the roof. Ja ne./

"And the dragon speaks Japanese," Harry commented to no one in particular. "I'm going back to the dorm. Karasuhebi has the right idea. I need more sleep before I can even tackle that mountain of homework. What's it up to again?"

"Let's see," Yugi said thoughtfully. "A Potions essay for Snape, a dream journal for Divination, practicing a spell for both Transfiguration and Charms plus an extra essay for Transfiguration, and an essay for History of Magic, not to mention the research we have to do for Herbology and Care of Magical Creatures. Oh, yeah, and that chapter we have to read for Defense Against the Dark Arts."

Harry thought for a minute. "The Defense homework shouldn't be a problem. Snape's essay is the big thing, so it has the highest priority. I can do Transfiguration without any problem, and everything else I can borrow the notes from Hermione. I think I can afford to get some extra sleep."

"But Harry!" Hermione protested. "You should really do your homework first!"

Harry waved her off with a yawn. "I'll catch you guys later," he said. "Don't wake me up unless Marik comes to kill me."

He got up and dodged a few Hufflepuffs as he made his way out of the hall.

Malik walked up to Dumbledore's office nervously. None of the other Item Holders had been permitted to come with him to Diagon Alley, and his only companion was Dumbledore himself.

Considering that Marik had attacked Hogwarts, the dark sprit would probably have no qualms about attacking a street full of innocent people.

Yeah. Malik had a right to worry.

He reached the stone gargoyle guarding the passage and spoke the password: "Snickers."

And he did just that as the gargoyle sprang aside. He ascended the moving staircase and knocked hesitantly at the heavy wooden door at the top.

"Come in," the headmaster's voice floated out.

Malik stepped inside, closing the door a bit too hard behind him. Dumbledore was sitting by the fire and did not seem to react at all to the door's uncomfortably loud "click."

"Mr. Ishtar. How nice of you to join me. Are you ready to go?"

Malik nodded. "Any funny business and I'm gone faster than you can say 'Millennia.'"

"I hope it does not come to that," Dumbledore said kindly. He stood and waved Malik closer. "I regret that we will have to take Floo powder, although it is not one of the most comfortable ways to go about it."

Malik moved as directed as Dumbledore took a handful of Floo powder from a small vase on the mantle of the fireplace.

"All you must do is throw the powder into the fire and state your destination clearly. In our case it will be Diagon Alley. Understand?"

Malik nodded and accepted a handful of the fine powder. Scattering it into the flames, he barely spared a raised eyebrow for the emerald color of the flames he stepped into.

"Diagon Alley!"

One spin cycle later…

Dumbledore watched with concerned amusement as Malik leaned over, resting his free hand on his knees and trying extremely hard not to throw up.

"Hell of a joy ride," he gasped.

Dumbledore smiled. "It gets better."

Malik groaned but dutifully followed Dumbledore away from the fireplace into the crowd of people.

"Strange as it may seem, each of you has a vault in Gringotts," Dumbledore explained as they made their way to the prominent marble building at one end of the street. "By each of you, I mean both halves as well. That is what will pay for your supplies."

Malik nodded. "Sounds cool."

They entered the marble building. Malik raised an eyebrow at the creatures running around. "Goblins run the bank?"

Dumbledore nodded. "We are expected. Follow me."

Malik dutifully followed until they came to the Ore Carts of Doom.

He stopped dead. "Yami told me about those," he declared. "You will not get me on those even if mou hitori no boku shows up to kill me."

"I hope that will not be necessary," Dumbledore murmured. "We cannot withdraw funds unless you are present, and without funds, you cannot buy your supplies."

Malik thought it over and cursed. "Fine, but I am puking on you."

Fortunately, Malik didn't puke on the ride, although he was very green throughout.

"I am never doing that again," Malik gasped as he staggered away from Gringotts as fast as his shaking legs would allow.

"Let us take a moment to recover before continuing," Dumbledore said kindly, steering Malik towards an ice cream shop.

Wizard ice cream wasn't that bad, Malik decided as he tackled a banana chocolate sundae with little Chocolate Frogs hopping around the melting mountains of ice cream.

"Thanks for the ice cream," Malik said as he followed Dumbledore to the wand shop.

"I will wait out here as you get your wand," Dumbledore said.

Malik raised an eyebrow but entered the wand shop. Dumbledore drifted away, apparently interested in a few fairly odd birds that a witch was selling.

It was a dark, dusty shop that reminded Malik of Isis' storerooms back home. Malik drew a faint amount of comfort from the feeling as he called, "Hello?"

"It is a bit late for one so old to be getting a wand," an old voice replied a few moments later. An old man came into view from between tall shelves filled to capacity with boxes that Malik assumed held wands.

"Well, can I get a wand anyway?" Malik asked, attempting to be faintly polite.

"Certainly. May I first know your name?"

"Malik Ishtar."

"Very nice meeting you, Mr. Ishtar. I am Ollivander. Now, please hold out your wand arm."

Malik had no idea what that was, but held out his right arm anyway. A tape measure sprang to life and began to measure him with the type of energy that Malik had only seen in Jounouchi. Ollivander, meanwhile, vanished back into the shelves.

Malik entertained himself with thoughts of the other blonde duelist that always followed Yugi around like a little puppy.

Then he grew concerned as the tape measure attempted to get somewhere extremely private.

"Go away," Malik growled with the deathglare gifted to him by Marik.

The tape measure eeped and duck behind the sales counter.

Ollivander came into sight, both arms laden with boxes. "Come here," he directed, setting the boxes on the sales counter.

Malik did so, casting about for the tape measure. It appeared to want to have nothing more to do with him, and he was extremely grateful for that.

"Now," Ollvander said, handing Malik a wand, "please wave that."

Malik shrugged and did so. Several shelves fell over as if an unseen wind and pushed them. He blinked and set the wand down again.

Ollivander handed him another.

This time the lights blew up.

Malik snickered.

The glass window broke.

The counter split in two.

Several shelves ignited.

Ollivander grew several feet of sky blue hair and fox ears.

Malik's hair turned an interesting shade of violet.

Ollivander found himself in a dress.

A rabbit-shaped hole appeared in the door.

Malik, by this time, was laughing so hard that he had to wait a few minutes before waving another wand.

This one shot out violet and gold sparks.

"We have found your wand, it appears," Ollivander said, and was that a hint of relief in his voice? "Thirteen inches, birch with unicorn tail. A rather interesting wand. Excellent for defense."

Malik looked at the discarded wands as Ollivander wrapped his.

"Do you remember Yugi Mutou?" he asked on a whim.

Ollivander paused. "Yes, and all of his friends. They were an interesting group, indeed."

"What wands did they get?" Malik asked eagerly.

Ollivander set Malik's wand down. "Now let me see… Mr. Yugi Mutou's wand was eleven inches, sakura with phoenix feather. Mr. Yami Mutou's was yew and phoenix, twelve inches. Mr. Bakura Ryou received ebony and dragon heartstring, thirteen inches. Mr. Ryou Bakura's was also sakura, but with unicorn hair, twelve inches."

"An interesting collection," Malik murmured.

"They did the most collective damage of any group," Ollivander sighed. "It took hours before they all found their wands."

Malik grinned. "I wish I could have seen it."

"You did enough," Ollivander countered, fox ears flat against his skull. "Your wand shall be seven Galleons."

Malik fished inside his moneybag and produced the gold coins. Ollivander handed him his wand.

"Thanks," Malik said. "And I'm really sorry about the ears."

"It is quite alright. Do you need someone to fix your hair?"

Malik shook his head. "Nah. Isis would say that my hair matched my eyes. Later!"

He practically skipped out of the store. Dumbledore was waiting on a nearby bench.

"I do hope you left Mr. Ollivander in one piece," Dumbledore said when he caught sight of Malik's rather disheveled state and new hair color.

"He's all right, but I think his tape measure is scarred. Now where?"

"Books, then potions."

Malik shrugged and followed Dumbledore.

His eyebrows shot up when he saw the number of books he needed to buy.

"Standard Book of Spells, grades 1-5," he muttered. "A Divination book, a Potions book, an Herbology book, a defense book, and how many others?"

"Do not look so shocked," Dumbledore said.

"Well, I am," Malik muttered.

After the bookstore, they headed to the Potions shop, then to the robe shop.

"Why do I have to wear robes again?" he muttered as he stood impatiently on a stool as a witch took all of measurements.

"It is the school uniform," Dumbledore said patiently.

Malik rolled his eyes and jumped down off the stool as the witch finished.

Several mores stores later…

"What else do I need to buy? A kitchen sink?!" Malik asked irritably as he looked at his considerable pile of packages.

"You have enough money to buy a pet if you'd like," Dumbledore said, looking at Malik's moneybag. "After that, we can pick up your robes and go back to school. You won't have much money for the Hogsmeade trip, though."

Malik rolled his eyes. "I'll borrow from Harry and pay him back later. I am not ready to go on that hellish roller coaster again just yet."

"Understandable. What sort of pet would you like?"

"Well, a dragon is out of the question," Malik muttered as he entered the pet store.

Several animals caught his eye. He wandered past cages full of red and green turtles, spotted cats, and other interesting things.

Then his eyes fell upon something that made him look twice.

A winged puppy lay on the ground next to the sales counter, tethered to a small post. It looked up at him with large, sad eyes and stood, wings shifting to lie across its back.

Malik, despite what everyone else thought, was actually rather fond of puppies. He walked over and knelt down beside the puppy. It jumped into his lap and began to give his face a thorough licking. Malik laughed.

The puppy was tan in color, with white paws and a brown muzzle. Its wings were feathered, white with strips of tan.

Malik's heart melted.

He looked up at an amused Dumbledore. "It followed me home," he said. "Can I keep him?"

Dumbledore smiled. "I don't see why not, although if you plan to take him back into a Muggle community his wings will have to be charmed."

Malik looked. "It's a boy," he affirmed.

Dumbledore chuckled and looked to the lady at the sales counter.

"3 Galleons," she said.

Malik handed the money over without an argument and took his new puppy's leash.

"This is what you need to know to take care of him," the sales woman said, handing over a small book. "Free of charge."

Malik nodded. This was one book he was happy to get.

His puppy flew ahead of him as he exited the store. Malik followed at a run, a wide grin across his face.

Dumbledore was glad that Malik had found something to make him happy.

"What is its name?" the headmaster asked as they drew closer to the robe shop.

"Aeris," Malik responded. "First name that popped into my head."

They picked up Malik's robes and headed for the large fireplace that they'd come out of the first time. Aeris had settled onto the ground and was trotting along happily, Malik pushing cart that held all of his things and Dumbledore trailing along.

Malik accepted the Floo powder that Dumbledore offered him and stepped up to the fire, Aeris safely in his arms.

"Where do I say?" he asked Dumbledore.

"Hogwarts, Gryffindor Tower," Dumbledore replied.

Malik did as he was told and stepped into the fire, clutching Aeris for dear life.

He fell out of the Gryffindor fireplace, landing on a very rumpled pharaoh.

Aeris barked and began attack Yami with his tongue.

Yami yelped and tried to roll away.

Bakura snickered.

Malik jumped up and rescued Yami from Aeris. The pharaoh got a good look at what had attacked him and blinked. Aeris yipped and looked adorable.

Malik's supplies came next, followed by Dumbledore.

"A bed has been set up for you in the fifth year dormitory," Dumbledore said. "I suggest you put everything away. Classes resume tomorrow, and you will not have much time for anything besides homework. Enjoy your break while it lasts."

Dumbledore stepped back into the fire and vanished.

Malik removed Aeris' leash and let the puppy do what he wanted while he gathered his supplies.

"Looks like you had a profitable trip," Yami noted as he saw the number of books Malik had.

"Profitable my ass. A tape measure tried to molest me."

Bakura snickered.

"And sorry for landing on you, pharaoh. Not intentional. Although it appears Aeris likes you."

"Aeris?" Yami asked. "I thought it was male."

"He is," Malik shrugged, taking a handful of books and trudging upstairs.

Aeris followed.

Bakura turned to Yami. "Why did you think the puppy was female?"

"Because Aeris is a female character in a video game."

"Ah."

They turned back to what they'd been doing before… Wizard's Chess.

Quatre: So this chapter had a humourous note to it.

Yami Quatre: That's not a bad thing, though. It was actually quite cute.

Quatre: "Mou hitori no boku' means "the other me". And sorry if I gave the Necklace/Tauk a power it doesn't have, but it does make sense to me.

Yami Quatre: But only to you.

Quatre: Anyway, I don't know when the next update will be. I'm working on it, though, so please don't hurt me.

Ame: Yeah, don't hurt her. She's my pizza source.

Quatre: I hope you enjoyed this chapter, and I'll update as soon as I can!

All: Ja ne!