Continued Survival

Summary: As if dealing with the things life has already thrown at him isn't hard enough, now Ryou is being sent off by his Father to England, to stay with a man named Albus... (Harry Potter and YGO, what else!)

Disclaimer: Alright. Before this goes any further, I just want to state that I in no way own either Harry Potter or Yu-Gi-Oh…

A/n: VERY MANY THANKS go out to my amazing beta Mersedes!

Chapter 17 - Your Lips Twisted

He was wandering outside the morning, mind still intent upon a conversation from the night before. They had been talking about the boy, Nott.

"His father is a follower of the Dark Lord; his mother just a lackey. She's useless - not even worth marking," Draco had said.

"The dark lord…" Ryou shivered as the vision of the serpentine figure flashed in his mind's eye. Such a beast, and to have so many followers. "Is he… what is it that he wants?" There seemed to be so much death, and even the jokes seemed to have such bittersweet stings.

Draco and Blaise both gaped at him. "You're kidding me," Blaise muttered in disbelief. "He murders people every day, how can you not know what he wants?"

"He wants to remove the muggles and muggleborns from our world. From any world in general, really," Draco elucidated when it seemed obvious Blaise wasn't going to expound.

"Why did he start against people who can't do magic?" It seemed an innocent enough question to Ryou, but the blond's brow furrowed as if the thought had never so much as crossed his mind.

"Lots of us feel the same way, you know. I don't like them coming to my school, either. Or living where I live and eating what I eat."

"I know," Ryou murmured, wringing his sleeve. "You've said so before. But would you really go out and kill them, too?" It was more personal a question than he probably would have dared before, but something in Ryou was driving him. Curiosity, he felt sure, though it was rare for it to rear its head as it had been doing lately. Before this, he'd been more comfortable letting life pass on its own. Make no waves and you'll stay afloat.

"I might," Draco informed him haughtily, straightening into his self-important pose. "It's an option I haven't ruled out after I graduate."

"Like your father," Ryou murmured. Draco sniffed at that. There was pride in his eyes, and Ryou felt that there was nothing more that could be said. Draco had given him the truth.

Why would he want them dead, Ryou wondered somberly. This was a war, and war brought death. Only, was this truly a war, or was it an empty one-sided battle? None but those with magic seemed to know of its existence, and thus far he'd seen little to no resistance from those his spirit termed 'another facet of this game.'

His father had no magic, which made him a target for those who wsanted his kind dead. How, he wondered, had his father met his mother with the line so taut between the twin worlds? Of course, not everyone must feel the same way, since the girls had told him that most of the students had a normal or, in this world's terms, muggleborn parent. Many a student was even born from two non-magical parents. Muggles, that is.

His father was normal, but he wasn't. It was impossible to imagine turning on your family just because you had a gift that they did not. Would some do that? Ally themselves with that serpent man and kill off the parent that they had who couldn't do magic?

Memories of his earliest opinion, that this was a cult, arose to trouble Ryou anew. All the signs connected with what he'd always heard of them, and it wasn't so far-fetched at all. One day, would the pull of what Draco had been taught lead him to his father's side in the crypt-like fortress? Would it lead the blond to a life of death behind double masks?

Why he said it Ryou didn't know, but he found himself standing and hugging his chest, his long hair falling and shielding his face. "Someday you might kill my father." Not staying to witness any reaction, Ryou walked down the stairs to his dorm and the silent solitude of his bunk with its dolls.

It was later when the two other boys came up to their shared dormitory. Having left the curtains around his bed open, Ryou knew when they entered and hoped that it wasn't to pick on him. Then he saw the blond's face and confusion reigned as Draco came up to him, leading Blaise and looking like a chastised kid. The aristocrat's expression was tight, mouth set, but his eyes showed both uncertainty and nervousness.

"You're a muggleborn." Draco declared, forthright.

Ryou gave a shy nod, and then explained that he had never known of wizards and the like up until so short a time ago. Draco listened to his words in silence, then gave a jerk of a nod. "You're a half-blood, then," he commented. "That's not so bad," he added before shifting the current of the conversation. Had Ryou finished his homework? Was there a problem with the latest reading assigned him in charms? What did he have left to work on? Puzzlement took its time being replaced by startled comfort and realization. A warmth filled his chest. Draco was trying to both suck up and still retain his high-bred dignity. It made Ryou feel warm, the knowledge that the boy still cared despite all the hard words that had been spoken towards those of his line.

He broke from his thoughts when his ears caught the sound of a pained mew. Startled, Ryou stood rooted to his spot and scanned the nearby bushes. A patch of ginger caught his eye, moving restlessly between the branches of the bush. Another whine, pitiful and pained, loosed him from his stupor and Ryou crept closer to the injured creature. When he closed in on the bush he found it to be a large feline, its ears back and its paw stabbed through by a thick… thorn? It looked almost like a nail, despite its obvious wooden makeup.

"Shhh," he murmured softly, kneeling next to the bush and taking in the scene. Beautiful eyes turned his way, the owner of those orbs stilling as if what she saw in him meant that all would now be well. It hurt, knowing that such a creature could trust so blindly. His presence could easily mean either life or death for her, after all. Still, he would help her if he could and pray that there would be no darkness near to watch.

The thorn was embedded deep in the ground and was hard to remove. However, out it eventually came and with much blood from the injured feline. She only reared back a bit, paw now off the ground and held to her inspection. Not letting the cat have time to take matters into her own hands, he gentled her out of the bush and then sat on the ground with her in his lap, blood dripping down them both now.

"If my other was here," the small boy chuckled hollowly, stroking the orange fur as she licked at the injury, "he'd kill you for the attention I've paid you." The large feline butted its head against his hand when it fell still and he scratched her ears. "Or, just because he could."

While he scratched, its luminous eyes met his. It was a beautiful cat. Looking into those intelligent eyes, Ryou wondered over how lucky someone was to be gifted such a companion. Those eyes gave him the feeling the cat knew what his words meant, no matter the species gap. He wished that he could keep her. However, he knew who she belonged to and it was time to take the lady home. The name on her collar dispelled any hopes of that, the name Hermione printed clearly with the word Gryffindor underneath. So, he gathered her into his arms gently and headed out to track find some bandages for her paw before tracking her owner down.

It has to be done, he reminded himself firmly, stepping into the light of the library. No matter how dark the dungeons and many of the lower-leveled hallways, this chamber of the castle always seemed to glow during the day with sunlight and newness. Age clung to all else in this old keep, but not here, which was curious since many of the books looked to be older than the very shelves they sat on. It was as if the library stepped out of time and existed in its own plain. As with every other time he entered it, he felt the heavy air of the halls be replaced in his chest by fresh, though maybe dust-tainted air. Only, this time, the tension in his shoulders did not ease.

Ryou swallowed the choking fear rising in his throat and approached the tense Gryffindors with Bastet cuddled into his chest. It didn't matter how much they hated him, Granger-chan should have her pet back. She obviously loved her. No creature-man or animal-could be so loving and trusting without having experienced the same gentleness.

The Gryffindor trio were gathered by a window in the library pouring over a rumpled sheet of parchment, their three heads bent over it, their bodies crowded close to conceal it from curious eyes. "She has to be in the forest," Hermione exclaimed, eyes still pouring over the straying dots on the parchment in desperate search for one labeled 'Crookshanks'. "There's nowhere else she can be. She never stays out all night and if she isn't on the map then where else could she be!"

"The monster's probably fine there, 'Mione," Ron offered in comfort, not looking up from the Marauder's map to see her teary glare. "It'd probably scare away anything there that-hey, where's the name of that albino? He's not on the map?"

"He isn't?" Harry frowned pensively, searching for Bakura's name. "Where-okay, there's Malfoy and his two ogres. Zabini is there…" He grazed a fingertip across the Slytherin dorm to a corner by two younger Slytherin girls whose names he recognized from third-year sorting, one of the few he actually made it to.

"I knew it!" Ron declared, eyes lighting in fevered excitement. "He's likely some death eater, I told you nobody transfers this late."

"Really, Ron," Hermione fumed, skimming the map from top to bottom, "you're forgetting what we're looking for. Crookshanks. It makes perfect sense for some poor parents to want to send their son to Hogwarts, safest known school, with You-Know-Who(See what she calls him) back. Besides, he's probably Professor Bakura's son, that new Muggle Studies professor. See? He's still here." Her lips thinned as her continued search proved fruitless. "He really isn't on here," she muttered.

"Like with Moody," Ron explained hurriedly, leaving even closer to them as his hands moved animatedly. "He was Barty Crouch Jr., remember? Look and see whose name you don't know in Slytherin!"

Harry sighed and pushed back his glasses, fixing his emerald gaze on his best mate. "Ron, not only do we not know the name of every student in the castle but it'd be impossible to tell which house each belongs to."

"We'll just have to keep a watch on the Slytherin common room, then," Ron continued, undaunted. "Besides, we know it's a Death Eater so we can look for the names of the ones we recognize."

"We don't know all of them, Ron. There could be any number, especially now with Voldemort's return out in the open. For all we know we could even be sleeping in the same dorm as-"

"Gryffindor, 'Mione," Ron pointed out distastefully. "Gryffindors don't turn out Death Eaters."

Hermione sighed, shaking her head sadly at her friend's naivety. It was Harry who brought up the point she hesitated in voicing. "Wormtail, Ron. Remember him? Scabbers?" The pet rat Ron had received from his brother when he was younger and taken to Hogwarts with him from day one. An animagus, one who could turn into animals, in disguise. The Weasley winced.

"There's always an exception," he waved the words away with a grimace. "Slytherin is the real Death Eater house, you know that." Neither of his friends voiced an objection.

Hermione noticed someone stopping uncertainly near them and glanced up, lips still pressed and prepared to give them a haughty look to send them on their way when she saw not only the object of their current search but her missing pet as well. She jumped to her feet, leaving two dumbfounded boys on the ground as she enthusiastically called out to the pet she feared she'd lost.

"Crookshanks!" The orange tabby perked up at her true name on the excited girl's lips and leapt down from Ryou's arms to limp to the bushy-haired teen and rub against her keeper's robed legs. Smiling wistfully, he took a self-conscious step back from the girl. She now crouched and was babying her returned pet as it smugly accepted the petting and attentions with a rumbling purr. Ryou hugged his arms to himself, watching.

They were both so happy, he saw, and he felt the tightness in his chest loosen as he watched. Sometimes it was all too easy to forget the happiness to be found in life, but times like these were what were important, not the nights of fear or hours of death and shadow.

The other two, her friends, had their heads bent over something, expressions twisted in confusion. The red-head jerked his head up and stood, taking a threatening step closer and leaving the black-haired boy to his study. Bright blue eyes snapped against Ryou's brown in unexpected anger and suspicion.

"What were you doing with 'Mione's cat?"

Ryou returned his gaze in open surprise, brown eyes widened in disbelief. "Why-what do you mean? I found her hurt last night. I did not know whose she was until earlier today, honestly. Bas-Crookshanks, she is a lovely cat. I knew her owner would miss her, I was not going to keep her." The accusation struck a nerve he hadn't known was open to injury and Ryou pulled back another step from the towering red-haired boy.

"Bullock! What'd you do to the brute's paw?"

Ryou flinched. How could someone think he'd purposely do something like that to so fair and gentle a creature? Not even his spirit would do such for the mere pleasure of it. Not to a feline, anyway. He backed away a step further from the furious boy, tightening his arms around himself. "Nothing," he entreated, "I promise I didn't. Why would I hurt her?"

"How should I know? You snakes are the ones who get off doing those things!"

"Ron!" The girl looked up from her orange pet with brown eyes angry in reproach.

Potter frowned from his spot, the only one to have remained seated, and shook his unruly-haired head. It startled Ryou when he took the girl's side. "C'mon, Ron, forget it. You have no proof."

"I-" Ryou swallowed heavily, edging further away until he collided with a bookshelf, shaking several heavy volumes from their place and sending them tumbling around his head. Leaping away, Ryou left them on the floor in his haste. "I'm sorry, I should go."

On that he turned tail and ran, fleeing from the anger he felt rising in his spirit and the pain of their distrust. Harry hopped up to grab Ron's arm before the other boy could pursue the Slytherin.

"Ron," Hermione snapped, lifting Crookshanks into her arms and stalking over to him. "What did you do that for? He didn't do anything!"

"Are you both loony?" Ron shook his arm free from Harry's hand, glaring balefully from one to the other. "He's Malfoy's friend. Of course he did something!" They continued to frown at him, though Harry's was more of a world-weary frown than anything else. Ron took heart from this.

"He didn't have to bring her back. And he was being gentle with her." Hermione's arguments persisted, but her voice wavered at the end in uncertainty.

As for Ryou, he went straight to his dorm.

"Where were you," Draco demanded, the barest thread of concern intermixed with his haughty hostility. Biting back a surprised apology, Ryou felt a flood of warm amusement at his friend's sense of self-importance. It was hard for him to remember that leaving his side for the slightest reason without offering an explanation was digested by the blond like an insult.

Life with Draco was lived on pins and needles if you desired staying in his good graces. "I found Granger-chan's cat hurt last night and returned her this morning." It was probably a bad idea to tell him this, since Draco didn't like Gryffindors or want him to like them, but he had to tell enough lies as things were. It was… nice… to tell the truth, this once.

"What?" Draco stared at him in distaste before all but exploding at him, horrified confusion giving way to disbelieving condescension. "Are you completely insane, Ryou? They. Are. Gryffindors. This means they are the enemy. If you were so worried about the stupid cat, why didn't you just give it to that bitch of a head of house they have? She would have given it to the mudblood." There was a moment's pause that Draco used to regroup, then he started in again with a new tirade.

"You're lucky they didn't curse you. Tell me you had sense enough to wait for her to be without the wonder squad?" A snort. "No. You didn't. And you went on your own. You do not just walk up to them, Ryou. No, you don't even associate with them. Not unless I'm there. You hear me?"

Draco had once again gotten into one of his catty moods. Unable to stop the other from ranting or being upset, Ryou pled a headache and slipped out to get some air.

Night had taken over the sky before Ryou felt up to returning to his dorm. It was long past the deadline, meaning that he would probably be in trouble for remaining outdoors for so long, but he barely cared. For someone who rarely slept at night, a bedtime was something new and uncomfortable.

Ryou almost made it to the entrance to the rooms when a voice hissed for him to stop. How he was recognized he wasn't sure. Hands shaking, Ryou turned slowly. Not, he recognized, and started to feel some relief before his classmates' words came back to him, warning him to be careful.

"Hello," he greeted softly, backing a step closer towards the entryway. "We really shouldn't be out here."

The tall boy stalked closer, his rough hand closing over Ryou's wrist with a force that made him jump. "Stay," the larger boy ordered. "Nobody will be missing us. I was waiting for you after I heard you hadn't come back yet."

There was a gleam in those eyes that made Ryou nervous. It was a look he had known before, and one that had led to many deaths. He tugged experimentally, but found the grip on his arm inescapable. "Really," Ryou murmured, a note of fear entering his voice, "we should go in. You don't want this."

Nott scowled at Ryou and jerked him closer, tangling his hand in the delicate while hair. "Am I not good enough for you, then?" He snarled, jerking the smaller boy's face closer and making him wince. "Do I not look good enough, like those prissy friends of yours?"

"N-no!" Grimacing in pain, Ryou clutched the large Quidditch captain's wrist, straining vainly to wrest it from his hair. "It's nothing to do with you at all!"

"Really, I wouldn't have thought," Nott growled, clearly not believing him. "Well, my little veela, those two aren't here now to keep me away. When I'm through, you'll know who you belong to."


Nott whirled to face this unexpected arrival. Ryou's muscles weakened in relief, hands relaxing despite the remaining vice-like grip of Nott's fist. The unshed tears in his eyes threatening to fall he kept at bay, waiting for the freedom he knew he'd be given. Misty shadows were dusting the air around them, darkening the already dim corridor in a haunting threat his guilty mind took comfort from.

"Who're you?" Nott demanded coarsely, glaring at the spirit.

"My name would mean nothing to you, mortal. Release my pet now or the meagre existence I have planned for your future would be considered a blessing to what I shall do."

In the growing mist, Yami no Bakura stood tall and formidable, phantom hair wild in the false light glowing from his chest. The scar running over cheek and through eye caught fragments of that light, creating the deception that this scar glistened with fresh blood. The glittering of guaranteed suffering in his spirit's eyes would bring the strongest spirit to quail, and Nott stepped back from the vision as if burned, dragging Ryou with him.

"I never saw you before. This has nothing to do with you! Go before I tell Professor Snape," Nott ordered tremulously, ignorant to how much pain his movements caused his captive. The spirit pursued them, a vicious smirk twisting his pale lips into a sneer.

"I warned you, mortal," came the darkness' growl. "Now you die."

Ryou clenched his eyes shut as a searing light burnt the air, fading as a growling overlapped the fearful whimpers escaping Nott. "A trick! It-it's not real!" The trembling in his tone doubled, his fist still locked in Ryou's hair. A scraping sound was crossing the floor towards them, the growls continuing.

"Is it?"

Ryou refused to open his eyes. Nott's hand, trembling violently as the boy sought to tear it from Ryou's hair, convinced Ryou that he didn't want to see.

Screaming. Heat and chill. A new doll.

"You're just dolls, now." He had a sad little smile, this tiny angel in the black robes.

"What do you mean?" The student standing over him was staring at him oddly, seeming to think he was unsettled. The girl did not know the half of it.

"Your souls are here, but all that holds them are wooden bodies. The Darkness has claimed you now, and will keep you."

Ryou Bakura was in a catatonic state. The clamour of students in the hall had drawn the attention of Severus, who had stepped out into a scene of pandemonium with the small boy curled on the ground at its center. The man had sent the prefect for Albus, he himself being unable to stir the child from his state, but that had been met with little success. He almost wished that he hadn't. Albus didn't want Ryou having any other scares and asked Severus to carry him to Eugene's rooms so that he could be with his father. The headmaster's reasoning was that the boy's father would be able to dispel any nervousness the child might have. Severus would have scoffed, were it not so likely to offend the old man.

Instead, he went as asked. Severus wasn't impressed with the chambers Eugene Bakura kept and made many snide comments as he laid Ryou down on the man's bed. A worn Eugene only thanked him and sat down in a chair next to his son's side. The man's face was pale beneath his tan, and his eyes were fixed on the ashen face of his son.

A disapproving Severus left them. Standing at his child's side, Eugene wavered between sitting in a chair beside him and going back to the work he had left on his desk. Minutes later there was a knock at the door, and Eugene hesitantly left his spot still standing at son's side. The young boy on the other side, Malfoy Eugene's mind supplied, looked embarrassed as he thrust a wooden body his way. "Here. He'll want this to sleep with." There was a flush on those pale cheeks. With that, the boy turned tail and left.

During the time, Ryou only half-awoke a few times only to pull the doll set in bed next to him closer and fade back into the oblivion of sleep. His darkness stood over him all the while, emotionless as the desert from which he had come.

- End Chapter-

A/n: Lookit! A new chapter! Ee, sorry I took so long! My beta was amazing, had this chapter fixed up for me ages ago, but I'm only now getting this ready to post. Sorry that I gave you all such a delay! Any mistakes still here are my own, and please let me know if you find any! 3