Disclaimer: I only own the plot, the concepts and ideas, Grey Tower Town, and any characters you don't recognize.
A Tear Upon Your Hand
dropped a tear upon your hand, may it wither it up!
If I spoke a gentle word in your hearing, may it deafen you!
If I touched you with my lips, may the touch be poison to you!
A curse upon this roof that gave me shelter!
Sorrow and shame upon your head!
Ruin upon all belonging to you!"
- Charles Dickens, Dombey and Son
The command central of Empire City, the nerve center of Nemesis, and the true heart of the Trinity Organization - it was all the same thing – and it was always busy. If it weren't anything less than busy, Mathias Clarimorir would probably fire them all for not doing their job. And no one was about to get fired by Mathias for anything. No matter what race, gender, or general species you were, the benefits were far too good to lose. Full paid life and medical insurance, discounted transportation on any of Empire City's mass transit, discounted rent on your chosen residence (which always had a wonderful view), great food, breaks, and paid two-week vacations to wherever on Earth you wanted to go. Along with a month's worth of sick days per year. And the pay was fantastic. Who in their right mind wouldn't give it their all for all those wonderful parts of the job? There was no wondering how Mathias Clarimorir kept his employees, particularly those working in the prestigious and top-secret Empire City floating in space, motivated.
The only qualm anyone really had was about the dental plan. Even Mathias himself admitted that it plainly sucked. But he really couldn't do anything about it and told everyone to complain to the management department. The management department dealt with complaints with the classic…boxes. There, anyone looking to complain only found a small bin with the small label of 'complaints', which was empty save for a few suggestions of better tea (preferably Earl Grey), and a large Dumpster the size of three refrigerators put side by side with the sign – 'COMPLAINTS ABOUT THE DENTAL PLAN GO HERE'). Typically, overflowing.
Other than that, they had everything they could possibly ask for.
As the workers hurried to and fro beneath them, depending on how they performed movement to begin with, Hiroshi Takashi and Keisha Jennings were discussing something of what one of them considered of vital importance. The other would prefer not to speak of it to begin with and would like to get on with doing his job in peace, which was monitoring Earth security from the scanners and being the head of intelligence. Sure, he had a whole department doing the same thing, but he was just like that. Besides, both Mathias and Miranda were out on Earth on business. He wasn't happy about that. And Keisha, being the head of general security, was on break. As a result, he was in an even worse mood. Though most would claim that he was rarely ever happy unless he had a gun, new weapon, or Miranda Blackthorne nearby.
Hiro has made no comment as of yet to that claim.
"Why don't you just ask her out already!" the black girl screamed in frustration, sitting on the metallic counter with her long legs waving in the air. A few people below who had heard her beyond the enclosed glass compartment looked up at the pair skeptically, to rush off at the mere glare of Hiro. He was sitting in his comfortable leather chair, the computer screams gleaming in front of him, in which windows kept popping up. With practiced ease, he read them all quickly, dismissing each into separate folders with the push of several keys on his keyboard. She was not put off by his devil-may-care attitude and continued on her tirade, restraining the urge to throw her Trinity coffee-mug at his head and hope that it somehow fixed whatever was broken in his mind. "Let's think on this together, Hiro. How many years has it been? Better yet, millenniums? EONS, GOD DAMMIT!" With that, she cracked a computer screen with her mug (it was only chipped).
Hiro only gave her a calm and slightly condescending look before turning back to his screens. "I have no idea what you're talking about, Falcifer. And don't call me 'Hiro'. It's Hiroshi."
"Yes, I forgot," she pointed out dryly. "Only Megami can call you that, right?" She laughed at the startled blush that colored his face for a brief second before he controlled himself. "Listen, Hiro, you've been pining after her since…I don't know…not too long after we were created, I think. You like her, why the hell don't you make a move! If you don't act now, you'll never get your chance!"
"Still no idea what you're talking about, Fal."
"Fine," she spat irritably, "be that way. But a woman can't wait forever. And she's practically done that." Seeing his bad-tempered look (which meant that she was right, he just didn't want to admit it), she whacked him sharply over the head. "Take some vacation time and go have a good time for once-"
A large siren going off throughout the entire central command abruptly cut her off, red and blue lights flaring to life. Hiro shot up in his seat and only threw the other Harbinger a brief look of concern (Falcifer had fallen off the counter in her surprise) before typing away at his computer, but finding nothing wrong or urgent in any of the intelligence files that he had just looked through or was receiving. He pushed the intercom, ignoring Falcifer's calls to the security department, and his succinct voice projected loud over the tumult happening below.
"Everyone, hold it!" Everyone stopped in his or her tracks, some in mid-movement. "If there is an emergency, then don't just call it in and start chaos, inform us first!" There were a few apologetic murmurs as the siren noise died down, leaving only the flashing red and blue lights. Hiro turned around at Falcifer's prodding finger and he turned around to find his friend looking pale considering her dark skin. She pressed the monitor button and the large window screen in front of the command center, where the majestic Earth prominently hung in the darkness of space, was soon replaced by the countenance of the American president.
He was someone whom Hiro had never liked to begin with. The guy seemed far too gung-ho and happy for his tastes. That, and the last dinner he had in Washington D.C. did not satisfy his critical palate, no matter if Miranda completely enjoyed the food (shrimp in lobster sauce with a side of rice and potato salad, glass of Chianti wine, and chocolate cake for dessert).
"…So it is imperative," the president was saying, smiling triumphantly to the anxious and eager reporters around him, the cameras all focused on him. "That we eliminate these threats to our businesses. These large monopolies, under the guises of legitimate corporations and benevolent providers of society, are nothing more than trusts that have dominated our world. Trusts that have flattened the competition, put hundreds of Mom-and-Pop stores and other small businesses into bankruptcy with their sheer overwhelming power. It is our responsibility to put these companies back in their places and make the world safe again for free enterprise and good, clean business practices. There is also the added charge that many of these corporations are destroying our environment, something that is our duty to protect. There are calls for drilling in Alaska and especially in the fragile Antarctica. We just can't allow this to go on."
From the cacophony of voices, one reporter's voice on the floor managed to overcome the others and asked, "Sir! Who are among these corporations? Who is going to be the first on your list?" Hiro's blood ran cold as he recognized that voice and he knew that the people in the command center knew it as well. Keisha was cursing profanely, but in a low volume so that she would be able to hear what was going on. The cameraman only focused briefly on the face of this female reporter, who had a beautiful face with long blonde hair and lavender colored eyes. "That damned light goddess, she should…" he heard Keisha mutter behind him before trailing off into vulgarities once more.
"There are many of them, I admit that, and it will be difficult to get them for what they deserve. But I think with enough support from the American people and the world collectively, it can be done." The president smiled at the cameras, clearly enjoying the attention. "Our first target will be the Trinity Organization, headed by Mathias Clarimorir…"
"Shit!" Hiro yelled out piercingly, startling everyone out of his or her own silent horror. He put the intercom back on, so there was no mistaking that everyone could hear him. "Everyone, back to your terminals! I'm calling is a Level Alpha Emergency. I repeat, Level Alpha Emergency." He turned to Keisha, who was yelling at someone on her phone and asked, "Did you get Darius?"
"Yeah," she said distractedly, "he'll be on…"
The American president's image soon vanished, to be replaced by the frowning and serious face of Mathias Clarimorir. "I've heard the news," he started simply, causing one nearly hysterical person to let out a short laugh. "I want the lawyers down in here in New York as fast as you can and to notify all other branches of Trinity immediately." As soon as he started dispensing orders, everyone started moving. "I'm hardly going to let us go down just because they say I can't have a company. Megami." Hiro could only assume that Miranda was linked up to their transmission. "I want you to go to Britain. If she's pushing against us, she might make a move towards our 'friend' there, also. He's practically on his own. Just keep him covered, don't interfere unless necessary. Keisha, you will be in charge in Empire City and keep order from there."
Hiro blinked back surprise. Then what was he supposed to do? "Hiroshi." He instantly stood at attention. To his astonishment (and he was someone that was hard to shock under any circumstances), he found Mathias smiling grimly. "I've never heard of a time when the government was just so adamant about the environment. I can't help but be curious." A grin began to pull at his lips, seeing where this was going. "You and a team of your best agents are heading out to Antarctica. I want to know what's going on down there that they don't want us to know about. You have use of any weapon and take the Enlil jets to stay off any form of detection."
"Rules of engagement?" he asked. He wanted to make sure he understood the mission.
"Just make sure there are no scientists or United Nations people there. And don't do anything until you've found out what's going on down there. After you do that, report in. If the situation calls for it, you may see some action."
"Will we be able to fire the-"
"It's all about that gun, isn't it? Fine. Charge up the Meteor Storm Cannon. Just in case."
"Right," Hiro responded, taking care to sound sincere. He really didn't quite pull it off.
"What about Pheta?" Keisha asked angrily. "We can't just let her go off this easy. She's making a direct blow against us, we have to retaliate!"
"She won't be going after us," Mathias said calmly. "She knows that though we aren't in our fully true forms, we've got the Universe's protection. She'll go after those who aren't. Especially the last General. That's why Megami is going to Britain. We can't let Pheta get her hands on Nuitari. Understood?"
Two weeks. Two weeks had passed and he still hadn't found him.
Sirius Black was angry. That was the surface feeling at any rate. Inside, he was in more pain than he cared to admit. And as the convict-turned-Auror walked down deserted London streets, swaying slightly from the many firewhiskeys he had just consumed, he couldn't help but feel that he had failed in his duty as a friend, a godfather, and a protector of the innocent. He kicked an empty beer can that was lying on the sidewalk, hearing the ringing metal clang against the cement, its volume heightened by the sheer silence that pervaded the London night. With the exception of a bad-tempered cat, there was no answering response to his little disturbance. Not that there would be any since the street where the Leaky Cauldron located was primarily for stores and not homes.
The question that weighed on his mind was simple. Why?
Those days at Hogwarts were supposed to be cheerful, he reflected. They were supposed to be happy and celebratory, perhaps a party or two. There would be the added bonus that he was freed now and he could fully adopt Harry, taking him away from that horrible life. Life would be like it should have been, with the exception of the loss of James and Lily. They would have a grand old time and heal the wounds that no doubt the Dursleys had inflicted. They would deal with Voldemort together and get on with their lives surrounded by good fortune and family. Things would be looking up for a change.
Yeah, right, he thought to himself despondently. Everything looked up for a change, that's for sure. He had his godson to only find that he had amnesia and didn't remember him at all, believing himself to be an elemental to boot. Not only that, but even when confronted about the amnesia, Harry stated his views about where he wanted to be quite plainly – and though it pained Sirius to admit it, the green-eyed teen he sacrificed so much for was right. Harry, or Nuitari as he constantly argued, had everything a teen his age should have; at least Sirius assumed he did. He claimed to have family and during that week, seemed constantly concerned at their worry for him (something the boy never doubted in the least). He had certainly had loyal friends for them to dare to sneak onto Hogwarts grounds, disguised as wizards no less! He had school and was probably doing well, Sirius had caught the boy studying from his books that had been taken with them during the abduction with a diligence that he was sure the Harry he had known never possessed. And that violin…he had never known Harry to be musical in any way before…
There was also the physical exam that Madame Pomfrey had given him. Harry had shot up nearly an inch and a quarter in height since the last time she overlooked him in June. Not only that, but he was also stronger and put on some weight. Whatever injuries Vernon Dursley had exacted were entirely gone, with the exception of two cuts on his shoulder and neck that were nearly completely healed already. The matron was caught between pleasure of Harry's presently good health and her sympathy for himself. Sirius had never liked pity and the look she had given him when she announced Harry's amnesia made him cringe just in remembrance.
He hated feeling helpless. He hated feeling that he was useless even more.
"I was told by someone that I had a cruel life, that it was best not to remember. And every time I thought about that, I realized that there had to be some truth in what I was told. And besides, I have everything I could ever want now! I have a home now, a loving family, great friends, a wonderful life! Do you think I'm going to give that up just to play some martyr for the people that nearly killed me! What on Earth do you take me for!"
Harry's words reiterated and echoed in his head, the cruel rejection slowly killing him like a well-aimed knife in the heart. As he continued on his way to nowhere in particular, stumbling slightly, Sirius kept his blue gaze decidedly on the ground, lost in his melancholy thoughts and the whispers of sorrow in his ears.
"It's a bit disturbing, you know. You act far too much like Thanatos, Sirius Black," a sardonic and dark voice announced mildly behind him, as if he were commenting on the weather. Wand brandished, Sirius turned to face the speaker, though his stance and balance were less steady than they usually were. The point of the wand, though wobbling, was directed to a speaker leaning against a brick wall, shrouded in shadow. Half of him was in the deep shade that the building provided, the other half was lit harshly by bright streetlight. He wore a long black coat, a black leather shoe tapping on the sidewalk in a vaguely familiar beat. A dark fedora hat obscured most of his face, though Sirius was distinctly aware of deep blue eyes and a knowing smirk.
The resemblance nearly knocked him over. But it was definitely not the now well-known god of death. The man, or better term would be 'god', had longer hair and features that were more mature. Like a slightly older version of Death. This was someone different, but obviously connected to Thanatos – and indirectly, to himself.
"You're…one of," he struggled with his words, the fog of firewhiskey and surprise now finally setting upon him. He shook his head, realizing bemusedly that this would lead to a hell of a hangover the next morning, before finishing lamely, "Them."
"Apparently, my brother's inadequate level of eloquence has not failed to be passed down. Pity, as there are many more traits that would have been more befitting a descendant of our bloodline, and undoubtedly more useful," the still unnamed god noted, and Sirius was strongly reminded of Phineas Nigellus. Apparently, his rebellious mind imitated pompously, your arrogance has not failed to be passed down the line. Pity, as there are many more desirable traits befitting a regular and functioning human being that is being tormented by a bunch of immortal ancestors. Huzzah. "I suggest you eliminate whatever thoughts are in your head at the moment, young one. I know for a fact that they are hardly conducive to the situation at hand. And they probably lack a great deal in maturity, intelligence, and basic wit."
Sirius growled. "And on what do you base that assumption, whoever-you-are?"
"I happen to be your uncle, Moros." The god's smirk widened as he watched Sirius struggle to recall the name. "You were most likely warned by Thanatos, who is my little brother." He then waved a hand imperiously in the air, as if swatting away the intricacies of his station…and the importance of Sirius and Thanatos, in general. Sirius, on the other hand, was becoming slightly disturbed at the fact that it seemed as if Phineas Nigellus had come to life and wearing muggle clothing (which was unlikely enough). "God of cunning and doom, you get the idea."
"Oh," Sirius pointed out, "patron god of Slytherins and Snivellus."
"Slytherin happened to be your uncle through marriage into the family, so watch what you say," Moros admonished. Sirius decided to deal with that shocker later. When he was better able to handle the shock. "Be happy you didn't say that in front of my sister Melania. She probably would have cursed you. Besides, that lot has a better view of the world than the rest of you do."
"They're a bunch of paranoid bastards," Sirius said blandly.
"No. The correct term would be perceptive."
"They're still bastards."
"Of course, they are. Have you ever tried being one? It's terribly good fun, not to mention quite liberating. By being a bastard, you have no real obligation of being polite."
Sirius threw up his hands in defeat, deciding to forget it all and return to…Grimmauld Place. He surely had better things to do! At…Grimmauld Place. Which is better, here with Slytherin-like god while someone inebriated or at home with Phineas Nigellus, my mother, Kreacher, and a hangover? The god won. "Why have you decided to appear to me? You guys seem to revel in making me suffer, why not actually give me a reason?" he demanded.
"Now you're being reasonable. For a first." Moros pushed himself off the wall so that he stood directly in front of Sirius. The god had about three inches of height on him and Sirius thought of himself as reasonably tall. The blue eyes that he knew on Thanatos to be mischievous and scheming were serious and sharp on the elder brother. "My sister has the child's best interests at heart, but I must intervene. Things have changed, thus plans must be adjusted. I'm going to get you into Grey Tower. However…" Sirius felt a round sphere placed into his palm. As he brought the object into the white streetlight, the black feather contained within the small globe of crystal seemed at once ominous and dangerous.
"Quite a few people at Hogwarts – and my sister – won't be pleased about this. But it's just as well. You need to give that to young Harry…and you've best be moving. Time's a-ticking. Don't worry about the hangover. Nuitari can't be kept waiting." Moros flicked his wrist in Sirius' direction, a purple spark brightening the shadows briefly. "Hope you like the threads. Wizard robes tend to stand out in Elemental territory."
Sirius looked down critically at the clothing that replaced his customary wizard robes. Feeling he might as well get some word in edgewise, he quipped, "My, I didn't think you gods cared about fashion and all."
"We are multi-talented. It's a gift. And a little fashion sense would do you some good – you're no Casanova like Thanatos was when he was wandering about. Cutting that long filthy mop of hair would be a start."
Is it wrong to hit your immortal uncle? Are smirking and unappreciated advice good reasons?
"If there is one thing you should be assured of young Sirius, it is this," Moros spoke cryptically. "This will turn out to be very interesting…for me, at least." With that and a short bow, Moros vanished, leaving Sirius alone with his thoughts and a sinking feeling of trepidation.
"Okay, I know we've had our difficulties. It's understandable. But I feel that we have to be mature and civilized people and learn to tolerate each other. But we live in the same house now, eat the same meals, and to some extent the same adult authority. I think it would be best if we start to get along, maybe even become friends…"
Sitting Indian-style on the living room's leather couch, Night gave the blonde a withering look over his glasses. "I don't think you realize it, but you aren't staying here forever. Now let's skip the pleasantries and get to the point," he commented dryly, before turning back to the mathematics textbook open in front of him. May whoever thought up of trigonometry should rot in Hell. This prompted another mental tirade against curious ancient Greeks who sought to torture future adolescents with complicated and lunacy-inducing math equations and concepts. He really didn't need all this – his mother called this attitude lazy, and completely normal. There were just some people who liked it and those who didn't.
But that was beside the point. The point was that this…wizard, for Draco Malfoy was a guest and we must be polite to guests! – was attempting to establish a kind of camaraderie between the two of them. He was not able to pinpoint exactly why, but he was extremely hesitant about agreeing to any single thing that the other boy said.
After all, there had to be something up if none of the Grey Tower families would take him in, despite direct orders from Zylle herself.
Thinking back on his actions, Night had to admit one thing – they should have left Malfoy on the floor of Hogwarts while taking Neville. The other wizard – Neville – wasn't that bad of a person, quite nice actually if a bit on the cowardly side. He was currently staying at the Smythes, who welcomed him as a new son into the family after five minutes of meeting him. Night could only assume this was because of the shared earth element. Trina had commented to them earlier that it was nice to have a "calm and reasonable male specimen of human being" around. The rest of the Dragon leaders had taken some slight offense at this, but decided to let it go. Triana Smythe could be very formidable when she wanted to be.
Malfoy, however, was an entirely different matter. In the course of a day, all the families of Grey Tower that Zylle asked to keep an eye on the wizard returned him on the doorstep of 14 Zephyrus. They gave no reasons, but speaking with Malfoy had later settled it. The blonde was obviously stuck-up, snobby, arrogant, and sharp to a fine point. This combined with an inherent prissy attitude that, quite frankly, no Grey Tower citizen was accustomed to at all. Most of the town was middle-class and those who did have some money usually didn't flaunt it about. It was a kind of community tradition and consideration.
Therefore, no one knew how to (or wanted to) deal with taking care of Draco Malfoy while Zylle made the wizarding community rue the day they ever decided to infringe on Grey Tower territory. So, there was only one solution. Put Malfoy in the guest room and have him stay with the Hawkings themselves. It wasn't what either him or Zylle wanted, seeing that Malfoy could compromise their plans and Night's training (along with his conversations with Tom, but his mother didn't know about those), but it was the only option.
Malfoy, however, was ecstatic. This drew Night's suspicions…until he realized that Malfoy had developed a large crush on his mother.
Nuitari Hawking really did not need this. Really, he didn't.
For the past two weeks, he had been restraining the urge to kill the other teenager. The entire household had been turned about. For three consecutive days, they had to eat out because Malfoy thought to make the kitchen more 'civilized', thus blowing up the microwave and giving most of the appliances animated personalities. A man's highest possession was his dignity and it was a new low for Night to have to argue with the refrigerator to let him get the eggs ("You BARBARIAN! Eating the unborn! You're a vile savage! Get out of my sight! I will NEVER serve the likes of you!" the fridge had shrieked and the blender, also adding its two cents, was convinced that Night was the embodiment of pure, unadulterated evil).
Then Malfoy turned the television into a pig during one of their fights, the frightened bovine subsequently running out the door and in-between Gran's legs as she came in from the grocery store. Shadow was constantly on edge since Malfoy had once turned the feline into a mouse, prompting Hedwig to catch 'dinner'. He burned down several hedges in the backyard. And complained loudly about hair products.
Night was reaching his limits. Malfoy claimed he was 'helping' and they were taking it entirely the wrong way.
They had come to fisticuffs before. Actually, they had fought on a lot of occasions. Generally, they were one-sided and Night knew for a fact that Malfoy had never been one for a hand-to-hand fight. When he brought this up, Malfoy waved it off, dismissing physical combat was "incredibly plebian". Usually Zylle broke them up before they could rough each other up too much (sadly, he was usually close to winning every time also).
"How do you know I won't stay here for a long time?" the aristocrat asked, smirking in a snarky way that made trigonometry seem more innocent and nice in comparison. "This place does have a…quaint charm to it, I guess." The smirk grew wider. "I might stay for a spell or so. Besides, you don't know what I might tell my government when I get back. Would want all your precious secrets to be spread around the entire world, now would you?" He drew himself up, his arms crossed as he gazed down at the still sitting Night. "That would be a right shame."
"I'm sure," the brunette answered absently, returning back to the complexities of trigonometric formulas and the horrifying realms of sine, cosine, and tangent. "However, I doubt you have the capacity in that empty peroxide-bleached blonde head of yours to know the difference between our secrets and common knowledge."
If there was one thing that Night realized over the course of the entire ordeal, it was that Draco Malfoy was extremely sensitive over his intelligence. That…and his hair, which had taken on a more natural look now that he wasn't putting an exorbitant amount of gel to slick it back.
The careless façade shattered immediately. "Shut it, Potter. At least I know who I am. Unlike you. Imagine the savior of the wizarding world, becoming an elemental!"
"My name," Night replied venomously, "is Nuitari Hawking. And I'm nobody's savior. We've gone over this more than a hundred times in the past two weeks, hasn't it breached that thick skull of yours yet?"
Malfoy scowled, snapping, "Are you that idiotic? Face facts, you just don't want to give up your nice comfy little home here to face the Dark Lord. Are you scared that you'll die? You're Harry Potter. But you run away because you can't handle a couple of threats to your life and make a new one, calling yourself by a different name. Isn't that correct, Night?"
"Death is just the end of a chapter and the beginning of another. I have no idea what you're talking about and I assure you that I don't give a damn," Night responded, a tone of warning beneath his words that would have warned any other person off. "And it's Nuitari to you. Only friends call me by my nickname. Got that, Drake?"
The math book went flying as Malfoy leapt, forgetting his wand entirely. Quickly recovering from astonishment and glasses flying off his face as they toppled over the top as the couch overturned, they started to hit each other. Night had the upper hand, being trained in how to fight, but Malfoy was quick to catch on to how to manage himself and wasn't afraid to take a few cheap shots. He cursed loudly as Malfoy grabbed hold of a lamp and attempted to smash it on his head, moving just in time and sparing any more damage, especially to the picture frames that had fallen off the small table during the scuffle. While the lamp could be repaired easily, woe betide anyone who messed with the photographs.
They were interrupted by an amused laugh from the hallway. Both stopped in their movements in surprise, Night pinning Malfoy down on the floor and fist raised to punch the other's face. Gran was standing in the threshold, a bowling bag in one hand and a pair of magenta bowling shoes in the other. "You know, you two act just like my brothers did! Splendid, I've got two grandsons now!" she pronounced firmly, before leaving the house laughing (or cackling, as Night would describe it) at their surprised expressions.
He looked down again at Malfoy, who was – shock! – smirking. "Two grandsons. I think I'm already part of the family, don't you think?"
Did anyone else have to deal with annoying people that smirked in very irritating fashions? If there were anyone else out there with the same problem, they should get together sometime. Start a union or something. It would probably help.
Well, hitting the problem certainly did. Hitting it hard.
He didn't like disruptions in his routine. Not at this point in his life. Because when facing the possible destruction of all of humanity and possibly the universe, one really did not want any kind of disturbance in the plan to save it all. Of course, some disruptions were good, but on the whole? Bad. However, being that there were gods involved, that could all go to the crapper. Gods were capricious and fickle, as well as had a habit of changing around things so that they either came on top, some desired result was achieved, or just because they were plain bored.
Raistlin Majere knew from experience that dealing with gods was difficult and tiresome business indeed. Sure, he ended up in the employ of one, but he had met worse mortals and gods in worse situations. And it should be noted that when he signed up for service in exchange for knowledge, he did not mean to make himself involved in this sort of thing. Definitely not.
And as he glared down at the four fidgeting teens in front of him…as well as the unconscious one currently tied up in a chair, he had the feeling that this was a disruption and that he was not going to be happy about it.
"Um…sir?" Reginald started tentatively. "Something's come up…and I don't think you're going to like it very much."
That was not a good way to start off anything.
…Fifteen minutes later, after a detailed explanation of what had happened – two weeks ago! – in the library, it was then made certain – he didn't like it very much. At all. He angrily paced across the floor of his small office, his irritation mounting with each and every step he took. His wand/staff was carefully hidden away in the far corner of the room, so that he would be less apt to suddenly start cursing everything within his sight. Which, he felt like doing right now. But he doubted Melania would like that…and it might make him more suspicious in the eyes of Dumbledore, and by proxy, Pheta. And he did not want attention of that kind.
About two weeks ago, he was called to an 'urgent' staff meeting. The only consolation was that he was not the only one upset by this impromptu gathering. Wyvern Irving was grumbling about Weasley twins and Snape seemed especially sour over something. But what irked him most was the outraged Minerva McGonagall, who's ruffled countenance reminded him much of a wrathful lioness. Or a wet cat. Whichever. Apparently, Hermione Granger of Gryffindor had been found sleeping in the library. Of course, they all wondered if there was a point, until she mentioned that the girl simply wouldn't wake. And no spell or stimuli of any kind would rouse her.
He didn't bother to intervene at the time. Raistlin figured it was some internal wizarding problem the girl got mixed up in. He swore by the three moons of Krynn that the wizards seemed to be determined to kill each other off.
Therefore, he felt he was right when the news had – inevitably – leaked out into the student body. The rumor mill was cranking out a surplus of fantastic stories. Some were typical: Slytherins or anti-muggleborns had managed to curse her and she was slowly dying with no cure. Another (and what he had thought was the best one) was that she simply muffed up a spell and had to wait until the effects wore off. Madame Pomfrey had regaled the faculty at dinner with tales of 'chivalrous' young swains who figured this to be some kind of Sleeping Beauty-esque situation and how she had to throw them out of her infirmary.
Raistlin didn't particularly care at the time, even if the rest of the teachers were (suitably and predictably, in his mind) stumped.
Now, was another matter. Because apparently these four had something to do with it. "What did you all do?" he asked, his voice low and laced with threats. "I figured this to be a simple mistake on behalf of the girl's. Are you now saying that you had something to do with her condition? If so, why did you come forward now?"
Their winces and cringes were enough to answer the second question. "She overheard us and we decided to see how much she knew. However, she reacted badly to the truth spell we had used to interrogate her. We came forward now," the Ravenclaw girl, Veda, pronounced, "because the crows carried a message. Their feathers indicated a great change. We figured that it would be best to wake her. She could prove a liability if not." Crows? This just keeps getting better and better… Grims and crows, the Reapers had to be agitated if they were being so obvious in their movements.
He rubbed his temples in frustration, golden eyes narrowing in his aggravation. This could have all been avoided if they didn't act on their own. On the other hand, he was sure that he would not have received them well two weeks ago if they had. No matter which way they put it, they had erred. Raistlin wasn't fond of mistakes. "Move and don't touch her. You used Veritas obscura. It will be easy to clear up." Raistlin waved a hand over the girl's bushy haired head, dispelling the gray colored cloud floating around that was previously unseen. He turned to reprimand the perpetrators-
The door slammed open, revealing a red-faced and angry Ron Weasley. He saw the boy's eyes move to the slowly awakening girl, noting the relief in the relaxation of the youth's shoulders. Rolling his eyes, Raistlin prompted the boy to continue, even in the presence of the four spies. "We have a problem," Weasley said simply.
What now! "Really?"
"Yes, the feather's gone. And I can't tell where it is! I usually can- hey! What are you doing!"
Raistlin was already examining the pocket of the boy's robes, where he could more often than not feel the aura of the object. True to the boy's word, it was gone. And it had the traces of a dark god's magic all over it. Specifically, the vestiges of Moros' power.
"Melania will not be pleased by this," Raistlin grumbled into the silence.
"And who is Melania?" Weasley exploded, his face coloring scarlet with frustration. "Despite what you may think, you haven't explained a bloody damn thing!" He gesticulated erratically to the four exchange students, to the still bound but now fully conscious Hermione. "What do they have to do with all this! Why did you take Hermione! What was that feather and who in BLEEDING HELL IS THIS MELANIA!" His voice rose to an angry roar by the end of his tirade. Raistlin would have been more suitably impressed if the boy's voice hadn't cracked in the middle of the slew of questions. Puberty. A disgusting period of time.
"Melania," he said softly, trying to rein in the immense desire to just make all of them forget what had transpired, "is someone you don't need to know about. The girl was taken because she heard something-"
Hermione, though pale and appearing slightly ill, broke in with a wild shout. The other four didn't dare move to silence her, Raistlin's order to not touch her still standing. "Don't trust him, Ron! Harry was here and they probably helped his kidnappers to get him back!"
Raistlin found himself with the blade of a sword at his throat. His golden eyes betrayed no emotion, including concern. "Talk," Weasley commanded. "And this time, why don't you give us the whole explanation this time?"
I hate teenagers. "It's simple. The gods are playing their games."
"And what does that mean!" the redhead roared.
He let out a soft sigh. "Exactly what I just said. Did you not think that forces much larger than you or anything that you know or could imagine were at work? This war is merely another manifestation of something that had occurred years before any of us were born. Even before this cursed planet was even created…"
"That will do, Hawking." He sighed loudly into the silence that otherwise pervaded the Chemistry classroom, the setting afternoon sun slanting through the windows and tinting everything a bloody crimson. The light seemed to flow over everything, the glass vials and flasks winking back at him, the stray note papers strewn about the lab tables ostensibly more like thin slices of the color of red roses. This did not settle his nerves, but rather increased their jumpiness. It reminded him of that Dream he had while at Hogwarts, where everything was dead and dying, where the sky was bruised and bleeding, what his other 'self' had called the future that awaited them. He shook his head, trying to drive the macabre visions from his head, as he took a seat to wait to be dismissed.
The stern woman looked over her spectacles severely, eyeing him frigidly as she took in his exhausted figure slumped in the seat. It did not inspire pity in her, rather it prompted more than a little irritation. Then again, Professor Lavinia Serafina Coulter was never one to succumb to sympathy easily. She rapped her pen sharply against the wood grain of her desk, immediately catching Night by surprise. "It was a satisfactory presentation, Mr. Hawking. Satisfactory." He winced at the terse statement. Those words alone said what she felt the presentation actually deserved.
Satisfactory was usually enough for most people. In the case of any of her other students, this would have been just fine. In fact, it would have been great. Professor Coulter wasn't one to go about actually saying assignments or actions were praiseworthy in the slightest sense. However, she had trained him. Though he could argue that she didn't teach him much about potions and chemistry, only water elemental combat, it really didn't matter to her. She held a higher standard to those she bothered to spend more time on. He had to do more than satisfactory, he had to excel.
Satisfactory was not satisfactory for him.
"Something's obviously bothering you," Professor Coulter intoned carelessly, marking and slashing her papers viciously with red pen, as if she were literally attacking the assignment and making it draw blood. Blood. He had to get the thoughts of blood out of his head. They were recurring far too much for his comfort. "If I would venture a guess, you have been 'disturbed' , to put it mildly. Ever since you had come back from that horrendous castle." She looked over at him, stringency apparent in the thin line of her mouth. "One hostage would have been enough. Bringing a rich boy with absolutely no acceptable concept of respect and with an inflated sense of self-worth was doubtlessly a stupid decision."
"I didn't know that he was like that at the time," he defended himself weakly. 'Stupid' doesn't do the statement justice, more like 'utterly brainless' would have been a better description. "I knew he was a complete jerk from what we could tell in those few minutes, but that was about it." Night ran a careless hand through his hair, thinking back on all the weighty problems plaguing his mind. How simple it would be to just talk to Zylle about it. Or Tom via the mirror. Even Hedwig or Shadow would do! Maybe try to summon Lady Melania. But Malfoy's constant presence stopped him at every chance – the wizard was far too nosy and egocentric for his own good. And judging from the stories lauding his father as some kind of heavenly gift sent to Earth to guide humanity on the right path to general prosperity and goodness, it was an inherited trait. That, if Night had not learned to start tuning most of it out, would have known for a fact went back as far as the pureblood family started.
But he assumed that it did.
"But I don't think it's this Malfoy brat that has you so perplexed," she pointed out, "A brat is a brat. You've seen one, you've seen them all. It doesn't matter what magic they have or how wealthy they are. Simeon Bradley is enough experience for you to know how to deal with one."
He sighed in defeat, knowing there was truly no way out of the discussion. And no escape from the room either if Professor Coulter had her way either. His fingers drummed the table in agitation, trying to find the words and yet not revealing all of his thoughts. "It's…It was that man. The one that kidnapped me, Professor." The chestnut-haired chemist looked at him impassively when he silently begged her to drop the subject. "He seemed so sure that I was his missing godson. And those people said that these tests proved that I was that person…Harry Potter. And it looked like he cared about me, though I think he had a bad way of showing it…what if I really am Harry Potter?"
"Then you are Harry Potter in addition to being Nuitari Hawking," Professor Coulter replied coldly. "A name or simple nickname or even a title is nothing – they are just words, a handle, and should neither be feared beyond reason nor revered above the rest. There must be a person behind it all, and that is what matters." She slammed the drawer of her desk shut, startling him from his perusal of the sun's journey westward. Purple clouds were clumped together, though he could catch the rosy tint of pink along the edges.
A manicured hand – cool to the touch, controlled – rested on his shoulder, tightening so that he could not ignore it. "Desperation compels a person do irrational things. The wizard who kidnapped you was proof of this. And the wizarding world must be desperate to thrust the responsibility of saving them all on to a single person's shoulders so that they would be blamed if they failed." Her hand deserted his shoulder as she made her way to the door. "You must now, more than ever, be vigilant and sharp-minded. In times of war, desperation is a dangerous weapon."
Gray eyes watched the streetlamps below light up. He looked at his hand…it was crimson colored.
The clock struck five o'clock. And it disturbed him to see the sinister shadows playing on the street sidewalks. They flitted this way and that; constant companions to the more tangible, but no doubt knowing more than their more substantial counterparts could even comprehend. It was that darkness – a darkness borne not of the power of Melania, but of an older power – that made him nervous. His fingers unconsciously closed around the circular mirror around his neck, feeling the warmth of magic and tracing the etchings, ghosting over the edge of the glass. It was as if he knew that it was terrible, but not what it was. Which did not help his anxiety at all.
Why did this all come down on him at once? A little spacing would have been nice…everything was moving far too fast for his liking, and the enormous amount of events happening were beginning to overwhelm him.
…Desperation compels a person do irrational things…I can't be irrational…not now of all times…
"Do you doubt yourself, Hawking?" Professor Coulter's voice said chillingly into the silence. "Doubt can only lead to mistakes when action must be taken. And in times of war, there is very little time to think and very little time to make a decision and act on it. I suggest you speak to your mother about these suspicions of yours and face them, moping does nothing to answer your questions. She knows all too well how wizards act towards those who aren't of their own kind."
"My mother?" he questioned, turning around to face the older woman. "How would she know about that? She…never mentioned anything about knowing any wizards." Was there more to his mother's anger towards the wizards than he thought? No, there couldn't be. Zylle would have surely said something to him about it, especially considering what was going on.
"I can imagine why she never told you," Professor Coulter sneered. "It's a bit of a personal matter; it happened awhile ago. But I can imagine that a few wounds just don't heal." She smiled enigmatically. "Ask her about the wizard called Nathaniel Black. Though I suggest you be a bit careful about how you broach the subject. She's sensitive about it, still. It was embarrassing…that's all for today. Lock up when you're finished cleaning up your representation. And clean up the Erlenmeyer flasks while you're at it." With that, she left him alone in the classroom and to his thoughts. Her heels clicked loudly in the deserted hallway and Night knew she was leaving the school as the sound grew fainter and fainter.
Red. Scarlet. Crimson. Rouge. Night sighed. He had the distinct feeling that there would be blood soon.
"…we can't stay here forever. They're drawing closer, yet we stay on this cursed planet. Why! If we do not leave, Eden will be our coffin..."
"…that much is obvious. But where else are we to go! The Castle is our last stronghold, the last base of Nemesis! The war is consuming everything…"
"…sixteen thousand planets dead. Everything we've worked for is gone…the Maleficus…breaking through…"
"Tartarus…defenses are still holding…Erebus will not falter…"
"…but Nacht is dead, killed by Althelion himself…a rage they say, right in front of two dark god-children…you know, Thanatos and Melania, those children…the Lightborn are making things worse…four out of the five great dark gods remain now…"
"…won't hear of it. Idealistic brats, they don't understand the balance must be maintained if we are to survive at all…anything we can do…"
"…nothing, nothing! Surely, we can retreat and leave the chaos behind until…seal the doorways…"
"…cowards! We cannot abandon our purpose! We must remain strong and faithful…"
"…hypocritical! Purpose and faith to a creator that has run away…"
"…but for now, leave it be! The angels are the greatest threat to us now…Gabriel, Raphael, and Michael protect the new organisms, the ones like dolls…wounded Mordia to near death…the Griffin fleet destroyed…Mars under attack ever since…"
"…But Nuitari and Megami…"
"…fleets can be deployed quickly…chance to save Mars, our last ally…we should not hesitate…"
"…nothing can be done! Ophelia is dead…Mars is destroyed…refugees…shelters underground…hunted…killed…"
"…we're going to die here. Eden is the Catalyst…Isaiah speaks no lies, we will die here…"
"…going down without a fight…we are Harbingers…use what have we got left, plug leaks in intelligence…"
"…the Ice Harbinger. What is between him and…"
"…she'll break his heart and bring doom to us all…he won't listen…that emotion we were given, it attracts him to that damned angel…"
"…eliminate him! Rachelle is only loyal to the Almighty…plays with his emotions, when she has none!"
"…be serious! Killing one of our own…disgusting, unheard of…"
"…only option…risk being destroyed simply over a doll of the Almighty…if that's what it takes to do, then…"
"…small number of us left, as it is…division among the ranks…must stay united…"
"…cannot act rashly. Cadmus may understand…survival is imperative…more important than his infatuation with the archangel Rachelle…he'll…"
"…want to die…all for love…"
"…It's all we have left…"
"…pretty words…but it's not enough to save us from the end…"
Night opened bemused eyes, blinking owlishly, trying to recapture the dream. It was a conversation that he had taken part in, but unlike the brief flashbacks that he had received before, this was different. This memory felt much older – if he trusted his instincts, older than he was born. Which made no sense. Not that the exchange meant much anyway, especially since he could only hear a few words of what each person said – the breaks prevented him from getting a clearer idea, as though the conversation was coming through one of those old radios that had a lot of static. It also only raised more questions. It had the same feel of the dream in Hogwarts, possessing that same aura of exigency, peril, and presentiment. And that didn't allay his racing mind either.
Great time to wake up, he thought grumpily as the neon green numbers of his clock told him in was 2:38 in the morning.
What was a Harbinger? And what were they (and himself) talking about that was so urgent…and apparently inevitable?
He was connected to this. They mentioned Thanatos and Melania. And they also called him Nuitari.
Turning on his side, he glared at the cat sleeping on his pillow. No matter how many times he scolded the feline, Shadow persisted in sleeping his bed. There was even an argument with Hedwig over this (he thought it was, they seemed to just stare and attack each other when he had a problem), but to no avail. Normally, Shadow would be off his bed by four in the morning, when Hedwig returned from hunting. "Lucky you. You're just a cat. Or a sort-of cat. Whatever. I bet you don't have to deal with these crises of existence now do you?" He wrinkled his nose in distaste. "They suck."
He would contact Tom tomorrow night. Maybe he had some answers. Or he could get him through to Melania. At least it was a start to a plan. Hopefully, nothing new would come up to stop him.
Hearing Malfoy mutter in the next room about the thread-count and material of the sheets in his sleep, Night doubted his hopes would be answered.
It was a strange kind of demon, he figured. It had to be. That was the only reason why he could not sense a single thing…nor did the Mancer pick up any sign of demonic activity. But Cami said that there was – something – there, something that wasn't human and all too dangerous, he couldn't help but become involved. Despite his better judgment, it was only he and Cami this time. Jerry was out of the country with his parents to study a new type of bug in Australia (Jerry was more than thrilled at this) and Alyce was grounded for performing poorly on a history exam.
Not that I did too well on that exam either, he admitted to himself. Then again, he spent most of the class time drawing pictures in the margins of his notebook. His history teacher wasn't looking for art, nor did he appreciate it much. Thankfully, his mother wasn't too angry about it. She sympathized; she never did too well in that particular subject either.
And Lirenas? Dudley snorted softly, apologizing softly to Cami after seeing her jump. The dark-skinned demon had taken off to who knows where. All he mentioned before leaving was something about checking the significance of the position of a star called Desdemona going retrograde in opposition to the star Angelus with centaurs in the north. That and something about an angel in the southern hemisphere. This was found out merely because Dudley annoyed Lirenas to the demon's breaking point, before leaving.
Seeing how flustered the normally collected demon was, Dudley had decided not to pursue the topic. Even if he was curious about the centaur and angel parts of the explanation. But whatever it was about, it seemed to…scare the demon. And that was enough to draw Dudley's worry. In their times together, Lirenas was hardly ever shocked or lost his cool over anything, even if he was caught by surprise. Whatever Desdemona and that angel – whatever Lirenas was so concerned about – it would have to be discussed sooner or later.
Ever since July and the fateful events that had followed, Dudley Dursley suddenly had a great dislike for secrets.
He felt completely exposed in the Daisy Dip park of Southampton. It was a large grassy open space, though it wasn't flat but sloping. In the distance, he could see the darkened houses of Southampton's citizens looming, their blank windows seeming to watch him. The cloud cover was thick, but occasionally he could see a glimpse of white that was the moon. But that was where the Mancer's signal was leading them. Though the demon probably could see them and already knew they were coming. Still…
"Yes?" She answered, her seeing-eye dog Sammy deftly leading her around an abandoned toy doll. As he passed it, he could have sworn the doll's glass eyes were watching him in their empty unnerving way. Its blond hair was dirty and tangled in the grass. "What is it?"
"You probably already figured that this place is completely open, but the demon hasn't moved at all. Do you think it's waiting for us?" That was actually odd…though it happened a few times. But most demons knew well enough not to bother with them – it was better to go the other side alive than risk extermination.
"I don't know…as I said before, I don't think it's a demon. It's too…old. And it feels dangerous…but I don't think it thinks we're dangerous to even attack."
"Old?" he repeated skeptically, deciding to ignore his hurt ego for the moment. After all, it was all Cami's speculation.
"Old," she reaffirmed, her sunglasses glinting in the slight flash of moonlight before it vanished. "Really old. So old that…I don't have anything to compare it to." He was about to question that, but she cut him off. "Nothing, Dudley. Whatever it is, I think that it's even older than the Earth itself…I know it sounds crazy, but that's what it feels like."
They approached a small play area. The signal was strongest there. Dudley's eyes scanned the area but it was Cami that pointed out the swing set. The shadows where so concentrated, the size of their quarry so diminutive, he had completely missed it. Dudley quickly stowed away the Mancer into knapsack, taking out his flashlight. As the beam of yellow light illuminated the figure, he was alarmed.
It was a child, a boy of about five or six. He had mousy brown hair and big brown eyes. The round frames of his glasses probably magnified the latter feature and large wad of scotch tape held the bridge together (which reminded him painfully of Harry). Small feet encased in small dirty sneakers kicked listlessly in the air, small grubby hands clinging tightly to the metal chain links of the swing. A smudge of mud streaked his tanned skin below his left eye. He was looking at them intensely and Dudley understood why Cami felt that the child was old. It showed in those brown depths…a deep sadness and pain, along with a wisdom that he couldn't immediately recall anyone human or demon having.
"You have my treasure," the boy's childish voice rang out dully. The eeriness was increased when the boy began to push himself back and forth. Sammy whimpered, pulling at the leash. Sammy wants to leave, he thought vaguely. That's probably not a good sign. "I want it back. I need it. If I have it, they can't get me, you know." The swing began to squeak as the boy gained momentum.
"Who are you?" Dudley demanded. Cami reached out to him, holding his arm tightly. Even he could now feel the coil of energy surrounding him. The problem was, he didn't think he could stand up to it.
"That's a good question. Names are important, you know," the boy mused. "They call me Daniel. But that's not my real name, you know. That's just what my human parents call me. I have a different one." He looked away from them, glancing up at the sky. "My real name is Cronus. No nicknames please, because nothing nice comes out of a name like that, you know. But you can make a nickname out of my human name. Isn't that something? What are your names?"
He blinked in surprise, but Cami answered for him. "My name is Cami, he's Dudley, and this is Sammy." Dudley looked down at the seeing-eye dog, the intelligent animal now whining pathetically. Cami's knuckles were white where they held the leash, betraying her unease. "Sammy, are you alright?"
"I'm sorry," Daniel or Cronus broke in. "My presence bothers most animals. Most of us that are awakened have that affect on animals. Humans, too! Well, if they can sense us to begin with. But they don't know what to make of us, you know. We're too old; there is no instinct as to what we are." The wind blew, rustling the grass down the slope and up the one they had come down, and Dudley could see the doll again, lying there, watching them. "But that is understandable. My soul is older than most things."
"Your soul is older?" Dudley put in skeptically. "Is it older than the soul of the Shadow Goddess?"
"Yes, actually," was the flippant response. "She is still a mere child compared to me, you know." He then laughed, sending a chill running down his spine. "I'm very old. But I want my hourglass back. I need to protect myself, you know. And get back my full memory and knowledge. I know things, a lot of things! But my old self thinks I'm too young!" His swings grew higher and higher. "I'm not a baby! I'm five years old! And a war's coming, I'm going to see everything anyway, you know! And they are coming for those like me. Others, too. A lot of people are after people like me. It isn't nice of them. Mean, you know? And in this human state, it's very hard to defend one's self."
"And who do you need to protect yourself from?" Cami asked, shivering slightly as the energy around them doubled in strength. "Maybe we can help you?"
The child slowed to a stop, digging his feet into the dirt. Daniel looked at them thoughtfully. "That's nice of you to offer. But the best way you can help me is to give me back my hourglass. That way, I am protected from Maleficus. Angels, too. A lot of angels are still angry about how we managed to survive and ruin their idea for paradise, you know. They like rules a lot, that bunch."
"There's an angel in the Southern Hemisphere…" Dudley muttered under his breath, recalling Lirenas' words.
"That's right, there is an angel in the south," Daniel agreed. "But I think whoever it is, they are sick. In a bad way. Not good. I'm not too sure. I hope it's not Rachelle. Rachelle got us into a lot of trouble before. Made Cadmus angry at us, too." The boy pouted. "She was mean." He then smiled brightly. His legs began kicking at the air again, this time in excitement. Daniel leaned forward to them, delight filling every feature of his young face. "But there's another one here in Britain! Tabris was always nice to us." He folded his arms across his chest, nodding in apparent approval of this particular angel. "He respected us. But maybe he'll help the sick angel. Tabris is an important angel, you know." He then frowned. "But so was Lucifer. I wonder what happened to him? And Samael, too. They were really nice to us too, you know."
The mention of Lucifer did not make the situation any more appealing.
Cami then said, "There are angels after you, and some things called Maleficus? Are those demons?"
"No, no," Daniel protested. "They're worse. But that's a long story. Goes way, way, way back. At the end of the Golden Age, when everything went wrong. I think it's now called the Evanescence. That means 'the event of fading and gradually fading from sight'. It's a noun! I looked it up in the dictionary, you know. I think it fits." He smiled at them enigmatically. "Do you want to hear the story? It's long, you know. But I read a lot of the stories you humans wrote. I think that it trumps them something awful. It's sad for me, 'cause it actually happened, you know? But I guess you might think it's wicked cool." His smile grew broader as he looked up at them.
"Do you want to hear the story?" Daniel repeated. Judging from the unseen energy pulsating around them, Dudley and Cami knew that they had no choice in the matter.
Sirius had decided a long time ago that he disliked his relatives. Over the past few months, this sentiment had extended further to his immortal (and apparently, sadistic) ones. And he had thought his mortal ones were bad enough. Granted, he had not met one with the personality and sheer joy of causing pain as his cousin Bellatrix, but if there was one of those around…
Well, he didn't want to meet them, thank you very much. That would probably drive him clear off the deep end.
He had already made a list of his immortal relatives in his head. The ones that he had met already. From the sheer amount of them, Sirius could only assume that the situation was similar to that with the Black family – a sprawling pantheon of relatives. If that were the case, then he hadn't met the 'Head of the Family', so to speak. Sure, he met the literal founder of the Black family, but not the founder's father…and recalling his father from his childhood, that was a blessing. Which then brought on an interesting idea of Kreacher – did his relatives have selfless and annoying servants to perform their every whim? Pity that Kreacher didn't snog Thanatos' trousers like he did to dear old dad's, he mocked. Maybe the miserable creature would have snuffed it then. Death by trouser snogging. He then wondered if Thanatos had ever come across a case like that.
First there was Thanatos, the god of death and his ancestor, the infamous Nathaniel Black. Deceptively affable, seeming to have his own agenda. He was always popping in and out, Sirius couldn't figure out what he was plotting. Then Melania, the goddess of darkness. Reasonable and patient, but extremely protective of Harry, to the point that she took him away and is keeping all others from getting to him. She also apparently had a connection to Salazar Slytherin – marriage, if he was reading into Moros' words correctly. Ate, the goddess of mischief: fun-loving jokester of small stature, she managed to make them lose the way to Grey Tower while putting them under the intense stress of shopping (furthermore, shopping with Snape, then calling him cute) under the guise of bubbly tourist Tamara LeStrade. Hypnos, god of sleep and Thanatos' twin brother – the responsible one…and ostensibly overworked. Then there was Moros, the sly and cunning one. And from his conversations with them, he could only assume that there were more.
As he walked down the street, trying to appear inconspicuous, he scowled briefly. Personally, he could do without them all.
But whatever Moros did two nights before, it worked. He was now in Grey Tower Town. And moreover not being attacked or noticed. Looking down at his blue jeans, white t-shirt, and black denim jacket, he assumed that there must be something else to them to make him unnoticeable. Or at least unthreatening. Or maybe blending into the charged atmosphere of magic that he felt around him. Running a hand through his black hair, he noted the signs posted here and there. All of them warning against wizards and to be on the look out for them in Grey Tower – and added bit about a black dog, complete with a composite picture, was below it.
Judging from the way muggles (who stuck out like sore thumbs) ignored the flyers, he could only assume that they couldn't see them. When he first had a look at these posters, he was mildly insulted – Padfoot looked more like a large, but adorable mutt, not some menacing Cerberus missing two heads! Secondly, the way the message was worded, one would think that it was the wizards who were the evil ones and trying to hurt innocent people! All wizards were supposed to be reported and taken out of Grey Tower, by force if necessary. Which did not bode well for him – he still remembered the beating he had gotten from that redheaded vampire and fire elemental, Mirai Alucard.
He needed to be careful. Real careful.
He turned the corner, looking for any clue that might lead him to where Harry was. The three hours he had spent hadn't yielded anything yet. But, Sirius thought irritably, it would help if I could actually talk to someone without looking suspicious. So far, he had gone down several streets – one of them being what seemed to be a kind of shopping avenue, avoided being drawn into the rundown deserted area by sheer instinct, and meandered through several streets without getting any clues. At the moment, he was in entering…he glanced at the sign on the metal fence: Aiken-Quincy Park. If this also led to a dead end, then it would at least give him a peaceful atmosphere to think about his next move.
He followed after two teenagers, both dressed in uniforms that reminded him greatly of what Harry had been wearing when he was taken back (not abducted, kidnapped, snatched, or captured, like those elementals claimed!) to Hogwarts. One of them was a girl of about seventeen or eighteen, with auburn hair and a friendly open face. Beside her was a very tall young man with dark brown hair highlighted starkly by streaks of platinum blonde. They were walking side by side, talking to each other – Sirius could only gather that they were old friends from their camaraderie.
Truth be told, the tall boy seemed pretty upset about something. Sirius followed after the pair, slightly out of sheer exasperation, more so out of curiosity. Of course, he pretended to be nothing more than another 'normal' person walking in the same direction. It was then that he heard the name 'Thanatos'.
If it weren't the kind of behavior that would attract attention, then he would be skipping. A lead! Hopefully, it was a good one.
"-so it's a complete and total mess, Megami." Strange name. Maybe it's an elemental thing. "I was sent down here to try to get some kind of idea of what is going on, but for Heaven's sake! There's so much going on that I can barely keep up! There are far too many fields to keep an eye on."
"Don't worry about it, Tabris," the girl called Megami said confidently. "It will all come together. Climatic events tend to. After all, they become more bothersome when they do." The girl deftly threw off the annoyed glare that the boy Tabris sent her way. "What I can't figure out is why He would send you down." She perused the area with a critical eye. "To be here, I would figure that he would send an elemental angel." Sirius' brow furrowed in confusion and dread. Angels? Will it never end! "Why would the Angel of Free Will be wandering about Grey Tower? Much less disguised as a teenager named Wesley Ardent?"
Tabris was visibly ruffled by the girl's ostensibly careless statement. "Gabriel, Michael, and Raphael have other supposed matters to attend to. They're out. Cherub, who is air, is busy. Tharis, who is water, is busy. And Uriel, who is earth, is also busy. And I'm assuming you didn't hear about that whole incident with Nathaniel, the angel of fire." Megami threw him a perplexed look, prompting him to continue. "Not too long ago – and I speak in our terms of time, not the mortals' – Nathaniel was attacked in the high skies above Greece on his way to deliver a message in Russia. A Maleficus." Judging from Megami's dark look, Sirius could assume that a Maleficus was not a good thing in her book. "Anyway, he was dying there."
"Nathaniel is dead," Megami exclaimed, her eyes wide.
"I guess you can say that," Tabris responded. "At the time, people thought his fall was just a shooting star. He happened to land by a dark god wandering about in mortal form. Not thinking from the fall (which was understandable) and mistaking that the passerby was an ordinary human, Nathaniel gave his power to the god and his last wish was to deliver the message." Megami nodded in understanding – something Sirius couldn't figure out since he was completely baffled. "The god took the power as his own and delivered the message, giving a good scare in the process. He then continued to wander about using Nathaniel's name."
"You mean Thanatos," Megami broke in. "That's why you were complaining."
"Well, the Almighty never took the power back from him. Bloody unfair to us other angels that a god – a dark one at that – got the power of Nathaniel. And in the hands of someone as crazy as the god of death! The higher-level princes think that was because Thanatos respected Nathaniel's dying request. There was also the fact that he started a family of wizards with strong fire elemental tendencies. And the detail that Thanatos made him laugh in the process of giving the actual message. Sort of a 'thank you'."
"Other than the fact that it explains how Thanatos is able to get away with a lot of what he does, what happened when he delivered the message?"
"I don't know. I asked Metatron before he slouched off somewhere to give some yahoo a message from the Almighty to tell something to the people. Typical calling thing, prophets, you know how he hates them. He mentioned a roast pig flying through the air, frightened servants, misuse of a gorgeous tapestry, a spear missing its target, and an unfortunate barbarian who was bending down at the time. And a lot of wine." Putting it all together, Sirius could imagine what happened. Sounds just like him.
Tabris then gave the girl a sly glance. "But enough of that. Why is Megami – the legendary and notorious Midnight Harbinger, feared as one of the Unforgiven, and a general of the old rebellion – passing herself as Miranda Blackthorne, an average teenager who moved from America to the elemental community of Grey Tower?" Sirius' perception of angels – meaning as the pure, wise beings of light that dispensed good that he had heard Lily talk about briefly when discussing Muggle religion (he hadn't been paying much attention) – was forever shattered with the remark and leer, "Much less in a skirt that short?"
"First of all," Megami (or Miranda) started, and then she hit Tabris over the head hard enough to make Sirius wince. "Stop that. You can't pull off 'mysterious' and 'knowing' like a Harbinger can. And I had no say when I was reincarnated as a human girl, you pervert." She then ignored the grumbling that Tabris made under his breath, causing Sirius to wonder where angels learned all those curse words. That and who 'Hiroshi' was. "Secondly, it's because of Nuitari." Sirius' ears perked up. "You honestly don't think that we'd leave him on his own."
"Melania's power-" Tabris began, but was silenced by a look. "Okay, her power is protecting him."
"Right. From Pheta and other mortals. But not from Maleficus." It was then that he noticed her give a wink to him over her shoulder. She KNEW I was listening, he thought numbly. However, the girl made no move to tell her companion that. "They killed Silvanus Fudge, the reincarnation of Isaiah. We managed to save his soul though. But we're being targeted."
"And that's why-"
"Yep," she nodded, her auburn hair bouncing with the movement of her head. "That's why I'm here. Soon, I'll be heading down to stake out his house." Another significant glance over her shoulder at him, one that Tabris still missed. "You know the house? 14 Zephyrus Court? It's where the Hawkings live." It was then that she started giving accurate directions as to how to get to the Hawking home from right where they were to the now bemused angel, which Sirius quickly committed to memory. "Got that?"
Sirius smiled gratefully and broke out into a flat run, streaking right past the teenagers, and shocking the oblivious Tabris. He waved his thanks to the now laughing girl, who was quickly disappearing from view behind him. He swore he heard a startled shout of "WHY DO YOU DO THAT!"
Thank you, Megami or Miranda or whoever you are! Not only did you give me some info on my nefarious ancestor, you led me straight to Harry.
Sirius did not see Thanatos perched in a tree, watching him tear down the pavement towards Zephyrus Court, smiling broadly to himself. The god whispered to himself, "Oh, I know this will turn out good."
"Fine! Don't believe me! But I swear, that new girl is definitely into you, Night!"
"Nah! That's impossible, Bran!"
"The genius has a point. I've seen her looking at you from time to time. Not to mention that she just comes into school and starts talking to you like you're old friends. If that doesn't imply some measure of interest, then I don't know what does."
"Guys, I really don't think that Miranda Blackthorne has any kind of interest in me that isn't just friendly. So we talked and got along fine. That doesn't mean anything!"
"And denial is just another river in Egypt. Why do I get none of the girls?"
"Well, you're not the Black Dragon like Night is. Everyone looking for high status in the clan wants to get with the clan leaders, especially the future ones. Look at Ms. Hawking. It's a crime that someone attractive and intelligent as she is still is single…err…sorry, about that."
Night sighed and ran a hand through his black hair, shaking his head in both annoyance and amusement. "First Professor Coulter, now my mother. Thing for older women, Mordecai?" The amusement was only for his friends. The annoyance? Even among his friends, there were less than platonic interests in his mother. He got enough of it at home with Malfoy and on most days with the just as arrogant David Crowley of the Chimeras; he didn't need it among his more tolerable companions. The complications of having a good-looking and single mother! You get guys on your back always checking her out. And it isn't exactly as if I can lock her up or something. He entertained that notion for a bit, but figured his mother would probably blast whatever barriers she put up and lock him up most securely in return.
Bran grinned devilishly, eyes dancing with mischief. The "Well, you know what they say about experience and all," remark earned the redhead a smack over the head, laughs, and a red-faced Mordecai Freely.
"Maybe you should ask her out or something," Mordecai suggested, hastily trying to change the subject before Bran decided to continue on that thread of conversation. "I mean, Miranda isn't all that hard on the eyes." He raised his eyebrows suggestively. "Use the excuse of showing her about the town, explaining the customs of the clan." Night waved it off, prompting Mordecai to add, "You can at least put in a few good words about us? You know, how your friend Mordecai is not only handsome and strong, but is very understanding and fun to be around?"
"Yes, and like how your highly intelligent friend with the red hair is happy to give one-on-one study sessions, no matter what subject or year," Bran put in. "And that he's currently unattached and not in any relationships, though is not adverse to one in the least."
"You two, especially you, Bran Ravencroft," dark-haired boy said grandly, "are desperate."
Mordecai rolled his eyes. "Really, what gave you a clue?" Ignoring Bran's sputtering, he jibed, "I mean, you would think him and Trina would have gotten together about…last year, but no! Still stubborn."
"Shame," Night tsked. "Bloody shame." Deciding to take pity on his best and first friend in Grey Tower, he then said, "It isn't that I don't think that Miranda Blackthorne isn't attractive…" He frowned as he tried to put the feeling into words.
Miranda Blackthorne was something of an…enigma to him. A mystery that he couldn't quite fathom. For one thing, he had divided his worlds neatly into pre-Grey Tower/wizarding world and Grey Tower/elemental world. And it didn't take more than one look at her to realize that she did not fit in either category. Sure, they had got along fine – splendidly, in fact. They struck up an immediate rapport that he couldn't compare to any other friendship he could remember. Granted, that wasn't a lot, but still. It was as if they had known each other forever, separated and forgot about each other, then met again and continued where they left off. He rather enjoyed his conversation with the energetic auburn haired girl, finding a common hatred in the complexities of math and arrogant smirking idiots.
"Besides, I think she has a boyfriend. The cold, silent type." he blurted out off the top of his head. His green eyes (he needed new contact lenses courtesy of Malfoy and a vision spell gone terribly awry, so he was stuck with his glasses for now) blinked in confusion. Where did that come up? Night certainly did not discuss boyfriends and girlfriends with Miranda. Especially not specifics.
Why can't everything – I don't know – become simpler!
He was greeted by twin expressions of disappointment. As they approached the corner where they would separate for the day, Mordecai lamented, "Pity. All the good ones just have to be taken." They stopped, ignoring the sign warning about wizards on posted on lamppost. "You can't come over to Trina's house again? We've got that chemistry test coming up. Not to mention we've got to practice for the concert next week."
"Yeah. But somebody's got to keep an eye on that stuck-up prat. Hopefully, my grades won't drop…and I won't ruin my violin by attempting to at least render him unconscious for a few blessed moments."
Bran frowned. "Tough luck. Why don't you just throw water on him? He may not melt, but it'd ruin his hair and start him on a rant. Then stuff him in a closet and skive off. I have no doubts that he'd notice a thing. That's what I would do."
"Yes, what you'd do," Mordecai pointed out. "Night has to maintain the 'dignity that is given to his high and lofty position', et cetera, et cetera. We'll see you tomorrow."
He waved good-bye to his friends' retreating backs and resumed his journey home. He deliberately pushed all thoughts of wizards and Miranda Blackthorne to the back of his mind. He'd ask Tom tonight. Hopefully, the trapped wizard would be there. The last time he had tried to contact him, he was met by a strange static. It worried him. But if the Lady were watching him, then he shouldn't be worried, right? The Lady was a powerful goddess; Night doubted that there was much that stood in her way.
Night entertained his thoughts on how to deal with Malfoy – he was seriously considering Bran's plan, actually – when he arrived at 14 Zephyrus Court. Humming a catchy song he had heard on the radio, he stopped short and the tune died on his lips upon seeing the person sitting so comfortably on the stoop.
Sirius Black grinned up at him cheekily, holding up one of the various flyers that had been posted about. The caricature of the wizard's animal form snarled at him from the paper. "You know," he quipped, "I think that I'm much better looking than that."
The teenage elemental bit the inside of his cheek to keep himself from screaming, instead settling for a low growl. His green eyes glinted dangerously as he glared at the older man, who was – to his credit – unperturbed. In fact, the wizard looked mildly amused at the expression.
What Night had no idea was that his glower strongly resembled his deceased mother's when she was particularly annoyed and frustrated – which she was often when it came down to Padfoot of the Marauders.
"What are you doing here!" he ground out, cursing both his luck and whatever powers allowed for Grey Tower's infiltration yet again. He had to have had some kind of help; it was just not possible for a wizard to waltz into Grey Tower without being noticed. They stuck out even more so than muggles.
"I've come to bring you home," was the calm reply.
Night snorted in derision. "Well, as you can plainly see, I've made it back here on my own just fine. So you can go now. I'm sure you know where to go." Straightening his shoulders and fixing his bag in anticipation of an altercation, he pointedly ignored his alleged godfather, cutting across the leaf-littered front yard to the gate that led to the back garden. Scowling to himself as he made his way to the back of the house and hoping that the wizard would just give up (he doubted it, but he could dream), he winced as he heard the tell-tale crunching of dry leaves behind him and increased his pace. He wound his way around a large potted plant and dug his hands in his pockets for his set of keys – just in case. The front door usually opened for him on its own, but the back door was an entirely different story. Especially during the entire sentient-kitchen-appliances-that-drove-everyone-nearly-mad escapade.
But Gran was usually in the kitchen anyway. For a brief moment, Night's mind wandered to the exact contents of the kitchen. He had been craving that pumpkin pie that he smelt as he was leaving the house that morning. Though he would probably have to do some chores before he managed to obtain any part of it.
Night grasped the handle of the door, but stopped.
It was…too quiet. His grandmother had a habit of blaring out the radio – it was one of the things he loved about her. He couldn't stand it when the house would go absolutely silent; it always made him edgy. Lately, it had been Russian music. But today, he heard nothing. Night put an ear to the door, hoping he might catch some strains – that for whatever reason, the radio was turned down, but still on. Unfortunately, he heard nothing. Not even static.
"She's not here." Night rounded on Black, not pleased at the entire debacle at all. Black shrugged it off, not caring…or apparently becoming accustomed to Night's less than amiable feelings towards him. "Your 'grandmother', as she calls herself," he started, and Night bristled at the disbelief and contempt in the other's tone, "went out to the market to get some groceries and took Malfoy with her. According to her, he was saying something about 'servant's stuff', which considering he's a Malfoy and therefore and impossible brat, is not all that surprising."
The teen wasn't all that inclined to disagree.
"Also, Hans – whoever he is – is out and to help yourself to some pie," Black finished lamely. Night frowned at the now serious features. He recognized that look from the many times they had…argued at that damned wizarding school. Trouble. Again. "We're going home now, so I guess you'll have to skip that."
"I'm not going anywhere with you!" he shouted.
"For Merlin's sake," Black said, throwing up his hands in the air in exasperation. "You can get pie at Hogwarts!"
"That's not the point!"
Black's blue eyes darkened. Out of nowhere, Night was reminded of the blue eyes shared by the Dark Lady, by Moros, and by the grinning god of death he had seen months ago. "Exactly! The point is, you need help. You have amnesia, you've gone through hell with those damn muggles, and now you're consorting with dangerous people, while there are people trying to kill you!" He strode forward and Night deftly managed to sidestep the adult, dropping his bag to the ground as he did so. "I'm trying to bring you home, so we can deal with what happened. It's not safe for you here!"
Night raised his chin stubbornly. "I've never felt safer. The only threat to me here that I can see, is you!"
It was then that a loud cry of "Yoo-hoo! Zylle, love!" and the crash of a clay pot falling hard to the ground interrupted them. David Crowley turned the corner and was nearly hit by both fireballs and several strong curses that charred the stone fence that divided the properties of Number 12 and Number 14. The arrogant and dapper Black Chimera had managed to block the fire with ease, but was obviously thrown by the spells – which, Night noted with some concern, actually managed to pierce through the older elemental's shield, rather than repel like they should have. He filed that thought away for now, making sure that he would recall that should he have to fight Black.
The bouquet of red roses had gone flying and managed to land at Black's feet, though Black's wand was still pointed squarely at Crowley.
"Who are you?" Black barked out, rather dog-like in Night's opinion.
Deciding to stave off another argument (as well as get rid of the newcomer), Night turned to the elemental, his annoyance only rising. It seemed to him that everything…climatic, liked together all at once in one huge mess. "What do you want, Crowley? You know my mother isn't here," he stated out flatly.
Crowley apparently regained his composure and sending a glare at Black, adjusted the lapels on his jacket. "I know that. But I decided to wait for her, perhaps speak to you and your…charming grandmother. I'm sure you don't mind, young Dragon?" The last part was said sarcastically, which didn't improve Night's mood or his usually good manners.
"Of course I mind," Night responded angrily. "You have no right to invite yourself over, much less come back here like you own the place! Now, if you don't mind, leave."
"Watch your tongue, kid," Crowley snapped back. "We may not be the same clan, but I'm Black Chimera for a reason. And I want an explanation." Night rolled his eyes, expecting a question that was probably extremely obvious. "Who is this man!"
That abrupt question made him lose his train of thought almost entirely. Night asked, "What?"
"Him! That man!" Crowley pointed at Black, whose expression seemed a mix of confusion, frustration, and incredulity. All understandable emotions when dealing with David Crowley, really. "I demand to know who he is!"
"He's…" the teen trailed off, not knowing exactly what to say. Sure, he didn't like Black and he wanted him gone right then and there. But to subject him to the horror that was Crowley? That would be cruel and pernicious. Maybe he would do that to a Panther or Draco Malfoy (on a very bad day), but for the most part he wouldn't.
"He's her boyfriend, isn't he?" Crowley burst out. He completely ignored Night's look of surprise and Black's shocked face as he…had a tantrum. "It explains everything!" The blonde man began to pace in aggravation and what was probably disappointment or something of that nature (Night really couldn't tell), ranting. "I should have known! Why else wouldn't she go out with me? She had to have a good-looking guy already – granted, he's not as good-looking as me, but still! But why! WHY! Why a wizard! I would have understood another elemental, maybe a muggle, but a wizard!" He then paused, thinking hard. "No, not her boyfriend…he must be her damn fiancée! They're in love, so they won't break up, even if Zylle deserves so much better." He continued to mutter on this tangent, trampling a few innocent flowers growing in the process.
Night swore he heard someone laughing (hard) above him, though when he looked up, he didn't see anyone.
Meanwhile, Black managed to sidle over to Night's side, grabbing his elbow firmly and a determined glint in his eyes. His features were set and ready. "Safe, my arse. We're apparating out of here. I'm definitely not leaving you here alone with a crazy person." The teen nodded numbly, not really listening as Crowley dribbled off even further about why Zylle had thrown off his advances all these years. From what he could comprehend, Sirius Black was now this: a rich and powerful wizard known throughout the country for his exploits, possessed huge amounts of property, was politically influential, pursued by beautiful and attractive women all over the globe, and had managed to seduce Zylle Hawking through a combination of magic, charm, and…and great…
…I don't need this…
Crowley then turned and strode up to Black, so that they were eye to eye. They were nearly the same height, making Night feel even shorter than he was. "Listen here, whoever you are," Crowley said, poking at Black's chest. "I don't care if you're rich, you're powerful, or even if you're in cahoots with the brat. I don't care even if the sex is spectacular!" This last comment made Night's eyes widen and nearly bug out in shock. Black reacted similarly. "Whatever spell you've woven on my Zylle, I will break it and she will realize that you're no good for her and that I'm the only man for her! Got that!"
With that, Crowley vanished. So quickly that even the usual signs of elemental magic didn't even register with Night.
"What happened?" Black asked weakly.
"Truthfully, I don't know."
He still heard that laughter, which had only grown in its mirth. It definitely belonged to a man.
It was then that both Black and Night jumped. The sound of a radio blasting an upbeat Russian song only got louder as the back door opened to reveal the smiling face of Sarah Hawking. "Why on Earth are you still out there, child! It's getting dark and cold, get inside already." It was then that she noticed the overturned plant, the charred fence, the roses lying forlorn on the ground, and the coup de grace: Black, who still was holding fast to the teen's arm in preparation to apparate. "Who is this, young man?" He could tell that she wasn't happy. Her right arm tensed – something he knew from experience to mean fire and a lot of it.
"If what had just happened is any clue," Night answered faintly, "He's Zylle's fiancée?"
He watched as a flash of emotion raced on his grandmother's face and realized – belatedly – that his sarcasm was missed entirely. "Get in here now!" the woman ordered, grabbing Black by sleeve and forcibly dragging him inside. "If you're marrying my daughter, there is no way in bloody hell you're not getting an interrogation first!" She then slammed the door in Night's face. The shell-shocked teen stood staring at it for several seconds before it opened again, Gran's face apologetic. "Night, go and pick up those roses. There's no need to waste good flowers, I always say."
Night summoned the roses to his waiting arms using his wind magic, the large bouquet flying at him. He winced at a few pricks from the thorns but went inside, dreading what was to come. And as he entered, he heard his grandmother questioning Black about everything from his job, family, background, to his…virility.
Who is that!
Who is what, cat?
Dog-wizard? What do you…oh. Kardis, that is the master's godfather.
It's a thing among humans. A person like an uncle or mentor to a person, and doesn't have to be related by blood. This is our master's.
Oh. Why do they have those, White Owl?
I honestly don't know. Something that evolved over time, I'm assuming.
Seems kind of pointless to me.
Most humans don't think so. And in their opinion, their opinion is the only one that matters.
That's pretty egotistical of them.
I've met worse. Every spoken with a male peacock during mating season?
No…I wouldn't see a need to. But it's a bird, right?
Yes, those blue ones with the large feathered tails. You saw a picture of it in one of the master's books. Remember?
Oh, those! Nope. I probably wouldn't speak to it, just eat it. They look scrumptious.
I do recall you practically salivating and clawing at the page. Never mind then.
Well, the dog-wizard and the master don't seem to be getting along. Why would he be the master's…god-person, if the master doesn't like him anyway?
The master's parents chose the dog-wizard, not the master. And they used to get along very well in the past. It's just that the master doesn't remember…and the dog-wizard can get extremely protective.
Wait a minute…I knew he smelt familiar! He's that damn dog who kidnapped the master! How dare he show his cursed presence here! Let me at 'im!
Calm down…no need to act…
"AHH! GET THIS CAT OFF ME!"
Night had sat on the stairs for several hours, waiting. Shadow was sitting on his lap, alert and wary, like a small but vicious guard…animal – certainly not a dog. Though the feline did give him the perfect excuse to exit the parlor. The black cat was only placated when it was near Night and away from Sirius Black. Of course, he made the best of it. Especially when his grandmother was currently trying to determine why the aforementioned wizard and his mother had kept their (non-existent) relationship a secret for so long and whether she was going to get any more grandchildren anytime soon.
Malfoy was still in there though, getting far too much enjoyment out of this. The blonde boy had mentioned something about his mother, blackmail, and Snape. Night probed no further.
The door opened and his spirits lifted at the sight of his mother walking through the door, a smile pulling at his lips. Immediately, he reveled in the normalcy! The placing of the briefcase on the small table, the messy hair, the look that said plainly, "It's wonderful to be home. I've just been in hell."
It was then that he noticed Zylle's angry and tense movements. The dark-haired man that followed her in easily explained these anomalies. The greasy-hair, the prominent hooked nose, that sneer…it was Snape. Shadow hissed in fury and it was only Night's quick reflexes that prevented a repeat of the incident before.
Noting his scowl, his mother sighed in dismay. "Trust me, I'm hating this, too."
"Well, it seems we all have something in common then," Snape derided. He smirked at the young elemental, a smirk that didn't bode well for their future dealings. Probably because not only had he set a dungeon room on fire, disrupted one of his least favorite classes (locking him in with them to boot), and then sneaking out of Hogwarts while kidnapping two of his students, but also stole the diary of that had information on the elementals themselves. Specifically, the Sekai-Kage Wolves.
The diary was currently lying on his desk upstairs. He hadn't brought himself to read it yet.
Night was now seriously considering blasting all wizards not only out of his home or Grey Tower, but out of the whole country. Because this was getting ridiculous.
"I ran into him while walking in the park," his mother explained, glaring at Snape. "Turns out he could walk past the wards. And we're obligated to let him in anyway-"
"He's the last descendant of Mirage Searle," Zylle answered sourly as she put her coat away in the closet, noticing Snape's expression of victory as she continued. "So, that gives him full right to be here. Unfortunately." The professor gave no response to the incensed brunette woman, even though there was a slight breeze ruffling both his and Night's hair now. She slammed the door violently. "It was a bad day. Suddenly, I start getting calls congratulating me on my engagement!" He knew this wasn't going to turn out well. "Then, this guy shows up!" She growled in anger, dropping her keys in the ashtray. "This is almost as bad as that day with Nathaniel Black! Wizards!"
Night blinked in recognition of the name from Professor Coulter – missing Snape's reaction of surprise as well – and inquired tentatively, "Nathaniel Black, Mum?"
Zylle frowned and then answered, "It was a long time ago. Dated a wizard named Nathaniel Black. Made the utter mistake of falling in love with him." She paused. "I doubt it was love then, but I was fifteen or sixteen around that time. Anyway, after dealing with him running off and getting excuses from his werewolf friend, I find out that it's not his real name at all and he had been with some witch named Felicia of all things. Only using me to get back at his family – I've got a 'muggle' girlfriend! Nearly killed him for that…"
"What was his real name, perchance?" Snape interrupted before Zylle could go on. Night looked at him questioningly, but Snape's glare clearly meant for him to keep quiet.
"Not that it's any of your business, I don't remember exactly," Zylle admitted. "That scatterbrained girl did keep on screaming about something 'serious', but I never quite understood that one."
"Sirius Black?" Snape repeated, now looking disbelieving. Night himself mirrored his shock.
"That sounds about right…why?" She looked between the two of them. "What's gotten into you?"
"Mum…" Night began. "You know those calls about an engagement."
She just looked at him expectantly, eyes narrowed. "Do you have something to tell me, Nuitari?"
Snape sneered maliciously. "Yes, do you have something to say, boy?"
"The wizard that kidnapped me was on the front steps," he said, resigned. "He followed me to the back and I didn't know that there wasn't anyone home. He was about to apparate with me back to that blasted castle when Crowley shows up." Zylle frowned, nodding to continue. "Crowley gets it into his head that you've been dating this wizard for a long time and came up with the weird he's your fiancée because…please don't make me go into details!" He actually begged at the end. "It probably spread over town because of him."
"Fine," his mother answered shortly, looking none too amused. "But you're here, so I'm assuming he's gone."
"No…he's in the parlor. Being determined if he's worthy enough to marry you by Gran," he then said with a wince. Zylle, her face set, made to enter the room when Night then threw out into the open, "And his name is Sirius Black!"
She paused. She gave him a searching look for a minute before heading into the parlor.
There was a loud shout of, "You bastard!" Mere seconds later, there was a large series of explosions, crashes, and booms mixed in with shouts and more exclamations. Sirius Black then came smashing into the hallway wall, appearing bewildered and dazed.
"It can't be her," Black denied flatly.
"Oh, I think it's her," Night quipped back. Snape actually laughed at this.
"Empire City. This is Enlil Squadron 1, Assassin Fleet. Empire City, come in. This is Enlil Squadron 1, Assassin Fleet. General Hiroshi reporting."
"Give your report."
"Magical barriers have been erected around the continent. There is a visible angelic aura. The instability caused is making some trouble with the Enlil jet systems. Animal life is retreating en masse. Requesting resupply and switch to land tactics as soon as possible to get close undetected."
"Granted. Anything else?"
"The ice is cracking. Big fractures. Antarctica is breaking apart. To go by land, we have to act quickly. One thing more."
"Intercepted transmission. Angels are hunting Harbingers. They are hiring mortals as well, for bounty. Highest bounty so far is for General Nuitari. Amount is approximately $2.5 million."
"Return for further orders."
"Confirmed. Ending communication."
A white-blue light so bright it dimmed everything else around it, fading the auroras, rose up. The ice and rocks of the ice continent were marred with deep crevices and fissures. A chunk of the land mass broke off and landed heavily into the ocean, joining others like it.
Nine jets, streamlined and smooth, flew through the air gracefully, heading north. In the brilliant light, their silver wings gleamed.
A single black feather danced in the air before it was incinerated by an arrow of flame, shot by a white clad figure on a faraway balcony at the South Pole that overlooked the forsaken landscape. The person then shot three more arrows into the distance from a dark-blue colored bow.
He smiled when they saw three glowing balls of fire descend to the earth, his pleased grin and the pale skin of his chin were the only features not shielded by his fur-edged white hood. Turning about on beige colored boots, he stalked back inside his base, shutting off the small device perched on the ledge as he did so with white gloved fingers – hushing out the concerned voice of Darius, the cool orders of Hiroshi, the questions, the screams. His weapon disappearing with a flick of his wrist, a large and elaborately carved panel of ice slid into the wall, leading him to slightly warmer chambers.
The figure ignored the bowing servants who vied for his attention and made his way down stairs and more stairs, to an empty dark corridor. The sliding ice panel revealed a heavy steel door, which when opened exposed an iron grate with wickedly sharp spikes jutting out. He hummed to himself as he passed these, a happy little tune that if anyone else had heard, would have done more to increase their agitation instead of alleviate it. Light filled every orifice of the room, no corner left in shadow or darkness. Stark and pure, the source was in the center of the room. With seemingly no fear, he walked across the ice bridge, unconcerned about the gaping abyss below, to the floating platform of ice. He stopped just outside of a crystal barrier that hummed with spells and power.
"Hello again, beloved," he greeted joyfully. "I know I usually don't visit three times in one day, but I just had to see you again." This time his smile was full and mirthful. "You see, lovely, I have excellent news."
The woman entrapped within the clear ice barricade looked up at the man with brown eyes full of rage and defiance. Her light brown hair hung limply from her head, where she wore a halo of gold. Her white gown was shredded, what little armor she wore was battered and useless. Fading bruises were on her arms, a cut scabbing over across her cheek. The four white wings that sprung from her back were tattered and torn, the feathers falling from time to time. The white light seemed to be seeping from her very skin and those wings, the ground beneath her glowing an ominous dark purple. But she was still nothing more but absolutely beautiful in his eyes, even if she continued to be…difficult.
He ignored this. "Everything is going to plan. I didn't think that teaming up with a light goddess was all that great in the beginning, but look how things have turned out!" He chuckled to himself, though he seemed put out that she didn't share in his amusement. "I now have the means to carry out my revenge. With them all in their human forms, they're defenseless save for what puny powers their mortal powers manage to possess." He snorted disdainfully. "I doubt that it will do much good. But, ah well."
Turning around and falling backwards to lean against the frosty surface, he looked up to the ceiling, which was open and exposed, the light shining into the sky, outdoing the stars. "You would think that a light goddess would be smarter, but no. Maleficus continue to manipulate that pathetic little girl. It works to our advantage though, if she's finding our enemies and powering us up. If everything goes to plan, we'll be rid of all those who tried to separate us all those eons ago and stay together forever! All we have to do is eliminate the leaders and allow you to use your angelic power as a weapon. Of course, it's being amplified. No matter, though. Not too hard."
She moved away from him when he returned to face her, as if he could reach out to grab her. A tiny amount of spittle meandered down his chin as he was overtaken with his enjoyment. "Take down the leaders and they will fall! Isn't that the strategy you angels used to take us down during the Evanescence, Rachelle? It's now working for us." The angel eyed him critically, disbelieving.
"That's right, princess. I'm taking down my old comrades," he enthused. "Don't you hate harbingers? Well, I'm going to get rid of them, sweetness, don't you fret." He grinned maniacally. "It's been awhile, but can still think like a soldier. Oh yes. Cadmus still has the old instincts. So don't think you'll be getting out of here. We belong together. It's been preordained, destiny!" Rachelle spat at him in revulsion, but the wall that separated the two protected her captor.
Cadmus merely smiled. "Still spirited, I see. However, I can't stay. Sorry, love." He decided to overlook the relief that came over her face with this news. "I've hired those elementals – the Fox clan – to take care of Nuitari. They were more than pleased to – they'd be removing an enemy and making a great deal of money. I hired them knowing they'd do anything for money. I never liked Nuitari. So, it's good for everyone!" He laughed shortly before starting to cross the ice bridge. Cadmus then called over his shoulder casually, "Wish me luck, sweetums! I have to go settle an old score with our old friend, General Hiroshi. Remember the Star Harbinger? He was the one who tried to kill you. He also cursed me when I fled from the Verdict. We still have to discuss those incidents, among other things, I'm afraid."
Rachelle, throwing Cadmus' retreating back a terrified look, clasped her hands together and began to pray.
The Ice Harbinger merely smiled as he exited the room, smiled widely.
He doubted there would be much talking involved when he met up with Hiroshi.
Sorry I haven't updated in…nearly a year. I wasn't allowed near a computer until I had tied up all my schoolwork and standardized tests. Now I've got to prepare for colleges. Still, summer vacation! There's considerably more free time.
This chapter's purpose was to set everyone in their places for a lot of action next chapter.
To make up for my long absence, I give you this extra long chapter: 41 pages and 18,320 words.
Next chapter will feature: A LOT OF ACTION AND HARRY/NIGHT.
The dark gods meet in Tartarus.
Melania is not happy.
- Darius attempts to beat Pheta with a new approach.
- Zylle and Sirius attempt to get along despite their pasts and a lack of guest rooms.
- Draco and Neville encounter some trouble in Grey Tower Town. Big trouble.
- Ron and Hermione become better acquainted with other kinds of magic…but not in way that is especially good for their health and overall well-being.
- Professor Snape having to deal with…celebrity. And a challenge of skill from Professor Lavinia Coulter.
- The return of Wormtail?
- Dudley and Cami listen to Daniel about the Harbingers' past. Unfortunately, a Maleficus decides to show up.
- Thanatos is captured.
- Mirai comes with news of massacred werewolf and vampire tribes. And increased Phantom activity in the north.
- Tom has a warning about mysterious individuals.- The Takara-Tani Foxes invade Grey Tower Town. Target: Nuitari Hawking. The Ministry of Magic and the Order showing up doesn't help.
- Hiroshi and Cadmus battle it out in Antarctica.
IMPORTANT NOTE TO ALL READERS: I've decided to keep Tears of Twilight as an AU. The same thing may apply to Dark Reflections. However, should Celestial Requiem be revamped to be compatible with the new information in the Half-Blood Prince should it remain as an AU as well?
Members can vote on my Yahoo!Group in a poll, though you can leave your response in a review as well.
Also, there is no slash in this story. Just to clarify that.