Do you know what I had to do to get this chapter out? I had to be sick! Sick, and completely ready to burn my AP European History textbook. Not that it hasn't been that way all quarter long, but still.
I apologize, in ultimate humility, for not getting this thing off the ground sooner. I realized it had been way too long when I couldn't actually remember what I'd written and had to go reread it all!
The horribleness. You have no idea how much I apologize.
Disclaimer: I do not own Yugioh, Yu Yu Hakusho, or the esteemed Mr. Potter's universe. If I did….well, I'd be riding a multi-million dollar Friesian stallion, not my precious little Percheron gelding.
...I think I prefer not owning them, actually!
Ah – and kudos to the person who had the idea of putting the songs, "My Little Pony" and "Barbie Girl" to Fruits Basketin an AMV. My enjoyment is boundless.
Restaurant of the élite, it had resided in the high class, pureblood-proud street of Atlantica for nearly four hundred years. Reservations had to be made years in advance (and all too often were) unless, of course, you were belonging to one of the fifteen Great Families.
The oldest pureblood families in England, fifteen in number, possessed permanently reserved tables in an upper level; they had deemed themselves too important to dine with commoners long before the PenDragon had opened, and immediately seized the opportunity to flaunt their superior birth and their wealth – for the PenDragon was not for those without multiple Gringotts vaults, when a bottle of wine alone cost one the same as a small guesthouse.
Never mind that at least three of the fifteen Great Families had been wiped out in various wars – their tables remained well-cleaned, well furnished, with the house crest burned directly into it's massive chairs, because in the Wizarding World, one could never be entirely sure that a bloodline was gone. People who were supposed to be dead had a nasty habit of turning up for one reason or another.
It was at one such table that Bakura now sat, smiling faintly at the man who had contacted him upon leaving a certainBorgin and Burkesshop, his hikari's pockets laden with magical objects as a sort of test-run on the local security systems.
He had not been impressed. He'd been toying with the idea of making a run to Gringotts to see if the lore involving dragons and large treasure troves was true, when a snake-tipped cane had interrupted his progress.
"I see you have a certain talent, young sir."
Bakura had snorted. "If you wish to call it that."
"I would be most interested in your services, Mr.….?"
A smile. "Call me Touzoku."
The man had introduced himself as Lucius Malfoy (Bakura had immediately drew the parallels of family resemblance between him and Draco, both in looks and attitude). He'd taken Bakura to the most lavish restaurant in sight, and immediately bypassed a hoard of people waiting outside, only to be bowed to by the waiter and immediately ushered upstairs.
Bakura had learned two things. One, that the man felt a dire need to impress him; and two, that he tipped very well, judging from the greedy looks on the waiters' faces.
Both worked well in his favor.
"A proposition, then, Mr. Touzoku. I am in need of each and every one of these," he drawled, and pulled out a glass orb, "that currently reside within the Ministry of Magic."
Milky white, and possessing a faint opal sheen, the orb actually levitated a good 3 centimeters above Lucius Malfoy's hand. One could occasionally see figures swirling in the mist, though one could not tell if they were dancing or dying.
/It looks like…. like a mini crystal ball, / breathed Ryou at the back of his mind.
Bakura's mouth twitched. /Let's find out. / "Though I normally have a no-questions-asked policy, Mr. Malfoy, I am curious. Precisely what does your," he sneered, "Crystal ball do?"
Malfoy looked slightly taken aback, and Bakura got the feeling that he had either missed something fundamentally obvious, or Malfoy simply wasn't used to his 'underlings' asking questions. He hoped for the latter.
"To paraphrase my master…. these orbs will reveal the truth of a person's destiny."
Ryou almost inwardly rolled his eyes before catching himself. /Looks like I was right, 'Kura. But you think they'd have figured out by now that basing world conquest on prophecies isn't exactly the way to go. /
/Don't complain – they're the ones giving us the job. /
/You can't be serious. We're not taking this! We are not breaking into government security! /
Ryou was met with an evil mental grin. /Wanna bet? / "Mr. Malfoy, I shall accept your request, providing the fees are adequate, of course."
Lucius grinned with something akin to perverse glee, dropping an almost comically large bag on the table. "Of course."
/Damn straight, 'Whoa'. / Bakura snickered. /Welcome to a thief's life, Ryou. /
/That…. that…. that could buy half the shops in this street! /
Bakura grinned, relishing the feeling of his hikari's greed. Though he didn't show it outwardly, Ryou was as driven by wealth as anyone Bakura had ever met – though the Thief King assumed Ryou had to have inherited something of his nature, being his lighter half.
Malfoy gave him a curt nod and strode away, robes billowing in a poetically dramatic fashion, just as Bakura started, twitching as he sensed one of the many presences he was wont to meet at this moment in time. Resigning himself to his fate, he stayed where he was and toyed with a spoon.
"You can come out now, Kurama."
A snort from the rafters above his head. "I daresay I can. What do you mean by running off on us like that?" Kurama dropped neatly down into the seat Lucius had previously occupied, appearing in a long, gentlemanly coat that made him look almost entirely too British.
Bakura blatantly refused to answer the other thief's question, and Ryou remained suspiciously silent inside him as well. "And what do you mean by deserting the rest of the fools at that school?" he shot out in a mocking manner. "Surely your expertise is missed?"
Kurama reached for the bag that Malfoy had slammed on the table – it was surprisingly light for such a load, but then, Kurama couldn't see Lucius burdening himself with anything that might be heavy enough to affect his posture. Bakura's eyes narrowed, but he made no move to retrieve the bag. "If you're not expected to answer that question, then neither am I." He grinned, eyes lingering on the bag in his hands. "Quite a haul, isn't it? Prepayment, I suppose?"
Bakura's eyebrows shot up. No rebuttal, no scolding, no 'Thou shalt come back now or I'll kick your ass'? "It is…," he replied cautiously, then laughed. "Do you want on the job or something?"
"I might," returned the fox confidently. "In fact, I think I will, if you'll have me." As if a better opportunity would present itself in order to keep an eye on his fellow thief, especially when he was so set against going back? Kurama could prophesize without the use of magic exactly what would happen if Atemu and Bakura were kept in the same building while their tempers still ran hot, so why not keep him in hand, away from the other?
Bakura glared at him suspiciously. "You're kidding me."
"No, not really. I'd like to get away from that school as much as you would, actually." He flicked at a fly on the table viciously. "Children are….not my forte."
Bakura let out a barking laugh, wondering exactly what had been in that wine that Malfoy had treated him to that was making him so agreeable. "Agreed!" He motioned to the bag on Kurama's side of the table. "We'll split the profits, fifty-fifty."
Kurama stuck out his hand. "Agreed."
Hiei had agreed to watch over Bakura's classes while he was missing, and had quite thoroughly enjoyed coming up with new tales to explain his disappearance to each new class. With the help of the experienced gossipers of the school, rumors ran rampant by dinner.
"Maybe Voldemort got him!" Unoriginal, Hiei thought.
"Professor Hiei said a dragon ate him!" Did I? Yes, third period. Though it had been meant as more of a flippant response than an actual excuse. Who knew human children were so gullible?
"No, he said he was eaten when he tried to conjure a demon!" Ah. That one he remembered. The fourth years had been horrified.
"I heard Professor Moto pushed him off a balcony!" Hiei heard Atemu snicker beside him, and mutter, "If only…."
"I heard the Giant Squid got him!"
"I heard," said one particularly cruel Slytherin girl, "that he was having an…. 'Illicit Love Affair' with the Squid, actually." The Jagan master decided he didn't want to know how that would work.
An owl landed in front of him, though it was smart enough to avoid any of Hiei's edibles. Odd, thought Hiei, It's far after morning post – I thought these things were trained to not come until then. He reached for the scroll attached to its leg, immediately recognizing Kurama's flowery script.
I've found Bakura – though we may be staying here a while, as we've run into a few difficulties. Please alert the others.
PS: Remember our agreement? Go ahead with it – I simply want to know the outcome.
Hiei did remember – and he planned to start planning the fight between Hermione and Draco as soon as possible, now that he knew Kurama didn't particularly mind not watching directly. He ran a finger discreetly over the bottom of the letter, burning off the bottom half (and hence, the last line), before handing it to Botan. He'd happily leave her to puzzle over Kurama's lack of details, for as long as his comrade wasn't in direct danger, he didn't particularly care.
He headed to Yusuke's end of the High Table, tapping him lightly on the back of the shoulder. The Spirit Detective turned around, noodle still poking from the edge of his mouth. Not allowing himself to be disgusted with human mannerisms, he took the conveniently empty chair next to him.
"I think it's time we start on Practicals."
Hiei had made especially sure that for this class, he had a free period from Divination – had he not, he would have simply brought the Divination class down to the Dueling Arena and made them sweat by asking the kids to predict outcomes of fights.
The few that were there early stood uneasily, unnerved by the silence he created – Yusuke had yet to show up, though Hiei had always laughed at the fact that Urameshi, of all people, put them at ease. If provoked, the Spirit Detective had a great deal more power than any of them, and, though he would rather die than admit it, more power than Hiei himself.
He watched them file into the stands, and quickly intercepted Hermione as she walked through the door, early as usual. "Ms. Granger, I'll need you to wait down on the left side of the ring, please."
Her face went partially white and her lips thinned, but she nodded, dug for her wand and walked calmly to her post as Harry and Ron traded worried looks and moved to follow her. Hiei sighed and stopped them. "Not you two. Maybe later. Wait in the normal seats, please."
Ron looked as though he might actually attack him, but wisely refrained as Harry whispered, "It's just a class – she's not going to actually get hurt, Ron." The Weasely boy looked less than convinced, but moved to a normal seat, though it was as close to the left side of the ring as he and Harry could possibly get. The Jagan master saw Hermione shoot them a thankful smile in return.
Yusuke appeared seconds later, skidding through the door just as the bell rang. Predictably, the class automatically relaxed. "Alright, guys! Guess what?" He grinned and went to the front of the room, just before the Dueling Arena to better address them. "Because Hiei's and evil little bastard and thinks you guys need more practice, we're have a set of Practicals today!"
Hiei barely refrained himself from rolling his eyes. Leave it to Yusuke to put the blame on someone else.
"We drew names from a hat earlier today, and one of our contenders is already here – the beautiful Ms. Granger!" He waved as Malfoy strode through the doorway, completely collected although he was late. "And here's our second competitor now! Mr. Malfoy, if you could go to the right side of the ring, please, we'll get this thing underway!"
Ron and Harry immediately jumped up from their seats in a chorused, "No!" before Hermione shot them a glare that sent them both back to their chairs.
Draco, meanwhile, had not moved from the entrance, his body stiff and his fists clenched. Hiei shot a look at him. "Today, Mr. Malfoy."
Draco opened his mouth slightly, obviously unsure of something. Crabbe and Goyle, behind him in the doorways, sent worried looks at their fellow Slytherin.
Yusuke looked at him oddly. "Malfoy?"
He'd now attracted the looks of every Gryffindor and Slytherin in the class. "I….I….," his face hardened, "No! I can't!"
To the surprise of every person in the room, he pushed his way past a stunned Crabbe and Goyle, and ran out the open doorway. A deafening babble broke out, drowning out the sounds of his shoes on the marble corridor outside.
Yusuke cocked his head. "Well, that was weird."
Hiei just shook his head at the stupidity that surrounded him, and ran to follow the missing boy.
And a huge thank you to those of you still reviewing my mess……
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