Well, hello there. I realize this has been a while in coming, once more had difficulties getting to the computer to write for more than five or so minutes at a time. Anyway, this is the second part to the Phoenix and the Crow, the original title, as a matter of pact, but a friend mentioned to me that it just didn't have the Harry Potter-ish ring that I'd been going for, and my decision was made when I started reading a story that featured a phoenix -sort of. Now, it started out a tad boring, but hey?
The Phoenix and the Crow Pt. II
Kagura trudged through the forest, in the opposite direction of Rose Cottage where the meeting was to be held. That's where Severus was, and Chris as well; an interesting development, no doubt. It didn't begin for another half hour maybe, and with Chris's flamboyance and reluctance to see Severus, she assumed he'd be at the least a half hour late.
And here she was, going back to the Screamer's Well, the place where it all had begun for her here. There was a terrible fear she somehow be sucked back in to th at place.
Why was she doing it? She wasn't quite sure; some perverse sort of death wish, a challenge against fate for being so cruel to her this day? Who knew? Who cared? She was quite numb now, a good feeling for her, since it was so much better than the ache in her heart that had pounded all day. She knew the student's were curious; he'd been to no classes today, no had Chris or Severus. She's seen Minerva approach her, fully prepared to give a lashing of the tongue, but Dumbledore had waved the woman away, so he knew somehow, probably from Chris.
Centaurs. . . She could smell them, they were near, just as with water, and wolf demon. Steeling herself, she entered the clearing. Three centaur stood guard over a still form pinned to the well that appeared to be Koga.
"Her!" they shouted, never finishing their sentence, for in cold reflection of her old self, they were dead with a swift blade of wind.
She walked slowly to Koga, the breeze blowing through the skirt of her kimono, which she had dressed in purposely; so there would be immediate recognition. Her fan flipped to cover half of her face. With her other hand, she prodded him with her wand, recognizing a strong binding write and releasing him from it.
To hell with the sleep spell.
Koga blinked himself awake, looking up at the hazy moon that silhouetted a form he recognized. "You," he snarled, flipping himself off to land in the dirt at the base of the well. "Heh, heh, heh" he chuckled darkly, "found you, didn't I?"
She merely stood there, gazing at him placidly from red eyes over the fan. "You found me," she said quietly. "And I freed you."
"Freed me?" he asked, standing, joints popping in his fingers and knees as he did so. "Why would you do that?"
"I couldn't leave you there." She smirked. "Killing you while you slept would be all too easy, and I'm so bored." Something made her goad him, made her want what ever beating he would give her. Because living as she had for this day was not worth it.
"Bitch!" he howled, rushing at her.
She sent out a blade of wind, feeling her battle blood rise. Koga neatly sidestepped it, sending out a powerful kick aimed for her midriff. She went sailing, but then came rushing back, sending out a more potent vane of wind, slicing him clearly across the chest. His breastplate fell and hung sideways with a clink, leaving it hanging. A thin line of blood slithered down his tanned flesh.
Again, he ran, his speed dizzying until they were leaping, she back and he forward, so close their noses almost touched. "Where's Naraku?" he yelled, gravely voice dangerous.
"He isn't here, he's where you left!" she shouted back at him. "Stupid wolf!" His fist landed solidly against her cheekbone. She smacked hard into a tree and rolled away just as his foot landed there, sending the thick wood into splinters.
Normally, in this point of a battle, she would rush away at any given moment on her feather, but something reckless had welled up inside of her.
She was stricken and she hurt, but she would fight. Because. . .
Who in the hell cared? She wanted to shed blood and so she would do. Because who gave a shit? Who was here that could loved her now?
She struck out against him in a dragon's dance of wind, ignoring the splash of blood against her kimono. Suddenly, she wished this was Yamamoto, someone she could pound on until they were dust. The thought gave her renewed strength, and so shr struck again in rapid succession, until Koga hit his knees, if only for a second. He sprang up again, and knocked her away.
Away. . .
Severus stared sullenly into the brandy Molly had given him, ignoring Yamamoto as best as he could who was making noise in another corner, much to the delight of Nymphodia and the immense displeasure and jealously of Lupin. Had Kagura been here, they would have sniggered over it, then laughed lightly, with that conversation ending with a heated look of promise form both.
The decanter made a clinking noise as he poured more brandy into his glass, then the sweet fire sliding down his throat and kindling a heat in the pit of his belly. He went to refill it, but a pale hand he recognized stopped at him. Lily's eyes stared at him from behind round glasses in James's face. "You've had a lot this evening already, Professor," said Potter easily. "Think you might want to give it a rest for now?"
Severus stared dumbfounded at his student as Harry took the carafe from him in firm hands, then set it atop the mantle. "Mrs. Weasely's got some torts over there if you want some." Then Harry loped off to where Ron and Hermione stood. Hermione gave him an acid look and took off for Ginny, while the Weasely boy stared after her.
Sighing, Severus sloshed what was left of the spirits around and around in the cup, watching them. He was waiting for Kagura to arrive, he knew it, but denied it with a ferocity kindled by his hurt at betrayal. Yes, Chris was more handsome than he, livelier, less sneaking, and best of all, he had no record of ever serving anything but the side of good.
Yet, he'd thought perhaps. . . Kagura had some sort of affection for him. But as he often was, he must have been wrong. He'd known Chris had lusted after Kagura, it was something of a joke among the teachers that he had such a crush on her, but Kagura had never really shown more than a passing interest in anything Yamamoto had ever said.
Had something other than what he had known transpired? He pushed that thought away, stomped on it, spat on it, crushed it to dust. He knew better than not to believe his own eyes. It was he he'd relied on for so long, and no demon woman should have changed it, and she would no longer.
"Back to brooding, are we?"
Severus slid Dumbledore a look, then looked at the door, his eyes slitted as he took a deep sip of what was left in his glass.
"Chris told me what happened."
Severus took another sip. "I'm sure he did."
"It's not what you think it is, Severus." Dumbledore's voice was the one that usually got him what he wanted when it came to Severus, but now was not such a time. "You know Kagura loves you, that she would want no one else."
"Loves me?" asked Severus on a wry laugh. "Love is something for fairytales; neither one of us believe in it, and you say she loves me? Hardly. I was simply not enough for her, that's all. Both of us are incapable of such an emotion if it were to be real, anyway."
"You love her, too."
Damn the man and his stubbornness! "I want her," he said on a careless shrug. "I like her mouth, enjoy her company. But love? Surly, Albus, you know love is not within my capabilities, nor hers. We care for little, and to love. . . pftt." He waved a hand.
Dumbledore resisted the urge to smack the man, but managed to keep his expression smooth. "If you say so, Severus, but somehow, I think you should talk to her. You'll have to eventually, you know."
Severus sipped at his drink again. "Oh, I quite realize that, but not after I've been good and drunk for a while first." To emphasize his point, he downed the rest of his brandy, setting down the glass with a clink.
Dumbledore sighed, and turned back to mingling.
Severus stared with glassy eyes at the brandy decanter. What had happened? He'd thought he and Kagura were getting somewhere; she'd told him of her past, had seemed to be settling. She'd seemed happy. Was it the memory of that pale demon with flashing eyes? He sighed. Who even knew?
He snarled inwardly. Who gave a damn anyway? He stepped toward the decanter.
Ron sighed and stared after Hermione. "How long are you two gonna keep not talking, cause this is getting frustrating."
"No worse than when you were mad at me," Harry reminded him, nipping at his orange drink. "And she's the one who won't talk to me."
Ron stared at him bleakly. "She's a female. You've gotta go to them and apologize. Girls don't think anything is their fault." Ron glanced at Harry's blank expression. "Ginny explained it to me."
"I'm not apologizing," said Harry stubbornly, setting his glass down and crossing his arms. "She's the one who did it. I'm tired of her tantrums."
Ron rolled his eyes. "Look who's talking. The one you had at the beginning of last year was a big one, and here you are, going on about 'Mione's."
Harry glared at his friend. "That's not exactly the same, Ron."
Ron shrugged, and took a gulp of his own drink.
Harry's brilliant green eyes scanned the room. "Hey, I wonder where Professor Kagura is. She's usually here by now, with Snape."
Ron eyed a plate piled high with some concoction of his mother's, mounded with a firm, unusually pink icing and morbidly green sprinkles in the shapes of brooms, moons, and wizard hats. "Dunno. . ." He reached for one, stopped by an icy glare from Ginny, who was across the table, guarding the food with an expression eerily reminiscent of her mother.
"After what happened today, he'd usually be all concerned and hovering, the way he usually; but all he's doing is staring into that infernal booze. He's eyeing the thing again."
Ron stuck an iced finger in his mouth. "Maybe de had a fight," he mumbled around his finger.
"Over what?" asked Harry incredulously, then stopped. "Hey, Ron, do you hear that?"
Ron blinked and pulled his finger from his mouth with a loud, sucking POP. "Hear what? I don't hear anything. You alright, mate?"
"Yeah. . ." said Harry vaguely, staring at the door. Something had just. . .tingled along the edge of his spine, like something big was coming. He pushed it aside and turned back to Ron. Could something be amiss with him? He hadn't mentioned anything about the flames that had burnt the grass he's stepped on or his show of bravery, though the last didn't really seem rare now. Come to think of it, Ron never said anything about the classes very much, jut seemed to grumble about the amount of homework Hermione usually ended up helping him with.
He shrugged it off. Who knew with Ron? He was. . . Ron.
There it was again. That prickle against his spine, a warning. He stared at the door.
Something was coming.
Severus felt a frisson at the base of his spine suddenly. His eyes darted to the door, felt the heat of another's gaze. He looked, found it to be Potter's. He shared a look with a boy, then Potter nodded, walking deliberately toward the door.
Where suddenly there wasn't one.
There was a sickening crunch as a blur went sailing through the now splintered wood, landing with an ominous thud against the back wall.
Severus's hair slapped him in the face as he whirled to face whatever opponent had launched itself into this place. All of them stood, breathless and waiting as one arm began to clear away the debris covering the body.
His breath caught. "Kagura. . ." He stepped forward.
She looked like one big bruise. One eye was swollen and black, while the other looked small and mean. Her hair was lopsided most falling around her face and into her eyes. There was a hideous bruise on one cheek, puffing up, and blood ran from various cut in every place that he could see.
"Kagura!" Dumbledore's voice, filled with concern, knocked them all into action.
Chris ran forward, kneeling at her side, only to be shoved away by Potter. All of them ran to her, kneeling, a flurry of questions bombarding his ears.
He stared at her, unable to move. What had happened to her? All those bruises... she looked like she'd had the beating of a lifetime.
Then he saw her eyes flicker from their grogginess, wavering bright. She blinked and her mouth worked, and her eyes darted. . .until they met his. He winced. They looked. . . accusatory. Sad. Then she looked away, back at the concerned faces hovering around her.
Kagura shook herself from her daze and stood up, eyes almost wild. "Get back, now!" she ordered them, in a tone none of them had ever heard. Her eyes were hard and cold, frigid ruby anger in her eyes. She stood, regal as a queen, her fan at ready in her hand. "Get back, all of you."
"Professor Kagura, what's going on--" Granger's words were stopped when Kagura abruptly swiped out her arm, catching the girl in th midriff and shoving her aside. "I said move," she bit out, and walked unsteadily toward the door.
"Kagura!" Dumbledore's voice rumbled in the room, harsh and insistent. "What is going on!"
She didn't answer, instead disappearing outside.
Severus could no long contain himself. "Kagura!" He ran for the door, pausing just at the jamb. "Kagura-ooomph!"
His reply was for Kagura to once more come back in, ramming her back into him, then sagging. He caught her shoulders and looked up.
Someone she has fought.
It was that demon, the one he'd seen while inside her mind that night. He slowly backed up, Kagura in his arms as the demon moved forward, his eyes flashing a hellish red, large fangs bulging from his mouth.
"Give her to me," he growled, staring at Severus. For once in his life, he felt real fear. This creature would kill him with little or no remorse to get what it wanted.
"Leave them alone, Koga," came a hoarse voice, the language guttural and harsh. Severus looked down at Kagura; she pushed herself up and away from him. "They have nothing to do with this. They're simpletons; they've not got any idea of what's going on."
Suddenly, the beat's hand was fisted around her throat. Kagura gasped and fumbled at his wrist. "Tell me where Naraku is and I'll let them live."
"Leave her alone!"
Kagura cursed inwardly. Yamamoto. She twisted in Koga's grasp to see him standing with his wand pointed directly at Koga; and Severus stood right in front of them.
"No!" she choked out, waving one hand wildly. Then the fist around her throat tightened.
"Be quiet, bitch." Koga stared at Yamamoto with burning hatred.
Severus stared at them, eyes wide and dazed, and she caught the heavy scent of liquor about him. Kami-sama, what a time for him to be sotted!
"No,"she wheezed. "Don't kill them. . .That's. . . not . . . Naraku."
"The hell it isn't!" Koga roared, dropping her. She landed heavily on Severus, reaching out as Koga swept out a hand.
Chris stood there in shock, staring at Koga. Then there was a light spurt of blood, and with a quiet fizzle, it sprayed onto the table.
"What is he, Kagura?" asked Koga in their own language, glaring at Yamamoto. "A puppet?"
"His reincarnation," she said quietly, sagging against Severus.
The other watched the play by play, staring from Koga to Kagura, and no one understanding a word except for Dumbledore.
Koga slowly turned. "But Naraku's not dead." His eyes narrowed, still that monstrous red. "Unless that whimpering puppy beat me to him. How in the hell could he be a reincarnation anyway?" He shook his head. "Never mind. Tell me where he is!"
Kagura sighed tiredly. "On the other side of that well you came through. I. . . ran away from him; I've no idea where he is."
Suddenly, he was at her again, hand clenched in her kimono's collar. "Then, if that's true, I'll just kill you now."
Those words somehow managed to puncture the fog in Severus's brain. "No!" He tugged Kagura back, forcing her until she was behind him, loosely clasped onto his back. "No. . ." he panted. "No one will touch her; no one. . . will touch my wife," he whispered in halting Japanese.
Koga drew back as if burned. "Wife?" he asked unbelievingly, shaking his head as if he'd been struck. "Wife?" There was a hint of incredulous laughter in his voice. "Bitch fooled you, didn't she." There was no question; he was simply mocking Severus.
Severus stared at him with slightly dazed eyes. Kagura clutched weakly at his robes. "No, you fool, don't do anything. Stay still." She leaned her face in, resting her cheek against his back. "Don't."
Koga reached out and clasped Severus's throat, tightening it until the soft squeak of flesh against flesh sounded. Kagura lurched to her feet, then stumbled against her husbands back again.
Severus stood there, almost staggering. Dumbledore stared bleakly at the dark haired wizard. The man had never been able to hold his liquor for very long, and now was just the perfect time for him to act like a lush. Dumbledore sighed. It was time to take action, though he'd hoped to let all of this sort itself out. "Please, sir, do drop my professor. He's a most excellent teacher, and I'd hate to lose him." He kept his voice annoyingly even, the one that drove plenty of trouble making students to gnash their teeth.
Koga blinked languidly. "And why should I?" he asked, voice crisp and on the verge of heat.
"Because, if you don't, I shall have to hurt you." He raised his wand, staring at his demonic opponent over the half-moons of his glasses.
Koga laughed darkly, the sound an acid echo in the small cottage. "You, old man, hurt me? How in all the hells could you accomplish that?"
The other continued to watch in morbid fascination, while Harry and Lupin edged slowly until they were on either side of the creature. Lupin's nostrils flared briefly as the scent of wolf wafted under his nose. He glanced at the large young man in front of him.
"Like this." A fierce red beam shot from the tip of his wand, slamming into the wolf youkai's shoulder and sending him careening to the floor, where he lay unmoving.
Kagura glanced back at him. "A nice little freezing spell I picked up in Berlin." He paced to where the demon lay still, out cold. "Lupin, Author if you please, help him onto the table. He's been under a sealing spell for quite some time and I'd hate to have to use even more magic on him."
The werewolf and red haired man shared a look, then gave nearly identical shrugs, Author grabbing under Koga's arms and Lupin his knees. They hauled the unconscious demon to the large table in the kitchen, where no food was placed and then set him down.
Severus, thoroughly soused and deprived of oxygen while a big fat fist had been squeezing his neck, was deposited in a plump armchair while Kagura hobbled after them all.
Molly immediately began to, well, mollycoddle the obviously wrung-out demoness. Kagura wearily settled into a kitchen chair, while Molly bustled about in preparations for the tea. Moody walked forward and suspiciously prodded Koga's heavily muscled thigh. "A fit one, he is," he scowled. He glanced at Kagura. "What's he got against you that he'd do that to you?" He gestured at her swiftly swelling face and blood splattered clothing.
Kagura said nothing, merely tilted her chin in order for Molly to dab at it with her wand. "Ka . . . Kagura . . ." They all looked up to see Severus stumbling forward. He wobbled and almost his face almost met the clean but scraped kitchen floor. Author and Lupin caught him, and helped him until he could settle at Kagura's feet. He sat back and heavily landed against the side of the chair and Kagura's thigh. He titled back his head, his eyes closed. Kagura reached out and gently traced his swollen neck, then returned her hands to her lap and Molly finished her ministrations.
"We'll have to wake him up eventually," Dumbledore pronounced into the low din of the room. The murmuring ceased. Kagura looked up at him through the eye that wasn't swollen and nodded. "But we'll restrain him first. Lupin, if you please."
Lupin nodded and walked forward, pointing his wand at the prone figure on the table. Thick bands of a steely rope wound around him tightly, biting into the thick sinew of his arms and legs.
Dumbledore then walked over and settled his wand against the great wolf lord, who almost immediately awoke, his pupiless blue eyes burning, the outward a hazy red as he battled confusion and fury. "Where is she?" he asked, venom lacing his voice.
Harry, hovering amongst the cupboard, shivered. Hatred was so thick in that deep voice. Beside him, Ron and Hermione stared at him.
"I'm here, Koga," said Kagura, noting blearily that her native tongue was becoming easier once more. How she wished to remedy that.
He twisted, rage boiling up and making his face ugly. "Just come here and your death will be all the more swift."
Kagura merely stared at him cooly, while her fingers twisted in Severus's hair until even in his sloshed state he winced.
Then Koga wrestled until he faced Dumbledore. "And you," he snarled in English. "Why keep such filth around you? The spawn of Naraku should have no use to . . . whatever you are."
Moony shoved forward. "What did she do to you that you would want her dead so much?"
Kagura half smiled, but there was no laughter there. Moony had suspected her from the beginning, and would use anything he could get his weathered, competent hands on. If it hadn't been her neck on the line she would've admired him for it. Then the smile dissolved. Here was the moment, the one where they either sent her own or ended her life.
She hoped to Kami that they killed her.
So, my lovely audience, what do you think? Remember, reviews made me happy, and frankly, the pittance I've been getting is depressing. Take pity.
Also . . . . I've given up and need to find a beta. Emphasis on need. If you or anyone you know can provide me with such a service that's convenient to you, lotsa cookies for you. Heh heh, no, but I'd appreciate it greatly if anyone could refer someone to me or if anyone's interested, I can be reached through pm, review, email, whatever's good for anyone else.