Author's Notes: Facts about the Harry Potter-verse are slowly slipping from my head. I can't remember what happened in which book anymore… please correct if you see any blatant mistakes.
"To bed, all of you!" Molly Weasley called out, ushering the children into bed as quickly as she could. The cousins and the Weasley family were currently in the Nobel and Most Ancient House of Black. In fear of another demon attack, and this time at the Weasley cottage, Dumbledore invited them to stay in the old Grimmauld Place for their own safety.
"But mum!" "Mrs Weasley!" the kids tried to protest.
It was two days since the beginning of winter break. Three days after the attack at the Yule ball. Three days with no proper answers from the Hogwarts Professors.
Harry highly doubted the convenient story they fed the rest of the students. He'd been there; he'd nearly been killed – it seemed more like an attack than frustrated magical creatures. Harry had a feeling the Professors were hiding things from them. Harry did his best to get answers from the adults present, but no one was talking. The frequent visitors and residents of the Grimmauld Place plead ignorance to the situation, claiming they were nowhere near Hogwarts at the time of the incidence so they were clueless about the truth. Harry debated on owling the Headmaster about it, but soon realised the Professor would be over for the much need Order of the Phoenix meeting eventually, and they could talk face to face.
Of course, as luck would have it, no one was letting them stay downstairs, let alone let them talk.
"Not buts! You kids just hurry upstairs and don't worry about a single thing," Molly urged.
Ron gave a huff. "We're old enough! Even Fred and George are in the Order-"
"Ronald!" Molly Weasley wrung her hands, casting a nervous sideways glance at Shuichi. The Order was confidential information. Were Shuuichi really just a mere cousin, he would've been kept ignorant of it. But as it was, as a specially hired protection personal, he was privy to these secrets – especially when they were both there to keep Hogwarts and Harry safe. This fact, however, was not distributed to the others.
Ron caught himself, admittedly, a bit late. He glowered over at the redhead, cursing at the idea of giving the other teen even a hint about the Order by mistake. True to his promise with Harry, Ron had been relatively civil, but overall unaccepting of Shuuichi. To Ron, Shuuichi was something between a potential spy and a Death Eater scum. He had fought with his mum about letting Shuuichi stay with them in the old Grimmauld place, but in the end, the place was Harry's and Harry was more than happy to keep his cousin close by if it meant it would keep him safe. The only consolation Ron had was that the house was under a fidelius charm and he couldn't leak out the location to anyone.
Harry let out a sigh when Molly refused to budge at their pleading, standing in front of them with her arms imposingly crossing on her chest. "Let's go to bed, I guess," he murmured despondently, leading the way up to the first floor.
The Nobel and Most Ancient House of Black was less grim than it'd been the last time Harry visited. It wasn't sparkly clean, but it had certainly been cleared of the muck and musty air it used to be coated under. Harry could imagine days and months Sirius spent cleaning up the place while he was in school last year. It was going to be a place the two of them could spend together … and now… Harry took a deep breath, holding in his gloom.
The first floor had more than enough rooms for each of the kids to have their own. The portrait of old Mrs Walburga Black stayed permanently stuck on the ground floor where she'd always been - right in front of the entrance, screaming at the top of her lungs at any and all visitors. The first time Shuuichi saw her, he grimaced at her shrilling voice, and learned to stay clear whenever possible.
Kreacher, surprisingly, seemed to like Shuuichi - or fear him. Or something him. Harry could never tell with that nasty little critter. When Shuuichi and Kreacher first met, the little bugger splat on the floor, muttering about more filthy mudbloods dirtying up his poor mistresses' home. Shuichi had merely crouched in front of Kreacher, gave him a pleasant smile and told him gently to 'play nice'. Kreacher froze for a second, his wide eyes widening even wider. And then, the house elf backed up, leaving Shuuichi alone after that, keeping as far away from the other teen as possible. This, of course, gave Ron more ammunition to rant about how Shuuichi was evil, since Kreacher only respected dark wizards.
Harry sighed, reaching for the door knob of his room. "Goodnight," he murmured, heading off, "I guess they'll never let us know what really happened." Maybe, if they were lucky, Fred and George would be nice enough to share some information about the meeting with them tomorrow. The other two boys and Ginny responded in the like before heading off to their own respective rooms. Harry could've sworn Shuichi's eyes gleamed unnaturally for a moment, but he shook it off – it was probably a trick of the light.
A snarling monster stormed his way into the inner room of the Manor. "You bastard," the thing spat, hitting his hard clay-coloured hands against the floorboards. The ground cracked, threatening to break. Wizards around it scrambled away, but the one it was talking to did not.
Red eyes narrowed. "Who do you think you are talking to," the disfigured man hissed, sounding so much like a snake. Voldemort's arm shifted, wand twirling in his hands, bit otherwise did not move.
The beast before him snarled once more. "You told me it was a simple job."
"It wasn't?" Voldemort said condescendingly. "You assured me of the so-called strength of a demon."
"Don't mock me!" the demon roared, rushing towards the Dark Lord.
"Stupefy!" cried one Death Eater, doing little against the demon.
"You weak little humans," the demon spat.
"Stupefy!" cried another, finally causing a tickle.
"Stupefy!" followed another, finally with enough power to slow down the demon.
"Stupefy!" a fourth and fifth Death Eater combined into the attacked, bringing the demon down. Against this demon's tough skin, the combined power of five adults' spell managed to affect it. Despite how tough the demon claimed to be, it was not infallible. Voldemort sneered at the fallen beast in disgust.
"He is useless. Dispose of it," the man said casually, flicking an idle hand in the demon's direction.
"Yes, my Lord."
Voldemort turned away with little care for the beast, picking out a Death Eater of his. "Severus, the attack?"
The man kneeled immediately, knowing better than anyone his Lord's succinct question was a sign of anger. "My Lord, as you suspected, the castle has no wards against demons, and the two were able to slip in as per your orders."
Voldemort's eyes narrowed. "I know that," the man hissed, "What happened during the attack?"
Severus fumbled, pressing his head lower into his bow. "My apologies, my Lord. I am displeased to inform you that the Headmaster refused to allow me to chaperon the ball, so all I can relay is second-hand information – "
"Crucio," Voldemort said idly, pointing his wand at the man. He watched as the Potion Master screamed. "I believe I explicitly told you to witness the demon's strengths, regardless of Dumbledore's orders," he spat.
"Y-yes, my Lord. I-I tried, but was sent away when the Deputy Headmistress noticed me."
The wand in Voldemort's hand twitched, but he refrained from casting another curse. Still, his displeasure was clear as day on his snake-like face. "What happened during the attack?" he said impatiently.
"O-one of the demon was killed, but the attacker was unidentified. However," Severus continued hastily, "it might not have been done by one person. While one wizard might be powerless against the demon, together they could manage to harm it."
"You're suggesting a band a children killed a demon?"
"The professors on chaperone were Dumbledore, McGonagall, and Flitwick," Severus added. The Headmaster, Deputy Headmistress, and dueling champion were among the three strongest professors in the school.
Voldemort didn't look any more pleased at that. Three professor did what took four or five of his own Death Eaters to down the thick-skinned demon? "I don't like speculations, Severus," the man hissed.
"I apologise, my Lord. I will do better next time."
"Yes, you will," Voldemort said, before flicking his wand. "Crucio." The man silently watched the Potion Master writher in pain, a cruel twist of his lips pulling a smirk onto his face. While Severus' information was less than ideal, it gave him all he needed to know. Demons, it seemed, were able to make it into the castle. The fact that one measly demon was killed mattered little to Voldemort, because recently, he obtained a rather invaluable treasure. It turned out demons were more than they seemed.
Let the old coot feel smug he managed to take down a demon, because the next one Voldemort sent was not going to be of that low level. It turned out there were far, far stronger demons out there than the wizarding world knew of, and Voldemort had a ritual to call one into their world, and bind it to do his bidding.
Oh what a surprise it was going to be for Albus Dumbledore.
Albus Dumbledore arrived at Number Twelve Grimmauld Place in a flash of green flames, via the Floo system. The expression on his was older and wearier than it'd ever been before his whole life, barring decades ago during his battle with Grindelwald. There was nothing that aged Albus worse than the thought of the children trusted to his school in danger, and the Winter Ball was everything that scared him.
Albus had thought himself relatively prepared. In addition to hiring the Spirit Detectives, Albus had updated the cautionary wards around Hogwarts. Yet, demons moved a lot quicker than what Albus had realised. The moment the wards detected a breach, the demons had already managed to make their way inside, and too late for the Headmaster to do anything about it.
There was nothing else Albus could put up to keep the demons away. Albus scoured though book after book, but there had not been any spells tailored to repelling demons. Demons were rarely seen in the wizarding world. Once upon a time they were abundant and threatening in the human world, but it had been millennia since many were seen, and years before spells were written down to be passed on. Scholars speculated that some present-day dark creatures had demon blood in them, but anything considered pure enough to be labeled just 'demon' were long dwindled down to less than a handful – that is, if one could actually recognise them in the first place. That was why Demon Hunters were far and few in between – the fact that it was hard to qualify as one when there were hardly any demons to prove yourself against, in addition to the fact that it was a job with little future potential.
Albus wandered down the hallway from the fireplace towards dining room where the rest of the Order had gathered. The Order of the Phoenix was in a state of panic when he reached them. While the students of Hogwarts were kept ignorant of the actual disaster, the truth of the Hogwarts incident was distributed for the members' knowledge. The idea of demons frightened most people.
Few still actually believed in the tales of a demon's strengths, believing the stories to be exaggerated. Wizards were egotistical being who assumed themselves to be superior over all. Even if demons were considered strong, they were considered brutes and mindless brawn, easy to overcome with a wizard's wits. Albus, through his friendship with unusual people such as Genkai, was taught what most were ignorant of - demons came in various classes, and most that wizards have seen lately were only those of the lowest class. Still, no matter what people thought, the idea of a large group of any type of dark creature controlled by Voldemort sent shivers down everyone's spins. And unlike most other dark creatures, much, much less was known about demons.
"What can we do?" Doge asked over the voices talking over one another.
Albus turned to them, a calm expression fixed in place. "Please, do not worry. I admit, we were caught surprised, but greater preventive measures have been put up since then. I have distributed the true tale of the attack on the Winter Ball not to distress you, but to inform you of the threat. I assure you it is fully taken care of." His words felt a little vague, even for himself. Still, there was nothing else he could say without giving away his secret plan involving the Spirit Detectives.
"We're against demons, Albus," a grave voice interrupted fearfully from another member.
"And we are wizards, my boy," Dumbledore placated as best as he could. "As the past dictates, we have dealt with such problems before."
There was a stomp of a wooden leg as the man attached to it leaned forward in doubt. His magical eye whirled as he talked. "Albus," the man gruffed out, "I hope you have a Hunter on the job," he said, straight to the point.
The retired Auror's words brought out a whole slew of discussions that Albus didn't want to go into.
"Of course; a Demon Hunter!" "You've contacted one, right?"
The old man cleared his throat, smiling pleasantly at the Order. "Please, quiet please," the man began, "You have my assurance I have asked for help from the best," he continued, as vague as ever. Lying was not something Albus wished to do when unnecessary, especially towards allies. Lying to Moody was a whole different story – a yes would require Albus to show him the hired "hunters", and a no would have Moody insistently demanding one to be hired. There was no proper answer to give someone like Moody.
The members calmed at the old man's words, trusting as ever, but Moody merely narrowed his eyes in response. "You have hired a Hunter?" he repeated suspiciously.
"Do not worry a thing about it, my friend. I have it under control," Dumbledore reassured. His eyes softened as he looked over at Molly Weasley, pale and clutching onto her husband. "Your children will be fine. I will not allow any harm to come to them."
Alastor held his tongue, but his lingering gaze on Albus told the old man he wasn't believed. Albus tried to shoot a grandfatherly smile over at him, twinkles included and all, but Alastor, that paranoid man only held his gaze challengingly. Albus continued with his speech for the other members of the Order. It seemed like he would have to deal with his dear friend's suspicions later.
Albus ran his fingers through his beard, contemplating how to proceed. "To our next topic - Voldemort's plans…"
The Order of the Phoenix finally got somewhere when Severus Snape arrived, hours into the start of the meeting. Before his arrival, all they had were speculations connecting the Winter ball attack to Voldemort. It took one word from Severus for those speculations to become the truth.
"It was a test against the castle's protection against demons," Severus had said as he summed up his meeting.
His simple words drew the members into frenzy. "You're telling me You-know-who has control over more demons?"
Voldemort was unforthcoming with the details of his new plan, even to his Death Eaters, but Severus could infer from the Dark Lord's actions. There was a vague plan involving the invasion of Hogwarts with demons, if his probe of the school defensive measures were anything to go by. Yet, how Voldemort would get any more demons to follow his orders was questionable.
Severus knew of the two Voldemort had ordered to the Winter Ball were never under the Dark Lord's control per say. The Dark Lord's plan had somehow fell onto the two's ear, and they made it clear it was only out of amusement that they followed his orders. The idea of wrecking havoc amongst defenseless students agreed with the demons, which was the reason why they did it in the first place. Voldemort had no qualms using anyone – anything – as long as it fit with his plans, and he'd already been researching demons long before those two approached him; that would explain his lack of fear collaborating with the rumored vicious creatures.
Still, even if Voldemort knew how to contact demons, how to subtly encourage certain schemes to them, that was in no way controlling them. No one was privy to the specifics of the Dark Lord's plans except the Dark Lord himself. Severus could only guess.
"You're keeping things from us," Moody sneered, his magical eye whizzing up and down to hold the Potion Master completely in his gaze.
Severus gave a scornful scoff, but didn't rise to the baiting words, speaking calmly as ever. "Recently, the Dark Lord has acquired a book. He is keeping it close, and has yet to tell anyone its contents. It is my belief it has to do with his plans."
"A demon related book?" Albus murmured in question.
Remus frowned thoughtfully, "Perhaps one of their habitat, strengths, weaknesses? Such information would be useful in trying to find and control them."
"If only it were that peaceful," Severus corrected harshly, rolling his eye distastefully at man's innocent thoughts. "The Dark Lord wouldn't be holding close to such a mundane book." The Potion Master contemplated the meetings he'd had so far with his fellow Death Eaters ever since the book had been made known to them, searching for a pattern. "In the raids recently, more muggles are brought to the dungeons than killed on spot," the man started hesitantly.
"In preparation of something?" Albus deduced.
"Your guess is as good as mine," Severus confessed, unable to confirm anything he knew nothing about. "All he has disclosed to the inner circle is the idea that the book will change the war once and for all." And with these ominous words that sent shivers down the spines of the Order of the Phoenix like a bad foreshadowing, the group was soon dismissed for the night.
Up the stairs on the first floor, Kurama's eyes snapped open as let out a shaky breath. That technique took far too much ki for his liking. Not to mention, there was a distance range for the technique, and his precious plant would wilt and die within an hour. Nevertheless, it got the job done.
A wirily smile appeared on the redhead's face, pleased no one noticed the new addition to the potted plants decorating the perimeter of the dining room. Then again, plants were often overlooked by humans because of their unassuming nature. Kurama was more than happy to take advantage of their oversight. Kurama would've preferred to be in the meeting himself, but there was no way he could stay hidden, especially around the man they called Moody. That vivid blue magical eye of his saw too much.
The fox settled himself back on the bed, a troubled look set on his face. The book they were speaking of … he had a fair speculation what the contents might be about. Of course, it was just a guess, with no evidence to back it up, but it was a start.
Unbeknownst to Kurama, in the room next door, Harry was awake as well. The raven-haired teen panted painfully under his covers, his hand covering the scar on his forehead. The boy squeezed his eyes shut, trying to quell his throbbing head, all the while trying not to forget everything he saw from his connection with Voldemort.
Alastor 'Mad-Eye' Moody was not pleased with the outcome of the meeting. The man stormed out of the meeting room in hobbling footsteps, dodging the Headmaster's genteel attempts to catch his attention. He could tell Albus was eager to drive his paranoia away with meaningless words of appeasement. Alastor couldn't care less about sentiments – he wanted facts. Facts that Albus refused to inform anyone of.
The man was too busying trying to calm down the other members to get much done. Who decided to let a housewife into the meeting in the first place, and half the members weren't even professionally trained.
No one except for himself seemed to notice how Albus was dancing around the issue of the Demon Hunter. Whoever Albus Dumbledore had employed clearly were not Hunters, or else he would've said so. Hunters were the best idea against the threat of demons, yet Albus wouldn't consider them. Why? Alastor didn't want to know where the Headmaster's confidence in the people he employed came from.
For another thing, Alastor was starting to wonder if Albus had employed anyone, despite his words. Alastor, being the DADA professor, was working in the castle nowadays, and he had yet to come across any foreign people situated in Hogwarts. Where were these people of Albus'? Unless, of course, they managed to hide from his magical eye, but it was a long, long time since anyone managed that, especially with Alastor actively vigilant after that last demon attack.
"Albus is getting old," the retired-Auror finally murmured to himself, flooing back to his quarters in Hogwarts for the night. His wards washed over him as he walked through the fireplace.
Instead of heading straight to bed, the man detoured towards his study table, grabbing a quill and some parchment along the way. The man dipped his quill into a bottle of ink, quickly sketching out a growing letter, his disapproval of the Headmaster fresh on his mind. Dumbledore might seem to think he knew what he was doing, but Moody was not just going to sit around and watch the old fool's plans fall apart.
There were Aurors against wizards, and Hunters against demons for a reason. They were professionals in their respective fields. And while Alastor would admit some Aurors were absolute idiots, they still knew their jobs, and he could count on them to eventually do it right. That was better than the general public, who would flail and make fools of themselves before the fight even begun.
Eventually, the man finished up his letter, rolling it up and calling his owl by the window. He stared grimly after it as it flew off into the night.
There was one Demon Hunter he knew he could trust. It had been a while, but if there was anyone Alastor would depend on, it was him. The man left his profession and the wizarding world, years back. Still, Alastor knew the man's sense of duty; he wouldn't stay back if there was something he could do to help, and that was what Alastor was counting on.
If Dumbledore wasn't going to call a Demon Hunter, then Alastor would. For all they knew, there could already be demons lurking in Hogwarts. He couldn't take the chance. "Constant Vigilance." He muttered to himself, getting to bed. Albus should know better.
Later, somewhere much, much further away…
With a soft fluttering of feathers, an owl landed on a tree outside a domestic house. In his talons, he held a letter written on creamy parchment paper. It hopped along the branches, peeking into the windows of the home. When he spotted someone moving inside, he swept off onto the windowsill, and pecked furiously on the pane of the glass.
It took a little while, but a young teen finally opened the window, extending a hand out. The teen glanced at the letter as he took it from the owl, and promptly took both the letter and owl upstairs.
The teen knocked on the door to his father's study. "Father, there's a letter for you," the ten said, waving the parchment in his hand.
The man didn't look up, busying typing out documents. "Really? I thought I checked the post this morning?"
"An owl, I mean," the teen corrected, and just as he expected, his father jolted up in shock. The man leaped from his chair and reached out towards the letter. "Mum looked shocked at seeing an owl," the teen added idly as he handed it over.
The father faltered for a second, silently promising himself to deal with that later, before glancing at the letter in his hand. The man frowned at the familiar writing, wondering the identity of the sender. He'd all but sworn the wizarding world when his late wife died, and he rarely received any letters from them ever since, if ever.
What could be so important? The man broke the wax seal, and read.
My old friend,
It's been a while. I am aware you no longer take note of the goings of the wizarding world, but much has occurred, and you would be a fool to refuse knowledge of recent affairs, especially during such dire times.
Allow me to enlighten you of the return of the Dark Lord, Voldemort. The Minister, Rufus Scrimgeour, officially declared it earlier in June of this year. I am aware of your desire to keep your family away for their safetly, and I wouldn't be asking you to come back in any other circumstance, however, we have received word that Voldemort is now recruiting demons.
You were one of the damn finest Demon Hunter I knew back in the day. I would appreciate it greatly if you would consider lending your expertise. Wizards nowadays are not prepared to battle against demons of any form, or are even aware of them. The Auror program has long scrapped out their course on demons, and don't get me started on fragile wizards of this generation.
I am not forcing you to accept, but think of all the children and broken families that will result. If things get bad, it might even affect your own. Take time to consider and owl me. If you agree, you might be the key hope against Voldemort's new demon allies.
In the meantime, dispose of this letter as soon as possible.
The man gave a sigh, folding up the letter. He crossed the room back to his desk, pulling open a bottom drawer and reaching into the back to pull out a hidden wand. The man stared at it with a sigh. Well, this was a problem indeed.
Up in the Spirit World around the same time, ogres scurried about delivering papers. They skirted around Koenma's office, wary of the Prince's wrath, especially now of all times. In his office, Koenma was moaning in despair, littered with instances of anger and fury. The only one brave enough to endure the Prince's temper was a blue-haired ferrygirl.
"This is bad… this is so bad!" Koenma wailed, tossing piles of papers from his desk.
"Maybe it's just misplaced?" Botan suggested.
Koenma groaned out loud, burying his face into his hands. "It's not misplaced, Botan! That book was kept in a special vault." Koenma looked up, eyes frantic at the hinghsight. "I should have known that demon riot was more than it seem!"
Botan gave a strained smile, trying to sound optimistic. "Maybe the riot didn't have to do with it. How do you know the book wasn't stolen before then?" the girl asked hopefully.
The Prince only shook his head. "Our ogres and ferrygirls were rushing like mad for days trying to set things right after the break in the barrier. It's the largest break since Yusuke's attack on it, and at least then demons weren't fighting their way through to the human world. The castle was empty with everyone tending the damages - it was a golden opportunity, and I highly doubt it was merely a coincidence." Koenma rubbed his temples, feeling a headache developing, "If I hadn't had George do an inventory check, I wouldn't have found out until it was too late."
He groaned into his little hands, "My father is going to kill me. First the three dark treasure of the Underworlds, and now this!"
"Yusuke helped you get those three treasures back, didn't he?" Botan said helpfully. "I'm sure you can get the book back too."
"The treasures were dangerous, but this book is on a whole different level," Koenma said, low and dark like the beginning of a dreadful premonition.
The girl froze. "Lord Koenma," she said warily and slow, holding on to the little calmness she had left. "What book was stolen?"
"The Koumajyutsu," Koenma replied, letting the word seep into the silence and hold the girl rigid in fear, "Demon summoning." The ferry-girl paled at his words. In the next second, the young Lord's voice held command once more as he gave his orders to his subordinate, the gravity of the situation biting away the dread the Prince felt. "Botan, report it to Kurama. Tell him to keep his eyes out for the book. We need to know if that Voldemort has it or not. And if not, who does."
In haste, Botan nodded, rushing out of the room. By the time she reached Kurama and fed him this new information, it turned out the redhead already knew.
Voldemort was days ahead of the game.
A/N: I didn't put a name down for the demon hunter, but I bet you can guess who it is, eh?