Author's Notes: I did some searching and only found one fanfic that matched Prince of Tennis with Harry Potter. It was a het fic filled with original female characters. That's not quite what I was looking for. If there are any non-romance fics featuring the guys (or even yaoi crossovers), please let me know. I'd love to read some.
Age Discrepancy: For this fic, the prince of tennis boys are as old as they look. Just assume they're in a three-year high school and the groups are 1st yr Freshmen: 14-16, 2nd yr Juniors: 16-17, and 3rd year Seniors: 17-18. I simply won't refer to characters like Kabaji, Sanada, and Akutsu as thirteen and fourteen year-olds, when they're clearly in their early twenties. Even making them sixteen and seventeen is pushing it.
Character List: I have a simple webpage up with a list of the PoT characters featured in this fic, a picture of each, and pictures of the main pairings. If you have trouble putting a face to a name, this should help. The url is below - copy and paste, and remove spaces.
www . geocities . com / pot9365 / index . html
Harry Potter: Harry and company are in their third year, but it doesn't follow the canon timeline at all. Most of the story will be from the PoT characters' point of view, with a little House rivalry as applicable.
Summary: Seigaku and a number of their rivals are invited to Hogwarts to take part in a tournament. The wizards have no idea what they're getting themselves into.
Warnings: language, reference to owl mutilation, possible humor
Pairings: not much yet
Email: arigatoumina (a) hotmail . com
Website: www . geocities . com / arigatomina
Magic of Tennis
Part 1: Plight of the Owls
The first mistake was sending the invitations to the players, rather than the captains or, even more appropriate, the coaches of the individual teams. Dumbledore was so accustomed to writing directly to potential students that he never considered the proper protocol followed by Japanese high school tennis players. He would have been startled to learn that Japanese parents disliked strange men writing to their children, especially strange men who wrote about a fantastical school of magic and left the decision of whether or not to attend entirely up to their innocently curious children. British muggles, it seemed, were naturally inclined to accept such invitations as honest and trustworthy entreaties. At any rate, they were much more likely to send their children off alone into the hands of a man they'd never met, to be schooled at a place they'd never heard of, and to be taught a form of magic everyone knew didn't exist. Muggles in Japan were a little more jaded than that, and their children were similarly distrustful of bizarre letters delivered by night birds.
As a result, when Fuji Syusuke found a plump gray owl sitting on the windowsill of his room with a letter in its beak, his first impulse was to frown in dismay and wonder if the stalker had decided to start things up again. He hadn't received one of those bold letters since he was twelve, and he'd been rather relieved to know he no longer had to watch his head for fear postal owls would swoop at him every time he stepped out of his home. And even when the creatures had returned three years later, to stalk his younger brother this time, they'd given up after a few months and a few perfectly aimed tennis balls to the head.
Looking through the window at the pale bird, with its feathers ruffed and its wings half lifted in preparation for a quick escape, Fuji was certain it was the same bird he'd done his best to mutilate two years ago. If it had any intention of chasing Yuuta again, he'd kill it.
Fuji, a senior on the Seigaku tennis team, wasn't really a violent person, as his silky honey-brown hair, willowy figure, and ethereal smile would attest. On the contrary, he was quite fond of animals, especially soft pretty ones. But nothing pecked his brother and flew away unscathed. Not even obedient avian mail-carriers were exempt from that rule.
As he stared, his cobalt blue eyes having come open from the calm smile he usually kept them in, the owl shifted tentatively forward, the white envelope brushing against the glass so his boldly printed name – in romanji, as if being stalked by birds wasn't strange enough – was clearly legible. Fuji's eyes narrowed a centimeter, his mouth curving into a slight frown. The owl shivered visibly in reaction to his annoyance.
Yes, it was most definitely the same offender. He recognized the panicked gleam in its eyes, the same terrified yet hopeful look it had worn when Yuuta had pulled him away before he could finish the interloper off. Foolish, naïve owl, daring to show its face around him again.
His lips curved into a slow smile that was almost terrifying when combined with his glinting eyes. He silkily slid forward like some feline preparing to pounce. And he calmly lifted the window. The owl, which had begun to tremble violently the second he eased into motion, bolted with a panicked hoot. The letter drifted into the bedroom along with a number of feathers. Fuji almost sighed in disappointment.
He tossed the letter into the wastebasket beside his desk and picked up his cell phone so he could warn Yuuta that the owls were back.
There was an informal rule at Hogwarts that an unread letter was an undelivered letter. Thus, on the rare occasion a potential student didn't open his invitation, the school sent as many as necessary to ensure that the invitation was properly received. There were sometimes obstacles, after all, like unusual parents who guarded their children from large letter-carrying birds, and even more unusual children who guarded their best friends from the same oversized birds. In cases like these, flocks were sometimes dispatched to make continuous deliveries so that, eventually, one would make it to the candidate and be properly read. The owls reserved for these special circumstances were a little bolder than their contemporaries. They didn't know the meaning of 'give up while you still have all your feathers.' Like overly eager fangirls, they didn't take no for an answer.
Kamio Akira, a junior on Fudomine's tennis team, found that sort of persistence annoying as hell, and secretly challenging. While he couldn't exactly beat up fangirls, he had no problem discouraging insane birds from chasing his best friend around town. Thus, when his practice match was interrupted three minutes in by a large bird swooping down on the other side of the court and dropping a letter on Shinji's head, his reaction was immediate and fast. He redirected the ball he'd been about to serve and struck the owl in the middle of its back. The bird dropped like a stone and bounced on impact, a choked 'rark' sound escaping its beak.
"That's nine in the last hour!" yelled Kamio. His furious tone was belied by the wide grin on his face, and the brilliant glow in his dark blue eyes. "Even Arina doesn't chase you this much, and she's rabid!"
For all his slender, compact stature, and fine short red hair that fell coyly over one eye, Kamio was known for his very short temper, and his willingness to start a fight with anyone who riled him. He was also known, by those who actually knew him, to enjoy a challenge. Keeping off Shinji's newest stalkers was nothing if not a challenge, considering there seemed to be no end to them.
"Eighty-three," Shinji muttered, staring glumly down at the letter that had fallen at his feet. "There were eight-three last time, before my uncle found out and made me read one. And then he just yelled at me for a week, as if it was my fault that English woman was propositioning me. I didn't even know anyone with that name, and it's not like I went outside all that much, so I couldn't have said the wrong thing to some perverted woman. And I was twelve back then. What kind of woman stalks a twelve-year old, anyway? It was probably some really scary woman like that Jyousai Shounan woman. I hear she really has a thing for Echizen, which is just wrong since he's only a kid and she's old and not pretty at all. Though...I guess some people would think she looks good since her clothes are so tight and she shows off her chest a lot. But still, I don't want owls chasing me, and they haven't done it for years, so why are they doing it again now? I'd rather have those girls from school following me around. At least with them Oji-san won't yell as much, since he keeps trying to get me to date more. Not that I want to date them, I just don't want owls following me. It's embarrassing…"
Ibu Shinji, a sixteen year-old tensai according to his tennis team, had a tendency to ramble aloud when something bothered him. And judging by the way he hung his head so his shoulder-length bluish black hair fell into his violet eyes, his shoulders hunched a little, and his racket held limply at his side, he was quite bothered by the owls that had been following him since school let out an hour earlier. Even seeing how much Kamio enjoyed picking them off one at a time didn't raise his spirits. He simply didn't like to be stalked, whether it was weird birds, or rabid girls.
"Oi," Kamio called, as he pulled another tennis ball from his pocket and took up his stance behind the baseline. "It's still moving. Want me to finish it off?"
Sure enough, the persistent and dedicated brown barn owl was shuffling unsteadily to its feet, intent on getting the letter and pushing it into the candidate's face until the boy opened it. Hopefully it could avoid meeting the same fate as the last few who'd tried. Unlike Dumbledore, the owls knew when to be wary. They gossiped regularly in Hogwarts' owlry, so they knew Japan was the worst possible place to deliver letters, second only to southern America, where a dedicated owl had to watch out for dirty shotgun-carrying men who would happily pluck and eat them if given the chance.
"Maybe I should just open it," Shinji sighed, lifting his eyes to look bleakly across the net at Kamio. "If they plan to keep trying till I read it, I'll just get in trouble again once they start pecking on the doors and windows. And whoever that weird stalking English woman is, she had a lot of owls last time. You'd get really tired trying to hit them all."
Kamio sighed in disappointment and slipped the ball back in his pocket. He rounded the net, detouring just long enough to tip the bird back onto its side with the toe of his shoe, since it was still quite off balance. Then he stopped by Shinji and retrieved the letter.
He opened it himself, since he was rather curious about the strange woman Shinji said had stalked him a few years ago. From what he'd been told, she claimed to be representing some guy and his 'magical' school. Naturally, Shinji had immediately recognized the strange attempt to get him away from home, probably to be abducted for some heinous reason or another, and had turned the letter over to his uncle. Kamio hadn't known Shinji when they were twelve, but he imagined the boy had been quite cute back then. It wasn't too strange to find out some woman out there had tried to spirit him away. Her method was the only weird thing about the attempt.
Kamio was just pulling the paper from the envelope when a rush of feathers hit his ear. He whirled around, his free hand rising to shield his face, and an owl swooped past. A second letter slid off the top of his head to land at his feet.
"Oh?" Shinji blinked in surprise, a small smile making it to his face. "That one's addressed to you. I knew there was no reason for a psycho to stalk me when I hang around you all the time. This is more reasonable."
"Reasonable?" Kamio blurted, staring askance at the letter that, sure enough, had his name written on the front of it. "I don't want owls chasing me around!"
"This is fair," Shinji was saying to himself, most of his sullen resignation having been replaced with quiet amusement at Kamio's befuddled expression. "It's only right that Kamio be stalked too, since we're both here, and he's much more open than I am, talking to all sorts of strange people. But now that he's being stalked too, he'll be chased by the owls, too, and I shouldn't be happy about that happening to my friend, only...it's not fair if I'm the only person being chased. Of course, now that I'm reading mine, the owls will probably leave me alone and just chase Kamio, in which case I can fend them off for him like he did for me, and that's fair, too. Yes, this is only fair..."
"Don't give me that share the pain crap," griped Kamio, his scowling gaze still locked on the letter at his feet. "Just the fact that some strange owl woman knows my name is creepy as hell!"
Shinji had reached out to take his letter from Kamio, but he paused at that, his eyes blinking rapidly. "It is creepy...I didn't think about it that way. I only thought about how annoying it was to have a letter addressed to me in the bath, right down to which bathroom I was in. But it is. It's creepy."
"I'm glad we agree," said Kamio, a little exasperated. "Now let's see what your creepy stalker has to say so badly. Then, we can turn the letters in to someone who can find her and put her behind bars where she can't go stalking twelve year-old boys anymore. That's so sick...she's been watching you for four years, Shinji...!"
That valiant brown barn owl was waddling in their direction. Kamio shivered when he spotted it and eased a little behind Shinji, shoving the boy's letter into his hand.
"Come on," Kamio whispered, suddenly unnerved by the owl's determined eyes. "We can read them while we walk..."
There were multiple reasons for an owl to be late in returning after delivering a letter, so an absence or two usually went unnoticed. In the unfortunate, and thankfully unusual, case that a number of owls consistently failed to return, reinforcements were called for. In this case, screech owls were sent to make sure no predators were eating the delivery birds. In the event that a screech owl failed to return, drastic measures were taken. After all, no simple predator would dare to attack a hawk, especially a magically enlarged hawk with dangerous talons and a very sharp beak. Wizards hadn't taken into account how violent some muggles could be, particularly psychotic former Yamabuki tennis players with very large sticks up their nether-regions.
Akutsu Jin, an eighteen year-old with wild gray hair and piercing honey-colored eyes, was not the least bit annoyed to see the first owl waiting on the stoop of his house. As he'd done six years ago, he accepted the letter with a seemingly unthreatening smile. Then he'd caught the bird and taken it out back to...talk with...yeah. He'd made the mistake of reading the second letter, back when the weirdos had written to invite him to some gathering for perverts who had no skill at making up realistic stories. Now he made it a point not to read the letter, so the owls would continue to come. Needless to say, none of them left after dropping their burdens.
The hawk, a bird the size of a large dog with an eight-foot wing-span, took one look at the mutilation spread out over the yard and wheeled right back around, its letter falling down and getting caught on the wire fence. It avoided Hogwarts for the next four months, unwilling to be sent back to that deranged muggle's home.
Akutsu would have waited a few more hours to see how many heads...er...letters...he could collect, but a certain busybody slip of a boy interrupted him. A sharp cry of horror rent his ears, and he slammed his hands over them, wheeling to glare bloody murder at the boy screaming from the gate. If it had been anyone else, the moron might well have joined the owls in their...resting spots.
"Shut the hell up! Who do you think you're screaming at?" Akutsu demanded, his voice a little rough and very annoyed.
"Akutsu-san! Akutsu-san! What happened? Come away before the dog gets you, desu!"
Dan Taichi, a fourteen year-old first year player at Yamabuki, and former manager of the team, was staring urgently from the other side of the gate. His dark reddish-brown eyes were so wide they filled his face, and his messy black hair fell over the green band he habitually wore over his forehead, a cast-off of none other than Akutsu himself. For all his innocent appearance, Dan was either the bravest person at his school, or the stupidest. No one else dared to speak to Akutsu, let alone order him around.
"Who are you ordering around?" Akutsu growled, stalking over to scowl down at the undaunted boy. "And what dog?"
"It must have been a dog, desu!" Dan cried urgently. "Come away! Or has it gone already?"
Akutsu eased back on his heels, his evil glare shifting into an equally evil smirk. "Yeah, it's gone. For now..."
"Thank goodness," Dan sighed, almost sagging against the gate. "You weren't hurt, were you, Akutsu-san?"
Torturing annoying owls was rather enjoyable, but Akutsu had found himself, for some inexplicable reason, unable to beat a puppy to a pulp without provocation. He'd discovered that crack in his homicidal armor back when he'd been…friends…with Kawamura. Stepping on puppies until they oozed out from under his shoe was simply beneath someone of his skills. So as much as he would have liked to smash the kid, and preserve his reputation as an impartial homicidal maniac, he resigned himself to scowling in sheer annoyance.
"Why are you here?" he growled. "Get lost. Go practice so you're not such a horrible player."
"I'm sorry!" Dan cried quickly, half bowing and nearly banging his head into the bars of the gate. "I was practicing, desu! But…there was this owl and it gave me a letter, and I had some trouble reading it, but I think someone wants me to-"
He'd reached into his jacket pocket to pull out the letter in question. Akutsu's hand shot through the gate and ripped it away.
"Give me that," Akutsu snapped, his teeth gnashing. "I'll kill them…"
The kid was annoying, clingy, and way too brave for his own good. But he was also gullible and naïve and impossibly, disgustingly, cute. The very idea of Taichi getting one of those letters, Taichi, who'd go running off obediently without ever considering the stranger waiting for him…it was too sick to even think about.
It wasn't until Akutsu unfolded Dan's letter and glanced at the text that he stopped imagining the way he would greet the next bird that flew into his yard. The style of the text, and the parchment, were all the same as the letter he'd received six years ago. But the message was slightly different.
"What the hell…?"
Proper, dedicated, and hard-working owls usually found themselves rewarded for delivering letters without incident. They were sent to roost in the owlry and left free for a few days of lounging and hunting and gossiping. But there were times when even a properly delivered – meaning read upon receipt – letter didn't equal reward. It was times like this that made some owls retire from the delivery service altogether. They were missed by their peers back at the owlry, but some thought they were happier for it. What the ones left behind never knew was that the rewards they received – being allowed to rest and hunt and gossip – were things all wild owls got on a daily basis. The ones who retired simply didn't bother to go back and let them in on the secret.
The soft snowy gray owl who delivered the letters to Hyoutei's regular courts was just such a deserter. She'd obediently flown to Japan, her feet aching over the stack of letters and her wings straining from the weight. And she'd made certain they were delivered to the proper people. Now, she was content to lounge on the shoulder of a tall brown human who comfortably resembled a tree. Having him pet her with surprisingly gentle fingers made up for the balls that had almost hit her the first time she'd swooped down over the court. After the horror stories she'd heard in the owlry, she decided not to go back. If she did, she'd just be assigned another Japanese delivery, and she wasn't going to push her luck of surviving the next one.
"It's got to be some kind of joke," said one of the teens standing around the tree-like human, the owl, and the letters. "I bet Seigaku thought it up, they're so lame."
Mukahi Gakuto, a short effeminate third-year member of Hyoutei's regular team, was standing with his hands on his narrow hips, head tilted to the side so his short, jaunty dark red hair angled away from his pale cheek. His eyes, always bright and sharp, were simmering with resentment at the idea of their rivals playing such a pathetic joke. Surely they were worth clever jokes, at least semi-reasonable ones. Even Seigaku could do better than this.
"If it was them," another player countered, "they would have sent one to Hiyashi, too. Echizen played him, after all."
Shishido Ryou was scowling at his letter, his backwards cap holding down jagged, recently cropped mahogany hair. He wrinkled his nose and sent a look over at his doubles partner. "Even Choutarou got one, and he's a second year."
Sure enough, Ohtori Choutarou was standing beside him with a letter in his hand. If he was pleased to be singled out along with his upperclassmen, he didn't show it. Tall, with fluffy gray hair and gentle eyes, he was simply watching the owl, more curious than anything. And that made some sense, considering the owl was currently being pet by one of the most unemotional members of the team, and the only other second-year to receive a letter.
Kabaji Munehiro was a giant, towering a few feet over his teammates and possessing a bland, horse-like face with soft brown eyes and dark brown hair cut into a short flattop. For all his apparent strength, he looked oddly at ease petting the large bird that had taken roost on his shoulder. He didn't so much as glance down at the proceedings.
"I don't think it's a joke," a calm voice announced, the others turning to look at him. "This is the second time I've received one of these, and I have it on good authority that the establishment is genuine. I have cousins who've graduated from Hogwarts, though I turned my invitation down in favor of playing tennis here."
This information should have shocked them, but considering who it came from, they looked more skeptical than anything. Oshitari Yuushi, another third-year regular, had a tendency to be somewhat eccentric, as his round and clear – and entirely unnecessary – glasses proclaimed. He was medium height with thick black hair that lent itself to dark blue and fell in layers to his shoulders, bringing out the color of his blue-violet eyes. His expression was currently in what some considered his playful look – the corner of his mouth raised just a hair, and his eyes gleaming with secret knowledge. It was a rather typical look for the team's tensai to be wearing.
Gakuto rolled his eyes and took the opening as an invitation to tease. "So you gave up going to a school of 'witchcraft and wizardry' because you'd rather play tennis? Right."
"Quite right," Oshitari nodded, his smile widening a bit at having his doubles partner understand him so well. "It was a simple decision to make."
"Wait," Shishido scowled. "You're not honestly trying to say these letters are real, are you? That's-"
A pale, perfectly formed hand rose in the air, fingers curled and poised to snap if necessary. They all fell silent, as did the other members of Hyoutei's huge tennis club, even the ones who were so far away on the other side of the court that they couldn't possibly hear the sound of the fingers snapping. Their illustrious and maniacally egocentric captain was about to speak.
"I have made my decision," came the drawled and almost sultry announcement. "We will go."
Atobe Keigo, the third-year captain and ruler of the Hyoutei tennis legion – for it was far too large to be called a tennis team – was a force to be reckoned with. Not only was he the perfect height and build, but he had flawless pale skin, an amazingly concentric beauty mark beneath one eye, and perfectly coifed hair, black with a hint of silver highlights that gleamed where the tips curled upward to either side of his face. His decision that the team would respond to the invitation held in those letters was met with an immediate agreement from behind him.
"Usu," said Kabaji.
Shishido rounded with wide eyes. "We're going?"
"Yes, we are," smiled Atobe. "Did you really think Oshitari could have been invited somewhere and ore-sama not be? I received an invitation as well, as did my father before me. While it would be beneath us to attend such a lowly school, I see no reason not to give them a bit of entertainment. It will be a chance to crush our opponents properly. You can be certain Tezuka will attend."
The others shared looks of regret and resignation, and began to wonder what they would tell their parents about this, or their teachers, for that matter. Atobe turned to look at Kabaji and wrinkled his delicate nose.
"Kabaji. Get rid of that thing before it stains your uniform."
Only luck and good reflexes spared the poor owl from being decapitated by an overly powerful hand. She flitted up and off, and took back every nice thing she'd thought about the tree-human. She also decided that maybe freedom wasn't such a good thing after all. Little did she know that the moment she returned to Hogwarts she'd be given another letter to deliver, to a well-known, if unofficial, potions protégée…
While most owls were obedient, eager-to-please servants, there were some with a bit of an attitude problem. These were the ones who would sniff at the idea of eating a dead mouse that was no longer warm, or drinking from a water dish with feather-fluff floating on the surface. They could do their jobs better than any lowly, subservient owl, and since they knew this, they had no problem making sure their peers knew it as well. Needless to say, they were above most tasks, and rarely enjoyed delivering simple letters. What they enjoyed was making certain those weak obedient owls knew how inferior they were in comparison. So when one of them was ordered to deliver a letter, instead of the peons they were forced to roost with, these owls became more than a little resentful. This led to a bad match in some cases, as few muggles enjoy being pecked by resentful, haughtily superior owls, no matter how wonderful the birds knew themselves to be.
Koujiro Saeki, the third-year vice captain of the Rokkaku tennis team, was not a violent person by nature. He fancied himself easy-going outside of a match, and he was more comfortable with a teasing, knowing smile, than with a scowl. But having an owl roost in his white hair, pulling the upper strands away so the black beneath was clearly visible, put him in a somewhat nasty mood. The fact that the unruly bird had given his cheek a paper cut with the edge of the envelope it had flung at him didn't help matters.
Saeki stopped on the sidewalk, still a block from the friend he'd been planning to visit, and wondered how to dislodge the creature without punching it off the top of his head. He wasn't a violent person, after all, so punching would be a last resort. Tossing his head might make the bird claw into his scalp as well as his hair, so that wasn't viable. And the weight of the fat owl on his neck was unpleasant – he didn't want to give himself whiplash.
Something warm and wet and oh-so-disgustingly foul slid down the back of his neck. The owl gave a contemptuous hoot and raked his hair, wings fluttering in superior smugness. The friendly and rather cute Saeki snapped.
By the time a passerby thought to pull him away, only feathers and indistinguishable lumps remained. Saeki had the grace to flush a little at the eyebrow the samaritan raised at him. It would have been better if he didn't know the teen.
Sengoku Kiyosumi, a third-year member of the Yamabuki tennis team, considered himself a rather lucky person. It was quite rare that he found himself pulling a rival player off what appeared to be the mangled remains of a very large bird. Despite the carnage, which did twist his gentle disposition a tad, he decided it was a lucky meeting. After all, Saeki had a letter just like the one he'd been given.
Tall and newly muscular after months of boxing as an addition to his tennis regimen, Sengoku was eyecatching. His hair was windswept and short, but bright orange, which went rather well with his turquoise eyes and easy smile. He reached down to pull the splattered Saeki to his feet and handed the teen his letter, which had fallen to the sidewalk in the one-sided scuffle between boy and owl.
"Lucky!" Sengoku grinned. "We both got letters. Were you on your way to tell Fuji-kun? I bet Seigaku-tachi got them, too. I was just wandering around, keeping my eye out for pretty girls – you know how it is – when an owl stopped by to give me my mail! Funny, that. I definitely wasn't expecting it. But you haven't opened yours yet, here, read it."
Now that Saeki was distracted from his uncharacteristic violence toward animals, he managed a faint smile. He didn't open the letter, but he did wipe his sleeve over the offensive…stuff…he'd been splattered with, on the back of his neck, and on his face during the plucking. Mutilating birds was messy work.
"I was planning to visit Fuji for a match," Saeki admitted, "but it wasn't about this letter. I just got it. More importantly, what are you doing scoping girls around here? I thought you gave up a month ago."
Sengoku grinned and put a finger over his mouth in a light shushing manner. "I was meeting someone, but that's a hi-mi-tsu! I have to run now. Hope to see you at Hogwarts, Saeki-kun!"
Saeki wondered for a moment if it was a member of Seigaku that Sengoku had been secretly meeting with. But he pushed the thought aside as he turned to look after the teen.
Like any coin, there was an opposite to the ornery, overly confident owls. These were the well-mannered and painstakingly polite owls, who considered it a matter of pride to deliver a letter without becoming either an annoyance, or a luxury to be taken for granted. To them, it was a career, and a good worker always put forth his best effort. Not even the cocky owls could look down on these dedicated – but not stupidly obedient – workers. They held the top perches in the owlry for good reason. They were the best, and while they didn't rub their peers' beaks in the fact, they did nothing to hide it.
It was rather unfortunate when one of these neatly proper owls found himself delivering to an immature and badly behaved muggle. Instead of sitting patiently with the letter, the owl was forced to follow the silly creature. And honestly, it was sometimes difficult not to look down on young muggles who appeared to be uncommonly terrified of owls.
Kirihara Akaya, second year member of team Rikkaidai, was just such a muggle, though he didn't know what the word muggle meant and wouldn't have wanted it applied to himself if he had known. He was of medium height, with short curly black hair and very dark blue-green eyes that usually glinted with mischief, or turned red with bloodlust when he was playing a really difficult opponent.
He also had a recently acquired fear of birds, especially large birds, so being followed by a large bird carrying a letter was a very unpleasant experience. Even armed with a racket and ball, he didn't consider fighting back. No, not him. He wasn't about to give any large bird with a letter the chance to scratch his eyes out. He tossed his tennis bag over one shoulder and ran, all the time wishing he'd never started watching old horror films on late night television.
Most people in such a situation would have taken shelter in the nearest building, or possibly headed for home if it were close enough. Kirihara knew better. Birds could crash through windows, peck their way through doors, and no where, no where but behind metal or a man with a machine gun would be safe. Naturally, he headed for the safest place he knew of.
He threw himself at the door of a nearby apartment and pounded like his life depended on it, and he thought his life did depend on it, since that bird was closing in on him fast. The second the vice captain of his team opened the door, he lunged inside and slammed it behind him.
"Quick," gasped Kirihara, "board up this door. I'll find something to block the windows! Hurry! It's right behind me!"
Sanada Genichirou, eighteen-year old vice captain of Rikkaidai, was a very sober and deliberate person. He looked even older than he was, with his short black hair and almost aristocratic face, his dark eyes solemn at all times. He didn't stare in bewilderment or order the panicked teen out of his apartment. He simply stepped forward, took Kirihara's shoulders, and gave him a nice hard shake. The teen's teeth snapped audibly together, and a quiet laugh sounded from the couch.
"I believe your friend has a letter for you," called a voice that moved across the room to the window facing the street.
Kirihara reacted with confusion for a moment – Sanada could really shake hard – and then fear. Yukimura, his way-too-nice-for-his-own-good captain, was now leaning toward the window, that large letter-wielding bird staring in from outside.
"Get him away from there," Kirihara blurted at Sanada, almost shocked that he was letting Yukimura endanger himself.
They all had made it a point to watch out for their captain, since he really was too nice for his own good. Just looking at him leaning so close to that evil bird, which could ram through the window any second now… Kirihara shivered and didn't protest at being pressed down on the couch by an unconcerned, and slightly smirking, Sanada.
"We both received letters from owls," said Sanada. "We were just discussing it. There's nothing to panic over. That one looks especially well trained."
Yukimura Seiichi, who looked much younger than he actually was, had dark cerulean hair that fell in light waves past his chin, and same colored eyes. He was tall, but willowy from his recent stay in the hospital, and he was still a bit paler than usual. As the eighteen-year-old captain of Rikkaidai, his appearance usually made opponents underestimate him. Few knew how good he really was up until they actually met on the court.
He flashed a knowing smile at Sanada, who was standing in front of the couch to make sure Kirihara didn't dive over the back to hide from the incoming bird. Then he opened the window and stepped back. Sure enough, the moment the owl flew toward Kirihara, the black-haired boy let out a yipe and struggled to hide under the seat cushions. Sanada clamped a hand down on his shoulder and held him in place.
"You have to stop watching those movies," said Sanada. "Your behavior is an embarrassment to the team."
"Yeah, yeah," Kirihara mumbled, not quite as carefree as he tried to sound. He was staring wide-eyed at the owl. The large bird was hovering right in front of him, that letter held out in one curved, sharp-clawed talon. He gulped and reached a shaking hand toward it. Only his trust in Sanada – who would tease him and reprimand him but never allow him to be blinded by a wild owl – kept him from squeaking in fear.
The moment the letter was delivered, the proper owl flew back to wait on the windowsill. It had to be certain the muggle read the letter, otherwise the delivery wouldn't count. Luckily for him, Yukimura immediately waved for the boy to do just that.
"Don't worry," smiled Yukimura, reassuringly, rather than mockingly. "As soon as you read it, he'll be on his way. And I do agree with Genichirou, you need to cut back on the horror movies. Imagine if someone saw you running down the street like that. You'd never be able to look them in the eye again."
"Like I care," Kirihara grumbled, a very faint flush hitting his face. He'd done some things in the past he wasn't proud of, and there were a lot of people who'd get a huge laugh out of his fear of birds. Hopefully none of them had seen him. But even if they had, he still wasn't going to give up his horror movies. He'd just avoid the ones with killer birds from now on.
The owl let out a properly polite hoot and took his leave, once more proud of his patience. Hopefully his next delivery would go more smoothly. Little did he know how few of his brethren had accomplished their deliveries with such ease, or how few would even be returning from their attempts.
Barring all the complications that could arise when a recipient didn't want to open his letter, there were other problems owls had to watch out for. One was the mail thief, who could be particularly dangerous if he were a wizard or a suspicious muggle. Owls were taught to defend their mail from such thieves, with violence if necessary. These were also cases where the screech owls found themselves employed. They took their work very seriously, even if the thieves were female and muggle, and weak. Normally, though, they had to fight off solitary thieves. It was rare for a group to go stealing mail from an owl.
Wakato Hiroshi, a third year member of the Jyousei Shounan tennis team, found himself witness to one of these rare cases when he handed his newest fanmail over to his fangirls to be sorted and answered as usual. They were very dedicated and loyal fangirls, so he saw no reason to answer fanmail himself, when they were so eager to do it for him. After all, if he answered his own fanmail he'd never have time to play tennis. That was the curse that came with having gorgeous dark orange hair that curved outward most adorably by his cheeks, framing his pixie-like face and making his eyes ever so blue. He was so used to being stalked and fawned over that he didn't so much as blink when an owl delivered a letter addressed to him. He simply tossed it over his shoulder to the giggling mass of girls who were his constant – except in the shower room, thank you so much – shadow.
Naturally he was surprised by the way the owl reacted to this, and since he couldn't very well endanger his pretty skin, he went to the clubhouse to find someone to handle it for him. His vice captain happened to be on hand, so he delegated the job to him.
"Some owl is out there attacking my fangirls," Wakato frowned. "I can see why girls might be jealous at having me give their letters to my fangroup, but really…attacking them with an owl? That shouldn't be allowed on school grounds."
His vice captain stared for a long minute before raising one pale eyebrow. "What do you want me to do about it?"
Reiji Shinjou was a very tall, lanky, yet compact eighteen year-old. He had ash-blue hair that was cropped very close to his head with razor buzzes on the sides, and piercing, almost vulcan eyes. He'd heard more than one whispered remark about his appearance from Wakato's overly enthusiastic fangirls. Why the teen thought he'd help them out was beyond him.
"If an owl delivered a letter, you'd better open it," Shinjou shrugged carelessly. "They'll keep trying till you do. You should consider yourself lucky to have gotten one."
"What?" Wakato blurted, staring in disbelief. "Lucky that my fangirls are out there running around with some deranged bird pulling their hair? Do you know how hard I work to keep them around without dating any of them? That bird needs shot! Where would I be without my adoring fans…? I…I wouldn't be able to change over…!"
"Don't be so dramatic," said Shinjou, rolling his eyes. "What I meant is that not everyone received a letter. So far you and I are the only two. Hanamura-sensei is very displeased. I'd recommend you get that letter, read it, and then burn it before Kajimoto finds out you got one and he didn't. I've never heard him yell so much in one sitting…"
Rather than being worried about their captain's anger, Wakato's mood brightened abruptly. The idea of snubbing the captain, and being right up there with their coach's favorite, Shinjou, was almost enough to make up for how many fangirls he'd certainly lost due to this little incident. He slung his cap over his hair – carefully so it wouldn't mess the perfectly arranged locks – and swaggered out to find that psychotic owl. To think…he'd gotten something only Shinjou had received. Yep, he'd just bet Hanamura-sensei was upset. He'd always known he was one of the best on the team, even if she didn't seem to think so.
Wakato was pleasantly surprised to find his fangirls waiting for him when he exited the clubhouse. They were rumpled, bearing scratches and what looked like bird droppings…egh…but they were still together and still beaming at him with drippy adoration. He grinned back and raised a hand to acknowledge their dedication. A few of the girls swooned, the rest giggling madly. They happily gave the letter back to him, and he politely didn't mention the battered pile of feathers they'd forgotten to remove from the tennis court. It was okay for them to be a little messy when they were so clearly dedicated.
Really clever owls had a way of finding cracks in any armor, especially when the armor was a simple house. They would slip their envelopes under doors, down chimneys and even under beds if a wizard was bored enough to help them out with a bit of magic. Most of the time wizards didn't help, unless it was a very important candidate like a boy who lived, or someone who really needed to get the message like a werewolf in hiding. For simple deliveries, they stuck to large cracks such as doors and chimneys. They were quite good at this, though, so it was usually enough. They weren't prepared for the surprising lack of chimneys in Japanese boarding schools, or the fact that few buildings in Japan had wide cracks under their doors.
St. Rudolph high school was one of those surprisingly chimney free buildings, and sure enough, the cracks under the doors were blocked by rubber lining, almost as if the builders hadn't wanted drafts – or envelopes – slipping in. For this reason, the owls were forced to wait the candidates out. They circled the school, perched on window ledges and generally made a scene of hooting in annoyance at the pale faces staring out at them.
Hajime Mizuki was one of those faces. Slender and with slightly curled black hair and dark blue eyes, he was sometimes – by people who had a death wish – mistaken for Rikkaidai's Kirihara. Naturally he saw no resemblance whether in appearance or mannerisms. He was a strategist, not a demon. Manager and regular on St. Rudolph's tennis team, he considered it his duty to know everything that was going on with the members, particularly if that member was Fuji Yuuta. It was natural for him to be the one watching the windows and protecting said member from the supernatural flock haunting their school. He would have enjoyed the role more if Yuuta hadn't been on the phone instead of paying attention to him.
"There were three of them earlier," Yuuta was saying into his cell phone, his brows drawn as he spoke to his brother on the other end. "Now there's at least nine. They never sent more than one at a time before."
The only resemblance the younger Fuji – who would kill anyone who referred to him as Fuji's younger brother since his name was clearly Yuuta, first year member of the St. Rudolph team – had with his older brother was in the eyes. They both had bold metallic blue eyes that were just a little effeminate. Aside from that, Yuuta had cropped his honey-brown hair very short, making his face look longer. He was still medium height and slender like his brother, but that couldn't really be helped since they both had gotten it from their mother.
"Hey," Mizuki called, eager to get attention back on him, and to share his new discovery. "This one has a letter addressed to me! I want to read it…!"
"No!" Yuuta cried out, forgetting that he was still on the phone. He promptly winced at the recriminations coming from Fuji on the other end. "Sorry, aniki, I have to go now. I'm fine. I won't go outside, I promise. Yeah, I know. Akazawa-san said he'd get one and bring it in to me, so I won't actually go anywhere near the owls. Well…I don't really know how he's planning to get one of them. He took his racket with him…"
After a few more minutes of trying to reassure his overly protective brother that he wouldn't get pecked or scratched by one of the owls, Yuuta hung up. Immediately, Mizuki had an arm over his shoulders, being a little too friendly in his attempt to get the newest gossip on Fuji. While Yuuta wouldn't say anything against the manager of his team, since Mizuki was the one who'd gotten him out of Fuji's shadow back at Seigaku, he didn't really care for the guy's obsession with his brother. No matter how much Yuuta proved himself as a strong player, Mizuki didn't see him as a rival. And Mizuki always focused on his rivals first.
Yoshirou Akazawa, the third-year captain of the team, entered the room with three envelopes in hand, a few scratches on his tanned cheek, and a feather or two in his thick, dark red hair. He was tall and rather muscular, and his natural golden tan made him seem to diminish his paler, more effeminate-looking teammates. He would have been perfectly at ease on a swim team, or wrestling, both of which he'd dabbled with in his free time. The owls had been no match for him.
"Surprise," said Akazawa, his tone a pleased drawl that hid the fact that his temper was generally short and easily stoked. "One is mine, one for Mizuki, and then Yuuta-kun. You didn't mention they were for us as well as you."
Yuuta flushed a little, not liking how close he'd probably come to setting his captain off. While Mizuki had a way of making him feel useless, Akazawa usually reassured him with a few simple and direct comments. He didn't like abusing that, considering how readily the captain yelled at the rest of the team. It wasn't easy being the only freshman on the team – most of his teammates expected him be a tensai like his older brother, while the captain expected him to fail more often than not for lack of experience. He didn't know which was worse, having the others expect too much, or having Mizuki and Akazawa expect too little.
"Well?" Akazawa prodded, shoving the letter at Yuuta. "Are you going to read it? It wasn't easy getting them. Those owls were obviously trained by someone talented. If they hadn't been set on hugging the school, I'd never have caught them."
"But you did get them, didn't you," Mizuki smiled, drawing his words out. "I take it there's now a mess on the yard."
"Leave it," said Akazawa, with a wry smirk. "Kaneda kept trying to help, so I told him he could clean it up. Next time he won't be so quick to offer."
He shook his head and rubbed the back of his hand over a particularly itchy scratch on his cheek. "Training owls to deliver mail…what next…?"
Nightfall found the owlry rather quiet and shaken, visibly disturbed. The remaining owls were huddled on the lowest perches, quietly hooting horror stories to each other and commiserating with those who'd lost loved ones. The moment the doors opened and Dumbledore walked in, they rebelled. The poor wizard could only stare in wonder as every single owl – save the few who were hiding with their student owners where they wouldn't be forced to deliver letters – flew right out of the owlry, leaving only a few feathers to float down and catch in his long white hair and beard.
"Oh dear," Dumbledore sighed, plucking a feather from his beard and staring sadly at it. "I suppose I'll have to go myself. Who would have thought tennis players could be so cruel? It was such a simple request, really…"
More people were chosen than just the ones shown in this part. I didn't want to go through everyone, but the entire Seigaku team was invited, along with a few others who didn't get spotlight here. I'm mostly picking my favorites out of the non-Seigaku teams. Note that it's mostly the tensai (genius players) who were invited as children to attend Hogwarts. The rest put themselves on the wizarding map through their tennis skills. Everyone who was invited will be attending, whether they like it or not.
Next up, all the chosen players meet for the trip to Hogwarts. Should be entertaining. ;p