Disclaimer: Still don't own it!
Notes: Uh…none at this time (…that has to be a first…)
Reviews: Holy crap, I had way more reviews than I thought! Replying to them all took more than half an hour! THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU to everyone who reviewed and to everyone reading this story! (that includes you, Lurkers…I see you out there!) I really really appreciate all the support of my story and your patience with my god-awful updating schedule!
Please enjoy the next installment.
Take Two: The Second Time Around is Never Better
Two weeks. Two weeks since he attempted the most dangerous spell known to wizards and demons alike. Two weeks since he succeeded. And two weeks since his success ran off into the shadows of the Muggle countryside.
The Dark Lord was furious. Damn that Talmarac and all his lies! He was promised the Bringers of Life and Death and he got children! Had he not killed the senile old fool already, he'd certainly kill him now! Those brats were no gods – Hell, if it hadn't been for the wandless magic, he might have suspected them Muggles!
And now they were gone. Months of work that just upped and ran away. They were supposed to be under his control. Nothing in the spell indicated that they would be four rebellious, fighting teenagers. Damn that Talmarac!
The appropriate men had been…disciplined accordingly. Their mistakes would not be repeated. Next time, the spell would be completed correctly.
After all, it wasn't as if Voldemort didn't know where they were. Any idiot knew where to look when something you wanted to rule the world with went missing… Dumbledore's precious school. No doubt that pathetic excuse of an Order picked them up as they'd fled the ceremony. He'd known as much before one of his Death Eaters came to him and spoke of new 'transfer' students. So the old fool had gotten to them first, but the Dark Lord would have what he wanted in the end.
It was long past time he brought down the walls of Dumbledore's fortress.
Keiko and Shizuru were nervous.
Well, one was nervous and the other was just chain smoking. Koenma had sent them a summons by means of Botan a mere hour ago, which was only a mere eight hours after losing a giant blue Spirit Beast. The fairy girl had then flown them, with little clue as to why they were going, to the Reikai (Keiko would never again scold Yusuke for complaining about Botan's flying skills).
They were now walking through the Hall of Judgment on their way to Koenma's office.
For anyone who didn't hear the name "Enma" and immediately come up with a tactical plan for choking him to death and then taking his throne (as a certain person might), the experience of being summoned was a nerve-wracking one. They had muttered back and forth during their walk (they had to wait until then, since talking was impossible on Botan's oar – they'd been too busy screaming). The best theory was that they were in big trouble for 'misplacing' Puu.
When the office doors opened, however, they weren't alone with the Junior God. Lady Mukuro stood before Koenma's desk, hands spread across the surface as she leaned threateningly over it to yell at the prince. Keiko easily recognized her from Yusuke's descriptions. He was right; she was just as scary as he had said.
From her demands to return Hiei immediately (interspersed between several very colorful threats), the two women came to the quick and relieving conclusion that it wasn't about Puu, which was a good thing (except for the fact that the Junior Prince of Hell probably didn't know there was a twelve foot blue phoenix flying around somewhere). The downside was it meant they had no idea what it was about.
Shizuru joined in the argument first chance she got, biting into Koenma right alongside Mukuro. The demon lord seemed surprised for a moment – the gall of a human – before giving an approving smirk and continuing with the roast. When the Godling started biting back, since he wasn't exactly taking it from Mukuro, either, Keiko jumped to her friend's defense, creating a triangle of arguing.
"Stop, stop, stop!" Silence reigned as Koenma slammed his hands down atop the desk. He gave a small thanks as the ringing in his ears died out and slid back into his chair, exasperated. "Yes, we found them, and yes, they're safe…for now. No, I can't bring them back yet… those are my father's orders."
The last comment was directed at Mukuro, who was already about to argue. She said nothing, but her natural eye glared dangerously at the young prince.
"Look, my hands are tied. Take your complaints up with the boys yourself." Koenma's blue assistant, Jorge, who had been slowly retreating behind his boss, scurried forward to hand them all slips of yellowed paper far too thick to be of normal quality. The three woman looked at the blank sheets, glancing to one another and then to the Prince. Red envelopes followed them and both Shizuru and Mukuro could feel the weak energy surrounding the items.
Only, Mukuro knew exactly what type of energy it was. She looked up at Koenma, an eyebrow raised. "You're kidding me."
Koenma smirked. "Just write whatever you want them to hear. Trust me, they'll get the message."
Keiko looked at Shizuru, clearly confused, but Mukuro had already put the paper down on the desk and begun to write with an offered pen. Shizuru followed suit, shrugging at the younger girl. So Keiko put down her paper, took up a pen, and started writing exactly what she wanted her missing friend to hear.
Yusuke Urameshi woke up that morning sneezing and knew, from some small corner of his brain labeled 'instinct', that it was going to be a bad day.
Breakfast was a normal event, mostly filled with the upper classman discussing Genkai's….unorthodox teaching methods. The first years had her that morning and, if being a new student in a magical wizarding school wasn't hard enough, most of them looked ready to hurl at the things they were hearing about their soon-to-be Defense teacher.
Of course, the mail arriving was an event to see, and Yusuke had a feeling it would be so every morning. Especially when that little bugger belonging to Ron speed-crashed into their table, spilling pumpkin juice into the half-demon's lap (and that's not to mention the bacon and eggs that went flying in every direction). Who even drinks pumpkin juice, anyway?
So, for the second day in a row, Yusuke's breakfast was cut short as he ran back up to the dormitory to change (which was ridiculously far away from the dining hall – whatever idiot designed the place obviously didn't take into account how dangerous stairs could be to non-morning people). Luckily, with Genkai's little introduction the day before, he could run pretty fast without worrying about cover-stories or back-up plans. Of course, he kept his speed down and tried not to run around any students who hadn't been in that Defense class (but most of them were in the Great Hall or had already heard of his so called 'talent', so it wasn't really a problem).
At least he got back in time to steal some more bacon (after running all the way to the stupid fat painting and realizing he couldn't remember the password and then running all the way back to Kurama to ask in overly hushed whispers that drew more attention than just asking would have, and running all the way back. He hated that damn woman).
With several pieces of the crunchy meat shoved in his pocket and a few more in his mouth (much to Granger's obvious disgust), he and Kuwabara followed the three, along with a small portion of their housemates, down to the greenhouses. Kurama and Hiei followed some distance behind with several members of their own table, including that blonde kid.
Apparently, today was filled with classes shared between all four houses (Potter had called them lizard classes or something). They had this class having to do with plants, and then a class having to do with charms (Yusuke was still teasing Kurama about not needing that class – the fox didn't need any help charming girls, after all) and then a class about turning animals into things.
On the brief walk back to their separate dormitories the night before, Genkai had requested Hiei's and Kurama's presence at her second upper-level defense class, which happened to fall at the same time as the transfusion class. So Yusuke had suggested that he and Kuwabara go, as Dumbledore requested, while Kurama and Hiei help out with the seventh years.
It had seemed like a good idea at the time.
But after an hour of getting pricked, poked, stung, squeezed, and burned by god-knows what kind of plants they had been trying to 'prune' (and finally giving Kurama such a mean glare that the fox relented and calmed all of their plants, leading to a very confused teacher who couldn't explain why her usually volatile foliage was suddenly behaving and practically preening under the attention of the students) and then followed by an hour of repeatedly destroying the brooms they were supposed to make self-clean (after that, Yusuke couldn't stop whistling all day, though he couldn't recall where the song or the odd image of violent dancing brooms and a mouse had come from) to the point where their short Professor Flighty or Flitty or Flitwickered finally just gave them a feather and told them to try and levitate it off the table (to which Yusuke blew out a puff of air, watched the feather float away, and called it a day), and finally parting ways with Hiei and Kurama to head for stern Professor McDonald's class…well, after all that, transgendering just wasn't looking like such a good idea anymore.
And it definitely wasn't. An hour later, Yusuke and Kuwabara plopped down at the Slytherin table (to which no Slytherin dared argue when confronted with the obvious don't-mess-with-us faces or the dried blood splattered over their uniforms). Kurama, who had already been sitting at the table with Hiei for several minutes now (having been excused from Genkai's class once the seventh years got the hang of analyzing an opponent enough to predict and even block basic attacks), stared at the two boys in surprise, and something akin to relief that very few students were at the table, most just now getting out of class.
"So, we were thinking maybe you and Hiei could take over that transmutation class next time 'round." Kurama just stared at him, eyes going down to the red stains visible on the parts of his shirt and tie where the standard black robes hadn't covered.
"Okay," the fox relented cautiously, glancing at the either boy. "What happened?"
Kuwabara's face, already pale and slowly taking on a rendition of horrified shock, turned green. Yusuke shrugged half-heartedly, his own expression showing how clearly un-wonderful his day had been. "I blew up a bunny."
Green eyes widened slightly and red eyes actually focused in on the conversation. "I'm sorry, you did what?"
"Well, that Professor McGoogle-whatever-it-is asked if we could handle turning a rabbit from white to black, thinking we should start slow. We told her we'd give it a shot. No harm in trying, right?" Yusuke took a gulp from the pumpkin juice in front of him, from which some poor, unsuspecting Slytherin would later drink and wonder why he had only been served half a glass of juice. Yusuke grimaced at the taste but was happy to get rid of the previous metallic one. "So we did. And mine blew up."
"I cut mine in half." The mumble from Kuwabara sounded distant and numb. As a lover of all things cute and fluffy, he was rather appalled at the moment.
Kurama gave a cautious nod, not sure if an explanation was really the thing either boy needed to hear, but knowing what had happened. Yusuke had spent the last five years training his energy to blow up when used – to shoot like a bullet or act like a super-charged fist, exploding on contact. All he had managed to do was aim a conductor of his energy (the wand Olivander-san had made) and shoot a stream of his bullet-trained reiki into a rabbit. Kuwabara wasn't much different, only he had trained his energy to cut like a sword. They were really quite lucky they found out on a bunny and not a student. Kurama should have seen it coming and done something to keep them out of those types of classes.
"After that McGoAway kicked us out. So…Guess cheating ain't gonna' cover everything," Yusuke joked mildly, though it was clear blowing up an innocent bunny hadn't exactly left him comedian of the year. "So, uh…yeah, we were thinking you guys could take over and we'll try Care of Magical Creatures instead. Hopefully, no one'll ask us to blow anything up in that class."
Kuwabara nodded along numbly, still mostly in shock, and Kurama readily agreed. He and Hiei would take over Transfigurations, and anything else that might potentially end in some poor creature's death. Since the Newt level classes were a combination of students from the four houses, they could cover their charges without all four boys present at each class.
Kurama and Hiei had worked out a schedule with Genkai while the seventh years practiced earlier that evening. They would test it out this week, but Kurama would attend any of Granger's classes that the others weren't in, while he and Hiei would cover all of Malfoy's classes, since all of them coincided with Potter's classes as well. Yusuke and Kuwabara would attend as many of Harry's and Ron's as they could handle, including Divination with the redhead boy. All four would attend Herbology, since Kurama could help them cheat their way through, and then the Defense class, which Genkai had made pretty clear wasn't optional. In fact, from the way she had been talking, Yusuke would be attending most of those, if not all of them.
With the agreement that Kuwabara and Yusuke would not have to blow up any more innocent animals, or cut them in half, the two left the rival house's table with the promise of a much-needed bathing session after dinner. They rejoined their own table, sliding in where the trio made room for them. The sixth year Gryffindors, having witnessed the unfortunate events and McGonagall's wrath firsthand, took pity on the two and started up a small and relatively awkward conversation.
That is, of course, until Yusuke suddenly stopped eating mid-bite. His expression had gone blank for a moment before deepening into a frown, his eyes far away. Harry, who had been in the middle of another long talk about Quidditch teams and tryouts, which the Japanese boys had been avidly participating in, paused as well.
"Yusuke?" He frowned as well when the teen didn't answer, his lightning-shaped scar furrowing with his forehead. "What's wrong?"
Kuwabara nudged his friend, shoving him out of whatever gripped him. "What's up with you, man?"
Yusuke still seemed bothered, turning to his best friend with a look of concentration and confusion written over his face. "Do you feel that?"
"Feel what-" Kuwabara cut himself off, eyes widening as he swiveled around in his seat, staring out the large windows on the far wall. "No way."
"That's what I thought." Yusuke mimicked his movement, twisting his back to follow his gaze. He gave a brief glance to Kurama and Hiei, seeing both of them staring at him and obviously feeling the same thing. It was all the confirmation he needed and he let out an irritated sigh. "You've gotta' be friggin' kidding me."
"What's he doing here?" Kuwabara swung back around even as his shorter friend stood up and climbed off of the bench. Several nearby Gryffindor's stopped their conversations, watching the small group. "He's supposed to be with the girls!"
"Guys? What's going on?" Hermione stood up as well when neither answered. Both were already up and moving. "Who's here?"
Yusuke didn't bother with a reply, leaving the Great Hall at a pace that wouldn't draw too much attention. Of course, it wasn't his pace but the crowd following behind, as Kuwabara jogged after him and Harry, Ron, and Hermione hurriedly followed.
"Urameshi, maybe it's not him!" Kuwabara argued from behind as Yusuke pushed open the great doors, jogging down the front steps of the castle to the grounds below. "We're gonna' draw a lot of attention coming out here in the middle of dinner."
"Right, so instead you wanna risk the chance that it is Puu and he tries to go through one of those owl holes?" Yusuke pointed up towards the small, open windows high up the walls of the Great Hall. "That fur-ball forgets how big he is now, and I don't want to find out how many wizards it takes to pull a five hundred pound bird out of a window fifty feet off the ground."
Kuwabara acquiesced. It was too late to avoid drawing attention, anyhow, seeing as several other Gryffindors (mostly those known to follow Harry) were making their way down the steps, looks of curious confusion on their faces. Harry and his friends stopped behind Yusuke, standing on the grassy hill overlooking the lake below.
"What's going on?" Ron asked, a biscuit in hand on which he continued to munch.
"You'll see," Kuwabara commented offhandedly. "There's no way to miss him when he gets here."
"There he is." Yusuke pointed towards the horizon, but the trio could see nothing. From their tall friend's words, all sorts of conjectures were soaring through their minds. Giants, trolls, even dragons…or maybe even demons? Did they need to be worried?
Yusuke let out another groan. "Man, why couldn't he just stay where Genkai told him to?"
A graceful presence beside him alerted Yusuke to Kurama's appearance, Hiei in tow. "I imagine," began the redhead, eyes glued to the horizon as well, "that the girls told him to come."
Both Urameshi and Kuwabara gave him strange looks. Kurama lifted one shoulder nonchalantly. "It has worked in the past. Puu has an odd, but fitting, habit of seeking you out when you are in danger. My guess would be Keiko and Shizuru knew he'd find you, if given the chance."
There was silence for several moments, the trio still lost and trying to imagine what it was they were looking for towards the East. Yusuke finally shook his head. "But they have no way of tracking him, so how is that gonna' help them find us?"
Kurama's expression was one of amusement. "A small flaw in their plan, I'm sure."
Yusuke just groaned and turned back to the horizon, where a small speck became visible. Harry found it hard to believe that the raven-haired boy had seen whatever-it-was from that far away, since they could just barely make out the moving black dot. He was half convinced he was imagining it.
But it was certainly there, and moving quickly. Within seconds it had doubled in size, and then tripled, until the three friends could make out a vague shape of wings. In less than two minutes, it was close enough to discern as bright blue, even in the fading light of dusk.
A rush of air beside them alerted the four boys (and scared the crap out of Ron) to Genkai's sudden appearance. "I'm going to kill him. I'm going to let Hiei roast him and then I'm going to eat him."
This did nothing to aid Ron's recovery as he mouthed her words to Harry, eyes round. For his part, the Boy Who Lived hoped she was joking. Of course, nothing so far had really given them much hope that their drill sergeant had a sense of humor. Perhaps they should warn whoever (or whatever) it was on approach?
Not three minutes after initially spotting it, a loud bird's cry echoed across the valley. Immediately, Harry thought of Fawkes' call, the two similar in sound. The one that bounced off the walls of the castle, however, had a very odd characteristic. Harry would have sworn it sounded happy. It was odd to be able to pick out emotion in a bird's call, but there was no way he could miss it as the loud screech sounded once more. Whatever was flying towards them was overjoyed about something.
As the bird approached, beginning to grow larger than any of the three wizards had previously anticipated (Merlin, the thing was huge!), students started flowing down the Castle steps, drawn by the strange, loud sound. Teachers followed, Dumbledore coming to the head of the group somewhere behind the trio.
Large, bright blue, and lined with a thick, black mane, the enormous bird pulled up as it drew closer, flapping teen-foot wings harshly downwards to slow its descent. Wind whipped through the students, their hair and robes flying as the beast grew closer to the grass. Talons the size of Harry's head stretched out, reaching for the ground as the thing touched down five or so feet from the four Japanese boys.
Yusuke started towards it without hesitation. Immediately, it ducked its long neck, head bobbing up and down, floppy ear like appendages bouncing in its wake. It, too, started towards the Japanese boy, half hobbling and half strutting on its short legs and dragging its fiery orange tail across the grass. The entire dance was accented by softer versions of the overjoyed cry.
Despite his previous less-than-thrilled comments towards the newcomer, Yusuke let out a laugh as the beast wrapped its long neck around him and began nuzzling and pecking at his hair and clothing.
"You big idiot," Yusuke admonished as he grabbed either side of Puu's face and bumped foreheads with his Spirit Beast. "You were supposed to be guarding the girls. What kind of watch-bird are you, huh?"
The phoenix gave a loud coo and flapped his wings playfully before butting up against his master's head. The small feathers just above his sharp beak ruffled back with the contact. Clearly, he didn't take Yusuke's words as the scolding they really weren't meant to be.
The raven-haired leader turned back to look at his audience, which had been silent but for the hushed whispers flying between students. He looked to his three friends, not really sure what to do now. Their cover was already mostly, sort of, but not really, blown (if it had ever been intact) and now it was definitely shot. Or so he thought. He'd been having trouble lately figuring out what their cover was now (or if they even had one).
Puu, who spotted Genkai, was trying to hide his face behind his Master's back, consequently nudging him forward as he quietly squawked in distress. His Master didn't seem to hear him.
"My, my, you boys certainly are full of surprises." Children parted to let Dumbledore through, the old man meeting Yusuke's eyes before taking in the large creature beside him. "Well, at least you keep things interesting."
It was an understatement of the year, considering they'd only known them for two weeks now, yet they had more wild and crazy things happening than ever before (which was an impressive feat, since they daily attended a school of magic) Harry decided not to comment, but beside him he could hear Ron muttering under his breath.
"May I ask who this is?" The Headmaster drew closer to the bird. Puu picked his head up off of Yusuke's shoulder to take in the ancient wizard. After a moment of observation, he gave another soft cluck and unwound himself from his master. His long neck stretched towards Dumbledore, stopping a foot or so short and bowing ever so slightly – an invitation.
The bird figured his chances were better with the nice-looking old man than the psychotic old woman who was sure to fry him.
Dumbledore chuckled, reaching out with both hands to pet the crown of the bird even as Yusuke answered, "Uh….Puu. His name's Puu." The leader of the tentei kept glancing uncertainly at his friends.
Several of the students coughed over badly concealed snickers, but Dumbledore merely nodded. He laughed as the bird cooed with each of his strokes, butting up against the old man and shuffling closer. His giant wings flapped every time he did so.
"He certainly is friendly, isn't he?" Dumbledore pulled back from the bird, leaving a happy Puu to move on to other prospects. Meaning he, of course, went straight for Hiei as soon as he spotted the much-loved fire demon and began nestling the foot and a half of black hair (much to Hiei's distaste-covered-affection). "What is he, if I might ask?
Yusuke cleared his throat, giving a shrug. "Well, he's…well, he was sort of a ….Penguin-like….thing for a while there, but then he got bigger…lot bigger…and now he's, um…well, he's…a…."
"Pheonix, Yusuke," Kurama finished. The leader had never actually asked what his spirit beast was, which was somewhat of a pity, since the form it had chosen was truly a representation of Yusuke himself. A fiery rebirth of loyalty, passion, and strength.
"Yeah…that." Yusuke rubbed the back of his head, giving a sheepish smile towards the headmaster, who only nodded.
"I suspected as much. I have a phoenix myself. Beautiful creatures. Though, I must say Fawkes is significantly smaller…" The old man chuckled to himself, thinking of his beloved bird high in the castle, most likely preening himself or singing in time with the Sorting Hat (the old thing only practiced his songs when the Headmaster was away, but Dumbledore had once mistakenly overheard the rag putting together a tune with his beautiful phoenix providing backup). "And how did you come across such an amazing creature?"
"Um…" Yusuke glanced towards his friends once more. "He's…a pet?"
Ron nearly choked, bursting out before he realized what he was saying. "Y-You want to go to Care of Magical Creatures when you've got that thing as a personal pet?"
The crowd of students laughed and the leader of the four boys just grinned, giving the phoenix a healthy pat along his thick torso. "This guy? Eh, he's harmless!"
Quietly, Kurama snickered. "And to think, Yusuke, he's a reflection of your soul."
Few had heard the statement, as was intended. Yusuke gave the fox a light glare anyway. "Shaddup."
"Well, I assume he'll be staying with us for some time, then?" Dumbledore gave the phoenix one more pat as the bird withdrew from Hiei, who was slightly pink across the cheeks (and trying hard to ignore it).
Yusuke gave a sort of sheepish grimace. "Uh, yeah, if that's alright. He wasn't supposed to just randomly show up like this." To emphasize his point to the big blue fluff-ball, the tentei gave him a light elbow to the side. Puu just gave a crow, shuffled his feet, and settled himself once more, oblivious to his master's attempts to chastise him.
"Very good, then. We'll arrange for his accommodations after dinner. I am sure Hagrid will be overjoyed." With that, Dumbledore turned back around to the very large group of students and began ushering them back inside. "Come along, we have a meal to finish and the food is getting cold. I'm sure Mr. Urameshi would be happy to introduce his lovely bird to everyone over the next few days."
The boy in question gave another grimace, this one far less pleasant, but nodded all the same. As the crowd slowly dispersed, the seven children left outside (Harry and his friends reluctant to leave in lieu of the newest and strangest development) and the one professor (waiting to teach the stupid bird-brain a lesson in obedience, which clearly was a result of his master's failure in that subject) turned to one another.
Harry fidgeted slightly. "So…is it really-"
Yusuke cut him off, stroking the side of Puu's face absently as the bird pecked randomly at his clothing (stalling the inevitable confrontation with the Old One). "Him. Puu's a boy."
"Er…right." The Boy-Who-Lived flushed slightly at his rudeness. "Is he…er…really a phoenix?"
"Uh..." Yusuke glanced at the bird and then back to the boy. "I think so?"
Hermione was already inspecting the thing, retreating only when she realized large, doe eyes were following her on a swiveling neck. "I've never seen one so big."
Puu curiously butted up against her shoulder, causing her to give a nervous laugh. Yusuke grinned. "You can pet him. He's really a big fluff-ball." The bird gave a slightly indignant squawk, which quickly lost all intended rebuke, as he began cooing under Hermione's gentle scratches. "I don't know why he got so big, though. It kinda' happened by accident, I guess."
Hermione accepted the information skeptically, but it didn't really sound like Yusuke was lying or trying to hide something. Like everything, she'd have to figure it out slowly and after lots of research, with little help from the four boys.
"We should return to dinner." Kurama gestured towards the diminishing crowd, most already through the doors of the castle. The others nodded, leaving the blue bird behind and making their way back towards the stone steps.
The four spirit detectives followed, Yusuke telling Puu to stay behind (several times, as the first few attempts didn't stick) where Genkai then proceeded to rip him a new one for leaving the temple unprotected, much to his pleading squawks. As they walked, the boys began discussing, quietly and in Japanese, what this meant in terms of the unprotected girls back home.
"I'll contact Mukuro." Hiei resisted the urge to vocalize his protectiveness over his sister. He didn't need the oaf jealously accusing him, as obnoxiously and loudly as possible, of being in love with his own sister. "We should not leave their safety in the hands of the Reikai."
Kuwabara, however, didn't like that idea either, and he was not shy to vocalize his thoughts on his beloved ice demon. "I don't trust men we don't know to guard my sweet, innocent, Yukina! Especially demons!"
Hiei twitched, somewhat for the addressing of his sister, a bit in light of the insult towards his race, but mostly because the oaf had a point. And he hated when the oaf made sense.
"Hey, buddy, two-thirds of the people here are demonic," Yusuke cut in.
"Yusuke, there are four us."
"Yeah, but Hiei makes one, and half of you plus half of me makes one together, and Kuwabara doesn't count 'cause he's human," the detective replied, scratching his chin. Hiei just shook his head and turned away, not wasting his breath on an observation of intelligence. "Anyways I think I can take care of this. I'll just call in a favor from some friends."
At the looks from Kuwabara and Hiei, he continued, "That we all trust! Relax, guys, I'm not that stupid. I'll just borrow that communication thingy Genkai's got and it'll solve all our problems until we get back."
His words brought about the realization that they were still rather stuck in a magical school in the middle of England with a not-quite-mentally-stable wizard hunting for them and now a giant blue bird on the side. They had quite a few problems.
With second thought, he added, "Well, at least this one."
"Can you believe he has a giant blue phoenix as a pet and hasn't said anything?" Ron pulled back the blankets on his bed, shaking his head. "Unbelievable."
His comments were met with varying degrees of agreement from the other four boys around the circular dormitory. Yusuke and Kuwabara hadn't come in yet. They'd actually disappeared after dinner, for the second night in a row. Hermione was beginning to get suspicious, and Harry couldn't blame her.
He figured two more days, tops, before she'd be suggesting they pull out his father's cloak.
As their dorm mates trudged out of the room to brush their teeth and use the facilities before bed, Ron was still on about Puu. "I mean, can you believe he didn't tell us?"
"You never told him you had a rat."
The redhead stopped his movements, staring at his best mate with wide eyes. "Are you crazy?" Ron's incredulous tone caused Harry's head to snap up, a flare of anger in his eyes at the words, even if he knew Ron hadn't meant them seriously. "A rat versus a giant – and I mean giant – phoenix? Oh, and did I mention he was blue?"
Harry gave a sort of shrug, wincing at the strange ache that flared in the back of his neck. It had been lingering there all day, like a distant and painful thought he couldn't grasp. "Yeah, well, your rat ended up being a fully grown Death Eater and a murdering traitor."
Ron quieted for a moment, as if the truth in that statement was a revelation. "Well…there is that." The redhead shook his head. "But he still should have told us!"
A single twitch at the back of his neck was the only warning he got before anger all but consumed him. He rounded on his best friend, throwing down the sleepwear he was holding. "They don't have to tell us everything, Ron! Even demons are allowed to have secrets!"
His best friend stood, caught like a deer in the headlights, before his eyes narrowed slightly and he looked away. His cheeks puffed and his lips, a thin line, pouted in that brooding way of his. Against his sides, he clenched his shaking hands into fists.
As the seconds ticked by in uncomfortable silence, realization dawned on the Boy Who Lived and the anger drained from him. In hindsight, he knew that anger – that particular twinge in the back of his mind and the oncoming ache that had bothered him all day.
"I did it again, didn't I?" Ron spared him a brief glance but wouldn't keep the contact. Harry couldn't blame him as he, himself, all but deflated. He had hoped a summer spent berating his failures would force him to strengthen his defenses or, at the very least, make him more aware. But again he had failed. "I'm sorry."
Ron struggled with his emotions for a second before he gave a stiff shrug as he unclenched his fists. He looked about guiltily, disappointed in his own angry reaction to his best friend. "It wasn't…you know, you."
Harry shook his head, jaw clenching. "But that's just it, isn't it? It was me. I should be able to control this!"
Ron kept glancing fleetingly at him, wary of upsetting him again but ashamed that he couldn't even look his best friend in the eye. His gaze fell to the floor before cautiously looking at Harry. "Do you think…do you think you should tell Dumbledore?"
The Boy Who Lived shook his head. "Not tonight," he mumbled, raising a hand to rub at his scar. "If it keeps happening, I will."
Ron nodded his agreement as Harry all but sagged onto the bed, still going at his forehead. The redhead's expression pinched into an one of thought. "Can you, er, feel…You Know Who?"
Harry glanced at his friend, somewhat surprised by the question but not against answering it. "Yeah, Ron." He looked back up at the ceiling, fingers tracing the dull sting of a lightning bolt. The ache in his neck was distant, but still there and the anger, faded, slithered through his veins like a snake. "I can feel him."
Okay, so I actually got that out a lot quicker than I anticipated. I appreciate all of you supporting my horrendous updating schedule! I'm forsaking all my other fics for this one right now and if I don't stop it soon, my Beta's gonna kill me for not spreading the Muse around.
Thank you all for reading!
…Puu's Flight… I wanted to know what a bird his size could actually make time-wise. So I found the largest bird on earth: the Argentavis Magnificens. These extinct birds had a wing span of 25 ft and a height of about 10. Roughly the size of Puu (what luck!) Scientists believe they could fly approximately 11 miles an hour. Now, assuming he sleeps during the flight (as some birds are recorded capable of doing, and since Puu is such an amazing bird, I thought he should have this ability), I calculated that it would take him 21 days to reach Hogwarts.
And that's when I decided to screw accuracy when dealing with a big blue demonic phoenix. He's getting there in a day!
…Puu's arrival… Credit goes to A Dangerous Notion. I couldn't give you the arrival you wanted, but I thought I could at least give you a cameo. Hope you enjoyed it and thank you for the suggestion!
End Author's Notes
Please review if you would be so kind!