Disclaimer: The rights to YuGiOh belong to Kazuki Takahashi. The rights to Harry Potter belong to JK Rowling.
Chapter 33: Somewhere to Belong
Yugi lowered his hand from his eyes and his breath caught in his throat.
Ryou and Malik were shielding their eyes with their hands, looking a little windswept, but unharmed. Yami and Bakura stood over their hikari's shoulders, and frantic questions about their wellbeing were being fired down their respective links. The Leviathan's attack had exploded before it had reached its targets. Lying a little away, Kaiba's unconscious body was also unharmed.
Standing before the duellists, stood a group of duel monsters, all of them ready for battle, their faces showing nothing but hate for the Leviathan, which let out a roar that shook the school upon which it was perched. They were not just any monsters however.
"No way…" Yugi gasped, as Dark Magician found himself standing next to Fire Sorcerer and Super Roboyaro. The spellcaster gave them a thankful nod before turning back to glare at their adversary.
"How did this happen?" Malik asked, his eyes focused on Embodiment of Apophis, who was standing close to Vampire Lord, ready to back the zombie up. Spiria crouched nearby ready to protect everyone at a moment's notice.
"Our friends heard our distress," Yami proclaimed, his eyes wandering up to Red Eyes Black Dragon. Cyber Harpie hovered nearby and below them both stood Goddess With the Third Eye. The lone Blue Eyes gave a happy roar as she was joined by Horus the Black Flame Dragon LV8. Fire Princess and Orgoth the Relentless were also present. And towering over all of the group magnificently, was Exodia.
"They're all here!" Ryou said joyfully.
"Do you think this is enough monsters to take that giant lizard down?" Bakura asked.
"Plenty," Yami nodded. "Keep gathering that magic!"
Despite their distraction, the Items had kept locked onto the magic in the area, and were still drawing it into their owners. The newly arrived monsters seemed content to wait and protect their friends, leaving the Gods to bear down on the Leviathan once more.
Slifer was ducking and diving between the towers, snapping at the Leviathan as it got close enough. The Great Beast weaved between the structures, its tail lashing out behind it. The astronomy tower took a beating and bricks rained down on the roof below. Ra took to the air and bored down on the Leviathan from above, preventing it from flying away again, and Obelisk barred its way. The Leviathan was trapped, but it was by no means harmless, as it continued to attack the Gods viciously.
"Are we at infinite yet?!" Bakura barked impatiently.
"Getting there!" the Pharaoh replied. Sure enough, the monsters before them had started to glow as their attack power increased. It felt to Yugi as though they were diverting the flow of a great river towards the monsters. It was slightly overwhelming, but he relaxed as he felt the Pharaoh next to him.
//Hang on Aibou. Not much longer//
Around the bearers, shadows began to swarm as they too were absorbed into the flow of magic.
/Are we sure this is going to work?/ Yugi asked.
//If we believe in this magic, and in our friends monsters, than it will work// Yami said firmly.
"Getting a block here guys," Malik warned. Sure enough, the flow was slowly, as though a dam had been placed in the way.
"That must be the Orichalcos," Yami concluded. "Keep going!"
"Easier said than done!" Ryou pointed out, as the aura of energy around their monsters began to weaken.
"Keep it going!" Yami shouted. "We can do this!"
But it was getting much harder to focus, as the Orichalcos seemed to thicken and pollute the magic that streamed through their bodies and into the monsters. High in the sky, the Gods were tiring too as the Leviathan continued its onslaught. By now the Great Beast didn't seem to care whether it hit God or castle. Bricks and tiles were clattering onto roofs' or the ground with loud crashes, as the Leviathan's attacks were blasted in rapid succession. Ra latched onto the scaly creature in a desperate attempt to keep it down, but the Great Beast merely snaked its head around and bit down on the God's wing. Ra shrieked in pain and Slifer attempted to blast the two apart, only to miss when the Leviathan twisted out of the way once more, sending more bricks through an unfortunate part of the school roof.
"They won't last much longer!" Bakura warned, as Obelisk took a blast to the chest. Yami was wincing every time one of his monsters was struck. Yugi clutched his darker half's arm to stop him from sinking to the ground.
"We're almost there!" Yami shouted, as loudly as his fatigue would let him. He need not have stated this, for all of them could feel the magic of the school and the people in it, filling their souls like water filling shrunken cells. Lightning flew around the three bearers.
No one was quite sure when it happened, but there was a sudden break in the magical flow, and then a flood of it raced through their beings. Malik and Ryou fell to their knees as it overwhelmed them, and Yugi gripped Yami's arm tighter. All the tainted magic of the Orichalcos was gone, which could mean only one thing – Dark Magician Girl had got rid of all the stones. The ground cracked from the strain and light filtered up, surrounding the five of them in a wall of magic.
The remaining monsters glowed as the magic was channelled through the shadows, increasing their attack to infinite proportions. Dark Magician Girl materialised next to the rest of the monsters.
"The stones are gone!" she cried. "Now is your chance!"
"NOW!" Yami barked, and at once all the monsters unleashed their power, striking the Leviathan with everything they had. Magical blasts from Dark Magician and Exodia impacted on the Great Beast's scales, Horus, Red Eyes and the three Blue Eyes unleashed waves of raging flames and white lightning, which caught the Leviathan in the head. Vampire Lord, Diabound Fire Princess, Goddess With the Third Eye, Spiria and Fire Sorcerer struck next, swarms of bats, waves of sonic energy, and streams of fire exploding on the injured behemoth above them. Apophis, Cyber Harpie and Super Roboyaro slashed with blades and talons at the face, causing the Leviathan to roar in pain.
The final blow came form the Egyptian Gods, a tri coloured blast of energy combining between the three and racing towards the Leviathan. The blow ripped the Great Beast in two, specks of what looked like light appearing from the wound, as the captured souls began to pour fourth. The Leviathan gave one last pained roar, but it was a roar of defeat, and the Great Beast crashed back onto the obsidian surface of the lake, and sank beneath the water, the golden orbs of the fallen souls bubbling up to the surface and vanishing off into the air.
The energy dissipated from the monsters, and they faded slowly, one by one, giving each other friendly smiles and nods of thanks before they left. At the same time, the five figures standing by the lake fell to the grass, the magic that had been channelled through their spirits settling and leaving them too exhausted to stand.
High in the sky, Harry saw the shadows and the aurora retreating. It seemed that fight was over.
He smiled proudly around at the DA, all the while rubbing his head where it had hit the stone floor. Everyone inside the Seal had been unconscious for almost half an hour. By the time they had woken up, Hermione and Ginny's groups that had been outside the Seal, had bound and gagged the Death Eaters, and were working to revive everyone who had been stunned or otherwise injured. All the people who had lost their souls during the fight, had recovered too.
A little way away, Draco Malfoy knelt over his father's disfigured form. Having the stone ripped from his neck, and the magical strain of having the seal shattered by hundreds of Orichalcos stones at once had damaged his soul beyond repair. The elder Malfoy's body was warped and twisted into a creature that was barely recognisable as human. Draco had recognised it however, and sat over the body now, a strange blank look on his face. Harry supposed Draco felt horribly guilty for stunning his father and for in many ways, helping in his death. His mother was bound beside him, but she was not protesting. She seemed to be awaiting whatever her punishment would be, with quiet dignity, that was marred only by her grief for her fallen husband.
Distantly, Harry could hear the sounds of the soulless people in the castle waking up, a quiet rumble of confused voices and footsteps spreading slowly through the corridors.
Hogwarts had returned to life.
By the time the aurors had arrived, the Death Eaters had been completely rounded up and the various DA members had visited the Hospital Wing and been questioned numerous times by various teachers and Ministry members, it was early morning. Most of the younger students had been permitted to go to bed once the questioning was over, but for Harry, Ron, Hermione and Neville, who had led the DA through most of the evening, it was not until six o clock that they were finally allowed to get some rest. And even then, none of them could because they all had so many questions. Ones that sadly could not be answered.
No one knew the exact details of what had happened down by the lake of course, so it was shocking when the exhausted aurors had brought six unconscious bodies of the Japanese teens into the Hospital Wing. No one knew where the two extra people had come from, though Harry, Ron, Hermione and Dumbledore obviously knew exactly who they were. And this of course, presented a whole new set of questions, for neither of the two extra people were supposed to be there.
Eventually however, all six of them had been settled into the Hospital Wing. Neville of course, was entirely out of the loop, and immediately demanded to know who the two people, who bore a striking resemblance to Yugi and Ryou were. Harry had gently stated that it was not for them to discuss their friend's personal lives. Neville looked disappointed, but Harry wouldn't say anything. He had learned the hard way this year that some secrets were best left alone.
"Still…" Ron had said, after Neville had gone to sleep. "How do you think they got here? They don't have bodies in this world."
"It could have been the magic they used to combat the Leviathan," Hermione said thoughtfully. "Maybe it was a side effect or something…"
"We don't know," Harry summarised. "I guess we'll find out when they wake up."
The creature was aware of one thing instantly.
The pain had stopped.
A burst of magic had flooded through its form, and freed it from its pain. The being let out a shriek of regret. It wanted the pain back! That beautiful pain that had kept it in such a euphoric state. It had been its only source of comfort during its confinement in the Shadow Realm. Whereas it would have driven most people to the brink of insanity, this creature thrived off it, taking immense pleasure from each of the Shadow's assaults. Desperate hands clawed at arms and legs, drawing blood in an attempt to rid itself of the mad craving for hurt, for that release…and then it realised.
It could move.
It was no longer bound by the Shadows imprisonment.
Tentatively, the being got to its feet. It was no longer held…but still it could not escape the Shadow Realm. It would need to be stronger for that. As strong as its thirst for revenge was, the need to recover was greater. It would be stupid to waste its freedom in a reckless move. How it had obtained its freedom, it put out of its mind for now, instead allowing itself to recuperate from its Penalty Game.
"…soon…soon you shall all perish before me…"
And closing its eyes, the being rested.
Breathing is a reflexive action. It is something that the human body does without thinking, as it is a necessity to survive. While occupying their hikari's bodies, Yami and Bakura had quickly discovered that the bodies continued with reflexive actions, yet they did not feel them. They could take control of their host's, but it was not a true life. They could feel things in their hikari's body, but it was like there was always something there between the skin and their souls, making the sensation distorted.
So when Yami reflexively drew breath into his lungs, and felt the icy cold air pierce through his body and clear his mind, his eyes immediately flew open.
His eyes, not Yugi's. Yugi, the Pharaoh saw quickly, was lying in the bed next to him, the sheets rising and falling as he breathed deeply in his sleep. His breaths were separate, and entirely his own…or not, as he started coughing violently. The discomfort in his lungs and throat sent shocks through his system. He could feel things!
As he regained his breath, Yami's eyes widened at this revelation, and he immediately looked down at his hands. There was no translucent image, but pale, solid flesh that could feel the sheets beneath his fingers – actually feeling. No distortion, or sense of strangeness, but pure feeling that raced through his nerves.
Excitement welled up inside him, and he slid out of the bed, noting briefly that the hospital gown he wore was very undignified, and making his way to his hikari's bed, ignoring the throbbing headache that appeared in his head as he moved. His hand touched Yugi's shoulder, and for the first time, Yami could actually feel his hikari's warmth.
"Yugi! Yugi! Wake up!"
Yugi felt himself being shaken, by a hand that was unfamiliar, and yet strangely comforting at the same time. His eyes flickered open, and focused on the radiant face of his other half. He blinked in confusion.
"Are you alright hikari?" The tiredness in Yugi's eyes, reminded the Pharaoh of just how much they had all been through. His excitement was gone, quickly replaced by worry. Yugi sat up slowly, giving Yami a long, unsure look.
"Erm…I'm fine. Are you okay?"
Tentatively, Yami nodded. He certainly felt fine, minus the oncoming headache that was now ringing in his ears…but this definitely was not a normal situation as far as spirits confined to certain Millennium Items were concerned.
"…am I seeing double?" came Malik's voice, laced with shock and confusion of its own. Both Yugi and Yami turned to see their Egyptian friend sitting upright on his own bed, looking between the two as though he could not believe his eyes.
"If you are, then I am too," Yugi assured his friend.
"Yugi…Malik…Yami?!" Ryou too sounded as though he were having trouble piecing the situation together. However his eyes quickly landed on the last occupied bed in the Hospital Wing, which was being filled by none other than his own darker half.
"Bakura!" Ryou leaped off his bed, but immediately his legs gave way and he buckled to the floor. Yami was by his side immediately, still trying to ignore the pain in his own skull and helping him up. Yugi and Malik tried to stand, but found that moving much beyond an upright sitting position caused their heads to spin, and so they thought better of it.
"What is going on?" Ryou asked in bewilderment, apparently more than a little disturbed by the fact that Yami was physically supporting him back to the bed. "Why are both of you…solid?"
"That's what I'd like to know," Malik said, folding his arms.
"Would you all keep it down please?" came a croaky voice from the last bed. Bakura's eyes blinked slowly open. Yami fought down a wave of dizziness. He had been standing up too long.
"Yami, get back into bed," Yugi said firmly. "I can feel you have a headache. Why did you get out of bed in the first place?"
"Excitement," Yami said honestly, clambering carefully back into his own bed.
"By the Gods…" Bakura groaned, sitting up straight and wincing as the room span a bit. "The last time I had a headache like this, I was drunk and I broke into the palace…that was an awesome night…"
A wicked grin curled across his face as he recalled the memory.
"I'm going to regret asking this…" Malik said. "But what exactly did you get up to?"
Bakura's grin became even more unholy.
"Let's just say I became very well acquainted with the Pharaoh's harem…" he whistled. "Some of those girls were gorgeous…as were you Pharaoh."
Yami's face turned five shades of red, and he buried his head under the pillow. Through the mindlink, Yugi could hear his dark cursing his lack of memory and his inability to deny or confirm what the Thief King had just said. Ryou rolled his eyes and threw a grape at his darker half, while Malik almost fell off his bed laughing at the Pharaoh's embarrassment.
"D-did that really happen?!" he demanded. Bakura smirked and nodded.
"Okay that's enough!" Ryou said firmly. "Stop embarrassing Yami, Bakura…and stop sending me mental images! God!"
This time it was a pillow that hit Bakura in the face and the thief groaned as his headache became worse.
"What a way to welcome us into the world," he muttered. "Feels like Yugi vs Kaiba in my skull."
Yami's eyes shot open suddenly, and he looked wildly around the Hospital Wing.
"Kaiba! Where is he?"
Sure enough, the grumpy CEO was nowhere to be found.
"You don't think he's…?" Ryou trailed off, his face paling further.
"He's not dead Ryou," Bakura scoffed. "The Shadows would be in disorder if he was. No I reckon he got better and buggered off. Couldn't stand all the 'hocus pocus nonsense' going on around him."
Speaking of hocus pocus nonsense," Malik said, gesturing at Yami and Bakura as he spoke. "Does anyone have any idea how this happened?"
"Not a clue," Yugi said honestly. "Yami and Bakura shouldn't even be visible, much less have their own solid forms!"
Just to confirm that they were solid, both Yami and Bakura simultaneously ran their hands over their arms and shoulders. Bakura cautiously traced a finger over his left eye, and found the three scars imprinted there, while Yami ran his hands through his tri-coloured spiky locks.
"I wonder…" Yami said thoughtfully. "If this is a side effect to us beating the Leviathan."
"How?" Bakura asked. "All we did was absorb a bunch of magic and have our monsters throw it at the thing."
"Unless…" Malik muttered, before clapping his hands together. "You two are sponges!"
There was a long silence at this peculiar announcement.
"….you what?" Bakura finally asked.
"Explain yourself please Malik," Yami said patiently.
"Sorry," Malik blushed. "That came out wrong. What I meant is, you guys have been absorbing magic since we arrived at this school haven't you? You've said it yourself, monsters have been easier to summon, your powers have got stronger…all that stuff?"
"Yes," Yami nodded, remembering the first time they had discussed this topic in this very same room after Yugi's duel against Ivan.
"What if absorbing all that power to attack the Leviathan with, boosted your abilities enough to give you a solid form?" Malik finished breathless with his revelation. "Like a sponge filling with water?"
Yami thought about this hard for a second. "It would make sense I suppose. But I had no idea that absorbing the magic from the school would be enough to give us bodies."
"I have a hunch these aren't real bodies," Bakura said shrewdly. "Watch."
And as he spoke, his hand slowly began to vanish into wisps of black shadows.
"Bakura!" Ryou shouted in alarm. "Stop that! It's creepy!"
"Sorry," Bakura apologised, and immediately the shadows reformed into a solid hand on the end of his arm. "But see? They're not real bodies. They're a combination of Shadow magic and a little bit of Wizard magic locked onto our souls. They give us a solid form, but they seem to have their limits."
"So that's why they feel like real bodies," Yami realised. "They're extensions of our souls. That's why we're breathing and blinking, because it's natural to them."
He placed a hand on his chest, and felt his heart beating. It brought a smile to his face.
"Our souls have their own temporary homes."
"But what about the Items?" Ryou asked.
"I doubt we've lost our connection to them," Bakura said. "We will just have to see. There's going to be a lot of trial and error over the next few days I imagine."
"Well this will be fun!" Malik grinned.
"But it's over now?" Ryou asked. "The Leviathan is gone?"
"The Leviathan is gone, but…" Yugi looked at his deck, which was placed on the table by his bed. On top of it was The Eye of Timaeus.
"Timaeus is still here," Yami stated, seeing where his hikari was looking. "I don't think it is completely over yet."
As he finished speaking, the Hospital Wing doors were pushed open slowly…and then they exploded inward with a cheer.
"They're awake!" Ron shouted happily, and Harry and Hermione charged in after him.
"Would you please keep the noise down?" Bakura demanded angrily, rubbing his skull and wishing he had some of those pills that Ryou liked to take when he was in pain.
/Paracetamol yami/ Ryou provided.
Malik seemed to read their minds.
"I don't suppose any of you three have pain killers do you?"
"Well that's a nice greeting," Ron muttered.
"No one told us you were up!" Hermione ranted. "And we asked to be kept updated on your progress!"
"Well we literally only woke up about five minutes ago," Ryou pointed out. "Madam Pomfrey hasn't been around yet."
"She touches me and she is going to the Shadow Realm…" Bakura muttered, shoving the pillow over his head. He realised very quickly that this was a bad idea, and immediately began coughing loudly.
"I think," Yami said, trying not to smirk at Bakura's misfortune. "That it's going to take some time for us to get use to being alive again."
"So you two did come back to life?" Harry tried to clarify.
"Not really…" Yami said, picking up a grape from the table next to him. "We don't know exactly what happened, but we think Bakura and I might have absorbed a certain amount of different types of magic, which can be solidified into a physical form."
He popped the grape into his mouth and was thrilled that he could chew through the flesh and taste the sweetness. Yugi laughed at the look of bliss on his darker half's face.
"Erm…what?" Ron looked confused.
"In short," Malik grinned. "They're like human sponges. Except instead of water, they soak up magic which makes them solid."
"Okay…I think I get that," Ron frowned.
"Of course it's only a theory," Bakura pointed out. "We could be wrong."
"We'll just have to see," Yugi shrugged. "In the mean time, how is everyone?" He looked worriedly at Harry, Ron and Hermione. "Was anyone hurt?"
"About a third of the DA were rendered soulless," Harry reported. "But they're all fine now. About five people were seriously injured, but they've all mostly recovered. The Death Eaters were quite keen not to kill us before they could knock us out and take our souls."
Yugi, Yami and Ryou relaxed, relieved to know that no one was dead.
"What about the Death Eaters?" Malik asked.
"In Azkaban," Hermione stated. "All except Lucius Malfoy. When the Seal was shattered…"
"Who did that?" Yami interrupted.
"Dark Magician Girl," Harry said, in an unsure tone. "I don't know what she was doing there…"
"We do," Yami nodded. "Sorry for interrupting."
"Well when the Seal was shattered," Hermione continued. "His whole body began to mutate. It was horrible," she shuddered. "In the end we didn't recognise him anymore. The Ministry had to identify him by his wand."
"Is he…?" Ryou trailed off. Their fellow Gryffindors nodded.
"They're not sure, but they think the shock was too much for his system. He's not just dead. His soul is completely gone, and it didn't come back like the others."
Yami and Yugi exchanged dark looks. They could hazard a guess at what had happened. It was the same type of mutation that had happened to the Death Eater outside the Game Shop at Easter, and that had befallen the citizens of Atlantis. But the impact of having all the stones break the Seal must have ripped the soul it was tied to apart – namely Lucius Malfoy's. He hadn't just lost his soul. It had been scattered into atoms.
"How's Draco coping?" Malik asked. Harry looked surprised.
"Well…" Ron filled in. "We haven't really seen much of him since the attack…"
"You haven't even asked him how he's doing?" Malik asked in disbelief, before rolling his eyes. "Dear Ra…do you know how he must be feeling right now?"
Harry was thoughtful. He did know how Malfoy must be feeling, because he had felt it himself a number of times. Truthfully he had been meaning to seek out the Slytherin for a while now, but his concern for the Japanese students had driven that out of his mind. He guessed from the look on Ron and Hermione's faces that they had not thought about Malfoy at all.
"I'll find him later," he promised, taking Ron and Hermione by surprise. "I've been meaning to anyway."
Malik frowned and really wished he could get out of bed and find the Slytherin himself. But his head throbbed again, and he settled back down on the mattress instead.
"Good…because I don't think any of us will be moving for at least a day…channelling all that energy was tiring."
"Exactly what did you do to that giant snake thing?" Ron asked. "Because whatever it did knocked you out pretty good."
"In short," Ryou said. "We drew magic from the school and the surrounding area into our own bodies, fed it into our duel monsters and used it to increase their attack so that they were strong enough to defeat the Leviathan."
"Wow…" Harry said. "That was short."
"You absorbed magic from the school?" Hermione breathed. "I didn't think that was physically possible!"
"And when does anything involving us constitute as physically possible?" Bakura grunted.
"True," Hermione conceded. "But still, that amount of energy must have been…incredible."
"It was," Yugi smiled. "And our friends were there to help, which made it all the more stronger."
"We need to contact them," Ryou said. "Find out how Joey is. I'm sure he must have woken up…Red Eyes was there at the end after all."
Ryou was drifting off to sleep again, and Bakura frowned as he noticed this.
"Go back to sleep Ryou…we're all tired I think…"
He yawned in a cat-like manner and squished the pillow into a more comfortable shape.
"We'd better let you get some more rest," Hermione said briskly. "We'll come back and visit later."
"I'm not tired," Malik said, waving a hand.
"Speak for yourself," Yami muttered. "I'm going to see if this headache goes away with rest…"
"We'll let Madam Pomfrey know you were awake on our way out," Ron suggested, as Yugi yawned and curled up under the sheets again.
/Sleep well Yami…/
Yami grinned, before a thought occurred to him.
"Hey…" he said slowly, causing the Gryffindor's to stop at the doorway. "What date is it today?"
"June the fourth," Harry stated. "Why?"
"Happy birthday Aibou."
Cracking open one eye, Yugi grinned. To have his other half giving him a radiant smile while he said those words, was the best present ever.
Harry, Ron and Hermione were still grinning when they left the Great Hall after dinner that evening. They had informed the rest of their classmates that the Japanese students were awake, and they had immediately been badgered by people wanting to know if they were alright, when they would be getting out, would they be coming back to the school, and who the two extra guests were. The three friends had answered or deflected the questions calmly, feeling relieved enough just to have everything back to normal.
It was leaving dinner, that they spotted Malfoy making his own way into the hall. The Slytherin nodded at them before hurrying along, and Harry remembered his promise to Malik.
"Hey Malfoy…" Harry faltered slightly. He was still not quite ready to go and start addressing the Slytherin by his first name.
"Potter?" Malfoy looked surprised at being approached, and Harry felt very awkward.
"Just thought you'd like to know…Yugi, Ryou and Malik woke up this afternoon."
Malfoy raised an eyebrow, obviously confused as to why Harry was telling him this.
"Malik was asking after you," Harry filled in quickly.
"Oh…I see," Malfoy was frowning now, before his face cleared up and he looked…almost happy. "Thanks. Are they okay?"
"Yeah…had headaches from hell, by the sounds of it," Harry explained. "But they're fine."
"…and these rumours about the extra people?" Malfoy asked curiously. Harry nodded.
"We don't quite understand it," he admitted. "But yeah, the Pharaoh and Bakura are, kind of…real now."
Malfoy raised an eyebrow.
"And Bakura being the thief…interesting…you'd better keep an eye on your belongings then Potter. I'd just hate for your broomstick to go missing. I'd like at least some challenge when we next play Quidditch."
Maybe it was the tone he said it in, but that threat didn't sound malicious. In fact, Harry realised, it could almost pass for friendly banter, in whatever weird way he or Malfoy could ever say anything remotely friendly to each other.
"You keep dreaming Malfoy," he said, turning on his heel, but allowing himself to smirk a little. "You just keep dreaming."
Malfoy smirked back and headed in the hall for dinner. Harry shook his head and continued on towards the staircase. His friends followed, Ron looking mildly flabbergasted, and Hermione looking as though she were repressing the urge to smile.
It was the weirdest and most awkward conversation Harry had ever had.
But it was a conversation…and that was a start.
The Japanese students were discharged from the Hospital Wing the next day, after Madam Pomfrey was absolutely sure that they were in no more danger of exhausting themselves. She had seemed rather keen to get rid of them, and had shooed them out of the doors once they were dressed and had gathered their gifts together. This may have been due to the fact that she found Yami and Bakura just a little bit unsettling. The second time the group had woken up, it was to find Madam Pomfrey screaming in terror, as Yami and Bakura had literally vanished from their beds, right under her nose, vaporising into shadows that disappeared into thin air. Yugi and Ryou had instantly checked their Items, and found the spirits sleeping comfortably in their soul rooms. After a long sleep, both of them were able to reappear again.
"So we can't hold the solid forms indefinitely," Yami had concluded, as they filled in Harry, Ron and Hermione as they left the Hospital Wing. "At a guess, I'd say we have to return to our soul rooms to rest every twenty four hours or so. Recharging our magic, if you will."
"You're still tied to us then?" Yugi said. He hadn't admitted it, but he had been wondering, if now that Yami and Bakura had a solid form, if they would want to stick around. Yami smiled, sensing his hikari's worry.
"And I wouldn't have it any other way Aibou," he said honestly. Yugi beamed back. Bakura just grunted at the affectionate display, but he had exchanged a quick smile with Ryou. It was enough for the hikari. Bakura would not be leaving him anytime soon. Ryou had to smile at how far things had come in the last year. Until recently he would have been terrified at the thought of his yami having a solid form. But now, it made him happy that Bakura could have more freedom, even listening to him grumble was pleasant.
"It's still so…weird," Ron said, poking Bakura in the arm. The thief glared, and his knife appeared out of nowhere, leaping into its master's hand obediently. Ryou rolled his eyes, and swore that if Bakura hurt anyone, he would be sorry. Ron yelped and jumped backwards in alarm, almost knocking Hermione into the wall.
"If you think it's weird, how do you think we feel?" Ryou pointed out.
"It's true though," Harry said. "I mean up until a few months ago, we didn't know you guys existed. Now you're…here. You're real…I mean you were real before but…"
"You're confusing yourself Harry," Hermione said gently, while Malik and Bakura snickered.
"I think what you meant," Yami said patiently, "is that we seem more alive to you three now."
"Yeah but you were alive before…weren't you?" Ron asked.
"No, we were dead," Bakura corrected. "But the soul never dies. The life we have now isn't really being alive either though. If you define being alive as being able to interact with the world around you, then we are alive. But if you define alive by aging or growing up, then we are dead. The Pharaoh and I will never age, even in this form."
"So then…you're somewhere in between?" Hermione guessed.
"I suppose," Yami shrugged. "I doubt we will ever know for sure. For now, Bakura and I should just be grateful that we can appear like this."
"Can you still take over Yugi and Ryou though?" Harry asked suddenly.
"Yes," Bakura nodded. He had tried to take over Ryou's body earlier, and it had worked. The link between the yami's and hikari's had been in no ways damaged by absorbing so much magic.
"Hmm…somehow I thought since you have your own forms now, you would lose access to their bodies or something," Harry shrugged.
"Hey, when Voldemort returned you didn't lose your connection did you?" Malik pointed out.
"That is true…" Harry realised. "But are you still…"
"About time we found you dweebs!"
Everyone's heads snapped forwards. Standing at the end of the corridor, with his arms folded, and a disapproving frown on his face, was Seto Kaiba. But he was not alone.
"Joey!" Yugi was tearing down the corridor and tackling his best friend around the middle, while the blonde just laughed.
"Alright Yug'? Rich Boy said you were still in hospital."
"Just got out today," Yugi replied, stepping backwards and allowing Tea to sweep him into a tight hug too. Yugi could feel his face turning red, and he heard Yami chuckle in the back of his mind.
/Not a word, Other me!/
//If you insisted Aibou. But I can't vouch for…//
"Oh please…someone get me a bag. I'm going to hurl," Bakura muttered. Ryou shot him a silencing glare, before following Malik and approaching the group too.
"We were so worried!" Tea said, releasing Yugi enough to look him in the eye. "Kaiba said you were still unconscious after your fight with the Leviathan."
"We're all fine," Yugi assured her. "Well…after a fashion."
He looked over his shoulder. Tea followed his glance, and her eyes went wide as they locked onto Yami and Bakura, standing back and watching the scene quietly beside Harry, Ron and Hermione, who were not really sure if they should move along or not. Tristan and Joey looked up from greeting Ryou and Malik, and their jaws fell open at the sight of the two visible spirits.
"Oh great," Kaiba muttered, upon seeing the solid looking doubles. "I'm…"
"Hallucinating again?" Joey finished, almost automatically. Kaiba glared at him.
"Whatever, I'm out of here."
And he swept from the corridor, trench coat flaring out behind him.
"Well excuse us, Rich Boy," Joey grumbled.
"Maybe we shouldn't have nagged him to bring us here so much," Tristan pointed out.
"Uh, you two nagged him," Tea corrected. "I was all for taking the wizard fireplaces to get here."
Both boys shuddered.
"Yeah, no thanks. I'm not all that keen to go stand in some fireplace," Joey muttered, before turning his attention back to Yami and Bakura. "So…does anyone want to explain?"
"You mortals can," Bakura said, tossing his spiky hair over his shoulder and stalking back the way they had come. "I am going to stretch my legs. It has been five thousand years after all."
And he marched off.
"Bakura's still…" Tristan looked unsure on how to phrase the end of that question.
"Difficult?" Yami provided, approaching cautiously. He was worried about the reaction he would get from the rest of the gang – after all, they were primarily Yugi's friends. He would never have known them if not for his aibou.
/Not they're not Other Me/ Yugi corrected through the open mind link. /They're our friends. Mine and yours/
"I was going to say, an ass," Tristan shrugged.
"Meh, that works too," Joey stated, before giving Yami a slap on the shoulder. "Good to see you Pharaoh."
"Likewise," Yami smiled.
"Let's go for a walk," Yugi suggested. "You guys can explain to us how you got here and we will tell you what's been happening in the last few days."
"Including why the Pharaoh and Bakura aren't all ghosty anymore?" Joey asked. He received a light slap on the arm from Tea for his lack of tack and Yugi laughed. He had missed moments like this, and he never wanted to be apart from them again.
Just over an hour later, it was well into the afternoon, and the students of Hogwarts were firmly stuck into their lessons. Since they were not technically students any longer, Yugi, Yami, Ryou and Malik sat with their friends in the deserted courtyard, and were finishing up their explanations. The grim darkness that the Orichalcos had brought, had vanished from the school, and the sun was beating down on their backs and heads. It was welcome relief to the cold chill that had been going around recently.
Malik had got bored of the story telling, and so he excused himself, got up and gone for a wander around the castle. He was whistling the few bars he knew of a song that he wasn't sure the name of over and over to himself, when he rounded the corner and ran into Bakura – literally.
"Ow! Careful Ishtar! You'll damage my horde!"
Malik looked at the bundle of robes in Bakura's arms and his eyebrows arched into his hair.
"So this is what you're doing with your new lease of life?" he asked. "Thieving from the school?"
Bakura snorted. "No. I'm thieving from little children."
He pulled back the robes to reveal a hefty stash of dungbombs. A devious grin spread across Malik's face.
"Where were you planning on dropping those, may I ask?" he inquired. Bakura smirked evilly.
"Follow me, my accomplice and you will find out."
Yugi had to admit, that when they hadn't been part of the drama, Joey, Tristan and Tea made a very good audience. They had sat their with their mouths hanging open in various combinations of terror, awe and disbelief throughout the whole retelling of the battle against the Leviathan. Joey had scowled all through the duel with Angus and Raquel, as his own bad memories of the pair of Death Eaters were brought to the front of his mind again. Explaining what had happened in the Dominion of Souls had been complicated because they had all been separated, and Tea had screamed when Ryou had explained about how they all thought Kaiba had died.
"He never told us that!" Tea had shrieked indignantly.
"Probably didn't want to admit that he had almost died," Tristan said. "Kaiba kinda likes to believe he's invincible."
Yami was just explaining how he and Bakura were able to conjure up their own solid forms, when there were a series of loud screams from the third floor. Being in the courtyard, the sound travelled to the ears of all present.
"What was that?!" Yami leaped to his feet immediately, the eye of Horus glowing on his head.
"Bakura!" Ryou exploded suddenly, as he caught a hint of what had just happened down the mind link. Everyone jumped. They had never heard him shout that loudly before. "Get down here before Snape kills you!"
//Like he could!// was the yami's response.
"Damn Tomb Robber," Yami cursed, sitting down, feeling a little embarrassed that he had reacted so hastily. Joey and Tristan were trying not to grin, and Tea just gave the Pharaoh a reassuring smile.
"What have they done?" Yugi asked Ryou. Above their heads, there was a rumble of footsteps coming from the third floor, and the sounds of much choking.
"Dungbombs in the Defence Against the Dark Arts class," Ryou was scowling. Joey and Tristan doubled over in silent fits of laughter, and a smile was appearing at the corner of Tea's mouth too. Yami was glaring viciously at a caterpillar that happened to be scaling the wall nearby, as though it had been responsible for the chaos. Yugi was also trying not to laugh, and when he and Tea caught each others eyes, neither of them could hold it in any longer, and joined Joey and Tristan in a loud round of hysterics.
"It's not funny!" Ryou spluttered at his highly amused friends. "If Snape catches them I'll be the one in trouble! Everyone thinks Bakura is me!"
"Everyone who doesn't know," Yugi pointed out. "And besides, we aren't technically students anymore, so they can't punish us for anything."
"Snape is still going to kill them!" Ryou said.
"Au contraire hikari," came a low voice from behind him. Ryou yelped and whirled around to see Bakura standing there with a smirk all over his face. "I would love to see that overgrown bat catch us when he's currently trying to get his classroom air breathable again."
"And besides!" Malik said, popping up from nowhere next to Bakura. "We just got Harry, Ron and Hermione out of that class!"
"Suddenly…seeing you two, I fear for my life," Tristan said honestly.
"So you should do Taylor," Bakura said, folding his arms. "So you should do."
It wasn't until the next morning when Seto Kaiba entered the castle again.
He had spent the remainder of the previous day flying to the nearest airport, refuelling and flying back to the castle. He had been annoyed to discover that his laptop refused to work when within range of the school, and so he had waited out the time while his plane refuelled by wading through the work that had accumulated in his few days of running about with Yugi and his friends. He hated the build up of things for him to do that always seemed to come about when he got dragged into one of Yugi's adventures.
He sighed in a rare show of emotion as he entered the Entrance Hall. It was the sad truth. No matter how much he tried to distance himself from Yugi (even when the shrimp was on the other side of the damn world) he still managed to get drawn into his rival's magical conflicts. He twitched. He had just thought that hated 'M' word.
His views on that nonsense that Yugi sported had been challenged to extremes over the last few days. He hated that he was currently standing in a school that supposedly taught that hocus pocus rubbish to students. He hated that the geek squad were explaining how they fell unconscious in the chamber as being transported to another dimension. And he hated remembering that he – Seto Kaiba – had somehow blocked an attack that should have killed him, by a means that he himself was unsure of.
It was magic that helped Negate Attack to appear, as Mirror Force had done for Yugi in the park last summer…
No it wasn't! Magic does not exist!
Then how did he explain Yugi and Ryou's doubles?
And that pissed him off even further.
He growled, and fought to stop himself from hitting the wall. Instead he glared at a group of boys who were heading through the door on the left, from which a great deal of noise was emerging. He suspected he would find Yugi and the rest of his little friends in there. He should go tell them that he was flying back to Japan today…
So why was he hesitating outside the door?
It wasn't like he was afraid of them.
He just didn't want to see their doubles because…
Because I might just end up acknowledging them.
If there was one thing that Kaiba hated more than this whole situation, it was admitting that he was wrong.
Being wrong, meant making a mistake. And Seto Kaiba did not make mistakes! He was in control of everything in his life!
"You're looking very frustrated Seto Kaiba."
Kaiba snapped out of his mental rant to see a smiling old man standing at the foot of the staircase with a good natured twinkle in his eye. Kaiba recognised him immediately. It was the wizard who had visited him in the middle of the night a year ago, and offered him the invitation to join his school – this school. The CEO was quite sure he would never forget the way the man had just appeared in the middle of his office at two in the morning.
"I am not frustrated," Kaiba said, as coolly as he could. "I was looking for Yugi."
Dumbledore inclined his head to the doorway on the left. "I believe they will be with the rest of the school, having breakfast. Will you be joining them?"
Kaiba snorted. "Unlikely. I have better things to do with my time than endure the company of those geeks. I was going to tell them that I'm going home in an hour, and if they want a free flight…"
He trailed off suddenly. Why was he explaining himself? It was none of this old man's business why he wanted to find Yugi. Yet the strange man, in plum coloured robes, standing before him with a disturbingly serene smile on his face, had an alarmingly strange way of disarming the CEO of his most snappy retorts. It was unnatural, and Kaiba didn't like it.
"I see," the headmaster said. "A shame…"
"What?" Kaiba asked, folding his arms.
"I was rather hoping they would return to us for the last month of school," Dumbledore admitted. "It seemed the least we could offer considering all they have done for us."
Kaiba rolled his eyes. "Well if I have my way, they will be on my jet within an hour, so tough luck."
He strode purposefully toward the doors of the Great Hall, but Dumbledore's voice stopped him.
"I should thank you too Seto." Kaiba twitched. No one but Mokuba could call him Seto! And yet Dumbledore was continuing. "You helped save my school and my students…"
"Save it," Kaiba cut him off, not caring how rude he was being. "A little help to Yugi and his friends saved me from enduring several annoying friendship rants."
Dumbledore raised his eyebrows. "Ah I see…"
"See what?" Kaiba demanded.
"How your relationship with them works."
"It is not a relationship!" Kaiba snarled, his carefully controlled anger beginning to rear its head.
"Oh but it is," Dumbledore said firmly, his eyes now no longer cheerful. "You might not want to see it, but it is a relationship – one that does not flourish to the best, I will admit – but it works for you and Yugi quite well."
"You know nothing," Kaiba glared. "I would happily…"
He stopped. He was going to say "happily have them out of my life for good" but he just couldn't say it. The words would not come out of his mouth. Dumbledore's smile reappeared slightly.
"You would happily keep that relationship for the rest of your life – and that is the truth. No matter how much discomfort it may cause you."
His face regained its normal smile, and he turned and faced the Great Hall.
"Yugi, Ryou, Malik and their other halves may have had some good times in this school, but I can see now that where their hearts lie are with their friends, in Japan…with you Seto."
Kaiba twitched again at the use of his given name, and at the mention of Yugi and Ryou's other selves. "You know nothing," he sneered, before striding out of the Entrance Hall, and back outside the castle. Dumbledore shook his head sadly at the young man who had just stormed out of his school, forgetting his mission to seek out Yugi and his friends.
"Run from the truth for too long Seto, and soon it will vanish forever."
"Dear Ryou –
I'm sure your school must have told you by now that I have recovered. Because of the severity of the tomb collapse though, the rest of the excavation has been called off until we can ascertain whether it is safe to begin again. I have also been granted recovery leave for two months, before I am expected back on excavations.
I have decided to spend my leave in England, since travelling all the way back to Japan will be a greater amount of hassle. It will also give me a chance to catch up on the paperwork I have missed. If you are still in England at the end of term, I shall look forward to having you stay with me for the holidays.
All the best.
"Father my arse!" Bakura snorted, causing everyone at the breakfast table to turn and give him weird looks.
"Bakura…" Ryou chastised gently.
"What?" Bakura retorted. "He is! The ass doesn't even know you're not at this school anymore!"
Yugi and Yami respectfully tried not to listen, but it wasn't hard to guess who the letter was from, or why Bakura was reacting this way. Harry, Ron and Hermione didn't want to say anything, just in case they set the volatile King of Thieves off, but they too could guess the reason for Bakura's irritation. Tristan and Tea were looking worried that Bakura would start having psychotic urges, and tensed, ready to duck under the table if the need became necessary. Joey had paused in shovelling food into his mouth to listen, and was also scowling darkly. Neglectful parents were a very sore spot for him after all.
Ryou didn't know how to feel. The letter had been short and very uncomfortable to read. And he knew his father must have felt uncomfortable writing it. Not only did they rarely speak anyway, but his father had just woken up from, what was being hailed as, a six month coma. And now he wanted him to stay over the holidays? That would be the most awkward way to spend the summer.
"You're still coming back to Japan right?" Yugi asked urgently, and Ryou felt a surge of affection for his vertically challenged friend. He did want to go back to Japan, desperately. As strange as it was, that city had a sense of belonging and normalcy (well, as normal as Ryou's life ever got) attached to it. He felt like he belonged there…at least now he did. The last year had changed everyone. He was much closer with Yugi and Malik now, and there was no denying he had a better connection with Bakura. He didn't want to be separated from everything good in his life.
"Of course I am," he said. Yugi looked relieved, and Malik gave a whoop of joy. Bakura was trying not to smirk, but it was still clear that he was thrilled not to have to spend time in the presence of his hikari's father.
"I never thought I would see the day when Bakura looked happy at the prospect of spending more time the Pharaoh's company," Malik snickered. Yami too, had a grin on his face, and Bakura just smirked.
"Why not?" he shrugged. "I can't kick the Pharaoh's arse if I'm half way across the world!"
Yami's grin became challenging. "Keep telling yourself that Bakura."
The thief glared and threw fried egg at Yami. Hermione tittered as the Pharaoh ducked and the egg splattered onto her newspaper. She went back to scanning it intensely.
"Any news?" Harry asked. Hermione shook her head.
"Not a thing," she said. "No one seems to know what happened to Voldemort after we left him in the chamber – not even the Death Eaters who were captured at the school. Some people in the Ministry are saying he's dead."
"He's not," Harry shook his head, for he was sure he would know if the Dark Lord had perished. "I reckon he's laying low."
Everyone else nodded, but Bakura was thinking. He had another theory on the Dark Lord's disappearance, but he did not want to share it in case he was wrong. He had sensed something in the Shadows that had been different ever since the battle with the Leviathan. It could have just been a build up from all the stress the realm had undergone lately, but then it had occurred to him that the fight in the chamber at Kul Elna had been a Shadow Game. It was possible therefore that the Shadows had taken the loser for a Penalty Game. There was no way to check this for sure however, and he was quite content to leave it alone. If Voldemort was suffering, all the better for the world, and if he was laying low, he would be very much weakened now that the Orichalcos had taken such a heavy hit. Either way, they would deal with the Dark Lord if he became a threat again.
At this point, Seto Kaiba strode down the Great Hall, ignoring the stares he was getting from the rest of the student body. Yugi, Ryou and Malik's fangirls immediately shrieked at the top of their lungs, but at a glare from the CEO, they fell silent like a pack of frightened animals.
"Damn…" Joey muttered. "Wish I could do that…"
"Morning Kaiba," Yugi said with a smile. Kaiba just grunted, and drew a deep breath.
"I'm here to tell you geeks that if you aren't on the jet in an hour, I'm taking off without you."
No one was quite sure how Kaiba had managed to find Hogwarts again, let alone fly one of Kaiba Corp's executive jets there without it crashing. Even if he could have found the place, the jet's electronics should have died as soon as they got close to such a magically dense environment. Yet somehow, the pristine titan of engineering was parked by the side of the lake, furthest away from the school, looking no worse for wear than it would have had it just flown around the globe.
Yami had a hunch however that the CEOs magic had played a part in their friend's arrival. He just had to look at Kaiba's aura to see that the previous battle had done wonders for his abilities…even if he wouldn't admit it. They had already proven over the course of their visit to Hogwarts that Shadow magic and electronics were compatible, so somehow, Kaiba must have kept the aircraft in one piece in time to land it.
Yami was also amused as he noticed how Kaiba was resolutely ignoring him and Bakura. It seemed he would still be the same stubborn, cynical CEO, even if he had almost died in Egypt.
"Say what?!" Joey demanded. "You expect us to be ready to go in an hour?!"
"Yes I do," Kaiba confirmed. "Did your dog sized brain comprehend that statement properly Wheeler?"
"Shut your mouth!" Joey snapped. "I am not a dog!"
"Leave it Joey," Tea said firmly, as Tristan seized the blonde around the waist to stop him from leaping over the table and throwing breakfast cereal at Kaiba.
"Damn…a fight would have amused me," Bakura muttered. Ryou kicked him under the table.
"Thanks for the offer Kaiba," Yugi said. "But since we technically never left the country…"
"Immigration has been dealt with," Kaiba replied in a bored voice.
"With a few well placed bribes," Tristan muttered.
"So we're going home then?" Ryou asked eagerly.
"In one hour," Kaiba repeated, before turning on his heel, his trench coat billowing out behind him. Yami noticed with interest how the CEO's sapphire eyes flickered towards Dumbledore, before narrowing in anger, and he wondered what the headmaster had done to rile his rival up so much. Kaiba strode from the hall, leaving several swooning fangirls in his wake.
"Rich boy really knows how to ruin a meal," Joey muttered, pushing his food away. Ron eyed it hopefully, before seizing one of the leftover sausages when Joey wasn't looking.
"So…this is goodbye?" Hermione asked sadly.
"Yeah, we guess so," Yugi nodded. "We'll miss you guys."
"Its going to be weird not seeing you for so long," Malik added.
"What do you mean?" Joey frowned at them all. "You'll see them soon."
"Huh?" Bakura asked stupidly, a rasher of bacon half way to his mouth. Joey rolled his eyes.
"Did you all forget?" he asked. "The World Championships are in London this summer."
There was a long silence, and then Malik gave a snort of laughter.
"Damn…I had forgotten!"
"So you'll be back over the summer?" Harry asked eagerly.
"Seems so!" Yugi was grinning widely now. "We'll have to meet up!"
"Yeah, you guys can come cheer us on!" Joey nodded enthusiastically.
"Spending the summer at an internationally based competition?" Hermione said slowly. "Why does this sound like the Quidditch World Cup all over again?"
"Oh don't be so worried Hermione," Ron shrugged. "What can possibly happen at a Duel Monsters Tournament?"
At this, the Japanese people exchanged looks before bursting into laughter.
"What did I say?" Ron asked in a bemused manner.
"Nothing Ron…" Ryou shook his head, before standing up. "I guess we'd better get going if we want to catch our flight."
Hermione immediately engulfed Malik and Yugi into a hug, making them swear that they would write to them. Yami hastily backed away and headed towards the staff table. He stopped before Dumbledore, who was looking at him with a knowing twinkle in his eye.
"We are leaving," the Pharaoh said simply. Dumbledore inclined his head.
"I had summarised Pharaoh," he indicated the stream of goodbyes now being called to Yugi, Ryou and Malik. "I believe Hogwarts is forever in the debt of you and your friends. I don't think I need to tell you that you are all welcome back here."
"Maybe someday," Yami nodded. "We shall return. For now, we have a home to return to."
"As everyone should," Dumbledore said. "Thank you for all your help."
"No thanks needed Headmaster," Yami stated. "Being welcomed into this world and all the opportunities it has given us is all the thanks we could ask for."
He bowed briefly to Dumbledore before turning and heading back to the Gryffindors. Yugi had escaped the hugging session and smiled as Yami stood beside him.
"Okay Hermione…air would be greatly appreciated!" Ryou said, as his lungs were squeezed by a now tearful looking Hermione.
"Stop strangling my hikari, you daft woman!" Bakura snapped, wrenching Ryou out of Hermione's grasp, and giving her a look that said quite clearly 'hug me and you die!'
"We'll write to you when we get back," Malik said firmly.
"Make sure you do," Harry said.
"Ready to go everyone?" Joey called, he and Tristan and Tea already by the door of the hall.
"Yeah," Yugi nodded, sharing another smile with Yami. "We're ready!"
And waving at all the students, the group left the Great Hall, and began their long journey back where they truly belonged.
Some stories end with a beginning.
Others begin with an end.
The end of this year has come. The story has been told. But not everything is clear. Just as no destiny is set in stone, now conclusion comes so easily.
The darkness is beaten…but it has not gone.
~End of Book One~
Start date: 27th June 2007
Publication date: 18th July 2007
Finish date: 8th November 2008
Last entry posted: 1st January 2009
A/N: And it's FINISHED!
(The cast of the story appear, popping party poppers, bottles of champagne, blowing party whistles and cheering)
Gah! Bakura! Not the face! I've got champagne in my eyes! Ryou I love you too but please get off me! Yugi! No tackle glomping! Oooff!
(finally detangles herself from her excitable cast of characters)
Okay first things first – I know now that this story is finished, you all want to know about the sequel (you're an impatient lot, aren't you?). I did leave a few loose ends in this story (like the mysterious person who was putting the stones in the castle) unanswered. These will be dealt with in the sequel.
I have started writing. However the chapters won't be posted for ages. The main reason is this. I've decided I want to do postgrad after I get my BA. Of course getting my BA hinges on the next six months. I still have another three modules to complete, and I need to get my dissertation up to a good standard (I'm aiming for a 2.1). So I've decided during the next six months, my degree comes first.
In essence, the sequel is going to be a long time in coming – definitely nothing before May when my dissertation is due in. And to be honest, I need a break. I need to go back to just writing for myself, with no deadline looming over my head like an ominous rain cloud. It'll definitely do me some good to have some time off, and then I can work on Magic Monsters Dominions and Destiny at a more relaxed pace.
Anyway, enough about the next one, let's wrap up this one!
This story started out as a summer project when I randomly decided to jump on the crossover bandwagon. I never expected it to turn into something bigger, and I've loved every second of writing it. I have a million people without whom this fic could never have come about, and who I must give thanks to.
First off, to all my reviewers, and all those of you who just dropped in to read and didn't bother reviewing (and I KNOW you're out there! I see you all on my Reader Traffic! Yes even you people in Brazil! I see you all!).
To Hakurei Ryuu, Phate Phoenix, and ahilty, who's concrit has meant so much, and who's own stories have been a phenomenal source of inspiration.
To MyAibou for letting me borrow cards/card specs, and who's work continually reminds me of the beauty of this fandom.
To MutouMiriku and MichaelDJ54 who have kept me motivated and highly inspired more than I can say.
To DuelistBlake1852 for proof reading all my duels, and for just sitting and listening to me ramble like the crazy fangirl I am.
To Isis the Sphinx, for being an amazing beta, for putting up with my constant butchering of the English language, and overall, for being a great friend.
To Emmersonne and Yuallica, who for the past year and a half have put up with me locking myself in my room and refusing to come out and do the dishes until I had done another five hundred words.
Finally and most especially, to Mearle for lifting me up high, and to Tai for bringing me back down gently. You two are the most awesome sisters ever. You've been supporting me ever since I started writing, and you continue to do so now. Thank you both.
It's been a long, mad year for me. There have been a lot of highs and a lot of lows, but I can safely say, finishing this story goes on my highs list.
Happy New Year everyone!