It's Always the Quiet Ones

by Ryoga's best friend

AN – And so I return after a long hiatus. I'm really touched at the amount of people who were waiting for this story. I got many pms among those reviews, all really hoping I wouldn't let the fic die. It's cool to see how much people are enjoying it and despite my long silence I have been working bits and pieces on it and other fics. But really Thank you, all of you for your support. I really Appreciate it.

A big thanks to Windfalcon who edited this chapter for me as well as helped me write the prosopeio scenes. Anyway on with the show!

Chapter 4

After that first crazy week of Negi and Zazie's rooming situation things calmed down somewhat. They were hardly 'back to normal' for either but it had improved. Asuna seemed to be on speaking terms once more but there'd been no formal offer to come back to the room, her more subtle asking having completely missed the mark... even a child prodigy could be stupid after all. Zazie hadn't been hounded as bad, Haruna seemed to be biding her time and Kazumi seemed to be keeping her distance for some reason. If there was any buzz it had to do with a rather mysterious plushie that had appeared in seat one... Even if moved it would be right back on the seat come class time. Though cute it had been weirding some of the more skittish girls out. The local Miko, Mana, had confirmed that there was no evidence of spirits in the stuffed doll... but she promised to look into it.

Though with a 'challenge' from the headmaster the days leading up to the finals would be eventful to say the least. Negi awoke to a familiar warmth; his slowly waking mind cursed his sleepwalking. He could feel the weak hold of his roommate, her arms wrapped around him just as his was around her. He carefully opened one eye and was grateful to see a nightshirt barring view of her usually naked form. Despite her words in the past of not dressing for sleep since it was pointless she had taken to wearing a nightshirt to bed. She never gave a reason for the change, but for what ever reason it made waking up a bit easier. He shifted a bit to slip out of bed only to find himself being pulled back, her hug tightening. While far from 'well endowed' Negi could feel the unmistakable cushion of breasts as his face was pressed into her chest.

Fortunately it was for only a moment as Zazie gave a whisper of a yawn. She loosened her hold, passing a sleepy gaze to the blushing boy in her arms. "Good morning Sensei." her voice was softer and she still looked very tired. Normally the girl was quite the morning person, able to just 'be awake' the instant she opened her eyes.

"Um, Good Morning Rainyday-san." he replied with a light tremor of nervousness. Though it started to ebb as he took in her appearance. She looked pale, even her facial markings shared a lighter shade. "Are you okay? You don't look so well..."

The girl's eyes traveled to a small calendar by the bed frowning lightly before snuggling back into her pillow with a soft grunt. "No good... stay in bed."

"Your not feeling good... oh man and I have a staff meeting this afternoon. Afterwards I'll come back and take care of you in the evening." he offered surprised to feel her tense up.

"No." her reply was much faster then expected.

"I insist, I don't get sick easily. I Just-"

"No..." She replied, though now with a measure of reluctance. "Short sickness... Just need rest," she explained softly. "Asuna-san and Konoka-san... stay with them." she paused; he could feel a light tremor in her body. "...Just for tonight..."

"Well... if your sure." The child teacher was getting concerned at Zazie's odd behavior. There was something else to it, but he didn't press and both feel into silence. After several minutes passed Negi spoke up. "Um Rainyday-san... I do need to get up... I have to teach."

The girl blinked and let go... apparently she had forgotten. "I apologize."

"Ha ha, it's okay Rainyday-san." Negi slipped out from the covers and grasp of his roommate into a much cooler room. He watched her snuggle closer in the blankets as he went about the room doing dressing and preparing his notes for class. He packed a little extra for his now apparent sleep over back in his old room. Shouldering the bulking pack he turned to the bed, Zazie had barely moved from her sleeping position. "Sleep Well Zazie-san... I'll check in on you in the morning okay?"

A hand peeked out of the bundle of blankets and gave a thumbs up... such a curious girl. Negi slipped on his shoes and took his leave. After she was sure she was alone Zazie slipped out of bed, her hair out of place and nightshirt hanging crookedly on her form. She shuffled over to the closet and looked into the full-length mirror. Lightly touching the familiar marks on her face, they were fading even as she watched them.

From all corners of the room masked shadows phased into existence. Zazie made no move to acknowledge them as they gathered, a dozen or so looming about in a semi circle. A small sigh escaped her lips as she turned scanning over the unchanging masks. "I know..." she answered the silent question. "I'm ready." she turned her eyes downward as the shadows moved in from all sides, enveloping her form as the room darkened into black.

1234321

The turn of events had been quite a surprise for Asuna. Despite all that transpired her biggest obstacle had recommended Negi visit and even spend the night. It had taken a good bit of will power to not jump at the offer but the smile he gave at her agreement to the stay did bring one of her own to the surface. These afternoon study sessions had done a good deal of work toward settling things between herself and the teacher though unfortunately weren't making the proper progress to getting far in actual studying... they were the baka rangers for a reason. Though Yue, the baka leader, professed to have a plan but that meeting would not be until tomorrow evening when she had gotten to check her sources. For now she found herself heading to a place she had never planned to venture.

"It's just a quick stop to see if she needs anything."

"She said she wanted to be left alone right?" she muttered, sometimes he could be so thick. "She likely wants some privacy."

"But Asuna-san..." she faltered a bit at his sorrowful look. He really did care for all members of his class. If the situations were reversed she honestly could picture him coming her way even if she professed the same reason. istubborn kid.../i

"Fine fine, it's not like it's a far distance to travel I guess." Just a ways down the hall after all.

"Thanks Asuna-san!" he smiled brightly, "I'm sure she'd be happy if a classmate came to see her."

"Uh... I don't think I'm the best representative in that regard." She muttered remembering the burning red glare quite clearly.

"Huh? I don't think that's the case," the child teacher stated calmly as they strolled down the dorm hallway. "Rainyday-san looks up to you."

"Eh?" Asuna's steps faltered a bit. "She does?"

"Yes." Negi nodded, "She's a very quiet girl but I believe she admires the more outgoing members of the class. Your very open and friendly with much of the class, something she wishes to be."

"Oh." the redhead hadn't thought much about her 'rivals' motivations or admittedly not in a positive light. "She told you that?"

"Not exactly, but I guess you could say I've gotten better at reading her." he scratched the side of his head chuckling a little bit. "She doesn't talk a lot, even after she warms up to you you just have to learn to read her to find out what she's saying."

"Really...hm." the pair fell into silence the last few moments until arriving at the door.

"I'll just peek in to see if she's sleeping." Negi whispered lightly turning the key opening the door enough to poke his head in.

"Looks dark in there." Asuna muttered. The child teacher tensed up. "What?"

"Something's not right." with hardly another word Negi entered, shifting the staff from his back.

"Negi?" Asuna followed in a step behind, the room was pitch black. A blurry figure could be made out in the corner, couched down unmoving. The darkness was heavy in the air, almost palatable and alive. Immediately She reached over and flipped the light switch, but got no results.

"Rainyday-san..." That child said carefully, he could clearly feel the magic in that air. "Why are you sitting in the corner?" he watched her head cock slightly to the side at his voice but she did not move from her position of staring into the corner. The Child teacher moved forward slowly eying the area around him.

"The frog in the well was happy." The girl whispered, seemingly to herself. Though the distant airy tone seemed to carry through the room. "It wasn't interested what was outside the well."

"Rainyday-san?" Negi frowned in confusion at the odd statement but did not halt his advance; ghostly masks seemed to fade in and out of his peripheral vision.

"The frog in the well was happy." She repeated, her head lolling to the other side. "It was recluse to anything that happened outside the well." Asuna could hardly repress the chill down her spine, watching Negi move closer to Zazie's odd position. Her muscles tensed she felt the need to move forward and stop him. There was something not right in this. Negi rested a hand on the girl's shoulder feeling her tense at the touch.

"You really should be laying down, it's not good for a cold."

"And you were happy." Zazie's voice gained an odd edge to it. Her hand came up and rested atop his own... "Because you didn't know what occurred outside the well." long spindly fingers curled around his wrist and she turned to look over her shoulder, Her face bore neither of her facial markings. Eye's red, glowing in the dim light. "Negi-sensei." her grip tightened as shadow tendril reached out from all sides.

"Negi!"

"No, he's mine! Get away!"

"Ah!"

Crimson droplets trickled to the floor. Negi hissed in pain as he was pulled from from Zazie's frantic grasp, her long claws leaving trailing wounds down his forearm. He did his best to use magic to dull the pain. As his thoughts began to gather he started to notice a rather familiar feeling against his back. Asuna was holding the boy against her, both having fallen to the floor in the brief but harsh struggle.

"Negi, are you okay?" she asked sitting up.

"I think so..." they're eyes turned toward the wall where a struggling Zazie was restrained by shadowy tendrils. Hardly a coherent word came from the girl as she thrashed violently in the shadow's unwavering grip. He could feel Asuna tighten her protective hold.

"Just what the hell is going on?"

"I-I don't know... Rainyday-san... what's happened to you?"

"Dramatica Persona Theatrica! Ye Fiery Soul, Retreat from the world of Man to visit the Realm of Mab! Enchanted Sleep!" a familiar voice sounds out of nowhere, but the effects can be seen as Zazie staggers slightly. Her struggles weaken enough for the shadows to bind her properly. A blast of smoke mysteriously appears between Zazie and the two others in the room.

"What the-"

"Wait, that voice..." When the smoke clears, Prosopeio is seen, an ancient looking curved staff in the Ringmaster's hand pointed at Zazie.

"Tis unfortunate, but I fear my memory is slipping in my old age. Young Negi, Kagurazaka-san, are you both alright?" Asuna looked over the new arrival carefully.

Is that... another mage? Negi covered his wound.

"Don't worry this is nothing." he said rapidly, "But Rainyday-san...." he trailed off in concern looking to the feral girl now hanging limply in the shadows grasp.

"Yeah, what the hell is going on? why did she attack Negi?" Asuna finally found her voice but as the masked Mage's gaze settled her way she found herself wishing she hadn't spoken up. Prosopeio looks to Asuna and pointed the staff her way.

"Sadly, Kagurazaka-san... I cannot allow you to know. This is a matter for mages... not that you would know of them." a sinking feeling of deja vu filled her stomach as the mage began a spell. Though unlike the young mage in training's attempt there was a sureness to this... man's(?) voice.

"H-Hey hold on!" she swallowed only able to watch as the power built.

"Prosopeio-san wait!" Negi called out, trying to interpose himself between the caster and victim but it was too late.

"Dramatica Persona Theatrical! Ancient spirits of nature, purge this soul of the events of this day! Memory Erasure!" The tip of the staff started to glow... Only, instead of energy flying from the tip of the staff... a bright purple smoke billowing from the tip. "... w...what is this? The Spirits react strangely..." the tone seemed to imply a frown beneath the odd mask, a thick cloud of smoke enveloping both Asuna and Negi. Coughing the pair waved trying to clear the smoke, though even as it dissipated the pair were covered in a thick purple soot.

"Geez watch where you pull that stuff, you going to set off the sprinklers." she grumbled wiping the soot from her eyes.

"A backfire..." Negi gave a grateful sigh, but couldn't help but wonder a bit on why.

"Aw man... I'm going to have to take another bath now." the school girl muttered... at least she was still clothed.

"... You... bare some level of immunity?" Frowning, Prosopeio crossed arms.. before glancing at the door. "Shades of Zazira... Watch the door, ensure no one enters or overhears." white masks began to appear from all sides of the room.

"Immune?" Both Asuna and Negi said in a surprised unison. Asuna was quickly distracted by the white faces, hover over Negi unaware of his gaze turned her way.

Turning from the door, Prosopeio looked back at the two, before sighing. Moving to sit on a nearby chair, Prosopeio motioned to Negi and Asuna to find a place to sit. "Sit, both of you... Since I cannot affect Kagurazaka-san's memory, I'll have to rely on her sense of Honor. What I say does not get spread about... every word I tell you must be sworn to secrecy... else dark days will be ahead for everyone within the confines of this room.. am I understood?"

Negi Nodded, followed by a more hesitant Asuna... Her eyes traced the darkened room, chiefly between this strange masked man and the white faces that has appeared in the shadows. The day had certainly taken a turn for the strange... Just what have I gotten myself involved in? A soft hiss of pain brought her from her musings to turn her attention to her young companion. "Negi, we should really wash that out."

"I'm fine," The boy said stubbornly, eyes focused on Prosopeio, occasionally wavering to the unconscious Zazie. Asuna frowned but it slowly melted into annoyance as she saw his focus. She pulled a pillow cover off and took a hold of the injured. "Ow! Asuna!"

"Quit squirming, I'm just going to apply some pressure." She muttered using the cover to wrap around the scratches. She held the dressed wound in a firm but gentle grasp with both hands. "There, that should hold things off "

"Um... Thank you Asuna-san"

"Don't worry about it..." Prosopeio watched on silently until their conversation trailed off before beginning the explanation. A soft, feminine sigh left Prosopeio as the masked mage looked towards the wrapped Zazie.

"Again, I must apologize... I've never had to worry about others before when this happened... " Sighing softly, Prosopeio thought for a moment. "Zazie.. is not like others... She comes from the same realm I do... though even then she is rare within the Magic Country.

"Wait, Magic country?"

"It's kind of hard to explain... but there's another world of sorts. It's hidden and can only be reached by portals. Mages are plentiful and there are all sort of amazing things... I haven't gone there myself admittedly though..."

"oh..." Asuna blinked, she didn't even want to consider the prospects of another world on top of the other revelations today so she filed that information aside for later.

"Please continue Prosopeio-san." The mage nodded and took a deep breath.

"Zazie... Her lineage is one that causes much contention... and though she can barely tap into her birthright, she carries within her unfathomable power... Due to her bloodline, her sleeping powers grow unchecked every so often... Since this is the first time Zazie has lived away from me when this happened.. I had.. sadly.. forgotten. This is not her fault... so please... do not blame her."

"So what... Zazie is some kind of super mage I mean..." Asuna frowned "She doesn't look very... Human, right now." the claws and glowing eyes, it seemed beyond the kind of mischief she'd seen from Her young teacher. Something much more alien.

"Well... Non-humans are in abundance in Magic Country. In truth... though Zazie is humanoid... she is not human. Though her current appearance is merely a side effect of her uncontrolled powers. When her powers are sealed.. she is truthfully as strong or as weak as a normal human. Her powers stem from powerful, ancient magic... though she herself is not a mage. Human Magicks would be far too difficult for her honestly." Prosopeio's tone held a little reluctance, the mage was choosing words with great care. To give satisfactory answers but keep some details obscured.

"Oh..." Asuna muttered trying to wrap her head around it all. "Sealed? Hm, well now that I think about it even with the glowy eye thing she never seemed really... powerful." she noted. The quiet girl had always been rather middle of the road in sports, save gymnastics.

"A seal... You mean. The tattoos?" Negi did his best to piece things together.

"Hm?"

"Her tattoos, they looked faded this morning, I thought she was just pale from being sick. But look, there not there anymore." He pointed to the girl's unblemished face.

"You are correct Young Negi."

"But if she's sealed what's with all the shadows? I mean... those weren't yours running all around the campus before right?" Negi looked over a new niggling doubt coming to his mind.

The love potion... she shouldn't remember "Um no, I saw Zazie working with them." both sets of eyes turned back to the ringmaster.

"Those are not her power... those are.. gifts... servants that serve her mother. They are the Shades of Zazira. For reasons that must stay.. secret... her parents were forced to separate themselves from Zazie... but not without protection. As such... Zazira sent her Shades to guard and serve Zazie... as well as be her friends."

"Friends?" Asuna said dubiously glancing to some of the masks as they watched on. Negi couldn't help but feel a bit tight in his chest, memories of the hidden Box of presents, too timid to give.

"Will Rainyday-san be okay?" Standing up, Prosopeio glanced to Zazie and hummed softly.

"She will be... the Seals shall reinstate themselves once the Moon reveals itself again. Only during the night of the New Moon, when the Moon's face is completely hidden from the world, does the Seal lose its power. Now that you are aware of this Young Negi... you may be able to help her prevent this from happening." Moving to place a gentle hand on the sleeping Zazie's face, Prosopeio seemed to smile, the slight tilt of the head and gentle sigh seeming to reflect this. ".... For too long has she been afraid... I've done my best to reassure her... but because of the fear she has of harming others unintentionally, she is scared to make friends outside of those given to her by her mother. Her work at the Circus opens her up to others... but... I would be grateful if you and Kagurazaka-san helped her... " Glancing at Asuka and Negi, Prosopeio bowed slightly, lowering the head. "... please... help save her from her pain... and her loneliness..."

"...I had figured it was something to that effect" he sighed a little at the description of Zazie's relationships situation. "But I didn't realize it's seed was something like this..."

"I don't see how you could." His companion added, almost numb at this point. She'd learned more about her 'rival' in this conversation then she probably had any right too.

"Prosopeio-san, I promise... I will continue to do what I can to help." The boy mage said with no hesitation. The pressure on his wrapped wound grew as Asuna looked down, feeling uncomfortable with the heartfelt request.

"Um... I'll, I'll try to..." she muttered.

Thinking carefully, Prosopeio nodded.. before reaching a hand up and grasping the bottom of the everpresent mask. A small click was heard, before the lower half of the mask seemed to pull away, revealing the bottom of Prosopeio's nose and the entirety of the Masked Mage's mouth. Flashing a perfect smile, Prosopeio's voice seemed to ring almost melodically. "From the bottom of my heart... I thank you both."

"Prosopeio-san..." Negi gained a small smile of his own. "I won't let you down."

"I know you will not." The ringmaster's smile turned somewhat more bemused. "Now it has been a long night for you both I am sure. I will watch over Zazie tonight at my home. You need not worry, rest well and you will see her by tomorrow's morn."

"Okay," Asuna sighed, glad to have that responsibility lifted from her... she had a lot to think about. "But first we're going to the baths."

"Eh we?"

"I'm not going to leave purple smudges all over the room, besides we need to clean those scratches properly. Come on." she stood and began to calmly dragged the boy from the room.

"B-But Asuna-san, c-can;t we talk this over?" the boy squeaked as they disappeared into the hall. Prosopeio chuckled at the exchange.

"Ah, to be young once more." With a flourish the mage clicked the bottom half of the mask back in place and turned to Zazie. "I shall take her from here. You are free to meet me back at the cottage." reaching slowly into the shadow Prosopeio cradled the sleeping girl, the shadows loosening their hold and masked melting from sight once more. The mage brushed a few hairs from Zazie's face. "You are fortunate... you have more friends then you know little one." cape flowing the ringmaster turned and headed for the door, pausing and looking back to the empty room. "Where are my manners... Ladies first Aisaki-san."

"E-Eh? b-but-"

"You are welcome to sleep over as well. I'm sure Zazie-chan would appreciate it." Prosopeio motioned to the door, a somewhat flustered Sayo nodding before gliding through into the hall, followed a step behind by the enigmatic ringmaster.

1234321

Zazie was used to the darkness, she clung to it unconsciously as she watched others live out in the light. A comforting blanket against uncertainties. Though the darkest of all nights, when the moon vanished from the sky, Zazie hid. Because on those dark, moonless nights there was a beast on the prowl.

Red eyes watched her from the corner it's form hidden in the inky black. She didn't dare move,she couldn't let her gaze wander for if she lost it's location it would be unlikely she'd find it again. It was only through this odd staring contest that the beast held still. She tried to keep the fear from her face, to ignore the cold chills from her spine. She could not acknowledge the beast's power or else it may think she was prey. So zazie remained stoic holding the eerie red gaze, mentally willing the sun to rise.

The clock on her wall ticked with an unerring precision. How much longer was there? She didn't dare check she could see the mass of shadow shift around dots of red. It was restless as well but was held in the spell, just as she was.

"Rainyday-san?"

The girl's breathing caught at the voice. It sounded close yet distant but it's familiarity was clear. But what could sensei be doing here? There was no one save for the beast and herself. It was stirring again, the red orbs seemed to crinkle up in dark amusement. Was this a trick? it must be, it had to be...

"Zazie..." Negi's voice spoke again, his voice carried on the wind. To hear her given name softly spoken in his voice caused her heart to race. The young teacher had never addressed her that informally... that familiar. It was playing with her, it had seen something she intended to hide. She had to ignore it, she had to stay strong.

"It's okay..." breath tickled her ear, the sensei's light tenor full of warmth. she could feel light touch on her shoulder. Without conscious thought she turned, hoping to see the young teacher's smiling face.

There was nothing but shadow.

Her eyes darted back to the front but nothing... the beast was free. The darkness allow around seemed alive with malevolent energies. The warmth of false hope was replaced with fear as she searched the shadows once more. She started slowly at first, walking through the inky black when she heard voices again. Though these held little in common with the comforting tenor of her teacher.

"Desire." Came a rumbling tone "I must take what is mine" it held a great hunger to it.. Zazie picked up her pace through the formless landscape. "Only I can have... belongs to me. No one else to take..." the volume came almost like waves, the malevolent feelings rushing over Zazie and receding. She ran, but couldn't seem to escape. Another voice chimed in.

"Weakness." this one was colder, where the first held a malevolent passion that was barely restrained, the second was tightly bottled disgust and loathing. "intolerable... must destroy...consume."

It felt like it got even darker as the words continued on but Zazie could hear no more of them she just ran, trying desperately to escape. Her legs screamed and her lungs burned as the impenetrable dark stretched on with no end in sight. In the end it was the acrobat that gave first, her weary legs crumbling and sending the girl sprawling to the floor.

She heard nothing but could feel the presence of the beast, she rolled over to her back to see the blazing red eyes. They loomed high above her nearly ten times the the size as before, eying her hungrily. The formless mass seemed to reach down for her the blazing spotlight eyes daring her to move.

"Stay...stay back..." she muttered softly closer her eyes tightly unable to look. As the presence grtew closer she could feel panic growing, there was not where to escape to. Nervous energy surged through her in a desperate panic she stuck out. She connected and seemed to hold the the beast, even to the point it was trying to pull away. At once the pressure left leaving an odd sticky feeling that was horrifyingly familiar.

Her eyes tentatively opened to eyes to a spindly hand dripping wet, blood perhaps. It was hard to tell in the crimson lit room. A small movement caught her attention drawing it away from the odd appendage. Laying on the floor were two formed huddled close eyes wide with fear. They spoke but she could barely here them, their voices held a muffled distorted quality making them hard to understand. Her mind was swimming and left her with a detached feeling to the scene. It was only at that point did she notice that something was holding her, keeping her from getting closer. She struggled unable to focus on the the fuzzy images that huddled out of sight. The bestial voices returns arguing and ranting drowning out her own thoughts. The cacophony rose louder to a maddening crescendo before it suddenly went silent, a single sentence ringing clear.

"Rainyday-san... what's happened to you?"

12321

With a gasp Zazie's eyes shot open, the haunting images still burning in her mind. Slowly reality began to sink in as she recognized where she was. Her old room. It was closing on a year now since left the ringmaster's cottage. It was much the way she had left it, much of the shelves empty save for a few nicknacks. She sat up slowly pulling the comforter a little closer to herself, in the morning chill. Morning light cast through the aged window, she tentatively reached out touching the old wood fondly.

"Eh? Zazie-san?" a nervous twitter brought the acrobat's attention to the door. She was greeted with smiling face of her classm- her friend Sayo Aizaka. The spectral girl's head and shoulders were hovering partway through her door. "Your awake! I was so worried. a-are you okay?" the girl asked very carefully, lightly biting her lower lip. She tense as the sight of looming crimson eyes flashed in her mind but kept it to herself.

"I'm fine." Zazie did her best to keep her voice level, it seemed to pacify the spirit.

"Oh good. One sec, I'll go get Prosopeio-san." She said excitedly as she slipped back through leaving the door undisturbed."Prosopeio-saaan!" the voice grew muffled as she headed off to part unknown. Zazie leaned heavily against the wall trying to focus on the tweeting of the early birds outside.

Moments later, the door was pushed open, allowing Zazie's masked guardian to enter. In the comfort of the Ringmaster's own home, the mask was reduced greatly, covering only the eyes and nose in an odd domino style. With a soft smile, Prosopeio took the seat next to the bed with a sigh of relief.

"It is good that you are awake, my dear. I was almost afraid you would miss class today" the masked Ringmaster said half in joke, he soft, soothing voice easily having a calming effect on the troubled girl. The darkness in the girls mind brightened somewhat at the presence of her guardian. School was hardly at the fore front of her mind but she allowed a slight pout at the thought.

"Good morning Ozu'laji." she greeted dutifully,though her heart wasn't fully in it. She idled touched the teardrop mark on her cheek. If she was waking up here that meant that here own protection ritual had failed... it was a fact that hadn't sank in until now. With a sigh and a shake of the head, Prosopeio reached out to Zazie and placed a comforting hand on her shoulder.

".... you likely do not remember anything, do you my dear?" It was less of a question and more of verifying a conclusion. Taking a good long look into Zazie's eyes, Proropeio sighed once more before nodding once, as if deciding something on the spot. "If you wish it... I will tell you all that has happened. Unlike other times, others were involved... it would be best if you understand what transpired before meeting them again." Zazie's heart fluttered uncomfortably as the Ringmaster spoke, dreading the serious tone.

"Did..." she tried to gather herself, a small waver in her voice. Her eyes looked around for something else to focus on catching sayo by the now open door. The spirit hung back uncomfortably, on catching the acrobat's eyes she looked down fidgeting a little. Her attention slowly came back to her guardian, a sick feeling in her stomach "Was someone injured?" her voice was but a whisper.

"Only lightly. Mostly, it was due to luck... and perhaps a small part of it being your own wish not to truly harm your teacher." An uncharacteristic surge of horror came to the normally stoic girl's face. Gently, Prosopeio pulled Zazie close, enveloping the girl in a hug as the masked performer rocked back and forth slightly in a familiar comforting position.

"I hurt..." she stopped as the bloodied claw flashed in her mind one more. It took a few moment before she even noticed the embrace or that she was even shaking. "I hurt Sensei..." she muttered with a mix of disbelief and shame. she grasp on to Prosopeio and buried her head in her Guardian's shoulder.

"He will gain perhaps a small scarring of his arm... but aside from that, he does not blame you. In fact, he expressed a great wish to help you... but then, I would expect no less from the child of That Man." She stiffened a little looking up to the ringmaster's half covered place with a small bit of surprise.

"He...he doesn't hate me?" she muttered before another thought past through her addled mind. "You didn't erase sensei's memory?" the secret of magic was not something to be passed around lightly. Chucking almost melodically, Prosopeio gave a shake of the head before speaking once more.

"No, dear one. He does not hate you... nor does your classmate Asuna. As to memory erasure... it is usually frowned up onto erase the memories of other mages." Gentle hands slowly stroked Zazie's back to help calm the girl down.

"Aww." Sayo watched parental affection and rare vulnerability with a small amount of guilt, it seemed like a private moment. The Guardian seemed to be almost motherly as she(?) held Zazie, the gentle smile on Prosopeio's face tender and warm in the eyes of the ghost girl. Caught in the warm moment she almost didn't notice the change in topic. "Eh? Negi-Sensei is a wizard!" she exclaimed effectively shattering the precious moment quickly clamped a hand over her mouth as her outburst drew a bemused smile from Prosopeio. Zazie blinked twice trying to process that bit of news.

"Sensei is... Kagurazaka-san. ahh." in the end she just groaned and laid her head back down. This was too much for one morning, she was tired all over again.

"Now, you should get yourself dressed. This is enough dramatic exposition for one day. Your seals are replaced, your clothes are pressed and hung in the closet. I have your lunch packed and a small breakfast waiting downstairs... and when you finish, you should have just enough time to get a ride from your friends to get to school on time." Gently kissing Zazie on the forehead, Prosopeio stood up, nodding to Sayo with a tender smile. "Please continue watching over my Little Star. And do not hesitate to come back here if you ever wish to chat, I have many stories to share about my dear Little Star." With a polite bow, Prosopeio walks out of the room, leaving Zazie to get ready. Sayo flushed a little bit and bowed carefully in return.

"Thank you mam..er sir? Um n-not to be rude but what should I call you by?" she asked softly as the door closed leaving her staring at it for a moment before she phased through after. "Prosopeio-san wait!" and once more Zazie was alone, mind swirling but this time for a whole new reason. Negi sensei and Asuna Kagurazaka... were mages?

To be continued

AN- We get a small glimpse into Zazie's backstory, more of which will be reveled in time. The next chapter will have a much more significant focus on Zazie and her time spent while the Baka's and Negi are underground. Though expect feelings to come to a head as the exams come to a close...