STORY SUMMERY: Weeks had passed since the end of the Tri-Wizard Tournament, where Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived, had bravely stood against the Dark Lord, and failed to protect the world from the sinister creature's return. However, the Death Eaters and their master moved fast, continuing their plotting and plans. Of which one would complicate not only the lives of the Order of the Phoenix, but of several others as well…
STORY WARNINGS: Drama, Violence, Angst, Swearing, Romance (Shonen-ai and Het), SOMEONE DROPS THE F-BOMB LATER IN THIS CHAPTER TWICE AND A LOT OF 'BASTARDS', JUST SO YOU KNOW.
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter or Yu-Gi-Oh. I'm not making money off of this.
Last Time: Kaiba's birthday and several dreary dates pass in rapid succession. Ryou is progressively growing worse.
The sky was grey, the air was still, the ground was covered with snow, and it was bitterly cold. However, none of that could choke Harry's excitement- Hagrid had finally returned to Hogwarts a few weeks ago, and today would be his first day teaching the class after Professor Grubby-Plank. It was also the beginning of December, so talks over what the students would be doing during Christmas had begun to spring up throughout Hogwarts. Things were peaceful, and looking brighter.
Except for Ryou.
Harry glanced sideways, where Ryou was walking with Yuugi, Kaiba, and Marik. The teen had only gotten worse after the anniversary of his family's deaths, and he refused to talk about it. Dark circles were a constant fixture on his face, and his usually bright eyes were always half-closed. He had become nothing more than a zombie, Harry thought, and no one was sure how to fix it. During a conversation between Marik and Mokuba that Harry had eavesdropped on, he discovered that the teen was apparently experiencing nightmares every night and was refusing the Dreamless Sleep potion when it was offered to him. Harry wasn't sure how to take that. Did Ryou want to have nightmares? Did he feel he deserved them?
Yuugi and Marik were sticking to Ryou like glue, like they were holding a net to catch Ryou when he fell. Harry, however, was sure that if he did fall, it would be in a million pieces that no one would ever be able to pick up. Harry wondered if it was even grief that was keeping Ryou from smiling or laughing, or if something else had taken hold of the teen. He'd have to dig through some Dark Arts books before the next D.A. meeting to research curses.
Harry's attention was dragged back to the class at hand, however, when the door of the cabin on the grounds swung open with a loud, echoing crash. Harry watched as Hagrid, covered with yellowing bruises and unhealed cuts, came out of his home. The half-giant smiled at the approaching class, waving a large palm at them.
"Good mornin'!" he called out to them, and Harry couldn't help but smile. Hagrid, although exasperating at the best of times and infuriating at the worst, had been Harry's first real connection to the wizarding world. This alone put the giant in a special place in Harry's heart. No matter what Hagrid managed to get himself, and others, into, Harry couldn't help but love the man.
Hermione placed her hands to her mouth, her brown eyes surveying Hagrid's injuries. "I can't tell if those cuts are new or if they're old…" she whispered. Harry shrugged lightly.
"I can't tell either."
Hagrid stopped around the corner of the building and flipped half a cow carcass over his shoulder. Ron let out a disgusted noise when blood splattered across the snow. The professor waved the class over with his free hand. "We'll be headin' inter the Forest," he said, and someone- Harry would bet his last Galleon it was Malfoy- made a choked whimpering sound. Hagrid smiled. "Not too far, though. Just so it's darker than out here, an' so there's less snow."
Hagrid spun around and began to march towards the trees, speaking over his shoulder the whole time. "Headmaster Dumbledore's allowed us to go in here and see 'em in their natural habitat. Reckon I have the only trained herd in all o' Britain, o' course…."
Pansy Parkinson, who was walking several paces behind Harry, Ron, and Hermione with Malfoy and his two goons, looked around as they breeched the forest, as if expecting something to jump out at her immediately. "Wh-what do you mean 'only' trained herd? Aren't… aren't there others?"
Hagrid shrugged, glancing back at her. "Tend to be a bit temperamental if handled wrong. Course, most things do, though. Suppose it 'cause they're so rare- not too many can find 'em to train 'em, ya see."
Parkinson looked uncertain. "Probably because anyone who tries gets killed," she hissed. Hermione shot her a dark glare over her shoulder which the Slytherin returned. Hagrid, however, heard her anyway.
"Naw," he said. "Takes a certain kinda person to be able to spot 'em." His eyes were bright, like he was the only one to know the punch line to a joke just told. The once-scared murmuring had slowly begun to sound intrigued. Even Harry, who usually was apprehensive about Hagrid's creatures, found himself almost excited about what Hagrid was leading them to see. It was a nice change.
However, Malfoy was looking on with barely suppressed horror, walking as close to Crabbe and Goyle as he could, and Zabini was the one leading their small group. Harry had to bite his lip to keep from laughing. Then he remembered that Malfoy and himself had been attacked by Voldemort in these forests (how could he manage to forget that?), which probably made this experience all the more horrifying. It was hard to pity Malfoy, however, since the prat had Charmed all Harry's quills to squirt ink in his face at random. Not even Hermione had been able to unCharm them yet. Wanker.
"What about your injuries?" Malfoy said in a slightly hysterical voice. "Did… whatever is it you're taking us to do that to you?"
While the Slytherins huddled closer together, glancing around, Hagrid looked back at them. "What?" he asked. "Oh, no! This was, er, something else." He chuckled a bit nervously. "It's another creature I'm training." Malfoy's grey eyes widened, and he snapped his head around, looking for the beast that could do so much damage to a half-giant. Hagrid grinned and turned back around. "No need ter worry. He's much farther inter the forest. Got 'im his own place."
Malfoy did not look overly relieved, but he did inch away from his bodyguards. However, Harry noticed, his wand was held tightly in his grasp. The class spent the next ten minutes creeping further and further into the forest, where the trees were slowly getting thicker and the snow was getting sparser. Ron tried to hide behind Harry, which didn't work due to the near foot of height difference. Harry assumed it was because the redhead was having flashbacks to the time they were chased through the forest by giant spiders.
These forests did not hold many pleasant memories for any them, Harry realized.
Hagrid slowed and then stopped, dropping the cow to the ground, and the rest of the class slowly came closer, pausing a good few feet from the bloody carcass. The half-giant wiped his hands on his shirt and looked over the class. "I'm going to call 'em in. They like ter know it's me. Normally, they'll just come 'cause o' the scent o' blood, though. These ones are trained to keep 'way from the students, though, unless we call for 'em. Now, er, watch the trees here."
With that, the man inhaled swiftly, turned to face the forest, and let out an echoing, shrieking cry that caused birds to scatter. Hermione gasped and Harry felt goose bumps erupt on his arms. Ron whimpered, looking around in sheer horror. Hagrid did it again, the high-pitched noise darting through the trees and into the air. Then the man stepped back, gesturing towards the woods.
"If ya start ter see somethin', raise yer hand."
"See what?" Malfoy shrilled behind them. Harry glanced over at him to see the blond leaning heavily towards Zabini. "What are we supposed to see?"
There was a sharp gasp nearby, and Harry's green eyes swung over, along with the rest of the class. Ryou's right hand shot into the air.
The white-haired teen, whose brown eyes were focused entirely on the forest before them, shivered slightly. Then Marik's hand rose, his own violet eyes wide and staring. Yuugi squinted, turning his head to the side. Then his own violet eyes snapped open wide, and his arm swung upwards. Kaiba, far calmer than the others, lifted his arm into the sky. A few paces in front of Harry, Neville's arm rose. A boy in Slytherin robes also raised a hand, looking on with a bored expression. Confused, Harry glanced where they were looking and inhaled suddenly, his arm also lifting upwards.
It was those horse-dragon-bat things that pulled the carts. Bright, white eyes without pupils stared at him as it slunk forward and out of the forest; the creature paused a few paces away from the carcass, as if ensuring that no one was going to see it. Its large wings were pulled tightly against its body.
Harry heard Yuugi whisper to the others, and Kaiba's sharp, scolding tone rang through the forest.
"Yes, Mutou, those are the death ponies that pull the carts!"
"I was just asking," Yuugi's slightly irritated tone responded.
Hagrid, meanwhile, was nodding, bushy black eyebrows rising and disappearing into his shaggy mane of hair. "Well, that's impressive!" he said. "Seven of ya in one class?"
Malfoy was whispering harshly behind Harry, and Ron was nudging his side at Harry lowered his arm. "What is it, Harry?" the redhead was pleading. "What can you see?"
Harry watched as several more of the creatures slunk out of the forest, letting off soft, cooing noises. The first creature to appear snorted and stalked forward, pausing a few feet from the dead cow. It turned its head, scanning the area and the people there, before immediately chomping down on the meat.
Parvati screamed. "What's eating it?!"
Hagrid swelled, reaching out and stroking one of the nearest creatures. "Thestrals!" he said before pushing the creature towards the meat. Parvati's mouth dropped open again.
"But… but…" she began to stammer, "thestrals are very unlucky! Professor Trelawney said that if you see one…"
Harry rolled his eyes, and Kaiba chuckled darkly, but said nothing. Hagrid smiled a bit wider.
"That's just superstitious nonsense!" he declared. Parvati's eyes narrowed instantly, and she huffed. Hagrid continued. "Thestrals have got a bit of a hard time 'bout 'em, but they're not unlucky. They're cleverer than most other creatures, an' have the best sense of direction. Won't ever get lost. Dumbledore uses them if he don' want ter Apparate."
The class seemed to switch its focus between the carcass on the ground- which was slowly being consumed- and watching the few students who could actually see what was going on. Harry watched as a smaller Thestral wobbled over to Pavarti, huffing and breathing on her hand. As it trotted back to the carcass, the Gryffindor shrieked, leaping back and against the tree, holding her limb against her chest. "What was that? What was that?!"
Hagrid snickered. "Yer fine," he said. "They won' hurt ya. As… er… what's yer name again?" he called over to the group of four Muggleborns.
Kaiba scowled, and Yuugi quickly stepped up. "Uh, I'm Yuugi Mutou, and this is Kaiba, Marik Ishtar, and Ryou Bakura."
Hagrid blinked a few times before shrugging. "Yeah," he grunted. "As Kaiba said, they pull yer carts up to the castle. If they were dangerous, Dumbledore wouldn't let 'em near ya, would he?"
The entire class seemed to exhale as one, and Harry tried not to snicker. Dumbledore wouldn't let anything happen to his students. If he was willing to let the students near the thestrals, then there was no problem. Even Malfoy managed to detach himself from Zabini. Hagrid grinned, sweeping his arm out.
"Alrigh'," he said, "who can tell me why some o' you can see them, an' some can't?"
Hermione's hand shot into the air. Hagrid beamed at her. "Hermione?"
"Thestrals," she began, breathing deeply, "can only be seen by those who have seen death."
Hagrid grinned, nodding his shaggy his head. "Exactly, Hermione! Ten points ta Gryffindor!" Hagrid settled back, turning slightly towards one of the thestrals. "Now, some things ta know about these here thestrals -"
The class, so enthused with watching the carcass and Hagrid, jumped and turned to look in the direction they had come from. Standing a few feet away, dressed in her green hat and cloak and wielding a clipboard, was Professor Umbridge with a sinister smile across her face. Hagrid, who Harry assumed was unable to see 'sinister', 'dangerous', or 'deadly', grinned back at her.
"Oh, hello!" he called, waving at her. "Glad ta see ya found where we were alrigh'!"
Umbridge was gazing directly at him, tapping the tip of her quill against her clipboard. Hagrid's smile faltered a bit, and only then did Umbridge trot forward, winding around students. "I found your note," she said, slowly and loudly, and Harry seethed, "taped to your door. I take it you found my notice about the inspection?"
Hagrid's eyebrows furrowed, frowning. He gave Umbridge a confused look before shaking his head. "Er, yeah," he said. "We're doin', uh, thestrals today-"
"What?" Umbridge called, leaning forward and cupping her ear. Neville, who was standing next to her, gave her a look that seemed to combat between bewilderment and disgust. Hagrid was merely bewildered.
"Th-thestrals!" he called. He flapped his arms for a few seconds. "Ya know, the winged horses? Only seen by those tha' seen death?"
Umbridge stared at him, her lips twitching. She then went to her clipboard, mumbling something that made Neville's normally kind eyes darken. Hagrid watched her for a minute longer before turning back to the class. "Uh, anyway…"
He reached over and stroked a nearby thestral, and Harry watched at the milky eyes closed halfway. Hagrid grinned. "When we first started out, we had one male an' five females. This one here's got a special place in my heart. He's Tenebrus, firs' born in the forest-"
"Are you aware," Umbridge interrupted again, and this time several Gryffindors shot her a dark glare, "that the Ministry has classified thestrals as dangerous?"
Hagrid frowned at her for a moment. "Uh," he began, blinking, "I know what the Ministry classifies 'em as, yeah. O' course, Headmaster Dumbledore trusts that these ones are tame." Hagrid's eyes brightened. "'Sides, thestrals are scavengers by nature. Death attracts 'em, ya see."
Umbridge pursed her lips, and scribbled something more onto her clipboard. "Headmaster Dumbledore has placed his trust in your capabilities has a handler before," she said. Her dark eyes narrowed when she looked up at him. "One of your students was attacked by a hippogriff, correct?"
Hagrid seemed stunned, and he blinked quickly at the woman before him. Umbridge smiled again. Harry's mouth opened swiftly, but Ron elbowed him in the gut, winding him. While Harry bent over to regain his breath, Umbridge looked through the class, and her eyes zeroed in on Malfoy, who was staring at his feet.
"If I am correct, it was you Mister Malfoy?" she asked sweetly. Slowly, she began to walk towards him, the pink feather on her quill swishing back and forth. Malfoy glanced up at her, face carefully schooled blank. Harry regained his breath and watched with narrowed eyes as Umbridge paused only a foot from where Malfoy and his cronies had gathered.
"It was," Malfoy said. He looked at his right arm before clearing his throat and looking purposefully away. The rest of the class looked at one another, and Harry felt completely out of sorts. This was the perfect opportunity for Malfoy to bury Hagrid. Why wasn't he saying anything?
"Well?" Umbridge asked eagerly. "What happened?" Harry watched, transfixed, as Umbridge attempted to move even closer to Malfoy. Malfoy merely took a step backwards, looking cool and collected all the while. His eyes, however, were narrow and dangerous. Harry recognized it from the many looks Malfoy would send him.
"Professor Hagrid was pardoned," Malfoy began, lifting his head and glaring down his nose at the woman before him, "because the beast was obviously unstable, and this is Care of Magical Creatures." He lowered his nose, his face going from regal to bored in a split second. He blinked at Umbridge. "We cannot be guaranteed our safety when working with these… animals."
Malfoy then turned away from a gaping Umbridge and stared expectantly at Hagrid. "Professor, are there uses for thestral parts in potions?"
Harry wondered who drugged him this morning, because this was not happening. Hagrid was staring at the pointy-faced Slytherin with a mixture of fascination and gratefulness. He shook his head and grinned. "Yeah, they can! The best Invisibility Potions use thestral blood in 'em. You can ask Professor Snape about tha'- he'll be getting' a new load sometime in the week, actually!"
Malfoy nodded, not even glancing at the seething High Inquisitor beside him. Harry looked over at Ron and Hermione, and saw the same expression of shock there. Ron kept trying to speak, but his words seemed to have slipped away from him completely, causing his mouth to open and shut uselessly. Hermione kept shaking her head, but her mouth had jumped into a small smile.
Hagrid resettled into his lesson while Umbridge sulked in the back of the class. The rest of the hour passed quickly, something unheard of for the class whenever Hagrid was teaching. When it came to a close, Umbridge slunk away, scribbling on her clipboard. As the Slytherins and Gryffindors made their way towards the castle for lunch, Harry caught sight of Malfoy slinking along in the corner of his eye.
Malfoy was walking with just Zabini, which was odd. The other Slytherins were giving him a wide berth, as if they weren't sure how to take Malfoy's outburst. Even Crabbe and Goyle had retreated to stand by Parkinson and Nott. This could be his only chance to talk with him, Harry realized, and steeled himself.
"Malfoy!" he called. The pale-haired teen halted, glancing over his shoulder at Harry. Malfoy's eyes narrowed, and he leaned back a bit. Zabini paused by his left, a half-step behind him. Ron and Hermione stopped suddenly, staring at Harry.
"Mate," Ron said urgently, "what are you doing?"
Harry waved him down and strode forward, keeping his hands at his sides. The Slytherin in question crossed his arms.
"Oh Merlin," he grumbled, eyeing Zabini, "the whole Potter Squad is here." He smirked at Harry, tilting his head to the side slightly. "To what do I owe this pleasure?"
Harry raised an eyebrow at him. "After what happened in class and you're still going to ask me that?" Malfoy scowled, and Harry continued. "I wanted to thank you."
Malfoy rolled his eyes and glared at Harry. "Shut up," he snapped, and Harry's lips quirked into an amused smile. "I didn't do it for you, or for the great oaf." He sneered when Harry's eyes darkened, and Ron's face reddened. "I did it for me," he admitted, glancing around. The yard had emptied of students by then, leaving them completely alone. Malfoy turned his gaze upon Harry again. "Umbridge is a bloody Hufflepuff," he growled, "and my Slytherins are starting to look to her instead of Professor Snape." He glanced at Zabini. "She's toxic, and her ideals are corrupting them. I had to do it. So don't," Malfoy hissed, stepping forward and pointing a finger at Harry, "bloody thank me like I did it for you."
Harry watched him for a moment, staring at his finger. Then he looked up at Malfoy over the frames of his glasses, his eyebrow rising. "I wanted to thank you," he said slowly, "for standing up for our mutual friends."
Malfoy blinked a few times, his hand slowly dropping. He then smirked, nodding. "They're Slytherins, all of them," he said. "We watch out for our own."
Harry nodded. "That's all I wanted to say. Thank you, Malfoy."
Malfoy eyes narrowed slightly, but he kept smirking. "You're welcome, Potter."
Harry spun back around, heading back to where Ron and Hermione had paused. Ron was staring at Harry like there were millions of spiders crawling all over his face. Hermione was frowning at him, but her eyes were focused over Harry's shoulder, at Malfoy and Zabini. Ron grabbed his sleeve when Harry came close enough. "What are you thinking? It's Malfoy!"
Harry smiled, nodding. "He is," Harry chirped, moving out of Ron's gasp, "and that's why I'm giving him positive reinforcement for good behavior."
Hermione placed her hands over her mouth to stifle her laughter. Ron looked confused. "Um… huh?"
Hermione grabbed his shoulder and steered him towards the castle. "I'll explain it to you once we get inside and have some lunch."
Ron perked up at the mention of food, and was willingly led. Harry watched them walk for several seconds, frowning. He looked back at where Malfoy and Zabini, too, were slowly making their way back to the castle. He saw that Malfoy was staring back at him.
So Harry smiled.
Severus Snape was not the most sociable person within the castle walls, but for the past three weeks Snape had taken to actively avoiding all the other members of staff. This was why the Potions Professor had holed himself up in his office, even during meals. There were only so many times a man could hear, "Mister Bakura doesn't look so well."
Snape growled, stabbing a sausage link with his fork. He had heard that statement enough from his coworkers during the past few weeks as it were. No need to hear it in his own head, too.
However, once Snape's mind strayed to that particular topic, it couldn't be let go so easily. Ryou Bakura was strange case- Snape had seen his fair share of students whose families were torn apart by death for the Wizarding world was not a safe place. What with werewolves, dragons, imps, explosions, poisons, and everyday magical mishaps occurring, it was amazing that more students didn't end up in single-parent households, or orphaned all together. Even so, Snape wasn't sure how to deal with the white-haired teen.
Snape pushed his empty plate away and stood, heading to where his cloaks were kept. After that first time with the Dreamless Sleep Potion, Bakura had refused outright to ever take the potion again. While the potion was known for its addicting qualities, a careful regimen could be put in place to keep that from ever happening. However, Ryou was adamant- no potion. And Snape couldn't exactly force it upon him.
It was baffling.
Snape glanced at the hourglass on his mantle. The stream of silver sand had almost emptied into the bottom portion. With a suffering exhale, Snape strode through his office door. He glanced left and spied the last of the fifth year Gryffindors slipping into the Potions Classroom. Placing a fierce scowl on his face, he marched down the hall and threw open the classroom door with a loud bang!
As usual, every student was in a seat with their empty cauldrons sitting in front of them, flipping through their textbooks. Snape smirked- it was moments like these, where he knew he was in control, that Snape had come to treasure during his time at Hogwarts. He strode forward, taking out his wand and waving it at the blackboard.
"Today," he began as the chalk began to scribble, "we will be completing our Growth Tonics. Continue where you left off, and I will return your essays to you." He paused, grabbing a stack of papers off his desk and holding them up. "While your scores have grown from the absolute drivel at the beginning of the year, I feel I must remind you that if any of you wish to move on to NEWT Potions, you will need to score an Outstanding on your O.W.L.s." He strode forward, shoving papers at students as he passed. "We are almost halfway through the year, and if most of you dimwits do not improve your scores, only a sparse few will make the cut."
Snape was always disgusted by the scores of his students, even more so his own Snakes. Very few of them ever passed on to his NEWT class. Very few of them scored over Acceptable, even. As Purebloods, they were used to a certain leeway in most regards. O.W.L.s and N.E.W.T.s were two areas that they were horribly awoken in. Thankfully, his Godson, Draco, appeared to have an actual talent for the subject. He passed the O-scored paper over to the blond. His lips twitched in a friendly manner- for him- and studiously ignored looking at the scores of the next few papers he passed out.
The last table he walked by was Potter's table. At the beginning of the year, he loved saving it for last, because it allowed him a few moments to sneer at the Potter-child's horrible scoring. Now, however, he had to hand back papers that were scoring 'Excellent'. He had to watch the brat's face blush slightly when he caught sight of each green 'E' on the paper, had watch his green eye widen and grown bright, had to watch him duck slightly to hide his score from a prying Hermione Granger, whose own score was also an 'E'.
Had to remember another green-eyed student, who ducked and blushed and smiled when her Potions essays were returned with 'E's and 'O's on the top of them. Had to hear, "Severus, look! Thanks so much for helping me out on that essay!" ringing loudly through his ears. Had to see green eyes widen, grow bright, and glow.
Snape sped by the table quickly, gritting his teeth against the anger rising inside him. The Potter brat was just that- the Potter brat. There was nothing in him that reminded Snape of Lily. Nothing.
Except his eyes.
Snape swung by the group of his newest Slytherins (and their tag-along Gryffindor whom had been adopted by his own Snakes). They were all watching him, except Bakura. The white-haired teen was flipping through his textbook slowly.
"As for you four," Snape began, "your Potion shall be the Wit-Sharpening Potion. Your ingredients are out on the side table. Begin."
Snape strode back to the class and began to walk between the tables, swinging his gaze between cauldrons. He paused by Draco, watching his Godson place the Solar Fig nettles into the potion too quickly. The Slytherin, however, quickly corrected his error by stirring the tonic counterclockwise twice. Besides Bakura, Draco had also been distracted for the past month, and several Slytherins had been talking about his outburst to Umbridge in Care of Magical Creatures.
Snape wasn't sure how he felt about that. His Godson was obviously thinking for himself- Snape knew Lucius had instructed his son to make an ally of Umbridge. If Draco was willing to disobey his father in that respect… Snape wasn't willing to think much farther on that thought line. It was one thing to stand up for one's Housemates (maybe even friends, if Snape could dare hope that much for him). It was something else entirely to go against one's family. It was too much to hope that Draco would turn away from the Dark Lord. Snape had given up on hope years ago.
Snape slunk down the tables again, this time heading towards the group of four Fourth-Year leveled students. Kaiba and Ishtar were both working diligently on their potions, and they were looking the correct shade of green. Mutou was struggling, but Snape felt no need to be concerned. Then he looked over at Bakura.
The white-haired teen seemed frozen, his fingers clutching onto a few oddly-sliced pieces of ginger root just over the cauldron. His eyes were wide, staring down into the concoction. Snape frowned, stalking forward and peering into the cauldron. Somewhere in the creation of the potion, Bakura had gone horribly awry- the liquid was a dark shade of molten gold. Snape pulled his wand out of his robes, ready to vanish it.
"Mister Bakura," he growled, low, "if you are not going to pay attention to what you are putting in your cauldron-"
And then Bakura screamed.
Snape had heard many screams in his time, each of a different class or flavor. Listening to the wail that tore itself from Bakura's throat, Snape could only classify it as 'inhuman'. Bakura flung himself away from the table, his seat clattering backwards and to the floor. He rolled off to the side, curling in on himself. He never stopped screaming.
"Mister Bakura!" Snape shouted, kneeling beside the teen. He grabbed the shoulder nearest to him and shook him hard. "Mister Bakura! Ryou Bakura!"
Snape's head jerked up at the sounds of chairs falling to the ground nearby. The other three at the table were already standing beside him. Mutou threw himself to the floor. "Ryou!" he shouted, grabbing the back of his cloak and tugging uselessly at it. "Ryou!"
Ishtar knelt down beside him, his own hands twitching, as if he wasn't sure about how he should touch Ryou, or if it would cause more damage. Kaiba hovered just over their shoulders, his eyes slightly wide and mouth pressed into a thin line. Snape wondered if that was his look of fear, annoyance, or concern.
"Don't touch him!" Snape snapped at Mutou, and the spiky-haired teen pulled his hands back instantly, violet eyes wide with fear. "He could have poisoned himself, and any contact with it could case you idiots to react!" Mutou stared at Ryou with even larger eyes. Snape scowled. "And for the love of Mordred, get back!"
As the teen's screams began to die off into softer and softer noises, the three students stepped back, but remained nearby. In the new silence, Snape realized that the room, itself, had gone oddly silent, and he snapped around. The rest of the class had stopped what they were doing and were staring at the rocking form of Ryou. Snape snarled at them, startling those nearest to him to back up.
"All of you! Out!" There was no movement. Snape's black eyes narrowed into dangerous slits. "NOW!"
Suddenly, the students shoved themselves away from what they perceived as a mortal danger. Snape spun back to Ryou, whose screams had transformed into low, drawn out moans broken only by sobs. Snape stood, looking at the potion Ryou had created. How had Ryou managed to turn the potion that color in the first place?
Snape jerked around, spying a small gathering of students by the door. He recognized Potter's blasted crew, as well as the three other new-comers. Draco and Zabini stood there, too. Snape growled. Granger cleared her throat and spoke.
"Sir, should we get Madam Pomfrey?"
Snape scowled at her. "Yes, Miss Granger. Now all of you leave!"
He didn't watch, not truly caring if they left or not. He knelt once more beside Ryou, examining the teen for any signs of ingestion or trauma. He squeezed the teen's shoulder gently. "Mister Bakura," he said, "can you hear me?"
Ryou began to speak at once, but not in any language Snape could readily recognize. Slowly, as Ryou continued to speak, the white-haired teen's muscles loosened, and he eventually uncurled from himself. Just as the door to the classroom opened once more, Ryou's brown eyes swung around to stare at Snape's.
"Severus, what in the name of Merlin has been going on?"
Snape looked over his shoulder to where the school nurse had rushed in and hovered over his shoulder. Snape stood and stepped back. "I am not sure, Madam Pomfrey," Snape admitted, watching as the nurse instantly took his spot and helped Ryou to a sitting position. "Mister Bakura appeared to have some sort of fit in the middle of class."
Ryou's face was still pale, and he turned his gaze downward. Madam Pomfrey had none of this and forced his chin up and used her wand to brighten the area around them. She inhaled sharply through her teeth as she took in Bakura's pale face and dark circles. "Mister Bakura, have you been getting any sleep?"
Ryou finally blushed, and he shrugged a little, his eyes darting downwards. "I… not so much," he admitted softly.
"Nightmares?" the nurse prodded. Ryou stiffened before nodding slowly. Madam Pomfrey pressed her fingers against his face, as if feeling his bones through the skin. "Did you ingest any of the potion you made today?"
"I-I don't think so," came the feeble reply, as Ryou was unable to nod with the nurse's hands where they were. Madam Pomfrey nodded and stood, wiping her hands on her white apron before helping Ryou to his feet.
"Mister Bakura," she said, patting his shoulder, "fell asleep in class, and had a nightmare." Snape raised an eyebrow at the nurse. Madam Pomfrey leaned her head to the side. "There's nothing wrong with the boy besides lack of sleep, recent trauma, and too much stress. A few good nights on Dreamless Sleep should do the trick."
Snape glowered at Ryou, who was staring at his feet again. "I would have done that weeks ago," he drawled, "had Mister Bakura not refused to take any more of the potion."
Madam Pomfrey looked at Ryou, and the white-haired teen quickly blushed. "It's just… that," he stumbled through his words, "I… like to wake up early, and the Dreamless Sleep won't let me wake up before six."
Snape stared at him for several seconds. "There are several different levels of Sleeping Draughts," Snape said. "We could have given you a lesser one."
Ryou smiled a bit. "I would like that."
Madam Pomfrey gently grabbed Ryou's shoulder and began to lead him out of the room. "Come on, we'll find a potion that fits your needs and make sure your friends know that you aren't going to die. They looked quite worried, you know."
Ryou nodded, and glanced over his shoulder at Snape. "I'm very sorry for falling asleep in your class, Professor," he said. Snape scowled.
"Don't do it again."
Ryou nodded, and Snape watched as the two left his classroom. It was several minutes later, after he had placed a Stasis Charm on all the potions and was staring at the gold-colored potion of Ryou's, that he tried to recall if Ryou's eyes had actually been closed. He couldn't remember.
In that first Saturday of December, the morning came far earlier than the dungeons of Slytherin were used to. Kaiba, an early riser by nature, was already sitting in the common room with his laptop, finishing up some minor details for KaibaCorp. However, the pleasant calm of the morning was interrupted by a strange noise filtering up from the dorm rooms. It sounded like… singing.
Kaiba carefully logged off the computer and closed it, watching the door down to the dorms with a guarded interest. Sure enough, the noise began to rumble up once more, louder and clearer. Kaiba couldn't help the snort of amusement he let out once he actually understood the words.
"Weasley cannot save a thing,
He cannot block a single ring,
That's why the Slytherins all sing:
Weasley is our King."
Parkinson was the first to come up the stairs, backwards, using her wand as a conductor might a baton. Following were the rest of the Slytherin girls, all singing and giggling as they followed the girl into the common room, each dressed for the day.
"Weasley was born in a bin,
He always lets the Quaffle in,
Weasley will make sure we win,
Weasley is our King."
Following along behind them were the Slytherin boys, all of them singing as well:
"Weasley is our King,
Weasley is our King,
Weasley cannot save a thing,
Weasley is our King."
The only ones not singing (besides Kaiba himself) were Yuugi and Ryou, both of whom scurried quickly over to where Kaiba sat and stood beside him. Ryou was staring at his feet, which were tapping to beat, while Yuugi was humming under his breath, his eyes bright with laughter. Yami appeared next to him, leaning back where he hovered. A smirk was pressed to his features. Kaiba was sure Yami approved of this sort of mind game.
"Weasley cannot save a thing,
He cannot block a single ring,
That's why the Slytherins all sing:
Weasley is our King."
Kaiba's lips twitched into a smirk of amusement as finally Yuugi broke and joined in with the singing, Yami quickly joining him in the tune. Ron Weasley was their friend, yes, but Slytherin was family.
Nothing trumped family.
After a few more rounds of the song, the new Quidditch captain Siminus Montague held up a long arm and the House fell silent. He grinned, reaching around and grabbing Malfoy firmly and tugging the blond close. Malfoy's smile faltered a bit. "This," Montague called, "is the writer of that tune! This is our Seeker. Three cheers for Malfoy!"
"Malfoy! Malfoy! MALFOY!"
Montague grinned, baring all his teeth. "Today, we're going to go out there and tear the Lions apart! Today, we will show our fangs!"
Zabini, who had wormed his way to Kaiba's side when Malfoy had been wrapped up in the one-armed hug, nudged Kaiba. "He gets a bit… melodramatic from time to time," he whispered.
Kaiba smirked, raising an eyebrow at Zabini. "Really?" he murmured. Zabini snickered softly to himself.
"Now," Montague was still talking, "thanks to the wonderful Isabella Craus, we have these for everyone in the House!"
A tall, thin, severe-looking girl stepped forward, her head held high. She carried a large box in front of her, silver object glistening within. Montague released Malfoy to take the box from her, holding it with one arm. He pulled the crown-shaped object from within and handed it to Malfoy. The teen's grey eyes narrowed slightly as he looked it over before a large, wicked grin sped across his face.
"These are perfect," he declared, pinning it to his robes. Kaiba could see that, written across the front, were the words: WEASLEY IS OUR KING. Montague grabbed a handful and passed it on to a person next to him.
"Come and get one!" he called. After a few seconds, everyone in the room had a badge pinned to their shirt, even Kaiba and Ryou. Yuugi was holding an extra in his hand.
"It's for Marik," he said by way of explanation when Kaiba frowned at him. "I… I think he'd find it funny."
"He would," Yami declared. "Ron's snoring has been driving him from their dorm almost constantly."
Yuugi winced. "Oh yeah," he said, "I remember him telling us that." Yuugi frowned at Kaiba. "Are you going to get one for Mokuba?"
Kaiba sneered, shaking his head. "It's bad enough that his brother is in Slytherin. I'd rather not have him alienated completely by his House."
Yuugi rolled his eyes at him. "He's going to be sitting with the Slytherins today during the game."
"I know," Kaiba murmured. "I wish he wouldn't."
Yuugi patted him on the shoulder. "It's because you want what's best for him. Mokuba's just… well, he's your brother. Are you surprised?"
Kaiba smirked. "No."
Yuugi nodded and began to walk towards the exit as the others in the room began to file out. "C'mon," he said to Ryou and Kaiba, Yami hovering alongside him, "I have to get some breakfast in me before the game starts!"
The group of four (including Yami) trailed after the rest of their House until they got into the main hall, where they quickly took their seats at the very end of the table. Only a moment later, Mokuba and, surprisingly, Marik joined them.
"I can't stay long," Marik said, sitting sideways on the bench and stealing a piece of Yuugi's pancake. "I just wanted to come over and tell you that you all suck, we're going to win, and Harry says 'hi'." Then Marik sighed, placing his head in his hands. "Truthfully," came his muffled voice, "I think we're totally screwed. Ron is either really good, or really, really bad. Ginny is an okay Seeker- she's gotten better, but nowhere near Malfoy's level." He looked at Yuugi through his fingers. "It's like going into a Duel with just a bunch of level four monster cards. We're going to get slaughtered."
Mokuba shoved another bite of waffle into his mouth. "Why do you think I'm not rooting for Gryffindor?"
Ryou looked up from his picked-at plate and blinked tiredly. "Because Kaiba's Slytherin, and you always root for Kaiba?"
Mokuba smirked at him. "Kaiba isn't on the team, so I don't care. No, it's because I like to win. Thus, not cheering for the losing side."
"Oh, that's a bit sad."
The group all turned as one to see who was talking to them, and Marik began to choke on his third stolen piece of pancake. Before them, in all her glory, was Luna Lovegood. With a life-sized lion's head-hat on her head. The Slytherins down the table were also choking on their meals, and several were bent over in peals of laughter. The other Houses, too, were laughing at Luna's headgear. Luna, however, didn't seem to notice.
"Games shouldn't be all about winning, you know," she said, her eyes lifting upwards to stare at the ceiling. The sky was overcast, but bright. Snow was gently falling. "Games should be enjoyed because they bring us together." She smiled dazedly back at them. "I'm rooting for Gryffindor."
Marik smiled at her, his violet eyes brightening considerably. "Oh, thanks," he said. Luna nodded before her gaze fell upon Ryou.
"You look horrible," she said. Ryou smiled at her bitterly. She leaned her head to the side, and Kaiba wondered how the hat didn't fall off her head. "Have you been sleeping well?"
"Better, now that I'm taking a Potion," Ryou admitted quickly, looking back at his food. Luna smiled again.
"Oh, good. Good luck, everyone," she said before turning and drifting towards the Gryffindor table. Marik stared after her.
"She's just a few cards short of full deck, huh?" Marik whispered softly. Yuugi nudged his shoulder, frowning at him.
"Be nice," Yuugi said. "So she's a little eccentric. We all have our little quirks."
A loud roar broke through the hall, making Mokuba jump and choke on his juice. Once again, the cause of the noise was Luna Lovegood, and it appeared her hat could also roar. Kaiba thumped Mokuba's back a few times as the younger boy tried to regain his breath. Kaiba was scowling at the blonde's back. "That's not a quirk," he growled, "it's a hazard."
Mokuba waved his hand at his brother once he'd stopped coughing. "It's fine, Seto," he said, voice a bit hoarse. "I think it's really neat. Maybe I can ask Daniel if he knows how she made it. I'd like a Slytherin one."
Marik jumped to his feet, spinning around to stare as Angelina, Katie, and Alicia were rushing towards him, looking irritated. He let out a whimper, looking to the ceiling, before rubbing his hands awkwardly. "H-hey guys…"
"Are you done fraternizing with the enemy?" Angelina snapped at him. Marik winced, and he waved quickly to the group.
"Gotta go, see ya!" He spun around and stumbled towards the three girls. "Heeeey!" Kaiba heard him say. "So, let's get moving!"
Yuugi shook his head, laying down his fork and pushing himself to his feet. "Well, I have to get moving, too."
Kaiba glanced down the table, where Malfoy and the other Slytherin Quidditch players were rising from their seats. He then looked back at Yuu-Yami. Judging from the purple-and-red eyes, amused smirk, and the slightly taller frame, the spirit had taken over the younger boy's form. He stretched quickly before tucking the Millennium Puzzle beneath his cloak. At Kaiba's raised eyebrow, Yami smirked.
"I'd rather not have it beat against my chest," the Pharaoh said calmly, stroking the Puzzle through his shirt. "If I ever get off the ground, that is."
Kaiba watched as the rest of the Slytherin team walk over, and Malfoy tugged on Yami's sleeve, raising an eyebrow. "Let's go," he said, smirking. "And remember-"
"Weasley is our King," Yami intoned, lips quirking. Malfoy nodded, and the whole team slunk out of the Great Hall and towards the exit.
Mokuba made a surprised noise, and Kaiba glanced down at him. "Mokuba?"
"Seto," he said, leaning around Kaiba, "where'd Ryou go?"
Kaiba blinked, looking to his other side. Sure enough, Ryou was gone, and his plate had vanished. Kaiba leaned back, gazing at his brother with a frown. "How should I know?" Kaiba grunted. "And why should I care?"
Mokuba shrugged, turning back to his meal. "I dunno," he said. "I thought you were friends."
Kaiba snorted, rolling his eyes. "I don't have friends," he drawled, also facing his meal again, "only allies."
Mokuba grinned, rocking a bit in his seat. "Alright," he chirped. "It's not like I asked if he was your boyfriend or anything."
Kaiba choked on his pumpkin juice, eyes wide. As he tried to control his breathing, Mokuba snickered at his waffles. Kaiba glared at him. "Why," the elder brother growled, "would you ask me that, anyway?"
Mokuba shrugged, stabbing a few pieces of waffle. "I dunno," Mokuba said, glancing at him. "I don't see you hang out with any girls, so it's like I can annoy you and ask if you have any girlfriends."
Kaiba blinked at Mokuba as the younger boy placed the forkful into his mouth. "Why?"
Mokuba rolled his eyes, swallowing. "It's just what little brothers do, okay?" he said, smirking a little. At Kaiba's furrowed brows, he gestured to the Gryffindor table. "You hang out with the Weasley family and try not picking up a few things. Besides," Mokuba chirped, setting his fork onto his plate, "watching you choke like that was too much fun."
Kaiba grumbled, pushing himself from his seat as Mokuba did. "I still don't get it," he grunted.
Mokuba patted his arm gently as they both shrugged on their winter cloaks. "It's alright, Seto," he said softly, patronizing. "I love you anyway."
Kaiba scowled. The two of them walked quickly out of the castle and towards the Quidditch pitch, Mokuba tugging on Kaiba's sleeve to urge him to walk faster. "How are we supposed to get good seats," he boy whined, "if we don't get there quicker?"
As they came upon the edge of the field, Kaiba spotted Harry Potter lingering a few feet where the Gryffindor team's changing rooms were. Mokuba followed his gaze and sighed. "It's been really hard on Harry," he said. Kaiba looked down at him. Mokuba shrugged, still staring. "I mean, without Quidditch, he's practically thrown himself into…" he paused, sending a quick glance around. "Er, Defense Against the Dark Arts."
Kaiba raised an eyebrow at Mokuba, amused. His younger brother frowned at him. "Oh, shut up. You know what I mean."
Kaiba snickered and followed a group of Slytherins, led by Zabini and Parkinson, into the green and silver stands. As they were taking seats close to the front, Baddock, the second-year who had harassed Mokuba and Marik on the first day of school, looked over at Mokuba and grinned.
"So," he said, "what do you think of Gryffindor's chances?"
Kaiba frowned at the second year, while Mokuba shrugged, gesturing towards the field. "It's going to be a slaughter," Mokuba admitted. He leaned forward, tapping his chin. "We've got a new Seeker and a new Keeper. Ron's easily put down- one goal on him and he's as good as done. Ginny, however, is pretty good." He shrugged, looking over at the gob-smacked Baddock. "She's got nothing on Malfoy, though."
Mokuba crossed his arms on his knees, leaning towards Kaiba. "Daniel thinks so, too. Although, he thinks that if Harry was still on the team it might be a bit more of an even chance." Mokuba glanced at the snow covered field beside them. "Although, he thinks that Ravenclaw could beat Gryffindor, with or without Harry." He snickered. "I think he's just a little full of himself after Ravenclaw's win over Hufflepuff last month."
Parkinson suddenly stood. "Hey, look!" she cried, pointing to the field. "Here they come!"
The Slytherins (and Mokuba) turned in their seats and watched at the two teams exited their respective changing rooms. Parkinson hustled down to the front of the stands, grinning up at them. She looked over the crowd before her dark eyes fell on Mokuba. "Oh, hey, Kaiba-junior!"
Mokuba blinked down at the girl. She dug through one of her cloak pockets and pulled out one of the silver crown badges. She tossed it to him. "If you're sitting with us, wear it. Slytherins are a single unit."
Mokuba caught it and gleefully put it on. He smiled at Kaiba, who merely huffed unhappily. Mokuba simpered, nudging his brother gently. "Don't be such a spoil-sport, Seto," he chirped. "I love psychological warfare just as much as the next Duelist, or CapMon player!"
Kaiba sighed, shaking his head. Mokuba was only loyal to Kaiba, and was courageous (or stupid) enough to flaunt it. No wonder he wasn't placed in Slytherin or Ravenclaw. "I understand," Kaiba admitted. He then eyed his younger brother. "There's a song that goes with them. You'll have to listen to catch on."
Mokuba beamed at him. "I'm a great listener."
Kaiba nodded, ruffling his hair. Mokuba batted the offending limb away with a grin. "I know," Kaiba said.
As the players took to the skies, Parkinson raised her wand as she had this morning. She smirked at them, her dark eyes gleaming with anticipation.
"Are we ready?" she called. The Slytherins rose to their feet, and Kaiba was glad they'd gotten a first-row seat- Mokuba wouldn't have been able to see otherwise. Parkinson waved her wand gently, and began to count in Latin, "Unus, duo, tres!"
On the word, the crowd erupted in a loud, engulfing noise that rang through the stadium:
"Weasley cannot save a thing,
He cannot block a single ring,
That's why the Slytherins all sing:
Weasley is our King."
Kaiba stood silently as Mokuba listened to the lyrics. His brother's eyes widened as he listened, shock and laughter fighting within their depths. Laughter, however, quickly won over and the next time the song restarted, Mokuba was singing with just as much gusto as Zabini behind them. Kaiba, however, merely hummed and nodded his head slightly. He was wearing the pin- what more could they want from him?
It was too hard to hear the whistle being blown, but it was easy to see the players dart off to their respectful places. Lee Jordan's voice rang through the stadium due to the Vocal Enhancer- but even that noise was dulled by the singing Slytherins.
"Good day, everyone! It's Saturday, December seventh, and we're got ourselves a Quidditch game to play! Gryffindor versus those Snakes- I-I mean Slytherin!"
Several Slytherins paused in their singing to hiss at Lee's statement, but quickly rejoined the rest in a redoubled effort.
"Weasley was born in a bin,
He always lets the Quaffle in,
Weasley will make sure we win,
Weasley is our King."
Jordan continued. "Aaaand, Johnson for Gryffindor has the Quaffle, and she's just moving like a salamander through fire! What a player that girl is. And there's Slytherin's Warrington with an almost-low-blow, but she's ducked it, and she's passing Monta- oooh, ouch- got hit with a Bludger from behind by new Slytherin Beater, Crabbe… and Montague catches the Quaffle, he's heading across the pitch, and- nice one, Fred!- A bloody nice shot to the head by Beater Fred Weasley for Gryffindor!"
Kaiba's eyes traced the Quaffle as it fell for several seconds before Katie Bell swooped in and grabbed it. Jordan quickly returned to the commentary. "Bell's got it, she's got it good. And she passes- no, wait- reverse passes it to Alicia Spinnet! Spinnet is flying down the pitch, dodges Warrington- nice try, you sneaky little-"
"JORDAN!" McGonagall's voice interjected.
"Sorry Professor, just got a bit excited. In fact, the whole crowd's excited. Just listen to 'em! … What are those Slytherin singing, anyway?"
The stadium quieted, and, as it did, the Slytherins seemed to explode with noise.
"WEASLEY IS OUR KING,
WEASLEY IS OUR KING,
WEASLEY CANNOT SAVE A THING,
WEASLEY IS OUR KING."
"What?!" Jordan's indignant voice wailed over the stadium. "Why, I've, they can't honestly be- Spinnet passes the Quaffle to Johnson!" he cried. Kaiba realized he was trying to drown out their voices, but it was futile- the Slytherins were just too loud to be stopped. "And Angelina's going, she's going, she's dodging Warrington again, SHE SHOOTS- SHE- awww…"
The Quaffle was blocked by Bletchley's capable hands. He quickly passed it off to Warrington, their most aerobatic flier, and the Slytherins voices grew louder and louder as the Chaser approached the Gryffindor's hoops.
"Warrington is heading towards the goals! The Weasley twins can't get him with Bludgers, no way will any Gryffindor Chaser be able to make it in time! C'mon, Ron! Ron Weasley's the new Keeper for Gryffindor; let's see how he handles his first-"
Whatever Jordan said was muted by the sheer volume of the Slytherins' singing:
"WEASLEY CANNOT SAVE A THING,
HE CANNOT BLOCK A SINGLE RING,
THAT'S WHY THE SLYTHERINS ALL SING:
WEASLEY IS OUR KING."
Warrington flew straight towards Ron before ducking left several feet before the hoops. The Keeper, however, fell for the feint, leaving the right hoop unattended. Warrington tossed it through, and scored ten points.
The Slytherins all stopped singing to scream, jumping up and down around Kaiba and actually managing to shake the stadium in their glee. Even Mokuba latched onto Kaiba's sleeve and tugged on it in his excitement, pointing out onto the field. "They scored, they scored!"
Kaiba chuckled, nodding his head. "So we did." He then turned his eyes across the field, catching sight of Malfoy as the blond took a moment to applaud their goal. He then quickly went back to his search of the Snitch. Kaiba smirked, and sang under his breath as his House took up the song again.
"-Ten-nil, Slytherin. Katie Bell once more in possession and she's just powering up the field! Look at her go! Spinnet and Johnson are at her sides, their blazing their way up the field. Bell passes to Spinnet, who passes to Johnson, to Spinnet again, dodges Pucey, dodges a Bludger from Goyle, and-"
Goyle missed, but Crabbe did not. The large ball struck Alicia Spinnet and the Quaffle was thrown from her and into the waiting arms of Montague. The Slytherin stands erupted into a fresh set of screams, drowning out Jordan's commentary for several seconds.
"-Tague flies down the field, dodges Johnson and Spinnet, passes to Pucey. Pucey books it down the field, straight shot, passes to Warrington and get's nailed by a Bludger a second later- good try there, George!- Warrington goes for the hoops, no one there besides Ron Weasley-"
Ron hovered too close to the right hoop, making it an easy left shot for Warrington. The Slytherins, once more, erupted into screams of celebration. "And it's twenty-nil, Slytherin."
Kaiba could already tell the game was over. As the game neared fifty minutes, the score was Slytherin, one-hundred ten, Gryffindor, thirty. The Slytherins, however, never stopped singing.
"And Spinnet has the Quaffle," Jordan's slightly weary voice echoed over the stands, which had become quieter as the time wore on. "She's moving across the field and-"
Mokuba jumped, his arm pointing outward. "Hey, hey, look at Malfoy!"
The Slytherins all turned and watched as their Seeker suddenly dove towards the center of the field. The Slytherins stopped singing instantly and began to scream, cheer, and call. Kaiba's eyes twitched towards the Gryffindor Seeker, Ginny Weasley, before returning to the speeding Malfoy- the girl was on a lesser broomstick and wouldn't be able to catch up. Malfoy swung upwards a moment later, a triumphant grin on his face and his right arm waving in the air.
"And Malfoy has the Snitch," Jordan said, barely heard over the screams and singing of Slytherin. "That makes this game three hundred-ten to thirty, Slytherin."
The usually put together, snobby, proud Slytherins had collapsed into a crowd of laughing fools, where hugs were exchanged with neighbors and jumping was encouraged rather than frowned upon. Slytherin had not one a single game against Gryffindor since Harry had joined them. Sure, it wasn't the victory they wanted, but it was a victory nonetheless.
The Slytherins continued their chorus as they marched down to the field where the Slytherin team was waiting. Mokuba and Kaiba lingered at the back of the group, waiting for Marik and Yami to get over to them. Yami and Marik met up on the way, Yami wearing a smug smirk and Marik slouching, but smiling nonetheless. Mokuba bounced in place.
"That was amazing! Did you see that block Bletchley made twenty minutes into the game?! I didn't know you could do that on a broomstick!"
Marik was snickering, nodding a bit. "The whole game was great, but that song! Who came up with it? Ya-Yuugi said it was Malfoy, but that's not true, right?"
Kaiba frowned before nodding. "Apparently he was working on it all week."
Marik shook his head, snorting again. "Well," he said, wiping at his eyes, "it was classic." He glanced over his shoulder where the Gryffindors were walking towards the changing rooms. He winced, gesturing towards them. "Uh, just letting you guys know… Ginny's pissed."
Kaiba raised an eyebrow. Marik glanced between him and his brother. "At Mokuba."
Kaiba brows furrowed immediately, and his gaze snapped over to where the Gryffindors retreating backs were finally disappearing into the changing room. "Why?" he growled, snapping his narrowed gaze back at Marik. The Egyptian raised his hands in surrender.
"Probably because he's Gryffindor and he was singing along and jumping around," he replied. His eyebrows drew together and he frowned, running a hand through his hair. "I told them that it didn't mean anything personal, that it was just a bit of Mind Games." Marik rolled his eyes. "Apparently they keep forgetting that 'loyalty' isn't one of Gryffindor's many virtues."
Yami, who had been silent all the while, scanned the group quickly. "Where's Ryou?" he asked, eyes narrow. Mokuba shrugged.
"He left during breakfast. Didn't come to the game."
Yami frowned, eyes narrowing as he gazed towards the castle. Then he spun around and marched towards the changing rooms. Kaiba only waited a moment before he followed. Mokuba and Marik quickly raced after them, too.
"Yam- Yuugi," Marik called, quickly matching his pace, "what's going on?"
Yami shook his head. "I don't like this," he said swiftly. "For the past month Ryou has been completely out of sorts. Barely getting sleep, barely able to cast spells, barely even interacting. There's more here. There must be more here."
Marik's fingers twitched. "It's… it's just lack of sleep, stress, and anxiety. Like was Madam Pomfrey said," the blond said, though his tone didn't sound so convinced.
Yami smiled darkly. "Then I will be proven wrong. With his new Potion, Ryou will quickly recover and be on his way. But," he paused, glancing over his shoulder at them, "if I am wrong, then I fear the end may not be so happy."
Marik faltered before nodding. "You guys can handle it right? I don't want to go down to the Slytherin Common Room unless I have to."
Yami looked at him as they neared the changing rooms. "And if you do?"
Marik smirked, but there was a dark gleam to his eyes. "Then pound on the portrait until it falls from the wall. I'll slay as many Lions as it takes to get out there."
Yami nodded and rushed into the changing room, and Marik quickly ran into his own. Kaiba and Mokuba stood a few feet away, staring at the doors. Finally, Mokuba looked at Kaiba. "Seto," he murmured, gripping the black sleeve, "what's going to happen to Ryou?"
Kaiba said nothing, staring instead at the castle. He then looked down at Mokuba, face stern. "I don't want you to come down there," he said. Mokuba's eyes flashed.
"No, Mokuba," Kaiba said stiffly, eyes narrowing. "When things like this begin, they never end well."
Mokuba frowned at Kaiba, but nodded. "I know," he said, "but that doesn't stop me from worrying."
Kaiba nodded. "I don't expect it to."
The brothers stood in silence for a minute before Yami came striding out of the room, Puzzle exposed and bright on his chest. Marik stumbled out a moment later, still pulling his cloak on. Kaiba gently nudged Mokuba towards the other Gryffindor. "Go with Marik," Kaiba said. He glanced at the castle. "And don't be stupid."
Mokuba smiled, knowing that was Kaiba for 'I'm worried'. "I won't," he said, and came to Marik's side. Marik saluted the two Snakes. "Good luck."
Yami nodded, and he and Kaiba ran towards the castle, leaving the two behind. He smiled ruefully at Kaiba. "Why," said between pants, "does it feel like we're heading into battle?"
Kaiba reached into his cloak and felt the Millennium Rod in his pocket. "Because we could be."
Yami frowned. "Common room?"
Kaiba shoot his head. "Dorm."
Yami nodded, picking up the pace. Kaiba easily matched it with his long legs. They passed several other groups of students, including a clique of younger Slytherins who called after them. They ignored them, and continued their rapid pace into the castle, flying by a group of teachers.
"Misters Mutou and Kaiba!" McGonagall's voice carried after them. They paid it no mind, however, and ducked out of the Great Hall and through the staircase that led to the dungeons.
They slowed as they moved through the maze of passageways, catching their breath as they paused in front of the stone wall that hid their common room. Yami gasped in a breath.
"Lineage!" he spat, and the wall slid open, exposing a roaring party already underway. Malfoy and the other members of the Quidditch team were still in their uniforms, reenacting a scene from the game. Yami barely took notice, and tried to slip by quickly.
"Mutou, Kaiba!" Zabini's voice called. "Join the party!"
Yami shook his head without giving them a backwards glance and Kaiba merely scowled at them. The two ducked down the stairwell, ignoring the pleading calls that followed them. They paused just outside their own dorm and Yami glanced at Kaiba. Kaiba frowned at him and jerked his head towards the door. The Pharaoh exhaled and turned the knob, pushing gently on the door.
For a moment, Kaiba wondered if Yami's panic had been needless- Ryou was sitting on his own bed, arms wrapped around his waist. He'd thrown off his own black school cloak for one of his blue-and-white striped shirts and blue jean-pants. The teen was staring at the grey stone wall between his bed and Yuugi's. Kaiba was about to glare at Yami when his eyes caught sight of what sat just inches away from Ryou, at the edge of the albino's bed:
Yuugi's small black backpack.
Kaiba couldn't quite catch his breath.
"Ryou," Yami suddenly said, urgently, as he walked forward. Ryou flinched, turning his head slightly, but never quite turned all the way around. Yami took a few cautious steps. "Ryou, are you feeling well?"
"I don't… know why I'm here," Ryou said softly, turning around and blinking rapidly at Yami and Kaiba. Kaiba felt the pressure in his chest ease a bit- Ryou didn't look to be wearing the damned Ring. Yami snatched the backpack of the bed and exhaled when he squeezed the cloth- the Ring was inside. Ryou blinked at the backpack, slowly. "I was at breakfast, and then I was here." He glanced down at his hands. "I had… that in my hands…" Ryou shook himself. "I didn't mean to take it," he said sincerely, looking desperately at Yami. "I can't… remember… everything is… it's so… dark… so heavy…"
Ryou bent forward, resting is face in his hands, and began to rock. Yami took a few steps away, holding the backpack to his chest. Kaiba looked hard at Ryou before turning to Yami. "Get Marik."
Yami glanced at Kaiba and nodded. "Right." He looked back at where Ryou was sitting. "I'll be right back, Ryou. I'm going to get Marik, and we can talk about this."
Ryou moaned, shaking a bit. Kaiba stared hard at Yami and jerked his head towards the door. Yami slung the backpack over his shoulders and rushed out of the room, door slamming shut behind him. Ryou jumped, his head snapping up. Kaiba walked forward and sat down on Yuugi's bed, Ryou's eyes tracking him the whole way. Kaiba stared back, however, and Ryou jerkily turned away.
"I don't want to talk," he said stiffly, his hands clenching and unclenching in his lap. "I can't talk about it, Kaiba. I can't do it. It's my choice!" He slammed his fists against his head, causing Kaiba to stiffen instantly. He then reached out and gripped Ryou's wrists, frowning.
"Stop it," he growled. Ryou's dark, watery eyes swung around to look at him. Kaiba shook his slightly. "Whatever the hell you're doing, it's not just about you."
Ryou tore his hands away from Kaiba and crawled backwards away from him. "Shut up!" he cried, running his hands through his limp, mussed hair. "Gods, I have to do this! Can't you see?" he stared at Kaiba, eyes twitching across Kaiba's blank face. Ryou whined slightly, leaning his head back and rocking slightly. "I can't let you make this choice. I can't let you. I can't. It's mine."
Kaiba stared at him, but made no attempt to get closer. Instead, he pulled his winter cloak off and set it on the bed beside him. They way Ryou was acting reminded Kaiba of a temper-tantrum. In fact, Ryou seemed to have reverted to a younger mind. The mind of a child.
Children Kaiba could handle.
"Do you know how the Quidditch game ended?" Kaiba asked slowly. Ryou watched him for a second before shaking his head. Kaiba up sat straighter, folding his hands in his lap. "Then I'll start from the beginning of the game."
Ryou sat up a little straighter, the shaking easing away. Finally, a small smile graced his lips. "I'd like that."
Kaiba offered him a small smile of his own.
Harry had never seen the Gryffindor common room so quiet after a game. Of course, each time they had lost in the past, Harry had been unconscious due to either Dementor attack or fighting off two-faced Defense Against the Dark Arts Professors. Harry always remembered the common room after games as loud and busy and happy. Now, however, it was just sad, bitter, and angry.
The 'angry' portion mostly was coming from a single source- Ginny. Her temper was bad enough to send most sixth years running, but even Ginny could not make Mokuba Kaiba quake. Harry wasn't sure if that was bravery or stupidity. Either way, it was one hundred percent Gryffindor.
The youngest Weasley had been incensed since she had discovered Mokuba cheering for Slytherin during a fly-by of the stands on her search for the Snitch. When Mokuba and Marik arrived at the common room and the boy was still wearing the silver-crown badge, she'd erupted.
"How could you?!" she had railed. "You're part of our House! You're our friend! Why would you do that?!"
While Marik stood nearby, ready to intercept anything thrown his way, Mokuba stared at Ginny like she was speaking a completely different language. Then he shook his head and smirked. "I root for who I want to root for." His blue-violet eyes narrowed slightly and he tilted his head. "I don't like being on the losing side."
Ginny's face flushed even more, and beside Harry, Ron had ducked down farther into his seat, as if trying to crawl into the cushions beneath him. Harry could only watch in awe as Mokuba slipped around Ginny and headed towards the dorms, Marik only a few paces behind. Ginny gaped after them before she growled low in her throat and stormed over to the chairs and threw herself into one, burying her face in her hands.
"Merlin, why do we suck so bad?" she groaned. Harry forced himself not to glance at Ron- it wasn't his fault, Harry told himself, it wasn't.
"You've been thrown into a new situation," Harry tried softly, running a hand through his hair and trying desperately hard not to sound jealous of their ability to even play. "There's a lot of new talent on the team. It'll take some time to get all the kinks worked out."
Ginny glared up at him, and Harry instantly scooted back in his seat. Ron whimpered beside him in fear. She scowled and pushed herself to her feet and stormed away from the two of them. "I'm going to go calm down for awhile," she said icily. "Please don't disturb me."
She didn't even pause before rushing up the stairs to the girl's dormitory, where their other female Quidditch teammates were currently hiding out. The common room seemed suddenly very empty to Harry- Ron, Fred, George, himself, and Hermione- who was knitting a sock by the fireplace- were all the remained in the room.
Fred rubbed the back of his head, glancing at George. "Well," he began a shakily, "she doesn't like losing."
George nodded, looking back at his twin. "A bit hyper-competitive, that one."
"Not the only one in the family, of course."
"But she's the scariest of the lot."
Ron groaned, leaning forward and rubbing his brow. "I can't believe how bloody awful I played today…" he moaned. Harry patted his shoulder gently.
"It's not all your fault," Harry reasoned. "They were singing that song. I'd be all over the place if they were singing something like that about me."
Ron shook his head. "But George and Fred and Ginny were all fine. I'm the only one who choked."
Harry shrugged, smiling at him. "You're just not as thick-skinned. You'll get used to it."
Ron looked at Harry with dull blue eyes. "Yeah," he grunted, "before or after I take my N.E.W.T.s?"
Harry winced. "You'll get it bef-"
Harry was interrupted by a loud, continuous thudding against the portrait hole. "It's me!" a voice cried from the other side. "I need to speak with Marik!"
"You will most certainly not!" was the equally muffled reply of the Fat Lady. "Now, stop striking my frame!"
Harry's brows furrowed. "Yuugi?" he said softly. He rose to his feet while Ron stared at his older brothers.
"I thought you said you blindfolded him!"
Fred opened and shut his mouth uselessly, and George's fingers twitched as he moved his hands through the air. "We did!" they cried in unison.
"He couldn't have heard or seen anything!"
Harry stood and pushed gently on the wall. "Let him in," he said.
"What?!" the Fat Lady squawked. "He's not in Gryffindor! I let him in once, and now look! Slithered his way up here on his own-"
"I must speak with Marik, you Ra-forsaken picture. Let me by, or I swear upon the shadows I will burn you."
There was a strangled pause, and then the portrait swung open, exposing a harassed and angry-looking Yuugi still wearing his winter cloak, on the other side. He strode by Harry, turning his head slightly to nod, and paused in the middle of the common room, heaving. He threw the cloak off his body and it landed heavily on the floor. Yuugi stared at the five people in the room, red-on-violet eyes narrow. He drew himself up, lifting his chin.
"Excuse me," he said, and marched up the stairs to the men's dorms.
Fred and George blinked as Yuugi disappeared around a corner. "What the bloody hell-"
"-Was that about?!"
Hermione had set her partially-done sock aside and stood, coming to the base of the stairs and look up at them. She glanced back at Harry and Ron. "There's only one way to find out," she said, eyebrows rising.
Harry rose wearily to his feet as Ron slipped off quickly, walking to where Hermione stood. "What do you think- OOF!"
As Ron stepped on Yuugi's cloak still laying on the ground, his foot snagged on something, causing him to fall to his knees. He looked back, wincing. "Ow!"
As he tried to detangle his legs from the cloth, Harry and Hermione came to his sides. Fred and George watched them from a few feet away. "Oh, you big baby," Hermione said, not unkindly, "you're fine."
Ron, frustrated, kicked out with his leg and struck something. Hard.
"OW!" he yelped, pulling his legs out of the cloak. Harry's eyes widened when he caught sight of what had wrapped itself around Ron's foot- Yuugi's tiny black backpack.
Ron stared at it, blinking a few times. Carefully, as though it were made of tissue paper, he pulled the straps from his foot, and held the bag at arm's length. He looked between Hermione and Harry, both of whom were looking at the bag, and quickly passed it to Hermione, aghast.
"I don't want to touch it!" he whispered, keeping his voice down to avoid being heard by his brothers.
Hermione frowned, looking at the bag. She bobbed it in hers hands, as if testing the weight. "What are you so scared of?" she asked, looking at Ron. Harry shrugged, eyes narrowing.
"Yuugi said," he began, "that it was something they wouldn't talk about. Ever."
Hermione frowned, squeezing the backpack gently, and then unzipped it. Ron let out a shriek. "What are you doing?" he cried softly, eyes twitching up to the stairs and over to where his brothers were standing. Hermione sighed, rolling her eyes.
"It's just a backpack," she said, opening wider and squinting inside. "There's nothing magical about it. No hexes, no curses, nothing." She peered deeper and frowned. "Well, there's a towel in here. Tied to a thermos."
Ron, however, wasn't having any of it. "Oh no, it is not 'just a backpack!'" he said pleadingly. "We're wizards! We do all sorts of things! That towel could be cursed, or the thermos could have a poison, or-"
Harry patted his shoulder before leaning around him to look into the bag as well. "I doubt Yuugi would carry around a thermos full of poison."
"He's a Slytherin! They're all crazy! You saw what happened to Ryou!"
Harry rolled his head before sticking his hand into the bag. "Yuugi had this before we even met him. No poison, Ron. Calm down."
He pulled a tan hand towel from its depths, frowning at it as he looked it over. It was wrapped around something flat and round. Harry flipped it over, and saw that duct tape was all that kept it from coming undone. Hermione looked at Ron, raising her eyebrows. Ron closed his eyes tightly before groaning, leaning forward.
"Alright, alright! Just, unwrap it quick so we can see. Then we'll put it right back!"
Harry smiled at him. "See? Not so bad. We're Gryffindors, after all." He picked at the short band of silver before getting a corner up. With a quick jerk of his wrist, Harry pulled the tape off stuck it to Ron's shirt.
"Hey! Why did you…"
Ron's objections died away when the three students caught sight of the glimmering gold beneath the towel. Harry quickly brushed away the cloth on top of the item, and stared, transfixed, at what lay beneath it. It was a ring of gold, from which five spikes dangled. A hoop, through which a thick rope was tied, was at its top, and the rope was then connected to the thermos. A triangle sat in its center. At the center of the triangle, was a familiar-looking symbol.
"This- this," Hermione chattered, reaching to touch and then pulling her hand away, "it's one of those Items!"
Harry started to feel less and less at ease. "Er, great," he said awkwardly. "Let's put it back now…"
Ron pulled the necklace out of his hands and off the towel, and the thermos came with it. He admired the object for a moment before starting to untie it from the thermos. "Hold on! I wanna try it on, first!"
"What?!" Hermione and Harry said at once, drawing Fred and George's attention.
"You can't!" Hermione said, moving to snatch the Item out of Ron's grasp, glancing at the staircase fretfully. Ron merely stood, dropping the thermos onto Yuugi's coat. Harry grabbed the cup, towel and backpack, quickly moving towards Ron.
"C'mon," Harry said. "We've seen it. They had it stored away from a reason. Let's put it back how it was before something bad happens!"
Ron scoffed and turned around, holding the Item with two hands. "They were hiding it with a towel and had it tied to a cup. How dangerous could it be?"
And then the Item released a blast light.
Ron's pained yelps made Harry move before he could see clearly, and he ended up stumbling into the redhead, sending them both to the floor. Ron's whimpers reached Harry's ears soon after, and then Harry's vision returned. Ron was lying on his back, cradling his hands to his chest, hissing in pain.
Harry rolled off of him while Hermione dropped beside him, prying is hands from his chest to look at them. They were red and blistered, like something had burned him. Ron was whimpering, clenching his teeth. George and Fred had bolted over, dropping to either side of Ron. George looked at Fred.
"Go get the remaining bit of Murtlap Essence," he said, and Fred took off towards the dorms. Ron blinked bad tears, staring at his burned hands.
Harry, meanwhile, was frantically searching the area. "Oh God," Harry whispered, digging through Yuugi's pile of stuff in the middle of the common room floor, "oh Merlin, oh God." He held up the backpack and towel, face grey. "It's gone," Harry said numbly. Hermione's mouth dropped open, brown eyes widening. Ron threw his head back.
Harry dropped the things his hands, spinning around just in time for Marik to grab his shirt collar and hoist him into the air, snarling. "You FUCKING BASTARDS!" Marik then swung him around and slammed Harry against the nearby wall, oblivious to Hermione's scream. Harry's head throbbed. "You couldn't leave it alone, could you!" Marik snapped, slamming Harry again into the wall. His vision spun- his glasses had fallen off. "DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA-! Do you have any self control at all? Of course not!" Marik was laughing a bit hysterically now, and Harry saw someone grab the Egyptian to pull him off Harry. However, Marik was too strong and merely shook them off. "No, no! Harry GOD-DAMN POTTER is the center of the universe! Ra-help us all if Harry Potter doesn't know something!" Marik slammed Harry again. "You pig!" Another slam. "You bastard!" And again. "You naïve, egotistical, arrogant MOTHERFUCKER!"
After the last slam, Marik was wrenched away and Harry slid to the floor, feeling disoriented and dizzy. He heard someone sobbing and felt someone slide his glasses on his face. Fred was looking at him a bit worriedly, but Harry only knew the sharp cold of panic in his gut. He leaned around to see Marik clenching his bangs and pressing the heels of his palms into his eyes. Yuugi was clutching onto him, shaking him slightly, and spoke in low, urgent tones.
"We have to go, Marik," Yuugi said. "If the Ring did get to Ryou…"
Marik looked up, tearing his hands away from his red, leaking eyes. "Oh Ra," he said, horror spreading across his bloodless face. "Oh Ra, Kaiba!"
Mokuba rushed into Harry's sight, grabbing onto Marik's cloak. "What's going on?! What's wrong with Seto?!"
Marik wiped is eyes and shook his head. "Nothing, nothing," he said, voice slightly hoarse. "Stay here."
"What?" Mokuba said. "No! I can't just stay here! Something's wrong!" He spun around and grabbed Yuugi's cloak. "Yami, please!"
"Yami?" Harry mumbled wearily. Yuugi ignored him.
"Stay, Mokuba," Yuugi said, planting a firm hand on his head. "Kaiba would kill us all if something happened to you."
"Mokuba!" Yuugi snapped, eyes flashing. Mokuba took a step back, paling. Yuugi closed his eyes, shaking his head. "No more." He turned to Marik, grabbing his shoulder and pulling. "Come," he urged, "we must go."
Marik nodded, grabbing his wand and throwing off the black school cloak he was wearing. He jammed the bit of wood into the back pocket of his pants. "Right." The two glanced back at the group of stunned-still Gryffindors. Marik's violet eyes were narrowed, pupils nearly nonexistent in his rage. "Don't," he began in a slow, harsh voice, "bother following. I want to kill you myself."
And then the two of them were gone, sprinting out of the common room as fast as they had arrived. Harry slowly pushed himself to his feet, face pale. "What," he began, looking around the room at the stunned faces there, "did we do?"
Marik led them down the Gryffindor Tower, as he knew where all the shortcuts were and which steps on the stairs were dangerous. Yami once again cursed himself- how could he have been so stupid, so careless, to forget that the Millennium Ring was on his back?!
/Yami,/ Yuugi's voice trickled into his mind, /it isn't your fault. We were in a rush, we wanted to help Ryou…/
Yami shook his head, following Marik when the teen merely leapt over the side of the stairs, and they both landed safely on the next set below. /We should have been faster, then. We shouldn't have let those other Gryffindors impede us./
/What were you to do?!/ Yuugi asked, angry. /Send them to the Shadow Realm? You'd be no better than Bakura then./
Yami said nothing, because there was nothing to say. Yuugi was right- there was no way for Marik and Yami to quickly get out of his dorm room, not when there were several angered Gryffindors demanding retribution for their loss. Marik had tried to talk them down and Yami tried logic, but nothing seemed to work. It was only when Fred had accidentally threw open their door instead of his own, letting them know what had happened, that Yami and Marik had been able to break free.
As Marik led them through the third floor corridor, something ahead of them caught their eyes. It was large, and black with a bit of white around chest level. Marik gasped, nearly stumbling over his feet.
"Oh Ra, no," he cried, and Yami squinted. He felt his blood run cold.
It was Kaiba, charging across the corridor, carrying a limp Ryou in his arms. Behind him was Professor Snape, flanked by Malfoy and Zabini. Kaiba looked right at them, but said nothing. Instead he halted in the middle of the hallway and kicked open the door to the Hospital Wing. He rushed inside a moment later, cloak whipping out behind him.
"Mister Kaiba?!" came Madam Pomfrey's shrill and startled voice. She suddenly gasped. "Oh, Merlin… on the bed, boy. Lay him on the bed!"
Marik and Yami slipped into the room swiftly, followed by Snape and the two Slytherins. Madam Pomfrey was blocking them from seeing Ryou's upper body, but his legs were limp at the end of the bed. Kaiba stepped back from it, blue eyes harsh and accusatory.
"What the hell happened?!" he asked, raising his hands into the air. Yami's eyes stared hard at his fingers. There was blood on them.
Marik broke into fresh sobs, leaning heavily against the wall and burying his head into his hands. "It was that bastard Potter!" he wailed, sliding down. "He and his Ra-forsaken friends! Couldn't stop themselves, couldn't do it, we told them, told them, told them!" He tugged on his bangs harshly, unable to say anymore.
Snape was openly staring at the youth. Finally, composing himself, he looked over at Yami, who was standing still as death, eyes closed. "Will someone explain what has occurred?"
Yami looked up, red-and-violet eyes narrowed slightly. "I…" he said, blinking. "We're… we…" His eyes shut and he put a hand to his forehead, as if his neck could not support the weight alone. "I'm so sorry," he finally whispered. He looked at Snape once more. "We've brought a monster into your school, and we never even told you."
Snape's eyes darted to Ryou's unconscious form. Madam Pomfrey had moved to the other side of the bed, having cut Ryou's shirt off. Snape's eyes widened in shock, Malfoy gasped sharply, and Zabini gaped. There, attached to Ryou's chest like a blood-sucking parasite, was the Millennium Ring. Blood trickled down from where the five spikes had embedded into his skin.
Snape turned to Yami. "What is this?" he asked sharply. Yami smiled darkly back at him.
"The Millennium Ring," Yami said, and looked back at the pale-faced teen before them. He walked around the side of the bed, watching the limp form.
And Ryou's eyes opened.
AUTHOR NOTES: Cliffhanger? Yes, I am that evil. Hope you enjoyed this chapter.
Thanks for waiting on me, guys. :D College is coming to a close really soon, so I don't have much free time on my hands right now. Plus, there was that whole flood-thing (I live in North Dakota). I hope the chapter made up for it, though.
Don't forget to come and check out The Hogwarts Library Forum!
CHAPTER TITLE: ZEUGOS – A pair
NEXT TIME: The Ring has returned to Ryou, and it's only a matter of time before the Spirit follows. The Item Barers must finally give up their secrets. Will the Neo-Wizards and Shadow Mages trust each other ever again?