Hey all, Yan Niao here! This is an idea that has been floating around in my head for years, but has only just recently given me form. I don't know how often I'll be able to update, but I'm pretty excited to finally be writing it.
I don't think I'd be able to write a formal duel without its winding up Epic Fail, so while I will use the monsters, they'll probably just appear outside a duel situation. I don't know the strategies and rules well enough to write one out. Also, I just watched the final season, and while I'll be taking elements from it, I'm going to have to alter timelines just a little bit to fit in with some things, though they really will not be major changes. This fic will not take place in any particular time in the series, though if I had to pick a place, it would be after Battle City. Ryou would have the Ring and the Eye, and Yuugi would have the Tauk and Rod as well as the Puzzle, then.
Please, any hardcore fans out there, don't be too picky, because I know I'm fudging, but also please be on the lookout for anything horribly off. That said, would anyone with good knowledge of YGO (and good writing skills, I'll have to check you out! ;) ) like to beta this story? :D (puppy dog eyes)
All right, enough talking from me. Please enjoy the story! :)
It was a day no cooler than any other in the summer, sweltering hot though thankfully not as humid as it had been. Abandoned swings swung briefly, buffeted by the gentle breeze that swept through the grass, fifty yards behind the children that had jumped off their perches and landed such a distance away. Shouts of both glee and disappointment carried through the air as one child proclaimed victory over his friends.
"See, see? I can jump furthest; I'm definitely more powerful than you!"
A redheaded girl crossed her arms over her chest and glared at the boy, though he stood at least a head taller than she. "That's no fair, James," she complained. "You're the oldest. You're supposed to be able to do it better."
The boy named James looked around secretively and lowered his voice, glancing at the boy who had fallen behind the rest. "Yeah, but Daddy's little favorite didn't get very far, did he? And he's older than you—"
"Don't call—" the redhead began hotly, but she was interrupted by a sandy-haired boy who was dragging along a girl who looked much like him, except her hair was auburn. His face was shining in excitement.
"Did you see?" he exclaimed. "I got further than usual! Rose still beat me, but I was only a foot behind!" He turned to yell at the forlorn black-haired boy behind him. "Al, come over here! How far did you get?"
The boy called Al neglected to answer as he dragged an arm over his brow and trudged over to the gaggle of young children, dragging the toes of his trainers on the ground as he walked. He was much skinnier than his brother James, and his hair was darker, his eyes a vivid green rather than the hazel of James and their sister Lily. James was the oldest at ten; Al and Rose a year younger, and Lily and Hugo the youngest by one year. Al's face was set in an expression of surrender and shame, while James looked simply jubilant.
Rose gave Al a hug. "It's okay, Al, Daddy says magic doesn't always start out as powerful for everyone. For him it started really late, and he still turned out pretty powerful!" She ignored the snigger released by the dark-haired James as Hugo stepped on his foot.
"Yeah, but that was your dad," James said rudely, elbowing Hugo in response, causing him to stumble back into his sister. Hugo scowled.
"Shut up, James, you're being a jerk!" Lily said shrilly. "Al's had lots of times when he's shown magic, just because he can't jump far doesn't mean anything!"
"Let it drop, Lily," Al mumbled, still staring at his feet as he drew circles in the dirt with his toes. He was used to James' teasing. James has been fond of the activity for as long as both boys could remember, it was old news to the green-eyed boy. Their sister didn't accept the verdict, though, still glaring at the older boy with her arms crossed over her tiny frame.
"'Let it drop, Lily,'" James mocked, stepping forwards. "You're always a goody-two-shoes, Al."
"I am not a goody-two-shoes!" Al said hotly, though his eyes were still glued to the ground.
"Right," James said, "then why am I always the one blamed for anything? You get away with everything, Al, because Daddy won't hear a word against you just because of your stupid eyes—" Al blanched and scowled, his hands curling up into fists at his side. He was proud of his eyes. They were unique, shared only by his father, who said he'd gotten them from his mother, after whom Lily had been named. Al felt happy to remind his dad of the first Lily, because he knew that he would be devastated if his own mother died.
"Maybe it's because you're the one who—" Rose began primly, but James was on a rant, now letting everything out.
"Your eyes aren't even that special—"
"They are special, and you know it!" Al bit back, now following his brother's example in taking a step forwards. "Just because—just because your eyes are just a stupid boring color—"
"Why are we fighting about eyes?" Rose exclaimed shrilly, but the boys ignored her.
"And what kind of a name is Albus Severus, anyway? You don't even introduce yourself by your full name because it's that stupid—"
"It is not," Al retorted, eyes beginning to get a bit watery. "It is not stupid—"
Suddenly, Lily let out a gasp and took a step back, her green-hazel eyes widening to the size of dinner plates. Hugo turned to stare in the direction in which she was pointing, whipping his head around so quickly he developed a crick. Rose let out a squeak and drew closer to her brother. Behind Al, tiny wisps of purplish smoke were appearing in the air, growing darker and thicker by the moment. Every instinct the children had screamed for them to stay away; the smoke radiated danger and chills, but Al and James, so caught up in their argument, did not seem to notice.
"Even your name isn't as stupid as you are—you're probably just a Squib!" James proclaimed, nearly crowing with his latest insult. That got the rise he was looking for as Al's face twisted in anger and he bit his lip hard, trying to hold back the tears that threatened to spill over his emerald-colored eyes.
"I am not," he said fiercely, "I am not a Squib!"
And suddenly the smoke burst from tiny wisps to a cloud. Rose shrieked and tripped over her own feet as Lily and Hugo dragged her backwards, and James finally noticed, his jaw dropping open in shock. James was frozen, unable to move as he stared at the evil-looking stuff gathering behind his brother. A tendril touched Al on the shoulder, and suddenly a chill ran down his spine, his lips turning blue. The smoke continued to gather, growing thicker and darker as the sky seemed to lose all light. "Al… what are you doing?" James asked in a voice an octave too high.
"Nothing!" Al shrilled in an equal pitch. The wisps had turned into a thick cloud, reaching out towards the other four children as it drew itself around the green-eyed boy like a cloak. Terror was written on ever line of the other children's faces.
"Stop it, Al!" Rose demanded, sounding as though she was on the verge of tears. The aura from the cloud was something the children had never experienced before. Al dropped to his knees and dug his hands in the dirt, tears now streaming down his cheeks. The purple smoke had almost completely engulfed his legs and lower torso, and was working quickly on his upper half.
"I'm not doing anything!" Al screamed. "It hurts—someone get it off me, it hurts, it hurts, get it off!"
"Al!" Lily cried desperately, reaching for her brother, but it was too late; he was going to be eaten by the mist—
There was a flash of white light, and the smoke withdrew as suddenly as it had appeared, leaving Al shivering and sobbing in a ball on the ground. The other four hid their faces in each others' shoulders as they were suddenly awash in warmth before looking up to see a silver stag lifting its antlers to the sky, which then vanished back into the wand of a man with untidy black hair, glasses, and a lightning-shaped scar.
"Dad!" James and Lily cried in relief as Rose and Hugo let out a shout of "Uncle Harry!"
The man shoved his wand into the pocket of his cloak before running to kneel down next to the shivering Al as James and Lily ran to cling onto his arms. "Al," he said, fear saturated in his voice, "Albus, can you hear me?"
Al didn't answer, still shaking and sniffling.
"Was that a dementor?" Lily breathed, clutching her father's sleeve tightly in her fists. The children had been warned of a dementor's effects often—of the sudden chills, the unhappy thoughts, as though the happiness had been sucked from the world. That was certainly how she'd felt before Harry's Patronus had banished the strange purple smoke.
"No," Harry said grimly, "though that is a very good guess, Lily. I have no idea what that was." He placed a hand gently on his son's back; when Al still didn't respond, he picked up the boy and stood, holding him like he had before Al had started 'getting too big for that stuff.' "Are all of you all right?"
"We're fine," Hugo said breathlessly, though he was still a bit shaky.
"Do you have any idea what happened?"
"Al did it," James said quickly, looking up at his father with wide, brown-hazel eyes. "It just started appearing behind him."
At this Albus spoke for the first time, his voice muffled by his father's shoulder as he remained unmoving. "I didn't do anything."
"James was teasing him," Lily supplied, trying to be helpful as Harry turned to look at James, brows furrowed. "Al was getting really upset when that purple stuff appeared…"
"It hurt, Dad," Al whimpered. "It was so cold and it hurt…"
"It's gone now, Al," Harry said gently, still giving his elder son a hard look. "Come on, we'll head back to the house. Your mum and dad were beginning to wonder where you were," he said to Rose and Hugo, "and James, I thought we'd made it very clear you were not to tease anyone. When we figure out what happened, you will be in very big trouble, young man."
James scowled, too ashamed to raise his eyes from the dirt. Figures.
Ginevra Potter curled her hands around her hot mug of tea, inhaling the smell of herbs as she locked her feet around the legs of her chair at the table, watching her husband pace the kitchen. Harry was quite obviously agitated, running his hands through his jet-black hair so that it stuck up even more than usual, giving an effect that would have been quite comical had not the situation been so worrisome. After a couple turns around the room, Harry gave a frustrated sigh and dropped into a chair across from Ginny, leaning forwards so his forehead touched the cool wood surface.
"I just can't figure it out."
Ginny reached out to take Harry's hands, the transferred warmth from her tea a jarring contrast to the cold of Harry's palms. "…Is Al all right?" she asked quietly.
Harry looked up and squeezed his wife's hands lightly. "Yes, he's fine now," he assured her. "He's in bed; he went right to sleep. I think he was pretty shaken. Had a bad shock."
"And you're sure it wasn't a dementor? The effects—"
"No, Ginny, I'm sure," Harry said sharply, earning himself a glare. "No dementor summons purple mist like that… I just used the Patronus on instinct and was lucky it worked. It doesn't make any sense."
"I know," Ginny said with a sigh. "I just wanted to make sure. And there's never been any account of this stuff happening before?"
Harry shook his head. "Right when I brought the kids home, I sent an owl to the Department while you were trying to get Al to snap out of it. They replied just after I got him in bed." Harry dug for a moment in the pockets of his cloak before pulling out a crumpled piece of parchment, holding it up as he rested his elbow on the table surface. "Absolutely nothing. Kingsley thinks he might remember something like it from years ago in records of dealings with foreign countries, so certainly nothing in this part of the world if anything at all. I'll organize a small team to look into it tomorrow, but we're still dealing with the underground Dark artifact trade, and that's higher on the priority list. We may never find out what it was."
Ginny bit her lip and scooted her chair back from the table, causing the wooden legs to screech their protest against the linoleum floor. "Why doesn't this take precedence?"
Harry followed her example and stood, sighing. Walking over to his wife, who stood up as well, he placed his arms on her shoulders and laced his hands together behind her head. "Because this is one instance, and the Dark artifact trade is rampant right now," he said gently. "You know how it works, Ginny." Lightly Harry kissed her forehead. "I'll do what I can."
A black-haired boy wearing nothing on his feet but a pair of white socks skittered down the hardwood floor of the second level, bedroom doors lining him on either white wall. A grin was plastered across his face as he flailed for balance in his hurry; it was a wonder he could see anything at all, for his hair was completely out of control, falling into his face and nearly covering his eyes. But he seemed to function fine despite an almost-trip at the top of the stairs, prevented by grabbing onto the banister and sliding the way down.
"Albus Severus, what have I told you about sliding down the banister?"
He ignored the reprimand, landing on his feet gleefully to run towards the red-haired woman and the man with whom he bore a striking resemblance, down the hair and emerald-colored eyes, who stood just inside the kitchen. He almost landed flat as he hit the linoleum in his socked feet, but caught himself on the doorframe, eyes shining with excitement.
"Geez, Al, having an orgasm over your latest book list?"
A second boy with slightly lighter-colored hair and hazel eyes but a very similar face structure slapped the black-haired boy lightly on the back of the head as he came around a corner, wearing nothing but a pair of jeans, obviously trying to show off the six-pack abs he sported. Al ignored his brother, holding out a hand to his parents. "Look," he repeated, voice gleeful.
Obligingly, Ginny moved forwards, taking the proffered item from her son's hand. Harry leaned in to look. Both parents' faces broke out in a grin at the sight of a gold letter "P" adorning a small red lion-shaped pin. "Congratulations, Al," Harry said, green eyes meeting green.
James leaned over to see what the fuss was about, scoffing in disbelief at the sight as he snatched the pin from his younger brother's hand. "Unreal," he said, holding it close to his eyes in order to better examine it. "Al gets into as much mischief as I do. There's no way they'd make him a prefect."
Suddenly Ginny laughed, throwing her red hair back. "Yes, but James," she said, "the difference is that Al is smart enough not to get himself caught."
James scowled as Al reached out to take back his prefect's badge. Al shoved his brother playfully in the shoulder. "Come on, Jamesy," he said. "This just heightens our chances of getting away with stuff."
Harry rolled his eyes. "You know you're not supposed to abuse your privileges, Albus. Someone will find out. Someone always does—"
"Yeah, I know," Al said quickly, ducking away from a hair-ruffle by his brother.
"Congrats, little bro," James said. "I'll hold you to that promise." A devious grin crossed his face.
For the first time, Al suddenly seemed to notice his parents' attire. "Where are you going?" he asked, confused as he examined the Muggle clothing Harry and Ginny were wearing: slacks and a collared shirt for Harry and a slinky blue dress for Ginny. "What's with the getup?"
Harry raised an eyebrow. "Did you forget?" he said. "The Auror Department's holding a welcome dinner for the newest taps. It's a formal, so we're all supposed to bring a date." He grinned and gave Ginny a light kiss on the lips.
"Of course, training begins right away, so it's out in Muggle London so those who aren't Muggle-born can start getting acquainted with Muggle surroundings," Ginny said with a sigh. "Meaning we've got to wear Muggle clothes."
"I like you in Muggle clothes," Harry said, ignoring James, who was fake-gagging.
"You know where Lily is, right?" Ginny said, turning to her sons. Al and James nodded.
"Yeah, she's upstairs writing swooning letters in her diary to some dark mysterious stranger—"
"All right, all right, just no fighting," Harry interrupted, checking his watch. "Come on, Ginny, we'll be late." With that, the two hurried towards the front door and exited, closing the door behind them as they Disapparated in a pop.
Note to self, Harry thought as he watched his wife down her fourth glass of wine, never give a redhead alcohol. They simply can't digest it.
Ginny giggled, her cheeks flushed a bright pink that clashed with the fire-orange of her hair, leaning across the table to the Auror seated across from Harry. "Oh, you're such a tease, Edison," she said, waving a hand.
"Really, I'm such a fan," the younger sandy-haired Auror said eagerly. "I love Quidditch, and your team is one of the best—"
Harry scowled, looking down the table at another intoxicated redhead: one of Ginny's brother and his best friend, Ron Weasley, accompanied by his brown-haired wife, Hermione, who was chatting animatedly with one of the newly-tapped Aurors. Harry caught Hermione's eye and grinned; she pulled an exasperated face at him before returning to her conversation. Harry turned his attention back to his wife, a little uncomfortable with her apparent flirting with another man, wine or no wine. Ginny had now begun pressing him for stories of dangerous escapades (as though she didn't hear enough of them from the head of the department, her own husband and the father of her children, Harry thought with gritted teeth). The Auror called Edison was eagerly recounting a trip to Egypt; Harry listened in stony silence.
"…and we just barely managed to escape from the mummy with a well-placed Patronus and a Binding curse from Jenkins," Edison continued dramatically.
The woman sitting next to him elbowed him in the chest. "You forgot about the evil cloud of doom," she recounted dryly, "that tried to swallow our souls."
"Oh, that too," Edison admitted, screwing up his face in concentration. "I can't exactly remember that part, though—it's all a bit blurry. I just remember this purple smoke suddenly spouting from the mummy, and it felt exactly like the effects of a dementor—that was why we used the Patronus, right…"
Harry's hand slipped and he dropped his fork, which then clattered on his plate to the ground below. Harry ignored it, staring at the sandy-haired Auror. "What did you say?"
"This was before you were Head… one of my first missions," the woman said to Harry. "It was a failed mission. We'd heard of ancient Dark artifacts hidden in the tombs of Egypt, and the North African Minister of Magic wanted our help with the expedition in getting these items, as they were supposed to hold immeasurable power. Of course, after all the crap we went through involving soul-sucking mummies, the locals in charge of the area tell us that the artifacts were just a legend." She rolled her eyes. "Figures."
"No, what was the part about the purple smoke?" Harry pressed, heart suddenly pounding against his ribs. For the seven years since his children had been nearly engulfed by the sinister-looking stuff, he had found no leads on the event, not even knowing where to start. And suddenly to know someone had known all along…
"I already said," Edison said, frowning. "We broke into a tomb and activated a curse. Luckily it was the first one, so we were near the entrance, though that shows how little prepared we were. A mummy—well, a sarcophagus, really, it's just easier to say mummy—was suddenly animated and went after us, spewing purple and black mist that gathered in a heavy cloud. We lost one member of the team to the stuff, found him later immobile and shaking, never to return to his right state of mind." He shook his head sadly. "We would have all been goners had Jenkins not realized how much it felt like a dementor attack and used his Patronus in a panic fit. It sent the sarcophagus packing."
Harry turned to stare at Ginny, whose gaze was suddenly clear. Their eyes locked for an instant; Ginny nodded, and Harry backed his chair out from the table and stood. "Excuse me," he said, and swept from the room.
The expedition could not have been that long ago; Edison had been tapped only a year or two after Harry, so it was definitely within Harry's years in the Auror Department. Harry dug through the files in his office feverishly until he finally found a small folder marked 'Egypt.'
The very front page was a report detailing the reasons for going, as accounted by the woman who'd been on the trip with Edison, and that it had been a pointless mission. The next few were individual letters sent by owl to detail more specific events, and a couple pictures of the Auror group sent waving in front of typical Egyptian tour sites. The very last page carried sketches of seven small figurines decorated with the Eye of Horus, accompanied by the title 'The Millennium Items: Pendant, Ring, Eye, Key, Scale, Rod, and Tauk.' Below that someone had written in fading ink, 'Said to each contain a power capable of controlling the world and the dark forces of the Shadows,' and below that, in capital letters: 'LEGEND.' However, the last word had been crossed out and added instead was 'some items last traced to Japan.'
Harry tossed aside the file, his hands trembling as he returned to the records. This time he moved away from missions and rather to correspondence with international Auror Departments. Japan's was a thick file, but after twenty minutes of thumbing, Harry found what he was looking for: a note on Shadows.
Most of what was written contained nonsense of a Muggle game gaining popularity in Japan, but there was a note on small group of people who seemed to be connected with the Shadows, which had been growing more of a common sight in Japan. Harry looked over the tiny list, taking note of their names and ages, before feverishly pulling out a roll of parchment and a quill from his desk.
These so-called Shadows were obviously connected to the Millennium Items, whatever they were. And these Millennium Items and Shadows both seemed to be harnessing a dangerous power—and as Harry saw it, it wouldn't be long before someone tried to take advantage of that power and start a second reign of terror.
As The Boy Who Lived, Harry couldn't allow that.
"What are you saying, Harry?"
Harry scowled as he crossed his arms across his chest, staring his old classmate and ex-girlfriend, Cho Chang, in the eye. He was standing in a room he knew only too well, a circular room full of whirring contraptions and slumbering portraits. A room once occupied by the man after whom his second son was named, and whose job Cho now held. Cho stood across from him, looking just as uncomfortable with the situation as Harry felt.
"I contacted the Imperial School of Magic in Japan," Harry said quietly. "They refused to take on these two boys, claiming they did not have an ounce of magic nor a power they deemed threatening. I was able to get a hold of one of the adults, however, who assured me that there was plenty more magic to the situation than what meets the eye, though he would not tell me more than that. These two boys are still in their teens and could be targeted and harmed if they are not given proper training and protection."
"So you want me to defy the school of the boys' own country?"
Harry said nothing. Cho sighed, rubbing her eyes wearily. "Harry, this isn't another of your paranoia attacks, is it? It sounds to me like a myth fueled by some Muggle technology—"
"I assure you, the man with whom I spoke knew of the existence of our world only too well, but was even more acquainted with this other magic," Harry said hotly, annoyed. "He said it's ancient, nothing we'd have ever experienced before, which only makes it a bigger threat—"
"So what do you want me to do, Harry?" Cho demanded. "If it's not our kind of magic, then we can hardly expect them to travel across continents to a school where they can't even perform up to first-year level…"
"We can learn from them," Harry insisted, "and they from us. If they can wield any kind of magic at all I'm sure they can wield ours with the use of a wand."
There was a pause, and Cho gave one short nod. "All right, but," she said, holding up her hand, "you will take full responsibility to make sure they are trained and to find out about this legend what you can, on your own if you must."
"No problem at all."
"That means staying here to teach them, Harry."
There was a short pause. Harry raised one black eyebrow. "You want me to teach?"
A faint smile appeared on Cho's lips. "You've done it before, and you were brilliant as a fifteen-year-old, so why not now?"
Harry sighed. "All right. I'll do it."
Cho nodded her thanks. "Now… what are their names?"
Green eyes met black for an extended pause before Harry finally answered. "…Yuugi Mutou and Ryou Bakura."