Characters: Lexaeus, Vexen, Zexion Time Period: Pre-CoM Rating/Warnings: K+/Mild fantasy violence


Darker Than Dementors

Part I

Arrival and Adjustments

"Interesting! Completely fascinating!"

Vexen pushes his glasses back up his nose, and passes Lexaeus the sheets of information over the table top. "Aside from normal humans, this world seems to possess a whole race of humanoids that possess magic beings, all of which inherit their powers through the family blood line." Lexaeus studies the papers and photographs with careful eyes behind his own glasses. Vexen continues. "They seem to have different societies, although the magical human population are far more aware of the other, and they are able to inter-breed. Strange, isn't it?"

"Very," the Silent Hero yawns. It is late in the evening, and they have not even made headway with the research they had been given. "Who is the most advanced?"

"Depends" Vexen shrugs. "In magic and wonderment, it's these Wizards. However, in the technological deportment, they are more or less in the dark ages."

"How pitiful" Zexion says in a mocking tone, as he walks in from the kitchen with three cups of coffee. "They practically shun the mechanics of their non-sorcery kind, thinking they are more superior. Morons."

"I hope you have this same attitude towards them when we get there, VI" Vexen smirks. "It may make things more interesting. Nevertheless, you can't judge them straight away. They may have their reasons."

"Like?"

"The non-magical humans - Muggles as they are known as to the Wizards - used to burn, drown or torture anyone suspected of baring magical properties."

"Gods! This whole world is barking mad" Zexion exclaims, shaking his head widely. Lexaeus places a hand on the boy's shoulder.

"Don't lose your composure, Zexion" he sooths. "Different worlds have different cultures and ideas. You of all people should understand that."

"Yes, yes. You are quite right, Lexaeus" the Schemer nods, patting the large hand with a thankful attitude. "If we are going to investigate this race, we have to understand their history and ways. Not to make rash comments." He straightens up, fitting his hair in an attempt to not let himself fall asleep. "Let's get sorted out. Do we have our story sorted out yet?"

"Indeed." Vexen hands his comrades a piece of parchment each. "We are highly knowledgeable Wizards from a far off country on an educational visit to teach a higher school year of students advanced illusions. Professor Zexion Read," his hand gestures towards Number VI in a flattering, grand manner, "is going to show and teach the children simple tricks while Professor Lexaeus Stone," he gives V a similar gesture, "and Professor Vexen Frost" he presses a finger against his own chest, "will help him as acting class assistances."

"Good, good." Zexion's lips purse into a paled line. "I hope I will be convincing enough. I've been learning their verbal spells for mouths, but that might not be enough."

"You are a brilliant liar, Zexion, and a charmer," Vexen smirks. "You can sell ice to Eskimos. Oh, speaking of sell." IV stands up and walks to the table in the far corner of the room. Sat upon it, there are three white flat boxes. Each box has a label with a name. He brings them over to the table. "My order came in today." Inside, made with splendid detail and with special care, are some fashioned robes. Stitched and styled to perfecting, they were just like those worn by Wizards - Vexen's are silver and ice blue, Lexaeus' are green and dark red, and Zexion's are purple and black.

"They are well-made," Lexaeus comments with a small smirk on his face, as he rubs the silky material between his thumb and finger.

"Oh, I like these" Zexion smirks. He wraps himself up in one, his skinny body lost under the ton of fabric. "Now I just can't wait to go."

OOO

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (location untraceable) is a vast, archaic castle hidden amounts misty, rugged mountains, with a mass area of ground to get lost in, and a large, dark lake in which even the dead can drown. The weather is cold today, and damp. It might rain later today.

Inside the main body of this boarding school, the three Nobody elders, dressed up in their new threads, are being led through the endless route of corridors by the deputy headmistress: a highly respectable woman by the name of Minerva McGonagall. She is tall, severe-looking and walks grandly and confidently next to them. Her black hair, without a single grey strand in sight, is tied back into a tight, neat bun, hidden under her pointed hat, which is purposely cocked to one side. She is prim-looking, with face which promised knowledge and wisdom beyond measure. The men find her absolutely fascinating. Particularly Vexen.

"I dare say that learning to be an Animagus must have taken much studying and self-encouragement," the ice mage says, walking in perfect pace with the Witch. "You must be very talented at magic, madam."

"Indeed," Minerva says with a nod of her head. "I think it was one of the most challenging tasks I had to complete." She looks at him with her sharp emerald eyes. They are just like his. "Are you interested in becoming an Animagus, Professor Frost?"

"Oh, no, no, no" Vexen insists quickly, waving the idea away with his left hand. "I'm just an admirer of shape-shifting in general. Besides, I dread to think what my animal form would be. For example, yours, Professor, is highly respectable. Cats are cunning, hunters, capable at looking after themselves and have a great, long history with Wizard-kind. I may not be so lucky. Gods only know what I may be."

"A dusty old crow" Zexion sneers under his breath, wickedly smirking.

Vexen gives him a cold look over his shoulder. "And you will be a weasel."

"And Lexaeus will be a bear" Zexion response cheerfully, not caring one bit about Vexen's bitter expression. Lexaeus rolls his eyes.

Minerva stops them in front of a gargoyle statue, standing within an arch in the wall. The Nobodies look at it curiously. The Witch steps forward towards it.

"Password?" the gargoyle demands.

"Pumpkin pasties" answers Minerva, and suddenly, the statue slides away, and so does some of the wall within the arch, to revile a room.

Within this room, there are many spindly tables, delicate instruments and humongous host of spin-worn books and animated pictures. Puffs of mystical smoke dance in the air. There is a shallow basin on one of the tables, and its content a silvery substance that was neither liquid nor gas. At the opposite end of room, at a large desk writing away, is a bearded, old Wizard. He has a crooked nose, his fingers long, and his blue eyes twinkles with a boyish gleam. A beautiful, fire-coloured bird is perch on a stand behind him.

"Here are the foreign teachers who are going to educate the students in illusion, Professor Dumbledore," Minerva says, gesturing towards the three men behind her.

Albus Dumbledore rose, striding around the table to greet them. "Thank you, Professor McGonagall. That will be all."

The woman bows and turns on her heel, leaving the Nobodies with this powerful Sorcerer. "Now," the man smiles, with up-most kindness, "which one of you fine gentlemen is Zexion Read?"

"I am" Zexion says, stepping out. He bows and holds his hand out. "And may I say it is an honour to finally meet you, sir. A delightful privilege."

"Thank you." Albus shakes the boy's hand with both of his. "I've heard great things about you as well, my boy. I dare say, you do look young for a Wizard of your skill."

"I was the class swot" Zexion smirks, winking, making the headmaster laugh.

"Humour. I like that in a scholar." He turns to the other two. "And you must be Vexen Frost and Lexaeus Stone. It's marvellous to be meeting you as well." He shakes them warmly by the hand. "Welcome, all of you. Welcome to Hogwarts."

"You have a very fine school here, Professor," Lexaeus comments with a small smile.

"Thank you," Albus nods. "Oh, I am sorry. You all must be wary from your travels."

"We are quite tired," Vexen lies. They had actually only used a portal to get to the grounds, and walked the rest of the way. It took them only half-an-hour to reach the main gate.

"I will show you to your quarters" the headmaster says, leading them to the way out, "and you must sit at the professors' table for dinner tonight. I insist - no, I demand it."

"Thank you, sir" Zexion smiles, "we would love to."

They are in.

OOO

Until they were properly sat at the dinner table, the Nobodies had not quite grasped how many Wizards there are in this World… that is until they saw the endless sea of students that managed to fit along four banquet tables. Every ethic, nationality and background is here, chattering together so a dim din rings through the echoing hall. From the professors' table, the children are a mass of black robes, reminding the men of Shadow Heartless.

They can see a few of the students that are sat closest to the head table look up at them and whisper to each other, pointing at them. Even in a magical community, a muscular, extremely tall titan, a longhaired, twitchy, bony-hipped elder and a small, pointed-face grey-haired youth stand out well in the crowd. Nobodies normally do.

They are sat on the headmaster's most left hand side - Zexion closest, then Lexaeus and finally Vexen. The poor Academic is stuck next to a strange, maybe crazed woman named Sybill Trelawney, whose glasses make her look like at petrified owl. She keeps muttering over tarot cards, and Vexen tries not to pay any attention to her. A quick feeling of uncertainty falls over him when he hears her say something about "darkness" and "impostors" but he quickly dismisses it. Pure chance, that's all.

"Professor" Zexion says quietly, tapping Albus gently on the arm to gain the man's attention. "Who is that?" he asks, pointing to a black-clad Wizard with greasy-looking black hair, dark soulless eyes, and a permanent scowl. He was the type of man who is so private and locked up within his own mind, that even Zexion would have a hard time cracking his thoughts open.

"That is Severus Snape," Albus tells him. "The Potions Master. A bit of an aloft character, isn't he?"

"Very." Potions that the Schemer is more common with are able to repair muscle tissues and crushed bone in seconds, but in this world, they are used for a whole manner of tasks. This Severus must be intelligent.

"There is something about him… I can't put my finger on it,"Zexion whispers as he leans over to his comrades. "We might have to keep an eye on him. He smells heavily of diabolical power."

"He does give an air of darkness" Lexaeus nods. "Do you think he has an affiliation with the Heartless?"

"He is involved with some form of dark power" Vexen muses. "I can feel it."

"We can't worry about that now," Zexion tells them. "We are here to learn about the weaknesses and strengths of this race for the Organization, not to look for trouble and to be nosing into other people's business. If he is a part of a band of dark entities, let him, unless he becomes an annoyance in our research."

Lexaeus and Vexen fully agree.

OOO

"Are you nervous about your first class, Zexion?" Vexen asks as he brushes his hair, getting rid of the stubborn tangles. Their room is small but cosy, and it is well furnished. The candles give a slight glow, making everything a feel of closeness and warmth.

Zexion puts his quill back into its inkwell and turns around in his desk chair to face him.

"Vexen. First thing after breakfast, I will have to play at teacher and try to convince a class of magical adolescents that I am the real deal, and try not to cock up too badly."

Vexen puts his brush on his side table and sits on his four-poster bed. He asks again. "Zexion. Are you nervous?"

The Schemer smirks childishly. "I am terrified." He stands up, stretching his arms above his head like a tired tabby. "I can at least try my best, right?"

"Of course," Vexen agrees, pulling his cover around him. "Lexaeus and I have complete faith in you. Don't we, V?"

"Absolutely" Lexaeus smiles, pushing his spectacles back up his roman nose again. He is glancing over the parchment that was given to them by Albus, which he had spread across his own bed. "You never fail."

"Thanks for the praise," Zexion says smugly. "What time is breakfast?"

Lexaeus checks the timetable in his hand. "7:30."

"I'll set the alarm for 6:30 then" the boy sighs, twisting the key on the back of the rickety-looking alarm clock; the type with bell ears. "That should give us enough time to wash and dress." With that, he clambers into his own bed, losing himself into the feather quilt as if it's a cloud.

"Do you have anything you need for the class, Zexion?" Vexen ask, arching a brow.

Zexion nods. "Yes, yes. I have written all the important notes down" he says with a wave of his hand, towards the writing desk in the corner. He settles his head against the pillow. "I just need to prey of a good day tomorrow now. Good night."

OOO

The classroom they were given is a basic room, with the right number of desks and chairs for the students, a large table for Zexion to work on and a blackboard. Very little else is needed. When they arrived, all of the students were already there, acting like normal students would do before lessons - perked on table surfaces, gossiping and laughing at juvenile jokes. A few enchanted paper airplanes and birds swoop across the roof beams.

The heavy oak doors at the back of the room open with an almightily bang as the Nobodies enter. The young Wizards quickly race to their seats, getting their wands and books out onto the desks, and kicking bags under the chairs. All is silent as Zexion walks down the aisle in the middle of said desks, eyes watching him all the time. He keeps his blue eyes forward, the feeling of importance clinching to him. His heels of his Organization boots (the only bit of uniform he is still wearing) scrape the stone floor, and his lexicon is held tightly to his chest. His partners close the doors behind them and take a seat at the back.

Zexion reaches his table, drops his tome carefully and opens it up to a page full of notes. He places his hands firmly onto the paper in front of him, and gives the children a good look over. He knows that Hogwarts has a house system, and he knows the different colours for each house. It's humid in here, so everyone had shrugged off their robes, but he has the ties to work with. He makes a mental note that most of the students are mixed with others from different houses, apart from the green-tied students - the Slytherin house - who are all together in a big heard at the back. They might cause some problems.

His brooding over, the Schemer straightens up and smiles as warmly as possible.

"Good morning" he begins. "If you haven't already heard, I am Professor Read and I will be teaching illusion to you lucky people." He gestures to the back, and most of the students look over their shoulders. "The gentlemen with me today are Professors Frost and Professor Stone, and I wish for you to treat them with respect." He sighs lightly, shaking his head to himself. So far so good. Don't mess this up, Zexion. "In my class, everyone is equal." He gives the students a sharp look. "Everyone." All the students take sneaky looks towards a young lad with glasses and messy black hair, as if they all knew why Zexion said that. The man places his hands of his frail hips, looking menacing. "I don't care who your parents are, if your half-Muggle or pure-blooded, or if you are the bloody he-queen of Sheba. You are all the same to me. Understood?"

"Yes, sir," the students answer in unison and Zexion relaxes. He can get away with this.

"Now. Illusions are complex magic," he says calmly, officially beginning the class. "You need to be creative and have a clear mind." He paces up and down the front of the chalkboard slowly. "Though, I must warn you. Illusion is associated with the mind. If you don't know what you are doing and your spells backfire," he stops and faces them, grinning crazily; teeth clanged, "you might turn absolutely, positively mad." A cluster of girls from Hufflepuff giggle with him, and he give them a little wink, making them giggle again, a little louder. He thought he was pretty good at this, not to blow his own horn or anything."Illusions are tricky," he continues, getting to the point. "They are hard to understand and can fool people into thinking that the fake is actually reality. I mean," he shrugs, battering his eyelashes, "I might not actually be here right now."

Students laugh with him again, amused with his behaviour. None of the Slytherins do, but let them be moody.

"Let's start with duplication," Zexion says. It was simple for him to do. He just has to summon a clone. The students don't have it so easy. They have to learn to do it. "Allow me to show you." He raises his hand and with a flourished movement, a second Zexion appears out of nowhere, and it slowly opens its pretty blue eyes. It gains the odd 'oo' and 'aw', and a round of nattering. "A handsome devil, isn't he?" Zexion grins. "I am able to create many of these copies, and control all of them as well." He waves his hand again and the clone evaporates. "Who would like to come up here and give it a go?"

No one volunteers, so Zexion chooses from his list of students' names. "Let's have… Ronald Weasley up here. Where's Ron?"

A blue-eyed boy with a freckled complexion and bright red hair moans, hiding his head in his arms. There he is.

"Oh, come on," Zexion teases. "Get your wand and arse up here." Reluctantly, Ron stands and shuffles over to Zexion slowly, showing him how much he is not enjoying this. Zexion shakes his head. "It could be worse."

"I guess," Ron shrugs.

"Now, Ron" Zexion says softly, "what I want you to do is to flick your wand just so and say the words 'ego effingus.' Say it back to me."

"…Ego effingus" Ron says flatly.

Zexion rolls his eyes. "Come on, Boy. With feeling. Ego effingus!"

"Ego effingus!" Ron repeats, a little louder, harder.

"Better" Zexion grins. He turns Ron towards an empty space. "Now cast the spell."

Bracing himself, Ron raises his battered wand. He licks his dry lips and calls out the entrenchment at the top of his voice.

"Ego effingus!"

A spark shot out of the end of the willow and a second embodiment of Ron falls to the floor with 'thump.' It is a pretty go attempt, very close to the real deal… apart of the lack of a face. Some of the classmates laugh on impulse, not wanting to be mean. The Slytherins are howling. Bastards.

"It's an improvement, Weasley!"

Ron bitterly flicks his wand again, so the disfigured double vanishes. His brow is furrowed but his face is aflame with a red blush. It clashes terribly with his hair. Zexion shakes his head with a understand manner and places a friendly hand the boy's shoulder.

"Don't listen to them," he tells them. "Actually, for a first go, it was excellent."

Ron blinks at him. "Really?"

"Certainly. When I first started this type of magic, my duplicates had missing limbs for many years" the man lies. "If you keep practicing, I'm sure you can create perfect doubles just in a couple of years. Maybe less."

Ron doesn't believe him. He smiles a little. "You're not pulling my leg, are you?"

"Heavens no" Zexion playfully gasps. "You tried, and it's a brilliant attempt. Well done, Ron."

A proud grin appears over the boy's face. "Thanks, Professor."

"Get a room" a silver-blond, shape-faced Slytherin sneered. A few of his friend cackled with him. Zexion gives them a cold, deadly glare and they fall quiet. He lets Ron sit down and then calmly walks over to the pool of green, his eyes always on the grey-irises of the student who tried insulted him in an infantile way.

"Oh yes" the Schemer sighs coolly, stopping in front of the teenager's desk, folding his arm. "I've heard about you. You're Draco Malfoy. Correct?"

"And what if I am?" Draco grins wickedly, playing with Zexion. The Nobody arches a brow.

"It's not very nice to make rude comments about people," Zexion tells him. "I don't see you giving it a go."

"Why should I?" the boy sneers. He gives Zexion a look over, up and down, unimpressed by his appearance. "You look nothing like a proper Professor. You look more like a student."

"Trust me, child. I am much older then I appear."

"Why should we listen to you?" Draco barks. "All of this stuff is not important to us. You're just a - Ahh!"

Zexion grabs Draco by the shirt collar and pulls him up to his feet, shocking him. His lackeys watch in slight horror. Everyone else watches in surprises. Lexaeus and Vexen - forgotten at the back of the room - look on and do nothing.

"You listen to me, boy," Zexion snarls to Draco, his blue eyes blazing and hair shadowing his face, giving him a fearful face. "I have seen horrors and nightmares then you can't even believe in." His voice is dripping with grim fury, his hand tightening their grip. "I've seen strangers and loved ones die in ghastly pain in front of my eyes. I've had spells and weapons scar me, physically and mentally. I have stared death in the face and laughed mockingly at it with glee. I have dealt with greater Hells then you, and I have more to come. I'm here to offer a chance for people to use illusions to full effect. Not to please snobby gits like you. Now if you don't want to learn, you can at least be helpful to the ones who do and keep your pale, foul, scowling, cruel little mouth shut or, better yet, leave!"

He lets go of Draco's shirt, and the boy falls down into his chair with a loud clatter. Draco's hand rests his neck and he stares at the man with wide eyes. Zexion scowls down at him, and then turns on the rest of the Slytherins. "That goes for the lot of you!" Quickly, the entire house gets up, grabs their belonging, and runs to the door, getting as far away from Zexion as possible. The Schemer exhales calmly as the door closes, dusting down his robes with his nippy fingers.

"Thank Gods. I thought they would never leave. Glooming up the place like that..." He turns to the remaining students and smiles again, clapping and rubbing his hands together. "Now, how many of you would like to conjure up lions and tigers for the rest of the lesson?"

A forest of eager hands shoot up, waving around. All of them had forgotten about Zexion's attack on the Slytherins already. Ron leans over to his messy-haired friend, smirking into his ear.

"I like him" he says. "He's out of his bloody tree, but I like him."

"I do believe we have created a monster," Lexaeus sighs, smiling slightly with a shake of his head.

"It wouldn't be the first time" Vexen shrugs. "Let the child have his fun."

"Oh, I will. I will."

OOO

Despite it being so brisk, the sunlight is warm enough to sit out in the courtyard, so some students were dotted around the grass, playing exploding snap and finishing homework. Vexen didn't feel the cold like any normal man, so the chill doesn't matter. He had found himself a bench under a tree, and is now writing up about the Wizards in a report for the Superior. It's a difficult task. Theyshould have studied full-grown adult Wizards, not children. None of them are mature enough to take seriously for this report. They should have gone to a large community, not a school. Like - what was that name? Diagonally…? Dilagon…? Oh, doesn't matter. He puts away his quill and shifts his spectacles. Maybe some reading would help.

Suddenly, Zexion comes storming over, his face covered in soot.

"What happened to you?" Vexen asks, chewing down a smirk.

"Damned Fred and George is what happened," the young man yells at him in a strained voice.

Vexen arches his brow. "Fred and Geor-? Oh! Ronald's brothers. The twins?"

"Correct." Zexion takes the handkerchief that Vexen offers him. "Thank you… They got me with this firecracker thing and went racing down the corridor, howling like idiotic hyenas. Gods, they are just as bad as Axel and Demyx. Maybe even more so."

"Now that is saying something," Vexen chuckles, opening his large book to a marked page. "What are you going to do?"

"Don't worry. I'm going to get them back." Zexion sits down on the grass, tucking his feet under himself neatly. "I just need a plan." He glances up at his elder. "What are you reading? You look every interested in it."

"Just something I picked up - Hey!"

Zexion grabs the book and flips it over, reading the blurb. "This is about extinct magical creatures of this world. Why are you reading this?"

"Give it here." Vexen snatches the book back. He scowls down at the illusionist. "A Ravenclaw girl gave it to me as a thank you for getting her shoes down from a chandelier."

Zexion sniggers. "And why were her shoes on a chandelier?"

"Because some of the students in this school are horrid. They got throw up there. When I found her, she was barefooted. I recovered them for her, she gave me one look and asked straight away if I'm half-banshee."

Zexion laughs loudly. "Sounds like a weird child."

"She is. She had this whimsical expression on her face, like she was spaced out." The scientist turns back to his book, ignoring Zexion now. "If she had the kindness of giving me this, I should at least read it."

"Ha." Zexion smiles fondly. "Vexen: hero of the moment."

"Shut it."

Lexaeus comes over, looking tired and fed-up, and sits on the bench with a sigh.

"Oh dear, another grump. What's wrong with you?" Zexion asks.

"Ten times" Lexaeus grumbles, resting his head in his large hand. "Ten times this morning, I've been asked if I'm part-giant."

"It's better than banshee" Vexen huffs under his breath.

"Well, you are very big compared to most people, Lexaeus" Zexion shrugs. He tilts his head up in thought, nibbling his bottom lip. "Isn't the groundskeeper here for giant descent?" he asks absently. "…How does that work, anyway?"

"What does it matter?" Lexaeus grumbles. He runs his hand through his wavy brown locks. "It was amusing the first few times but now the students are getting on my nerves."

"Oh, but you have the temper of a saint, Lex" Vexen tells him. "What are they doing?"

"Well, every time I turn around…" Lexaeus trails off and looks over his shoulder, and his comrades do too. A small group of lower school girls hiding behind a tree gasp as they release they have been spotted and run away towards the castle entrance, giggling light-heartedly and their faces flush in high colour. Lexaeus grunts. "See what I mean?"

"Aww. Lex thinks little girls are laughing at him," Zexion teases. The older man shots him a hard glare.

Vexen is still reading, but he steps in. "Little boys follow people around to be mean. Little girls follow people around because they like them."

Lexaeus blinks at him, bushy eyebrow raised in surprise. "Excuse me?"

"Oh, Lexaeus." Zexion reaches out and gives his friend's knee a squeeze. "You've gained yourself a little fan club."

"But-But…" Lexaeus stutters, briefly looking back at the tree. "Why?"

"Because you're tall, strong, handsome and mysterious" Vexen sighs, flicking to the next page. "Women like that sort of thing."

"And" Zexion grins, "I've heard you bare resemble to the men of the Durmstrang Institution. They are pretty infamous with the females."

Lexaeus takes this all in, and then a wide smirk crosses his face. "Oh. Well, that's not so bad then…"