A/N Eheheheh. I told you I made no promises with the once a week updates. I've been extremely busy and I apologize. First came finals week, as you all know, and then came order-filling (I make jewelery on commission, and had a rather lot of Christmas orders), then came finishing Christmas presents (watches, they looked awesome!), and then I caught a really bad cold, which was kind of flu light. I had all the symptoms of the flu minus nausea, and I didn't techincally have a fever, and the entire time I was sick (almost a week, completely missed new year's) I was like, "*groan* I hafta write my fanfic, *cough* my poor readers *sneeze* they probably hate me...*snore*". So I got on the computer yesterday for the first time in almost three weeks, saw what I had written for this chapter, didn't like it, and rewrote it. It's a little short, but I figured I'd better post something before you all lynch me.
Oh, and just a little side note, Xandre pointed out to me that there is no real difference between vizard and hollow masks, but for the purposes of this fic, we're pretending there is. It suits my needs. So yeah, I warned you I'd be taking liberties.
Another note, a lot of you want to know if I plan to make Hitsugaya a vizard. It's an intriguing idea, but I don't plan on going in that direction. It's all or nothing with the spores, and vizard is half-way.
Harry didn't consciously make the decision to tell Toshirou about his dream. Actually, he'd decided not to tell the first year about it. As little as Harry understood about the Shinigami and the war he was fighting, he could respect the fact that Toshirou had plenty on his plate. Hell, Harry had more than enough to deal with and he was only a student, not a military captain. But the next time Harry saw the Shinigami, he ended up explaining his dream to the white-haired boy anyway.
It had been an odd sequence of events that lead up to their meeting. As Harry was a fifth year in Gryffindor and Toshirou was a first year in Slytherin, they didn't really see each other often, and when they did, it was almost always during a DA meeting or in the Great Hall. But this time Harry found Toshirou in the library, generally a rather empty, quiet place. And it had been rather more empty than usual, being as the weather had been unusually mild that day, and most students were outside enjoying their unexpected good fortune.
Toshirou had already been there when Harry entered the library, and welcomed his upperclassmen to sit with him with a silent glance. Harry took the invitation, noting that the books around Toshirou were far more advanced than a first year would require. Oddly, that didn't surprise Harry; although Harry had a sneaking suspicion that Toshirou was older than he appeared to be, he was also noticeably younger than his vice-captain. You couldn't become a captain that young if you weren't smart and dedicated.
Harry didn't know exactly when he'd started talking. He hadn't consciously made the decision to start talking, but before he knew it, he was describing the blind man from his dream. Toshirou's eyes narrowed slightly, but he didn't interrupt. He was a quiet, attentive listener.
Harry told Toshirou the things that the blind man had said. "Kind of sounds like a recruitment speech, doesn't it?" Harry mused out loud after he finished.
"Yes," Toshirou replied, although Harry had meant it rhetorically. There was something tight about the Shinigami's voice.
"I mean, it might have just been a dream," Harry said hurriedly, mentally kicking himself for opening his mouth. "It's just that he felt-"
"He felt?" Toshirou prompted, raising a single eyebrow.
"-like you," Harry finished, almost apologetically, though he wasn't sure why.
Toshirou rubbed his forehead with a single hand, and that gesture spoke volumes to Harry. "You know who it is, don't you? I mean, he's real, it wasn't just a dream-"
"I knew who he was," Toshirou said softly. When he looked back at Harry his teal eyes were hard. "His name is Tousen Kaname. He was another captain of the Gotei 13. The 13 protection squads," he added at Harry's confused look.
Harry felt his mouth go dry. "Was?"
"He was one of the three captains that betrayed us." Toshirou snorted with derision. "Tousen always preached peace and justice. But his sense of justice seems to have been somewhat skewed."
"What do you mean?"
"The three of them murdered the members of our governing body, Chamber 46, so they could give the order to execute a Shinigami whose only crime was saving the Kurosaki family."
"You mean Karin's family?" Harry asked, shocked.
"Yes." Toshirou tapped a finger against the table. "She was injured and leant her powers to Ichigo- a crime, yes, but not worthy of execution, and it saved their lives."
"Why did they want to kill her?"
"She had something they needed." Toshirou's eyes were shadowed. Harry could guess that the three renegade captains had done more than just what he'd said, but he didn't press.
"What do they want with me?"
Toshirou shook his head. "I can only guess. Was that all to the dream?"
"Yes. Well, no. After that it changed into something else, a dream I've been having every night recently." He described the hallway and the door to Toshirou.
"I don't know that. But the dream changed before you could answer, so we can assume it was unrelated."
Harry nodded. "Yeah, it was almost like the second dream interrupted the first. But Toshirou-"
"I'd rather not conjecture just yet, Potter. I could be very wrong." Toshirou stood up, closing his books. "Please, let me know if you have another dream of him."
"And if he asks me to join them?"
"Just remember, the one who Tousen says will bring peace and justice stabbed my best friend, his vice-captain, and left her to die. Is that someone you think you can trust?"
And without waiting for an answer, Toshirou turned and left the library.
* * * * *
With Hyorinmaru's chastisement fresh in his mind, Hitsugaya told Ichigo about Harry's vision of the renegade captain. If this was a new tactic of Aizen's, Hitsugaya was in no shape to fight. Ichigo however, always seemed ready to fight.
The scowling teen had asked the same questions that were on Hitsugaya's mind. How? Why? Harry had shown evidence of strong reiatsu, of course, but he was an untrained boy. What could Aizen possibly want with him?
Hitsugaya didn't share his theories with Ichigo either. He could make an educated guess, of course, many educated guesses, but he just didn't have the evidence to back them up yet.
The most obvious connection between Aizen and Harry was Hitsugaya himself, and the timing was too coincidental not to acknowledge that. Hitsugaya generally did not believe in coincidences. But it seemed odd that Aizen would try to get to Hitsugaya through Harry. It wasn't as though they were particularly close, and Hitsugaya wasn't called icy just because of his zanpakuto. So while there was a connection, Hitsugaya could assume that this wasn't an attack on him. And he wasn't completely sure that that was a relief.
What else could Aizen possibly want from Harry? The wizarding magic? After all, that was the very reason Hitsugaya himself was at Hogwarts, and if Aizen was trying to gain access to it, then it was all the more imperative that Hitsugaya finish his studies here as quickly, and as completely, as possible. But why go after Harry? The boy was still in school himself, and there were plenty of full-grown wizards that would be more susceptible to Aizen's ideals. It was possible that Aizen was looking for a foothold in the wizarding world, and thought the famous Harry Potter was his way in. After all, Tousen's words of justice and peace would appeal to a boy who had had to grow up fighting a great evil just because he hadn't had the sense to die as an infant.
Hitsugaya frowned. That was a likely scenario, but Harry had little credibility with most of the wizarding world these days. Hitsugaya didn't think it was possible that Aizen was ignorant of that fact. Aizen did nothing if he hadn't calculated all possible contingencies. He wouldn't have missed such a fact. Of course, Voldemort couldn't stay in the shadows forever. Harry would eventually regain his status, and that even gave Aizen time to wear down Harry's resolve and mold him the way the self-styled lord of Hueco Mundo wanted. Aizen was well known for his patience, after all.
Still, it was more of a gamble than Aizen usually took, since Hitsugaya was there to counter every argument that was made to Harry. Hitsugaya had known him longer and had even saved Harry's life. The boy was more likely to trust Hitsugaya's word, and Hitsugaya knew that Aizen must know that.
There was also the possibility that Harry was just a distraction. Aizen might be trying to do something or recruit someone else in the wizarding world, and he wanted Hitsugaya to be focused on Harry so he couldn't interfere. And if he managed to recruit Harry under Hitsugaya's, and by association Soul Society's nose, well, so much the better. A possibility, but Aizen knew Hitsugaya well enough to know that the young captain would suspect that. So a possibility, but also not very likely.
So what the hell did Aizen want? Hitsugaya looked out a window watching the snow melt off of the trees in the Forbidden Forest. The thestrals? Did Aizen not want an in into the wizarding world, but into Hogwarts? Maybe Harry wasn't the target, just the most susceptible student Aizen had found. But why now? Aizen could have come here at anytime here to study the thestrals during his captaincy without even having to lie. He could have gotten permission just by saying there were creatures here that might be related to the hollows and warranted study. So why would he wait until now, when there was a Shinigami captain resident?
It was possible, he supposed, that Aizen hadn't been aware of the thestrals until now. Hogwarts itself might not have warranted his attention until Hitsugaya became a student. Still, it was more of a risk than Hitsugaya thought Aizen would normally take. Unless, of course, the thestrals carried something of vital importance to him, some piece of information that he desperately needed. But that, too, seemed off to Hitsugaya. Aizen wouldn't have made his move if he was missing a vital piece of information.
Hitsugaya rubbed his forehead again, feeling a headache start behind his eyes. Damn Aizen. What the hell did he want from Harry? Wasn't it enough that he'd betrayed everyone that had believed in him? Wasn't it enough that Kira had to live with the whispers and the implications that he'd been complicit the entire time? Wasn't it enough that Hisagi was about to break under the pressure of assuming his captain's duties?
Wasn't it enough that Hinamori still lay in the fourth division, unconscious and healing far too slowly?
Hitsugaya knew he had to report this to Soul Society and he knew the old man wouldn't be pleased. Unohana wouldn't be entirely pleased either, since Hitsugaya was still injured and sitting directly in the line of fire. Hitsugaya would refuse to budge, however. He was too far along in his studies to give up now. And if Aizen was planning something in the wizarding world, Hitsugaya wanted to be the one to stop him. He deserved that much.
But first, Hitsugaya headed to Dumbledore's office. As much as Hitsugaya hadn't wanted to worry the old wizard with the details of Soul Society's war, one of Dumbledore's students had been dragged into it. Hitsugaya had initially been worried that the war in the wizarding world would affect Soul Society, but he'd never even considered that the opposite might happen. It was a scenario he should have foreseen, and now it was happening.
Taking a deep breath, Hitsugaya raised a fist to knock on Dumbledore's office door.
LeonaWriter: Voldemort is still sending Harry dreams, but Aizen is piggybacking visions onto them for his own nefarious reasons.
Flower Kid is a Leprechaun: I'm pretty sure they call it both soccer and football, but even if that's not the case, I didn't want to make any confusion. So it's just gonna be soccer. (P.S. I totally agree with you about our football, but what's done is done, ne?)
Ryuuk96: That's a very good guess, and a very good idea. But you'll just have to wait and see how the thestrals came to be (hahaha, I rhymed)
AngelIre: I'm fairly certain that they use the f-word. It was also just an excuse for me to use it, since I am a notorious potty-mouth and I've been very good this entire fic. What the hey, it's rated T, right? I'm allowed. Plus, everybody wanted Malfoy to get some form of comeuppance.
Lulun221: Why am I not surprised your favorite part is with Urahara? Lol. Hula-hooping with you completely killed my abs, btw. I was in pain yesterday. Pain!
Ilovebleach102012: Strength in magic doesn't necessarily mean strength of reiatsu. There's overlap, yes, but magic and reaitsu aren't precisely the same thing. Ichigo never got a Hogwarts letter, and Hermione can't see Hitsugaya even though I'd rate her at least equal (if not better) to Malfoy in magic power. But a good catch.
And thanks to RmfD, Xandre, Deviously Ruined Rose, sarahlilly95, Chillis, DXmaryoOD, artistic sprite, benihime. chan, kuaispeed, FullmetalKeyblade-13, plump_york, Shahar Mystral, missyJuliette, ihonestlydontknow, Serenity Moon2, BadRyuKun, Radio Static, and soupcan.
Thanks for staying with me through my unplanned sabbatical. Hope everyone had a good holiday and happy new year. ~Dii