Bleach/Harry Potter: Crystal Vision
Author's Note: I do not own Bleach or Harry Potter. If I did, I'd keep all my money in a giant safe and go swimming in it every day. I do, however, own Fujita Tetsunosuke, but that ingrate hasn't netted me a dime.
Byakuya had always enjoyed the dawn. It was a special time, when the world around him was in flux. The stars and the creatures of the night began their slumber, while their daylight replacements took the reigns. Out on the grounds, hundreds of flowers opened their buds to greet the light. Rare was the day that Kuchiki Byakuya did not greet the sunrise, much to the consternation of many within his division. How could he be up and giving orders before they had even had their first cup of coffee?
If there was one thing about the dawn that Byakuya disliked, it was that the Soutaichou often chose that time to have his daily captain's meetings. While some of the other captains resented being woken up so early—Zaraki and Kyouraku were notorious for nodding off during such meetings—Byakuya simply wished that could see the sunrise. This morning's meeting had denied him what had promised to be a truly glorious summer dawn.
The ten remaining captains had gathered in Captain-General Yamamoto's chambers for what the Soutaichou had dubbed a meeting of "utmost importance." Of course, it was not unusual for the Soutaichou to label even the most mundane of meetings as "important." Still, Byakuya kept his expression neutral, so that his fellow captains might follow his example. A quick scan of the room, however, revealed that his attempt was in vain. While Unohana, Komamura, and Ukitake wore similar expressions, the others were clearly unhappy to be there. Hitsugaya had put on a serious air, but it was obvious from the dark circles under his eyes that he was exhausted. No doubt the boy had been up all night completing paperwork left by his incredibly lazy fukutaichou.
While Hitsugaya undoubtedly wished he were still in bed, at least he had the courtesy to try to stay awake. Kyouraku, meanwhile, had crossed his arms and tilted his straw hat over his eyes. If not for the sound of light snoring, one would almost believe that he was deep in thought. Zaraki, being nothing if not brutally honest, wore a deep scowl. His sour mood did not improve when he noticed that Soi Fon and Kurotsuchi had taken up positions to the Soutaichou's left at the front of the room.
"Great, the old man calls us in before dawn for a friggin' physics lecture," the giant captain of the 11th Division muttered none-too-softly. From the sound of his voice, Byakuya was positive the man had a hangover. Knowing Zaraki, he might even still be drunk from the night before. Byakuya closed his eyes and almost imperceptibly shook his head. It was bad enough for a captain to engage in such disreputable behavior, but it was even worse for a captain to take out his frustrations on his men. While captains meetings almost always bored Zaraki, any meeting that featured a briefing from Kurotsuchi would surely have him nearly comatose. If there was anything more dangerous than an angry Zaraki Kenpachi, it was a bored Zaraki Kenpachi. If he were a gambling man, Byakuya would bet that anywhere from one to two dozen 11th Division members would find themselves in the relief station before Zaraki had worked the boredom out of his system.
"Let us begin," Yamamoto's voice boomed across the room. "I have gathered you here this morning to discuss a matter that may have dire implications for the World of the Living. Soi Fon-taichou, if you will?" The captain of the 2nd Division stepped forward.
"The matter began three years ago, when our Division began receiving reports of a ghost in the outer districts."
"Ghost?" Zaraki interrupted. "Isn't everyone in Soul Society a ghost?" Soi Fon did not even spare him a glance.
"That was our original reaction as well, Zaraki-taichou. However, the reports continued to pour in. What is more, the being that the reports described was not like any other soul in the Soul Society. The villagers described a white, ethereal creature that seemed compelled to attack children. We were concerned that the villagers might be describing a new kind of Hollow, so one week ago I sent a team to investigate. After several days of searching, my team located the creature. What they found was not a Hollow. What they found was the soul of a teenaged boy—a transparent teenager with a chain protruding from his chest."
Byakuya's eyes snapped open. How could a soul be transparent? And more importantly, how could a soul have entered Soul Society with its Chain of Fate still attached? His violet eyes scanned the room, and he imagined that the other captains were having similar thoughts as well. Even Kyouraku had stopped his snoring and had given Soi Fon his full attention.
"Our initial efforts to capture the apparition proved unsuccessful. Physical contact proved impossible, as the boy would simply pass through any attacker. Even a zanpakutou could not touch him. Eventually, we had to resort to kidou in order to apprehend the soul and bring it in for questioning." At this point, Kurotsuchi Mayuri stepped forward. With a wave of his hand, a holographic image of the ghost boy appeared.
"This is the soul in question," he intoned, the expression on his grotesque face unreadable. The soul was clearly that of a Caucasian human boy, no more than seventeen years old. He was dressed in what appeared to be some sort of school uniform, though over the uniform was a strange black robe with a snake-shaped badge. Prominently protruding from his chest was a large metal chain. The boy was in some sort of stasis field, thrashing about and screaming gibberish.
"As you can see," Mayuri continued, seemingly unperturbed by the boy's manic screams, "extracting information from this soul has proven very difficult. Whether due to his years of isolation or his journey through the Dongai Pass, the boy's sanity has shattered. However, even if he were capable of reasoned conversation, he would not be able to tell us everything that he knows. You see, this boy is not a complete soul. Rather, he is a fragment—a piece or a larger whole."
"A fragmented soul?" Ukitake asked, his already pale face aghast. "How is that even possible?"
"Magic," the 12th Division Captain replied flatly. Seeing the look of confusion on Ukitake's face, Mayuri continued. "Though we have had great difficulty in interrogating the boy, his insane ramblings have yielded some fruit. While we have not been able to ascertain the meanings of some of the words he says—the terms 'mudblood' and 'Voldemort' are particularly perplexing—we have been able to identify one word that he uses quite frequently: 'Hogwarts.' After doing some research, I have learned that Hogwarts is the name of a school—one designed for children who possess magical abilities. According to our records, magical humans—or 'wizards' as they refer to themselves—are a group that has completely isolated themselves from the rest of human society.
"Soul Society's records on wizards are sketchy at best. All that we really know about their society is that has always existed on the fringes of human civilization. Then, approximately three hundred years ago, they went into full seclusion. After that, Soul Society has little information. We do know that Urahara Kisuke had some contact with a few known wizards, but he kept very few notes on the subject."
"So why would this kid keep rambling on about his school?" Kyouraku chimed in.
"We believe that that is where he died," Mayuri replied. "From what we have been able to piece together, this boy was killed there three years ago by someone named 'Harry Potter.' Whatever magic this Harry Potter used, it seems to have fragmented the subject's soul."
"Clearly, these wizards have developed a form of magic that breaks the laws of the heavens," Yamamoto brought his cane down with final authority. "Therefore, we must intervene before the situation gets out of control. I fear that if we do not, we may see more and more fragmented souls like this poor lad."
Byakuya glanced back at the hologram. The boy was still writhing about and struggling against the stasis field. That anyone could do something so abominable to another human being was simply incomprehensible. To break such a sacred law…
"Kuchiki-taichou!" Yamamoto's voice brought Byakuya back to the present. "I am ordering you to take two subordinates from outside the captain class and infiltrate this Hogwarts School and discover as much as you can about this phenomenon."
"Understood, Soutaichou. What is to be my cover?"
"You are to pose as a teacher, while your subordinates will pose as students. That way you can observe both the faculty and the student body."
"And what subject am I to teach?"
"You will be teaching the students kidou."
"Yes," Mayuri interjected. "Though more study is needed, our preliminary tests indicate that the magic these humans use is not unlike kidou in its basic principles. If our hypothesis is correct, then at least some human wizards should be able to learn rudimentary kidou. Likewise, a shinigami capable of kidou should perform mortal magic with little trouble."
"Understood, Soutaichou," Byakuya said with a bow. "I will begin my preparations at once."
"Very well. Kurotsuchi-taichou will forward all of his records on wizard matters within the hour. I expect you to select your two subordinates by the end of the day. There will be a senkaimon for you to the World of the Living in three days. Make sure that your preparations are complete by then. Dismissed!" With a crack of the old man's cane, the meeting was over. Byakuya made his way to the exit, his mind already mulling over possible lessons and choices of subordinates. Truth be told, he already had one candidate firmly in mind…
"Kuchiki-taichou." Byakuya turned and saw Ukitake approaching. "Should I have Rukia return from the World of the Living?" the elder captain asked with a smile. Byakuya nodded. Ukitake knew him well.
"Rukia is well-versed in kidou, which will prove useful if I am to attempt to teach the subject to mortal children."
Ukitake arched a brow at that and gave a light chuckle. "Of course, Kuchiki-taichou. I'm sure your younger sister will make an excellent teaching assistant." Byakuya decided to ignore the way Ukitake had emphasized the word "sister." The older captain was clearly implying that Byakuya just wanted to spend more time with Rukia. He was not wrong, but Byakuya was correct about Rukia's qualifications. He could not think of anyone else that he would want with him on such a mission.
And that was a very big problem.
"I still don't understand why I can't come along on this mission."
"Do you want me to make a list for you?"
"Yeah, actually, I do. Not that you could actually make one."
"Yeah! Give me one good reason why I couldn't come along."
"For one, you'd stick out like a sore thumb."
"You have a pineapple head that's covered in tattoos!"
"So? Lots of humans have tattoos."
"And minors aren't allowed to get tattoos. We're going undercover in a school, remember?"
"Well, I can always get a new gigai…"
"Secondly, Nii-sama is going to be teaching kidou. I'm pretty sure you actually have to be able to perform kidou before they let you into a kidou class."
"What are you trying to say, exactly?"
"Third, you have the deductive reasoning skills of a rock. You'd get flunked out before the end of the first week."
"What the hell is that supposed to mean?"
Byakuya sighed. Rukia and Renji had been having this conversation for nearly an hour, and by now they were just going in circles. The three of them had gathered in his office to make preparations for this new mission. While Byakuya had busied himself with reviewing the documents Kurotsuchi had sent over, his sister and his fukutaichou had been reviewing third members for the operation. After forty-five minutes, Byakuya had finished skimming Hogwarts: A History and had moved on to a tome on potions. Renji and Rukia, however, were no closer to finding a suitable shinigami than they were when they started.
In their defense, the requirements were rather restrictive. The shinigami would have to pass for the age group, which excluded anyone who could not pass for a middle- or high school student. That meant that Renji, Matsumoto, and most of the other vice-captains were out. Had Hogwarts been a nursery school, then Yachiru could have been a possibility, but she would never have gone without Zaraki. Few things disturbed Byakuya as much as the thought of Zaraki Kenpachi in an elementary school. Secondly, the shinigami would have to be very good at kidou. Again, this eliminated all but a few choices. Hitsugaya-taichou would have been a natural choice, but Yamamoto could not afford to send more than one captain away on such a long-term mission. Lastly, the shinigami would have to be able to perform this mission without it hindering the function of the Gotei 13. This eliminated the Kotetsu sisters, as they were both needed to help run their respective divisions. The last possibility was Himamori Momo, but she was still recovering from the wound Aizen had given her the day he fled Soul Society.
To put things bluntly, they were stuck.
"What about Ichigo?" Byakuya glanced up at Rukia, his expression blank. She looked back at him, jaw set and eyes unblinking. She was serious.
"No way," was Renji's reply. "If my kidou isn't good enough to warrant a spot on this mission, then there's no way that Strawberry can come along. Have any of us ever actually seen him cast a spell before?"
For once, Byakuya agreed with Renji. As frustratingly powerful as the Kurosaki boy was, he had yet to demonstrate any sort of kidou ability. Besides, there was no way that he was going to put up with Kurosaki's informal attitude for nine months. He doubted that Kurosaki would survive the first month.
With a shake of his head, Byakuya returned to his reading while Renji and Rukia debated the merits of Kurosaki's friends. The 6th Division Captain was admittedly impressed by what these wizards could do with their potions. There were love potions, healing potions, luck potions, and even a potion that allowed a person to breathe underwater—and he hadn't even finished reading through the potions that started with the letter P.
One such potion, however, gave him pause. "Pollyjuice Potion," it read. "This potion allows the imbiber to duplicate the appearance of another person. This is no mere illusion, as the user's body is temporarily transformed into an exact copy of the chosen subject for a limited amount of time. Use of this potion is restricted, as the imposter can only be detected by magical means." Byakuya read the passage again, and then a third time. This potion raised a very serious problem. If wizards could completely alter their appearance, there was also a chance that they might also be able to alter their reiatsu. He needed a contingency, and he had a hunch on who could provide one.
Byakuya closed the book with authority. Without a word, he rose from his seat and made his way out the door. Rukia and Renji continued their squabbling for a moment, but he soon sensed that they were following. The 6th Division Captain moved silently through the division grounds and entered the front office.
Chaos greeted him. Shinigami from his division bustled everywhere, all of them diligently carrying out their assigned tasks. Those that were not completing paperwork were busy taking said paperwork to its proper destination. Amid the bustle, a commotion was brewing. A stack of papers was making its way through the office, much to the amusement of several other shinigami. A pair of legs dressed in standard shinigami hakama could be seen beneath the stack, though there was no way that the owner of those legs could be much more than four feet tall. The stack, meanwhile had reached three feet in its own right, and was growing taller as it passed each desk.
"Hey Fujita, since you're up, you can run this over to the 10th Division," sniggered a particularly smug shinigami.
"I-I'd like to, sir, but I…" came a high quivering voice from behind the papers. Before the voice could finish its sentence, the man had dumped a very thick folder on top of the already precarious stack of reports. The sudden additional weight was too much, and the stack instantly collapsed on top of its startled bearer. Pages flew in every direction, and within seconds the only remnants of the stack was a misshapen pile of paper with a pair of small sandals poking out from underneath.
Byakuya watched silently as the room exploded into laughter. Behind him, he could sense Renji's simmering anger that threatened to boil over. He heard Rukia give a slight gasp, but neither made any move—they were waiting for his reaction. For his part, Byakuya kept his emotions behind the neutral mask on his face. The only hint of a reaction was the narrowed, deadly glare he had leveled upon the members of his division.
The first to notice his presence was the smug-looking shinigami who had added the final folder. As soon as his gaze met Byakuya's, the man's face drained of all color. "Ku-Kuchiki-taichou," he stammered, his skin clammy with a cold sweat. At the mention of Byakuya's name, all movement in the office came to a standstill. The only sound was the muffled groaning of the shinigami trapped under the pile of reports.
"GOOD MORNING TAICHOU!" the assembled shinigami shouted in unison. The men and women of Byakuya's division bowed as one, waiting for him to respond. He did not. He let them stew for a moment while the stack-bearer emerged.
"Ow," he groaned as he sat up. "I think my paper cuts have paper cuts." The beleaguered shinigami was a boy that looked to be the same age as Hitsugaya. He was thin and his shinigami uniform hung from his fragile frame so loosely that Byakuya thought he might vanish. Atop his little head was a mop of wavy brown hair that almost completely obscured his eyes. Byakuya was suddenly reminded of one of Kurosaki's ryouka friends—Sado, if he was not mistaken—though the ryouka had been the physical opposite of this pale-skinned child.
The boy slowly sat up, pushing papers aside as he rose. He had yet to notice that the room had gone silent, and his quiet mutterings could be heard across the front office. Though he spoke too quickly and quietly to follow everything he said, it almost seemed to Byakuya's ears that the boy was chastising himself for falling down. After a few moments, the boy had freed himself from the pile of reports and bent over to start reorganizing everything. It was then that the boy noticed the silence and looked up with one blue, unobstructed eye into the face of his captain.
The silence was deafening as boy and captain stared at one another. The boy's pale skin had gone sheet-white, and he was shaking with increasing intensity. "T-t-ta…t-tai…t-taichou…" his voice came in a hybrid of stuttering and sobs. "PLEASE FORGIVE ME!" he shouted suddenly. With near-shunpo swiftness, the boy had thrown himself on his knees and bowed so low that his forehead had struck the floor with an audible crack. "I have created a terrible mess," he continued through broken sobs. Though Byakuya could not see the boy's eyes, he was positive that they were flooding with tears. "I will accept any punishment that you deem worthy of my failure."
Byakuya said nothing for a moment. The boy continued to quiver on his knees before him, while the rest of the division waited anxiously for him to give them some kind of order. Finally, he spoke to the boy: "Fujita Tetsunosuke." At the sound of his name, the boy froze, though his breathing remained audibly shaky. "Come with me," Byakuya continued. "I have an assignment for you."
The boy's head shot up, and he stared up at Byakuya with one red, watery eye. His mouth opened and closed several times, as if he were trying to speak but could not find the words. Finally, he swallowed hard and replied: "Yes, Taichou." With a nod, Byakuya turned back to his office. At the sound of rustling papers, he stopped but did not turn.
"Leave them," he said firmly. He could almost hear the look of confusion on the boy's face. "Abarai-fukutaichou," he said to Renji. "The men seem to have made a mess of the front office. Make sure that it is cleaned, and that all the scattered paperwork is re-filed. In triplicate. If there are any that find this unfair, then they are more than free to visit the 11th Division. Zaraki-taichou seemed restless at today's Captains' Meeting, and I'm sure he would appreciate a chance to wind down."
"As you wish, Taichou," the tattooed man replied. Renji made no effort to hide his sneer as he turned to the rest of the division. "Alright you maggots! You heard the captain! Get to work!"
Chaos erupted once again as the members of the 6th Division worked frantically to recover all the lost reports from the floor. Byakuya kept his expression neutral as he looked back down at the boy. Fujita had come up along side him and was now looking back at the scene playing out behind them. He held his arms close to his chest, his tiny hands clenching and unclenching. He shifted his weight back and forth, as if fighting the urge to aid in the cleanup. His hunched shoulders made it seem as if his tiny frame were collapsing under the weight of his own clothing. The boy hadn't been this sickly-looking when he had joined the division two months ago, had he?
"Come, Fujita," the boy started at the sound of Byakuya's voice. "We have much to do." With one fluid motion, Byakuya made his way down the halls towards his office, with Rukia at his side. A moment later, Fujita Tetsunosuke spared one last nervous glance before following after his captain.