Leaving it all behind

Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter except a copy of the books. No, the honour belongs to Ms JK Rowling. Nor do I own the game series of Final Fantasy. Squaresoft does, less I be mistaken. I don't own Lord of the Rings, where ideas and names have been used, Tolkien owns that. Other elements have been taken from the Indian religion, I'm not bashing or anything (I am Indian!) but I'm using knowledge that's available to me. I don't own rights to any of the brands mentioned either. I'm just a poor university student.

Summary: Harry knew about the horcruxes when he is faced with betrayal. Fleeing, he enters a new school. If he has to die then he will drag the SOB Voldemort with him. Facing death, Harry leaves it all behind. HPxOMC AU!4567!

Inspiration: Go read Bloody Skies by Toki Mirage. It is simply brilliant! And Miranda Flairgold! Geniuses I tell thee! I bow to them and Ms Rowling! Some magic is inspired by the Final Fantasy games.

Warnings: Slash! Femslash! Kissing, frontage, groping, grinding, rimming, sex, blood play, power play, bondage, BDMS, beastality (We got weres and Draconi), fingering, handjobs, blowjobs and anything else that pops into my mind when I'm writing. I also apologise to the reviewer for not putting a warning before as it says in the summary slash and HPxOMC.

Note: Salus wears his bandana like Captain Jack from Pirates of the Carribean. So like a sweatband thing... XD

Oh, please go and check out this story! It's a CastielSalus fic based off this story! And leave a review if you want more! (Personally, I loved it and it made me squeal in joy. :p)

The end is where we start by May Eve:

www. fanfiction s /6323181/1/ The_End_Is_Where_We_Start

There is also some Fanart of Setos found here! By the Gray Maze!

s130. photo bucket. com / albums / p280 / ContraryToYou / My% 20Art / ? action = view & current = Setos . jpg

And to the reviewer who said I have to research more. I have used elements and my artistic license in this story. Of course it's not accurate. I chose it not to be as I didn't want to make the fic about religion. I'm aware of the inaccuracies; though thank you for pointing it out! And I apologies if they trouble you. (ps. Thank you for being nice about it!) As a rule of thumb, I stay away from serious religious debates; they get far too sticky far too quickly.

Finally. THANK YOU! Thank you to all my readers who have stuck by this story through the unplanned break. RL was breaking my soul little by little and I just didn't have the energy to write this story. LiaB holds a special place in my heart. It's one of the few stories that I don't plan. It writes itself and demands a lot of my attention.

UNBETA ALL Mistakes are my own. I'll post an edited chapter in 8 hours after I get some sleep.

This one's for May Eve. Enjoy darling!

~0~0~0~

Chapter 6

"It's not mountains we conquer,

but ourselves."

-Sir Edmund Hillary

~0~0~0~

"Those were his exact words?" Anya asked sharply as her silver eyes started glowing, not as a Seer but in anger. "You are positive?"

Harry rolled his eyes but knew better than to let her see the action. He knew she knew his did it. She knew that he knew she knew it. But, ignorance could be blissful, for most part. Salus didn't mind as she wouldn't resort to violence. Plus, he had work to do. Most of his homework was done but he was woefully behind in general knowledge of spells and general knowledge.

And he knew better than to think he could fly by on the edge of his seat like he did at Hogwarts.

"That's what he said," Salus said tonelessly, as he glanced up from the tomb he was reading.

Anya gave him the 'you-are-so-stupid' look.

"What?" he asked.

"He informed you that he wished to Court you," Anya said as if that explained everything. Seeing no change in Salus's facial expressions, she sighed and added. "He's basically proposed to you."

Salus sat back, his eyes widening drastically as he spluttered, "What!?" Blue-green eyes were charged with panic.

Anya sighed, "Haven't you read anything about Incubi?" At Salus's blank look she shook her head with irritation, "Incubi have multiple mates. The more powerful they are, the more mates they need. By stating he is pursuing you as a potential, he's basically 'proposing' to you, on which, when you bond formally, you will be 'married'. Only those Incubi are approve as someone powerful enough to be their mate can be declared a 'Potential Mate',"

"But… but…," Salus stuttered out as the situation really hit him, "He's my teacher!"

Anya nodded her head thoughtfully, "That is true." Salus almost let out a sigh of release. "It's against the rules that a teacher may not teach his Potential Chosen, as they may be subjective when marking. Then again, he just might have you change classes or have a moderator look over your work and his markings."

Salus groaned as he dropped his head onto the open book. It was no use even trying to read that Code of the Vampires. Not when he had bigger things to worry about! Anya frowned in annoyance as the human bemoaned his fate under his breath.

"Look," she said impatiently, "if you don't want him you simply decline. He may or may not continue to pursue you; that is his choice. But you have the option, always, to turn him down."

Salus looked up, face tinged red, "But that does not stop him from hitting on me every time we are in each other's presence! Or trying to kiss me!"

Anya stared at him before shaking her head. With a flick of her fingers a book appeared into her hand. Where it came from, Salus had no idea but he was thanking his quick reflexes when it stopped the said book from crashing into his head.

"Forget the Vampires. Read about Incubi." Anya said with a smirk as she watched the blood drain from her entertainment's face.

She paused before asking with a smirk, "He kissed you?" The red on his cheeks darkened as the look in his eyes darkened, "Bloody bastard cornered me and froze me using his magic."

Curiosity got the better of Anya as she leaned onto the desk, silver eyes swirling, "Where was this? Was it good? I mean, he's walking sex so he should have been good!"

"At the Guild," Salus muttered moodily as he tried to hide behind his tome, aware of his red cheeks and that the memory of kiss brought a tingling sensation to his lips. "And how should I know if the kiss was good?"

Anya paused, "Wait. That wasn't your first kiss was it?" she asked in somewhat disbelief as she eyed him. Her gaze was like an x-ray, trying to see under his skin. Salus shifted in his seat as he protested, "No! I've been kissed before! But that's not the point!"

Anya pouted but stood up straight and turned serious, "Look. You either want him or you don't. Incubi understand that their mate's may be mated to others. They are a flexible race. Once bonded, they are just a tad more protective and both partners get a power boost. So if you like him, don't throw the idea straight out the window just yet. Plus, it's actually quite an honour to be Courted by one as old and powerful of Faeli."

Salus spluttered as he added the book to the pile next to him. "I don't want a relationship or anything! And I told him that!"

Anya scrutinized Salus before nodding, "It's your life; your decision. Just turn him down enough and he'll give up."

"What if he doesn't?" Salus asked with big, hopeful eyes. Anya shook her head as she rolled her eyes, "Cut his dick off. You're a Shakti students, this shit comes with the territory."

Salus sighed and rolled his eyes as he muttered, "Thanks Anya."

"Oh don't worry," she said airily as she picked up her bag, "This happens to almost everyone at sometime in their life."

And with a wave of her hand, she was out the door. Salus sat in his place staring at where she just left. "Damn Incubus!" But he didn't have time to curse fate as his alarm went off signaling that he should hurry or he would be late for his first lesson of the day: Transfiguration.

After packing the book on Incubi in his bag, Salus hurried out of his room. They were working on dueling in Transfiguration that lesson and that was something he did not want to miss.

~0~0~0~

Lunch rolled around and Salus felt much better about the day then what he felt that morning. Both Transfiguration and Charms had gone well and he was confident he was not only passing the classes but doing quite well in them.

He had gotten out of Charms earlier than usual, as he had completed the coursework and spent the extra time in a study room in which he has started the book Anya had given him. A book, which after he stopped blushing and actually read, turned out to be what he actually needed.

Mating and Races by M. Starlit et al.

The book, which was collaboration between various authors of various species, expounded on all the races and the rituals of mating. How they approach a potential mate, the words of the ritual, the Courting period, how many mates one could have. Everything.

Even a section on how... sexual intercourse worked between male and female. Female and female. Male and male. During transformation and without. Even with three (or more!) participants. Salus was sure he face has been red as a tomato when he found that section; complete with diagrams and moving pictures.

But he had read all the information he needed about incubi. An incubus needed at least 3 mates, who did not need to be mated to each other. The more power the incubus the more mates it needed. Though, a mate was not to be confused to a prey. A prey that 'fed' on and took the energy. With a mate, an incubus trades magic while feeding on some energy to help circulate the foreign energy within them. Their mate's energy is more potent than a prey's.

The Courting was not that much different than dating, Salus found out with relief. An incubus would try to win the favour of his potential mate with gifts and such. The period does not end until they are mated, either to each other or another or when the incubus retracts his/her offer.

Salus smiled as he realised he could just ignore Faeli and nothing else would come of it. 'After all, I don't want a relationship, right?'

So, Salus found himself sitting at a small table with Anya when Tor and Maxlene walked over. They nodded and said their greetings, stating their only business was to discuss their potions project. Anya waved them off with her fork, which had a piece of meat on it as her nose stayed buried in a magazine of some sort.

"We need to pick the potions we are going to modify, and soon," Maxlene said seriously as she ordered her meal. "The modifying bit is going to be the hardest and we need to work around brewing for Sin."

Tor nodded as he placed his menu down, "We've done quite a lot of research but nothing is really jumping out as a good choice. A lot of the potions we chose are already very good. We could make a poison incurable and healing potion slightly more effective with a better taste; but that's not something out of this realm, you know?"

Salus nodded as he closed his book and putting it away. "Maybe something out of the ordinary then? Like combining two or more potions together to get a new effect?"

"That would be perfect," Maxlene said with a touch of sarcasm, "but what?"

Tor pulled a face, "Hell if I know. But we need to decide soon."

Maxlene sighed and nodded. "Could have our group meeting tomorrow?"

Salus and Tor nodded.

"Eight?" she asked as she tapped away on her PDA.

Salus shook his head. "I have some things to do in the human realm. So, say around ten? My room? I'll bring pizza."

If Tor could look like an overgrown puppy, he did now. Anya just laughed and brushed off the weird looks she received. Salus just sighed. He was used to her... eccentric personality.

~0~0~0~

Salus sighed as he trudged towards his Defense lesson. It was a physical lesson and it was more than likely that they would be doing hand-to-hand combat. In his 'free lesson', Salus had completed his book on vampires and their culture. He was somewhat confident he wouldn't accidently insult a vampire and gets himself killed. 'But I would rather like to stay under the radar and away from them,' he thought with a grim smile. 'I never realised how being human would be such a disadvantage to me.'

He entered the training grounds and made his way to the allocated section, already dressed in track pants and a plain t-shirt. He had no bag with him, but his wands were in their holsters. The training with Hadrian was going well, very well in fact. Salus found that he could do most of his everyday spells and a fair portion of his battle spells wandlessly. And his repertoire was slowly building; from his classes to his extra studies, it was surprising to see how restricted Hogwarts really was.

Instead, he started his warm up. Slowly, he jogged the area and proceeded to stretch afterwards. Salus snorted as he remembered his first lesson. He had learnt the hard way why you should be properly stretched before engaging in physical activity, no matter how limber you are. That and he would have his private lessons after the intense lesson.

That evening, Hadrian was the first one there and smiled sadistically at Salus. "Today, we are working on Vampire curses. I don't think any challengers would expect you to use those. Human wise, you know enough to pass your seventh year so now I'm going to teach you specialist spells."

If Salus said he wasn't apprehensive, he would be lying. But he merely nodded and listened carefully as Hadrian explained a list of curses and shields that he was going to be taught.

"Okay, now the first one is called Bad Blood. It's a red in colour and is a slow working curse…"

Panting, Salus wiped the sweat off his brow. It had only been an hour but Hadrian had drilled two curses, and their counters, and one shield into him. The shield was borderline Blood Magic that used your enemy's blood against them. Salus had special note of this spell.

Clapping his hands, Ren stepped onto the blue mats with a grin, "My turn!" And before Salus could even catch his breath Ren had thrown a punch at his head, which was followed by a quick left-handed jab to the gut. Salus tilted his head away from the blow and used his right arm to block the jab. Retaliating, Salus aimed two punches at Ren's solar plexus and a left footed kick. Ren easily side stepped the attack.

"Cmon Silver! You have got to do better than that!" Ren taunted, and then proceeded to hand Salus his ass for one hour.

When the incubus finally call for the end, Salus was lying down, exhausted. He couldn't only breathe deeply and try to catch his breath. His body was sore and heavy and id he didn't have to move then he sure as well wasn't going to.

"You can't be tired already," came the familiar voice from above him. Opening his eyes that he didn't even realised he closed, Salus frowned as he saw Anya.

"What are you doing here?" he asked reflexively as he frowned.

"I'm here you help you," she said as a matter of fact. Salus stared. "I'm going to be throwing spells and you're going to be dodging them. Or, as I like to call it, target practice."

Salus blanched but rolled over as he felt a spell head towards him. Shock triggered the adrenalin as he found the energy to jump to his feet and shield against a spell that curved towards him.

"No shields!" Anya called as she wandlessly sent another two spells at him. Salus cursed as he ducked and twisted his body out of the way.

At the end of another hour, Salus glared at his three tormentors as they chattered happily to one another. Anya noticed the glare and smiled sweetly.

"Here," she said as she threw a small notebook at him. Salus caught it even as his arms protested, "the healing spells in there are the most efficient and useful in duels."

"What?" Salus asked confused,

Anya sighed and glared at him. "You do realise that the Welms bitch is going to be challenging you soon, right? It would be the only way she could redeem her honour."

Salus went silent.

"Listen, it's simple. You destroy her in a duel so she can't issue a re-challenge or doesn't want to try again. Killing is frowned upon in formal duels because of the political implications."

Salus frowned, "Political implications? I don't really have..."

"Yeah, you do," Anya cut him off with a wave of her hand. "You kill her and you will have two clans wanting your blood. And one pissed off Master Summoner daddy on your ass. I'm not sure how far my protection would go if you did kill her."

"Right," Salus said sarcastically, "so I just need to destroy her without killing or permanently maiming her, Easy."

~0~0~0~

Classes the next day brought a headache for Salus. First thing in the morning, he had Runes. Normally, he would say he loved the subject, and would admit to having a broad knowledge on it. However, as he discovered quickly, that a lot of his knowledge was either outdated or was now evolved and upgraded. That and he had large gaps in his knowledge. Things, that only years of actually taking the subject would be able to teach him. Salus groaned as he got his test beck, showing he had barely passed, yet again.

It wasn't like he didn't know his work; it was that he was not experienced at answering the questions when it used the application of several types of runes. That took practice, which he didn't have. So he was on the verge of failing due to lack of experience. And, Jullian was giving him these weird looks that sent his magic on a buzz.

It was like she suspected who he said he was. Salus was almost sure she had checked the student listings of Hogwarts (even though he never specified which school he had left when transferring to Shakti) and was trying to check who he truly was. And that worried Salus. There were only a handful of students that had left Hogwarts in the last few years. Harry Potter being one of them; and Salus didn't know what side she stood on with the whole 'Harry Potter must die' scenario.

And he would rather keep her in the dark concerning his identity.

So Runes was taxing, both mentally and emotionally. Which only led to the physical taxing session of Offense with the old werewolf.

Salus hit the mat, hard and he swore at the ache that shot through his body. But he kept moving as he rolled away and got back to his feet. His opponent, a werewolf whose name he doesn't know, was pretty good speed and strength wise, but his form was a little sloppy. Salus believed that this was the reason his wasn't a bloody smear on the blue practice mats yet. The extra training was showing as he could hold off the blows and even slip a few of his own in. Speed wise, Salus was surprised to see he was almost on the same level. This was the first time he faced anyone other than a hybrid, veela or the random sprite.

"Stop," came a gruff command. Salus was on high alert the moment the older werewolf stepped into his range. His sparring partner stiffened but stopped. Squall Bluemoon was the sixth year instructor for both Offence and Defense. His greying hair and gold eyes spoke of age but he was far more nimble and dangerous than any of the students present. Not one to pick a fight with, ever. And this was the first time Salus had the direct attention of the old wolf.

Bluemoon turned his gaze Salus and eyed him for a moment. Salus resisted the urge to fall into a defensive stance and to swallow. He felt like a cornered prey that the predator was playing with. "Name?"

"Salus Moriens, sir," Salus replied as his gaze dropped slightly and he resisted the urge to salute. He was not suicidal enough to challenge an alpha werewolf.

"Human,' the gruff voice came, "you have had extra training. Who?"

It was more of a command than a question. Salus met the gaze evenly, but was still respectful. He was no idiot. "Ren Kurosaki, sir."

Bluemoon nodded slowly. Without turning away, he barked, "You're form is sloppy, Mckins. Go to Quie for instructions. You will not spar unless I approve of your form." Mckins slinked away, grumbling as Salus was left alone with his instructor.

"Being human gives you a physical weakness against other races," Bluemoon said quietly, "the extra training is obviously helping, and Kurosaki knows what he is doing. Your greatest human weapon is speed, though you would be slow against a vampire, elf and demon. Work on your fitness, strength and endurance, and only spar every the other lesson. Keep training with Kurosaki. Once your body can handle the pressure, and with your magical abilities, you may be able to use Force."

Salus nodded numbly, using the time to catch his breath. 'What the hell just happened?' he mentally questioned but followed Bluemoon's instructions as his new sparring partner stepped forward.

'Great, another vampire,' Salus sighed as he got into stance. He could already feel the bruises coming his way.

~0~0~0~

Nursing new bruises, Salus sighed as he returned to his room for the free period. It truly felt like the day would just not end. Like the universe was conspiring against him in a greater a plan.

'Wouldn't be the first time,' he thought morosely as he collapsed into the comfortable couch only to wince in pain. 'Great. Now my skin can match my hair. Again.'

Resisting the urge to just sleep away his free period, Salus forced himself to move. He had some work to finish and plenty of reading to do. Once he got the basics of this crazy, deadly social structure he knew he could focus on training.

And that's all it really came down to. He was here to train. But how the words were becoming more hollow by the day, and he didn't know why.

With a heavy hearted sigh, he reached for the charmed goblin box and slipped open the lip. Inside was the Daily Prophet, as promised as well as a letter. Placing the letter down for later, Salus perused the paper with a sneer on his face. It was filled with 'pureblood' and 'Light-side' propaganda.

'More Harry-Potter-Sightings across the world but there was not much on Death Eater activity. Although Lucius Malfoy was mentioned. 'Seems like that snake slithered out of trouble, again.' Salus sneered. Lucius Malfoy was on his list, along with his sister-in-law Bellatrix.

With a smirk, Salus opened the letter from the Goblins. His smirk grew. 'Now I just need to make some time… its hunting season.'

~0~0~0~

The tension in Summoning was thick and Salus had never been more grateful for a theory lesson. He could feel the stares of the others, their silent questions tinged with jealousy.

Alcander, on the hand, acted like nothing was out of the ordinary and continued as such. Though Salus knew the vampire was not ignorant. He was far too observant. And he probably was enjoying the show. It seemed that almost all the teachers at Shakti had a sadistic streak.

Salus almost snorted as he copied down the extensive note from the board. They would have a test in two weeks on all the theory covered. He didn't even want to look at the file that held all his notes on the subject. Its size was only rivaled by his Blood Magic file. And he was already behind on the practical side. He had yet to master the curative magic on all levels.

By the end of the lecture, Salus groaned as he let his head fall onto the desk. He immediately felt the eyes of everyone snap to him. Practice from his life as Harry helped him to just ignore them. He could hear the twins chuckling.

"You may leave," Vaan said dryly, eyes locked on the near past out student in his classroom. "We have a practical on Saturday. Everyone is to attend."

No one said anything to that. Salus bit back his own groan. They would start on the new level of Materia while he was still behind. As if reading his mind, Vaan added, "It's a practical test. I need so see if you have improved your weaknesses and where each of you stands."

Salus sighed as he packed up his stuff. He would have to get some more Materia practice in, but he schedule was looking full already. A smirk fell onto his lips, 'Maybe I should make it a real-life simulation?'

Without another word, he left the classroom, making a beeline for his room. He dropped off his bag, checked his armour and wands. Grabbing a black beanie to hide his hair, Harry raised his wards and left with a crack.

~0~0~0~

Salus hurried through a quiet Diagon Alley. Considering it was late, a little after six and a weekday, he wasn't too surprised. Reaching the band, he passed through the Ministry scans without blinking and made is way quickly to Bloodknife's office.

He knocked and entered the room the goblin looked up from his ledger and grinned a toothy smile that nay human would find terrifying. Salus merely smiled back as he took a seat.

"Greetings Bloodknife, I trust business is well and your enemies are dead?"

"Greetings Young Lord, all is well as can be. Your gold flows well and true."

Salus nodded. Bloodknife merely raised an eyebrow and continued, "What may I do for you today?"

Salus leant forward and smirked, his eyes turning cold, "Information. I need some current detail so I can handle our pest problem after this meeting. It will be beneficial to the both of us."

Bloodknife chortled, his voice raspy and gruff, "More so than we imagined. The Director has offered both of us a commission on any gold that comes in due to our… pest control side business. A strictly private business deal, of course. He has been generous, 5% a piece. Plus, the extra pleasures of causing some embarrassing situations for the Ministry."

"Very generous," Harry agreed, smirk still firmly in place. Bloodknife opened a drawer and slid the slim file across the table.

"Unfortunately, we only have one hideout that we are 100% sure of. The others need more research, that as per the Directors orders, we will fund. Of course, should anything happen, we do not know anything."

"Of course," Salus nodded as he read the file. Three Deatheaters who are Azakaban escapees. Perfect.

~0~0~0~

It was going to be a quick job. In, eliminate, and get out. And Salus tried to block out the fact that he was going to kill people. But the voice in the back of his mind whispered that these men did more than just kill. They tortured, raped and burned innocent people, for fun.

And it was under the cloak of night that Salus, that Harry, finally admitted the truth to himself: he was pissed. He was angry at the world. At the people who betrayed him and those that threw him away like garbage after he gave everything to save them.

And that it hurt. It hurt to cut off all relations he had as Harry Potter. Their actions hurt and he was angry but it killed him inside at the mere thought that he was utterly alone in the world. Again. No one cared.

And a large part of him wanted to leave. To just turn his back and search for a way to live. To enjoy what was left of his life and leave the world to fuck themselves over. It would be so easy.

But that would mean no one paid for everything. No one suffered for the deaths of his parents, of Cedric and Sirius. And as much he wanted, Harry wanted to avenge them more than getting revenge against those he was betrayed by. He would not join the Dark Side nor would he return to the so-called Light Side. He was going on his own revenge agenda. If Dumbledore tried to come after him, Salus would treat him as the enemy, despite his good intentions.

But he knew he could not go around killing off everyone that betrayed him (he would have to kill off almost the whole of magical Britain) otherwise he would be turning into another Voldemort. And that thought made him sick. Instead, Salus would destroy them. Oh yes, they will suffer. But that required time and planning. And proof of their betrayal. He already had a list to start with, destroying Dumbledore would be easy. It was simple: take away Hogwarts. But McGonagall could not take over. She and Snape needed to pay. And then there was Weasley, Granger and Lupin.

He was a melting pot of confused emotions but Harry knew that he was mad and hurt and wanted revenge, a sad, small corner of his heart ached at being alone. Litiso's words still haunted his heart, trying to plant hope in a barren land. But Salus refused to let anyone raise his hopes and make him wish for a future that will never happen. To be let down his whole life, he then foolishly trusted the words of people who said they cared for him and got burnt. He would take his life as he sees it. No more trying to escape reality. He couldn't handle being betrayed again.

It was easier to just focus his feelings of revenge in Salus. Let Salus learn, train and become stronger. Salus could live as Harry died. Harry had been destroyed the day they betrayed him. The broken pieces had been pushed and remolded into Salus. And Harry couldn't find fault in that. He was surviving, in the shadow of someone. Someone who was better; stronger. Colder.

And perhaps, when Voldemort was finally dead, Harry would die too. Only then would Salus be able to live and die peacefully.

And this was the first step. Cutting down his numbers. Salus swallowed as he tried to steal himself over what he was going to do. The crime he was going to commit would have him locked away in Azkaban in a heartbeat.

"Guess I'll have to leave no witnesses," Salus murmured as he stared at the crumbling building. Even with the use of magic, the building was dilapidated beyond livable. It was the perfect hideout if the wards were anything to judge by. The craft goblins had already adjusted the wards, giving Salus the keystone so he could enter unobstructed and unnoticed. It was like he was showered with ice water, or had walked through a ghost.

He was going to kill someone, in cold blood. Not on a battlefield, he was going to hunt them down before they would know he was even there.

Swallowing his nausea, Salus crept into the building through the hole in the wall. He felt the wards flow over him and let out an inaudible sigh. Moving silently, Salus left the empty room and checked the next room. It was the bedroom, meaning there were three beds stuffed into the small room and the ceiling was mostly there. The only room, according to the information, was the dining room/kitchen.

Salus cursed mentally, he had wanted to take them down one by one. Now he would have to face off all three at the same time. With a flick of the wrist, both his wands were slipped from the holsters and into his hands. The familiar icy stirring in his magic was comforting. Squaring his shoulders, Salus felt a cool confidence fall onto him with Shiva's soft touch.

Stepping lightly through the narrow corridor, Salus eyed the door. 'It's too obvious.'

He then grinned at the path of uninterrupted shadow that ran the length of the corridor, through the door and into the room. Slipping behind the door, Salus placed his hand in the shadow, and with the soft uttering of a spell, his mind flew into the next room.

Spying though shadows was done with an obscure spell Rowena had taught him. Something she had concocted to keep an eye on the students and was never really recorded. If it had been, the current Ministry would have categorized it as a Black Magic spell in a heart beat.

And through the shadows, Salus watched his three targets. They were sitting around a table that took up most of the room as it was placed squarely in its centre. But there were five people sitting there. The other two, Salus did not recognize. The table was littered with pieces of parchment.

'Perfect.'

Salus withdrew his power, ending the spell and readjusted as his mind returned to the hallway. He grinned to himself as he melted into the shadows, obscuring his form with cloaking spells, layered and tied together. Invisible to the eye, ear and touch, the spells were weaved together in a spell chain. He would have four minutes.

So, it began.

Salus slipped into the room, the door slowly swinging open as it pushed by a breeze. The five men turned but dismissed it. By then it was too late. Salus was already behind the one man, and with a flick of his wrist and no verbal spell, Salus slit his throat. The Deatheater across from him clutched at his chest as Salus hit him with a heart-stopping curse. He third went down with a blood freezing curse. By then, the other two had whipped out their wands and were looking frantically around the room.

Salus had taken down one of the Azkaban escapees and two Deatheaters. The two left could not leave the safety of the rundown house. Salus watched them panic as he moved around the room. The moment he cast a spell, his position would be given away.

'I have to use it,' Salus thought as he took in the situation. The two Deatheaters already had shield ups. The only curse that was unstoppable and could kill was the Killing Curse. Sighing, Salus raised his wands and spoke the words he has always. The words that haunt his dreams and memories.

"Avada Kedavra."

Two bolts of green light hit the two men and they went down.

Salus let out an unsteady breathe. His hands were trembling from the adrenaline. But the cracking sound of someone Aparrating turned his blood cold as he felt his chain spell end.

Turning around, Salus just dodged a green spell as his body moved on instinct. With hand moved without much thought, as he threw a severing curse at the masked Deatheater. The spell caught the person by surprise and sliced him across the chest. Grunting in pain, Salus use the moment of distraction to hit the man with a heart stopping curse.

Cursing, Salus made for the table. 'I thought I had more time. They must have had sensor wards with the alarm ringing somewhere else. As quick as he possible could, he summoned all the papers on the table. A quick general summoning charm pulled some hidden items out form the hidey holes they had been placed in and into the bag in Salus's grasp to join the papers.

Glancing around, Salus got ready to leave. Pooling his power, he threw the keystone on the ground and blasted it to smithereens. The wards started falling around the house. The goblins would arrive soon as would the Aurors. All they would find would be five bodies, all of whom would be confirmed Deatheaters. Salus disappeared without a sound.

He reappeared in a park in muggle London. It was late and the park had long since been cleared off visitors. Finding some light, Salus emptied the bag on the ground. First he gathered the papers and checked them for spells. A few had some nasty curses but those were easily removed and the papers were placed back into the bag.

The items, on the other hand, were all pulsing with dark magic. And three of them had tracking spells. Salus cursed. Glancing over his shoulder, he felt exposed in the muggle park. As quick as his could, he started removing the spells.

~0~0~0~

Tor knocked on the door, only for it to be opened by Salus with wet hair. The Were looked at the silver haired boy, dressed only in a pair of track pants and a towel around his neck. Golden eyes travelled upwards, taking in the long legs, and trim waist. Pale, unblemished skin stretched across the fain lines of developing muscle as Tor unashamedly checked out the bluenette's chest and finally bringing his gaze to meet his eyes. "Come in," Salus muttered as he stepped away from the door, one hand carelessly drying his hair, "you're early." All the while, ignoring the wondering gaze of the werecat. After Anya had practically groped him the one day when he answered the door after a shower, nothing could surprise him… much.

Tor rolled his eyes as he entered and closed the door behind him. The room was a standard Shakti room and followed Salus to the living room.

"You promised pizza."

Salus stopped and turned around to stare at the bronze haired boy, trying to figure out if he was being serious or not. Shrugging, and feeling far too drained to think about it, Slaus shrunk.

"Pizza's in the kitchen under a heating spell. Plates are on the counter. Help yourself. Anya will let herself in. I need to get dressed."

Tor stared as Salus disappeared into what must be his bedroom. "Someone's grumpy. I guess his stuff in the Human Realm did not go so well."

Shrugging, the werecat made his way to the kitchen.

~0~0~0~

"Faeli."

This incubus bit back a growl at the sultry but unsurprised voice of Shakti's resident vampire-Summoner. Castiel had 'let himself in' so to speak, as he Strode into the slightly less warded living room of Vaan Alcander. Only to find the violet-eyed man sitting in an arm chair, sipping what seemed to be a wine glass of blood while reading a book, waiting for him.

Plastering a seductive smirk on his lips, Castiel sauntered his way across the room. "Vaan…" he purred, eyes raking the vampire's body. The man had always hid his sinfully gorgeous body under the dismal clothes of a professor. Castiel licked his lips at the sight of a casually dressed Vaan Alcander in jeans and a loose sweat shirt.

Sighing, Vaan put down his book and glass and turned his full attention to his 'visitor'. Castile Faeli had not placed him on his 'radar' so to speak, and in turn, Vaan had ignored the rumor mill that trailed after the incubus. "Drop the Allure, Faeli. The buzzing is quite annoying."

"Che," Castiel shrugged as he sauntered forward, "Come on, Vaan. You should relax." Faeli had perched on the arm of the black armchair, leaning forward into Alcander's personal space. Vaan merely tilted his head in Faeli's direction as the incubus closed the gap between their faces. "You never know. You might have some fun…"

The incubus's voice was laced with power, persuading and seductive. Castile grinned. Very few people could resist when he got serious. And he was serious.

"What do you really want, Faeli?" Vaan asked as he stared down his fellow professor. "I'm not in the mood to play your games." Alcander refused to back down from the challenge.

Surprise flashed through red eyes before he leaned back and chuckled lightly. "As expected of a Shakti Professor!" red eyes bore down into violet ones, "then again, it's never fun if there is no challenge."

Castiel plastered a smirk on his lips, "Salus Moriens."

Vaan blinked at the sudden change of topic. Faeli dropped his Allure and gained a slightly serious look in his eye. The Master Summoner raised an eyebrow but said nothing, waiting for Castiel to continue. But the Death Magic Master looked at him expectantly.

"Salus Moriens… a gifted student."

"Just a student? Rumor is that you threw out a daughter of a Master Summoner for him."

"Rumor is that you have approached him for courtship," Vaan shot back without missing a beat, eyes sharpening. "And that he turned you down."

A smirk touched pale lips, "Does Xeroz know?"

Castiel rolled his eyes, "It's none of your concern. The crux of the matter is simply this: Salus Moriens is marked as mine."

The temperature in the room dropped as the atmosphere tensed.

"I have no such interested in my students," Vaan replied blandly, the words 'unlike you' left unsaid in the air.

Castiel smirked victoriously as Vaan sighed and picked up the book he had been reading. "But," the vampire continued as he opened the old book to the marked page, "I will not tolerate any disruptions to his studies. He has much potential in Summoning. Too much to go to waste." Looking up, Vaan sighed as the room was empty.

'For a human, you are quite troublesome Salus Moriens…'

~0~0~0~

Friday passed in a haze. And Salus was starting to feel the pressure. It seemed that no matter how hard he worked, he was always lacking in some way. In Defense, he was thrown around like a ball and often in need of a variety of healing spells. Magical power wise, he probably had an edge; but Salus found himself at a severe disadvantage when it came to variety in spellwork. Lately, all the spells he need to learn had a basis in spells that Shakti taught to students in the fourth, fifth and sixth years. Spells, Salus didn't know and had to learn on his own. And he quickly learnt the difference between knowing and perfecting a spell. He knew a lot of spells, but perfected only a handful.

It was the same problem in Charms. He lacked a lot of the prerequisite spells to learn the new spells efficiently. Spells that were taking other students a lesson or two were taking him four to five lessons. He had to master spells everyone else already knew. Hadrian was pulling his hair because of the lack of progress they were making.

"It's like every time you take a step forward you need to go three steps back," the strawberry blond vampire had groaned.

With Anya breathing down his and Ren's necks, the two were getting frustrated fast. And Salus wasn't in a better position himself. He was struggling to keep up with the work load, having to put in twice the effort and work that the other students. And it was now showing.

His marks were dropping. He was near failing Charms after the last practical. Every day, he was feeling drained. The strain was starting to get to him. And, it seemed that even as Salus, the nightmares found him. And now, the mixed horrors of Harry and Salus haunted his subconscious. Blood coated his body in the darkness that he tried to escape.

And the horrifying secret that he hid so well to all that knew him: he liked it. He liked the feeling of getting revenge, of letting lose. The adrenaline that course through his veins was a thrill like quidditch.

Salus was the pacifist. Salus didn't look for trouble and tried to stay out of it. Salus wasn't in the lime light like Harry had been. He relished the anonymity. But the darkness that Harry had locked away, that he kept buried in his heart so that no one could turn on him like they did in second year. The hatred at the Dursleys. The anger he felt towards at Dumbledore, at Voldemort, at his friends. After the Betrayal, the anger grew, hidden behind the cool mask of Salus Moriens. Salus Moriens didn't care if people thought he was turning evil. He didn't have to watch his every step, his every action or words. A freedom that Harry didn't know, Salus was relishing.

And yet, he feared falling into the darkness he wasn't willing to admit he had.

~0~0~0~

Saturday, the whole of the Summoning class had come to the practical lesson. Salus was instructed to continue working on his healing material while Alcander tested the others. Swallowing, Salus did just that. He moved to the target area closest to Alcander's desk and refused to meet the curious albeit jealous looks of his classmates.

He knew the only thing keep them back in the 'first year' for specialist classes were their practical assessments from Alcander. Salus had heard them talk often enough about how they already knew the theory. The facts Salus was trying to internalize, had already been drummed into them for years.

Practice had gone quite quickly. Salus was needed the practice to get the Intermediate level of Healing Materia mastered enough for Vaan to teach him the next level.

"Mr Moriens, you will have a self-practice next week Saturday. Everyone else will report here for a theory test. Should you pass with a mark higher than 70% you will be elevated to the 2nd year Summoning. The test will included some theory based on GFs. I will send the outline to you via PDA. Should you score lower than 70, you will remain in this class until the next elevation test. You are all dismissed."

Alcander surveyed his class, a smirk playing on his lips. Moriens had nodded in acceptance. The boy was running to catch up and yet he accepted that he needed more time. In all honesty, the speed of his progress has never been seen before in any student of Summoning. While apprenticeships varied in length, the shortest recorded was 3 years long. However, the measure of progress of Yuu Lan was slow as she had been trained form the age of 5. In comparison, Moriens progress was astounding. He had only been trained in the art for a few months. Vaan Alcander could barely wait to see how much the human could master in the space of a year. In truth, the wizard was technically a Summoner already due to Shiva already being in his possession.

The rest of his class looked excited and a touch smug. They were happy that the years of training they put in had not been erased just yet. 'They will move up a year and leave the prodigy behind,' Vaan mused, 'De Silvos will drop out within the next year. She will not be able to master GFs let alone attempt Aeons. The Druien twins may enter apprenticeships only because they have Masters's waiting to train them. But truthfully, the only one who would complete the summoning Mastery and become a fully-fledged Summoner would be Moriens.'

Nodding, Alcander swept out of the room. Class was over and it was Saturday. He had things to do.

The room was dead silent as the door shut. No one quite knew what to say. Salus sighed and picked up his bag. He made for the door and left without a word. He would be lying if he said he wasn't disappointed that he was being left behind. After the hours of work, he still wasn't good enough, hadn't learn enough.

~0~0~0~

Brewing had been fairly interesting. They had been commissioned by a private customer to brew some complicated and rare potions. They would only do the prep work as the potions required a Master level brewer. Vinno would be finishing the potions himself, but the first of the 3 day brewing process could be done by then. In fact, he was making it a project of sorts for the Specialists students.

Salus joined Maxlene and Tor after brewing. They had planned to get something to eat and then hash out the details of the project. That meant hitting the library and comparing notes on the three potions they had agreed to modify.

"Damn that was a pain!" Tor complained as they left the lab. He was a step ahead of Salus and Maxlene, but walking backwards. Maxlene shook her head at his antics. "I mean, those were the easy steps! I can't imagine how complicated the rest of the potion is going to be."

Salus rolled his eyes, "That's why it's labeled a Master's Level Potion. At least we are getting paid."

"Not nearly enough for that torture," Tor muttered.

Maxlene rolled her eyes but ploughed on, "We need to get working on this potions project. I don't know about you but I'm dying from the workload right now."

Salus sighed as he remembered the amount of work he still had to do, and the fact he needed to work on Charms. He was close to failing at the rate his marks were dropping. "Let's just get going. I'm got a shitload to do. Going to a human school does not help when you transfer into Shakti."

Tor looked at the shorter boy curiously, "Is it that bad? I mean, you're smart and powerful. I didn't think you were struggling with anything…"

"It's not…" Salus sighed, trying to find the words to explain, "I'm keeping up, barely. It's just that I don't know the prerequisite spells for most of the spells we are learning. So I end up having to learn things everyone else learnt already and learning the new spells. It's like triple the workload."

"Well… shit," was all Tor could say in response.

~0~0~0~

"Yo hotstuff!" Anya called from his lounge as Salus entered his rooms. "How's Potions going? I'm going to need more of that cream for my hand soon!"

It was testament that Salus didn't even blink at the fact that Anya was in his locked and warded room. He had figure doubt early that she could enter and leave as she pleased using some form of transportation. After that, he just keyed her into the wards, and surprisingly, she had done the same. It was strange, their relationship. It wasn't a friendship but on some level, even Salus had to admit, she was a friend.

"Anya," Salus replied as he dropped his bag next to the couch. He let himself sink into the soft material with a groan. "Long and painful. Brewing was fine but this group project is going to kick our asses, even if we don't mind working with each other."

Anya merely nodded and hummed. She refused to take Potions as a major for a reason and for that, she felt no sympathy for the silverette. "You made your bed, now lie in it!"

Salus opened his eyes lazily and half-heartedly glared at her. "Gee thanks. I'll make your cream tomorrow. I'm almost finished with mine as well. Do you need anything else brewed?"

Anya hummed as she thought, "Maybe some headache relievers and you should definitely stock up on some healing potions."

"Got it." Salus replied as he sat up. He noticed she didn't have an work with her and raised an eyebrow at that. "So, plans for this evening? Because I can actually see my couch and table and not just a mountain of paper."

Anya just burst into giggles. Salus smiled. The seer, for the first time a while now, looked stress free and relaxed. He had noticed she had been on edge most of the week and refused to comment on what happened. Salus hadn't pushed. It was none of his business. If she had wanted to explain she would have. It might have been something to do with her clan or being a seer and pushing a topic like that would be the easiest way to actually be killed.

"Kali I needed that!" Anya gasped as she calmed down, raking a hand through her black hair. Her eyes seemed even more molten in the yellow light of the room, glowing yet soft. It was in quiet moments like this, Salus, Harry, found himself questioning. Shifting; Understanding a little more about himself. The thunderstruck realization in forth year that he found Cedric hot gave away to the terrifying thought that maybe he was a freak, like his uncle kept saying. But at the same time, he had noticed the way Luna glided through the corridors and the fact that her hair smelt like strawberries. Not only guys, but girls also caught his eye.

Sirius, bless his soul, had patiently explained not only sex but sexuality to him. Albeit he sat there red faced as his godfather did his best to be informative and embarrass him.

"Bisexual. Just means you get the best of both worlds, Harry! Or Pansexual, you just don't care what junk they are packing!"

Salus could practically hear Sirius croon and the memory forced him to shut his eyes. The tears were welling up. Sirius would have fought Heaven and Hell to protect him and a small part of Harry wondered what would have happened if Sirius had been alive. How his godfather would have taken him and just ran. Ran away to protect him.

"Where do you go?" A voice cut through his thoughts as Salus jumped at the soft hand on his shoulder. "You seem to disappear at times. Where do you go when you do that?"

Blue-green eyes stared wide at moving silver ones.

"Memories," Salus replied slowly as he tried to push all his skeletons back into his closet.

Anya said nothing but her face was oddly gently. "You know, I said there was no such thing as friendship at Shakti. It's always a give and take. But I do see you as some sort of, well, friend. Deals and all. But sometimes you literally disappear. I mean, I tend to keep an eye on the future of alliances and what not. Your future, past and present literally disappear time to time."

Salus froze. His mind whirled and he could hear the curiosity in Anya's voice, He could hear the unasked question. But the real question was could he trust her? Sure, she had his back but could he trust her with the knowledge of who he really was?

"You don't have to tell me." Anya's voice cut through the maelstrom of thoughts, "We all have secrets. I just want to know that when you disappear you're still ok and not dead somewhere."

Salus swallowed and nodded, "I'm…running…. From the human realm. That's why I'm here. I used… certain magic so I can't be found or used. I guess that's messing with your Sight."

Anya nodded, a thoughtful look crossed her face, "I'm going with Wild Magic. It's about the only thing that can truly 'mess' with my Sight. Guess I'm going to have to actually keep tabs on you since you keep appearing and disappearing."

Salus merely rolled his eyes and tried to keep calm. He just prayed that Anya didn't connect the dots or didn't care of who he used to be.

"And eye for an eye," she announced suddenly she got comfortable sitting next to him. "I'm engaged. No one really knows but the match was made before I was born by my father."

Salus's mind was brought to a halt. "Wait… WHAT?! "Somehow Anya and engaged in one sentence did not make any sense. Then again, Faeli never hit on her and she never really commented on her own love life, just his.

Black nails raked through equally black hair as Anya laughed nervously…. "Yeah… I'm engaged and no one can find out until it's formally announced or there may be war. Literally. "

Salus was floored and he did not know how to react. "Um…. I can keep a secret… but… You're engaged?!"

Anya rolled her eyes, "Yes. Now that we have covered what is one of the most closely guarded secrets of my clan, I was going to offer you help with your spell work. I'm actually have a free weekend."

That snapped Salus back to the present, "I could use all the help I can get."

"Then let's get started. Which spells are messing with you? You might need to start working ahead. That way you actually learn the prereq-spells before class so you actually attempt the spells in class."

Salus groaned at the amount of work he would have to do to not only catch up but work ahead. The workload at Shakti was no joke. 'If the students don't kill you, the workload will! That should be this damn school's motto.'

~0~0~0~

Salus grinned to himself as he folded the newspaper and locked it away with the others. The Daily Prophet was wildly speculating at who had killed the three Deatheaters and why this person was not coming forward, even with the Ministry's public statement that they would condone the use of the one use of the Killing curse. They reasoned that the vigilante who took out the three wanted men had fled, thinking more Deatheaters had come. In truth, the aurors and The Order had arrived moments behind a group of Deatheaters and the two groups battled it out outside the building.

Revenge was petty, Salus knew that, but damn did it feel good. A beep from his PDA broke his train of thought. With a sigh, Salus opened the message.

Yo Hotstuff! Do all your homework cos I'll be around 3 to help with your spellwork. And I'm going to need to add another ward to your room. I expect some bruise cream as repayment. Trust me; you need this ward. Peace out! ~Anya

The day passed quickly as Salus tried to plough through the small mountain that was his homework. He had never been more grateful for the fact that Shakti had embraced technology. The library had been digitalized, so he didn't even need to leave his rooms to get information for his essays. He thanked all things Holy for that. Revision, new work, essays and a lot of independent research took up his hours. It was a small dent in the mountain of work, but it was a enough to give him some breathing room.

Sighing, Salus took a break for lunch. The amount of work, let alone the caliber, was much higher than that of Hogwarts. Salus could feel his brain overworking and melting as he tried to understand the syllabus. But one of the main differences was that the courses where interlinked, and information from one subject was actively used in another subject. At Hogwarts, there was no emphasis on the way one subject was used in another, like how an understanding of Herbology was important for understanding Potions.

It was almost dizzying, the way magic worked in each branch and how it all linked up in the end. Salus found himself once again with the childlike amazed at just how magical magic was. The way magic worked, reacted and seemed to have rules of its own. Like Magic was an entity of its own, obeying some rules and allowing certain races more privileges that others and yet certain people were given gifts. And sometimes, it was life experiences that molded one's abilities, as Harry knew all too well.

It was a contemplatively mood, Salus made pasta for lunch, ensuring he made extra not only for dinner but for Anya who would bitch if there was none for her. Anya. There was something going on with her. The last for days she seemed more on edge, but she hid it. She was hiding something, not letting people see it was bothering her but Salus saw the look in her eyes when she let her guard down unknowingly. It was the look of someone who was fighting a losing battle. Salus knew that look. Harry knew that look; the one of anger, sorrow and bitter defiance, yet acceptance of the dismal truth.

Pushing the memories away, Salus forced himself to start on his course load. With all of his homework and the extra work Ren and Hadrien set, completed; Salus finally had time to cover some 'extra-curriculum' work. At the top of his list were more stealth spells, followed only by more extra reading and more spellwork. Salus sighed as he reviewed the shortlist of 'useful' stealth spells, going over the theory, casting patterns and magic paths.

Two hours later, Anya walked into Salus's rooms to find the blue haired human practicing an advanced stealth spell. One that completely hid ones aura, magic, visibility, sound and smell. Save for a few weak points in the actual spell, it could not be broken.

"You keep fascinating me," Anya said frankly as she leant against the doorframe to the living room. "Human wizard, a half-blood who dabbles in Wild Magic and one who keeps up with Shakti students. Not only that, but you learn and work more than any other student. Now, I find you practicing spells I know you don't need to know. Ergo, there is some other reason, apart from school, that you need to know such a high level stealth spell."

Salus cast the charm to dispel the magic coating his body and turned to regard Anya with the same half-amusement, half-fascinated stare she bore. "You could just ask, you know."

Anya smiled slightly and shrugged, "True. Part of me wants to ask and pry the answers from you regardless whether you wish to reveal them or not. But I would rather figure it out for myself. Plus, something tells me it's going to be so much fun in the future." Anya's iris's brightened to a dazzling molten silver. "It's going to quite the adventure when your past catches up to you and you start to harness the powerful allies you have. You trust so few but command so many. So fascinating for a human. So simply fascinating…"

Salus groaned as Anya's eyes dulled but her smile stayed. "Please, for the love of God please tell me you did not just make a damn prophecy!"

"It wasn't a prophecy, more like a spoiler for what's to come. Like I said, it's going to be interesting to say the least." Her smile turned into a smirk, "Come on then, let's get started. Spellwork now and we'll get some dueling practice in later. I'll even give you an outline to some of the 'mating rituals you've been trying to read lately."

"In exchange for…?"

"Bruise salve, muscle relaxant salve, headache potions and the right to sleep here when I need to hide from people. Oh, and I added the ward. It's just outside your layered wards. You need to anchor it into your weave."

Salus nodded and made a mental note to do that as soon as Anya left. It was going to be a long Sunday afternoon by the looks of things.

~0~0~0~

Salus's Monday was turning out brilliantly despite him being rather tired and sore from the extra training Anya had called for. Although, she did make up for the pain when he cooked dinner and she gave him the Mating Rituals of the Different Races 101. At least now Salus wouldn't accidently piss off anyone or get engaged accidently. After the declaration with Faeli, that had been a hidden worry at the back of his mind.

Incubi, like their female counterpart Sacubi, declared an 'Intended mate' when they found someone worthy. They are a polygamous race and will have more than one mate. The Intended would be "courted" until the courtship is accepted or the Incubus/Sacubus withdraws their interest. The courtship will involve gifts, lots of flirtation and can include sex. However a mating ceremony must occur and this only happens after a verbal and magical consent from both parties occur.

So Salus breathed a sigh of relief. As long as he said no to Faeli and his advances, the red-eyed incubus would not, and could not, force or coerce him into agreeing. Plus, the Shakti rules and basic clan rules forbid such actions.

Anya had also given him a brief outline of other races. Veela, both male and female, only had one true mate. They will be magically compatible with several people and may chose only one person to mate with. There is no formal courtship so to speak but there is a proper ceremony and binding. Ironically, while mates of incubi and sacubi bear no sign of their marital status, mated veela and their mates, both bear a ring of runes tattooed onto their ring finger of their left hand. That is where the human tradition of wearing a wedding ring originated from.

Elves and Draconi are also monogamous. Choosing one person to bind themselves forever to, sharing not only their lifespan but parts of their magic too. There were very little regarding the mating processes but there is a formal courtship for potential mates for elves. There are six ceremonies that must be completed before the binding ceremony, and those count as the courtship. As for Draconi, their mates are marked with a smell that is patterned for each pair. The only other clue is that each pair has a matching aura to the other. Nothing else is known about the actual mating process as it's only revealed when a Draconi make a choice. However, many Draconi find their mate when they are quite young and are betrothed until they reach majority at age 140. Neither race bears a marking for showing if an individual is mated or not.

Vampires, Weres, Faes, Sprites and Hybrids may choose how many mates they wish to take. It depends on the individual. Faes and Sprites, in particular, have a courtship period of a minimum of 30 years. Anya hadn't gone into detail except for that accepting a flower from either race means you have agreed to be an intended mate even it of means you refusing the union during or at the end of the courtship. Not that one could do such a thing with severe social and political repercussions. Mates were matching gemstone bracelets while those in courtship wear matching floral bracelets.

Weres, meaning werewolves and werecats, may chose whoever they wish to mate. But the intended mates must pass an inspection by both the weres's close family and the Alpha of the pack. Weres are abrupt with declaring their intent on mating with their chosen and mark their mates with the symbol of their pack and family crest after mating.

Anya had a grin when she explained the idea behind vampires. Vampires may change who they wished, creating fledglings so to speak. And while a vampire can Turn his or her mate, not every fledgling is a vampire's mate. A vampire, for being undead and all, forged a strong emotional connection during the courtship phase, a phase that if the intended is not a vampire and can be changed, may include the Turning Ritual as well. Ironically, the marking of a vampire's mate are matching symbols tattooed on the skin where the unbeating heart rests. One can feed or be fed from a vampire with initiating a Turning or a courtship. The venom used when feeding, to make it so pleasurable, is a different venom used for Turning. And forcing a Turn without the express permission from the non-vampire had been made illegal over two hundred years ago. Vampire courtship, Salus realized as Anya spieled on, was a lot like dating. In fact, most aspects of any of the mating courtships was like dating. So as long as he kept his head down and refused any relationships beyond friendship, he should be good.

First class on Monday was Potions and it flew by. After all the extra brewing with Sin, the potions given during class seemed far simplier. Salus even had time to draft his essay that Sin assigned as homework for that day. Blood Magic went just as well. Salus found to his amazement that he passed the test quiet well and was not kicked out of the class. A class where the numbers had been literally halfed. By luck, Jullian could not take her Runes class and gave them a free. Salus retreated to the library to finish his Potions Essay and devour two more chapters of the book on Mating Rituals. It was far more in depth that what Anya had said but the important facts were covered by her lecture. Salus just made mental notes over the nitty gritty details and mentally filed them away should the need arise. And somewhere along the line, Salus got a brain waved of an idea for the potions project.

However, Salus found his good day end when he stepped into his Death Magic class to find only Faeli and no Anya. And Faeli had a smirk that screamed along the lines of 'the cat that ate the canary'. And Salus felt like the bird.

~0~0~0~

Post Writing Notes:

Anya wanted her would be friendship to deepen… and Salus is starting to find his rhythm again when it comes to living. Being in another realm helps him forget about Harry, to a point. You'll see where this is going soon! At least I hope I know where I'm going with this… XD

Amira D.