A/N: So here's the next chapter. The chapter after this will be up within the month, I hope. Sorry this couldn't be before Halloween but at least it's up. After that, I'm not sure. I'm still trying to get my mental status completely back on track. I feel so wiped out right now. I just can't work up the strength to feel anything at all. Just enjoy the double feature for now.
Disclaimers: I don't own Harry Potter, Bleach or anything else here that is obviously not owned by me.
Chapter Twenty-Two: Toshiro – 1, Draco - 0
The next morning, Toshiro was pleasantly surprised to find that he felt completely refreshed, despite the lateness of which they went back to bed that night. He let a small smile float to the surface and began getting ready for the day with strong enthusiasm. Renji and Ichigo acted much the same, getting ready without a single grumble or complaint. Why, if someone didn't know better, they would have thought the three of them were excited and eager for the day to start. Toshiro could feel the curious eyes of Neville and the other boys on the three of them as they changed but he didn't care. Not even a Hollow suddenly showing up and attacking the school could dampen his spirits; in fact, he welcomed the attack. He was so restless that he was practically bursting at the invisible seams of his gigai. Wait… that wasn't good. Being restless and welcoming attacks? No, that couldn't be allowed to happen. Toshiro mentally shook himself and forced himself to calm down before he did anything reckless. Something that could endanger the students and blow their cover. Had to be more careful.
Ichigo grinned broadly, feeling so damn GOOD today! He never felt so alive! He had no idea he would miss Zangetsu so badly. After all, he had gone nearly fifteen years without even knowing him and now he couldn't even imagine being without him. It was strange but it felt great! He felt like he could take on the world single handed. In fact…
"Hey, Harry!" he called down the table to the glasses-wearing teen as said boy spoke to his two friends with a serious expression.
Harry looked up quickly. "What?" he asked.
Ichigo stood up and carried his food down the table to where Harry, Ron and Hermione sat. He glanced sideways at the person sitting beside Harry. "Mind scooting over?" he asked. The boy scooted down and Ichigo sat in his place and turned to Harry, who looked confused and curious. "So, mind if I ask you a few questions?"
Harry blinked curiously. "Um, sure."
Ichigo grinned. "Okay, so, what's Quidditch again? I think I remember hearing you guys talking about it on the train. What is it? How is it played? And how can I join?"
Harry's eyes widened. "You want to play?"
"Oh, you'll love it!" Ron said enthusiastically. He began explaining Quidditch throughout breakfast and all the way up to their first class of the day. "And that's how you play Quidditch. It's an amazing sport! If you can fly on a broom, then you can play. As for joining the house team, you'll need to be able to play the position you're trying out for."
Harry nodded as they stopped outside the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom and waited for the doors to open. "For example, today the try-outs are for a Chaser, since we're down one. As Ron said, the Chasers fly around with the Quaffle and throw it back and forth to each other and try to get it through one of the opponent's goal hoops. So for anyone trying out for the Chaser position, they'll need to be able to fly well, be good with flying at a fast pace, be able to catch and throw the Quaffle, and have good aim. And they need to have good reflexes, since they'll be trying to do all this while avoiding colliding with other players and getting hit with the Bludgers." Harry paused for a moment, thinking, as the class entered the classroom and took their seats. "Actually, you might be pretty good at Quidditch. Have you ridden a broom before your flying lesson the other day?"
Ichigo shook his head. "No, that was a first for me."
Harry looked thoughtful as the class began taking down the notes Professor Lupin had written on the board. He glanced sideways at Ichigo and spoke softly. "From what I saw while I was staying with you guys over the summer, you have pretty good reflexes, and really good aim. You looked like a natural at flying. Not sure how you are at catching something the size of a basketball while flying in the air, but if you can do everything else, you might actually have a chance at making it on the team."
"What's a basket ball?" Ron asked curiously.
Harry shook his head. "Later." He turned back to Ichigo. "I'll talk to Oliver during lunch and let him know you're interested. If you do better than anyone else who tries out, you'll most likely make the team. To be honest, since this is your first time flying on a broom, I'd say you were a pretty quick learner and you should have no problem getting everything down."
"I should hope you three have no problems getting these notes down." Professor Lupin's voice floated over to them from his seat behind his desk. He smiled pleasantly. "Try to refrain from a lot of chit-chat until the end of class, please. Thank you."
Once class was over, Harry, Ron and Ichigo headed to their next class, continuing their conversation of Quidditch through note-passing during class until the bell signaling lunch. Hermione clicked her tongue in disapproval as she walked beside Ron. "You two are going to get in loads of trouble one of these days for not paying attention in class. Plus, you'll be sorry when you miss an important note in the lecture."
"We could always get the notes from you." Ron said. "You're the only one of us who can follow along in class without getting confused and have the ability to copy everything the professors say word for word, anyway."
Hermione rolled her eyes, but looked pleased with the comment. "Still, it wouldn't hurt to at least try to pay attention."
"If I had a pound for every time I paid attention in class, I'd be broke." Harry joked.
Ron blinked and Hermione smirked. "A pound?"
"You should have taken Muggle Studies with me." Hermione said.
Harry rolled his eyes and suddenly spotted Oliver Wood heading towards the Great Hall as they made their way down the last flight of stairs. "Hey, Oliver!" he called. "Oliver!"
Oliver turned around at his name and waved to Harry as he descended the last of the stairs. He stepped to the side of the doors to the Great Hall and waited. "Hello, Harry." He said when they approached. He nodded in turn to Ron, Hermione and Ichigo. "Hello, Ron. Hermione. And… it's Ichigo, right?" Ichigo nodded. Oliver nodded back and turned back to Harry. "What can I do for you?"
"Has anyone mentioned anything to you yet about trying out for Chaser?" Harry asked as they made their way into the Great Hall and over to the Gryffindor table.
Oliver shook his head with a small frown. "No, they haven't. I'm worried no one will try. I'm not expecting miracles but I'm hoping at least one person will try out. We need a Chaser."
"Well, there's one person I know who wants to try." Harry said.
Oliver turned to him with an eager expression. "Who?" he asked urgently.
Harry tapped Ichigo's shoulder. "Ichigo's pretty good at flying, judging by what we could see of his flying lesson, even though he's never ridden a broom before. And I know for a fact that he has awesome reflexes. I'm not sure about catching or throwing a Quaffle, since he's never even heard of Quidditch, but he does have pretty good aim."
Oliver's eyes lit up at the brief description and he stood up. "Stand up. I want to see." He said to Ichigo. Ichigo stood up from the table and allowed Oliver to slowly walk around him, eyeing him up and down. "Well, you certainly have the build." He touched Ichigo's right bicep. "You're arms definitely seem to have power behind them. Well-toned." He stopped in front of Ichigo and crossed his arms over his chest. "You might actually make the team. We'll see how practice goes first, but I feel you might make it."
Ichigo nodded and the two of them sat back down and the group began talking about Quidditch, Oliver being more than willing to tell Ichigo everything there was to know about the sport. By the time lunch had ended and the group was headed to their next bout of classes, minus Oliver, Ichigo felt that he had learned more about one subject in a few hours than he had the entire time he'd been at Hogwarts. All of the explanations and descriptions of Quidditch had gotten Ichigo more and more interested in the sport and he was determined to try out and even if he didn't make the team, he was determined to try playing by himself, just for the fun of it. He never played much sports back home, mostly because he was too busy keeping the teachers off his back about his hair and school work. But since he really didn't have that problem here, trying for this exuberant sport might be fun.
Ichigo smirked to himself as he sat absently in class, not even paying attention enough to notice which class he was in at the moment. He tried to imagine how playing Quidditch would look and if he had the skills for it. He had been honest when he said he'd never ridden a broom before but that didn't mean he hadn't flown before. He had being a Soul Reaper to thank for that. And he was pretty good with catching objects in mid-air, though none of them the size of a basketball. Who knew? Maybe he would make a decent player after all.
Ichigo nodded to himself as class ended and he headed to the last one of the day, impatient for it to be over already so he could finally get to the try-outs. He wondered briefly how many others were going to try out for the spot of Chaser and wondered if he had a chance after all. All of these other students already had some sort of knowledge and or experience with playing Quidditch and any of them could be much better suited for the position than he. Right, well, he'd just have to wait for the try-outs to start and see where it took him. That's all he can do right now. Now, if only this darn class would hurry up and be over, already!
Finally, several minutes later, the bell signaling the end of class rang throughout the school and Ichigo quickly made his way out of the classroom, beating everyone else even though he was in the back of the class with Renji, and quickly made his way down the stairs to the Great Hall and outside to the darkening grounds. He stopped after descending the few steps from the entrance and suddenly realized that he hadn't a clue where the try-outs were being held other than outside. He turned around when a voice spoke behind him.
"Eager, aren't you?" Oliver descended the steps with a broad grin on his face. "That's great. Strong determination and an eagerness to prove your worth are excellent to have, no matter what you do. Being eager to try for the team is just what I want to see. Come on, we're going to the Quidditch Pitch, where we usually have the try-outs." Ichigo followed Oliver as he made his way towards the pitch. "I've already gotten the okay from Madam Hooch; the pitch will be ours until dinner, in order to find us a new Chaser. We'll wait for the rest of the team and any others who want to try out and then we'll start. Alright?"
Ichigo shrugged. "Sure. But remember, I've never even heard of Quidditch before, so…"
Oliver waved his hand. "Don't worry about it. Once you start playing, it's pretty easy to catch on to the rules and rhythm. Just go with the flow. We'll have you go after one or two other people, so that you can see how it's supposed to go. That sound fair?"
Ichigo nodded and waited while Oliver left to a storage shed a little ways away from the pitch. When he finally returned, the rest of the team had arrived and so had three other Gryffindors. Two of them were first year boys, neither of them seeming that eager to make the team and the other a fourth year girl who seemed to spend more time with her fingers weaved in her hair than anywhere else. I might actually have a chance. Ichigo thought as he surveyed his competition. He turned back to Oliver as the team captain placed the single broom he had brought back with him from the shed on the ground and gave six fancier looking brooms to his teammates, keeping one for himself. Then he placed the average-sized, slightly quivering box he had been hovering with his wand on the ground in front of him. Then he looked up at the four try-out members, the rest of the team flanking around him.
"Thank you all for coming." He started. "I hate having to do this, but it looks like I have no other choice." He cleared his throat. "Anyways, let's see what we've got. First, the instructions: I am going to let out one Bludger and the Quaffle. The team will fly around throwing the Quaffle between them. You will each take a turn playing with the team, passing the Quaffle back and forth while avoiding the Bludger, which will be controlled by our Beaters, Fred and George Weasley. This is to test your ability to catch while flying, as well as your ability to play with a team, your endurance and your reflexes. I will be playing as my position, Keeper, and we will see how many times you can score, if any. Even if you don't score, it doesn't immediately disqualify you. We're just trying to see how well you can do with throwing, aiming, and playing under pressure." He pointed to one of the first year boys. "Why don't you go first?"
The boy stepped forward and the try-outs began. The boy did horribly, and half the time he seemed to not care whether or not he made a goal or caught the Quaffle at all. Ichigo rolled his eyes for the third time as the boy made a very slow lunge for the Quaffle when it went just passed his position. This kid was definitely out. The second boy was only slightly better. He made more of an effort to score but he was horrible with speed. When the team made to land at the end of his trial run, he was the last to land by a full minute at least. Definitely not good. The girl was by far the worst, in Ichigo's opinion and he honestly wondered why she bothered to try out at all. She didn't like flying too fast for fear of the wind messing up her hair and she made very odd attempts to catch the Quaffle without using her fingers. The worst part was that at one point, she dropped the Quaffle in order to focus all her attention on flying away from the Bludger.
Finally, it was Ichigo's turn. He grinned in anticipation as he mounted the broom and waited for Oliver to give the okay before he took flight. He was eager to start, not really so he could try for the team, but because he was eager to try out this sport that was supposed take a lot of effort and take a lot out of you. His body felt as if it was full of energy, too much energy maybe, and he needed a good way to expel the extras. It was making him almost jittery. Was that normal? Did he always feel like this? He didn't think so. Either way, he was ready.
"Ready, Ichigo?" Oliver called from his position near the foot of one of the goal posts.
Ichigo nodded and Oliver once again brought his right arm up into the air, the signal that everyone should take flight. Ichigo immediately soared into the sky, enjoying the wind whipping at his face and making the adrenaline rush through his veins at an incredible speed. The team started him out in the center of the field like they had the others who had tried out. Then he followed as Harry, Angelina and Katie soared towards the goals Oliver was guarding, each of them passing the Quaffle back and forth all the while, and spontaneously throwing it at him without warning. Ichigo caught the ball each time it was thrown his way, while avoiding Fred, George, and their Bludger as all three continued to pelt towards him in an attempt to knock him off his broom or drop the Quaffle. He managed to score once but missed every other time. That was okay; just the feel of flying around without a care in the world was enough to keep him going.
At the end of try-outs, Oliver called it quits, a broad grin on his face. "That was great!" he cried happily as everyone crowded around him before going into the castle for dinner. "Well done, everyone! That's all for now. Tomorrow evening, we will announce the new Chaser in the Gryffindor Common room. Good luck to each of you."
"I don't want to try out anymore." Said the boy who had played so lazily. He looked annoyed. "This is too hard. It takes too much work."
"Well, duh!" snapped Fred in annoyance. "You can't play a competitive sport of any kind without putting some kind of effort."
"Well, I don't want to play anymore." The boy replied with a shrug. "I'll go join a club instead." And with that, the boy walked off.
Oliver blinked. "Um, alright. Well, that just makes it all the more easy for us to pick someone." He turned back to the remaining three. "Well, it's all down to you three now. We'll see what the team decides and that will be it. Dismissed."
Harry and the team lingered behind as Ichigo and the other two headed back to the school, Ichigo lagging slightly behind. As they watched, he brought his arm up and mimicked throwing a ball as hard as he could. He repeated this action all the way back to the school's entrance. Then Harry turned to the rest of his team. "What did you guys think?" he asked with a quirked eyebrow.
"I vote Ichigo." Said Fred and George simultaneously, raising their right hands in the air.
"He was better than the fourth year girl." Angelina said thoughtfully. "I don't know what she was thinking in trying out. She definitely didn't look like the sporty type."
"She flew away from the Bludger!" Katie exclaimed incredulously. "I don't like getting hit with them either but I wouldn't drop the ball and fly away with my arms over my head. That was a seriously stupid move; what if she had slipped off her broom? She wouldn't have been able to grab the handle before falling."
"That other boy didn't do so bad but he was very slow." Oliver said. "He scored three times, where Ichigo only scored once. But Ichigo was great at catching, speed, and dodging the Bludger. Although, twice he looked like he was going to hit it with his own hand."
"Well, he is pretty strong, physically." Harry said defensively. "I stayed with him and the others during half of my summer and I sparred with them a little bit. Ichigo managed to break the dining room table with his bare fist. Actually, they all did, including Toshiro and Rukia. They're pretty strong; maybe he thought he could hit it without hurting himself."
"Well, he should leave that to us." George said, pointing to himself and Fred. "There might be a rule against someone other than a Beater being allowed to hit a Bludger. The Chasers deal with the Quaffle, we deal with the Bludgers."
"Other than that, he did really well." Oliver said.
"Considering he's never even heard of Quidditch until Hogwarts." Harry added.
"You're kidding!" the Weasley twins said incredulously.
"So, have we come to an agreement then?" Oliver asked. The others nodded. "All in favor of Ichigo?"
"Aye!" said Fred, George and Harry.
"Yes!" said Katie and Angelina.
"Ichigo it is." Oliver said with a nod. "I'll announce it tomorrow. And Harry, you seem closer to him than anyone else on the team; would you mind helping train him with extra practices from now until our first Quidditch game? With a bit of training, I feel he'll be an excellent player. It's too bad he isn't staying next year; he'd be a great addition to the team after I graduate."
The others nodded and the team headed towards the broom shed, where they replaced the brooms and Quidditch balls. Then they locked the shed and headed back to the school and dinner. Harry was glad Ichigo made the team and couldn't wait to tell him. He wondered how Ichigo would take the news of being on the team. He seemed to so eager to play and looked so excited about flying around. Harry could understand the feeling. He loved flying on his broom, feeling so free and so invincible. Anyone could get lost in the feeling, easy.
Harry followed his teammates through the Entrance Hall, but just as he was approaching the door to the Great Hall, he spotted something small and red dart out of the corner of his eye. He turned to see the red blur head down to the dungeons and caught sight of Crookshanks, Hermione's ginger cat, as it darted after. Having a feeling that the small red blur was Toshiro's kitten, Harry quickly headed after them. Crookshanks hadn't left Suna alone the entire time they were at the school. Why, just yesterday Harry had entered the boys' dormitory by himself in order to find the extra parchment he had left in his trunk and had found Crookshanks trying to jump onto Toshiro's bed, where the kitten had been sleeping. Harry had been impressed to see that Suna would have none of it, scratching and hissing at Crookshanks and preventing him from getting onto the bed and anywhere near her. Harry had grabbed Crookshanks around the middle and lifted him away from a spitting Suna and was surprised to see Crookshanks' face covered in scratches. Hermione had been quite upset when Harry brought him back down and told the others what had happened. All Toshiro had said was that he had warned her to keep her cat away from his.
Harry quickly headed down to the dungeon corridors and began searching for the cats. He could hear hissing and knew Suna was getting tired of being chased. Eventually, she'd turn and start scratching the hell out of Crookshanks again. Harry quickly slipped down another hall and followed until he found Suna in a corner, hissing, growling and spitting as Crookshanks sauntered towards her, swishing his bottle-brush tail from side to side. He took another step towards her and Suna's growls grew louder, her blood-red fur standing on end and her back arched, preparing to pounce. Harry quickly rushed towards them just as Crookshanks took another step. Suna yowled and lunged, clawing at Crookshanks' squashed face. Harry quickly swooped down and picked up Suna before she killed Hermione's cat, his hands getting scratched up badly for his trouble.
"Sshh, you're alright." He whispered to her, holding her close to his chest with one bleeding hand and gently petting her head with the other. He turned to Crookshanks, who was now growling at the interference and whished is paw at him. "Get." He hissed. "Leave her alone; she's going to scratch you to death and Toshiro will help her if you don't stop chasing her. Go on, go back to the dorms or something!" He took a threatening step towards the larger cat and it quickly turned and headed down the hall and out of sight.
Harry sighed and looked down at a now calming Suna, her soft fluffy fur turning the pale blue she usually turned when she was calm. "Try not to kill him; the last thing we need is for Toshiro and Hermione to get into an argument over her cat when you claw him to death." Suna merely purred contently in his injured hands. Harry winced as his own sticky blood began to dry on his hands. "Thanks a lot, by the way."
Harry sighed again and began heading back the way he had come, heading towards the Entrance Hall, intent on giving Suna to Toshiro and demanding gratitude for saving his kitten at the cost of his poor hands. As Harry headed down the hall, he suddenly heard whispering from an adjacent hall. Quickly, Harry slipped into a small nook in the wall and waited as the voices grew louder. He recognized Blaise Zabini as the boy responded to another boy.
"I still say we be careful." He was saying. "Malfoy might not care what happens to us, but I'm not getting expelled for him. If he starts making us do really dangerous pranks to Longbottom, I'm out. I'm not getting expelled for seriously injuring one of Malfoy's targets."
"Yeah, definitely." Said another boy as they passed Harry's hallway. "But I like how things are going so far. Have you seen pathetic Longbottom apologize over and over to Hitsugaya every time he has an 'accident'? How pathetic. I wonder how many more pranks we'll have to pull before either Longbottom decides to go home or Hitsugaya decides to stop hanging around him?"
Blaise and the others laughed. "Soon, hopefully." Blaise said, his voice fading as they moved further away from Harry. "We're running out of good pranks."
Harry's heart pounded in his ears as he slipped out of his hiding place, his blood boiling. So, it was Malfoy after all. Ron was right; Malfoy was having his lackeys pull pranks on Neville in order to either get Neville to go home out of fear of hurting someone or in order to get Toshiro to stop hanging out with Neville. But why? Harry could understand targeting Toshiro, since Toshiro seemed to be getting more fans than Malfoy or even Harry, but why Neville? He hadn't done anything wrong, other than be friends with Toshiro and do better than everyone else in that Japanese teacher's class. Could that be it? Could Ron be right and Malfoy was jealous of Neville? Well, either way, Harry had to stop them; he had to put a stop to it somehow. He had to tell Toshiro.
Harry quickly snuck back up to the Entrance Hall without being detected and slipped into the Great Hall, heading straight for Toshiro and Neville at the end of the table. He quickly pressed a still purring Suna into a puzzled Toshiro's hands and sat down beside him. "I know who's doing it." He whispered without preamble.
Toshiro and Neville blinked at him in confusion. "Who's doing what?" Toshiro asked curiously.
"Who's making Neville have bad luck." Harry explained.
Neville's eyes widened. "You do? Who? Why?"
"I already know." Toshiro replied and set Suna on the table beside his plate before continuing his dinner.
Neville turned to his friend. "You know?" he demanded incredulously. "You know who's doing it? Why didn't you say so?"
"I told you I would take care of it." Toshiro replied.
"I didn't think that meant you knew." Neville said.
"Regardless, I'm taking care of it." He said.
"But who's doing it?" Neville asked earnestly. "And why? What did I do to deserve this?"
"That, I don't know yet." Toshiro admitted. "But I do know who's doing it. They think they're slick. But I'm on to them now. I've just got to wait for the right moment."
"Huh?" Neville asked in confusion.
Toshiro didn't seem to have heard him as he muttered into his tea. "They think they can fool me? Well, they're sadly mistaken. I'll get them, just wait."
"Um, Toshiro?" Neville asked nervously. "You still there?"
"I'll get them." Toshiro continued to mutter darkly. "I warned them. Well, we'll see how they fair against me. No mercy."
"What are you talking about?" Neville asked in exasperation.
"How do you know who it is?" Harry cut in curiously. "How'd you figure it out?"
"I told everyone I'd be watching them." Toshiro answered with a shrug, snapping out of his sudden dark thoughts. "At the end of Urahara's class, remember? I said that I'd remember everyone's face and keep an eye on each of them. I did. And I figured out just who was doing it."
"Wow, you're perceptive." Harry muttered in awe.
Toshiro shrugged. "Now, back to more important matters, what happened to your hands?"
Harry and Neville looked down at Harry's scratched and bloodied hands and Harry chuckled. "Oh, yeah. I saved your cat. She was being chased by Crookshanks down in the dungeons and when Crookshanks tried to get too close, Suna started scratching at his face. I grabbed her away from him and she scratched up my hands in the process."
"You should probably go see Madam Promfry." Neville suggested with a wince. "Those look painful."
Harry shrugged. "They sting a bit. It looks worse than it is because of the blood."
Toshiro turned towards Rangiku and made eye contact with her before pointing down the row to Ichigo's friend, Orihime. Rangiku glanced at Harry's hands, nodded and stood from her seat and walked to where the other girl sat. She bent down and spoke to her for a few seconds and then the two of them made their way to Toshiro, Neville and Harry. Toshiro nodded to Orihime and pointed to Harry. "Can you fix this?" he asked her.
Orihime glanced at Harry's hands and her eyes widened. "Oh, my gosh! What happened? Are you alright?"
Harry flushed as the girl started flustering over him. "I-I'm fine." He stuttered as she gently lifted his hands and turned them this way and that. "They're just scratches."
Orihime didn't answer, instead studying his hands. Finally, she looked up and turned to Toshiro. "I can heal them." She turned back to Harry. "May I?" Harry nodded mutely and felt several pairs of eyes on him as the girl placed her hands to hover a few inches over his. Suddenly the air around his hands glowed, as did the little floral pins in her hair and then she muttered, "I reject." A large orb of light glowed around his hands and when it finally faded, Harry's hands were clear of both blood and cuts.
He blinked and looked up at her. "How did you do that?" he asked in amazement.
"I believe we've already established that she'll be practicing healing in the Hospital Wing while she's here." Toshiro replied. "Why study healing if she didn't have some kind of affinity for it? She has a few spells of her own but she wants to learn more."
Orihime nodded. "Mmhmm. The more healing spells I learn, the more I'll be able to help people."
"Oh. Well, thanks." Harry said.
Orihime smiled kindly and headed back to her seat at the Hufflepuff table. Rangiku leaned down and whispered into Toshiro's ear. The smaller boy nodded and whispered something back before Rangiku smirked and headed back to her seat. Neville turned to Toshiro. "What was that about?"
Toshiro smirked. "None of your business."
Neville rolled his eyes and Harry got up from the table and headed to where his two friends waited for him. As soon as he was seated, they immediately began questioning him. "What was that about?" Ron asked first.
"What happened to your hands?" Hermione asked right after. "How did you hurt them like that?"
Harry quickly explained what had transpired down in the dungeons, from the time he followed Suna and Crookshanks, to hearing the Slytherins, to Orihime healing his hands. After he was finished, both of them looked shocked. Then Ron broke into a grin. "I knew it!" he exclaimed. Hermione shushed him and he lowered his voice. "I knew it was Malfoy. He's jealous of Toshiro being more popular and of Neville doing better than him. That's just the kind of person he is."
"But I don't understand." Hermione said softly. "Why is he targeting them? I mean, why try to send Neville home or make Toshiro stop being friends with him? What will either of those prove?"
"Who cares?" Ron muttered exasperatedly. "Just accept that it's Malfoy. He doesn't need a reason to be nasty."
Harry nodded, though Hermione still didn't look convinced. The subject dropped and Hermione instead brought up Suna and Crookshanks, Ron laughing uproariously when Harry explained again how Suna tried to tear up Crookshanks' face. "That's what the stupid cat gets for being a pain."
"Ron!" Hermione exclaimed angrily.
Harry sighed and tuned them out for the rest of dinner, instead going over in his head what he had heard from the Slytherins and wondering what they were planning on doing next to poor Neville. He was always targeted by bullies, especially the Slytherins, and Harry felt bad that no one ever stopped to help him. Maybe that was it. Maybe they didn't like Neville suddenly growing a backbone. Maybe they didn't like that their punching bag was suddenly starting to fight back, thanks to a bit of confidence boosting and coaching from Toshiro. Could that be it? Harry didn't know; but despite what Toshiro had said about taking care of it, Harry was going to do what he could to make sure they stopped. Neville wasn't a bad person any more than Hagrid was a bad teacher and he certainly didn't deserve to be treated the way he was. Harry would make sure they stopped, if for no other reason than because Neville was a fellow Gryffindor.
The next morning, the Gryffindor third year boys entered the common room to find a small huddle of students near the notice board. "What's this about?" Renji asked as he peered over several first years to read the newest notice. Then his eyes widened and he glanced behind him to where Ichigo stood with a grin. "You tried out for that Quidditch sport? And you got in? When did you decide to try out?"
"Yesterday." Ichigo said with a shrug, though he was still grinning. "I made the team; that's awesome!"
"Why did you even decide to try out?" Renji asked as they descended down to breakfast.
Ichigo shrugged again. "I guess it's mostly because of that spell we used the other night." Ichigo lowered his voice as he spoke. "You know that huge adrenaline rush we got when we finally got our Zanpakuto? I felt so alive and full of energy, I decided to try out. I don't really have any other reason than that." He finished honestly.
"Perhaps we could use this to our advantage." Said a voice behind them. Both turned to see Toshiro and Neville walking behind them. Toshiro glanced at Ichigo and continued in the same low voice. "You can use this opportunity to both keep an eye on Harry and the rest of the team, and at the same time, learn as much as possible about this wizarding world's famous sport."
Ichigo nodded. "I can do that. I was starting to get bored sitting around doing nothing. Maybe a bit of protection detail would be good for me. And playing hard on the field and competing with the other teams might help relieve stress."
"Just don't overdo it." Toshiro warned. "And don't forget what you're main objective is."
"'Course not." Ichigo said with a shrug.
"Ichigo, wait up!" a voice called from down the hall. The four of them turned to see Harry running towards them with a grin on his face. Once he caught up, he stopped to catch his breath. "So," he gasped. "So, you made it. I knew you would. But Oliver wants me to train with you from now until our first game, in order to work on a few things, like scoring. And resisting the urge to hit the bludgers with your own hand." Harry added as an afterthought.
Ichigo smirked. "Oh, yeah. Well, I didn't know there was a rule against it."
Harry shrugged. "I don't really know if there is or not but we don't need to give the Slytherins an excuse to claim we're cheating. Better safe than sorry. Just leave the Bludgers to Fred and George. Beaters are there for a reason, you know."
"Yeah, yeah." Ichigo muttered.
"So, when's our first practice?" Ichigo asked as they entered the Great Hall and headed to the Gryffindor table. "I want to get started as soon as possible. The sooner I get really good at Quidditch, the better chance we'll have of winning the upcoming match. It's soon, isn't it?"
"That it is." Said a voice behind them as they sat down to breakfast. Ichigo turned in his seat to see Oliver come to sit right beside him. "I'm glad to hear that you're so enthusiastic about getting practices underway. Congratulations on making the team, by the way. Can't wait to see what you've got after a good amount of practicing."
Ichigo nodded in agreement and the topic changed to upcoming classes after Oliver stood from the table and headed to where Angelina and Katie were sitting, wanting to get an information update on Alicia's predicament. Ichigo turned to Toshiro and Neville. "Did you guys ever figure out a way for Neville's power-backfiring curse-thing to be reversed? I hear that girl hasn't been fixed yet."
At his words, Neville deflated slightly. Toshiro rolled his eyes before facing Ichigo. "No, we haven't. But we haven't really been working on it. Been busy with a few other things."
Neville nodded. "Like my lessons."
Toshiro turned to Neville. "Introduction: Salutations. Name. Origin. Ending."
Neville groaned and stood from the table, facing Toshiro. The nearest students looked up, interested in what Neville had learned this time. His tests were becoming almost routine and people were interested in the lessons. Several had gone up to Toshiro and the other transfers and asked to be tutored as well but Toshiro had said n, claiming that Neville had asked first. The other transfers had claimed that they had neither the patience nor skills to teach someone else. Grumbling, the students had resorted to watching Neville being tested and learning from him.
Neville took a deep breath and let it out slowly before beginning. "Hajime mashite. Watashi wa Longbottom, Neville desu. Watashi wa Iigirisujin desu." Here Neville paused, trying to remember the last part. He always forgot it, since it needed to be pronounced correctly."Yoroshiku onegai-shimasu?" he said in the form of a question. Toshiro nodded and Neville nodded and repeated it more confidently. "Yoroshiku onegai-shimasu." Then he performed the correct formal bow before retaking his seat.
Toshiro nodded in approval. "That was very good. Now tell me what each means. You don't have to stand." He added as Neville made to get up.
Neville smiled gratefully and recited. "Hajime mashite means pleased to meet you. Watashi means I or the subject and wa is like saying the sentence it about the subject. When stating your name in an introduction, you announce your surname first, followed by your given name. Your last name states the family you belong to and your first name is what identifies you as you; so for me it would be Longbottom, Neville. And desu at the end is a marker that means am or personalizing the subject. I think it basically says 'Neville Longbottom is me.' Right?" Toshiro nodded and Neville continued. "Iigirisu is the Japanese word for England and jin basically saying this is what I am; so it's saying English is what I am. And Yoroshiku onegai-shimasu roughly means please be kind to me or please treat me kindly. And for a more polite effect, you can add douzo which means please, before Yoroshiku."
Toshiro nodded again and sipped his tea. "Very good. You're learning at a good pace. Keep this up and you'll be speaking full Japanese in no time."
"You're getting the accent down pretty well." Renji added. "Try to ease up a bit on putting so much emphasis on each letter and syllable."
"Have you started Kanji yet?" Ichigo asked as the owls took that moment to deliver the mail.
"Kanji?" Neville asked.
Toshiro shook his head. "Not yet. I want him to be able to say it first. That way, when he sees how it's written in Kanji, Hiragana, and anything else, he won't be confused and it won't affect his pronunciation. We'll start that eventually."
"Wait, is Kanji like writing?" Neville asked curiously. "Like the weird symbols you draw? And the symbols on your trunks?" Toshiro, Renji and Ichigo nodded. Neville's eyes widened. "I don't think I can do that. I wouldn't have even known that those were words if Harry hadn't told me so in our dorm when I asked him what was on the lid of your trunks."
"When you were little, did you know that lines, squiggles and circles organized in such a way were words at all?" Toshiro asked. He pulled a quill and ink bottle from his school bag and pulled a napkin close. Then he wrote the English word for 'word' in a corner. "What does this say?"
Neville looked at it curiously and then back up to Toshiro. "'Word'." He answered.
"How do you know that?" Toshiro asked. "How do you know it doesn't say 'dog'?"
Neville blinked in confusion. "Because there's no 'g' and… I don't know, it just doesn't spell 'dog'."
"But how do you know that?" Toshiro continued to press. "How do you know the 'd' is supposed to make the sound it does? Or the 'o'? Or the 'g'? How do you know that if you put the 'd', the 'o' and the 'g' in that particular order, it would spell 'dog'?"
Neville frowned, looking thoroughly confused. "I – I don't know. That's how I was taught."
"Exactly." Toshiro said with a nod.
"Huh?" Poor Neville was now completely lost. Ichigo and Renji, however, were shaking with silent laughter, both of them understanding what Toshiro was getting at, and amused that Neville wasn't getting it.
"You were taught at a very young age what each letter is called, what sound each letter makes, what sound it makes when it's combined with other letters, that combining letters in a particular order forms a 'word' and how to pronounce each word. Correct?" Toshiro asked. Neville nodded. "It's been implanted into your head that 'd', 'o' and 'g' in that particular order spell 'dog' and now if anyone suggests that there is a 'q' or a 'z' in there somewhere, the first thing you would say is 'no there isn't', right? That's the same for us. We learned at a young age that when we put the lines in a particular order, they form a word or even a whole sentence. My point is, with time, other languages can be taught. It just takes time, dedication and a metaphoric drill that can get through even the thickest skulls. No implications."
"Oh." Said Neville. "Right."
Toshiro shrugged. "You'll understand better once the time comes."
Neville sighed and continued with his breakfast. "If you say so."
The next few days passed quite peacefully, for the most part. Ichigo began his private Quidditch training with Harry that Monday and had just finished yet another grueling workout, this time with the whole team, before Oliver finally called it quits. Ichigo landed on the ground beside Harry and wiped the layer of sweat from his glistening brow, welcoming the cool breeze that swept over them. "Man." He panted. He turned to Oliver with a grin as the group made their way to the school's broom shed. "You're a slave driver, you know that?"
"That's what we've been saying for years." George said, he and his brother coming to walk on either side of him.
"But you know what they say." Fred said.
"You can't teach an old hippogriff new tricks." The twins said in unison.
Ichigo smirked. "And here I thought the term was 'cat'."
Oliver rolled his eyes as he unlocked the shed. "I just want to be prepared. We need to win this year; we just have to. This is our year, I know it. Several months from now and that trophy will be ours. I just know it."
George waved a hand in front of Oliver's face as his eyes glazed over. Then he turned to the rest of the team. "We've lost him."
Katie snuck up behind Oliver and tweaked his sides, causing the Gryffindor captain to jump nearly a foot in the air before turning to glare at her. She laughed. "Welcome back to Earth."
The others laughed as they put everything away and Ichigo replaced the school broom he had been using. Harry and the others had suggested mail-ordering a broom of his own and Fred and George suggested waiting until Halloween, when the first Hogsmeade trip usually took place, and buy a broom from one of the shops. For now, though, he was stuck using a school broom for practices, which weren't all that great.
The group headed up to the school and climbed up to Gryffindor Tower. "Well, I'm ready for a shower and bed." Ichigo said with a yawn as the approached the portrait hole. "I'm exhausted."
"And this was just the first day of practice with Oliver." Harry said with a chuckle. "It gets worse as Quidditch matches get closer."
Ichigo stuck his tongue out with a grimace as they climbed into the common room. The team separated as they took in the excited whispering floating around them. Ichigo headed to where Toshiro and Neville sat in their usual corner by the window, while Harry went to sit by Ron and Hermione by the fire. "So, what's the buzz?" Ichigo asked the small captain perched on the windowsill and reading the History of Magic textbook.
Toshiro didn't respond, didn't even look up from his book, so Neville answered. "The first Hogsmeade trip of the year." He said excitedly. "I can't wait; I was told it was awesome."
"Oh, yeah." Ichigo said thoughtfully as he perched on the edge of the nearest seat. "Fred and George were just talking to me about that. I'm assuming the date is set for Halloween?"
"Yeah, how'd you know?" Neville asked curiously.
Ichigo shrugged. "Fred and George said that there's usually a trip scheduled for Halloween. They want me to go with them to buy a broom." This last bit he directed to Toshiro.
The young captain looked up. After a few moments of thinking, he nodded. "Someone could probably cover your shift until you get back. You do need a decent broom if you wish to stay on the team, I suppose. I guess I'll stay until you return."
"Aw, but I thought you were going with me to see everything." Neville pouted. "If you go late, there won't be much time for anything."
"I've been to several different wizard dwellings before, so skipping one won't make much of a difference." Liar. Said a voice in Toshiro's head. He ignored it. "Besides, there will be plenty of other trips, I'm sure."
"But if you guys are taking shifts," Neville said in a whisper. "Then there will be one trip you won't go to."
"What does it matter?" Ichigo asked with a yawn. "It's not like you two are planning on using this trip as a date or anything."
Neville turned pink. "I know that." He snapped. "That wasn't what I meant. Whenever something good happens, I never have anyone to share it with. This time something cool is happening and I do have a friend to share it with. Our friendship will only last a year, so excuse me for wanting to cherish it while it lasts."
Ichigo blinked and then grinned sheepishly. "Oh, sorry. I guess I didn't really think about that. Well, maybe I can ask Renji or something. Maybe Rukia wouldn't mind staying behind for a while. Rangiku is definitely a no; she's already made plans based on what some of the older students have told her about the village. I'll just ask Rukia tomorrow or something." Ichigo stood up and stretched with another yawn before heading to the boys' dormitory. "I'm gonna go shower and head in early."
Before Ichigo could reach the staircase, there was a shout from the fireplace. Every student in the common room turned to see Ron shouting at Crookshanks, who was hanging from his school bag by its claws. "YOU STUPID CAT!" he roared as he swung the bag. The front of the bag tore and out flew a small furry rat, which immediately darted around the room, Crookshanks hot on its tail.
Ron shouted to catch Crookshanks and several people made leaps for both rat and cat before Toshiro sighed with a roll of his eyes and got up from the windowsill. Then he rushed forward and grabbed Crookshanks by the scruff of his neck in one hand and Scabbers in the other. Crookshanks made a swipe at Scabbers in Toshiro's other hand, while said rat tried desperately to free itself. Toshiro roughly shook both. "Enough!" he snapped. Scabbers froze, trembling, while Crookshanks growled low in his throat, narrowing its eyes up at the ice captain through its squashed face.
Toshiro handed the trembling rat to Ron and shoved Crookshanks to Hermione, who looked scared but cross. "You didn't have to grab him like that."
Toshiro glared at her. "Would you rather I grabbed him by his tail then? You obviously weren't going to do anything about it."
"He's right!" Ron snapped at her from behind Toshiro. "You keep that stupid cat away from him!"
"Crookshanks doesn't understand it's wrong." Hermione defended her cat. "All cats chase rats, Ron."
"That's not true." Toshiro argued. "I've met several cats who've learned to get along with rats and mice and birds and anything else they've habitually chased. Same with dogs to cats and so forth. They learn. You obviously haven't bothered to train him, otherwise you would have done something when he gave chase. First he keeps bothering my cat, and now he's bothering other people's pets. Keep him on a tighter leash, or I will."
"You can't hurt him!" Hermione snapped angrily. "You have no right!"
"I have every right when he's trying to impregnate my freaking kitten!" Toshiro shouted furiously. "Let's get something straight, Granger. Your cat is constantly going after Suna and then you get mad whenever she scratches the hell out of his face. I told you when we first met that if he impregnates her, I'll disembowel him. I wasn't kidding then, and I'm not kidding now. The last thing we need is to be traveling around the world with a freaking litter of damn kittens. Especially when she's still a baby herself. And now you're angry that Ron is angry at him for attacking his rat. He has every right to be angry. Get that cat neutered and properly trained, or I'm tossing him into the damn lake for the squid! You understand me?"
Hermione glared at him, and opened her mouth to argue. Toshiro glowered at her and the temperature dropped considerably. Frost formed around the little captain's feet, causing Ron and Hermione, who were closer, to back away from him. Cold air filled the room, causing several people to shiver and the flames in the fireplace to go out. Despite his size, at that moment, Toshiro appeared extremely terrifying, as wisps of frosty air puffed from his nose and mouth as he breathed heavily, his eyes shining like ice. "I said Do. You. Understand. Me?" he repeated in a low voice.
Hermione nodded her head silently, too frightened to speak. Toshiro gave a swift nod and reigned in his power, allowing the temperature to warm up considerably and the frost to recede. Then he turned on his heel and headed back to the window. Quickly, he gathered up his things and headed swiftly up the stairs and out of sight. Neville gathered up his things and turned to Hermione with a sad shake of his head. "You shouldn't have argued with him. He's really protective of Suna and he's already annoyed with Crookshanks for constantly chasing her and not leaving her alone. Just keep him away from her. Is that really so hard?" Then he turned and headed up after Toshiro.
After several moments of silence, Ichigo cleared his throat. "I believe I was going to go have a shower. Yeah, that's right." His comment seemed to be a trigger, for the rest of the room began whispering excitedly amongst themselves, this time about Toshiro and his sudden outburst. And most of all, his power. Ichigo winced and headed up to the dorm for his much needed shower.
"Wait up." Renji said from behind him. Once he caught up with him, the two continued up to the dorm. "That was nuts. I wonder what happened. I've never heard of him blowing up like that."
Ichigo shrugged. "I don't know. But he was fine a few minutes ago, when we were talking about Hogsmeade. I don't know what happened."
The two entered the room to see the curtains on Toshiro's four-poster drawn and Neville sitting in the middle of his own bed, staring at his hands in his lap. He looked up when they entered. "He said he doesn't want to talk. He just wants to go to sleep and be left alone."
Renji approached the bed. "Captain?" he asked hesitantly. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine, Abarai." Came Toshiro's voice from behind the curtains. He voice sounded calm but they could tell he was tense. "I just need to rest."
"Well, if you're sure." He said before heading to his trunk for his toiletries.
"I am." Toshiro said.
Renji glanced at Ichigo and Neville, who both shrugged helplessly. Then he and Ichigo headed to the bathroom. Neville looked sorrowfully at Toshiro's bed, feeling bad for his friend being so unhappy. Yet at the same time, he had to wonder what had caused it. Why had Toshiro suddenly blown up like that? He was fine a few minutes before that happened. Why did he suddenly become so angry? It couldn't just be because of Crookshanks, could it? There had to be more to it than that. A lot more. With a small shake of his head, Neville went to his trunk and began getting ready for bed. Once he was finished, he grabbed his bag of toiletries and headed to the bathroom, shutting the door softly behind him.
Toshiro sighed once Neville had left and flopped back on his pillow. He shouldn't have lost it like that. But damn it, he was tired of that dang cat pestering his kitten! He constantly approached her, no matter how many times she attacked and injured him, and it annoyed both of them. Why couldn't he just leave his kitten alone? She was too young anyways. But still, he shouldn't have shouted so badly to Hermione. After all, she couldn't get pregnant yet, could she? When did cats become fertile? He wasn't sure.
Toshiro sighed again and turned on his side to see his kitten sleeping peacefully on the pillow beside his head. He reached over and gently ran his fingers through her fur. It was so soft, like fluffy blue cotton and it flowed through his fingers like air. Suna lifted her head and blinked her large purple eyes at him curiously. He knew the real reason for his blow up and it had nothing to do with the cats, really. As much as he wanted to deny it, what bothered him the most was what Neville had said to Ichigo about Hogsmeade. Neville was still bothered about the thought of Toshiro and the others leaving at the end of the year, more than likely never to see any of them ever again. He couldn't guarantee that he would be the one to pick up Neville's soul when the time came. The thought that his soul would have to be picked up at all didn't sit too well with Toshiro. The thought of Neville dying bothered him more than it should. He was used to death. People died all the time; it was part of life. You live, you die. It was natural. So why should it matter that Neville would die eventually? What did it matter if he never saw him again? It's not like it really made much of a difference.
But it did. It bothered him to think about. A lot. No matter how much he tried not to get attached, Neville had become his friend. That boggart was proof. His fear had been about being unable to protect those he cared about, and Neville was one of them. He brought out a side to Toshiro that had long since become dormant, even he could see that. He cared about Neville and didn't wish any harm to him. But damn it! He didn't want to get close to anyone for that very reason. He knew he wasn't going to stay, he knew he wouldn't be here longer than the mission required. He knew that! He shouldn't have allowed himself to get too close to any of these…these…humans. They were human, he was not. Not anymore. Even if, for some odd reason, he stayed for another year, that wouldn't stop him from leaving eventually. He didn't belong here anymore than Neville belonged in Soul Society. Even if he was allowed to take Neville with him, and he already knew Neville was more than willing, he couldn't do that to him or those who cared about him. He knew Neville would miss the human world; he himself had missed it at some point, he was sure. And taking Neville while there was a war going on back home was definitely out of the question. Although, technically he was already in a war here. Toshiro didn't care what the stupid Ministry fools said; Voldemort was alive. He never showed up at Soul Society and none of the Soul Reapers he had spoken to ever remembered picking up someone like him. No, he was definitely still alive, of that Toshiro was almost sure.
That thought didn't make him feel any better. In fact, it made him feel much worse. Neville wasn't ready for a war, and no doubt he would be thrust into one whether he was ready or not. Voldemort was sure to attack them soon. Would Neville survive? Would Toshiro have to see him in Soul Society sooner than he expected? No, he couldn't allow that. Perhaps he could sneak Neville somewhere safe until their war was over?
Toshiro scoffed to himself. Like that could happen. Besides, Neville was a lot stronger than he gave himself credit for. Taking him away from a fight while everyone else was fighting would definitely not help boost his already fragile confidence. No, Neville had to be ready; he had to be ready for when that cowardly bastard attacked. Neville had to be able to hold his own. Toshiro couldn't protect him when that time came. But he could help get him prepared. Yes, prepare him for a fight. That was about the most he could do for his friend. "I have to do something." He whispered to Suna. His kitten mewed softly and licked his hand before placing her head back down for sleep. Toshiro scratched behind her ears and ran his thumb over the teal crescent moon that jutted out of her forehead between her eyes. "Neville's my friend. I have to make sure he's safe. I have to."
On the other side of the curtain, Neville froze when he heard Toshiro say his name. He had just gotten back from the bathroom and was just putting his bag of toiletries back into his trunk when Toshiro had spoken softly. "I have to do something. Neville's my friend. I have to make sure he's safe. I have to." Neville blinked in confusion. Safe? Safe from what? Or who? Neville wanted to ask what he was talking about, but he had a feeling he wasn't supposed to have heard that at all. But what was he talking about? Why would Neville need to be safe from something? Was something supposed to happen?
Neville shook his head in confusion and proceeded to his bed, making enough noise to let Toshiro know that he was in the room. As he was climbing into bed, the rest of the boys entered the room and began getting ready for bed themselves. Neville shut his curtains and settled down beneath the blankets, listening to the others talk and change and go to and from the bathroom. As silence slowly settled across the room and the lights went out, Neville began falling asleep, while his mind whirred with thoughts of evil magical creatures attacking him and Toshiro jumping out of the sky with a sword in his hands and attacking the monsters with ice that shot out of the blade, as an icy wind wound its way around the monsters' heads and suffocated them.
The next day, Ron and Hermione were still angry with each other and Hermione was both furious and terrified of Toshiro. Toshiro, however, looked like he hadn't had much sleep that night and when he rubbed his eyes sleepily that morning on their way down to Herbology, he looked so child-like that Hermione found it hard to stay mad at him for too long. She listened in as Neville spoke to him when they reached the Greenhouse and waited for Professor Sprout to let them in. "Are you sure you wouldn't rather skip class and go back to bed? You look tired."
"I'm fine." Toshiro muttered before yawning. "I just slept less than what is required for my body and it's not happy about it. I'll snap out of it as the day moves forward."
Neville looked at him doubtfully. "If you say so. But maybe you should go see Madam Pomfrey and ask for a Pepper-Up potion or something."
Toshiro shook his head. "I don't need it. And even if I did, why would I ask someone for something that I could easily make myself?"
"Maybe because it's already made and available?" Neville asked innocently.
Toshiro rolled his eyes. "Smart ass."
The class entered the greenhouse and gathered around three to a table. On each table was a plant that Neville automatically identified as a Puffapod. Toshiro became very amused when a Hufflepuff girl joined their table and Neville suddenly went quiet, with his eyes kept down on the table and a pink tint crossing his cheeks. He barely said a word, other than the shy 'hi' when she said hello to each of them. Despite his sudden shyness, when Professor Sprout instructed them to remove the bean-filled pods from the Puffapods and place the beans in a wooden bucket, Neville was quite diligent and by the end of class, their bucket was completely full of the little shiny beans. Toshiro could tell he was in his element, as he seemed to come out of his shyness and inform the both of them of different features and uses for the plant and the beans as they worked. Toshiro hid a smirk at the end of class when the Hufflepuff girl, whom he learned was named Hannah, complimented Neville on his knowledge and he went as pink as the pods they had been de-beaning.
"Something wrong?" Toshiro asked casually as they made their way back to the school. "You're awfully quiet. Not to mention pink."
Neville blinked. "Pink?" Toshiro quirked an eyebrow and Neville blushed even harder. "Oh. It's nothing."
"Really." Toshiro said dubiously. "Somehow I find that hard to believe. You didn't start acting like a shy little schoolgirl until that little schoolgirl joined our group."
Neville smiled. "Shut up."
Toshiro shook his head with a smirk. "Children."
Neville smacked his arm. "Well, you're feeling better." He huffed.
After lunch, the third year Gryffindors headed up to their next class, Transfiguration. As Toshiro and Neville approached the classroom, there seemed to be a crowd gathered around a crying girl and Hermione seemed to be speaking to her. Toshiro approached Ichigo and Renji. "What happened?" he asked.
Ichigo shrugged and Renji answered. "Apparently, the girl, Lavender, they called her, got news from home about her dog –"
"Bunny." Ichigo jumped in. "She said bunny."
"Right. Well she got news that it died. Killed by a fox." Renji continued. "She kept saying that the psycho lady was right about her prediction. Something about her dreading something on the sixteenth of October and it coming true and all. And then Hermione started questioning her and stuff, trying to reason with her with facts and what not."
"Don't listen to her, Lavender." Ron suddenly said loudly. "Like Toshiro said, she doesn't care about other peoples' pets."
Toshiro frowned. "Don't drag me into this. I've got nothing to do with it."
"Don't get him mad, Ron." Said George as he and Fred rounded the corner and headed passed their group.
"Yeah, or else he'll freeze you into an icicle." Fred finished. "You wouldn't want to spend the rest of your life in mum's garden, now would you?"
Toshiro glared at them and they winked. "Hey, Toshiro." Fred whispered. "If we asked you to, would you freeze Mrs. Norris for us? We want to hang her on a tree for Christmas."
"Filch will love it." George snickered.
"No." Toshiro said coldly.
"No, I guess not." George said thoughtfully. "Then everyone'll know it was you. Oh well."
"Don't you two have somewhere to be?" Toshiro snapped.
"Right you are." Fred said and the two of them headed down the hall and out of sight as the class began filing into the classroom.
After class, McGonagall called out to them as they made to leave. "Since you are in my House, you will turn your Hogsmeade permission forms to me. Do this before Halloween. No forms, no going to the village. That's my final word."
"Uh, oh." Neville mumbled. He raised his hand. "Um, Professor. I can't find my form."
"Your grandmother sent the form directly to me, Longbottom." McGonagall answered. "She seemed to think it was safer." Toshiro scoffed. "If that is all, you may go."
"Phew, I thought I had lost my form." Neville muttered as they made their way out to their next class. "That would have been awful, especially after the fuss I made yesterday about wanting you to go."
"The only reason you thought you had lost your form is because your grandmother didn't even give it to you and therefore, you forgot about it until now and since you didn't even remember getting it, you thought you had misplaced it." Toshiro said. "You're never going to learn if you're not given a chance."
"Yeah I guess." Neville amended.
The next two weeks were filled with nothing but talks of Hogsmeade and what lies within. "I can't wait to see what's there." Neville said multiple times. "I wonder where we should go first."
The only one who didn't seem too happy was Harry and after listening in on a few conversations, Toshiro learned why. Harry had been unable to get his permission slip signed by his uncle before he had idiotically stormed out of the house in a rage. According to what he was saying to his fellow dorm-mates, he had tried asking McGonagall if she would allow him to go, regardless of whether or not his relatives had signed the form. And to no one's surprise, she had said no. Dean Thomas, who was supposedly good with a quill, suggested forging the uncle's signature but Toshiro stomped on that idea.
"She already knows you didn't get it signed." He told Harry. "Suddenly returning to her with it signed, at least before a decent amount of time could pass between you asking her and getting a response from your uncle had you sent it to him by owl, wouldn't be a very wise idea. Remember, over the summer, I told you to think before acting."
"No you didn't." Harry said stubbornly. "You said not to let my pride make my decisions."
"Same thing." Toshiro snapped. "Think before you act, or don't act at all. Is that really so hard?"
Harry huffed but didn't reply.
The next morning, students talked excitedly with each other about the trip that would take place after breakfast. Toshiro wasn't really feeling in the mood to go, mostly because all of the excited shouting and whispering up and down the halls like a hoard of angry bees had started giving him a steady headache. But he had promised Neville he would go, and the boy looked so excited about the trip that Toshiro hadn't the heart to dampen it. So instead, the young captain squared his shoulders and braced himself for what was to come, determined to keep Neville happy tonight, if for no other reason than because it was Halloween.
"You know." Toshiro said as Neville continued to get ready before breakfast. Toshiro had long since finished dressing, wearing black jeans with a black belt and a silver buckle, and a navy blue polo shirt with his division's insignia over the left breast pocket. He also wore his black leather jacket with his division's number on the back. "The sooner we get down to breakfast, the sooner we can go to the village."
"I know, I know." Neville said absently as he pulled on his shirt. "But some of my clothes aren't meant for this kind of cold. I couldn't find my winter clothes. And I still can't find my jacket."
Toshiro pointed at a piece of cloth sticking out from under Neville's bed. "You mean that?"
Neville turned and grinned sheepishly. "Oh, there it is."
Toshiro rolled his eyes and the two finally headed out the door and down to breakfast. Students yammered throughout the Great Hall, each one talking and shouting across the room to each other, asking if everyone in their party was finished eating or where they wanted to go first. Toshiro noticed that the upper classmen weren't as crazy, merely talking amongst each other about whether or not a specific shop had anything new this year.
"You know, at times like this, the age difference amongst you guys is very pronounced." Toshiro commented as he drank his tea. "The upper classmen are acting like it's a normal event, whereas all the third years, and some of the fourth years, are acting like it's a once in a lifetime thing."
"But it is." Said a boy to Neville's other side. "This is the first year that us third years get to go to the village. Aren't you excited?"
Toshiro shook his head. "Not really, but like I said, we've been to similar magical dwellings before." Though those places happened to be different parts of Soul Society. "After a while, the excitement wears off. Besides, this may be the first time you get to go, but as far as I can tell, it won't be the last, if the upper classmen are anything to go by. By next year, or the year after, this trip will seem pretty mundane."
The boy, Seamus, blinked. "Are you sure you're thirteen? You talk like me mum."
Neville snorted into his toast. Toshiro rolled his eyes. "Yes. It's just that where we're from, acting like a child is a bit frowned upon. Especially for my rank. I'm stronger than those of my group, so therefore, I'm ranked higher than they are, even though we started within the same year."
"Wow." Said Seamus.
Toshiro turned to Neville. "You ready to go yet?"
Neville shoved the rest of his toast into his mouth and turned to Toshiro. The other boy stopped him before he could open his mouth. "Don't you dare speak with that crap in your mouth. I don't want to see half chewed food soaked in saliva. Chew and swallow."
Neville rolled his eyes and made an effort to chew his food and swallowed largely before reaching out and taking his goblet and drinking a large gulp. Once his mouth was empty, he turned back to his friend. "There, happy?"
"Euphoric." Toshiro said sarcastically.
"Yew-what?" Neville blinked.
Toshiro shook his head. "Never mind. Let's go before everyone leaves without us."
The two of them followed the herd of students as everyone filed, ungracefully in Toshiro's opinion, out into the Entrance Hall, where Mr. Filch checked off names from a clipboard. Near the front of the horde, Draco Malfoy's voice floated up to the staircase, where Harry was standing, watching Ron and Hermione. "Not coming, Potter? Afraid of the Dementors?"
"Can it, Drip-o!" Ichigo called from the other side of the throng. "You weren't exactly brave yourself, from what I heard. Keep your comments to yourself, twerp!"
Draco glared daggers at Ichigo and then turned and glared at Toshiro. Neville glanced at him. "Why is he suddenly glaring at you? You didn't even say anything."
Toshiro shrugged indifferently. "Who cares. He's an idiot. And I'm not the only one he's glaring at."
Neville turned back to Draco and his eyes widened. "He's glaring at me, too?" Neville, Toshiro was pleased to see, looked not afraid but annoyed. "What did I do?" he huffed. Neville stuck his tongue at Draco, who, if possible, looked even more furious.
Toshiro chuckled. "Glad to see you're coming out of your shell."
The two of them headed out the door and down the path leading to the wizard village Hogsmeade. Neville jumped up and down the whole way, looking like an excited child. "I can't wait to see what's there." Then he smirked and glanced sideways at Toshiro. "I heard there was a really popular sweet shop there. They sell crap loads of sugary candy." Toshiro wrinkled his nose in distaste and Neville laughed. "That'll never get old."
They entered the village and Neville's eyes widened. "Wow, it's even more amazing than I imagined."
The streets were lined with buildings, each one holding a sign above the door, baring its name, while windows, lit brightly, displayed some of its contents. There were pubs, broom shops, stationary shops, pet shops, a large sweet shop that was already flooded with students, a joke shop, and much, much more. Behind the shops on the main street, regular houses lined the area, some with lights on in the windows, and some completely dark. It reminded Toshiro of Diagan Alley, except with the appearance of a village instead of a crowded alley. The only thing missing was the large white marble building, Gringotts.
Neville turned to Toshiro. "Where do you want to go first?"
Toshiro shrugged. "You're call."
Let's go to the Three Broomsticks." He said, pointing to a pub down the street with the sign displaying The Three Broomsticks. "I heard there was a drink there called butterbeer, and it was supposed to really warm you up."
"I'm already warm." Toshiro said.
Neville looked at him incredulously. "You're nuts! It's freezing!"
"Fine, fine." Toshiro amended. "Let's go."
The two of them headed for the Three Broomsticks and sat down at a booth near the back of the room. "Want me to get them?" Neville asked.
Toshiro shrugged and fished out his money bag. "Sure. How much do they cost?"
Neville blinked. "Um, I don't know. Let me go check." Neville scrambled up to the bar and spoke to a woman in a somewhat fancy robe. Then he came back with a grin. "They're two Sickles each." Toshiro handed him two Sickles and Neville scampered off again. Several moments later, Neville returned with two tankards full of a foaming amber liquid.
Toshiro took his and drank. It didn't taste too bad. A bit sweet but with a sort of tanginess as well. He could feel whatever was in the drink as it seemed to warm his body from the inside. It almost made him want to take his jacket off, as he was starting to feel a bit too hot. He and Neville drank out of their tankards in silence, occasionally breaking it with a comment here and there about the other customers. Suddenly the room was penetrated by a loud shout.
"THIS IS TOTALLY UNFAIR!" Toshiro winced, knowing exactly who's voice that was. He glanced in the direction of the bar and groaned when he saw his subordinate standing with her hands on her hips and a frown on her face. He sighed and stood from the table, Neville following with his tankard. "THIS IS RIDICULOUS! I AM NOT A CHILD! HOW DARE YOU TREAT ME THIS WAY!"
"Matsumoto!" Toshiro shouted from behind her.
Rangiku whirled around and frowned at Toshiro, pointing behind the bar to the woman he had seen Neville talking to. "Taicho, she won't let me drink anything! I wanted to try one of those firewhiskey things but she said I was too young! I am not!"
"Miss." The woman said. Rangiku turned a furious glare at her and the woman flinched slightly. "The drinking age is seventeen. You said you were sixteen."
"So?" Rangiku snapped. "I'm able to drink in Japan. What does it matter? This isn't fair! I'm not from here; I'm only staying for the year. Once I leave, I'll probably go drink somewhere else. What's it matter if I drink here or not? It doesn't make any sense."
"Matsumoto, I told you not to offend anyone." Toshiro grumbled as he wiped a hand over his face. "If their laws say the age limit is seventeen, then there's nothing we can do about it."
"But that's not fair!" Rangiku cried. "Why should I have to change the way I do things just because I'm in a different country? That makes no sense." Rangiku frowned and then suddenly brightened. "I know. I'll go back to the school and get my sake." She turned back to the woman behind the bar. "That'll show you. I'll drink my own drinks. I have Japanese alcohol in my dorm; keep me from drinking that!" Then she whirled around, her long strawberry blond hair fanning out behind her, and stomped out of the pub without a backwards glance, though with plenty of mumbling and grumbling.
Toshiro sighed and glanced at the woman. "My apologies for my classmate. She usually only snaps like this when people deny her alcohol. When it comes to Rangiku and alcohol, you don't say no. Or at least that's what we've learned."
"Does she really drink back in Japan?" the woman asked incredulously.
"Yes. In Japan, she's allowed to drink. Or at least, a Japanese wizard is allowed to drink at her age." Toshiro said.
Toshiro and Neville finished their drinks, thanked the woman, and left the pub. They wandered through the streets, occasionally entering a shop and looking around, greeting fellow classmates as they passed, and enjoying themselves as well as they could, occasionally talking about Rangiku and her demand for alcohol. "That was actually kind of funny." Neville commented. "I've never seen her act like that. Like a child who was denied candy."
"Pretty much." Toshiro grumbled. "Speaking of candy, we might as well get it over with." He indicated the only shop they had been putting off for as long as possible.
Neville chuckled. "Are you sure you can stand it? Maybe you should wait outside."
Toshiro glared at him and headed into the shop ahead of him. Neville smirked and followed. It was worse than Toshiro could have imagined. There were mountains of shelves and each one was filled to bursting with sweets and children. The smell alone was enough to give Toshiro a toothache. The sugary monstrosities lining the walls were crowded with students, all of them grabbing and looking, their eyes as wide as Neville's.
By the time the two of them left, Neville held a large bag of nearly a hundred different sweets. He had been unable to resist anything. He had purchased several chocolate frogs, Bertie Botts Every Flavored Beans, Licorice Wands, sugar quills, and after trying one, bought thirty-eight chocoballs, which were round chocolate shells filled with strawberry mousse and clotted crème, each one individually wrapped in a gold foil wrapper, designed like a Snitch.
"These are probably my favorite so far." Neville said as he took a bite out of his third chocoball.
"If you keep eating them now, you won't have any left by the time we get back to the school." Toshiro mumbled, resisting the urge to gag. The sugary scent from the shop seemed to have absorbed into his clothes. "And we're not going back in there."
"But they're so good." Neville replied, stuffing the rest of it into his mouth. He pulled another out of his bag and held it out to Toshiro. "Try one."
Toshiro wrinkled his nose at the innocent looking ball. "I'll pass."
Neville shrugged and the two of them continued looking around a bit longer before finally heading back up to the school. Neville was shivering again but the candy seemed to be helping distract him from his discomfort. "I wish I had another butterbeer. I'm cold."
"Well, we're almost to the school." Toshiro replied. His eyes swept up and down the trees they passed as they headed up the path. The castle loomed in front of them and Toshiro turned his gaze towards the gates, his eyes narrowing at the thought of the dementors. Then he turned his gaze towards the lake. Something didn't feel right. Something told him they weren't alone out there. Someone was lurking where they shouldn't be. He was sure of it. But who? And where were they? Was it Black? Or Voldemort? It definitely wasn't a Dementor. He couldn't place his finger on it. Something felt out of place. He didn't feel threatened, per say. More like he was being watched. Like there was another presence lurking about.
"We should move quicker." He muttered to Neville.
Neville, who had been reaching into his bag for another chocoball, snapped his head up at the tone in Toshiro's voice. It was low and tense. He looked and noticed his friend's narrow eyes and the way he kept looking around them, his body obviously on alert. Neville dropped the chocoball his hand had wrapped around back into the bag and instead stuck his hand into his pocket, where his wand rested. "Why? What is it?" he asked in an equally low voice.
Toshiro was pleased to hear the alarmed, yet alert, tone in Neville's voice, instead of the outright fear and panic he normally would have adopted. "Something doesn't feel right. It feels like there's someone else out here; someone who shouldn't be."
"That's awfully vague." Neville whispered, looking around them as they picked up their pace. "Any idea which direction?"
Toshiro shook his head. "No. But I definitely feel that it's within the grounds."
"How? The Dementors wouldn't let anyone in or out through the gate." Neville replied.
"Unless whoever is here didn't use a gate." The thought made Neville shiver and this time the cold had nothing to do with it.
"What are you going to do if something attacks?" Neville asked nervously. He didn't want his friend's secret exposed if he had to fight something. Who knows how much trouble that would cause? Not to mention the rumors.
"I'll have to do my best to keep you and the others safe." He replied. "Ichigo is at the school keeping an eye on Harry and everyone who didn't go to the village. They're as safe as they can be right now. We, however, are out and in the open; a perfect invitation for an attack. I saw Renji and Rukia further back; they'll be able to protect the lagging students. Rangiku knows better than to drink enough to get drunk while on duty. If there is an attack, she'll be ready as well. And you're doing very well. You've managed to keep your spiritual orb as a perfect sphere. You just need to learn to keep it going for longer than five minutes without getting exhausted."
"I'm working on it." Neville assured.
"I know. But don't worry." Toshiro said as they headed towards the double doors. He grabbed Neville's wrist and pulled him to the side, allowing the rest of the students to enter in front of them. "I don't think we'll be attacked. I don't really know how to explain it, but I don't feel threatened. But just to be safe, I want to let the other students in ahead of me. You should probably head in as well."
Neville shook his head before Toshiro even finished his sentence. "No way. I'm not leaving you out here by yourself."
"I won't be by myself. Renji, Rukia and Rangiku are out here as well." Toshiro replied. "And I can take care of myself. I'm captain ranked, remember?"
"Doesn't matter." Neville said stubbornly. "Just because you're a captain doesn't mean you can't accept help. I may not be as skilled as you in a fight, but I can be a pretty good diversion or something."
Toshiro resisted the urge to roll his eyes. "True Gryffindor to the core."
"You better believe it." Neville shot back.
"Taicho?" Renji asked as he and Rukia approached. They were coming up from the very back of the group of students, behind the stragglers. They came to stand beside him and Neville, both of them with serious expressions. A few seconds later, Rangiku appeared, holding over a dozen bags of goods from several different shops.
"Do you both feel it as well?" Toshiro asked as he glanced around them, scrutinizing the shadows the castle cast along the grounds. The moon wasn't completely full yet, but there was enough light to see most of the grounds near the school.
The other three nodded. "There's someone out there." Renji muttered. "Or something."
"But it doesn't feel threatening." Rukia added. "Just there."
"It's coming from over there." Rangiku whispered, pointing in the direction of the forbidden forest and the Whomping Willow. "I can smell it. It smells like dirt and grime and… yuck."
Toshiro nodded. "That's what I thought, too. I couldn't tell but something makes me want to say over there but I can't be sure where exactly."
"We should head inside." Neville muttered. "We're no good just standing here. And at least there aren't any wandering students, right?"
Rukia nodded. "He has a point. Maybe we should do a security sweep tonight, just to be safe?"
Toshiro nodded. "Yes, tonight. Now that we've got our Zanpakutou, tonight's the perfect time to start."
"I wish I could help." Neville said as they made their way inside. "But I'm not good enough for something as important as that. Luring an attacker away is one thing; finding and subduing an attacker is completely different."
"Even if you could, you wouldn't be allowed." Toshiro replied. He stopped at the grand staircase and face Neville and his companions. "You're not wandering the halls alone at night. Your teachers would throw a fit just for one of us mentioning allowing a student to security sweep. They'll say it's much too dangerous. And frankly, I agree. When the time comes, you'll be ready for battle. But that time has yet to appear."
Neville sighed. "I know. But if you get attacked while I'm around, I will get involved. I'm not just going to run away. Isn't that what you're teaching me? Not to run away from a fight?"
"He's got you there, taicho." Rangiku said with a smirk.
Toshiro frowned, thinking. Finally he locked eyes with Neville. "Then we better hope when that time comes, you're ready. That means double training. We'll stop your Japanese lessons for now and focus on your spiritual powers. We need to get that enhanced."
"For how long?" Neville asked. "Stopping my Japanese lessons, I mean? I liked learning Japanese. I already know how to introduce myself and a bunch of other stuff. I can't order food or anything yet, but I know that won't be learned over night."
"We'll stop your lessons for now." Toshiro answered. "I'm not sure for how long, but for now at least. Learning how to defend yourself is a lot more important than learning how to say you're English in Japanese." He turned to the other three. "We'll security sweep tonight, once everyone has fallen asleep. Make sure no one is awake before leaving your house. Understood?"
Rangiku and Rukia nodded before heading off to their own houses. Toshiro, Neville and Renji continued their way up the stairs to Gryffindor Tower and into the common room. As soon as they entered, Ichigo beckoned them toward the staircase leading to the boys' dormitory and the four of them ascended, intent on putting their purchases on their beds before going down to dinner. "So what's going on?" he asked as they climbed. "I was riding my new broom a while ago and I flew near the Whomping Willow and I suddenly felt funny. Like I was being watched. I wasn't sure what to make of it and I was tempted to go find out what it was, but I couldn't leave the school unprotected, just in case."
The four of them stopped at the landing to the third year dorms and stood off to the side. Quickly and quietly, they explained to Ichigo what they had felt and what their decision had been. Afterwards, he nodded. "So, we're starting tonight?" he clarified.
Toshiro nodded. "Yes, after everyone goes to sleep. Possibly around midnight."
Ichigo nodded and the four of them entered the dormitory. Silently the put their things away, in other words, tossed them onto their beds, and headed back down to the common room and down to the Great Hall for dinner. On the way down, Ichigo and Renji migrated to where the Weasley twins had just emerged from a corridor with a statue of a one-eyed witch, both of them chuckling to themselves. Once in the Great Hall, the two sat at the Gryffindor table and began piling the unusual-colored food onto their plates. Toshiro was relieved to see that the rice at least was still served white.
"It would have been very offensive if they turned it orange like everything else." Toshiro told Neville. "Maybe not to some people, but to me it would have. I like my rice white, not orange and not black."
"I guess it was just safer to leave it alone." Neville answered. He picked up a plate piled with teriyaki beef and added several slices to his plate. "I think I really like teriyaki. It's really good."
Toshiro nodded, his attention floating up to the teachers' table and one teacher in particular. He just remembered that the full moon wasn't that far off and one of the faculty happened to be greatly affected by it. Professor Lupin seemed to be alright on the outside, but if he looked closely, Toshiro could see that he was struggling. The moon's effect was obviously taking its toll on his physic. His face was shallower, though not enough to be noticeable, and he was eating a bit more animal-like than human, using his fingers more than his knife and fork.
"You okay?" Neville asked, glancing between Professor Lupin and Toshiro. "Why are you staring at Professor Lupin?"
At that moment, Lupin turned his head and glanced at Toshiro, locking eyes with him. Toshiro cocked an eyebrow questioningly and Lupin hesitated before nodding. He glanced up at the ceiling, which showed the night sky and the semi-full moon. Then he looked back at Toshiro and shrugged. Toshiro nodded and turned back to his food. Neville blinked and turned back to Toshiro. "What was that about?"
Toshiro shook his head. "Nothing you need to worry about. Just something a bit personal."
"Oh." Neville shrugged and continued eating.
Once everyone was done eating, people began making their way back out into the Entrance Hall and to their respective houses. The Gryffindors headed upstairs to their Tower, Neville and Toshiro amongst them. As they headed up, several students around them, the ones that weren't too sleepy to talk, were chatting about what they had purchased in Hogsmeade or when they thought the next trip would be, or even what they were going to do for Christmas. It wasn't until they reached the portrait hole and saw a crowd of students outside that they stopped talking completely.
"What's going on?" Neville whispered, craning his neck over the sea of students in front of them in order to see what the hold-up was. The older Weasley, Percy, shoved his way forward until he was in front of the group. Suddenly he shouted for someone to get Dumbledore and Toshiro instantly became alert. As soon as Dumbledore arrived, people parted the way for him and Toshiro used that moment to shove his way through, Neville right behind him. What he saw was the portrait that hid Gryffindor's common room, except the canvas was cut to shreds.
Professor Dumbledore called for someone to find the Fat Lady when Peeves spoke from above the gathered crowd. "You'll be lucky if you find her." He cackled.
"What do you mean, Peeves?" Dumbledore asked.
"She's ashamed, Professorhead. Doesn't want to be seen all slashed up." Peeves heaved a large, and obviously fake, sigh. "It's so sad."
"Did she say who did it?" Dumbledore pressed.
Peeves nodded. "Oh yes. Got a nasty temper, that Sirius Black."
Toshiro's eyes widened, as did the rest of the onlookers. He turned his gaze to Neville and saw a confused jumble of emotions running across his face; fear, alarm, confusion, and was that anger? He shifted his gaze to Renji and Ichigo, both of them looking at him questioningly. Toshiro gave a slight nod and indicated for them to wait. He didn't want to blow their cover until absolutely necessary.
"Students, please head calmly and carefully back to the Great Hall at once." Dumbledore called over the muttering crowd. "Professor Snape, inform your Slytherins. Professor Lupin, Professor McGonagall, alert the other teachers, as well as the heads of Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw. Everyone is to meet in the Great Hall immediately. I will trust the Gryffindor Head Boy to lead his house safely back downstairs."
Percy puffed up his chest importantly and began ushering the students back down the grand staircase. The group huddled close together as they made their way back to the Entrance hall and into the Great Hall. The other houses soon followed, everyone looking around in confusion and speaking curiously to the Gryffindors, wondering what was going on. Toshiro and Neville made their way over to a corner, away from the rest of the students, and was soon joined by Rangiku, Ichigo, Renji and Rukia. Several minutes later, Orihime, Uryu and Chad made their way over, ushered by Urahara.
Urahara removed a silver ring from his right finger, as did the other three, and after looking towards Toshiro, the others soon followed. "I heard what happened from your Professor Lupin." Urahara said in Japanese.
Toshiro, after seeing the confused look from Neville, removed his own ring and handed it to him. The others watched curiously as Neville looked at it in surprise before slipping it onto his pinky, the only finger the tiny ring fit on. "Can you understand me?" Toshiro asked him.
Neville blinked and nodded. "Can you understand me?" he asked. Toshiro nodded. "Cool."
Urahara glanced from Toshiro to Neville, Rangiku, Renji, Rukia and Ichigo before focusing back on Toshiro. "I take it he knows." He said in amusement.
Toshiro nodded. "Yes, but I would prefer it if no one outside of this school found out about it." Toshiro replied.
"Of course not." Urahara said cheerfully. "Whatever you decide to do is up to you. Who am I to get involved in others' affairs?"
"You do it all the time." Ichigo and Rukia said simultaneously.
"Anyways," said Toshiro. "We must do something about this. Sirius Black apparently attacked the portrait of the Fat Lady, which is the entrance to the Gryffindor rooms. Which means he got into the school somehow and it's possible he's still here somewhere. We need to find him. He was obviously intending on getting in to the dorms. Perhaps Harry is his target after all."
"But it doesn't make any sense." Ichigo muttered in frustration. "I saw his eyes. He didn't look like a killer. He looked troubled and crazed but he didn't look like a murderer, and I've seen plenty. There's gotta be some kind of mistake. Either the lady got his name wrong, or else there was some other motive for him coming here."
Toshiro nodded. "I agree. I don't think the Fat Lady made a mistake. But I do believe there's more to this than what we've been told. There's a chance, a small chance for now, that he's not actually here for Harry. Or if he is, then there's some other reason than killing him."
"Maybe we could look him up somewhere." Neville piped in. The others looked at him questioningly. "What I mean is, there's got to be some kind of record here about him. He had to have learned from somewhere to do magic. If he was taught here at Hogwarts, there's a chance there's some kind of information on him. If there is, we could see what kind of things made him tick back then. Sometimes old habits die hard. For all we know, Azkaban could have made him so crazy that he could be trying to recreate a past event. Or maybe there's someone here he's trying to protect. There are plenty of reasons. And if nothing else, at least we'll have some kind of clue as to who he was. Maybe we could reach him like that or something."
Toshiro looked at him thoughtfully. "You may have a point. At the very least, we could just have some kind of information on him so that we know what kind of person we're dealing with."
Just then the rest of the teachers entered the Great Hall and Professors McGonagall and Flitwick shut all the doors. Dumbledore announced to the confused and terrified students that they would be spending the night in the Great Hall while he and the teachers searched the castle. Prefects were to stand guard by the entrances to the Great Hall and the Head Boy and Girl were to be in charge of the entire student body. Then he cast a spell and the house tables were pushed up against the wall. A second wave and hundreds of sleeping bags littered the floor.
The other teachers left the Great Hall and Dumbledore approached the Japanese group. He raised an eyebrow at Neville and then glanced rather sternly at Toshiro. Toshiro held out his hand for his ring and Neville handed it to him. Then he put it on and faced Dumbledore. "I have my reasons." Toshiro answered his questioning gaze. Dumbledore looked as though he wanted to argue.
"Another time, perhaps." He said, though he did not look happy and Toshiro was sure he was serious about discussing this later. He lowered his voice. "I will be back for you all around midnight. That should be enough time for the students to fall asleep. Mr. Longbottom, I expect you to be asleep as well, upon my return."
Neville nodded his head rather nervously. "Yes sir. I know I'm not ready for this sort of thing yet. I've already talked about it with Toshiro."
"I see." Said Dumbledore. He turned back to Toshiro and his eyes momentarily lost their twinkle. Just as quickly as it happened, it ceased. "Now then, Professor Urahara. If you'll follow me please."
"Why of course, Headmaster." Urahara said cheerily. "You kids be good now." He called over his shoulder.
Toshiro and the others rolled their eyes and grabbed several sleeping bags, settling down in their isolated corner. Neville rolled onto his side and looked over to Toshiro. "Did I get you in trouble? I've never seen Dumbledore look so … I don't know. He didn't really look angry but he did look mad. Like he was mad at you because I knew."
"It's fine." Toshiro answered. "I'll take care of it."
"That's what you said about whoever's giving me bad luck." Neville muttered. "'I'll take care of it'."
"And I am." Toshiro replied. "Trust me."
"I always do." Neville replied.
Nearly four hours later, Dumbledore returned while the rest of the students were asleep and drifted over to the transfers. Harry, Ron and Hermione happened to be close by and watched as Dumbledore bent down to shake Toshiro. Before the man had touched him, Toshiro jerked awake and had his wand pointed at Dumbledore's chest so fast, they nearly missed it. Dumbledore merely raised an eyebrow and waited for Toshiro to realize who it was and put his wand down. "I'm glad to see you're alert, even in your sleep." Dumbledore mumbled quietly. Harry, Ron and Hermione had to strain to hear.
"I must have fallen asleep." Toshiro muttered tiredly. "My apologies. This gigai requires too much sleep. We need to speak to Kurotsuchi about that. We can't be falling asleep during security sweeps."
"No, I suppose you can't." Dumbledore replied. Toshiro rubbed his eyes sleepily. Then he turned and gently shook the others awake, minus Neville. Together, the transfers rose to their feet, rubbing the sleep from their eyes. Dumbledore cast a wary look down at Neville before returning his gaze to Toshiro. "I don't appreciate you using my students like this."
Toshiro glared at him. "I'm not using him like anything. I'm helping him build his confidence, something your staff seems to be lacking. And in return, he offered to clue me in on the on-goings of your school."
"Be that as it may, you are putting Mr. Longbottom at serious unnecessary risk." Dumbledore replied.
"I am not." Toshiro snapped. "I haven't told him any more than he needs to. I know what I'm doing."
"I hope you do." Dumbledore replied. "Come. It is time for you to join the security check. You will be stationed outside, searching the grounds for Black."
Dumbledore led the group out the doors, ignoring the curious stares of the prefects and Head Boy & Girl. Harry, Ron and Hermione glanced questioningly to each other. What was that about? Why was Dumbledore making a bunch of students do a security check for a murderer? Didn't he realize how dangerous that was? What if something bad happened to one of them? Surely their Japanese Ministry would disapprove. After all, they were just kids.
Harry frowned and thought about what he had heard Dumbledore and Toshiro talking about. The way Toshiro spoke, it was almost as if he was expecting to be in on the security checks. And about Neville. What did Dumbledore mean that Toshiro was putting Neville at risk? Risk for what? What had Toshiro told him? What does Neville know that's so dangerous? And what on earth was a 'gee-guy'? So many questions flowed through Harry's head that by the time he started to fall asleep, Dumbledore had returned without the transfers. He wandered over to where Percy was checking over Neville, who was now sleeping alone.
Harry glanced over to see Hermione and Ron still awake as well. They listened as Percy spoke in a whisper. "Did you find him, Professor?"
"No, I'm afraid not. How are things here?" he asked.
"Nothing I can't handle sir." Percy said pompously.
"Good. It's too late to move them back to their dorms when they'll just be getting up for breakfast in a few hours." Said Dumbledore. "We'll let them sleep here for what's left of the night."
"And what about our portrait, sir?" Percy asked.
"She's very upset and is currently in hiding. Apparently she refused to allow Black in without the password and in his rage, he attacked." Dumbledore sighed. "Once she's calmed down enough to emerge, I'll have Mr. Filch restore her."
Just then Snape entered the Great Hall and headed over to them. "The entire third floor has been searched, as has the dungeons. No sign of him."
"Has everything been searched?" Dumbledore asked.
"All searched and cleared." Snape replied.
"And our extra help?"
"They haven't returned, sir." Snape replied. "I believe he has led them into the Forbidden Forest. Extra precaution, I assume."
"The Forbidden Forest?" Dumbledore said in alarm. Harry and his friends exchanged startled and worried looks. Toshiro and the others went into the forest? Wasn't anyone going to go after them? Would they ever see them again?
"Professor, aren't the transfers a bit young to be in on the security detail?" Percy questioned. "After all, two of them are no older than my youngest brother and the others about the same as the twins. Surely this would be too dangerous for them."
"I assure you, Mr. Weasley, that those students can take care of themselves. We needn't worry." Dumbledore replied.
"But wouldn't their Ministry disapprove? No matter what they've learned, they're still children." Percy pressed.
"They will be fine. I am not worried." Said Dumbledore. Harry frowned. He had to agree with Percy. They were still kids and Black had murdered a whole street full of muggles and a single wizard. Surely a bunch of students wouldn't be any match for him. Not to mention any of the creatures that resided in the forest. What if they met a werewolf or something?
"Have you any ideas as to how Black got in, Professor?" Snape asked. "They seem to think the Forbidden Forest. They said something about a feeling of being watched upon returning from Hogsmeade. And it was coming from that general direction. I tried to tell them that many things reside in that forest but they were unwilling to believe me."
"I'm afraid there's not much we can do to persuade them otherwise." Dumbledore amended. "They have very good senses and even their Headmaster is very stubborn. One can only hope they find something useful. As for myself, I have many theories, but none of them seem very likely."
"You remember my suggestion, Headmaster?" Snape asked quietly. "Of how Black could have gotten in? And the conversation we had before term?"
"We had many conversations, Severus." Dumbledore said but the tone in his voice said he knew exactly which conversation Snape was talking about and he wasn't happy about returning to it.
"It just seems as though the only way Black could have entered this school, Professor, would be if he had – inside help. I mentioned it when you first appointed – "
"I do not believe Black is gaining access to this school through inside help." Dumbledore said firmly. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to inform the Dementors of our search status."
"Didn't they want to help, Professor?" Percy asked.
"Of course they did." Dumbledore said bitterly. "But no Dementor will step foot into this school while I'm still Headmaster." Dumbledore turned and left the hall, and after several moments, Snape left as well.
The next morning was spent with whispers floating up and down corridors, students walking in apprehensive groups and Toshiro and the other shinigami were feeling very sleepy. It had been a long night, patrolling the school with the teachers in search for Sirius Black. The Soul Reapers, along with Ichigo's three friends, spend the night performing a thorough search of the building and school grounds. After a few hours of searching to no avail, Toshiro led them all into the Forbidden Forest, entering through the area near the Whomping Willow, where their suspicions had been placed earlier that night. Toshiro had instructed them to be extremely careful and to not harm any of the creatures that resided as long as they could help it. By the time they had returned to the school, it was nearly time for students to start awakening and the Soul Reapers were so covered in dirt, sweat and debris that they headed straight to their dorms for a shower and a change of clothes, deciding to tell their classmates that they had gotten up early. None of the other students ceased their apprehension in the slightest after being told that Sirius Black was no longer in the building.
"If he got in once without anyone noticing, what's to stop him from coming in again?" someone asked no one in particular.
Toshiro had to admit, though, that they had a point. But what bothered him was how Black had gotten into the school in the first place. How had he gotten in? The Dementors were supposed to prevent such a thing from happening and Dumbledore himself had claimed that they had taken extra precautions when news of Black's escape from prison first reached their ears. Yet the man had not only entered the school undetected, but he managed to get to and from Gryffindor Tower and back out of the school just the same. Clearly somewhere in this school, security was lacking. But where?
"So, you guys couldn't find anything last night?" Neville asked quietly as they ate breakfast. Toshiro had told Neville what they had learned, which wasn't much, while students were allowed to return to their dorms to change and ready themselves for the day. He and the others had been quiet ever since they returned, all of them seeming to be in deep thought and on constant alert.
Toshiro shook his head. "No. It was as if he had vanished. But I don't believe that's possible. According to a book I read in the library, there are several complex spells and stuff on these walls that prevent acts like that."
Neville nodded. "Yeah, I've heard Hermione tell Harry and Ron that loads of times."
"I doubt the Dementors let him in." Toshiro continued. "And I doubt he was able to sneak passed them at the gates. That just means there's a way into the grounds that no one seems to know about. A way that can allow him to pass safely through these walls without being harmed or detected. Question is: how?"
Neville shrugged helplessly. "Beats me. But he can't hide forever. Eventually he'll slip up and get caught. You guys are pretty stealthy and well skilled, from what I've witnessed and heard. You'll find him."
Toshiro sighed and rubbed his hand over his face in exhaustion. "I hope so."
"For now, maybe you should skip class and go sleep in the hospital wing or something." Neville suggested, looking at his friend in concern. "You don't look so good. You look like you're going to fall asleep into your tea."
Toshiro rubbed his eyes tiredly with the back of his hand, making him appear so child-like that several girls down the table giggled and aww-ed in his direction and Neville had a sudden urge to want to force him back to bed, despite the fact that he knew very well that Toshiro was not a child. Toshiro was obviously too tired to either notice or care as he sighed and took another drink of his tea. "I'm alright. I'll just skip lunch and take a quick nap before next class or something."
"Are you sure?" Neville asked. "Professor Lupin is first today and he'll definitely let you go to the hospital wing to rest for a while. You look exhausted."
"I'll be fine." Said Toshiro. Neville was reluctant to believe him but he couldn't see any other way around it unless he magically knocked his friend out and that didn't seem like such a good idea.
"Well, if you're sure." He said.
"I am." Said Toshiro. He drained the rest of his tea and stood. "Come on, we better get going or we'll be late."
Neville blinked and looked at his watch. "But we're early. Class doesn't start for another twenty-five minutes."
"Better early than late." Toshiro countered, and he began heading out of the Great Hall. Neville sighed and followed.
"You're going to kill yourself if you don't try taking it easy every once in a while." Neville told him. He really did work too hard.
"Not likely." Toshiro replied. He lowered his voice, causing Neville to jog to keep up in order to hear him. "Have you forgotten that I'm not exactly alive to begin with?"
"Oh, yeah." Neville said thoughtfully. "Still."
Toshiro hmm-ed but didn't comment. The two of them reached their Defense Against the Dark Arts class and Toshiro took his usual seat by the window with Neville on his right. The other boy kept shooting glances his way, as if expecting him to fall over in his exhaustion. To be honest, Toshiro wasn't really sure why he was so tired. He'd pulled all-nighters loads of times back when he was in the academy. Sometimes his all-nighters were two to three nights in a row. But for some reason, he was exhausted. He wanted nothing more than to go back to the dorms and crawl back into bed and not wake up for the next several hours. But he knew that was out of the question. He couldn't very well protect the students if he was sleeping. Despite what he had told Neville, he didn't think he would sleep during lunch. His being awake during the day was just too important right now. Tonight, when they had another security sweep, he'd sleep after his shift. He would just have to make his body get used to limited sleep. It was the only way.
"Toshiro." Neville whispered. He reached out and shook his friend's shoulder. "Toshiro, wake up."
Toshiro snapped his head up, not realizing he had put it down in the first place. Glanced around at Neville and then at the room at large. The entire class, including Lupin, was staring at him. Toshiro rubbed his eyes. "I seemed to have fallen asleep. My apologies. It won't happen again."
"Mr. Hitsugaya, would you like to go to the Hospital Wing?" Lupin asked in concern. "You don't look too well. You look exhausted."
"I'm fine." Toshiro replied. "Thanks for asking. I didn't sleep much last night but I'll try to sleep better tonight."
"Are you sure?" Lupin asked.
"I am." He said. "If worse comes to worse, I could always make a potion. There's bound to be one that helps relieve drowsiness."
"There are, but they shouldn't be used in place of actual sleep." Lupin warned.
"I know." Toshiro said.
The rest of the day passed with Toshiro forcing himself to stay awake. It seemed as though the more he tried to stay awake, the sleepier he became until staying awake seemed to become a personal battle. He didn't take a nap during lunch as he had told Neville he would, much to the other boy's irritation. Staying awake was just too crucial right now. Neville tried to argue but before he could convince Toshiro to go take a nap, lunch was nearly over. So with a huff, Neville instead threatened to magically carry him to the Hospital Wing if he fell asleep in class again.
It wasn't until later that night, on their way down to dinner that his sleepiness finally took its toll. He and Neville made their way down the stairs, along with the rest of the classes that had just been released, intent on getting to the Great Hall and dinner. The sooner dinner ended, the sooner Toshiro would be able to sleep before his shift that night. As they reached the fifth floor and headed down the hall to the next set of stairs, something caught Toshiro's attention out of the corner of his eye. Toshiro looked over the rail down to the Entrance Hall below in time to see Draco Malfoy aim his wand in their direction.
Toshiro turned to see what the boy had been aiming at and saw one of the suits of armor start to fall forwards towards him. He took a couple of steps back, but Neville, who hadn't noticed either the boy or the armor, continued walking while looking curiously back at Toshiro. Toshiro rushed forward and placed himself between Neville and the suit of armor. The weight of the armor, and the power of exhaustion, caused Toshiro to stumble backwards into Neville. Neville was knocked against the rail and suddenly flipped over it, heading for the ground five stories below. People screamed and shouted as Toshiro shoved the armor off of himself and lunged over the rail after his friend. Once he was in reach, he wrapped his arms around Neville from behind and without stopping to think, shoved his hand into Neville's right pocket and pulled out one of the few chocoballs Neville had stuck into his pocket to hold him over until lunch and dinner.
Quickly, Toshiro yanked off the wrapper and threw the chocoball towards the ground as they came closer and closer to it. Then he muttered an enlargement spell and pointed his wand at the chocolate candy. Instantly the chocoball swelled, enlarging until it was the size of a small hot air balloon. Before Toshiro could think of anything else, the two of them broke through the outer shell of the hollow ball of chocolate and landed with a squelching squish! into the mass of strawberry mousse and clotted crème.
Students and teachers froze in shock as they waited and wondered if the two were alright. Just as several of the teachers started to rush forward, there came a dull thumping noise from one side of the giant ball of chocolate and then a chunk of chocolate broke apart near the bottom and a flood of strawberry mousse and crème pooled out onto the floor. More chunks of chocolate fell out around the hole until it was large enough for Toshiro and Neville to be seen, as they struggled to make their way through the mousse and crème concoction. Toshiro was closest to the hole and he reached out and grabbed a hold of the edge, pulling himself through and out onto the floor. Once he was out, he turned and hauled Neville out as well, who seemed to be struggling to get the mousse and crème out of his eyes and nose.
Once they were both out, they stood and faced the rest of the school, which had slowly gathered around the Entrance Hall, dripping mousse and crème from every inch of their bodies. Neville licked some of the crème off of his fingers and turned wide eyed to Toshiro. "That was awesome!" he cried. "How did you even think of that?"
Toshiro shook his head and attempted to brush the hot pink and white gunk from his face and hair. Neville took a step and slipped, falling against Toshiro and bumping the other boy back into the ball of chocolate and the pool of mousse and crème. He came back up sputtering and wiping gunk from his eyes. "Damn it, Neville!"
"Sorry." Neville laughed. Neville's laughter and the sudden comical act caused the rest of the school to break out of their shock, as several started laughing and mumbling to each other.
"How did this happen?" McGonagall suddenly asked, coming forward but stopping just outside the pool of mousse and crème that littered the floor.
"It was deliberate, Professor." Toshiro muttered, spitting out the crème and mousse that had slipped into his mouth. "Ugh."
"What do you mean, deliberate?" McGonagall demanded.
"Mr. Hitsugaya?" Toshiro looked up to see Dumbledore make his way through the throng of students. "What happened?"
"Someone cast a spell on a suit of armor so that it fell." Toshiro replied. "I'm not entirely sure who, but I know it was a spell. I saw the light of the spell when it hit. The suit of armor started to fall forwards and unfortunately, it was aimed at Neville. I tried to stop it but unfortunately I'm a bit exhausted, so when it fell on me, I didn't have the energy to stop it from pushing me backwards. In my stumble, I bumped into Neville and knocked him against the rail. He fell over it and I jumped over to keep him from falling on his head, or any other critical body part. In my haste, I didn't think and stuck my hand into his pocket, where I know he's been keeping several of these chocoballs that he bought from Honeydukes. The first think on my mind was to land on something soft, to prevent damage. Thus…" Toshiro ended by gesturing to the giant chocolate/mousse/crème monstrosity behind him.
"If you don't mind, I am in desperate need for a shower." He continued. He held his arms out on either side, allowing sticky blobs of mousse and crème to drip from his sleeves and robes to the pool at their feet. "I have strawberry mousse and clotted crème in places neither of these should ever be."
Several people giggled and snickered at his comment, including Neville as he continued to eat the crème and mousse from his hands and fingers. Dumbledore nodded and the teachers began ushering students into the Great Hall. As Draco walked passed them, Toshiro turned and smirked at him. "Nice try." He muttered in a low voice. "But you'll have to do better than that." Malfoy scowled and hurried into the Great Hall. Snape, who had been ushering the Slytherins into the Great Hall and had heard Toshiro, stared at him with a smirk and a quirked eyebrow. Toshiro smirked back and shrugged nonchalantly. Snape's smirk deepened and he headed into the Great Hall after his students.
"So, it's Malfoy?" Neville asked quietly.
"Yes." Toshiro answered tersely. He waved his wand and the gooey gunk disappeared from the floor, leaving it spotless. He waved his wand again and the giant ball of chocolate shrank until it was back to its original Snitch size. Then he picked it up and headed upstairs, Neville following behind. Toshiro waved his wand at the ground with every step, erasing their gooey footprints from the floor as they walked. He stopped at the nearest classroom and deposited the chocolate ball into the trash before continuing the rest of the way up.
"So, you've known it was Malfoy the entire time?" Neville asked. "Why didn't you ever say anything?"
"Because, at the time, it would have only discouraged you and frightened you to think that you were a target of his for some reason." Toshiro said. "But now look at you. Knowing that it was he who had been messing with you, how do you feel?"
Neville thought for a moment. "Annoyed. Irritated. Confused."
"Afraid?" Toshiro asked.
Neville shook his head. "Not really. Just annoyed that he's doing this to me and I don't know why."
"Exactly." Toshiro replied. "Before, you would have been afraid, terrified even. You would have been a bumbling mess, worrying yourself into a frenzy over the fact that he's targeting you. Now, all you want to know is why. That's a big difference, don't you think?"
Neville looked thoughtful. He was right. Before he had met Toshiro, he would have worried himself into a stupor at just the thought of being a target to anyone. Now, he didn't feel afraid. Just annoyed. Perhaps Toshiro's attitude was rubbing off on him? "You're right. Huh."
The two entered the common room and headed up to their dorm. There they gathered their clothes and headed to the bathroom for a much needed shower. As Toshiro washed the goo from his hair, he couldn't help wondering what Malfoy had left to throw at them. So far, he and his goonies had managed to come up short and this prank was a complete and utter failure. If he kept things going the way they were, then before he knew it, Neville would be the popular one and poor little Draco Malfoy would be all but forgotten. The thought made Toshiro smile as he rinsed himself a final time before shutting off the water and grabbing his towel, dryed himself off and began putting on his sleep clothes. He had no intention of going back downstairs and into the line of sight of gawking students. He'll deal with that tomorrow. Not tonight. Tonight, he needed to sleep.
He headed back into the dorm and placed his now gunk-free, yet soaking wet, clothes along the furnace to dry and dug into his trunk for some of the emergency food Rangiku had given them. a few moments later, Neville entered the room and placed his wet clothes along the furnace beside Toshiro's. "Do you have any more of that ramen?" he asked as he sat on his bed. He didn't feel like going down to dinner anymore either.
Toshiro nodded and handed him one of the foam bowls. Then he repeated his previous action and filled both bowls with water from the pitcher before tapping the sides with his wand. Both bowls steamed and the noodles softened and both boys dug into their small meal. "Thanks, by the way." Neville said as they ate. "For saving me and all. I never would have expected you to do something like that. It was kind of funny, if you think about it."
"I try not to." Toshiro replied. "It was very uncomfortable having that gunk slip into every single crevice of my person. I don't ever wish for a repeat."
Neville laughed. Once they were finished, Toshiro placed both of their bowls into the trash under the nightstand between their beds and climbed into his own. "I'm due to wake up at midnight. My shift tonight is from then until three with Ichigo's friend Uryu, Rangiku, and Ichigo's other friend Orihime. Then at three, Ichigo, Renji, Rukia and Ichigo's friend Chad take over until six. Then we call it quits until the next night, where we switch shifts, and so forth. So tonight, I need to sleep until midnight."
"Well, then stop talking and go to bed." Came Neville's smart ass remark. Toshiro scowled at him and closed his curtains around his bed. "Night, Toshiro."
A/N: Hermione bugged the crap out of me throughout this book. I got so annoyed when she defended her cat when it was going after Scabbers. I know he turned out to be Peter and all that but still. It's the fact that she didn't do a single thing and the cat obviously keeps attacking the rat and yet she gets mad at others for getting mad at her cat. She was being stupid and I couldn't stand it. I've wanted to say the stuff Toshiro said but obviously I couldn't. So I had Toshiro do it instead, though he realized that his outburst was probably due to stress and stuff.
And I don't remember how much Butterbeer costs, so I'm making it up. If someone knows the correct amount, let me know and I'll go back and fix it.
And what did you think of my idea for the ending? With the chocoball. It took me forever to come up with it. I hope it pleased everyone. Comment and tell me what you thought. And I hope you guys enjoyed these two chapters and I'll post the next one once I finish it. Not sure when that'll be. Don't forget to review!
*Hajime mashite (ha gee meh mah shi teh) – pleased to meet you
*Watashi wa … desu (wah tah shee wah … dessor deh su) – in this context, meaning roughly "…" is who I am; this means me.
*Watashi wa … jin desu (wah tah shee wah … jeen dess) – roughly means "this is my country"
*Iigirisu (ee gee ree su) – England (the word jin must be after the country in order to make sense.
*Indo (een doh) – India
*Osutoraria (ooh stoh rah ree ah) – Australia
*Amerika (ah meh dee kah) – America
*Nippon or Nihon (nee hon) – Japan
*Yoroshiku onegai-shimasu (yo roh shee koh oh neh guy shee mass) – roughly means "please be kind to me" or "please treat me kindly"
*Douzo (doh zoh) – a form of please (used as douzo yoroshiku onegai-shimasu is like the ultra-polite form of the above answer)