Greetings to you all.
My name is Nesarna. I'm afraid I'm a bit of a newbie here - I've been lurking on the site for ages, but I've never actually posted anything before now. Forgive me my errors wherever you should find them, but please tell me so that they can be rectified.
I will use a number of different formats to indicate different types of speech that vary by context. If you are confused, please reference the following:
"Hello" - indicates that the speaker is using the most common language for the area they are in. It will indicate English when in England, Japanese when in Japan, and so on and so forth.
"(Hello)" - indicates that the speaker is not using the most common language for the area they are in. The language it represents will not always be indicated, and is usually determined by the speaker's own nationality. Other characters do not necessarily understand the speaker when this is used.
And now that that's out of the way, please enjoy the story - or don't, it's up to you. Love it, don't care for it, or think it should burn in hell, let me know. The little button at the bottom of the page is quite useful in that endeavor, or so I've been told.
DISCLAIMER: The works incorporated in this story are property of Mr. Kubo and Ms. Rowling and their respective publishers. I make no profit from the following, which was done purely for my own entertainment purposes.
IN OTHER WORDS: If you recognize it, it isn't mine. And if you don't recognize it, it still probably isn't mine.
EDIT (12/30/10): WARNING: Partial AU from Bleach. Non-compliant with post-'Deicide' canon.
EDIT (3/17/15): All chapters revised and reposted.
Harry Potter and the God of Death
Chapter the First
Enter the Black Sun
Vernon Dursley was not known as a very patient man. A rather large man with a thick neck and bushy moustache, Vernon's face was more often seen in various shades of purple rather than pink, but even so, he quite enjoyed the quiet moments of the day. His early morning cup of coffee, for instance, which was one of the few things he actually bothered to make himself (Petunia preferred tea, and he would never trust the Potter boy with something as sacred as the coffee pot). So every day, Vernon Dursley got up early, dressed for work, made his coffee (imported from Brazil – cream and sugar only) and read the morning's paper. By the time the Potter boy had stumbled down the stairs and started frying the bacon and his wife and son had sat around the table, sipping orange juice, Vernon Dursley was generally in a good mood.
By his standards, anyway.
The day had started out as normal. Vernon had come downstairs, started up the coffee pot, and headed out into the hall to retrieve the daily mail. Everything had been perfectly ordinary and as usual, until he had found The Letter.
As far as letters went, The Letter was hardly the worst one the Dursleys had ever received. The worst had definitely been the Potter boy's Hogwarts letter(s), followed closely by that one from his friend (Vernon still wondered how the freak could have friends in the first place, but no matter) that had arrived last year. But there it was, tucked neatly between the credit card bill and one of those home and garden magazines Petunia liked, covered in nearly as many stamps as the one from the year before, the one that had started the series of events that had resulted in the destruction of half his sitting room and Dudley choking on his own tongue.
Vernon eyed The Letter warily. He seriously hoped it was not another one from the boy's friend, but judging by how neat and ordered the stamps were (last year, they had been haphazardly and wildly stuck on), probably not. Not unless the freaks had learned to behave normally over the past year – which was highly unlikely, in his opinion. He couldn't read the return address at all – it was written in a series of complex symbols he could make neither heads or tails of. Chinese or Japanese, maybe? At first he thought there must have been a mistake at the postal office – who did they know in China? – but a quick glance at the address printed neatly on the envelope left no doubt about the letter's intended recipient: Petunia Dursley, Number Four Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey.
Oh yes, definitely the right place.
He made his way back to the kitchen just as the Potter boy made his way downstairs, looking – in Vernon's humble opinion – even scruffier than normal.
"Comb your hair, boy," Vernon snapped, by way of a morning greeting. The boy nodded distractedly and turned on the stovetop burners, pulled out the frying pan, and set about preparing the morning meal. Vernon ignored him, instead opting to pour his cup of coffee, settle down at the small kitchen table, and open the paper. He was halfway through the classifieds when Petunia entered the kitchen, still in her bathrobe and hair curlers.
"Petunia, dear," Vernon began, laying aside the paper, "Do you happen to know anyone in China?"
Petunia blinked. "No, not that I'm aware of… Why?"
"This arrived in the mail this morning," he said, indicating The Letter. "Addressed to you. The return address is all funny…"
She picked up the envelope, turning it around in her hand. A flicker of recognition crossed her face. "Oh, it must be from my cousin in Japan. You remember her, don't you, Vernon? She and her husband – Koo-row-something, I think it was – visited us when they were in London together."
Vernon grimaced. "That man? That crazy nutter who hauled us all the way up to the top of that bloody cathedral?"
"Yes, that was him. But I don't understand why they'd be writing us now," she added, slitting the letter open with a butter knife. "I mean, the last time we heard from them was several years ago, when Masaki died…"
As she read, her face paled dramatically. She set the letter down and took several gulps of her tea, the cup in her hand shaking slightly.
"What is it, Petunia?" Vernon asked. She slid him the letter across the table. Vernon's face, in contrast to his wife's, purpled as he read farther down the page.
'My dearest Petunia—
'Greetings, cousin of my beloved Masaki! It is I, Isshin Kurosaki. We met when Masaki-chan and I visited Europe for our honeymoon, remember? Of course you do, who could forget such a beautiful couple as ourselves!
'As I'm sure you remember, I run a clinic here in Karakura. Well, it just so happens that I've been invited to a medical conference in London in the place of a friend (Ishida-kun really needs to get out more often if you ask me), and I thought this would be the perfect time for a family get together! Karin-chan and Yuzu-chan are very excited to meet you both, and I'm sure Ichigo will be thrilled as well once he gets home.
'Our plane arrives in London on the second of August (Sorry! It was the only flight available on such short notice), and the conference begins on the fifth. Unfortunately, the hotel won't allow us to check in until the conference begins, so… I do hope you have an extra bed handy. If not, I'm sure we can find a cheap motel somewhere… Ah well, I'm certain that won't be a problem anyway! We'll take a taxi to your home, so I expect we will arrive there around noon. You still live at Number Four, right? You must, otherwise you wouldn't be reading this!
'Oh, here comes Ichigo. Time to tell him the good news!
'See you soon!
A vein bulged in his temple. The nerve of the man! Just inviting himself on over into their household with hardly any forewarning at all… He glanced at the wall calendar, hanging haphazardly from the refrigerator containing all of Dudley's snack foods. Isshin and his family would arrive on the second, which was…
"Petunia," he said, forcing himself to remain calm, "What are we going to do?"
"We'll have to let them stay, of course," she replied softly. "Isshin and the girls can take the guest room, there's enough room in there for the air mattress, and their son can take Dudley's second bedroom – Harry can sleep on the sofa, I suppose…"
"But Petunia… How can we—"
"Don't be silly, Vernon," she snapped. "What will the neighbors think? We can't possibly abandon family on the streets, not when they've come so far to visit. No, they'll have to stay here." She paused to gather her thoughts. "All right. Boy!" she called, shooting a look in Harry's direction. "You're going to help me get ready. Go outside and mow the lawn, that will be your main task. Then come back inside, I'll have a list of other tasks for you to complete. Understood?"
Harry, who had frozen at the first mention of the word 'cousin,' snapped out of his reverie. "Yes, Aunt Petunia."
"Good. Now get a move on, there's not much time. And throw away that bacon, you've gone and let it burn, you foolish boy."
Nodding mutely, Harry dumped the pan of ruined breakfast meat in the rubbish bin and headed out the door. As he pulled the lawnmower out the shed, his mind wandered back to the conversation he had overheard at breakfast.
I have relatives? he thought, tugging fruitlessly at the lever that started the mower. Outside the Dursleys? How? He and Hermione – mostly Hermione – had gone digging through the old Hogwarts records, looking for any other family members Harry might have had, back at the end of third year. None of the Potters were still alive, so it couldn't be through them. So that would mean…
They're related to my mother, he realized. They had to be, nothing else made sense, what with the Potters all dead and his other Dursley relatives living in Australia (he had never met them, but he knew they existed through their annual Christmas cards) – except for Aunt Marge, but she'd had no children of her own. Just her dogs, which he didn't think counted.
It was odd, Harry thought, as the lawnmower finally clanked into life, how little he actually knew about his mother's family. He could understand that Petunia had hated Lily – Merlin knew she made little secret of that – but he didn't know what kept her away from the rest of her family. Had she severed ties with her parents when they had begun to favor their magically-talented child? Were they even still alive? They'd never sent the Dursley family Christmas cards, so he supposed not. But what about her other relatives? Aunts? Uncles? Cousins? Why sever relations with them as well? They'd probably not known about Lily's powers, so they'd have no reason to pick her over Petunia… or were they all dead, too?
Maybe, thought Harry. Aunt Petunia said she'd heard her cousin died… what was her name? Masaki? But then, why would Masaki's family visit us now?
His musings were interrupted by another thought. Wait a moment… If I have relatives outside of the Dursleys, why did Dumbledore leave me with them? Did he just not know about them? Or… is there another reason? It can't be because they're magic-haters; he left me with the Dursleys, and they hate magic enough to make up for the whole of Britain. So then why…?
Harry rounded another corner of the yard. The whole thing made absolutely no sense at all. Dumbledore had to have known about Masaki and her family – Dumbledore was Dumbledore. He had to have known simply by virtue of being himself. He must have had some reason for leaving Harry with the Dursleys, and not with his other relatives. But at the same time… what could it possibly be? It sounded an awful lot like Masaki's family lived in Japan; surely, he would have been safe from leftover Death Eaters on the other side of the globe, wouldn't he? Maybe there was some other reason. There was always a reason for why Dumbledore did what he did, even if it never made any sense to Harry.
Like his current isolation, for instance.
But, try as Harry might, he could not figure it out, even as he returned the lawnmower to the shed, the lawn neatly trimmed behind him.
Well, he thought, at least I know one thing: dinner tonight is going to be a very… interesting… affair.
Harry flopped down on his bed like a ragdoll, utterly exhausted. He'd spent the better part of the last several hours washing Uncle Vernon's company car, cleaning the windows, vacuuming the carpeting and various other odd jobs his aunt had assigned him on her laundry list of tasks. He sent a tired glance at his alarm clock, which read 11:43 A.M. in large, glowing red letters. He had less than twenty minutes until Isshin and his children arrived on the doorstep. With a defeated groan, he sat up and started picking up the scattered pieces of Wizarding equipment that littered his room. The eldest son – Ichito, or something like that – was supposed to be rooming there. Which meant Aunt Petunia was particularly adamant about hiding the numerous signs of Harry's 'abnormality' that filled the room.
Finally fishing Flying with the Cannons out from under his bed, Harry stuffed it into his trunk and stood up, surveying his room. Ron's and Hermione's birthday cards – which he'd received the day earlier – had been unceremoniously shoved to the bottom of his trunk (he was still upset over their adamant refusal to tell him anything useful), followed quickly by assorted robes, schoolbooks, and scraps of parchment, quills, and ink, as well as several old copies of the Daily Prophet. The only odd 'thing' left out in his room was Hedwig.
He spared another glance at the clock; it read 11:58, barely enough time to get downstairs before Isshin and his family were due to arrive. There wasn't time to get Hedwig out of there; he'd have to come and let her out sometime that evening. As if on cue, Vernon's voice boomed up the stairs.
"Get down here, boy! And make it quick, they're supposed to arrive any minute!"
Not wanting to make his uncle any more irritated than he already was, Harry hurried down the stairs. His aunt and uncle were both dressed in their finest and hovering around the front hall, evidently wanting to make a good impression on their visiting in-laws. Dudley, however, was sulking in the living room, watching a program on the television. He too had been forced into a nice shirt and pants, and was none-too-happy for it.
"Can't you do something about your clothes?" Aunt Petunia asked irritably. "Don't wait around here – wait by the stairs. Take their bags upstairs when they arrive. Just stay out of the way."
"Fine," said Harry. "Where do you—"
The crunch of tires on gravel interrupted him, followed quickly by the sound of car doors opening. A male's voice could be heard through the open windows in the kitchen, shouting angrily in some unintelligible language, followed by another voice, this one female. A moment later the crunch of gravel was heard again, as the taxi pulled out of the driveway.
"Quick!" Petunia called, rushing over to the front door, Harry scrambling out of her way. "Dudley! Oh, Vernon, what—"
The doorbell rang.
Hurriedly composing herself, Aunt Petunia put on her best smile and pulled open the door, coming face-to-face with a slightly disheveled, middle-aged man wearing an oversized, tropical-flower-printed shirt.
"PETUNIA-ITOKO-CHAN!" he shouted, dropping his bags at once and wrapping her in a bear hug. "IT'S SO NICE TO SEE—"
A bulging briefcase bashed into the man's head, knocking him over. It, in turn, was held in the hand of a scowling teenage boy, perhaps a year or two older than Dudley, with the brightest orange hair the Dursleys had ever laid eyes on. Behind him were two women in their mid-twenties, one with dark hair and the other with light hair and the head of a toy lion poking out of her purse. The light-haired one bent hastily to examine the father, and, finding him healthy (if unconscious), rounded on the boy.
"Onii-chan, you didn't have to go and hit him that hard! He could have hit his head on the sidewalk!"
The boy shrugged, completely unconcerned. "Che… he'll live."
As the blonde's eyes watered, her sister shook her head. She smiled at the Dursleys. "Sorry about that… I'm Karin Kurosaki, and these are my sister Yuzu and my brother Ichigo… pleased to meet you," she added, bowing politely. "May we come in?"
"Certainly, certainly," flustered Aunt Petunia, hastily moving aside to let Karin and her siblings through. She and her sister both grabbed suitcases, and Ichigo, shouldering both the briefcase and a large sports bag, hefted their father onto his back. "My name is Petunia. My husband and son are both inside, waiting to meet you."
"Thank you," said Karin, dragging the heavy suitcase over the threshold and into the house, Yuzu close behind.
The blonde smiled appreciatively. "You have a very nice house, Mrs. Dusley."
"Where do you want the bags?" Ichigo grunted, trying to find a comfortable position under his father's weight.
"Just go ahead and leave them by the stairs, Harry will be down to get them in a minute," she answered.
"Harry?" asked Yuzu interestedly. "Who is he?"
"Er… just our nephew," Petunia replied, leading the siblings and their unconscious father into the lounge, where the rest of the Dursley household (minus Harry) was waiting. "He doesn't like strangers much, so he stays upstairs most of the time."
They entered the lounge, a rather large space, occupied almost entirely by several large, overstuffed armchairs. Vernon rose to meet them, eyeing the unconscious body of Isshin warily. He found it rather unnerving, to say the least.
"Vernon Dursley," he said, gathering himself and offering his hand to the boy.
"Ichigo," the boy grunted, shifting the weight on his back. Disregarding Vernon's proffered hand, he gazed around the room. He spotted the sofa, with Dudley still sitting on it. He walked over, standing hardly a foot away from Dudley, who hardly appeared to have noticed him at all.
"Our son, Dudley," Vernon said. "He's quite the athlete, you know. Won the junior heavyweight boxing tournament just last year, he did. A proud accomplishment, considering he only—"
Ichigo ignored him. "Move," he said, gesturing for Dudley to get out of the way. Dudley stayed put, completely engrossed in his program. Ichigo tried again, with a similar result. He gritted his teeth, evidently doing his best to reign in his already-flagging temper.
"I said, move," he hissed, his voice taking on a strange distorted quality. This time, Dudley shot out of his seat as though someone had lit a fire beneath him. He ran, utterly terrified, into the kitchen, no doubt to try and find solace in his snacks. Karin and Yuzu both paled at Ichigo's tone, shooting each other significant glances.
Supremely unconcerned with Dudley's behavior, Ichigo lowered Isshin's unconscious form onto the newly-vacated sofa, his scowl deepening. "Wake up," he said, shaking him roughly.
Isshin didn't stir.
"Should I call a doctor?" Petunia asked nervously.
Ichigo didn't respond, instead leaning in closer to his father's ear. "OI! OYAJI!" he shouted. "GET UP! YACHIRU AND NEL FOUND THE CANDY SUPPLY! RUN FOR IT!"
Still no motion.
Ichigo frowned. "Fine, be that way." His face took on a mischievous smirk. "If you're that injured, go ahead and sleep," he said gently. "I'll go ahead and call Unohana-san, just in case it's something serious, alright?"
The effect was instantaneous. Isshin jumped off the sofa, looking around wildly. "Ah! Retsu – er, Unohana-taichou! There's no need – I'm perfectly—!" He stopped abruptly at the look on Ichigo's face. "That wasn't very nice, Ichigo," he muttered.
Ichigo didn't respond to that, instead standing up and heading out back towards the suitcases. In the doorway, he knocked over a smaller, dark-haired boy with round glasses. He barely glanced at him, instead muttering a brief apology, before going into the hall, grabbing the battered leather briefcase, and heading off in search of the kitchen.
Harry straightened his glasses as his got up off the floor, staring bemusedly in the direction the older boy had gone. "Er… what was that?" he asked, completely bewildered.
"You'll have to forgive him," Karin said apologetically, shooting a concerned glance in the direction Ichigo had gone before turning to smile awkwardly at the Dursleys. "Ichi-nii does that a lot these days… he just… he's under a lot of stress from work, is all."
"Must be a hard job," Vernon said thoughtfully. "What exactly does he do?"
Karin shot her father a helpless look, and he answered hastily, "He works for the… um… police department! Yes, that's it!" he exclaimed happily. "The police department in Karakura Town. He… eh… does a lot of the department's paperwork. You know, filling out employee request forms and such. He doesn't like it much, but no one else in the department will do it, so…"
Dudley came back out into the living room, looking even more harried. "Er… he's in the kitchen," he offered, by way of an explanation. "I'm, er, going out," he added. "Piers' having tea… Doubt I'll be back 'til dinner, so…"
"Why don't you take your cousin Ichigo with you?" Vernon suggested amiably. "I'm sure he would enjoy meeting such fine, upstanding young gentlemen as your friends."
Dudley paled considerably. "Er, no, I don't think that would be a good idea… I mean, he was pretty busy when I saw him in the kitchen, so…"
Vernon nodded. "All right then. Go on, Dudley. Have fun, and be back by dinner time."
"Okay," he muttered, edging past Petunia in the hall and out the doorway and down the street.
An uncomfortable silence filled the living room. Harry had just opened his mouth to announce that he, too, was going to head out, when a loud shout echoed from the kitchen, followed by a number of incomprehensible words that, judging from the harsh tone, were rather unpleasant.
Isshin, Karin, and Yuzu all flinched. "Um… bad news," Karin explained, looking nervous. "Probably not the best time to try and talk to him right now…"
The rest all nodded solemnly, silently agreeing.
By the time seven o' clock rolled around, Ichigo had nearly finished with his mountain of paperwork (when Aunt Petunia had ventured into the kitchen around five to fetch a cup of tea, she had barely been able to see the top of his head over the stacks of files; how so much paper could fit into such a small briefcase, she had no idea), Karin and Yuzu had played several rounds of Super Alien Blasters on Dudley's PlayStation (Karin won the vast majority, though Yuzu pulled out a few unlikely victories), and Isshin and the two elder Dursleys had settled down to watch the evening news. Harry had disappeared early in the afternoon, claiming a desire for fresh air. The Dursleys didn't seem to mind all that much, and had let him go without complaint.
Ichigo finished signing the last of his papers (a request for an extension of leave from Koga, which he was only too happy to grant), feeling more tired than he had in days. He rose, stretching, and wandered into the lounge, where Karin had just beat Yuzu for the sixteenth time in a row.
"Ha!" she shouted, maneuvering her spaceship up to the equally-pixelated alien mothership and firing a red laser in its direction. The words PLAYER ONE WINS flashed across the screen, followed by her score. "(Beat that, Yuzu!)" she cried happily.
"(Be nice to your sister, Karin,)" Ichigo mumbled, flopping down on the vacant sofa.
"(Oh, hi Ichi-nii,)" Karin said, putting the game on pause. "(You finally done with your paperwork, then?)"
He grunted. The twins took that as a 'yes'.
"(Ne, Onii-chan…)" Yuzu hesitated before asking, "(What were you yelling about earlier?)"
He sighed. "(Just the usual. Grimmjow got mad, went on a rampage. Wrecked nearly half of the Ninth's compound, judging by the price tag.)"
Both girls winced. "(Bet Abarai-san's not too happy about that,)" muttered Karin.
Ichigo snorted in derision. "(Eh, he probably deserves it. He's probably the one who set Grimmjow off in the first place.)"
They all got a small laugh out of that.
"(Hey, where's the old man?)" Ichigo asked suddenly.
"(Dad? I think he's in the other room with Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia.)"
"(Thanks,)" he said, rising off the sofa with a groan. He went into the sitting room, where a story about some actress' affair had just finished.
"And finally, Bungy the budgie has found a novel way of keeping cool this summer. Bungy, who lives at the Five Feathers in Barnsley, has learned to water-ski! Mary Dorkins went to find out more…"
"Oi, old man," Ichigo called. "Can I talk to you for a moment?"
Isshin rose out of his seat, nodded briefly in the direction of the two elder Dursleys, and followed Ichigo into the hall. "(What is it?)"
"(I need some help opening a Senkaimon,)" Ichigo admitted, looking vaguely embarrassed. "(Ukitake-san wants everything in by Friday, and I still haven't figured out the trick to the targeting system…)"
"(I see,)" said Isshin, scratching his chin. "(Sure, I can open it for you, no trouble. But why don't you just route it through Las Noches, like you usually do? Isn't Aizen's old gate there still active?)"
"(Can't,)" his son replied agitatedly. "(Not without going through the Elders. Nothing goes in or out of Hueco Mundo these days without their say-so. And opening an illegal Garganta—)"
"(—What was that?)"
"(I don't know,)" Isshin said, poking his head back into the sitting room. "Ne, Petunia-itoko-chan, do you know what…" He paused, rather confused. Harry, his odd nephew-in-law, stood outside in the flowerbed, looking rather disheveled. The boy hastily stuffed something long and thin into his back pocket, staring down the street critically. Vernon's arms dropped from where he had been nearly about to strangle the boy, eyeing Isshin warily.
"Yes?" Petunia asked, composing herself quickly.
"Eh, just wondering if you knew what made that noise a moment ago," Isshin said, smiling.
"Car backfired," grunted Vernon, shooting his nephew a dirty look. Harry ignored him, still glaring at the street outside.
"Oh." Isshin pulled his head back into the hall and gave his son a reassuring smile. "(It's nothing. False alarm.)"
Ichigo nodded. "(When would be a good time to open the gate? Tonight?)"
"(That would be best. We can do it in my room, have Karin and Yuzu keep an eye out in case anyone wakes up. Who knows what Petunia-itoko-chan and her husband would say to a trans-dimensional portal in their sitting room?)"
"(Right,)" Ichigo said, suppressing a yawn.
"(Are you alright?)" his father asked, sounding concerned. "(Did you sleep at all on the plane?)"
Ichigo thought about it. "(…Maybe?)"
"(What the hell were you thinking? Ichigo, it's a nine hour time difference!)"
His son shrugged. "(I've gone longer…)"
"(Not in a damned gigai, you haven't. Honestly, there's a reason humans need little things like sleep and food!)" He shook his head wearily. "(Get some sleep, Ichigo,)" he said, forcibly shoving his son in the direction of the lounge.
"(Don't I technically outrank you?)" Ichigo wondered briefly, but allowed himself to be pushed onto the sofa.
"(Ha ha, very funny, Kurosaki-taichou. This is an order from your physician. Sleep.)"
Ichigo nodded, too tired to actually protest.
"(And don't even think about getting up again once I've left. Stay put. Doctor's orders.)"
"(Oi, Ichi-nii. Wake up.)"
Ichigo stirred slightly, then rolled over. He didn't appreciate the interruption. He'd been having a very nice dream… He'd finally cornered Grimmjow and forced the former Espada into completing the entirety of the division's monthly paperwork. Childish, perhaps, but a pleasant thought nonetheless.
He fell off the sofa with an almighty crash, coughing and hacking violently. "(What the hell was that for?)" he shouted, shaking ice water out of his hair.
Karin just smiled innocently, hiding the recently-emptied glass behind her back. "(Dinner's ready in a few minutes.)"
Still scowling, Ichigo followed his sister into the dining room, where Isshin and Vernon were already seated, discussing the news – economics and foreign policy, by the sound of it.
Petunia peered out of the kitchen, wearing an apron and stirring a large bowl. "Diddy still not back yet?" she asked her husband, sounding concerned. He shook his head. She sighed. "Where could he be? He should have left the Polkiss' by now… And he never misses his din-din…"
"I'm sure he's on his way, Petunia," Vernon reassured her.
"All the same… Could I ask one of you to go look for him?" she asked, looking at the two siblings in the doorway. "I'm getting rather worried…"
Ichigo shrugged. "Sure. Whatever." He made his way over to the front door, stepping out into the cool night air. He paused on the doorstep, concentrating. Long, semi-transparent threads materialized in the air, fluttering and waving on the slight breeze. Most of them were stark white, with a handful of reddish-pink ones thrown in for flavor. He sifted through them, dismissing the reddish ones as belonging to his father and sisters inside. He grabbed hold of one and headed off down the street towards his cousin.
He walked for a good twenty or so minutes, following the string. The difficulty with reiraku was that they very rarely led directly to their owner. Like real threads, they tended to leave a trail behind, remaining in one place long after the person had left. Furthermore, reiraku length was proportional to the amount of time the owner had left to live. As Dudley was still rather young, his thread trailed over half of Little Whinging.
Ichigo was at the moment very grateful he had figured how to use shunpo in a physical body. Otherwise, the search might have taken hours.
He finally found him in a narrow alley between two roads – Magnolia Crescent and Wisteria Walk, if he remembered rightly – accompanied by the boy he had knocked over earlier. His other cousin. Haru? Hari? Something like that. He heard them before he saw them. Perched rather precariously on a nearby roof, he peered down into the alleyway. Ichigo frowned slightly. Harry had odd reiatsu – it was slightly stronger than that of the average human, but it wasn't like normal human, Quincy, Shinigami, or Hollow reiatsu, or even a weird-flavor-of-normal-type like Inoue's. The boy had Dudley pinned against a garage wall with something long and thin – in the darkness, Ichigo couldn't tell what it was. A knife, maybe? Odd, the kid hadn't seemed the type…
"Don't ever talk about that again," Harry growled, his tone leaving no room for argument. "Do you understand me?"
Dudley ignored him. "Point that thing somewhere else!"
"Do you understand me?"
"Point it somewhere else!"
"Do you understand me?!"
"Get that thing away from—!"
Ichigo had had enough. He dropped down into the alleyway, landing catlike next to the two boys. In a flash, he grabbed Harry's wrists and twisted them behind the boy's back, the object in his hand – a stick, Ichigo now realized – falling to the ground with a clatter.
"What the hell are you two doing?!"
Harry was angry. Today was quickly turning into one of Those Days. First he had been roped into doing half the household chores, then he had been knocked over (by the same boy that was now holding him prisoner no less), then he'd had to sit in the flowerbed in order to even listen to the news, then he'd been accused of setting off that noise (which he hadn't), and then he'd been chased away from the house and had Dudley bring up those awful memories of Cedric. And that was without mentioning the fact that Dumbledore had apparently abandoned him to the dubious mercies of Privet Drive for the past month.
And now he was being held captive, arms twisted painfully behind his back.
Scratch that. Harry was pissed.
"Let go of me!" he hissed, struggling against his captor's grip. "Let go!"
Ichigo opened his mouth to retort, then froze. He looked around, searching frantically. "What is… reiatsu…" he whispered, eyes wide.
Harry struggled out of his suddenly lax grip and shot him a confused look. "What are you…?"
And then he felt it. A deep, penetrating, biting cold. The streetlamps at either end of the alleyway flickered and then died, plunging them into darkness. He could already hear the laughter, faint and far away, but drawing closer every minute…
Then he heard it. The sound of a death rattle.
"Shit!" He dropped on his hands and knees, searching frantically for his fallen wand. "Not here… not now…"
Dudley panicked and ran, full tilt towards the end of the alleyway. Ichigo fell to the ground, clutching his head and convulsing wildly. He screamed something incomprehensible, his voice strange and distorted, as though speaking under water.
Harry swore. "Dudley! Get back here! You're running right at it! Wand… need wand… where's…" he muttered, fingers scrabbling over the dead grass and concrete of the alley.
The cold was at the other end of the alley, now, too.
A loud thump came from the far end of the alley, followed by a muffled shout. "Dudley! What ever you do, don't open your mouth!" The sound of Voldemort's laughter in his head got louder, rising in chorus with Dudley's screams. "Dudley!"
Something flashed blue behind him, accompanied by a high-pitched, inhuman shriek that sent shivers down Harry's spine. Ichigo stopped thrashing, and fell still and silent. Harry was the only one left.
But the brief flash provided him with enough light to finally find his wand. He snatched at it, pulling up bits of dirt and dead grass. He had to cast the spell, before Dudley and Ichigo… He didn't want to think about it. He refused to think about it.
The cold was getting nearer now. He could hear the voice clearly, the voice that had haunted his dreams for the past month.
Bow death, Harry… It might even be painless… I would not know… I have never died…
An enormous silver stag erupted from his wand, filling the dark alleyway with light. The stag bounded toward the nearest dementor, past an unfamiliar figure dressed in white and black, catching it in its antlers. The dementor flew through the air and vanished into the night.
Harry turned towards the far end. The silvery light illuminated the shape of the other dementor, its hood already lowered, its head moving slowly, lovingly, towards Dudley's face.
"Get it!" he shouted, and the stag whirled around and charged. But even as fast as Harry's Patronus was going… it wouldn't make it in time. Harry threw his power into the spell, willing the stag to move faster, but—
The dementor's face was barely an inch from Dudley's.
A wave of blackish, reddish light arced over Harry's head, ruffling his hair as it passed. The dementor howled in pain. With an angry screech it flew off into the sky, only to fall back to the ground when something red and sizzling flashed through the air.
Another shout, and the white and black blur flew after the first dementor, vanishing with a dull thump, like distant thunder.
The stars and streetlamps flickered back into existence, and warmth flooded into the alley. Harry paid no attention to this, though, instead rushing over to where Dudley had fallen.
"Dudley… Dudley… come on, get up…"
He heard the sound of crunching grass and gravel behind him, and whipped around to face the newcomer, wand out, only to find himself face-to-face with an enormous black and white sword, the tip of it barely an inch from his nose, held in the hand of a person with a very familiar face.
"WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE?!"
-chan: an honorific indicating endearment/affection; used primarily towards small children/girls
-kun: an honorific indicating familiarity; used primarily towards men/boys
-san: an honorific indicating respect; roughly equivalent to 'Mr.' or 'Ms.'
-taichou: captain (lit. unit commander)
Well, that's it for chapter one. I will probably post the next two chapters some time over the course of the week.
Please follow the little blue link if you wish to leave a comment. Love it, hate it, think it should burn in hell, let me know.
'Til next time,