-Requiem for a Dream-
Ichigo scowled annoyed as he turned around to glare at the Slytherin girls who were watching him doing his morning workout. Unfortunately their giggles and whispers only increased when he looked at them, and he found himself missing the days when people were afraid of him and his permanently furrowed eyebrows.
It was Saturday in the second weekend at this school year on Hogwarts, and Ichigo had decided to spend his time outside with training and getting as much d-vitamin as he could. At the moment he had done all his homework, both from Hogwarts and from high school, so he had thought that this was a perfect opportunity to relax and get some training done… Unluckily, almost every Slytherin girl above the age of 13 was out there, watching him as he fought with an imagined opponent. He could tell from their whishful looks and their wandering eyes that he had somehow become extremely popular among the opposite gender. Something he had never tried before. Whether it was because he was new and therefore interesting, or it was because he was the only guy here who actually had a bit of muscle, he did not now. It was probably a mixture of both.
It was annoying nonetheless.
Deciding to ignore them, he continued with his series of kicks and punches, as his ears tried to block out the excited chatter among his spectators.
He wondered where the hell the other boys from Slytherin had disappeared to in that moment. Honestly, he did not care what Malfoy or his cronies did in their spare time, but he would like to know where Zabini was. The two of them had spent quite an amount of time together in the last week, and Ichigo had found that out of all his classmates, he liked the other member of the Slug Club the best.
Another person who he had spent much of his time with was Hermione Granger, to the distaste of every freaking Slytherin student. Mudblood, they called her mockingly, their faces twisted in resentment when they spoke about her. Very often, his classmates had tried to persuade him to drop all contact with the Gryffindor girl, but the former shinigami substitute didn't really care. Hermione Granger was the only one who could match him in Defense Against the Dark Arts and as such he had continued to pair up with her in all of their classes. Soon, he had decided, he would also begin to counterattack to prepare for the any 'real' fight she would end up in. He would still go easy on her though, as he was by far more experienced than her, and it would only end badly if he didn't hold back.
"Look at him," someone's voice said excitedly, pulling him out of his thoughts.
"Isn't he dreamy?" another joined in.
"It's a shame the other boys don't train like him," a third person said, and shortly after, the whispering among the girls were no longer just whispering but actual conversation. Slightly wondering if they knew he could hear them, he increased his pace in an effort to block out their chatting. He didn't succeed, and when the question, "do you think he has a girlfriend back in Japan?" reached his ears, he decided that enough was enough and completely stilled in his tracks. The whispers stopped almost instantly, and he was certain the girls expected some sort of answer from him now that that particular question had made him pause. The looks they gave him strongly signaled so, but he did not feel like humoring them; it would only give them false hopes. With one last roll of his eyes in their direction to indicate what he thought about their gossiping, he resolutely turned around and broke out into a light run. Of course, he could go faster, but that would make it seem like he was fleeing, so instead his pace was kept controlled, and yet still fast enough so his apparent fan girls didn't get the stupid idea to follow after him. He didn't need to look over his shoulder to know the girls now bore disappointed expressions, but he couldn't care less. They were being a bother, and he needed to get some exercise.
His run was nice and relaxing as he kept a steady pace around the school grounds. However, his curiosity was piqued when he saw several people on broomsticks over by the Quidditch stadium. Deciding to check it out, he headed over there, fully knowing, but not really caring, that whoever was on those broomsticks, weren't Slytherins.
They were Gryffindor students, he could see once he got close enough, but sitting on the stands he also spotted quite a few students from both Rawenclaw and Hufflepuff. In the pitch stood Harry Potter who was currently yelling at some students, his face flushed with mild anger and annoyance while the people he was shouting at seemed equally displeased with whatever the topic was. As he let his gaze sweep over the spectators, he spotted Granger among them just as he had expected. Granger, Potter, and their red-haired friend always seemed to be together, and he quickly caught sight of the Weasley too. The only reason why he knew the boy's name was because several Slytherin students spoke about him and his friends in a very degrading way. What a major understatement that was.
People were starting to notice him now as he was standing near the pitches; they patted each other's' shoulders and pointed him out to their friends, their lips moving, but the sounds not reaching his ears. Oh well, it was not like he wasn't used to being stared at and pointed out by now. He was the Japanese student after all, and he was a Slytherin who got along with a Mudblood. So thinking that his reputation wouldn't worse after this, he made his way towards Granger who moved over a bit to make space for him beside her.
"Morning," he greeted and sat down on the now free space.
"Good morning," she said, smiling politely, "out for a morning run?" She ignored the sudden attention of the people who were sitting nearby, even when their whispers became somewhat ridiculous.
"I was, but then I saw all this and decided to come see what the commotion is about."
"Tryouts s for the quidditch team," a male voice informed him, causing Ichigo to look past the Gryffindor girl and see a tall 7th year boy he knew he had seen before. "We met on the train, in old Sluggy's compartment," the boy said confidently, reaching past Granger to shake his hand. "Cormac McLaggen, Keeper." It was probably because they were both "old Sluggy's" favorites that McLaggen, a Gryffindor was friendly to a Slytherin. The former substitute shinigami had seen the other boy sneer at younger Slytherins while smiling to Zabini.
"You aren't yet," Granger said, a hint of resentment in her voice, her gaze turning towards the pitch were a couple of boys were making their way towards Potter while the people the scarred wizard had been talking to before sourly stomped off to join the other spectators in the stands.
"Oh, but I will be," McLaggen assured them both, a rather smug look on his face, "the only real competition here is Weasley, and I am much, much better than him."
"Do you play Quidditch in Japan?" Granger asked, turning to look at Ichigo, her eyes rolling in an unspoken message."
"I don't," he answered, getting the cue that Granger was not fond of McLaggen. At all.
"But other people do?" she continued.
Honestly, he had no idea about which kind of sports the Japanese magical society played, so he settled for a, "martial arts is more common."
"I see… and you practice martial arts, right?"
"Martial arts?" It was McLaggen who had voiced that question and both Granger and Ichigo turned to look at the broad boy, Granger trying to hide the annoyance that was showing on her face. The annoyed look, however, quickly faded as McLaggen pulled Ichigo into a conversation about martial arts and the like. Apparently the boy was extremely interested in sports, so now when he was introduced to a new kind of it, he had to know as much as he could. Granger was left out of the conversation which consisted mostly of the Gryffindor boy asking questions and Ichio answering them. Even though they were sitting on both sides of her, she didn't seem to mind and instead leaned forward to look out at the tryouts.
Finally it was the keepers' turn to tryout and the not-really Japanese wizard sighed heavily when his fellow Slug Club member rose from his seat and self-importantly made his way down to the pitch. That McLaggen asked too many questions. Granger rolled her eyes at the boy; she too seemed to be fairyly satisfied with the departure of the 7th year.
"Finally rid of him, huh?" Ichigo said, a wry smile on his lips.
"At least you don't live in the same house as him," Granger retorted as they both watched Potter instruct the people who wanted to be keepers.
He glanced at her. "I have Malfoy."
"I admit defeat."
A couple of Gryffindors rose into the air on their broomsticks; one went to guard the three goals closets to them while the others flew a bit further away, taking up positions. The first two applicators to the position as keeper only saved 2 goal each, but McLaggen was doing much better to Granger's increasing anxiety.
"I hope he doesn't get on the team," she told Ichigo as McLaggen had scored his 3th goal. She was biting her bottom lip, her face twisted in apprehension as she watched the broad boy fly back to the goal triumphantly, his right arms raised in a fist. "He has a nasty personality."
"I've noticed," Ichigo admitted. "What about your friend Weasley? He was keeper last year, right? Shouldn't he be able to get on the team again?"
She grimaced. "He has issues. He keeps believing he isn't good enough when clearly he is."
"Low self-esteem, huh?"
She nodded and there was a brief pause in their conversation as McLaggen saved his 4th goal. If possible, Granger looked even more nervous than before; her face was set in a frown, her fingers were almost desperately clenching the wood where she was sitting.
"There's something else to your dislike of him, isn't there?" he asked.
"Yes," she admitted, not even glancing at him, "you should have heard him before you arrived. All the awful things he said about my friends." She gritted her teeth.
Ichigo regarded her silently before he looked out at McLaggen who was getting ready to save yet another goal. He contemplated for a bit, then, making a quick decision, he mumbled a wandless spell under his breath.
Granger's eyes widened as McLaggen took a completely wrong turn at the last minute and looked back at the Slytherin who was grinning war to smugly to be innocent.
"Was that you?" she asked over the laughing and booing crowd, looking rather dismayed and astonished.
He smirked, quite satisfied with himself. "I'm a Slytherin. It's normal to sabotage people from other houses, isn't it?"
Her mortification melted away at his smirk and gave way to a small smile. "Thank you."
"Don't thank me. Cheer on your friend instead." Ichigo nodded towards the pitch where Weasley looked ready to pass out as he mounted his broomstick. Granger nodded, a smile still on her face as she opened her mouth, ready to do exactly what Ichigo had told her to do when another female voice interrupted her.
Ichigo turned to see who had shouted and found that the voice belonged to a blonde Gryffindor Girl from their year. Granger looked positively annoyed and closed her mouth tight-lipped, instead opting to follow the Weasley silently as he outshone McLaggen completely and saved all five goals.
Both Ichigo and Granger cheered along with the excited crowd, but it wasn't long before Granger excused herself, got up from her seat, and made her way towards Weasley and Potter. The Slytherin contemplated following her to congratulate Weasley, but eventually decided against it. Instead he headed back to his dormitory to take a shower. Granger had been kind enough not to comment on the sour smell of sweat that hung in the air around him.
He spent the afternoon with studying. While he currently had done all his homework, he had, after all, promised to read up on the correct uses of all the spells he had learned during the summer at Dumbledore's. When he was just about to get up from the rather comfortable couch he had been occupying and head up for dinner, Zabini stepped into the common room an informed Ichigo that Slughorn was inviting them to have supper with him and the rest of the Slug club.
In Slughorn's rooms they met up with the few other selected students who were members of the exclusive club, however, a few people were missing including; Potter, Longbottom and Belby, while a few others had been added; Granger and a girl who introduced herself as Melinda Bobbin. Ichigo frowned in confusion. He had gathered that the fat professor had weeded out those who were not influential or potential enough, but why was Potter not present? Surely the chosen one, the prize in Slughorn's private collection was not deemed unwelcome.
Slughorn himself answered Ichigo's unspoken question when he sighed heavily and declared that Harry Potter had detention with Snape and could therefore not attend their little social gathering.
"But that shall not prevent us from having fun tonight," he exclaimed happily as he let them to a small, round dinner table filled to the brim with extravagant foods of all kinds.
To Zabini's resentment, Granger gestured for Ichigo to sit beside her before McLaggen could reach the empty chair. Of course the orange-haired boy sat down without complain, but Zabini was more reluctant to sit so close to a mudblood. He could of course have taken another seat but that would mean sitting too close to the Weasley, and from what Ichigo had gathered that was just as bad.
The evening was rather cozy and the Japanese student actually enjoyed himself despite Slughorn's over-friendliness and obvious favoritism of the little exclusive club. He still couldn't get over the fact that a teacher was actually considering him, Kurosaki Ichigo with the delinquent-y orange hair and a bad tendency for not coming to school a few months in a row, worth having in his little collection of remarkable people.
After the supper, he spent some time chatting with Zabini and a few other people from their year in the Slytherin common room. He was about to go to bed when a sour-looking Malfoy and his two faithful sidekicks entered the common room and plopped themselves down in a remote couch. Parkinson darted over to them, smiling brightly as she tried to strike up conversation with her obvious love interest who did not seem in the mood to deal with her.
Yawning, Ichigo stated that he was deadly tired and Zabini suggested that he went to bed or stopped getting up at an ungodly hour to train even when it was weekend. The former shinigami substitute grinned and playfully stated that the chocolate-skinned boy was welcome to join him anytime if he felt like bulking up thus increasing his chance with the girls. At those words Ichigo's quickly forming fan club giggled loudly and sent him dreamy looks of hope which made him bolt and flee from the room in a speed that almost resembled shunpo.
He fell asleep almost instantly, not even waking up when Malfoy and his cronies entered the dormitory rather loudly. Instead, he was far, far away, caught in a dream that was not really a dream at all.
He had been in a brawl with his father that night. Nothing unusual there. But what had been unusual, was that black butterfly he had suddenly noticed while he was doing his homework. The first thought that flew through his head was, how the hell it had gotten inside when his window was closed. The next thought that went through his head was why the hell there was a short, black-haired girl dressed in old traditional Japanese clothes standing on his desk.
Then he kicked her.
Then his father kicked him, demanding that he stopped making such noise. To his surprise he found that his father could not see the girl. She explained why. She was a shinigami, a death god, a soul reaper. Her job was to slay hollows and send wholes to Soul Society. She explained it by drawing.
Her drawings sucked.
Then a hollow attacked. A hollow attacked his sister, his family. The shinigami told him to stay back, but he didn't. He broke the restraining spell she had cast upon him. He ran down, saw his dad on the floor, bleeding, saw the hole in the wall, saw the gigantic abomination outside on the street holding his deer little sister, saw its ugly bone white head as it looked at him. He was afraid, scared, but he was more frightened at the thought of being unable to save his sister.
So he attacked.
It was futile. The hollow was too strong, too strong for a mere human. The shinigami saved him. She explained to him that its target was him. He was responsible for the attack on his family, it was his fault. So he faced it, faced the hollow and told it to bring it. He wasn't one to run from his fears. He wasn't one to let others be hurt because of him.
And yet that was exactly what happened.
He was a mere human, and a mere human did not stand a chance against a hollow. The shinigami sacrificed herself to protect him. It was her job, her duty, but still foolish. Now no one stood a chance against the monster that was coming closer and closer. It was terribly wounded from the cut the shiigami had given it earlier and now it wanted revenge.
There was no other choice.
He stabbed himself with the shinigami's zanpakutou and became a shinigami
He obtained the power necessary to protect his family.
He slayed the hollow.
Ichigo awoke with a start. Sweat was pouring down his face and he was breathing heavily. He faintly noticed that something heavy was pressing down on his sheets, hindering his legs from moving. He looked around to see if anyone was as awake as him, but the dorm was still filled with the same loud, constant snoring which had been there all the other nights. He sighed deeply, rubbing his temples to calm himself down. The dream had been as clear as if he really just had been fighting his very first hollow. But he hadn't. It had been a year and a few months since that had happened, and now he was lying in a dormitory under a giant lake in some magic school in Scotland. He was far from Karakura. He frowned, trying to move his legs, but again, something was pressing down on his sheets so he couldn't move them. Okay, he probably could if he wasn't too exhausted from the… nightmare? He wasn't sure if he could call it that when it was actually a memory. Nah, it wasn't a nightmare, he concluded. After all, nightmares always ended badly and this dream had ended well. He had, after all, succeeded in protecting his family. He smiled faintly at the memory. Yes, it was not a nightmare; it was a good memory and the start of a new life for him. With a content sigh he lay down again, though still frowning faintly at the annoying weight that was still pressing down on his sheaths. But he fell into a deep, dreamless slumber as soon as his head hit the pillow, all thoughts about moving his legs long gone.