A/N: So, here is the next Chapter. Once again, I apologize for the long time between updates. Onto other things, there will be another pole coming out soon. When I first started the planning for this story, it was before I had found out that Ichimaru wasn't actually on Aizen's side. Because of this, the plans for the story have him acting evil. That being said, though, it would be easy enough for me to switch things around if enough people want me to. So the question for the pole is:

Do you want Ichimaru to be evil or good?

On another note- several of you commented that at the start of last Chapter, Hitsugaya was a little out of character. I figured I'd explain why here, since I couldn't figure out a good way to slide the explanation into the story without it seeming out-of-place. Basically- he was exhausted. Between all the things he was doing, he was burning vast amounts of reiatsu training, and then not eating very much. The reason Hyourinmaru was worrying so much was because he knew that Hitsugaya was wearing himself out. It's always seemed to me that he works too much in Soul Society too, and the only reason he doesn't overdo it is because he has people like Ukitake, Hinamori and Matsumoto making him stop every once and a while. But here, there's no one to do that so Hyourinmaru has to be a little more assertive.

Chapter Twenty- The Horcruxes

Hitsugaya POV

I frowned and leaned back against a rock my arm throbbing numbly. Yoruichi was sitting across from me grinning, and Kisuke was passing me bandages and splints so I could wrap my arm up.

Yoruichi's smile grew, "Hey- you're not bad. When you said this was your worst area, I thought you meant that you couldn't even throw a decent punch. But you actually gave me a bruise, see?" She pointed to a bruise on her chin and laughed again, "I haven't gotten a bruise in ages."

I laughed dryly, "I'm glad you enjoyed yourself."

It had been a really stupid idea to let her talk me in to this. The only reason I agreed was because hakuda was my weakest area, and I figured it couldn't hurt to get better at it.

Of course, I forgot to factor in the fact that Shihoin is just as insane as Urahara, and when it comes to training she has no problem beating on someone until they pull off the trick she wants them to.

Hence the broken arm and numerous bruises I currently had.

I was starting to understand why Kurosaki had such a high learning curve- with these two as teachers it probably would have been necessary for his survival.

Yoruichi bounced up, "What should we do next- you're still good to play. It's just a few bruises."

I smirked, "And a broken arm."

"You've had worse." she said flippantly.

"Yeah- from Aizen."

Yoruichi laughed, "Yeah, yeah. Stop whining- if you were really hurt you would stop training."

"I'm not whining." I objected.

Yoruichi nodded, "True. Compared to Ichigo, you do complain a lot less. But that's beside the point Kisuke- is his arm fixed?"

Urahara nodded, "Yep. He's all yours."

"Excellent. This time, I wanna play tag." Yoruichi grinned, "So, catch me if you can!" She took off in a burst of flash step and I took off after her. For the most part, it was a simple game of flash-tag. Of course, Shihoin being Shihoin and apparently deciding that there was no need to play such a simple game, she also took the opportunity to fling high level kido spells at me.

I ducked to the side and one of them whizzed past me and slammed into the cliff beside me, causing the overhang to collapse.


A huge pile of rocks came tumbling down and I grabbed several of them with Hainewa, sending them flying towards her. She dodged too, and most of them flew past her. However, when she went to dodge the last one, she got caught in the Hainewa kido trailing behind one of the other rocks and tripped before falling in a heap.

Before she had a chance to get up, I darted over and tagged her. "Got you."

She laughed, "So you did. You're definitely more fun than I thought you would be."

"Just what is that supposed to mean?"

"Nothing." she smiled innocently, "You should probably go to bed soon, though, sleeping will make your arm heal faster. How is it, by the way?"

I shrugged, "Sore."

As she'd said, I had had worse injuries.

She nodded, "I was thinking we might want to start teaching the older kids a rudimentary flash-step in kido tomorrow-"

I frowned, and then a familiar presence came back into my mind, and the bracelet re-appeared on my wrist.

Master. Nice to see you're still alive.

Welcome back. How is Potter doing?

Really well, actually, if you factor in the circumstances. I'll tell you later, though. What was it that Shihoin just suggested?

Teaching the older kids flash-step. I can see why she would want to do it. If the school gets attacked, kido won't be enough. They'll need to be able to run away, and in order to do that . . .

They need to know flash-step.


I turned back to Shihoin, "I think that you're right . . . but they need to be more physically fit first. For a group of children at a boarding school who have virtually no opportunities for physical activity since wizards scoff at muggle sports, they're surprisingly in shape. I honestly don't know how they do it. But despite that, none of them have the physical fitness to be able to do even one flash step."

She nodded, "I agree, which is why I want to make learning this mandatory. If we get attacked and they can't even hold a steady run . . . it'll be bad."

"Yeah, you're right about that." I frowned, "How are we going to make all of them train though- not just the older kids? That kind of training will take at least an hour a day, if not more. The class is normally only an hour long, and that's including the time it will take to learn kido."

Yoruichi nodded, "I know. I want to talk to Dumbledore about it- to be blunt, this school needs to start encouraging some form of physical activity."

"There's just one other problem, though," I said, "Umbridge is afraid of Dumbledore raising an army out of Hogwarts, right?"


"I don't think it's going to go over too well if we start teaching the students more than just defensive kido."

"I don't think that will be a problem," Yoruichi explained calmly, "After all, all we would be doing is teaching the students how to run away, which is what Umbridge wants them to do. We aren't teaching them anything offensive."

"Still, we might want to run it past her too. That way, we can make sure she officially condones it herself, and it will make her think we're on her side. While we don't actually care what she thinks, at least pretending we do will make her happier and easier to deal with."

"Sure. Why not."

I shrugged, "I trust you to know what you're doing, then. Do you need any help setting it up?"

She shook her head, "No. But . . ."

She hesitated.

I frowned, "It's not like you to not say what you're thinking."

Yoruichi sighed, "I was thinking, once Umbridge leaves- you are still working on that, right? And you're making sure not to do anything that any other student wouldn't be able to do?"

I nodded, "Of course, although limiting myself to childish pranks is rather inefficient. Have you found any blackmail we can use on her yet?"

"Well, once she leaves, I would like to start teaching them kendo using those reiatsu-channelling swords from the academy."

I raised an eyebrow, "The only reason you would use those particular swords is because you would want them to develop Zanpakutou."

"Is that too much?"

I sighed , "Yeah. It is. Those swords are only given to fourth year academy students for a reason. They're dangerous. Sure, it would help with their reflexes . . . but those swords have never been used with humans. Let's focus on the flash step for now. To be honest, I would rather they learn hado first before we even begin to start on zanjutsu. They aren't Ichigo. If we put them through the same stuff you put him through, it will kill them. And not in the Shinigami-friendly way, either."

She nodded, "Alright." she grimaced, "I don't like not teaching them everything, though. We're to blame for forcing them into the center of a warzone, and we aren't even doing anything to let them learn how to properly defend it. I want them to be even better taught than academy students. I want them to be stronger than me so that I know they'll be able to stand against Aizen."

"I know what you mean . . . and as loathe as I am to try and sheltering them . . . they're humans. You've been training for centuries, and they're a bunch of children. I know how much you like mentoring people, and helping them, but here that won't work. They're still living. Let's try and keep them that way." I paused, "That being said, it . . . might be best not to tell Yamamoto we're teaching them flash-step purposely."

Yoruichi smiled evilly, "My, my- what would Yamamoto do if he heard you say that."

I shrugged, "Probably kick my ass from here to Soul Society and back again. And probably try to execute me too; he's been in one of those moods for the past decade. But he's not here, and what he doesn't know won't hurt him. After all- most people with reiatsu learn some form of flash-step instinctively without any help at all. We'll just say we saw that happening, and decided to intervene before it got out of hand."

"He won't believe that."

"There's nothing he can do about it."

Yoruichi nodded, "True. And if he found out we were teaching them purposefully, it's be a miracle if the worst he did was give us a lecture. Ever since Ichigo, he's been picky about humans learning Shinigami abilities."

Picky was one way of putting it.

Outright homicidal was another way.

I nodded, and said, "If there's nothing else that you want . . ."

"Well . . . as odd as this sounds, Umbridge seems to trust you the most out of all of us."


"Or rather, she thinks you're the least harmless. So . . . would you mind breaking the subject to her? Just work some magic or something."

"I don't think there is any spell in the wizarding arsenal that can help me with that."

"Still, she thinks Kisuke is a drug addict and that I'm a slutty, immoral bitch. With you, she just thinks you've been brainwashed."

". . . You just don't want to do it yourself." I accused.

"Well, yeah. But please, just give it a try."

I sighed, "Alright, fine. I'm off then. See you tomorrow."

She waved lazily and I headed back to the dormitories. I was exhausted- Shihoin really was good at hakuda.

So- should we stop at the hospital wing to get something for that arm?

Nah. Urahara did something to these bandages, I'm pretty sure. They've been infused with healing kido and wizarding magic. The bone should be healed by tomorrow morning.

That's neat.

Yeah . . .

I paused, and heard approaching footsteps.

Umbridge is just around that corner, isn't she?


Great. Just my luck.

I turned and ran down a side hallway to try and find another way up to the Gryffindor dormitory. It was one of those hallways in the castle that no one seemed to have gone down for a while. The floor was dusty, which was odd given the fact that Filch and the house elves normally did a pretty good job of cleaning things.

It eventually narrowed into a curving passage way, and I couldn't tell where it led at all. There were no windows or lights and everything was covered in a thin layer of dust.

"Lumos." The wand lit up and I followed the thin, curving passage way. It was only wide enough that I could just barely squeeze through it—and that said something, because I wasn't exactly broad shouldered. Instead of stairs there were a few ladders that I had to climb up.

Eventually, it widened out and showed a room filled with dusty old boxes. There were still no windows, but strange torches that gave off no smoke or light lined the walls.

I've never heard of this part of the castle before.

Fred and George probably know about it.

No, I don't think that they do. Or that Potter's father and his little band of friends know either- it wasn't on the Marauder's map, or even on the map I got from Dumbledore.

So no one has been here for years?

I went over to one of the boxes, curious, and opened it up. Inside I found a pile of end-of-term exams, labelled with the date 'June Fourth, Fourteen-Twenty-Four'.

I would say centuries, not years. These are ancient. Not to mention how much dust there is here.

Either way, let's keep going. We need to check in on Potter in the dormitories.

I nodded and started walking again, eventually the passageway cleared and began to look slightly cleaner- like what one would expect the castle proper to look like. Eventually I came out in a hallway in what I thought was the Seventh floor. I had only briefly walked around when I first got here, but I was pretty positive I recognized how to get back to the Gryffindor dormitories from here.

I turned to look back at the passageway . . . only to come face to face with a stone wall.

What on earth?

This certainly is an interesting building, if nothing else.

It's downright troublesome, that's what it is. Passageways we don't know about only make it harder to defend.


I started walking down the hallway again, and yawned.

Jeez, I'm tired.

You should stop training so hard- what will you do if the castle is attacked and you're too tired to stand.

I sighed.

If I can be blunt- I know you don't like talking about how likely I am to die -but, let's face it . . . if Aizen attacks, there is nothing I can do about it other than get in peoples way. I can fight of Hollows, Arrancar, get students to safety . . . but I can do nothing against Aizen himself. Neither Urahara or Shihoin have been hypnotized by him. I have. And you know as well as I do, once he's used his hypnosis on someone once, he can use it again. For all I know, this is all something he's made up and I'm locked in a cell somewhere.

Master, do you really think that this is all an illus-

No. I don't. I'm not that important for him to do something like that. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I think I'm useless. That would be whining in the extreme. I'm just saying that in a fight against Aizen, I won't be able to see straight, so it would be best not to go swinging my sword around when I don't know where I'm aiming. So, I should train more to at least try and figure out some way to beat him. I'm not strong enough to beat him now, so what can I do other than try to get stronger?

I'm not too fond of this particular brand of pessimism.

Alright, then. I said gently, Let's move to lighter things, then. What did you think of Shihoin's second idea to give them training swords?

I could practically see Hyourinmaru frown, I don't like it. As of right now, the students really have no idea what they're dabbling in. To them it's just a secretive form of eastern magic.

We could tell them after we get attacked.


If we get attacked by Arrancar, and it's on the school property, at that point the cat is out of the bag so we might as well tell them about the whole dead thing. And do our best to utterly terrify them so that they don't go telling people.

Yamamoto will be a problem . . . either he won't like it, or he'll want to use them as an army.

Yeah. . . oh well, there is no way to tell how Yamamoto will react, so we'll cross that bridge when we get there.

What brilliant foresight.


I'm just saying, it might be something you want to plan out.

You're not one to talk mister 'let's just freeze that annoying neighbour solid'. Alright then, do you have any opinions-

I froze, as I felt something on the edge of my senses. It felt like a horcrux. I looked around carefully, but I couldn't see any door or classrooms or anything in any direction. Could it be that the horucrux was back in one of the class rooms I just walked past?

I need to find it.

I turned and walked back down the hall, feeling out for the horcrux. It was so faint it was hard to pinpoint. But as soon as I got partway down the hall, the horcrux grew so faint it was obvious I was walking away from it . . . but that didn't make any sense at all. I turned and walked back down the hall, figuring that it had to be in the other direction.

I need to find it- wherever it is.

But as soon as I got far enough in the other direction, it got fainter again. I growled slightly- that did not make any sense at all. I turned and walked back, wondering if maybe there was a trick of some kind. I stood where it was strongest, and looked around.

There were walls on either side.

What the hell?

Damnit. I really needed to find it.

And right as I thought that, a door appeared to my right.




I sighed, rubbed my forehead to try and get rid of the growing headache (combination of shock, tiredness, and horcruxes trying to take over my mind) before going to push the door open. Inside, there were heaps of things- chairs, old books, potions ingredients, banned toys . . . and is that porn from the eighteen-hundreds? Eeeew. I hurriedly turned and walked away.

If the horcrux was under that, I wasn't getting it.

I am going to laugh so hard when you hit puberty. So very, very hard. Admittedly, the growth-spurt will be enough to give me tears of joy, but the hormones on the other hand-

I snarled slightly, That is not funny.

I think it's hilarious.

Well, your sense of humour has always been dubious.

I frowned and walked towards the end of the hall where there was a small nightstand filled with trinkets and jewellery. Sitting in the middle was a jewelled tiara, it was really a pretty thing- ornate jewel work on it, beautiful patterning in the silver, and what appeared to be a golden lining on the bottom. I wouldn't be surprised if it was worth thousands of dollars.

It also had the most disgusting feeling that I've ever felt. It was practically oozing maliciousness. I set it on the stone floor and materialized Hyourinmaru. One swing and it melted into a heap of precious metal and jewels, and I felt the power of the horcrux disappear.

I hope that tiara wasn't worth much.

How much could it be worth if it was left in a room like this? Relax, it's not like it was an ancient wizarding artefact or anything like that- I mean, what would a tiara be able to do- grant its owner the ability to know everything? That would be ridiculous.


I paused and stared at the heap of twisted metal.

One more down, only a few more left to go.

We should get the horcrux out of Potter tomorrow. He knows about us know, and our only reason for waiting was because we weren't allowed to tell him about the whole Shinigami thing. It's still technically illegal to meddle with his soul, but at least it's less illegal now.

Yeah, you're probably right.

I yawned and walked back up the stairs.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Third Person POV

In an empty shack, in the middle of nowhere, Tom Riddle- also known as Lord Voldemort- fell to the ground clutching at his head. Aizen Sosuke, the only other person in the room aside from Ichimaru Gin, who was entertaining himself by harassing Nagini, chuckled and said, "Looks like he got another one."

Voldemort hissed, "We'd be able to get rid of the stupid, meddling brats if you'd just combine your forces and attack with mine."

"No." said Aizen flatly, "There is still something I am waiting for, and if you attack then you will attack on your own. You only have –including yourself- only five horcrux left. Do you want to risk it on something as foolish as-"

"Four." Voldemort coughed.


"I have four horcrux left, not five, looks like you miscalculated." Voldemort said, smug the Shinigami traitor had finally made a mistake.

Gin looked up from Nagini, the smirk still on his face, "Aizen-taicho doesn't make many mistakes, Voldy-wart. Iffin he says ya got five of 'em horcrux, then ya got five of 'em."

Aizen smirked, "Which means you made one by accident. My, my, how fragile your soul must be if it splits after one good hit."

"That didn't happen, you think I wouldn't notice if my own soul split? You fool." Voldemort righted himself, now recovered from the loss of another bit of Soul.

Aizen chuckled, "It's already so damaged, I wouldn't be surprised if you didn't manage to ignore it. It's like getting a finger cut off from a hand already severed from your body."

"I still would have noticed."

"You were probably preoccupied with something else . . . something like, dying, for example."

Voldemort's eyes widened and Gin laughed, "I think he mighta finally figured it out, Taicho."

"I think he might have too. So, Voldemort, now that you know Harry Potter is the last horcrux, how do you want to deal with it?"

Gin leaned back over the chair to grin at Voldemort, "Iffin I were you, I'd have some fun with 'im. Lil' Shiro-chan ain't gonna wait much longer ta get rid of it, he's probably jus' all worried 'bout not hurtin' Harry-chama. So it'd probably be best ta' use it fast."

Aizen Sosuke grinned, "I have a plan, Voldemort, if you're willing to try it."

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I got up into the dormitory and frowned, seeing that Harry was passed out asleep on the couch. Should I wake him up and make him go sleep in his actual bed, or should I just leave him? He must have had a pretty hard time getting to sleep. If I woke him up, would he be able to get back to sleep again.

Potter twitched and let out a tiny whimper.

I guess if he's having a nightmare he's not sleeping properly anyways, so there is probably no harm in waking him up. I walked over and shook his shoulder gently.

"Potter." I whispered, "You're dreaming, wake up."

Harry's eye's flew open and I stepped back.

"You all right?" I asked quietly.

He nodded, not meeting my eyes, "Yeah. I guess so."

I frowned at his expression, and felt that the aura of the horcrux was stronger than usual, but pretended not to notice.

It had occurred to me that since all of the other Soul Fragments had had to be destroyed by destroying the container, Potter's was probably the same. In other words, the only way I knew how to destroy them now was by destroying the container . . . which was in the particular case Potter's Soul.

I didn't think destroying that was such a good idea, so for now I focused on trying to figure out how they were made so I could figure out a way to undo it.

Needless to say, that information wasn't easy to get, so it was taking me a while. Kisuke was working on it too, but from a research and development perspective.

He wasn't having much luck either.

"Alright. You might want to head up to bed, then. It's late."

Harry yawned and rubbed his eyes, "What time?"

"About two or three in the morning."

"Why are you still up then-" he looked up, "Jeez, Toshiro- what happened to you?!"

I stared blankly. "Ummm . . . what do you mean?"

"What do you mean 'what' you're covered in dirt and it looks like someone was beating on you!"

Understanding dawned, "Oh. I was just training. Really, in terms of injuries, this is minor. I'll be mostly healed by tomorrow."

". . ."

"Trust me."

"Fine, fine. Jeez. You might want to tell Professor Shihoin to lay off, though."

I laughed, "Che. As if she'd ever listen. Go to bed, Potter."

"Fine, fine. See you in the morning."

"See you." I turned to walk up the stairs, and Harry paused. I frowned, "What is it?"

". . . Nothing." Harry said.

Even I could tell it was a lie, but he knew there was nothing I could do about it right now. Potter would tell me when he was ready to.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The next morning I got up a little early, first off to take a shower and get rid of all the dirt, and secondly to check my arm and make sure that there was no sign of a serious injury. Bruises were okay, as long as that old toad Umbridge didn't know how many of them that I had.

After that I went down to breakfast, I was starving.

All that was left was to go down to Professor Umbridge's office to talk to her about the whole flash-step thing. I was hoping that I wouldn't seriously screw this up somehow- she was a paranoid, horribly bigoted and small minded individual who had a massive ager management issue.

And a great deal of that anger was- rightfully- directed at me.

And she didn't even know about the pranks I had been setting a few days ago.

I got down to the office and knocked on the door. It was eight, and the first class was at eight thirty, so I should be able to talk to her now.

She opened the door and one of those ridiculously fake grins split her face.

"Ah, Mr. Hitsugaya- what do I owe the pleasure of your visit to?"

"Professor Urahara and Professor Shihoin were wondering if you would be willing to allow them to teach a new branch of studies for the kido class. They would have come themselves, but they were afraid that if they did then it would be considered too official. It really just is an idea in the making right now."

Umbridge's eyes lit up, and I frowned.

For someone who hates all form of Defence Against the Dark Arts classes, she looked way too happy.

"Why- that sounds like a wonderful way to take advantage of the wonderful cultural exchange we have here. Do come in and explain more."

Why do I get the feeling that when she says 'Would you like to have a seat in my office?' she's actually saying the equivalent of 'Would you like some candy? Just come into my big, white van with tinted windows.'

Because she probably has, at some point in her life, lured some poor sap into her office and killed them.

I nodded politely, "That would be nice."

She gestured to a chair and I walked in and sat down, she started shuffling around the back of the room, "Would you like some tea, dear, or pumpkin juice?"

I shook my head, "No thank-you, Professor, I just had breakfast, so I'm fine."

You think she's going to try to drug you?


Umbridge nodded, "Well, how about I give you a glass of pumpkin juice, just in case."

"Umm . . . sure."

How are you going to get rid of it.

I'll just pretend to drink it and evaporate the juice away slowly. Or maybe I just won't touch it and hopefully she won't notice.

She turned her back to me so I couldn't see what she was doing, and then handed me a glass. I scanned it briefly with my reiatsu- there was definitely something in it. I set it down on the table, and she said, "So- what is it that your teachers wish to teach?"

"Well, we've noticed that the Ministry has been trying to lessen the amount of offensive magic that has to be taught to students. One of the most common forms of magic we teach back in Japan is something called 'hoho' or the ability to move quickly. To put it into layman's terms, it makes it so that you can run away from things really, really fast so that no fight will ever have to take place. It is relatively harmless, although we wanted to make sure that you were okay with it since it does involve physical conditioning and training, which might be taken the wrong way if one weren't aware of the full situation."

Umbridge nodded slowly, "That seems . . . reasonable. Although, I will admit it is rather odd that now of all times you transfers are willing to side with the Ministry. Up until now, you have disagreed with me. Quite vocally."

I faked a grin, and hoped it looked a little more realistic, and a little less . . . terrifying than her grin did, "That was me. This is the two Professors proposing the class. While I can't say I agree with them when they help you, they are still the ones in charge and I have to listen to what they tell me to do. And they felt like it would be a good idea to breach the subject to you first, so that you could make sure it complied with the Ministry's current plan of action."

She nodded again, "Alright- I will consider it. Is there anything else I should know about?"

"Just that Urahara-sensei and Shihoin-sensei would like to eventually talk to you about it."

I'm pretty positive that the two of them never want to talk to her.

"Well, I'm sure we'll be able to talk out a good time. Tell them I'm grateful for their consideration."

"I will." I stood up, "If you don't mind, Professor, I should probably get going to class."

She frowned, "You aren't going to drink that juice?"

I tried to think of an excuse, ". . . ummm . . . I would love to, and I don't want to be rude . . . but I really need to get going to class. I don't want to be late."

I turned and quickly left the classroom, "Thank you for your time professor Umbridge!"

As soon as I was down the hallway I let out a sigh of relief- thank goodness that was over. I hated talking to people I didn't like.

Especially if they were trying to drug me at the same time.