Author Note: Because this is fanfiction and I don't want to stress myself out with all the technicalities, any class schedules/ school events/ dates/ ect will be tentative and probably not entirely cannon. However, I will try my hardest to keep them all believable.
Also, I'm trying something new! Every chapter I'm going to try and listen to at least one song while I write. Whichever song that is will be posted at the end of the chapter, and I might include specifics if I feel the song really fit a certain part of the chapter. Most songs probably wont though... I only use them for focusing purposes.
With that being said... currently on repeat: "World So Cold" by 12 Stones. :)
"Information on the motives behind the Kishin attacks should be our first priority," Kid stated, his thoughts finally concluded after a short silence. "I will ask my father if he has picked up on any leads while we were away when I check in with him tonight."
Maka nodded, "Soul and I can question the Headmaster and Professor McGonagall tomorrow morning before classes start. Perhaps then we will have enough to get started with an investigation."
Soul grumbled, but did not comment. He didn't like the idea of waking early, but dared not voice his distaste so close to his meister. "Sounds lovely. I'm going to bed."
As her partner stalked off towards his room, Maka couldn't help but grin. Even this far away form home, with danger lurking in every shadow, Soul was still Soul.
Chapter 8: New Discoveries ~
"Do you see that, up there?" A honey haired girl from Hufflepuff craned her head upward, pointing her finger towards one of the many towers that loomed above Hogwarts. A Ravenclaw student stood at her right, his dark hair matching the hue of the night sky.
"I wonder what it is... Don't suppose it's the blue fellow from that school, do you?" The Ravenclaw boy asked, trying to match the crouched shape on the roof to the exotic looking teen that was introduced to them at supper. The distance was too far to be sure.
"No way!" The Hufflepuff insisted. "It's impossible for a student to get up that high without a broom, and Madam Hooch would have already been throwing a tantrum if that were the case." At that, the Ravenclaw nodded in agreement. Whatever it was, it was clear that a broom was not involved, which meant that a student simply could not be perched on the upper most edge of the Astronomy tower.
"Must be some sort of bird..." The Ravenclaw reasoned. And with that, the two students continued on their way, going back and forth between what possible creature they could have just seen.
Once the two students were out of sight, Tsubaki reverted back into her human form, a grin forming. "They think you are a bird, Black Star." She giggled. Her partner scowled in return.
"Hn, they just couldn't identify the glory that it my being," Black Star stated simply. He peered once again over the grounds, enjoying his bird's eye view. From this height, he could see everything. He frowned, not a single leaf was out of place. No fun at all.
"Of course." Tsubaki returned his banter with a smile. "It's getting late, don't you think we should return?"
Black Star was silent, his eyes fixed on the pale moon. It was so different from their own. Serene. "I'm not tired. And besides, it's kind of nice up here."
Tsubaki observed her partner curiously. When he wasn't so focused on showing off, he could be quite thoughtful. "That may be, but I'm sure the others are wondering where we are."
Black Star sighed. "Alright, fine. Let's go, Tsubaki. Maybe we'll get lucky and find something interesting on the way back." And with that said, the meister nodded to his weapon partner, catching her shuriken form in his hands nimbly before launching himself from the tower. He landed soundlessly on the soft ground seconds later, quickly sinking into the pitch black shadows.
The walk to the castle's interior was uneventful. The only challenge posed was finding a second entrance, as the front doors had been sealed shut hours ago. The problem was easily solved, and he took pride in the way he effortlessly scaled the surprisingly smooth and fissure-less walls, vaulting himself up and over the side of a smaller tower. He entered the nearest corridor, quickly loosing himself within the maze of Hogwarts.
"I imagine the newer students get lost often," Tsubaki commented within her weapon form, her soft voice throwing a light echo around the pair. "The castle is nearly as extensive as Shibusen."
Black Star chuckled at the thought of little first year students wandering aimlessly around the school, his attention quickly changing focus when his stomach let out a sudden grumble. "I wonder if we can find the kitchen."
Within her weapon form, Tsubaki giggled. "Why don't we find out rooms first, Black Star. It's not all that much longer until breakfast. You should be able to wait a few hours." Her meister's response was little more than a scoff. His stomach did not agree, but for the sake of avoiding an argument that he was doomed to loose, Black Star held back his initial response and continued walking in the direction he felt the stairs were.
It wasn't long before Black Star spotted the mass of moving staircases in the distance. He was a trained assassin after all and it was within his skills not to get hopelessly lost- most of the time. "See Tsubaki, I told you that I could-"
Instantly, and without question, Black Star was hidden by the shadows of an old suit of medieval looking armor, his ears strained to catch even the slightest movement. "What is it?" His whisper was only loud enough for his partner to hear.
"On the stairs, a level below us. I sensed someone coming up," Tsubaki replied, and Black Star frowned. It was probably only a student sneaking around, or a professor snooping around for miscreants. Even still, at this hour, it never hurt to remain undiscovered. And so, as painstaking as it was to use even the smallest amount of patience, Black Star remained hidden until he could catch sight of whoever was ascending to their floor.
Even though it felt like an eternity, it was not long before the soft clatter of shoes striking stone could be heard. Another moment, and the sound grew louder, more distinct, revealing that it was not one, but two that lurked the halls. And then, hushed voices.
"-saw them head this way," the voice belonged to a middle aged male, "I'm sure of it."
The next voice belonged to a woman, her pitch high, flustered, and familiar. "For your sake, I'd hope so. These goose chases are growing old."
The man was silent for a moment, their voices growing ever stronger. Soon, they would be passing right in front of the shadowed assassin. "The brats are tricky, Madam Umbridge-"
"I insist, Caretaker," The woman, this Umbridge, interrupted, "that you address me as High Inquisitor. It appears there are those who have forgotten my position, and I will see it go no further. Am I understood?"
The two were passing right in front of Black Star now, completely unaware that their conversation was being spied upon. The man, looking stunned, stopped walking just within the meister's sight. His face had paled, and he seemed wrought with fear and something else that was near unreadable; guilt? Regret?
"I- I apologize, most sincerely, Ma-" The man's voice stopped immediately, "-High Inquisitor. I meant nothing of disrespect towards your position."
The woman, who Black Star immediately recognized from supper, turned around, looking over the man with a possessive glint in her eyes. "Of course you didn't, dear. Now, come along, before we loose the children."
They continued down the hall, Black Star letting out a cold shudder. "That was just creepy," he muttered, and Tsubaki hummed in agreement.
"Quickly, Black Star, let's find the others," Tsubaki replied. Black Star nodded and crept from the shadows, heading straight for the dorm so he could share tonight's awkward discovery.
The last thing Maka expected to be doing at three in the morning was sitting with Kid in the dorm common room while everyone else was asleep. Her eyes skimmed the pages of her book angrily. She knew Black Star would be making his rounds at his own pace, but this was completely uncalled for.
Maka closed her book, the sudden action catching Kid's attention. Golden irises met green before both locked on the door leading out to the hall. A moment later it creaked open and Black Star walked in, yawning casually.
Black Star felt the stares immediately and turned to face his friends. "Oh." He blinked, not expecting the company so soon. "What are you guys still doing up?"
Maka's brow twitched. With inhuman speed, she closed the gap between her and the blue haired assassin. "MAKA...!"
Black Star's eyes widened in horror. "Oh no... wait a sec."
"CHOP!" The echo was truly momentous to witness. Kid watched, his eyes glinting with dark amusement, as Maka's book made a large dent in Black Star's thick skull.
It would be minutes later before Black Star even began to regain consciousness. Tsubaki stood over him, frowning. He really got himself into way too much trouble...
"So, tell us Black Star," Kid began, offering a hand to pull him up from the floor. He took it begrudgingly, casting a dark look towards Maka and the book still in her hand. "What had you out so late?"
The assassin in question rubbed his head, wincing. "Why should I tell you anything after what Maka just did to me?" Black Star's blue-green eyes glared in her direction. "That's going to bruise... OW! Tsubaki, you're making it worse!" Tsubaki, despite the mild pain her meister was in, chuckled as she fussed with Black Star's hair.
"I tried to warn you." Tsubaki smiled innocently, but deep down Black Star knew his weapon was enjoying his torment.
Maka frowned, resisting the urge to swat the overconfident brat with her book again. "We've been waiting on you for hours," she told him. "Everyone else decided to go to sleep, but we wanted to see if you had discovered anything before we finished making our plans."
"Plans?" Black Star took this moment to sprawl himself on the nearest couch, opposite of Kid's place by the fire. "What's happening later?"
Maka sighed, the only one in their strange little gang left standing. Tsubaki had already taken a seat beside her partner. "I'm going to talk to Professor McGonagall for starters. She and the Headmaster are still withholding information, I'm sure of it."
"You know, Black Star," Maka began, slightly annoyed that she was still explaining all this so early in the morning. "You would know most of this if you were here sooner."
Black Star's eyes blazed in protest. "Hey, I've actually found out something useful!" He crossed his arms on his chest in defiance as lay on his back. They were just jealous, obviously.
Kid gazed over at him expectantly. "And that would be...?" He left the question open for answer, to which Black Star only rolled his eyes, grinning.
"I suppose that I, the mighty assassin Black Star, can forgive Maka of her cruelty-" Tsubaki's hand clamped firmly over her partner's mouth. Normally, she would entertain his antics, but right now everyone was tired and ready for much needed sleep.
"There was nothing eventful to report until we were finding our way back," Tsubaki began. Black Star gawked as he watched her steal his thunder. "We were near the stairs when I sensed someone. We hid from sight, but we still caught a glimpse of that pink woman."
Golden eyes hardened into a murderous glare. "Dolores Umbridge. What is that foul woman up to now? How long ago?"
The assassin struggled to keep himself from grinning, Kid's reaction was just too funny. "Not long, we came here straight after. She was with someone she called the caretaker, and they were talking about finding someone." Now, Black Star's demeanor had changed into that of seriousness. "She said something along the lines of 'come along, before we loose the children.'" He shuddered. "It was creepy."
"I can only imagine..." Kid agreed.
Maka looked confused, "But why would she be looking for someone? Who do you think the children are, Students?"
"It's probable, but the circumstances are still strange. We should keep this in mind in case we gather any more details." With this, Death the Kid rose from his chair. "Thank you Black Star, Tsubaki. I'll definitely be keeping a close eye on this particular professor. Maka, the plans we discussed are still in motion. Let me know if you uncover anything else of value so I can report to Father."
"Sounds good," Maka agreed, relieved to finally be able to get some sleep. Tomorrow would be a long day, she could feel it already. "Goodnight everyone. See you in the morning."
With a departing yawn from Black Star, everyone headed to their rooms. Maka clutched her book, deep in thought. Everything she'd learned so far had been mysterious and confusing. Everyone in this building was affiliated with witchcraft, although of a different sort. Yet even of this different sort, she could tell it was just as powerful as the witches from her own world. Perhaps even more so... Now, on top of everything else, there was a mysterious pink women who seemed hell bent on making their mission difficult.
At the end of the hall, Maka took in a deep, calming breath. There was no use in stressing herself out. This was nothing their team couldn't handle. With new-found determination, she opened the door to the room she shared with Soul, walking straight into the darkness as noiselessly as she could. She didn't want to wake him, so she treaded carefully, one step at a time.
"Maka, you're really terrible at sneaking." The sudden voice of her partner nearly gave Maka a heart attack. She gripped her book more tightly than before, trying to steady her breathing.
"I thought you were sleeping!"
"I guess I'm just not as tired as I thought I was," Soul replied, turning over so he could face his Meister. Now that Maka's eyes had somewhat adjusted to the darkness, she could just make out Soul's form, although he appeared to be drowning beneath his covers.
Maka made her way over to her trunk, trying as hard as she could not trip over anything in the unfamiliar space. Even with the moonlight filtering through the window, the room was dark. "We have a long day tomorrow, you should try and get some rest. We still have to talk with Professor McGonagall before classes start, so we will be up early."
Soul groaned. "Don't remind me... do we really have to?"
Maka chuckled. "Yes. Now turn around so I can change." Grumbling, Soul did as he was told, resisting the urge to peek. He was the cool guy, and cool guys didn't do that. He turned back around when he heard Maka get into her own bed. For a moment, there was only silence. " I have a bad feeling about this mission. What if we don't know what we are getting ourselves into?"
"Maka..." Soul's grin was so wide it pierced the darkness. "We're a kick-ass team. Everything will be fine." At that, Maka couldn't help but smile.
"Goodnight, Soul. Thank you."
The next morning came much too early. Even Maka had trouble rousing herself from a deep slumber. When she opened her eyes, the sky was pink and orange, casting a soft glow over the room. She yawned heavily, forcing herself from the warmth of her covers. After nearly stumbling over her trunk, the meister searched for her planned attire: an earthy green sweater and plaid skirt.
After dressing, she attempted the largest chore of the day. Waking Soul. She walked over to him and poked him. "Soul! Wake up..."
He grumbled and swatted away her hand. "S'too early..." Maka frowned.
"Don't give me that excuse, Soul. We're going to be late."
"Five more minutes..."
"C'mon, Maka. Stop being uncool." The weapon turned over, hiding his face underneath a large pillow.
"Three. I'm getting my book."
"Lying isn't cool."
"Two." There was shuffling. Soul stiffened, turning his head to he could listen. Something was grabbed by his partner. Something heavy. Something dangerous.
"One. Last. Chance."
She walked closer, slowly, like a predator stalking her prey. Soul could feel her frightening grin as the hair on the back of his neck prickled up.
"A-alright! I'm up! Put that damn thing back where it belongs!" Covers were thrown as Soul quickly launched himself from the bed. He'd never gotten dressed so fast, putting on whatever he grabbed first. Luckily, his red pants and a black shirt looked just fine. He raced after Maka as she left their dorm, black headband in hand. "Maka, wait up!"
It was a quick walk to the Transfiguration classroom. Maka allowed nothing but a brisk pace, much to her partners annoyance. "Slow down..."
Maka huffed. "We're already late. Classes will be starting soon." There would be no relief.
When they arrived, Soul let out an exasperated sigh. He rubbed his legs in annoyance, watching as Maka knocked dutifully on the door before opening it slowly. "Professor McGonagall?"
The elder witch, who was busy preparing her first lesson of the day, looked startled. She gestured for the two to come in, wondering what on earth they would be doing here at this hour. Not even Hermione Granger would be here for another thirty minutes or so. "I surely didn't expect to see you two this morning. Can I help you with something?"
"You can," Maka replied, determined for answers. "We need you to tell us more about the pre-kishin attacks. It's important that we get as much information as possible."
"The attacks?" McGonagall looked confused. The headmaster had not made it clear just how much information he was willing to share with the outsiders. "What is it that you wish to know?"
The boy, Soul, casually placed his hands in his pockets before speaking. "First off, we need to know how all this all began. When did the sightings start, and how frequent?"
The professor frowned, her features tight. She knew the children would be different, but she had not thought they would be so outright. Situations such as these were jobs given to adults to handle, not teenagers. Instead of arguing, however, she sighed. She was not a naive witch. She knew it would be best to give them the answers they sought. "The sightings began over the summer," she began. "Members from... that is to say, our sources, noticed them first. Dumbledore tried to get the attention of the Minister, but he was hesitant to act until the sightings escalated into death."
"How frequent are the attacks," Maka asked, deep in thought. Had the government here been anything like that in Death City, these unnecessary deaths could have been prevented.
"They were few at first..." McGonagall explained, deciding she may as well get comfortable. She took a seat behind her desk, gesturing for the two teens to follow. They sat across from her, listening to her explanation. She told them of the frequent murders, of finding witches and wizards, even a few muggles, dead of mysterious causes. Each was linked back to the Dark Ones.
"And this dark wizard everyone keeps talking about?" Soul pressed on. Everyone around here was making a big deal about the pre-kishin possibly being the result of some famous dark lord... that neither he, nor the rest of the DWMA, knew a thing about. Talk about ill-informed...
"Voldemort," McGongall nearly whispered his name. "Much like the witches you are familiar with, he is responsible for countless bloodshed. About fourteen years ago, we thought he disappeared, only to return several years later. Now, he has picked up where he left off."
Soul raised his eyebrow. "And that would be where, exactly?"
"Spreading more bloodshed and chaos, wherever he deems it fit." McGonagall straightened. This conversation was darkening quickly, and she didn't like it.
Maka rested her hand on her palms, concentrating. "I wonder... perhaps the kishin's eggs are drawn to him."
Soul couldn't help himself from grinning. "Professor, would you describe this Voldemort wizard as mad?" McGonagall looked at a loss for words.
"What do you mean? Why would the Dark Ones be drawn to him?" The possibility puzzled her. Why on earth would these monsters be drawn to the Dark Lord? Why would a question like this even occur to these children? And although she wouldn't admit it, Soul's grin was unsettling her.
"You see-" Maka began to explain, but was interrupted by the door opening abruptly.
"Professor?" The voice was familiar, matching that of a bushy haired youth the two DWMA students met the previous day. "I'm sorry to be barging in like this..." Hermione trailed off, just noticing that the Transfiguration professor had company. "Oh... hello. Was I interrupting?"
"Actually-" Soul began, stopping abruptly when his partner's elbow jammed into his ribs. He cursed angrily under his breath.
"It's fine, Hermione." Maka smiled, turning to face McGonagall. "Should we continue this later, then?"
McGongall nodded. "I think that would be wise." She turned to Hermione, motioning her to come in.
"Uh, sorry..." She said, walking towards the three, several papers held tight in her hand. "I was only wondering if I might turn these in. There was a certain someone snooping around my work last night, and I thought it best that these reach your hands before theirs."
McGonagall smiled, although her lips were still tight. She accepted the papers and placed them neatly on her desk. Her mind was elsewhere, focusing more on the two in front of her, rather than on her own student. She would have to finish this talk with them soon and discuss what she learned with the Headmaster. Perhaps he would be able to shed some light on her confusion.
"Well," Soul yawned. "It seems it's time for us head out. My bed is calling my name..." McGongall actually chuckled, hardly, but it was something. As the two got up to leave, Hermione called after them.
They stopped, Maka looked at Hermione expectantly. "Why don't you stay for class? Harry and Ron will be joining us as well, it could be fun."
Soul just stared at her, all hopes of retreating to the warm comforts of his bed were gone. Sure, they still had to talk with Dumbledore, but nothing said he couldn't get a few more hours of sleep first. McGongall pondered it for a moment, glancing over her lesson plans. "That's actually a wonderful idea, Hermione. Maka... Soul, you two can lend me hand."
Hermione and Maka shared a look, each grinning in excitement. This would be interesting, they were sure of it. Next to them, however, Soul look terrified.
Author Note: Pardon me while I say... It's about DAMN time that I finished this. Seriously, I've had major writers block and it finally seems to be cracking. I apologize if this chapter isn't quite as good as the other chapters, or as fleshed out. I just kind of wrote as I got ideas. I hope it's to your liking :)
Let me know what you think, maybe?