"So what are Durmstrang and Beauxbatons like?" asked Toshiro.
"Durmstrang is in Bulgaria, and it's filled with mostly boys. Girls go to the French school Beauxbatons to learn magic and the Arts. It's rumored that the Veela clans almost always send the girls of the clans to Beauxbatons," said James.
"So basically we're going to have to deal with muscleheaded boys and brainless girls with an almost impossible to decipher French accent?" complained Renji.
"So Squad eleven and four then," said Toshiro.
They all snickered.
"That reminds me James, how did you end up in the Soul Society anyway? I thought those that died in Europe went right to Avalon," said Rangiku.
"I did go to Avalon. But it was so damn boring that I accidentally left its territory and ended up in the Soul Society after a few years. I didn't realize that I had gone too far until we came here and I learned about the fact there were other afterlifes."
"I can sense someone coming from the east," said Toshiro suddenly.
They were the ones to spot the French school first, thanks to his timely warning. Toshiro had been blackmailed into coming straight to the hospital wing if he couldn't sleep for more than six hours for three days in a row.
For some reason, his gigai was starting to break down at Hogwarts, which resulted in his spirit energy fighting the bindings.
It had taken two painful and scary months before they started to figure out what was going on. Needless to say Kurotsuchi wasn't too happy about it.
Toshiro had a sneaking suspicion that Dumbledore was to blame for a perfectly good gigai breaking down so rapidly.
So if Toshiro had the chance to hit the old man with a spell, he was going to take it, consequences be damned!
Suddenly he heard something akin to a whirlpool, and his eyes were immediately drawn to the lake.
A derelict ship appeared, first the mast then the entire ship.
The foreign students had finally arrived.
Toshiro was very surprised to find himself sitting next to what appeared to be a Veela. Unlike the rest of the boys, he kept his eyes on her face rather than her...endowments. Though to be fair to the girl, even if she did have some rather obvious perks, she couldn't really hold a candle to Rangiku, who was always on the verge of spilling out of her uniform at any given time.
Though she seemed rather relieved by Toshiro's blunt manner and apparent disregard to her natural charms.
"Is there any near here?" she asked. She was looking for a rather thick rich French pudding, and having absolutely no luck with it.
"Could you give me a description of what it looks like?"
She told him, and Toshiro spotted some one table over.
"I believe there is some by that red-head sitting next to James. But I wouldn't recommend getting too close to him, because he has a rather disgusting habit of not chewing his food properly," said Toshiro politely.
Fluer nodded, and went to retrieve the pudding. She seemed rather...off put by Ron.
"Thank you for the forewarning. That was rather unpleasant."
Toshiro nodded, and spooned out some more of the foreign food. He already missed his Onigiri and dango, but the only place to get any of that was to hit the kitchens later.
Finally Fluer's curiosity got the better of her, and she asked Toshiro in thick French why he was unaffected by her Veela charms.
He used the mostly unused power all Shinigami had for understanding any language and replied in the same language.
"Miss Delacour, I am a Death God captain from Japan. I am afraid that your charms are no where near as strong as my partner. That, and my lieutenant has you beat in certain areas."
Fluer nodded, her questions satisfied for the moment.
Unlike the paltry wizards of Europe, those of mixed blood knew of the Death Gods and had a treaty with them to keep the peace. Especially after that debacle with the Quincy a few hundred years ago.
Toshiro wasn't too surprised to find several of the French girls and Bulgarian boys drifting to the Secret Cafe. He had anticipated such a reaction, which was why he had enlisted Hermione to adding a few new dishes to the menus so the students wouldn't feel too homesick.
Though he was surprised to find out that Viktor Krum was still in school. He had been too busy trying to fight the migraine that Dumbledore had caused by having the students sing the school anthem.
Clearly he didn't understand that off-key students were not meant to be heard.
"This is impressive," said Viktor, his accent making his English rather difficult to understand.
"Thank you. I felt that the students needed an area that wasn't patrolled by the teachers and where the blood pride could be set aside. Thankfully the snakes were rather easy to remove."
Toshiro grinned outright. He liked his little cafe, because it was at just the right temperature for him and it was rather relaxing.
"Salazar Slytherin was a bit...obsessed with snakes. When I first came down here, I discovered he went a little too overboard with them. It was downright tacky."
Victor nodded. An awkward silence descended on them.
"I could give you a place to relax where no one else will notice you unless you want them to. To get away from the rather large fan base you have."
Seeing the relieved look on the boy's face made his day. Toshiro gave the boy the password he had built in to activate the privacy charms. And the directions on how to work the library system without getting up.
Within minutes, he could see a change in the older boy. Victor seemed to actually relax without having to keep an eye out for the fans. He had quickly become engrossed in one of the books.
It didn't take long for Toshiro to discover that Fluer, the girl who had talked to him the night before, was having similar problems. He quickly directed her to the same table Viktor was at, and gave her the same directions. Viktor didn't seem to mind her presence since she had retrieved a book of her own and was fairly quiet.
Two hours later, Toshiro looked up from his book on Dark Ice magic to hear shouting.
Going up the stairs, he found out the cause.
Apparently Karkaroff wasn't too happy that Viktor had gone missing for the past hour without anyone seeing him at least once. The only clue he had been that he had last been seen going to the small cafe under the castle.
"Will you shut up man? Your student is currently taking a break from his fan club at the cafe," snapped Toshiro.
Karkaroff glared at him.
"How do you know that?"
"Because I just helped him turn on the privacy wards at his table, and the last time I looked he was still there reading. And I know for a fact that Fluer Delacour was still there with him with her own book."
Toshiro noted the look of relief on Madam Maxime's face. Clearly she was different from Dumbledore and Karkaroff, because she had honest concern in her features.
"Madam, would you like a tour of the Cafe? I assure you that several of your students are still there, enjoying the peace and quiet," said Toshiro, holding his arm out in the correct manner.
Maxime looked like she wanted to laugh. She accepted his invitation and went to investigate this Secret Cafe that the Hogwarts students talked about.
"So let me get this straight. He thinks a simple age line is enough to keep the underage students from finding a way into the tournament?"
James shrugged. He had already entered Rangiku and the others. Toshiro wanted nothing to do with the tournament. His migraines were bad enough as it was.
The twins had already tried to bluff it with an aging potion. After ending up with twin beards (no where near as long as Dumbledore's but it was pretty close) Toshiro went up to them and told them point blank that if they were really that eager to join the stupid tournament, then they should just ask one of their teammates for help.
After that, Toshiro saw Angeline drop three slips of paper instead of just one.
He didn't want to join in on the selection process and got a note from Pomphrey that would excuse him from being in the Great Hall that night.
Which was why he was cursing up a storm the minute he heard that somehow, someway his name had actually been entered. His only consolation to the entire mess was that Fred Weasley had somehow gotten picked as well, to the anger of some of the students.
Toshiro raised an eyebrow when the George informed Fred that their brother Charlie happened to be at Hogwarts. Which could only mean one thing, considering Charlie Weasley was a Dragon Tamer.
The first task was dragons.
James resisted the urge to laugh, mostly because the chances that dragons would attack Toshiro were next to zero.
For the next month, Hermione tried and failed to get Toshiro and Fred prepared for the first task. She seemed annoyed that neither boy was taking the task that seriously.
When the day finally arrived, Toshiro was sitting in the tent bored out of his mind. Hermione had gotten so annoyed with them that she refused to speak to them at all.
Fred went out first, and Toshiro waited for the boom of the cannon to tell him when his turn was up. Finally, he walked out to face the Horntail that he had selected.
The dragon roared, and she was pissed.
It took Toshiro a minute to translate her roaring through Hyorinmaru.
And he became appalled. The wizards were stupid enough to move the eggs during the rather delicate incubation period, and three of the eggs were dead. Two were on the verge of dying, and the female was doing her best to keep them alive.
She looked right at Toshiro, and roared flames at him. He threw up an ice shield without thinking, and ran to the eggs. The power of the Dragon Well pulsed in time with his breathing.
He ducked under the dragon's jaws, and wasn't surprised when the female paused in her rage. She could feel the presence of the orb that Toshiro had accidentally absorbed two years ago.
Toshiro put his hand in the nest, and a wave of pure magic raced through his fingers. The power of the Dragon Well did what only a miracle could do.
It revived the dead eggs, and gave them a second chance at life.
He grabbed the false egg and went straight to the medical tent. He dropped the golden egg into James' arms, then went to have a serious talk with the Dragon Tamers.
He was seriously pissed off at them at the moment.
Charlie Weasley was very taken aback when a white-haired fourth year walked up to them, looking extremely pissed off, and lit into them about the eggs.
"Are you fools aware that you nearly killed those eggs?! Did it ever occur to you to find eggs that were past the incubation period and wouldn't be too effected by the colder temperatures here at the school?!"
It took some doing on the part of his friends to calm the boy down. But not before Toshiro let them have a real tongue lashing for endangering the unborn dragons. He was already furious that Viktor had accidentally gotten some of the infant dragons crushed.
It wasn't until his familiar hissed at them that they figured out why he was so angry with them.
Toshiro Hitsugaya was a genuine dragon lover.
Toshiro had a premonition that when the egg was opened he would get a headache. Which was why he muffled his hearing with a charm.
Sure enough, ten seconds after opening it, the other students forced the hinges closed. The shrill shrieking of the egg had given them all a headache.
Toshiro looked at the other students, and said calmly "I propose we place this egg under different conditions to see if the sound changes. Any in agreement?"
They all nodded. He wasn't a Raven for nothing.
It took a few days for them to figure out that the clue was mermaids. Toshiro listened to the song, and found that he would have to stay underwater for at least an hour to retrieve something.
Talking to his head of house yielded results, and he quickly mastered the bubble head charm.
James wasn't surprised to learn that Toshiro had figured it out already.
"I wonder who they're going to take," said James.
"I have a good feeling Matsumoto will be my target," said Toshiro sourly.
"Chances are they'll pick George for mine," said Fred.
Marcus Flint and his merry band of cronies were really starting to get on his nerves. So much so that Toshiro enlisted Draco's help in a prank right before the second task.
He brought in a movie projector, and told the Slytherins that the movie they would be watching was a rather morbid and descriptive film called Final Destination, in which a few people survive a horrific disaster only to have Death hunt them down and make them die in particularly horrifying ways.
Once they heard that they were all for it.
But what Toshiro didn't tell them was that he switched the labels on the covers, and instead of the Final Destination films, they would be watching Disney films. Namely Bambi and Snow White.
He was also locking them in their common room, so there was absolutely no chance of them running for their sanity. The movies were set on a loop, so they would be stuck watching them... for six hours.
The few Slytherins who supported Toshiro were conspicuously missing when the disc was put in.
They were in the Room of Requirement watching the actual movie, and loving every morbid minute of it.
Snape wondered what could cause his snakes to whimper every time Toshiro or James started humming at random. Some even curled into the fetal position out of horror.
"Has anyone seen Matsumoto in the last hour?" asked Toshiro. It was two hours before the next task, and he was trying (and failing) to read.
"Not since McGonagall took her aside for something..." said Padma.
Toshiro cursed. Three hours ago George had been taken by Sprout, who was sporting a rather sour look for some reason. Which meant that the hostage for him was Rangiku.
He still had no idea how his name ended up in that cup when he made it clear he had no interest in entering.
"So Toshiro, do you know how to swim?" asked Fred.
"I'm decent at it. I usually get roped by Matsumoto to join her in their yearly visit to the beach, even though I hate the heat," said Toshiro.
"But do you know how to dive? The mermaid colony is pretty deep after all..." said Fred.
"I'll figure something out," muttered Toshiro.
Toshiro was nervous, and rightly so. He knew how to swim more or less, but he had never dived that deep down before. Sure, he knew the bubblehead charm, but he didn't know how to dive that deep.
Still, this couldn't possibly be as nerve-racking as dealing with a drunk Matsumoto on one of her binges.
When the whistle blew, Toshiro dove deep into the water and made an ice boulder that was dense enough for him to sink. Thanks to the odd air tube he had made using ice magic (think of a giant straw that is just barely visible unless you actually look for it and you get the idea. It grows the deeper he goes down) he didn't have to worry about air.
That and he had frozen water around his eyes so he could see. It was a good thing he had a very strong affinity towards ice, or it might have actually hurt getting frostbite like that.
(Matsumoto once called him a 'Reverse Ice Maiden' and the nickname had stuck. Mainly because that was actually a good description of his powers.)
when he reached the bottom, he notice that there was a young girl next to his lieutenant, and she had a few cuts on her. The only reason he could think of why would be that she was a Veela-blood like Fleur, which according to his studies hated mermaids and vice-versa.
So he started to cut away the ropes binding both (not before using the bubblehead charm on himself...he wasn't stupid) and glared at the mermaids who wanted to stop him.
The only reason they didn't try was because of the ice dragon around his neck...it was faster than them and they knew it.
Toshiro slowly swam up to the surface, allowing the carbon monoxide in his blood to dissipate properly before breathing fresh air again. He actually liked to swim, and even though he had never gone that deep before he knew what the bends was.
He also knew that the school nurse was unlikely to recognize the symptoms of it, let alone how to treat it correctly.
The irony was that he had the best time of all, even though he hadn't gone that fast when he swam. He was in better shape than most of the champions, and he had taken his time getting down.
He got the full points and handed his blanket to Matsumoto, who was sneezing up a storm.
Fleur came up ten minutes after he did and actually cried when she saw her sister up already.
Apparently the grindylows in the lake had broken her charm, and she had been forced to abort early.
Shortly after that, Fred came up followed by Krum. Both with their hostages.
When Dumbledore learned Toshiro had rescued Gabriella before Fleur ran into the grindylows, he had to ask why the boy had saved the girl if he didn't know Fleur would get into trouble.
Toshiro glared at the headmaster.
"I, unlike you, happen to know that Veela and mermaids hate each other. It didn't take too long to guess the girl was Fleur's sister, which meant leaving her behind unguarded with mermaids is hazardous to her health," said Toshiro frostily.
Fleur was quick to confirm that fact...she had seen the mermaids sneer at her while she had tried to fight off the grindylows.
Toshiro was just glad to have that nonsense over.
Christmas rolled around, and due to the difficulty he had been having with his gigai, Toshiro signed up to leave the school for break.
Well that and he had looked up past contests and learned about the Yule Ball. There wasn't any rule stating champions had to stay for the ball, but those that did had to perform the opening dance. No way was he sticking around for that.