893.40 and epilogue.
Yusuke folded right into the dorm room. Neville looked up, gulped, then demanded, "Is any of that blood yours?"
Yusuke looked down at himself; he was covered in blood. "No."
"Then go take a damn bath before you scare the children into hysterics. Then ... you're going to tell all." Neville turned back to his book.
"And if I don't?" Yusuke smirked at Neville.
"I'll sit on you while Hermione lectures you on the virtues of sharing," Neville smirked right back.
Yusuke held up his hand. "Please. I'm gone." He turned and wandered into the bathroom.
He was soon washed and dressed in a sleeping yukata. Neville glanced up when he returned to the dorm. "You going to be able to sleep?"
"In a bit. I'll sit up and read. You ready to sleep?" Yusuke settled in his bed, flipping the covers back and shoving his feet under them.
"Just about." He got up and disappeared into the bathroom. The sound of running water and odd noises let Yusuke know that he was brushing his teeth. It didn't take long for him to return, settle into his own bed, and reach to close the curtains. "Good night."
"Oyasuminasai, Neburu-kun." Yusuke yawned, his earlier activities had made him more tired than he'd expected. He was getting out of shape. "We're going to work out hard tomorrow. I'm getting soft."
Neville snorted. "Ok. I'm getting better, I think." He closed his curtains to shut out Yusuke's reading light.
"You are. And you'll be better still. You work hard. I'm proud of you. Even if I don't say it enough." Yusuke also shut his curtains, then settled in to read The Book of Five Rings. Not that he hadn't read it several times by now.
He read until his body's exhaustion finally overrode the adrenalin of the fight; then he snuffed his light and went to sleep.
Voldemort threw his usual fit and tossed hexes around like confetti. His remaining minions ran, as they always did... but they came crawling back as soon as his temper cooled. They had nowhere else to go, as they had burned their bridges behind them when the first war had put them in the spotlight. Now they were holding onto their social status by their fingernails and envying the Malfoys and Snape. They hadn't had the nerve to stand up to Voldemort, and they were now paying the price. None of them had ever thought that they might fail. They were purebloods and superior, weren't they?
A few, more wise or cowardly, than their fellows, ran for the continent, leaving everything behind. They were just glad to escape with their lives and sanity.
Rabastan Lestrange, tasked with keeping some sort of roster of DE's, eyed the scroll with a scowl. The ranks were very thin now; most of the low-level men had just vanished, like smoke before a gale. The mid-level was now diminished by more than two-thirds, effectively crippling any attempt to recruit from anywhere. And the Inner Circle now consisted of only those few who were the most fanatical; i.e, those who'd escaped from Azkaban with a criminal record that even Fudge couldn't ignore. He read the names again. Rodolphus and Rabastan Lestrange, Antonin Dolohov, Amycus and Alecto Carrow, Thorfinn Rowle, Travers, Mulciber, and Barty Crouch Jr./Karkaroff. He wondered if he could grab his brother and make a run for it. He discarded the idea, as he was well aware that Rodolphus was now half-mad. He wondered if he could make a run for it by himself, but discarded that idea as well, as he had no idea where to go or how to survive.
Dumbledore got the notification of the raid on the pub as part of his duties as Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot. He glanced at it, assumed that the raid was part of some sort of cleanup by the Auror Corps, then signed and tossed it into the "out" basket without much thought.
He was swamped, as usual, with paperwork and thinking more of how to block the machinations of Black and his group than what he was actually doing. He was more and more marginalized, without even realizing it.
Miyamoto Musashi participated in the questioning himself. The men who'd been captured were brought to the family compound and HQ, questioned extensively, then 'disposed' of discreetly. He was satisfied with his son's activities.
He was also very pleased with the results of his contract with the Ministry of Magic. He did wonder, however, if they were going into debt to Gringotts to pay. Or were they just liquidating assets? He only cared that they were being punished for daring to victimize his son. Who did they think they were, anyway?
Neville read the reports when they came. Then he and Yusuke put their heads together, concluded that this was best left to the adults to deal with, and settled in to enjoy the time between now and the third task as best they could. Since this included regular workouts, it wasn't as boring as it might have been. Yusuke was more than satisfied with Neville's progress, and he got regular reports on Hermione. Her sensei was very happy with her as well.
Then there was the fact that they still had homework to turn in; self-study wasn't the easy street most assumed it was. It was, in fact, much harder; more was expected of them. They were given assignments, book lists, and objectives, and it was up to them to do the work. They could ask for help from any professor at any time, but the professors had all refused to work with them outside office hours. The professors had heavy enough workloads without giving up their precious personal time.
This wasn't the hardship most would have found it, as Hermione was a demon for research and Sirius and Remus weren't averse to helping. But the workload was crushing.
Not that they minded it that much. The juku made it easier to study. The common room, where most students tried to study, was too noisy, and the library was just inconvenient all round.
Staying in the juku also had other advantages. It kept Yusuke from killing stupid people, and allowed both Yusuke and Neville to take care of their businesses without interference and send messages without having some well-meaning person offer them an owl.
They sent all their mail by courier now, as they no longer trusted the Ministry's assertions that all mailboxes were now safe, owls no longer intercepted, and so on. Yusuke's mocking laughter at the last Ministry toady had sent the man to the right-about quick smart.
Hermione looked up from her research into magically grown plants to remark, "Do you think the hedges are strong enough to hold someone?" No one needed to ask what hedges.
Neville nodded. "Probably. They've been pruned down at least twice. The top growth is tender, but six inches down it's fairly strong. Why?"
Hermione shrugged. "There's a trick I think Yusuke knows. It's a way to run over soft surfaces, like sand, or even water. Wonder if it would work on a hedge?"
Yusuke glanced up from his book. "Thought of that. It'll work. Good idea."
Hermione grimaced at his back. "Smartypants."
Yusuke, still unsure of some English idiomatic expressions asked, "And why would my pants be smarter than anyone else's?"
Neville explained the expression then went on, "As for running on a hedge, I bet the judges disallow that as cheating."
Yusuke shrugged. "I'm Yakuza; if I'm not cheating, I'm not doing it right. I intend to get to that cup before anyone else does. I don't care about the prize; a thousand Galleons is nothing to me. But, miss the chance to get to Nanashi? No way."
Hermione shrugged. "We don't tell the judges what we're going to do. It's not sensible."
Yusuke grinned at her. "And what happened to the girl who insisted on telling adults everything?"
Hermione made a face. "Grew up. Dumbledore ..." she waved a hand, "he's not even been in school for the last ... three or four weeks. And who the hell with any sense leaves all their work up to someone else? Poor Professor McGonagall. She's got Headmistress duties, Head of House duties, and teaching to deal with. It's a wonder the woman has time to sleep."
Neville nodded. "She's slacked off on the essays; it's all multiple-choice quizzes these days. She's got the fifth-year Gryffindor prefects grading them with a key sheet."
Yusuke agreed, adding, "And she's relying on the sixth-year prefects to keep order in the house. Not that bad an idea. As to the Headmistress duties... She's doing very well with them. My hat is off to her. I'll be willing to bet that things change quite a bit next year. Dumbledore is out."
Neville blinked. "How do you know?"
"Hogwarts won't listen to him anymore. He can't control the wards, so he can't be Headmaster," he smirked. "It's wonderful what you can learn by lurking."
Hermione chuckled. "And having gaki who lurk."
They returned to their studies, satisfied that they understood each other.
Severus Snape was as happy as he could be under the circumstances. He had put down his initial payment on the potions shop his old master had for sale. It didn't hurt that it was in New York City, New York, USA. His master had moved from France shortly after he'd finished his apprenticeship.
He couldn't leave Hogwarts without attracting Voldemort's attention, but that was soon to end. He had every reason to believe that Miyamoto Yusuke, erstwhile Harry Potter, would end the maniac. He just wasn't sure when. Until that time, he'd stay where he was, brewing his potions and torturing students—except for Miyamoto, Longbottom, and Granger; he was staying as far away from them as possible.
Headmistress McGonagall eyed the last of her paperwork. It was nearly midnight, she had a class to teach first thing in the morning, and her paperwork was breeding like pigmypuffs. She picked up one last piece of parchment and wrote a letter. She had a great-niece who had graduated from Salem two years ago. She was still looking for a proper job, and Minerva McGonagall believed in nepotism, up to a point. She'd offer the girl a job, but she had to keep it on her own.
She was also going to give up the place as Head of Gryffindor. She was realizing that she had fallen into the same pit Dumbledore had, but she had a shovel and knew how to use it. She was also going to do something she'd discussed with several people. All houses would have Heads of Houses that did nothing but that. This would allow them to have open office hours that actually allowed them to help the students in their respective houses. They might be called upon to teach a class now and then, when a professor was ill, but they wouldn't be full-time professors. This would allow them to supervise detentions, run patrols so that the seventh-year prefects could get their sleep, and sit up with a student who was ill enough to be bed-bound, but not ill enough to need to stay in the infirmary. It would also allow them to deal more effectively with homesick and unhappy firsties.
Things were changing at Hogwarts; she was sure it was for the better.
Neville eyed Yusuke carefully. They'd completed their run and kata, now was the time that Neville loved and dreaded. Yusuke was teaching him to fight. He now had to apply everything Yusuke had been teaching him for more than a year.
Yusuke was very proud of Neville. He was learning faster than anyone could expect. He was already at a level that he could test for his first Dan, or level, in Kendo. He probably wouldn't make it, but that would be because of lack of experience, not skill. As a martial artist, he was about ready to test for his green belt; again it was lack of experience, not skill, that limited him. Yusuke decided that he would institute an official belt system within the Miyamoto-kazoku; his men worked hard and deserved recognition.
It did irk them both that they'd had to close the dojo to visitors. They'd enjoyed the visits from the boys from Durmstrang, but both Dumbledore, on one of his rare visits, and Karkaroff had objected. They'd apologized, but banned them. The girls from Beauxbatons were another matter altogether. They were silly, giggly, and annoying in the extreme. Both Yusuke and Neville had agreed to use the ban on Durmstrang as an excuse to ban the girls as well. They'd also dumped the task on Hermione. She'd made them pay through the nose for that one.
Yusuke had paid for a visit to a bookstore in Tokyo and Neville had played gaki for her. Even with Feather-Lite charms, the load had nearly buckled his knees.
Now, they were all working out to separate schedules. Yusuke worked with Neville as a warmup, then did his usual workout alone. Neville took this opportunity to clean up and begin his homework. Hermione had finally gotten good enough that her sensei insisted on daily workouts, so she ran down to Ken No Ie, worked out there, then ran back. She was usually in the juku by the time Yusuke got there.
Yusuke chose this day to begin preparations for the last task. It was only a week or so away, and Yusuke wanted to make sure that everything went according to his plan.
So, now, Yusuke was preparing to beat the crap out of his best non-Yakuza friend.
Neville bounced on the balls of his feet. "I am."
Yusuke darted to the left, taking a slap at Neville's face as he did so. Neville ducked under the slap and made a grab for Yusuke's wrist. Both slap and grab missed.
Yusuke countered Neville's round house kick by blocking it with his forearm. He didn't bother to hide his wince. "Good one. Try this." He dropped and shot out one foot in a drop-spin-kick. Neville jumped over it, but that left him open to one move he'd never considered. Yusuke's hand shot out, grabbed him by the ankle, and jerked. He landed flat on his back.
"Ow. Damn it, Yusuke, you could at least give me the illusion of competency." Neville rubbed his stinging arse and sighed. "Well, that was ... bad."
Yusuke snorted. "No. I'm a sixth Dan. You're green, at best. The differences in skills are like the distance between the Earth and the Sun. I'm pleased."
"Well, color me satisfied." Neville rolled over, tripped Yusuke then jumped on top of him. Yusuke allowed it but rolled Neville over, pinned him, then tickled him.
"Nonononono. I give, I give," Neville laughed.
Yusuke quite tickling him. "You are good," he smirked, "It's just that I'm magnificent."
Neville agreed, lying on his back he chuckled, "That you are. And modest too."
They both laughed, then returned to their workout. Yusuke proved that he was much better than Neville, but he spent as much time explaining and demonstrating as he did throwing Neville around.
After they finished, Hermione folded in. She'd managed to get one of the waka to teach her. Yusuke admitted that, while he'd invented it, he was shit at teaching it. He'd managed to teach his brothers and father, but they'd taught everyone else.
"Hey. How's the workout?" Hermione eyed Neville, who was sweating heavily and panting. "Good?"
Neville bent over at the waist, resting his hands on his knees. "Okay. Not good. He..." Neville nodded in Yusuke's general direction, "is a hard taskmaster. But I'd rather he slapped me around than some DE AK'ed me."
"True, true." Hermione settled in the meditation area and pulled a fan from her robes. She fanned herself idly while Yusuke continued to toss Neville around the mats.
After another ten minutes or so, they stopped, did a bit of yoga to cool down, then came to sit with her; elves brought tea. Hermione poured carefully.
Yusuke sipped his tea, then asked, "Okay, you've all read the reports. Comments? Ideas?"
Hermione shrugged. "Well, it's obvious that Karkaroff is not ... Karkaroff, I mean. So who is he? We need to find out. Just not sure how."
Neville snorted into his cup. "Saturday is the last Hogsmeade day before the task. We've got two dozen waka. Why not just snatch him off the street, wait for him to change, then look at him?"
Yusuke turned his head slowly. "I swear. Neville, you're brilliant. And why I didn't think of that, or Shiriusu-oji, I don't know."
Hermione sighed. "Because we're so used to dealing with people who take 'handling' that we've sort of lost sight of simplicity. Sad, seriously sad. So ... write a letter to ... who?"
Neville thought. "Isn't that in Remus' bailiwick?"
Yusuke nodded. "He's muscle, but not dumb by any means."
Hermione agreed. "He's not. I got a look at his marks." She eyed Neville. "And never you mind how. He got mostly O's on his NEWTS. It's a shame that Britain has such a shitty attitude toward were's. Shameful."
Yusuke shrugged, "But good for me. I'm hiring every were I can manage. They get their potions as part of their contract and a place to stay, if they want. I'm going to spread them out all over Japan as part of my kozaku. All the konbun know better than to argue with my enforcers, but a bit of were-eye doesn't go amiss." He grinned in a way that made even his father a bit nervous. "So. I'll write to Shiriusu-oji. He'll finalize the plan, and we'll follow Karkaroff down. Just to watch the fun."
Hermione tapped her fan on the table. "Sounds like a plan to me. Now ... Potions is picking up a bit. Snape wants 24 inches on moon-cycle potions." She glowered at Yusuke, who was snickering into his teacup. "Not that moon cycle. Potions that have to be brewed on a particular phase of the moon. Baka."
Yusuke nodded but eyed her fan. "Tetsu senpūki?"
"A. Kenshiro-san gave it to me. He says I'm ready." She tapped the fan again, making a decidedly metallic sound. "I'll admit that I feel safer with it."
Neville agreed. "I'm going to get one myself. Establish a fad."
Yusuke reached into his mallet space and pulled out a very masculine, dark navy blue silk-clad fan. "Here. Carry this one. I've got another, just like it, in here some ... Ah! Yes." He fanned himself. "We'll establish a fad indeed. And it's nice to be able to openly carry a weapon."
Hermione agreed. "A fakeout. They won't know we're armed until we need them to. A wand is as obvious to a wizard as a gun to a yakuza. A fan? Not dangerous." She smirked. "Until it is."
"Exactly." Yusuke finished his tea, offered cigarettes around, then got up. "We need to be in the juku. McGonagall-sensei asked that we stay out of the corridors while the judges set up ... something. I really wasn't listening after she said judges. Idiots. Well, come on."
They all trooped off for the juku to work on Snape's essay. He'd proven to be easier to get along with lately.
Severus Snape was sure that he hadn't changed a bit. He was still a bastard about lab safety, but he was getting better about explaining the whys and wherefores of things. And he blamed that directly on Draco. The boy was always asking, 'why?' He found that answering clarified things in his own mind. He was taking Draco to America with him as a full apprentice when he left. And no argy-bargy about it. Full Stop.
Draco, on the other hand, felt like he'd been slaved to a maniac. Severus insisted that every single cauldron, vial, weight pan, etc., be cleaned by hand to an exacting standard that only a house elf ought to have to meet. His manicure was completely ruined, and he didn't have time to fix it, ever.
Snape was satisfied that, while Draco hadn't learned his lesson yet, he would. The boy hadn't been out of quarters, except to go to class, since his near-expulsion. He also was learning that magic really was a privilege, not a right. His wand was still boxed, except when he needed it for class. And it would stay that way for the foreseeable future. He, Snape, wasn't having his godson and apprentice make anymore 'mistakes,' mistakes that might see disaster befall both of them.
That was the one thing Snape was sure Draco really didn't understand. He was responsible for everything the silly boy did. So he kept him on a short, firm leash, ignoring the almost constant whingeing and bitching. The shrill tone of Draco's voice made Snape wish that hexing him silent was possible. It was, however, against the rules set down by a board in charge of preventing abuse to apprentices. Much to his displeasure.
All he had to do was live through the last task; Dumbledore had insisted that he attend, hinting at bad things if he didn't. He was sure that Dumbledore meant that he'd queer his purchase, or ruin his reputation somehow. He grudgingly agreed to be there, but refused to allow Draco to attend. The boy was on restriction and would spend that day cleaning the potions laboratory from flagstones to rafters, by hand.
He scowled into his teacup, wondering what idiocy Dumbledore had planned. He didn't like it. Miyamoto-sama was sure to cause a riot. And Yusuke-kun sure to kill someone.
Saturday came without much fanfare. All the Yusuke-gumi attended breakfast; waka, gaki, and all. Yusuke stationed a man behind each of his friends and another at each side. He had an odd feeling and didn't want anyone blindsided on the way to Hogsmeade.
He had three men assigned to him― Sirius insisted. He wasn't as bothered as Hermione and Neville. He was used to having an entourage; in fact, he missed having his men around him. Neville was better at managing than Hermione. He was used to seeing servants and house elves waiting on people like the Malfoys and Parkinsons. Hermione was having a bit of trouble with the whole idea, but she listened to the senior men and did as they told her, mostly. Yusuke had had an entourage of one kind or another since he'd gotten to Japan.
The second they finished breakfast, Yusuke ordered them on the move. He knew that whoever Karkaroff really was, he would be assigned as one of the professors stationed around Hogsmeade to keep the students from demolishing the town.
The usual chaperones were Flitwick, Hagrid, and Sprout. Beauxbatons didn't send anyone, as the only two other professors didn't speak English, and Durmstrang had Karkaroff and another professor, usually a different one every time. This made three professors from Hogwarts, and two from Durmstrang. Only Karkaroff usually hid in either the Three Broomsticks or Madam Puddifoot's. It was because of this habit that no one expected him to be missed until the return to Hogwarts, late in the evening.
Alistor Moody watched as Headmaster Karkaroff stomped down the path to Hogsmeade. He had objected to having to chaperone his students, as Madam Maxime didn't hers. But he'd been told that someone from one of the schools had to do this, and he was stuck with it. Headmistress McGonagall insisted.
He was sure that something was going on; he just wasn't sure what. Miyamoto was like a clam. He didn't necessarily sneak around, but he didn't telegraph his movements either. It was like trying to catch smoke in a butterfly net.
Not that he much cared, Yusuke was after DE's, after all. And he wasn't much worried about what happened to those bastards. They didn't call him Mad-Eye because of his artificial eye, no matter what anyone claimed.
The snatch went off without a hitch.
Karkaroff tromped down the path, head down, grumbling to himself. As he drew even with the open gate at Ken No Ie, several things happened at once.
One waka cast a notice-me-not spell on the whole group. The now-spelled group surrounded Karkaroff and just physically snatched him up. One man took his wand, and two others grabbed his wrists, quickly binding them behind him. A fourth man stuffed a wad of cloth into his mouth, effectively gagging him. Then they dragged him through the gate and into the front yard of Ken No Ie. There they stripped him down to his smalls, searched his clothing, and inventoried his things.
Hermione glanced around, missed Mad-eye, and scurried in through the gate. Neville didn't bother to look around; he assumed, correctly, that someone was keeping an eye out for undue attention. Yusuke joined the crowd around Karkaroff, eyed the nearly naked man, and announced, "Cover him ... that's just ... dismal." He led the way into Ken No Ie and down into the cellars.
Sirius and Remus met the group at the bottom of the stairs. Remus immediately took the small bundle of bits and pieces of pocket junk and scattered it across a nearby table. "Well, let's see what we have here." He shuffled the stuff around a bit then said, "No portkey, but ... Yeah. Polyjuice." He sniffed the pocket flask again. "And fresh. He probably took a dose just before breakfast. Give it 45 minutes or so and we'll know who it really is. And then, we'll know how highly placed he is and what questions to ask. Yusuke, why don't you take Hermione and Neville into Hogsmeade? It's going to be boring to deal with. A whopping dose of Veritaserum and he'll be babbling like a brook."
Yusuke nodded. "Plausible deniability. We're on our way. If you need me, send a gaki."
Hermione eyed the man for a moment then said, "We know you're English, we just don't know exactly who you really are." She smiled at him for a moment. "Just be sure to tell Remusu-san and Shiriusu-san what they want to know. If you don't ... well, you won't like what happens much." She shuddered dramatically. "Last time was ... icky." And with that she turned and trotted up the stairs.
Neville sighed. "Yusuke-kun, you've ruined her." He followed Hermione shaking his head sadly. Karkaroff couldn't see his smirk.
Yusuke shrugged, "I prefer to believe that I've fixed her."
Hermione, well aware that they were talking about her, called, "Not behind my back, please."
They didn't stop to eat anything, as they'd just had breakfast; instead, they headed down into Hogsmeade. Hermione dragged them through every store on the square, loudly exclaiming over this and that. Neville complained a bit until Yusuke just hissed at him, "Yes, everyone is looking at us. We're here, not there. Deal."
Neville realized that Hermione was attracting attention on purpose and shut up. If they were noticed in the square about the time Karkaroff disappeared, they had an alibi. He made sure that the people looking at them recognized him.
This wasn't as difficult as one might expect. Everyone recognized Harry Potter. The group of gaki around Hermione and him made recognition inevitable; most of Hogsmeade was used to seeing them wandering around, surrounded by yakuza. Hermione had just made sure that everyone actually noticed them, rather than the kazoku.
They spent the next few hours wandering around town, shopping and visiting with the waka. They ate at the Three Broomsticks and stopped at Honeydukes. Their final stop was back at Ken No Ie.
Yusuke called, "Tadaima!" and they were swamped by waka who helped them into yukata and led them to the downstairs lounge. Remus and Sirius were waiting for them.
Sirius sighed, rubbed his face, then said flatly, "Barty Crouch, Jr. Little bastard was supposed to be in Azkaban. How he got out is a story in itself. His ol' man is in a heap of shit, too. We're going to deal with that ourselves."
Yusuke eyed Remus, who looked sour. "Well?"
Remus shrugged. "We've turned the whole mess over to the Aurors, in the person of Mad-Eye Moody. He was ... pissed off, to put it mildly. We'll be getting a reward for Junior. Senior can't be found. I have a feeling that he's either dead or out of the way somewhere. But ... we're not dealing with this, the Aurors are. We're not getting paid, we're not doing the job. Let them do something worthwhile for once." He settled back to finish his tea, sour expression still firmly in place.
Yusuke sighed. "Well, shit. Any info on what the hell Nanashi has planned?"
Sirius took over again. "Yes. They've turned the cup into a portkey to bring you to Nanashi and ... guess the rest." His expression told its own tale.
Yusuke snorted. "Okay. So." He looked around, waiting for suggestions.
Hermione coughed. "Let him. Now that you're warned, we could put an unbreakable trace on you, have you use the portkey, and follow you. Everything else is going to have to be on the fly."
Neville added, "You carry enough weapons in that mallet space that you aren't going to be helpless. And response time is nil, or nearly so, when folding. I'll be right on your heels."
Yusuke nodded. "Ok. I'm not fond of that plan, but it's the best we've got for finding that asshole."
Sirius scowled at him. "I not only don't like it, I actively hate it. What if the tracker fails?"
Yusuke shook his head. "I've had the kanji embroidered into my clothing; all I have to do is activate it. And I'll do that before the task starts."
Hermione frowned, "If they manage to leave your robes behind?"
Yusuke smirked, "Not on my robes. And I don't think Nanashi knows a spell to strip you naked."
Neville snorted as he realized that the kanji had to be on his underwear. "I don't think so either."
The laugher lightened the mood in the room quite a bit. Waka showed up with food and more tea. This led to them spending the hour and some before curfew eating and drinking tea while several gaki entertained them with music, jokes, and a dance.
They enjoyed the whole day, except for the report from Sirius and Remus. None of them bothered to ask about Crouch/Karkaroff.
The flap at Hogwarts over the disappearance of Headmaster Karkaroff wasn't much. The Assistant Headmaster came from Durmstrang to say that he would be remaining as chaperone and contact in case the headmaster showed up, or a crime could be proven. He was stiff, contrary, and uncooperative. No one much cared, not even the Durmstrang students.
Headmistress McGonagall was inclined to be insulted, but she didn't say that much, only informing the new chaperone that he was responsible for his students' behavior. That their behavior had been exemplary up to now wasn't mentioned. Assistant Headmaster Demerov proved to be unremarkable in every way and was, more or less, forgotten at once.
Things returned to what passed for normal at Hogwarts.
Voldemort had no idea that his plan had been compromised. Since he had ordered no one to contact his spy in Hogwarts and his spy had been ordered not to contact them, no one had any idea that Crouch had been found out. And, even if they had, no one would dare tell their lord such bad news. Not if they wished to live through the day.
The next weeks went by quickly and it was the day of the last task.
Yusuke dressed carefully in Hakama, hakamashita and haori of a mottled green/brown brocade. He tucked his swords into his obi and went down to breakfast. He was followed by half a dozen high-ranking waka, three of his and one from each of his brothers. His father would provide two more on the walk to the task.
Neville pushed his way to the Gryffindor table and settled in place. Hermione followed him. The Great Hall was crammed with people, all there by invitation of the ministry to see the last task of the tournament. The Champions were seated in state at the champions' table. Also seated at the table were Miyamoto Musashi, Assistant Headmaster Demerov, Madam Maxime, and relatives of the other champions; no one bothered with their names. A rank of yakuza kept anyone from approaching too closely.
Yusuke glanced around the room and scowled. "I'd rather have Hermione and Neville here than ..." he eyed the other occupants of the table, "…this bunch. But ..."
Musashi-san shrugged in that elegant way of his. "Never mind. It'll all be over soon, and we can leave this ... barbarous country. Eat."
Yusuke snorted. The only foods offered today were all English, heavy and disgusting. Odette was eyeing a plate full of bangers with ill-disguised dismay. Ivan wasn't much pleased either. He was not fond of English either, although the Russian habit of having sandwiches for breakfast had the English shaking their heads.
Musashi-san dealt with this easily. "Service!" An elf popped in with a small squeak. "Bring proper food, according to taste. Now!" The elf gave a quick bob and disappeared. The food appeared seconds later, each plate containing foods that the person liked best. Musashi-san nodded. "Enough foolishness."
Yusuke smiled at his father. His English would never be good, so Musashi limited his sentences to as few words as he could get away with. It didn't hurt his reputation in the least.
Breakfast finally ended, and Minister Fudge stood, produced a chime with a quick spell, then announced, "Attention! Attention everyone!" He waited a moment while everyone turned their attention to him. "Thank you, thank you. Now, down to business. The Champions will process to the stadium through the Great Front Doors, so everyone make way." People obediently moved to create a pass from the high table to the huge front doors. "Yes, thank you." He stepped into the passageway, only to be gently but firmly blocked by the rank of yakuza, who'd moved to flank the group of Champions and family. Madam Maxime had no trouble, due to her height, but Assistant Headmaster Demerov nearly got left behind. Only Ivan's taking him by the hand saved his being left behind.
The yakuza formed up around Yusuke and Musashi, adding Hermione and Neville easily. Fudge frowned, but refrained from comment, deciding to evict the two unnecessary additions at the stands. Of course, this didn't work.
"Here we are." Fudge motioned with one hand. An Auror, placed on the platform, moved to block the stairs. "We'll only have the Champions and Officials on the stage, please."
Madam Maxime frowned, "Who do you think you are, little man, to order such a thing?" The lady simply picked the Auror up by his armpits and put him to one side, ignoring his sputtered protests.
Musashi-san nodded to her and said, "Merci, Madame." He moved aside so that the other members of the group could mount the stairs. They all trooped up to stand in front of the podium and, incidentally, Fudge.
Minister Fudge fussed at his Auror guard until they, unsuccessfully, tried to move the group behind the podium.
Yusuke sighed. "Damn it! That man's a menace to all concerned." He turned to the lead Auror and demanded, "Let's get on with it. We don't want, or need, that pompous jackass to spend half an hour ..." he glowered at Hermione
Hermione jumped into the breach with both feet. "Speachifying is the word. And no, we don't. Move things along, please." She gave the Auror a completely insincere smile. "Otherwise, someone might just jump the gun. Go."
The Auror went to murmur in Fudge's ear. Fudge scowled at his notes then stuffed them into his pocket. "I had a few words planned but, it seems, the contestants are eager to begin. So ... without further ado ..." he made a grandiose gesture to the group of Judges, "we'll seat the judges and begin."
The judges all gave him looks, that sort of look you give the village idiot when he's done something particularly stupid; a combination of annoyance and indulgence perhaps. They took their seats quickly.
Fudge nodded to them. "Excellent, wonderful. Well, let's get on with it, shall we?" Since many of the audience had already been seated for over an hour the general consensus was 'We shall.'
The grumble that ran through the crowd spurred Fudge into real action. "Excellent, wonderful. So ... first into the labyrinth will be ... Harry Potter!" Fudge waved at Yusuke, who made a face at him then activated his tracking kanji. "Then ... Ivan Dubrovsky. And last but not least ...Odette Renaud." He started to say something else but was run over by one of the judges. They were as bored with Fudge as everyone else and had chosen one of their number to begin the task.
This judge now stood up, announced, "At the sound of the chime, Miyamoto-san will enter the labyrinth. Forty-five seconds later Gospodin Dubrovsky will enter, and thirty seconds after that Mademoiselle Renaud." Without waiting for comment from anyone, he produced the chime, and Yusuke ran into the labyrinth.
It really wasn't going to make any difference when the other two contestants entered the labyrinth; Yusuke was going to use a ninja trick, as Hermione called it. He simply jumped to the top of the hedges and ran there. This avoided the beasties that Hagrid had provided, as well as making the trip to the center of the labyrinth take a few seconds instead of several minutes. He used a simple spell, like a Feather-Lite charm, to make himself lighter and easily made his way to the center of the labyrinth, where the cup was ensconced on a plinth.
He examined it and wondered how to activate it. He decided that the simplest way was probably just to touch it and reached out, grasped it by one of the handles, and picked it up. It immediately transported him to a clearing in an unknown forest.
Yusuke eyed the thing in front of him with undisguised disgust. He was bald, scaly, and very snake-like, flanked by the remainders of his inner circle: Rodolphus and Rabastan Lestrange, Amycus and Alecto Carrow, Thorfinn Rowle, Travers, and Mulciber, plus a few low-level underlings. He was everything a Dark Lord should be. Except for dead. Yusuke intended to deal with that as quickly as possible.
They stood, face-to-face, for several seconds, then Yusuke's back-up folded in. Since this included not only Miyamoto Musashi, but Miyamoto Masa, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, Mad-Eye Moody, Neville Longbottom, Hermione Granger, and half a dozen high-ranking yakuza, the battle was a bit uneven.
Lord Voldemort attacked Yusuke without a word of warning, not that that created a problem. And the battle was on.
Yusuke ducked the AK that headed his way and drew his sword. This was what was going to win the day. All the Death Eaters expected a wands-drawn conflict, they were not expecting to be met with cold steel. Even Hermione was armed with two Tessen― her sensei had declared her Kuonichi two days ago.
Yusuke unleashed a head-cut that Voldemort ducked under, with a rather undignified screech. His next cut slashed his opponent across the chest, cutting his robe open and creating a gash that immediately began to bleed heavily.
"You! You dare!" Incensed, Voldemort tried another curse. "Crucio!"
Yusuke ducked under that one, danced to one side and tossed a handful of ofuda at Voldemort. These ofuda were more a distraction than anything else, all they really did was dispel 'spells of holding.' He was hoping that Voldemort had a wizard space; dispelling that would dump everything in it onto the man's head. It worked a great deal better than he'd hoped.
Voldemort was actually a construct made from spells, potions, and blood from his faithful followers. He was pulling power from anyone with a dark mark, and, as his marked followers fell, his power was diminished. The ofuda cut the last links between marked and master. This left Voldemort weakened.
Voldemort staggered and nearly fell, but managed to right himself. He cast several hexes, one after the other. Yusuke managed to duck, dodge, or shield them all, except for the last Diffindo; this cut him across the shoulders, gouging out a long shallow path from the top of his shoulder to the point of his shoulder blade on the left side.
Yusuke dropped and rolled, not away from, but toward his opponent. He dipped his fingers in the blood from his shoulder, flicked the droplets at Voldemort and snarled, "Hijinkessou!" The droplets turned into sharp, knifelike shards. Voldemort couldn't duck or block those and wound up with dozens of shards stabbed into his chest and abdomen. While he was trying to cope with that, Yusuke jumped up, levitated to several feet over his head, and dropped on him like the proverbial thunderbolt. "Ryuu Tsui Sen!" And the fight was over. The Dragon Hammer split Voldemort from skull to pelvis.
Yusuke turned to help someone, only to find that the fight was nearly over.
Musashi-san had squared off against Rabastan LeStrange and slashed him to ribbons in that off-handed way of his. He was now inspecting his clothing for blood spatter.
Masa-san had taken Rodolphus LeStrange by surprise, gotten behind him, and was still trying to strangle him. Yusuke stuck his tanto through the man's chest, careful not to go all the way through and stick Masa. His brother wouldn't appreciate that at all.
"Otōto o arigatōgozaimashita." Masa shook his garrote loose and stood up.
The brothers looked for new targets but saw that they were a bit thin on the ground.
The yakuza who had matched up with Death Eaters had done as yakuza do and ganged up on them, taking out the half-dozen or so lower-level men with extreme prejudice.
Sirius was standing over the body of Amicus Carrow with a disgusted expression and a bruise forming on his cheek. He'd tripped on a rock and fallen, missing decapitation by inches. He'd retaliated with an extremely nasty Black family secret curse that caused Carrow's brain to liquefy. He was dead before he knew it.
Remus had gone wolf on his target and done a very good job of tearing Mulciber into quarters; he was now busily losing his breakfast with one of the yakuza rubbing his back.
Mad-Eye was still trying to deal with Travers, as he hadn't gotten the memo that stunners weren't permanent. Miyamoto Masa dealt with that silliness by walking up behind Travers and separating his head from his body. He glowered at Mad-Eye, barked, "Orokana, karera o korosu!" then walked off.
Mad-eye grumbled, "Needed to question ... well, shit. Didn't." He stumped off to nurse his bruised ego.
This left Hermione and Neville. They were fighting Alecto Carrow and Thorfinn Rowle respectively.
Alecto had lost her wand when Hermione used one of her fans to knock it out of her hand. She had made the mistake most magicals made: scorned Hermione for using steel. Hermione had to admit that she was glad that her sensei had made her learn to use a fan in her left hand. She had hexed Alecto with a freezing charm, then taken her wand while she was fighting off the effects. A quick stomp had broken the wand and left Alecto fighting hand to hand. The only reason Hermione was still fighting was, Alecto was very good at ducking and dodging.
Yusuke yelled, "Hermione, stop chasing her and hex her!"
Hermione waved her wand and yelled, "Bombarda!" The hex hit Alecto in the back and knocked her flat. Hermione stupefied her before she could get back up.
Neville, meanwhile, was having his own troubles. Thorfinn Rowle was a rather large, blond man well known for his ruthlessness. He was having a hard time with Neville, however. Neville blocked, shielded, or dodged his best curses while casting curses and hexes of his own. The only thing that had saved Rowle was his body mass and stamina.
Neville cast a hex then snarled, "Damn it! A little help here?"
Yusuke waved one hand, snarled, "Shibaru!" and /pointed/ at Rowle. A mass of silvery ropes popped out of his palm and entangled Rowle, throwing him to the ground as they wrapped around his ankles and knees. "There." Yusuke turned to a panting Neville. "Okay?"
Neville nodded. "Yeah. Never complaining about endurance training again." He straightened up. "Thanks. I'm glad I didn't have to kill him. Not something I was looking forward to."
Yusuke smiled, "Smoke?" Neville took the offered cigarette. "I'm glad you didn't have to kill. Not good for you. So ... Now what?"
Mad-Eye answered that by slapping portkeys on every Death Eater he could. Not that anyone wanted to stop him. The keys took all prisoners directly to the depths of the Ministry, where Senior Aurors were already stationed to sort the mess and deal.
"I'll expect bounties to be paid to me for all of those. And an immediate release of my family fortune to me." Yusuke smiled at Sirius, "Not that Shiriusu-oji is doing a bad job. It's ..."
Mad-Eye interrupted by snorting. He then agreed, "It's just that it's yours and you want it. Don't blame ya. I'll see to it myself. Now. We're going to be overrun by ... idiots. Brace yourselves."
Yusuke continued to smoke, passing cigarettes out to his father and brother. Hermione turned it down, but the other yakuza produced smokes of their own.
When the reporters, Ministry officials, judges, and various other nosey parkers arrived, the yakuza presented a unified front that protected Hermione and Neville completely and allowed only minimal contact with any of the other combatants. It didn't hurt that there were now nearly forty gaki gathered around the small group.
Demands for answers to questions were met with "Write it down. Submit it on that table over there." The table in question was soon groaning with parchments of all types, qualities, and sizes.
Mad-Eye happily told everyone that he would deal with the questioning of all yakuza at the appropriate time. Which was not now. Fudge chose to try to argue with Mad-Eye, announcing, "I'm the minister, you'll do what I say."
Mad-Eye looked him over like he was a bad rash. "I will, will I? Retired. Look it up. You aren't the boss of me. I'm only doing this because I was asked. I can just as easy go home now." He glowered around, caught the eye of Musashi-san. Musashi made a small sign that Moody recognized. He nodded and apparated away.
It wasn't long after that Miyamoto Musashi-sama had had enough. "Aruku!" All the yakuza began to walk, formed up in ranks. Hermione and Neville, being in the middle, went along. "Bai!" The entire group simply disappeared between one step and the next, leaving all the reporters, Aurors, sycophants, and curious behind.
They all reappeared in the street in front of Ken No Ie. Mad-Eye was waiting for them.
Musashi-sama looked around, announced, "O-saki-to," and walked in the front door.
Mad-Eye looked at Hermione, then said, "Eh? Wassat?"
"Party." Hermione followed him in the door.
It didn't take long for them all to be seated, Yusuke with some gaki tending his shoulder while another nursed Sirius' face. A few other men had wounds of various types, none of them truly bad.
While the wounded were tended, the rest of the gaki brought out food, tea, and sake. Hermione again retreated to her little nook, placed a table in front of it and settled in to tell stories. Mad-Eye settled close to her, just in case.
Hermione smiled at the old retired Auror. "Don't worry about me. No one would dare mess with me."
"Well, girly, I'll just make sure. See?" Mad-Eye had missed most of Hermione's battle, being busy taking care of prisoners.
"Fine. But don't hurt yourself on my account." She waved her fan, causing one waka, one of her sparring partners, to flinch. "Gomen." She took a plate of snacks and settled to nibble on them. "I swear, fighting really makes me hungry."
Mad-Eye barked out a laugh. "That it does, Missy, that it does."
Hermione chose not to take offense with the old man; she wasn't fond of being called 'missy' or 'girly,' but realized that he meant no insult.
The party lasted long into the morning, winding up when someone realized that everyone was too drunk to make breakfast.
Hermione was asleep, curled up in her nest, with Mad-Eye and a waka passed out in front of it.
Yusuke had staggered up to bed, holding Sirius and Remus up, or they him; no one was sure, and no one cared.
Neville was also passed out, but at the head table next to Masa-kun. Musashi-san had left near midnight, drunk and just aware enough to make it back to Japan. It wouldn't do for the Oyabun to actually be drunk in public.
The result of the battle was more than a bit anticlimactic.
The Tri-Wizard was declared to be a bust, with Yusuke as winner. He donated the 1000 galleons to the kazoku party fund, an insult the Ministry of Magic didn't understand. Hermione laughed, Neville smirked, Sirius and Remus both cheered.
The Ministry finally turned complete control of his fortune over to Yusuke, who promptly turned it back over to Sirius. That was what he'd hired the man for, after all.
The papers all carried stories about the Defeat of The Greatest Dark Lord of the Age, all wildly different, all mostly wrong. The ICW finally got a clue and sanctioned the Ministry for putting an underage wizard at hazard. The entirety of the British wizarding world was in an uproar. No one was entirely sure what they were in a strop about, but they were.
Dumbledore retreated to his office at the Ministry, only to find that he'd been removed from office by a vote of 90 percent of the Gamot. His office at the ICW was still his, but his tenure as Headmaster was over before he even knew it was in danger. He'd been sure that his old friend Minerva McGonagall was only holding down the office until he could return. When he did, Hogwarts wouldn't let him in the front gates. He finally went to his old home to sulk, for several years.
Neville got into an argument with his Gran that ended in his flatly telling her that he was the master of the house and she'd better get used to it. She subsided rather meekly for such a formidable woman, then said, "But, Neville, you're the only family I've got left. What would I do without you?"
Neville was immediately sorry and replied, "I have no idea, but don't worry. That was my last battle. Really."
Snape was reviled in the press but didn't care. He was relatively rich now. Between the royalties on his annotated potions book, published by a Japanese publisher and his income from his shop, he was more than comfortable. Draco made an excellent apprentice.
Hermione's parents never knew a thing about the battle, but were very proud of her when she was offered a job as an ESL teacher to a very exclusive school in Japan.
Yusuke was just glad to be allowed to take NEWTs in peace, then return to Japan to run his businesses.
His parting remark was, "Atashi wa kono kuni ga kirai. Sore o nokosu tame ni yorokon de," and, despite Hermione's efforts, he flatly refused to speak English at all for several years.
Kuso jijī - old fart
Anata ga ki ni shinai baai. - If you don't mind
Hairu - come in
Atarashī sakana - new fish
Orokana, karera o korosu - kill them, stupid.
atashi wa kono kuni ga kirai. Sore o nokosu tame ni yorokon de. - I hate this country. Glad to leave it.
OMG! I can't believe I've finally finished this heifer. I started out to write a fun story about Harry living in Japan. It evolved into something else entirely. Don't you hate it when a story does that? *G*
Grateful thanks to my betas Jake and Jordre, for making my sometimes scrambled text into something much more readable. Thanks Gals!
And special thanks to everyone who read, whether you reviewed or not.