Title: To Hell and Back

Author's pen name: Ashlynn LionHart

Universe(s): Harry Potter and Inuyasha

Disclaimer: I dot not own anything from the Harry Potter books or Inuyasha series, no money is being made with this and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

Main pairing: Naraku/Harry

Summary: Due to an unforeseen event, Harry is pushed through the Veil by the Ministry to prevent him from being corrupted by the Dark Lord. The Order can't stop it, Harry is helpless to prevent it and something goes very wrong with everyone's plans.

AN: Hi! Been a while yet again… Thanks for all the wonderful reviews and encouragements! Every single question you asked helped plot further and realize some little things I might have overlooked later on. So thank you! I just wanted to say that if you leave a comment while logged in, I almost always answer you something as soon as I receive the note in my mail. Hmm…I will give you some crumbs for the future, hints that some of you asked about: Harry will get another name eventually, the snake is yellow because…well Harry isn't quite sure why either so…hmm it has a twin in reverse color too? He's named down there. Cephalopod said something about lemons: this is a slow development story had I try to keep with the spirits of the original characters even if I don't portray them too accurately so it's a given that Harry and Naraku won't jump in bed first thing. The circumstances are going to be kinda rough when they meet… For fights…showy light is for demons' fights and wand waving. My Harry just want to survive the damn things. Snakes won't be his minions and he won't lord over anything.





- Chapter seven -

(A Colorful Evening)





Despite the cozy blurriness of his thoughts, a trickle of annoyance made its way through the cloudy mess of Harry's half-aware mind. A huge mass was slowly climbing to block the lovely sun from reaching him; it was attempting to sneakily loom all over the place and steal the wonderful warmth all for itself.

Selfish prat.

And the thing thought it was subtle too, going at a snail's pace trying to go un-noticed. Well, it bloody well was. The teen grumbled and told whatever it was to bugger off…

Apparently, it didn't get the memo.

Or something got lost in translation.

The black haired wizard huffed sleepily in irritation, dislodging an unruly strand of hair which then fell on his face and heartlessly tickled his nose. The teasing prickle made him scrunch his face and sadly –for his state of drowsy goodness –jump-started the gears in his brain into wakefulness. The Horror.

And to top if off, the Merlin damn sunblock still hadn't had the courtesy to move. He was here first therefore should automatically get first dib on the benefits of the spot. Granted he wasn't yet quite cognizant enough to gather his wits and shove the idiot, but he was getting there no worries. He hissed a curse under his breath…and stilled. Froze. Stopped. Moving. At. All.

That…hadn't been in good old Queen's English.

Eyes blown wide Harry twisted and rolled off the rock, the meaning of his lapse in language finally catching up. His realization was confirmed while he hurried back on his feet; meeting his own green eyes was a pair of serpentine orbs the color of fresh blood.

Shakily, the boy backed away from the newest threat, slipping a bit on the wet pebbles near the stream. Swallowing his unease, Harry nonetheless faced the snake bravely; the absence of his wand had never felt so keen as it did confronted by the deadly mass of fangs and tightly coiled muscles. He couldn't believe it: it was the Basilik Situation all over again except this time he didn't have a sword miraculously popping out of a hat brought with a nice feathered sidekick coming to the rescue. No offence to Fawkes intended, of course, the majestic bird was more than a mere sidekick; he was the second being he knew of beside his mother who had wholeheartedly done anything to save his life. Snape's covert attempt first year wasn't worth a true grade on the list as it rank of obligation powdered with resentment on top. He should count himself lucky that this bright yellow cousin of the king of serpents wasn't equipped with the same lethal glare at least –and it was smaller too, though a lot bigger than Voldemort's pet Nagini. He didn't really fancy dropping dead from intense staring. The thing was trying to drill a hole into his skull with only its eyes it seemed. Creepy.

So it was his cue to make the first move. Right. He should have guessed. Now what would make some sort of impression on the beast and set a nice appropriate topic of conversation–? Ah.

"Sstay away! I am no prey sso find sssomething elsse to sssnack on!" He shouted.

That should do it. A classic.

The loud exclamation did make the giant snake shake off whatever had made it still and it advanced on to the tense wizard.

Without responding.

Thus leading Harry to doubt for the first time in his ability as a parselmouth…if it wasn't for the fact that the Basilik in the Chamber also hadn't reacted to his speech controlled as it was by Riddle. But… 'Are even the snakes hissing in a different way around here? Or it understood me perfectly; it just might happen to prefers to eat me instead of chat.' He was astounded it hadn't occurred to him before. Really. Not.

That's why he wasn't petting it.

Harry had to consciously think about keeping his stand and not simply turn tail and flee as fast as he could. It would've been a grave mistake –probably his last –since predators loved the chase often more than the prize it brought. He had gained first rate experience in such conditions.

As the prey.

So trusting his hard won insight, he didn't twitch a toe.

Someone else in his stead wouldn't have moved either, granted, though that instance would have had more to do with paralyzing terror freezing the very blood in their veins rather than intrinsic knowledge that turning one's back so close to the beast' salivating jaw was plain stupidity raising its head. You can't dodge it if you can't see it. Duh.

He didn't try to communicate again. By now, the teen had to raise his head to continue matching the creature's gaze. Exposing his vulnerable throat in the same move didn't make him any safer; reptiles didn't deal with things the same ways mammals did.

The red irises caught his stare and something in him recoiled for a moment –high cackles, green light, desperate pleas –and threw a violent shudder down his spine.

The delusion left swiftly, however, when a long bluish forked tongue collided with his cheek repeatedly. If that didn't teach him not to let his mind wanders… 'Just when did it get so close!?' He thought, alarmed. The young wizard didn't dare move a muscle, wondering dazedly if he would taste like chicken if the snake ventured to take bite. Then he hoped he'd never get an answer to that particular question anytime soon. He'd take remaining alive today as a birthday gift from Fate; he wasn't picky and she owed him for all the fun things in Her life.

Wary of provoking the beast, he resigned to do his best to suffer placidly through the prodding. At least snakes didn't slobber. 'I wish I could de-age myself and accidentally magic it into a plush toy or… even better: disapparate like that ti– Oh Merlin's purple sock, what is it doing now?!' Closing his eyes shut, Harry tensed as the towering reptile lowered its bulk and… began to coil around his body in a gradually tightening circle until it immobilized him totally. If he didn't know better, he would have likened the careful, almost gentle hold as a bizarre parody of a hug. As it was, he merely put his continued survival –even if it amounted to a few more precious seconds –down to Fate finally receiving his wish-list.

But he'd need to keep an eye out for the other shoe to drop. 'Just in case.'

Meanwhile, once the boy was secured in the mighty grip of its body, the snake hissed in satisfaction. The small human-not-human was pleasing to hold like this, warm and soft as his coverings rubbed at his scales as he proceeded to squeeze him into immobility.

It had been a while since he had last fed upon the a two-legger's flesh and he had felt gratified for his long hunt when he had found this one laying about just waiting for him to feast on. The little morsel would have fit nicely in his jaw, and his fang where already dripping in anticipation; he could almost feel the squirming of his prey down his throat.

Then the youngling –such a tender meal! He bemoaned –had to ruin it all.

By Speaking.

He'd almost swallowed his own venom in sheer surprise. Any amount of bloodlust had seeped out of his mind like a rodent fleeing his sight.

What was he to do with it now?

Its skin tasted something unknown to his senses; not yokai yet not human either. It tingled with fire and ashes, cool spaces and rainy nights. And… what was that? He darted his tongue, hitting its neck this time and making the flesh-ling squirm, the blood in its veins quickening its pulse. There was a potent substance flowing beneath the skin right along the little male's life-blood. An undertone of liquid death… Poison? And it felt just like a snake's, how curious! It wasn't this one's bite which was dangerous, unlike him, but the very flesh on its bones.

The snake nudged the youngling with its nose as if to praise him for such an efficient defensive attribute. He was such an unruly prey, tricking his senses like that.

He was glad he hadn't gobbled him up. He would like to keep the interesting not-human by his side, maybe he could still be trained to do something useful; he seemed young enough to catch on quick. He'd teach him how to treat his scales right and rub off the blood after a hunt. The last one who tried was so skittish he'd had to devour him whole.

Stuck as he was in the snake's embrace, Harry could scarcely do more than blink bewildered as he was by the great serpent's behavior. He didn't appreciate feeling like a cuddle toy, but he could tolerate it as he would appreciate it even less ending up as an appetizer. So cuddle toy it was. And really, he had no room to complain: he was still alive for Merlin' sake!

Who wouldn't like that?–

Well, Voldemort, but that's a given. The man had never liked the fact that the Boy-Who-Lived kept breathing.

Harry thought he might become a bit more sympathetic to the joys of breathing if only he would start to grow his own nose instead of being jealous of others'. Muggles could do it with a little operation so he had no doubt a wizard could patch up a spell or potion for it too. But the Dark Lord lived on the fear of those beneath him and a nose would admittedly look somewhat out of place on his reptilian visage. 'Ugh. I did not think of Voldemort and esthetical operations in the same context, I didn't! That's just– plain disturbing. What am I thinking? Stupid brain, the snake squeezed all the oxygen out of it.' He shuddered.

Shifting his attention back to his current predicament, the teen pondered if it was at all possible to escape the living rope tangled around him without any magic or miracle involved.

Honestly, he didn't think so and–

A rough rustling of leaves shook the bushes behind him, driving the young wizard to twitch and wrestle the coils restraining his arms. The other shoe he was waiting for earlier? Well, it was coming down now and had brought a friend with; the only hint that whatever was coming wasn't doing so alone was the second rhythm, following the first, that he could ear surprisingly clear over the gurgles of the stream. He put that due to the adrenaline running, but knowing his luck it was another perk just like his improved vision.

"Ssstop ssstruggling…"

The warning hiss, the first response he'd ever had from the snake, caught Harry off-guard and he squeaked a small embarrassing sound in shock. When the giant reptile constricted firmly a few times, his breath hitched and he reluctantly obeyed. The next thing he heard resembled a wordless greeting. Who or what had finally arrived had entered the clearing from his back if he cared to trail where his captor gazed at. Harry felt himself grow stiff as a board in the rigid mold of muscle and scales. It could be anything, so why not another man-eating monster? "Or maybe that snake belongs to someone… Is it too much to hope it won't turn up like with Riddle? I've had enough for today, please, please, please, I'm tired… I really don't want to fight again so soon! Please just be a normal bloke that likes pretty big snakes or even random wanderers that got lost. I'd be happy with either. No bloodthirsty weirdoes, no bloodthirsty weird–" He continued to chant under his breath.

However, he couldn't prevent his reaction when his face bled white with dread as a taunting voice spoke from somewhere back: "Aaww~ What do we have here~? Don't play with your food too long dear, we're just about ready to go."

Harry didn't have to understand her language –this one was female from the voice's pitch –to know that tone meant trouble; he'd heard it elsewhere more often then he could count and it never heralded anything good in his book. It was snug in the middle settings of Malfoy's communication pattern among 'the drawl', 'the sneer' and the all purposes thrown around 'my Father will blah blah blah'. So, yeah. Bad news.

The young wizard would have tried to wriggle-turn toward the newcomers but he was busy engaging in another staring contest with the red-eyed fiend. He felt like a slab of meat being evaluated while the cook decided on either raw or roasted. It wasn't very fun, that snake was infuriating.

A light patter of footsteps and the swish of clothe brushing grass informed Harry that at least one of the visitors was moving. The other remained ominously silent. He attempted to catch a glimpse of them in the corner of an eye, but they weren't close enough for him to succeed.

Darting out, a blue tongue hit the boy's nose straight on, startling an indignant shout out of the teen and cutting through his returning anxiety. He gaped at the snake, incredulous. 'Wha-?! That- that sly little-! Ugh!' Harry bared his teeth and snarled; the lid on his temper finally blown off. He was trying to survive here dammit!

"Lisssten, you overgrown ssserpent! Release me thisss insstant before I turn you into a pink ssslimy headless worm!"The fact he didn't have a wand in hand was conveniently overlooked as was the state of his bound arms. "I'll cursse you to ssslither around ssscales-less for the ressst of your life! I've had it with–"

The rest of the tirade went unheard as a barely there prickle stung the back of his neck. Numbness spread to his limbs and tongue, rendering the young wizard limp and mute, utterly vulnerable to the presences lurking into the clearing. Why hadn't he heard anything when it had grown this close? He was on a wide lenght of small scattered stones for Merlin' sake, it was impossible not to make noises.

Supporting his body when it suddenly sagged, the snake hissed a reassuring litany in Harry's ears as it felt its little foundling's heart beat wildly in fright. The pleased whispery speech of the predator told him it was quite happy with its new task. 'Weirdo.'

More leaves rustled out of the Harry's view, distracting the teen from the colorful slew of curses he was reduced to list in the dubious privacy of his mind. Right: dubious. That was another thing he had to worry about. 'Damn Voldemort, damn Snape's loosy lessons and Merlin damn those trice cursed legilimency tricks!' Hopefully, his tumbling into different realms –lets call them that –would have impeded his mental stalker some and fudged whatever magic held their connection open.

Emerald eyes finally caught a blur of something speeding in the corner of his vision; something…pink and bouncy.

Something that revealed itself to be a young girl's face with bright inquisitive eyes staring back at him inches from his nose. He could barely manage to blink in alarm at the unexpected closeness.

Hiding the needle again, almost immediately after it struck, the dainty hand retreated inside the luxury of the long-sleeved kimono covering the rest of the feminine form.

When she brought her gaze back toward the snake's prey, she couldn't suppress a wry smile discovering her sister already investigating the human. "Sayuri!" She called, frowning. "Give poor Dai some space to eat his meal in peace; we might as well go back to the carriage now that we know where he is." The sooner they got home the better.

Yet she could feel excitement practically pour out of the girl; she was almost burning the scrawny thing with her stare alone. What was interesting about it? It was just a lowly human, nothing to fret. She rolled her eyes, exasperated. Maybe there was some shiny bauble hanging from the male's neck; she hadn't seen a thing there at a glance but Sayuri always had had a knack for spotting those trinkets. She was more like a magpie than an Orochi in that department. Although it wasn't likely to find any jewelry on a lost-in-the-woods-peasant unless it was an heirloom and that was if they hadn't sold it for foodstuff already. Only some of the richer folks her sister Kasumi occasionally went to entertain happened to wrap their neck and fingers in gold ornaments, showcasing their status to the lesser populace. It was laughable how her dear sister played those men. Fools the lot of them.

But her pink haired sister wasn't moving to grab anything and the snake seemed pretty content to merely curl around the human. No venom spiking the air with the tangy sent of blood and death, no strong jaw crushing, no lump forming in the sinuous body as it digested, no nothing.

A nagging feeling –instinct! –told her it was probably going to be one of those days.

"Ne~, one-san?"

Sayuri wasn't even staring at her. She was examining a shimmery white garment bungled in her arms –she had picked it up from a tree branch –and alternatively throwing a pensive look at the small male. Kotone wondered what she could be thinking about, if it could give her some clue as to how to deal with what she knew was coming next.

"Ne, can I– can we keep him?"

She knew it was coming that dreaded question. Only, the last time she had heard that tone was about some of the snakes they had found on their travels, but snakes were useful and a human wasn't. The mortals were a smelly bunch, weak and sniveling creatures; it'll most likely try to flee at the smallest opportunity. They had a tendency to rank of fear confronted with their betters. It would be a waste of time and resources to take this one in. What if others came looking for it? …They might assume he was eaten by something in the forest, which is bound to happen at home too if one of the snakes or a guest find him first.

She would take Dai's behavior as the exception to the rule. Though, it was highly unusual: he loved gorging on human flesh whenever some was available. Most all beastly yokais did.

Honestly, she really wanted to simply refuse, deal with her sister's inevitable tantrum and leave; from what she had witnessed the pitiful human wasn't even worth half the trouble, it seemed rather mad –hissing and spitting noises at the snake like an animal –and would probably end up curled in a corner if let go, cowering.

Her mouth opened to say just that‒

"Pleeease? Even Dai seems to like him; he hasn't bitten him! And‒"

‒before the pink haired ball of glee cut the air with more no‒

"‒I don't think he's a human either. Did you see his eyes? They're just like ours but green, and there's something strange with his hair too; it's all glittery and pretty like‒"

‒with more nonsense.

A nerve on her face twitched.

"‒like little stars, see?" Sayuri had reached for a handful of inky black strands, holding the fair cloth on one arm only, and was moving it this way and that in a path of light. "Ne, Kotone nee-san? Don't you see that?"

Why, yes she could now that it was pointed out. Though it didn't really sparkle per say, it was more as if tiny pinpricks of diamond were subtly blinking in the sun. Some sort of cosmetic? Her own fingers itched to touch. She barely had to think about it for her hand to rise and have her digits investigate the strands. Feeling the silky locks slide smoothly between her fingers as they fell –no trace of powder or some other substance causing the phenomena –she couldn't help thinking Kasumi would have been envious of the effect. She knew she was.

"It is quite pretty." The older one admitted reluctantly. She didn't like sounding approving of a human's trait, but if what her sister said was true…

Letting the hair go, she caught the human's chin and tilted its head, examining the eyes as their pupils contracted in fright thinning even more. She scrunched her nose, waiting for the tell-tale scent of terror to ooze out of its pores and soil the air she breathed. Nothing. She could smell his fear, but something else was filtering the scent. Odd. But it was one thing less to endure. She angled the face, just to confirm what she had seen in the brilliant greens and hummed. A hanyo, maybe? There wasn't any trace of youki to be felt although the small thing's lineage might have been greatly diluted; bringing out only a few esthetical traits from the demonic heritage. Now that she was close, she noticed that his scent was… clean. She blinked. He smelt none of the disgustingly human stench, there was only a hint of it, like a flavor more then a proper scent. It was an irritating puzzle; how could one have neither yokai nor human smell, yet look like he did?

He was clearly something more.

Teeth worried at her lips, a fang catching the lowermost one in thoughts.

Just what was he? There was only yokais, spirits and humans in this world and he fit in none of those categories. The priests' shikigamis smelled of paper and ink if not of anything at all and there was clearly blood flowing in this one's veins; she had felt the pulse under her fingertips.

Her nostrils flared in aggravation and she huffed, giving a side-way glance to a hopeful Sayuri.

The girl looked like a kicked puppy already.

"Even if he wasn't a human, Sayuri, he can't talk properly. You heard him just like me before I stunned him. There's nothing to say he'll ever be able to learn civilized speech, his vocal cords might literally resemble those of a snake if the hissing was any indication." If he was even attempting to speak, she wanted to say but didn't. It could have been random sounds for all she knew.

As Kotone suspected, her sister had thought of an answer for anything brought up. She was determined to have her way more than ever. And she was soon going to know why.

"But don't you think it could be some sort of baby-talk?"

That argument stumped her; where was the girl finding such thing? Baby-talk? How could that crazed hissing translate as something like baby-talk?

Worse; Sayuri was entirely serious, meaning there was more to come.


What kind of wild fantasy had the pink hazard latched on? She knew she shouldn't have lent her a free-pass to her stash; now it came back to bite her and she only had herself to blame.

She thought with longing of the carriage waiting in another clearing, whishing she'd had the foresight to stay on and wait for the blasted snake to return. Or send Hiro to fetch him. That one would have eaten their current problem with no one the wiser. She sighed dejectedly.

"Let say that it was underdeveloped speech, as you say. I don't know of any creature it could apply. There doesn't seem to be a trace of youki in him and his scent is off."

"Well~ I think I found out what he is!" She balanced on the ball of her feet, swaying enthusiastically. "Take a look at the cloth first, touch it." Sayuri, a grin etched on her face, flaunted the pristine white robe at arms length, unfolding the fabric in one move. "It's so light I barely feel the weight and it doesn't tear if you scratch it." She pushed it onto her older sister's front so Kotone had no choice but to give it a pat.

The older one gave a small glare over the garment, but complied. She ran the sharp point of a nail against it; nothing. It felt as if she was caressing soft skin, there was no catch or thread texturing and for all its sturdiness it had none of the expected stiffness or thickness. Sayuri was right to find it peculiar. The craftsmanship put in the weaving of the textile wasn't something she had ever encountered before and certainly not by human hands. Another piece of the puzzle.

Giving the girl a nod to continue, she returned the robe, watching expectantly for her to continue.

"Aaand~ watch this, it's so great I want all my things made in the same stuff!" Opening her mouth wide, she made a show of biting firmly on her thumb then presented the big red pearl resulting from the prick. She held her hand above the white expense and forced a few drops to fall…

They slid harmlessly on the cloth like water on duck feathers instead hitting the ground, staining the pebbles, one of them still poised on the fabric like an impossible dewdrop.

Sayuri turned toward her sister, eyes bright with a gleam of wonder, preparing for the final strike. "Onee-san, do you remember that scroll from the Land of Silk?"

It was a loaded question. Kotone only had a couple of scripts from so far away and it had taken her great pains to have her copies translated after extracting them from a particularly fussy merchant. But… "Are you saying it was you the one responsible for the constant theft? You mean I harped on the twins for weeks and it was for absolutely nothing." She dropped snidely, the title of her prized possession immediately coming to mind: "'Legend of the White Snake', but Sayuri-chan that is merely a story, a play for the Baishe Zhuan: you can't…" Kotone couldn't bring herself to finish. Her addled sister was pushing her fancy too far, honestly. Talks of celestial beings were old wives' tales; entertainment for dances and festivals. And they were all told as females. They were beautiful maidens, said to be heavenly weavers who span the thread for the clothes worn by the gods.

The story Sayuri chose was about one such of heaven descent: the Lady White Snake. It told a fabulous tale of a Lady and her attendant on a trip to Earth for her nightly ablution in a local spring. The attendant leave, a mortal finds her and falls in love; they marry, have children and would live happily ever-after if only the husband would follow one special rule: once a week, there was a single day when from dawn to dusk he was forbidden to lay eyes on his spouse. On such a day, the Lady transformed into her true form and bathed in the privacy of her chambers. Unfortunately, there had come a time when the temptation was too great and the man spied on his love. Following the Law of Heaven, the Lady then had to forsake her new family on the mortal plane. She left, heaving sobs of sorrow, never to return.

And knowing her sister, Sayuri had most probably read everything she could that related to that topic.

"I can't what? Am I to think that all these clues are only a coincidence? Nee-san, we found him –well, Dai found him– by a stream, he has the eyes of a snake an unearthly color and there's this robe." She shook the garment. "Don't tell me it isn't magical, you told me yourself there was not a single hint of youki in his smell. You insisted." The tone she used next was a bit smug. "And if the tale of the Maiden and the Cowherd also has a bit of truth in it… he won't be able to go back up there for as long as we keep his robe out of reach."

Kotone sighed. "And what, pray tell, will you do with him once‒ no, if you have him?"

The other lifted an eyebrow comically. "I can always tell Tsubaki-nee and ask her to convince you and the others; you know how she looove rare things." That earned a deadpan expression from her sibling.

"It's one more mouth to feed and he still can't talk. I'm not sure he understand what we are saying either."

"Eto… Maybe he hasn't been taught Japanese. He could have sneaked down for a peak or fell and the wind blew him here. Who know when they learn human language in Heaven? He seems awfully young to explore the big bad 'mortal world' alone."

"I can't believe I'm going along with your crazy reasoning." She massaged her temples. "You still haven't answered me."

"I just want him." A pout was dangerously close to emerge. "I could dress him up and..." The girl eyed the stern glare sent her way. "And I guess he could take care of the snakes‒" She added hurriedly. "‒when we are on assignments. And the last yokai Shizuka-nee-san tasked with their needs was eaten by Dai ‒I think Hiro snatched a leg before he could swallow too. This time he won't do that; he practically cuddle with the boy!"

Both drew their eyes to the subject of the argument for a second, taking in the reptile rubbing its nose in the teen's neck its darting tongue tickling a pale stripe of skin occasionally. He looked cozy.

Pinching the ridge of her nose in aggravation, Kotone relented. There was no denying the stubborn menace when she was alone to make objection.

"You may bring him with us on the carriage." She said a bit grudgingly. "See if you can convince Shizuka to agree before you decide to do anything else. If you bring an intruder in without her blessing, she might just feed him to a guest or serve him on a silver platter for otou-san to enjoy." She didn't let a sliver of her own interest in the mysterious being seep through her voice. Sayuri was alone in this; she didn't want to take part in her sister's new pastime if she succeeded. Observing from the sidelines was enough to satisfy her curiosity and she didn't want to be nagged into helping to take care of the strange youth.

Once her piece was said, she whirled around without a backward glance leaving the other to deal with separating Dai from his prey.

Head resting listlessly on his shoulder since it had been released; Harry could do nothing but observe the two females argue –probably about his fate if the roaming once over sent in his way was any indication. He didn't have much basis for his guesses because they too spoke in the same unknown language as the diamond creature did; the lilt and sounds were recognizable.

Both their full forms were in his sight now and he was quite relieved that they weren't as monstrous as the denizen of the misty white world: one was shorter than the other, hair very pale at the top and a darker shade of pink at the tips. This one seemed obsessed by his wizarding robe and was waving it around like a flag, a weird glint in her snake-like yellow eyes. The taller woman's hair was a greenish black stuck in a bun with long bangs falling on her shoulders. The two were wearing similar bathrobe-like garments with floral patterns and sandals.

There was something a little familiar about the picture they made, a thought prodding him. Maybe if he could recall were he had seen such‒ 'Cho! Right, that's who they remind me of a little.' He blinked. 'Then…they're Asians? They have the almond shaped eyes and the clothes are… kimonos? I think that's what they're called. One in pink and one in green same as their hair. Are they speaking Chinese or Japanese? Could be an entirely different language too, I wouldn't know.'

Harry tried to move, but only a pinky twitched. An improvement. A moving pinky finger was so what he needed: if the rest of the arm could follow, he'd stab someone with it. The Poke of Death, he would name it.

Unfortunately, his remaining body parts were still held hostage.

He didn't like it; the lack of sensation resembled his ordeal through the Veil too close for comfort. These were memories –memories of not quite existing not being certain you exist except in spirit –best left in the past, and at least he had kept his sight this time. And he could blink. Wonder of wonders.

What wasn't so wonderful was the large reptilian head perched on his shoulder near the exposed span of his neck. Granted, it looked happy to use him as a live warming device and calmly watch its two… mistresses? It was theirs, wasn't it?

Honestly, he was beyond weary at the constant flow of events tumbling him here and there. And keeping his guard up at all time exhausted him. 'The dragon is coming your way Harry, watch out for the nasty dementors Harry, ooooh Voldemort is hiding behind that corner Harry go and beat him with you magic stick!' He thought mockingly. 'Add to that a dose of Dursleys each summer you get a good resume of my life. Here too it's going to be a survival game, I bet.' Which would have been Harry's primary concern for the foreseeable future if he wasn't currently bound by a giant –yellow! A. Sunshine. Yellow! –serpent.

He still wasn't over his discovery that there were living things other than canaries enduring life in the same bright color.

And looking at the two standing before him, he guessed his few hours of freedom might be over. If the sizing up and hair petting was a hint he might soon be spared the trouble of looking for a new place to live. Joy. He couldn't wait. But… this time, what if‒ what if it wasn't such a bad place? The people here obviously didn't know him and he wasn't defined by his scar. He had no great destiny to follow, no villain to slay, no wizards to dictate his every steps.

He could try being himself for once. Use what was left of his being that wasn't shredded by others' opinions and expectations to build up a new life. He hadn't needed a wand before Hogwart to survive, and his magic was an integral part of him, the spark of his soul, loosing the wand didn't mean he lost the magic. It just meant he was back to the beginning.

'Even thought I know nothing of this world, it's not home and might never get a chance to be…' He recalled the weight, however slight physically, of the cuff at his ankle, proof that they weren't through with him yet. 'I want to chance trying. I want to become more than a stranger in a strange world; find my place somewhere. I won't be a Hero. I won't be a Pawn. I don't know yet what I'll be but now I have the opportunity to find out on my own terms.' He closed a fist, his whole hand free of the paralysis.

The girl had started shouting at the snake, but the beast had no intention to let go. Harry felt him contracting against his chest. It was stubborn.

The teen rolled his eyes and resigned to watch. What else could he do?




NB: Tada! My longest ever chapter just for you guys and I got to get a feel of handling dialogues. Hard. You have to check what you put in there so the characters don't blabber for nothing: if they do blabber it has to have a purpose. And you meet some of my OCs created specially for this fic; two in person and others by names. Harry dear will spend some time with them adjusting and…learning Japanese. Some. It WON'T take him years *shudder* I promise. I yarn you that there WON'T BE ROMANTICAL FEELINGS BETWEEN HARRY AND THE GIRLS; just in case someone ask about pairings later even thought I think it's clear in the summary that Harry is Naraku's. ^^

I liked the progression in Kotone's thoughts: from calling Harry an 'it' to going later on with 'he' as she abandoned the habit of thinking about him as a human.

OH! Another important thing: my Harry is HUMAN throughout the story. It's everyone around who mistake as something else. He is as different from a human as a wizard can be but there's no demonic heritage for him. Heard about St-Mungo's? What happened to Harry was a magical mishap that messed his appearance, sense and things. A bit like a animagus incident gone wrong…you'll see later. *wink*