It all started four hundred years ago when a shinigami named Koga was sealed away. At that time, his partner, Muramasa, had no idea that his master had been sealed.
He figured it out after a decade had passed. Ever since then, he had wandered the world looking for where Koga had been sealed. He had seen many things, and still he could not find his master.
Until, nearly three hundred and ninety years after the fact, he found a child with green eyes so similar to his master that it caught his attention.
This child had massive amounts of reishi, but no control. What bothered him was the bindings on the child's power. Bindings that were designed to control and manipulate him.
He reached out to touch the small infant...and the small soul clicked with his power.
He blinked. This infant could synchronize with his own soul? The parents came into the room, and didn't even notice the change. When Muramasa touched the child, he had accidentally broken any and all bindings on the boy's soul.
The child giggled happily when he saw his mother...and shocked her greatly when he abruptly changed his hair color.
The woman was surprised, but pleased at the same time.
"James, our son is a Metamorphamagi!"
"He's what? Are you sure?"
"Come see for yourself!"
James (who was obviously the father) came up and saw the red hair. He seemed happy about the news.
"Our son is going to Hogwarts!" he said happily.
Muramasa was intrigued by this development. He had spent centuries looking for his master, and never found a thing.
Perhaps it was time for a break.
For the next month, Muramasa watched the house. The wards placed around the house never bothered him, mostly because they were never focused on souls like him.
Wards were meant for the living, not the dead.
It was because of his interest that Muramasa witnessed the death of Lily and James Potter. When the snake man went into the house, Muramasa followed.
He went straight to little Haru's room. Muramasa was fond of the little one, who seemed to be the only person who even saw him. He was the only soul in the area who had enough power to see him.
The snake man had killed the father, and was going after Haru specifically. He leveled the stick at Haru...and Muramasa reacted without thinking.
When Lily fell, Muramasa took her place. The woman saw him with surprise, but she watched as he took the brunt of the killing curse meant for her son.
Whatever power the killing curse had, most of it was taken away when it went through the man before her. He coughed up a bit of blood, and didn't notice the small portion of his soul that was sealed inside the boy.
Because he took the curse meant to kill the child, he had unwittingly become the child's zanpakuto when he died.
Muramasa stayed with the two souls who were very surprised to find out about their visitor.
"I have been here for nearly two months. Only your son has the ability or the power to properly see me."
"Why are you here?" asked James.
"I was looking for my master...and your son's power caught my attention. But after seeing him, I decided to stick around for a bit."
"Thank you for saving him," said Lily.
"He reminds me so much of my master that I couldn't help it."
When the soul reapers finally arrived, Muramasa had agreed to watch over their son. It wasn't like he had anything better to do, since he had searched for centuries and still hadn't found Koga Kuchiki.
He had since given up hope of finding the man.
Muramasa followed Haru with ease. The man with the motorcycle was a rather poor driver, as it was only the magical nature of the vehicle that allowed him to make it to the destination without crashing.
But it was the destination itself that caused him to really worry.
Every house appeared to have come out of the same mold. It was horrifying to look at. He watched the old man place little Haru on the doorstep of the fourth house.
Resigning himself to a boring night, he decided to read the note. It wasn't like the occupants would even realize he had moved it.
The more he read, the deeper his scowl.
This old man wanted the sister of Lily to take in her nephew without a decent explanation of the danger. And from the wording, the child was forced to remain here until the school could legally take him in, even if the woman didn't want him.
That...would not do.
He wasn't going to leave an innocent child where he wasn't wanted. Right before the door opened, he materialized in a way so she could see him. It was with a subtle shifting that his clothes turned into something more acceptable.
It was a trick he learned while watching Haru shapeshift his features.
Her eyes never leaving him, he asked her "Do you want to take care of your nephew?"
Her eyes narrowed considerably. She hated her sister for having magic when she didn't, and held a deep grudge.
"Absolutely not! I will not have that, that freak contaminate my son!" she shrieked.
Muramasa's eyes narrowed. If this was how she felt about her orphaned nephew, then he couldn't in good conscience leave the child with her.
He picked up the infant, who giggled happily around him.
"In that case, if the old one asks where the child is tell him that next time he should actually pay attention to his colleagues. The woman said you wouldn't care for him, and clearly she was right," he said calmly.
In his eyes he was seething.
Petunia watched as he left, taking the child with him. He wasn't going to force her to take care of her nephew.
Though when Dumbledore did take note that his pawn wasn't there, she had great difficultly describing him later. While he had been wearing an acceptable outfit for a normal person, the face and features had kept slipping in and out of focus.
It was like he wasn't really there.
Muramasa took little Haru with him to the one place he knew very well. Karakura, Japan. It was the last thing he remembered seeing before Koga was sealed.
Unfortunately, things change a lot in 400 years. He could no longer find Koga.
His feet took him to a small clinic where he felt the power of a captain class soul reaper.
Isshin Kurosaki saw the spirit carrying the infant, and stared.
The child was almost two, but he was clearly caught between dead and alive.
"What do you want? I can tell you're not a regular soul."
"I am a zanpakuto spirit without a master. I told the child's parents that I would insure he would be cared for after they were murdered. But someone interfered and attempted to leave him with someone who wouldn't love him."
"And when you sensed me you came here?" asked Isshin.
"A soul reaper would be a better parent than that woman," replied Muramasa with a scowl.
"I'll take him in, but I'll need a name."
"Haru. I called him Haru."
Isshin took the infant, allowing Muramasa to go back to his spirit form. He asked a few basic questions, so he could adopt the child easily.
"I will be checking up on him, from time to time," he said ominously.
Now that he was in his natural state, Isshin could feel the tie he had to the infant. Somehow, he had accidentally become the child's zanpakuto, even though the boy was too young to have learned his name.
"Feel free to drop by," said Isshin, taking his youngest son into the house. Masaki would love him as much as she did their son Ichigo.
Haru grew up to be a bright young fifteen year old boy who loved life. His older brother, Ichigo loved him as if he was blood. Haru honestly didn't care that he had been adopted on a cold November morning, left there by a mysterious spirit who knew his parents.
The spirit showed up from time to time, but Ichigo rarely managed to catch a glimpse of him.
Haru saw him perfectly.
Every so often, Haru and Ichigo would help spirits out. Ichigo, because he had to learn the hard way between a living soul and a dead one after their mother was killed.
Haru had seen the creature which had attacked his mother, though the thing didn't notice that fact. Haru had watched in horror as the monster attacked his mother while she protected Ichigo.
He was right by his brother's side as he woke up.
After that day, quite a few things changed.
The first of which was that after the mourning period (in Japan there is a 49 day mourning period for the dead, after which it is assumed the souls have passed on) a man came to the house with some news they certainly weren't expecting.
Haru was a mage. And because of his rather large magical core, Ichigo had the potential to become one as well.
Karin and Yuzu were still in the final stages of awakening theirs.
After that, The Kurosaki brothers started their magical training at the tender age of six, two years earlier than most mages, and a good five before the European and Americans.
Haru had a rather interesting wand. Wood from a holly tree that was on holy ground and was in bloom all year long. The core was hair from a siren.
Ichigo had Sakura wood as well, but it wasn't from holy ground. It came from a tree that bloomed in the home of a demon clan (which the man had to bargain hard for), and the core was from a katana that was from the infamous sword smith Muramasa*.
Ichigo and Haru took most of the same classes. But unlike Ichigo, Haru was able to take class that allowed him to transform into other people.
Over the years, he had learned how to use his ability at will. It had started with changing his hair and eye color to match his brother.
But his black hair and green eyes were always his default state.
Ichigo couldn't count the times his brother had gotten him into trouble with the teachers.
And tonight, things would really come to a boil.
Ichigo's spiritual powers were starting to break loose to the point where he could see the mystery spirit that had brought his brother to them.
"Hey Ichigo! Have you heard the news?" asked Haru.
"Sensei said that we'll be allowed to summon our familiars within the week."
"Are you serious?" said Ichigo.
Summoning familiars was the last course in the mage training. It meant that you were ready to go out on your own and had completely all the basics.
They were completing it a good three years ahead of normal.
Once they were done, they were legally allowed to cast magic in public without supervision.
Unlike the rest of the world, Japan allowed magic to be cast in public within reasonable limits. Mostly because it was the only place where people dressed in odd costumes and pretended to be acting out their favorite shows.
America had a similar restriction, but it was mostly based in Hollywood.
"So what type do you think we'll get?"
"I don't know. I might get support or even defensive. You would definitely be a strictly attack based one."
Ichigo grimaced. He would prefer a supporter based.
Haru paused by the vase that was broken. The ghost girl was floating there sadly, because people weren't even giving any respect for the dead.
Ichigo scowled at the boys who had broken it...and then broke their leader's nose. Haru took out two of his own, and glared at the last one.
Once they had put the fear of kami in the jerks, Haru conjured up some flowers. It was such a small act, and he doubted that he would be in trouble for it.
Haru walked into the room, having gone to get a glass of water. Ichigo and Haru had shared rooms for years, the same as Karin and Yuzu.
What greeted him had him blinked repeatedly.
"Ichigo...who's this chick with the samurai gear?" he finally asked.
"You can see me too? What the hell is going on here?" she asked.
"Don't look so shocked. I see that afro dude all the time, but I never mentioned it."
"You can see soul reapers? How powerful are you?" she asked.
"Ichigo, why is she even here?"
"She came in, acting like a burglar."
"Spirits don't often observe things like walls and doors," Haru reminded him dryly.
"I didn't even know she was a spirit until Dad came in and didn't see her," Ichigo snapped back.
Ichigo had learned the hard way to tell who was dead or alive. Haru, who seemed to be the only sibling able to tell the difference, helped him.
"I can see why you had trouble. She looks more solid than the others."
"Could someone explain why there are two people within a ten meter radius who can see spirits?" she demanded.
"I've always been able to see them. Ichigo's awareness has been slowly growing over the years," shrugged Haru.
"How strange...you look human, but your soul feels like it's already dead."
"Not the first time I've been told that. Our teachers mentioned that my soul seemed half-in, half-out before."
"How is that even possible? No one should be able to maintain such a state without hollows being drawn to it. At the very least the regular soul reaper who works this area should have noticed and done something. So how have you been able to live like this for so long?"
"How about you explain what you're doing here first?" he countered.
"I am here hunting a hollow."
"Hollow?" asked Ichigo.
"Spirits which who weren't guided to the soul society properly. Or we eaten by other hollows. The two main duties of a soul reaper are to help souls cross over and to kill hollows."
"What, exactly, do hollows look like?"
"Monsters wearing white masks and holes somewhere on their body. Their powers and appearance may vary, but the always have a white mask and a hole."
"So can one have a lure like appendage?" asked Haru, having a bad feeling about that.
"It's possible. Well, actually more than possible, since there is one that has been on our radar for years called Grand Fisher. He uses the lure to attract people with high spirit energy and then kills them."
"Haru, what is going on?"
"I hope I'm wrong about this."
Rukia explained about souls, hollows and soul reapers in more detail. There was only one slight problem with her explanation.
"Why are your drawing so crappy?" asked Ichigo. Haru was twitching at the sight of them.
They almost looked like a preschooler had done them.
"Do you have a rabbit obsession by any chance?" Haru asked.
"You do have a rabbit obsession," Haru deadpanned.
"That's not important!" she coughed.
"Do either of you hear that?" asked Haru suddenly. His hair shifted from Ichigo orange to an alarmed crimson red.
The soul reaper stared in shock.
"How did you do that?"
"Your hair changed color!" she shouted. She didn't need to worry about waking anyone, the only ones who could hear her were Ichigo and Haru.
Haru had a mischievous idea, and without warning he turned into a duplicate of the soul reaper.
"I can do a lot more than change my hair, soul reaper. Huh...that howling getting close."
She stepped out of the room...and felt massive spiritual pressure. No wonder she hadn't heard any howling!
Haru ran downstairs after her, while Ichigo tried to stand up. He nearly tripped on the stairs. Karin would be safe on the second floor.
Haru's worst fear was confirmed. The thing that killed their mother...was a hollow. Rukia didn't know that Haru had encountered them before, but never so close.
His teacher, Yoruichi, had said his magic repelled them from his soul. That, and Ichigo seemed like a better snack to them.
Yoruichi was by far his favorite teacher, as she taught him a lot of wandless spells. Like one that allowed him to run at fast speeds that she called Shun Po. Though why she talked like a man whenever she was in cat form, he had no idea.
Ichigo had never qualified for her class, so he could only guess what she looked like. Haru had a picture of her in human form, but Ichigo had never seen her cat form.
Haru ran at the monster, and cast a blasting hex at it. It had no effect.
Then an idea came to him. The spell the soul reaper had used seemed very familiar. Ichigo crashed down the stairs. It took him a bit, but he managed to break the spell she used on him.
Haru glared at the hollow...and tried something else.
"Ruler! Mask of blood and flesh! All things in the universe that fly! That which names all! In the name of truth and temperance, rend you claw into the walls of sinless dreams! Bakkudo number 30: Pale Fire Crash!" he cried.
The soul reaper stared outright.
"You can use kido? Who the hell are you?"
The hollow cried in pain. He swiped at Haru, knocking him into a pole. Haru blacked out from the hit, and Ichigo charged at the monster.
It hit him hard, and he never once thought of surrendering to it. No one got away with hurting his family.
The soul reaper attacked, but was rebuffed. She landed near Haru, but some of her ribs were broken. She would have difficultly fighting it now.
She managed to sit up, but she couldn't get to her feet at all.
Ichigo took her sword into his body, and a blast of light hit them. Haru's soul pulsed with power, as it recognized Ichigo's new abilities.
Ichigo took out the hollow with a few swipes of his sword...and passed out.
Only Haru sensed the figures who appeared shortly after he was knocked out.
*Muramasa is the name of a Japanese swordsmith. His swords were known best for their bloodthirsty temperament.