Full Summary: Do you believe in Fate? Because it just so happens to have big plans for Ryou and Bakura, who learn just what's in store for them the hard way. But choosing a side can be tough during the best of times, and in the midst of a war and Harry's fifth year, Ryou and Bakura face a choice between love and power, a choice that could bring them closer to to the darkness or drag them to the light. Is blood thicker than the ties of friendship? And in the end, will they stand with he-who-shall-not-be-named or the-boy-who-lived? Only time may tell...

Takes place post-memory world, just before OotP. Ryou is about 17, or will be come September. Bakura is about 5000. HRH are all about 15. Do with that what you will.

Edits: New A/N, general clean-up and beautification, character fixes, took a shovel and a truckload of story-gravel to a few plot holes, explained more background, added a thousand or so more words.

English- "Words words words"

Japanese- "Words words words"

/Yami to Hikari/

/Hikari to Yami/

Malik- hikari
Mariku- yami

He awoke to the dark. Not night-dark or shadows-dark, but a comfortable, benign sort of dark. The kind of dark that didn't feel evil, for once. It was a comforting sort of dark, like a face nestled into the crook of a loved one's arm or the backs of tired eyelids after an exhausting day. It was nice, he had to admit, but not what he was used to.

As consciousness flooded over him in gentle lapping waves, he blinked his eyes open blearily, confused. He was relaxed, that much was true, and yet, he idly wondered why something felt... off. There was something in the mattress, the sheets, the way the ceiling looked through a curtain of snowy bangs obscuring his dark eyes that just wasn't right. He lurched upright and rubbed the sleep away as realization struck him like a blow to the face. This wasn't his bedroom.

He was in a dim room, a single candle lit and casting dramatic shadows on the comfortably furnished area. The walls of a warm honeyed yellow were most certainly not the whitewash-over-black painted walls and beige carpeted floors of his own room. A fan turned lazily above his head and sent down small drafts of air that stirred his hair. The light switch by the oaken door was set on the off position, and the bulbs were all dim. Wine-colored cretonne stirred faintly against the casement window, the thick drapes keeping whatever light there might have been outside where it belonged. All in all, it was too cozy.

Where the hell was he? And for that matter, what time was it? His eyes gazed around the room, carefully scrutinizing and musing silently all the while.

A bureau made of the same dark brown wood as the door lay bare on top, the topmost drawer open yet empty; his few things appeared to have been thrown haphazardly inside the nearby suitcase. Beside it, a lamp lay broken on the floor as if it were toppled with a certain degree of force behind it, but the thin layer of dust told Ryou that it hadn't been done recently. A nearby closet held Bakura's favorite trench coat, a long, black monstrosity that didn't show stains even when soaked through with blood, or so Bakura had told him.

It looked like someone's guest room, he decided, and he was just staying the night. Or day.

His eyes turned to the cheap analog clock on the wall beside it, taking in the time with a small grimace. Yes, it told him that there were a few hours till twelve, although whether it was night or day, he did not know. Knowing Bakura as he did, either could have been possible.

No sense lying to himself. This was Bakura's doing, that much he was sure of. He did things like this sometimes, taking Ryou out to the middle of nowhere and leaving him to find his way back. Ryou was fairly certain he had a pretty good idea as to Bakura's motives; whenever this happened, he usually woke up with some new valuable tucked away somewhere, and it was up to him to find his way home. But nothing new was hidden in his pockets, and the fact he wasn't yet wearing the all-black outfit Bakura wore on thieving missions such as these led him to believe Bakura hadn't gone out just yet.

He sighed and stood up stiffly, his body feeling curiously jet-lagged, and pulled away the curtain to try and figure out where he was, as well as if it were morning or evening, which the clock had neglected to tell him. Stars shone down in the gaps between scarlet edged clouds, barely visible in the late twilight's crepuscular orange glow. Rolling hills were painted a dusky green. Scattered copses of trees cast long shadows of finger-like branches clawing at east. Evening, then. But where...?

/Wiltshire, Yadonushi. We're in Wiltshire/ Bakura supplied via the mind-link. Ryou jumped. He had thought Bakura had sealed up the link, it would have certainly explained the spirit's silence. Clearly, Bakura had simply been sitting silently, listening with pleasure to the turmoil behind Ryou's brown eyes.

Ryou frowned at the window, sending a message of his own in response. /Why are we in Wiltshire? No, wait, what are you stealing this time that's so important you had to travel to England of all places?/ he amended, his voice bluntly disgruntled. He heard Bakura chuckle darkly.

/I'm sure you really don't care, dear hikari, I know you. You are more concerned about how I even got you to England, correct?/ Bakura responded casually, appearing beside his host in a semi-translucent state. His arms were crossed and he leaned up against the window, the coolness of the glass against his back either unnoticed, or disregarded. The rakish grin, the mussed hair, and the easy demeanor all gave Bakura a distinct sort of devil-may-care look that Ryou was familiar with. The look in his eyes said it all. 'I dragged you 6,000 miles away from your home, what are you going to do about it?'

Ryou could only manage a glare and a peeved, "Yes." He would do nothing, and Bakura knew it.

Bakura tended to stay within Japan for his heists; in fact this was the furthest from home Bakura had ever taken him. He might have woken up once in Egypt, but that was another story entirely, one where Bakura had led him to believe that Malik and Mariku were behind the trip, as they had stayed behind in Egypt for another month with Ishizu and Rishid while Ryou returned home. Ryou still had a few doubts regarding that story, though, namely the emerald necklace he found tucked in his pants upon his return.

Bakura solidified, taking on a corporeal body with the aid of a small dose of shadow magic, and smirked at Ryou. The boy sat back down on the bed with his fingers lying on his temples, readying himself for the barrage that was sure to be soon forthcoming.

A string of images flashed over the mind-link, snatches of disjointed conversation drifting to Ryou's mind to connect together and form a coherent thought. His mind's eye showed him what had happened, showed him Bakura picking up one of the two suitcases he used to travel and filling it with necessities, a few of Ryou's favorite articles of clothing- the ones he wore the most often, and the ones Bakura seemed to enjoy him wearing when he took over his body, such as the trench coat. Bakura filling Ryou's wallet with money pick-pocketed off of strangers; stealing a car and taking it to an airport.

He was surprised; Bakura had never been one for lies (he tended to prefer a more straightforward, if still surreptitious, approach) and didn't enjoy impersonating Ryou, but he had smoothly passed for the courteous boy pictured on the passport with an adept level of skill Ryou hadn't known possible, buying a ticket out of Japan while the hikari slept soundly in his soul room, a hint of shadow magic keeping his eyelids closed in peaceful slumber.

Bakura had effortlessly boarded the plane out of the country and had surprisingly not killed anyone on the flight. In fact, he had been remarkably well behaved, only habitually thieving a couple times, and then only from the carry-on luggage of people who were acting like real asses.

His flight touched down in London, and he took a train, a car, and walked the remainder of the way to the small bed and breakfast Ryou stood in now. The couple who ran it weren't mauled or ravaged in any way. Ryou was impressed. Maybe not particularly happy that Bakura had knocked him out yet again, but impressed. Bakura was no stranger to patience, when he wanted and needed it. That was one thing Ryou respected about him.

Bakura sat down beside Ryou, leaning casually against the wall and enjoying the awestruck look on Ryou's face. What was that emotion stirring within his hikari? He felt it, barely. Was this what pride felt like when it wasn't pride in oneself? Pride in someone other than yourself? He couldn't say little Ryou felt that often; it was usually a combination of anger and disappointment. But it quickly dissipated, only to be replaced by yet another pressing question. "Bakura, what are you trying to steal?" Ryou asked him suddenly.

Bakura chuckled quietly. "A cane," he said simply.

"What do you need a cane for?"

"It's not the cane I need. It's what's inside the cane that I want." His tone was mysterious, almost wisecracking in the way he said it. It was as if the answer was plainly obvious, but little Ryou for whatever reason didn't understand.

Ryou gave him a funny look of bewilderment. "Well, what's inside of it?" Certainly nothing large, if it fit inside of a cane. A sword, perhaps? Some type of rare gem? Bakura's silky smile told him it was far more valuable than any of those.

"A very special bone from a very special creature. Now get dressed, hikari, I'm using your body tonight."

/Remind me again why you're using my body and not yours? I thought you could make a temporary body for this sort of thing/

/I would, but I believe I need your help. If it is as I suspect, then I will need all of the strength the shadows can provide, and my own body would draw from the reserve. Better safe than sorry. I'd rather have a head on my shoulders than on the ground, if you know what I mean/

Ryou blinked with surprise but said nothing. Bakura had said he needed him. That was either cause for concern, or a huge step forward, and Ryou wasn't even sure which he preferred anymore. Bakura needed others like a cat needed gills- that was to say, not at all. And Bakura might have treated Ryou a bit better after the escapade in the Memory World, but that didn't mean a thing had changed between them, not as far as Ryou knew.

To be frank, Ryou knew little to nothing. Three hours had passed since Ryou had awoken in England, and the moon above their head was nearing its nightly apex, but Bakura hadn't told Ryou much in the way of tonight's plan. That Ryou was going (conscious, anyway) was shock enough. That Bakura requested his assistance rather than taken it without him being aware of it was completely foreign.

But Bakura had been a bit nicer to him since his return from the Memory World. Bakura had beeen battered and defeated and, for the longest time, too weak to even speak to Ryou through the mind link, let alone form a corporeal body as Yugi's yami, Atem, had done so proudly.

At first Ryou had been in mortal terror of Bakura's wrath when his voice had returned, and Yugi-tachi had been wary as well. Bakura did not take defeat well, and his cruelty was capable of surpassing anything Ryou had ever known. But as Bakura recovered inside of the ring, Ryou had noticed a change. Nothing he dared voice to anyone, even Yugi and the gang and especially not to Bakura, but a definite change.

Bakura was not what he once was, and neither was Ryou. With their master weak, the shadows had come whispering to him instead, and Ryou found that he could bid them to do things they had never done for him before. He never commanded them as Bakura could, and when Bakura had grown strong they had gone right back to him, so Ryou had never made a mention of it to his darkness, but for that short time, it was undeniable. He could control the magic.

The shadows knew Ryou's deepest, darkest secret. They knew the truths that Ryou didn't even tell himself. They knew they weren't alone. It made them jealous, as the shadows were wont to do in their avarice. Ryou wasn't so stupid as to deny that shadows were greedy. They were as bad as the mages that controlled them, always exacting a price from their masters. But he didn't like that they were right. It reminded him of things best left forgotten.

Bakura probably knew. Probably. But if he didn't, he never bothered Ryou about the secret. Maybe because Ryou never bothered Bakura about his secrets, which were left untold and were still unknown to Ryou. Maybe because Bakura was just a tiny bit nicer lately (or at least not cruel to Ryou). If Bakura did know, he didn't care. He saw Ryou as weak, so he probably thought Ryou's secret was weak as well. And maybe it was. Ryou didn't know either way. Only that it was the reason his father stayed away.

Ryou was aware that he was a bit of a freak. What had been done was done to stop it, to lead a normal life. Sure, Bakura had made that impossible. But it had been a modest attempt, and wasn't even a part of Ryou's life anymore. He hadn't known what to make of the shadows at his beck and call, anyway, and had been almost glad to see them gone.

As for Bakura, he had grown back to full strength in a matter of a few months. His kleptomania was rampant, his fingers unfailingly sticky. He still took lives without a second thought, and thirsted for revenge against the pharaoh, but Bakura didn't abuse Ryou any longer. It brought him less pleasure than it once had, and there was simply no need. Ryou did not resist as he once had, either. He knew he wasn't stupid and didn't think of himself as such very often, but he decided he was when he realized what had been staring him in the face for years.

With Bakura brooding in his mind whilst recovering, Ryou had finally realized that maybe, just maybe, Bakura's revenge might be justified in some twisted way.

Bakura wasn't quick to anger in regards to most things. It burned low and simmered for years- and whatever Atem had done to arouse Bakura's rage, it had to be terrible for it to last the thousands of years that Bakura had acted the part of Malignant Spirit of the Ring. Bakura shared no secrets, and so Ryou was left clueless as to his rationale for the pharaoh's destruction, but Ryou wasn't so sure it was his place to interfere. He would not support Bakura if it meant hurting his friends, but if he could get Bakura to forgive, then it would be a victory for everyone. If he could just convince Bakura...

But no... that wouldn't be likely. He would have to stop Bakura again, probably, though he didn't like to think about it. Whatever creature this bone belonged to, whatever Bakura wanted to do with it, Ryou just hoped it wasn't a part of some half-baked scheme that would lead to the demise of Yugi and the others if it succeeded. Ryou didn't know if he could deal with that again. He huffed a bit to himself in irritation. Bakura made everything so difficult.

Bakura caught the last thought and laughed aloud, much to Ryou's chagrin.

At the moment, Ryou was sitting alone in his soul room, cross-legged on the floor and watching through his own eyes as the thief slipped through the night. He was still wondering why Bakura hadn't just taken his own body. Granted, Bakura had to keep a certain proximity to Ryou while separated from him or else the body would begin to fade, hence why Bakura had brought Ryou all the way to Wiltshire. But surely this house he was planning on breaking into wouldn't be so far away Bakura couldn't go alone?

/Wouldn't it be simpler to go by yourself?/ Ryou complained. /You wouldn't even have to be solid until you got the bone thing-y! You could just send it to the soul room and come back/

/That's quite clever, hikari-mine, and I do so love when you think such devious thoughts, but I don't believe that will work/ Ryou flushed at this, suddenly embarrassed to have said anything at all. /As I said before, I will need your help. If my memory serves and my sources are correct, this will require the two of us. Haven't you noticed? Our power tends to be stronger when we're inhabiting the same body, Yadonushi/

And it was true. Materializing a second body took a certain amount of shadow magic, and that drained from the pool available for him to use. It was far easier to control Ryou's body; Ryou was used to it to a certain degree, and had long since given up on fighting the far more powerful spirit as his efforts to do so usually resulted in naught but inevitable failure.

They silently approached the manor that Bakura named as his destination, and Ryou's eyes grew wide as they took in the opulent chateau. A lavish wrought iron gate wound around the property with swirling matrices of deep black tempered steel. Hedges lined the narrow drive with their mossy frondescence. Moonbeams glancing along leaves painted a dark viridian by the night. Something about it touched his memory, if only briefly. All in all, it was a gorgeous place, the sort of manse that pissed Bakura off to no end. Ryou thought it was jealousy, but he never really knew for sure.

Curious, Ryou stepped out of his soul room to stand beside Bakura, becoming a diaphanous shadow of a ghoul at his yami's shoulder. Bakura took a slow, practiced step forward and froze, his eyes darting left and right as if sensing something was amiss.

/There's some sort of dark magic here. I can sense it/ The words drifted across the link as a quiet hiss, habitually quiet despite the clandestine nature the mind-like provided.

/Nothing seems too strange.../ Ryou responded with a yawn, drifting forward slowly past the gate. The moment his ethereal figure touched the metal, however, was when he realized how correct his yami was. His insubstantial flesh made contact with the black iron and began to burn with a white hot flash that coursed virulently through his body with all the speed of a lightning strike. Ryou cried out in surprise and leapt back from the gate, clutching the hand that the burn had originated from and looking horror-struck.

"What the bloody hell was that?" Ryou yelled freely to no one in particular, knowing full well only Bakura could hear him.

/I believe that was the dark magic I had mentioned/ Bakura replied, his face a well-controlled mask but his eyes glittering with amusement. A familiar fire lit Bakura's crimson eyes, the same fire that was omnipresent in situations like this. Danger was synonymous with fun in Bakura's mind, and a life without such risks as this was no life at all. This was where Bakura was happy, Ryou noticed.

Ryou rolled his eyes, throwing Bakura a sarcastic quip of /Thank you Captain Obvious/.

/You're quite welcome, Lieutenant Sarcasm/ Bakura replied in an off-handed tone, not looking away from the gate he was now carefully observing.

/Well, how do you plan on getting past it?/ Ryou asked, irritable even though his pride stung more than his hand. He had just unwittingly become a source for some of Bakura's amusement, after all. It wasn't Ryou's fault he hadn't known, as Bakura had always gone on these little excursions without Ryou ever being the wiser.

Bakura leaned close to the gate, silently thoughtful for a moment before coming to a decisive agreement within himself. /Hikari, merge back. I'll need you to stay close/ he warned.

Ryou complied reluctantly, and let out a victorious grin when he realized Bakura had allowed him all sensory perception. He could see everything Bakura saw, feel the wind twisting knots into Bakura's already tangled silver mane, even hear the evening cicadas that chirruped all around them as if he were standing there beside Bakura. Usually Ryou was locked away, deep within the confines of his soul room. This was certainly a much better experience.

His arms moved of their own volition, and he quickly realized Bakura was summoning the magic first wielded in Ancient Egypt, back when Bakura had been the King of Thieves. Darkness coalesced around them, enshrouding them momentarily with the void of the shadow realm until Bakura released them, safely on the other side of the gate and untouched by whatever magics had enchanted the gate. Bakura still slouched, as though passing through the wards had taken it out of him a little.

/Still am/ Bakura growled when they were back on firm ground, responding to Ryou's unvoiced remark about being the King of Thieves and sounding as if he were genuinely insulted. /I don't particularly like this magic. It's almost.../

/Cultivated?/ Ryou supplied, catching on to the stream of thought and trying to seem like less of the hindrance he must have been. Something about this made his head hurt, but he couldn't really say why.

/Sort of. Shadow magic is raw, but I understand it at least. This... this is like some jackal picked up from the desert that someone domesticated and taught some freaky-ass tricks. It isn't what I had been expecting/ Bakura reiterated, glaring angrily at the manor. /At any rate, it should be easier to get out than in, so there's little need to worry too much more/

The house seemed even larger on the other side of the gate, looming over them like a hulking behemoth of elegant stone masonry. It was the kind of place Bakura would break into for shits and giggles, a place where he would go just to say he took something from there. Bakura liked doing that, too, Ryou noticed. If Ryou didn't know better, he'd think that half of what Bakura did, he did to further tarnish his reputation. But that was ridiculous- Bakura didn't need to do a thing to look evil. He just was, and that was that.

Both heard a rustle in the bushes and froze. Bakura locked his muscles and Ryou found he couldn't breathe. There was someone out there, or something. From the gloom, a white form took shape, and in a bare moment they saw a a large, pure white bird strut pridefully through a hedge, a massive tail trailing behind.

/What the bloody hell is a peacock doing here?/ Bakura fumed silently to Ryou, ignoring the boy's fascination with the albino bird in favor of slipping the rest of the way up the drive, silent as a viper in a den of sleeping rabbits. Ryou took one last look at the peacock and returned to his soul room. At least there, he wouldn't have to worry about any more headaches and cultivated magic that burned his soul where it stood.

More enchantments were interwoven into the threshold, but these were far less numerous. Bakura's experiences that few people tended to lock a door that was behind another locked door were again fruitful. Their redundancy was to his benefit, and he found these lighter defense surrounding the front door to be no match for him. He dissipated them with a wave of the hand.

/Doesn't it seem off to you that magic defends this place and not a normal security system?/ Ryou deadpanned in his light tone, almost causing Bakura to chuckle.

/It isn't too strange. There may be many things in this world you and I may never know. So long as I can get around it, I frankly don't care too much what it is/ Bakura looked around the room with a greedy look on his face. There were many things here that looked like they'd be nice to steal, in his opinion. But he'd have to restrain himself, business before pleasure after all.

The front foyer was richly decorated with more of the grandiose decor that one would expect from the elegant fa├žade. Bakura rifled first through a small umbrella stand by the door, a single-minded look of determination on his face though he came up empty in his cane-hunt.

His eyes darted left and right again, a suspicious movement Ryou realized was him thinking on his feet. /If you were hiding an ancient and valuable cane, where would you keep it if you were a rich megalomaniac?/ he asked Ryou suddenly.

Ryou blinked owlishly from inside his soul room. Was this a test, he mused? He'd probably fail. Bakura was the devious one. Ryou was just along for the ride, although he couldn't deny that this was just a tiny bit exciting. He might not have had control over his body, but he could feel the adrenaline singing through him all the same.

/Come on, Hikari, an answer/ Bakura reminded him.

/I don't think they'd put it in a vault, because rich people like other people knowing they're rich. At least, Kaiba does, anyway/ he answered after a ponderous moment of thought. /I'd probably display it where people could see it... Maybe a display case or something. If I needed it though, or thought I was so important I'd need to hold one to keep my reputation, I'd probably use it, keep it close/

/Precisely, hikari-mine. We're going straight into the lion's den/ Bakura said with a malevolent grin, clearly relishing the idea. Bakura slipped further into the house, making sure the plush runner that lay over the stairs muffled the footsteps and stairs that tried to creak where he stepped. The open stairwell led up to a hallway lined with numerous doors; the largest, which were situated at the end of the hall, were obviously the ones that would lead to the master bedroom.

These Bakura headed for first, pulling the doors open so quickly the hinges had no time to protest, a little trick he had learned to keep up with the creaky doors found in most houses. These seemed to be well oiled, however, so the action was little more than a precaution.

A large bed laid in the center of the room, and snuffling sounds of the slumbering master of the house and his wife reached their shared ears softly. Bakura took a practiced, stealthy step forward, one at a time so quietly the two never stirred. Ryou quickly found that the grin pulling at his lips was not Bakura's alone as he took in the sight of an elegant silver and black cane lying across a bedside table. They would be out of here in no time, free to return to Japan.

/Ryou, take over/ Bakura said suddenly.

/What? Me?/ Ryou hissed back in shock. /I'm not! I- I- I'll get caught-/ his tone rose with escalating panic.

/Hurry up, hikari! We don't have all night you know/ Bakura urged, and Ryou made a split second decision. He was afraid, but he didn't want to defy Bakura. It would have been too hypocritical. He'd almost been smiling, after all. It made him guilty to think.

He seized control of his body, and it didn't slip his notice how suddenly easy it was to reclaim what was his. Had he wanted to, he probably could have taken it back earlier. But it was probably for the best he hadn't, as now was the time to do or die. When he was in control, it felt as though this was truly dangerous, it was finally real for him. Bakura had made it seem simple. He controlled Ryou's body with an effortless grace that accompanied the, in this situation anyway, level-headed nature of his yami.

Ryou felt clumsy in comparison, every one of the few lurching steps sounding infinitely louder than Bakura's, and he dropped silently to his knees on the thickly piled carpet, lest he trip and awaken someone. Why oh why did Bakura have to send him out? Ryou was nearly petrified by fear. He didn't want to do this! It was bad enough that Bakura had to be so bad, why did he have to drag Ryou down with him?

But Bakura's voice was strangely reassuring in his ear, solidifying beside him in a body of his own to give Ryou instructions. /Pick up the cane/ he ordered, and Ryou's hand snaked up to snatch the hollow walking stick. It rattled once against the top of the bedside table, but the slumbering man made no sound.

The silver snake-head topper moved, and he tugged at it. Inside the cane was a strange, finely carved stick that was attached to the underside of the handle. Bakura seemed surprised as well by the stick. /That's new/ he said before resuming his task. /But put it back. We're interested in the other end/

Bakura pointed to the flawlessly carved bottom, murmuring to it in rapid-fire Arabic until a tiny niche appeared, a small divot in the wood shaped like a half-inch-wide bowl. Shadow magic, just a drop of it, filled the tiny bowl with violet-black shadows. /Hold out your hand/ Bakura continued, reaching into one of the numerous hiding spots on his person and drawing out a tiny dagger with a needle-sharp tip.

Ryou's eyes grew wide and he tried to pull his just-extended hand back, but Bakura grabbed it by the wrist and pricked the tip of one of his fingers with the tiny blade. A bead of blood rolled down, lingering momentarily on Ryou's nail before falling freely through the air in a scarlet globule to land in the small bowl. Bakura did the same with his own hand, and the shadows greedily swallowed the tokens Bakura had given them.

It was starting to make a little bit more sense to Ryou now. He looked into Bakura's crimson eyes with some trepidation as Bakura began to chant in hushed tones. /Hikari, join me. Repeat what I say, but quietly/ Bakura ordered, not looking up at Ryou.

Bakura whispered in ancient Arabic, and the words floated across the mind-link to Ryou's mind, allowing him to join in with his own whispers. The archaic ritual words tasted of power on his tongue, and it was evident nearly immediately that it would take the both of them to secure whatever was hidden inside. The shadows that held the contents hostage were sealed with such tight bonds, only Bakura at his peak could have opened it alone. Even the great Atem himself would have struggled greatly with it without some form of assistance.

Ryou felt something stir inside of him, and the ring lit up. His eyes flicked between the circle hanging at his chest and Bakura's blood-red pupils, worried, his tongue stumbling once or twice over the foreign words in his trepidation. His fear grew, rising and bubbling up inside of him as he felt it, a dark power growing deep within his soul like some monstrous leviathan, burgeoning to a size so massive, it felt like Ryou was going to explode.

This was not the sweet, innocent darkness of before, nor was it the tentative tendrils he had stirred when Bakura was too weak to marshal them. It was corruption and a bitter tang in his mouth. It spread along his tongue like rotten honey or the black, evil words that he spoke. It was death, night-dark, shadows-dark. He couldn't take it. He squeezed his eyes shut, moisture welling silently into the corners of his eyes and the chant rolling faster off his tongue.

Power rolled through him, some foreign force that felt darkly familiar as it passed through him. His soul gave an audible click when it shifted inside of him. What felt like a rapidly unlocking mechanism slipping into place in his chest had to have been the source, there were no other sounds in the room. Energy flowed out of his body, drawing from him until...

Until it stopped. Bakura clamped a hand over Ryou's mouth, effectively silencing the boy. The glow dimmed from the ring, and Ryou drooped; collapsing only to be caught by Bakura in the nick of time, before his head could hit the dresser. He felt so weak...

/Hikari, stand up!/ Bakura ordered tersely, hauling Ryou to his feet and pulling him out of the room quickly.

/Did we get what we came for?/ Ryou asked slowly, the words slurred more than he liked. He used his free fist to rub his eyes, trying to force himself into full consciousness, his feet struggling to keep apace with the longer-legged Bakura. He didn't see why Bakura had suddenly stopped, however, until his arm was nearly wrenched from its socket and he looked around, seeing a boy with slicked back, platinum blond hair standing in the middle of the hallway and brandishing a stick at them.

"Halt!" the boy called with all the authority of a self-entitled spoiled brat.

"Dammit!" Bakura growled in a throaty, animalistic snarl as he clutched Ryou close, the boy hanging limply, much like a doll, in Bakura's arms.

"Just wait until my father hears about this, you muggle!" the boy yelled, taking another step closer to the pair.

/Ryou, we're getting out of here, let's go/ Bakura growled, charging the boy and surprising him, Ryou still being dragged behind. As they passed, Ryou's eyes widened to take in the sight of the boy's face. No, the faint familiarity was not his imagination. He knew this place, barely. He dug his heels into the ground, slowing Bakura down a little.

"Bakura! Stop!" Ryou yelled, trying to pull his arm free or impede on Bakura's escape long enough to do so. "Slow down!" Bakura paused, a furious glare on his face. But Ryou wasn't looking at him, he was staring at the blond's face with a searching gaze. "Draco?" he whispered, just as another man with equally pale hair as the boy stumbled into view, brandishing the same silver and black cane as though he didn't really need it to walk. It was for show, after all. "Uncle Lucius?"

Bakura's facial expression melted into one of confusion as he searched for some explanation in Ryou's head, but none came forward so easily. There were too many thoughts, too many emotions going through at once to tell for sure about anything.

"Ryou?" the man replied curiously, his silver eyes wide and staring. A certain gleam edged its way into the irises, something bordering on confusion. His son turned to face him with evident concern on his face.

"Dad, you recognize him from somewhere? Who is he?" he demanded, his tone slightly imploring.

Lucius nodded, lips set into a hard line. "Someone I was informed had died long ago. Draco, say hello to your cousin Ryou."

To new readers: welcome to SitG! (at least, that's what it's labeled on my computer) To my old friends and supporters: welcome back to Chapter 1! I honestly never thought this fic would be this popular. I am... astounded, and eternally grateful to those who have favorited and reviewed and followed. It's been a wild ride so far, and I don't plan on ending it soon. Thank you, all of you, and I hope the reviews and favorites keep coming C:

Now, to what needs to be said. After my... unannounced hiatus... I'm fixing up these chapters. I'm touching up places that bug me (mostly my asinine remarks in the authors notes), repairing inconsistencies, filling in those plot holes, pruning plot points I set up but don't plan on using, and forcing people back into character where they've fallen out. It's going to be a long process, and I don't know when the next new chapter will come out. For that, I apologize. But hopefully, by the time I'm done, this story will be something I'm even more proud to be a part of than I already am, and I won't be embarrassed by some of the silly things that I thought were a good idea at the time, but really never were.

Please, stick with me, I beg of you, and I will try my very best not to let you down. The new chapters will start coming out again as soon as possible, hopefully better than ever. Thank you so much for your patience.