DO NOTE that this story IS NOT endorsed by the original holders of the intellectual rights or copyrights mentioned at the end of this chapter. This is a work of fanfiction based on the original work and its associated franchise, with the intent to amuse and distract its readers. There is absolute no intent to make money or otherwise deny the original copyright holders their given due. Should the original holders of the copyright be offended by my use of their rightful property, I will gladly take it down in accordance with the Terms of Service of this website. Please support the official release(s) mentioned below.
Well, here's another foray into the world of fanfiction for me, this time into the crazily awesome universe of Mahou Sensei Negima. This story is a 'For Want Of A Nail Story' – the exact nature of the 'Nail' itself will remain a mystery, at least for the time being. I wouldn't want to spoil anything, now would I? Enjoy!
This one will probably have slower updates than you would usually get from me, but I still exams to study for. I hope you don't mind that updates will take a while. If this story has grabbed your interest, just return at the end of the month – I'll start updating everything once my exams are done.
The 'T' rating is subject to change. I only put this story in that category because it fit. However, consider my usual writing style, I wouldn't be surprised if this one got bumped up to 'M'. Let's see what happens. Actually, if you think the rating is inappropriate for future chapters, don't hesitate to tell me, okay?
Oh yes, and there will be future crossover elements. You should know that I like crossovers. A lot. Just so you are aware. To be forewarned is to be forearmed!
Please, enjoy yourself while reading this story, and if you liked or disliked it, be kind enough to leave a review. I hope you have as much fun reading it as I had writing it.
The Oncoming Storm
Chapter I – The Prodigal Son's Return
The Wales Academy of Magic was one of the most prestigious schools in the Western magical arts. Lecturers from both the Old World and the Magical World would fight for the opportunity to teach classes and give lectures here, and those who were chosen as instructors, temporary or permanent, were renowned in the hidden world of mages for their intelligence and skill.
The position of the headmaster of that academy has to be considered from that perspective. As the university's guiding light, he was representative of the elders that taught the next generation of magically gifted individuals. It was no surprise that the headmaster was a tall man with a large white beard that just screamed 'venerable wisdom'. It was as much a fashion choice as it was dictated by the expectations of the students and visitors.
Funny, though, the old man thought as he sat down at his desk. Everybody nowadays expected elder wizards to have ridiculously long beards. No one took you seriously if you didn't have one. It was part of the image. And appearances were especially important if you were in charge of a school.
The old man grumbled in annoyance as he saw his in-tray filled with a huge stack of paperwork, documents to sign, and memos from the various departments of the school. He understood the importance of paperwork – he was old enough to remember it being introduced en masse, for God's sake! But sometimes, he couldn't help but think that people just wrote memos and the like to actually avoid making decisions of their own.
He sighed as he sat down at his desk. Donnet McGuiness, his ever-faithful secretary and assistant, simply gave him a sympathetic smile. "I hope you don't mind the extra work; there have been quite a few new students this year."
"Dear me, I would never dream of complaining," the venerable old man chuckled, his voice quivering with suppressed amusement. "Why should I complain when my entire job consists of simply signing my name at the bottom of a page? I'm not getting any younger, so this is just the right task for a doddering old codger like me."
Donnet smiled mischievously. "So you muttering in your sleep about 'burn it all, burn it all to ashes' is nothing but your overactive imagination?"
"Er..." A large sweat drop formed on the headmaster's forehead. "Of course! What else would it be?" He started laughing, a bit too loudly to be considered entirely sane.
"My, my," Donnet giggled, hiding her mouth behind a raised hand. "Headmaster, it's not good for repress negative feelings, you know," she chided. "I've heard psychologists say that it makes your mental health suffer."
"Well, personally I wouldn't be very sorry if I never had to set my name on a piece of paper ever again," the bearded elder muttered under his breath, which only amused his secretary even more. "It's a never-ending chore, unchallenging to boot. I do nothing else every day. Don't you understand how mind-numbingly boring this is?" He rested his tired forehead on a wrinkled palm. "This day is going to be just as tedious as the others; I'm sure of it."
"Perhaps..." Donnet looked past his shoulder through the large window that made up the back of the headmaster's office. And then her smile returned, wider than ever. "And sometimes, interesting things happen on the days that start out as the most boring ones."
The headmaster looked over his shoulder, his sharp gaze peering through the window leading onto the grounds of the academy. It was a beautiful sunny day outside (unusual, considering this was Great Britain, the land of rain and clouds), and the view onto the green hills of the surrounding countryside was clear.
So the headmaster had no trouble spotting the tall figure in a long white cloak walking towards the entrance of the school, his face obscured by a hood and carrying a large hiking backpack. In his hand was a staff wrapped in large swathes of bandages – a staff with a very familiar design, the headmaster noted.
For a moment, the headmaster thought that a different man was walking along that path; someone who had disappeared many years ago from the face of the earth, both the real and the magical one. But this new arrival wasn't as tall yet; his movements were both very similar and yet distinctly different.
Well, if it isn't the prodigal son returning, the headmaster thought. "You're right. This is going to be an interesting day," he said quietly to his secretary, his eyes never leaving the approaching figure.
"Negi Springfield," the headmaster said warmly, rising from the seat at his desk to greet the young man that had entered his office. "It's good to see you again."
"Headmaster," the teenager bowed with a smile before politely shaking the older man's offered hand. "It's been far too long."
"Five years, to be exact," the elder wizard chuckled before looking the teenager in front of him up and down. "My goodness! The last time I saw you, you were only ten, Negi! Nothing but a little shrimp of a boy! And now you've grown so tall! A real man indeed!"
"Old man, you sound just like a stereotypical uncle at a family reunion," a voice cheerfully informed him. "Don't you find that kinda embarrassing?"
The headmaster blinked a few times. "Apparently, I have become senile while you were gone, Negi," he said casually. "I'm starting to hear disembodied voices."
"Disembodied my ass!" the voice said amusedly. "I'm up here, mate!"
"Chamo!" Negi hissed. "Be quiet!"
It was then that the headmaster spotted the white-furred ermine sitting on Negi's shoulder, waving at him with an unlit cigarette and sporting a wide grin. "Albert Chamomile? Is that you?"
"That's right, old man; the Chamo is back to the old homestead!" the little rodent said dramatically. "And I'm not exactly surprised by you getting a bit airy in the head region up there, considering you're getting on in years."
"Oh, be quiet, you old rogue," the headmaster grumbled good-naturedly. "Getting old might have a few drawbacks, but at least I can make younger people feel completely awkward just by reminding them of how small and clumsy they used to be." He winked at his former student, who was absolutely mortified. "I'm right, aren't I?"
The teenager shrugged sheepishly as he let his backpack slide to the floor and took off his travelling robe, Chamo running down his arm to get to the ash tray on the headmaster's desk. He unclasped a long rapier from his side, setting the sheathed weapon against the headmaster's desk. The old wizard noticed the battered basket hilt. Once beautifully decorated, the silvered metal was now dented and scratched, as if some creature had decided to sharpen its claws on it.
Briefly, the headmaster wondered what could have possibly done such damage, but he decided to ignore it when his former student sat down in one of the armchairs facing his desk. "Well, I wouldn't exactly know about getting older," Negi said, a smile on his face as he made himself comfortable, "but nevertheless, I'm very glad to be back at the academy."
"A joyous occasion, definitely," the headmaster agreed as he sat back down at his desk with a grunt. He smiled at his guest. "Tea for the two of us? I seem to recall you liked yours black with milk, no?"
"Thank you; that would be very much appreciated."
"As polite as ever," the old man chuckled. "Anything for you as well, Albert?"
The ermine looked up excitedly. "Do you have beer?"
"Not for rude nicotine-addicted rodents, no."
"Speciecist," Chamo muttered. He waved gratefully at Donnet, who had held a lighter in front of him for the cigarette in his paw. "Thanks, sweetheart!"
At a dismissive wave of the headmaster's hand, the secretary disappeared with a smile, leaving the three of them alone. For a moment, teacher and student sat in silence, each studying the other.
"So, how was your trial to become a magister magus? Eventful, I suppose?"
Negi suppressed a grimace. "Very tiring, sir. Peacekeeping isn't exactly an easy job."
The headmaster laughed out loud. "I remember when your graduation diploma decided that you should spend your magus trial in the squadrons, of all things! And starting in the magical world of all places! Not exactly the easiest of quests, was it?"
"Nekane-chan fainted," Negi muttered, a corner of his mouth crooking up despite himself. "And Anya wasn't exactly pleased either."
"Tried to drag you off to London, if I remember this right," Chamo chimed in.
"Anya? Ah, yes, Miss Cocolova!" The headmaster stroked his beard serenely. "That little lady has been asking me about you nearly every month you were gone, Negi. Actually, it became kind of annoying after a while."
"Really?" Negi said, already brightening up. "That's nice of her!"
"Is that so?" The headmaster threw an amused grin at Negi. "If I recall correctly, she called you a 'stupid kid that'll get himself killed spacing out as usual', or something along those lines." He chuckled as Negi's shoulders slumped in comical despair. "Well, at least she cares about you."
"One small comfort," Negi muttered to himself, smiling charmingly as Donnet returned with a tray and handed him a cup of steaming tea. "Thank you, Miss."
The headmaster accepted his cup with a smiling nod and took the chance to observe his new guest. Tall, red-haired, a pince-nez perched on his nose and wearing a waistcoat and rather formal-looking travelling clothes, his long overcoat and travelling cloak hung next to the door. The old-fashioned glasses looked rather odd on someone as young as him, but he still wore them with an air of quiet dignity. He had grown taller in the years he'd left, his shoulders had broadened, and his face had lost most of its boyishness that most would have labeled 'cute'. Still, the young man seemed completely at ease with himself.
How old was he now? the headmaster wondered. He'd left about five years ago on his assignment to graduate as a magister magus. So, about fifteen years old now, right? A shame that he couldn't remember exactly. Perhaps he really was getting a bit forgetful in his old age...
Negi breathed on his hot tea, seemingly lost in thought. "Headmaster," he began hesitantly, "I've been discharged from my duties at the Magical Association in Mundus Magicus."
The old man raised an eyebrow? "Really, now? And why is that?"
"They said that I had served long enough as a peacekeeper to fulfil the requirements to be a Magister Magi," Negi explained with a sheepish smile.
"So you were awarded the title?"
"Damn right he was! Big fancy ceremony and everything! You should have seen the cute chicks that were trying to get a piece of aniki here after he recited the oath!" Chamo piped up, leering with a perverted grin. "It was glorious."
The old man beamed, ignoring the rodent. "Congratulations, young man!"
Negi gave him a small smile, one that didn't look particularly pleased, yet accepting the honest compliment anyway. "Thank you, sir."
"You're following in your father's footsteps already, aren't you?" The headmaster smiled benevolently. He watched as Negi said nothing, sipping his tea without a word. "I'm sure he would have been proud of you," he added after a moment, his voice far quieter than before.
"Perhaps," Negi said neutrally as he set his cup down on its saucer. "I learned a lot about him from a few people I met in Mundus Magicus. I have proof he's still alive, at least, even if I haven't found him."
Yet. The unspoken word hung in the air.
The headmaster chuckled. "If the Thousand Master doesn't want to be found, then he won't be found! It's that simple. He was stubborn like that." The old man laughed aloud, a gravelly sound that echoed around the room. "He didn't change his attitude even after I threw him out of the academy for failing his exams three times in a row! The man was stubborn as a mule, I tell you!"
"Some people would call it determination," Negi interjected, though he had to suppress a grin himself. The headmaster's description of his father was spot on from what his son knew of him.
"And those people would be right," the headmaster agreed jovially. "Determination is something we could all learn from him. Fighting against insurmountable odds for what you believe to be the rightful thing, or to protect those we care about? Well, that is something that many of us could appreciate.
"Now, something else I'm rather interested in." He suddenly leant forward, his grin widening. "Have you found a partner yet?"
Negi frowned. "Partner?" He went beet red as he realized the implication of the headmaster's none-too innocent question. "No! I haven't!" he said loudly. The secretary, who had reappeared to fill up the tea cups, just giggled at his expression. Apparently, she had been listening in. Negi threw her a betrayed look.
"Tsk, a mage without a partner? How unusual," the headmaster thought aloud, amused by his guest's embarrassment. "Five years of travelling, and you were never able to find a partner?"
"I didn't need one!" Negi said, trying to remain calm and dignified and failing spectacularly.
"My, my, our young man has high standards when he's looking for a woman, doesn't he?" the headmaster addressed Chamo with a wry smile.
"Exacting to a fault, that's him," Chamo agreed, chuckling.
Negi palmed his face with both hands, trying to hide his flushed face as best as he could, to no avail. "You're mocking me, sir."
"Like I said, embarrassing the youth of today is the privilege of its elders. Ah, to be young again..." The headmaster's genial expression became grave again. "But in all seriousness, Negi, why didn't you take someone as your ministra? A mage travelling and working as a peacekeeper – that can't exactly have been safe."
Negi straightened himself in his seat now that the headmaster seemed to have gotten out of his 'I-like-making-younger-people-feel-awkward' attitude and tried to compose himself. He rubbed the back of his scarred hand absent-mindedly.
"Well, I didn't want to let anyone get hurt," Negi explained slowly, choosing his words carefully. "And I didn't really need a ministra magus because I was travelling with a group of other peacekeepers. We worked well together, so I never needed to make a contract to protect myself." He shrugged and smiled faintly. "Doesn't mean it wasn't difficult, though, but I managed to pull through somehow."
He picked up his tea cup again, and the headmaster noticed that there was a jagged scar on the back of Negi's hand, running down his wrist from his knuckles and disappearing into the long sleeve of his shirt. "Apparently not everything went smoothly during your trials to become a magister," the headmaster noted, nodding towards the ugly remnant of that injury.
Negi glanced at the hand holding his cup and laughed sheepishly. "It's rather funny; 'peacekeeping' involves far more violence than I ever thought it would. But it's fine; I barely feel that particular scar anymore."
Liar, the headmaster thought kindly as Negi idly flexed his fingers. That injury must have been terrible if you couldn't heal it with magic. No wonder you keep rubbing it; it must have been horribly painful.
The atmosphere in the room was far heavier than it should be – after all, the youngest graduate of the university had returned! The headmaster clapped his hands together, a benign smile forming on his face. "So, Negi, what can I do for you?"
The boy looked up, surprised. "I beg your pardon, sir?"
"NEGI SPRINGFIELD!" the headmaster thundered, startling Negi witless and nearly spilling his tea. Chamo jumped as well, scattering ash all over the desk. "You may be a fully-fledged magister magus now, but I was still the one who watched over you when you grew up and studied at this academy! And don't forget that I've been a teacher for over seventy years! There's nothing a student can hide from me, and it's obvious that something's bothering you! Spit it out, young man; I don't have all day!"
I'm enjoying this far more than I should, the headmaster thought, trying to hide a grin as a completely flustered Negi adjusted his glasses. This is fun.
"Fine, sir," Negi said with a weak smile. "I'm looking for work, and I thought that you would the best person to talk to."
"Work?" The headmaster raised an eyebrow. "I thought you were a magister magus now? Don't you want to help people travelling around the world now?"
"Well, I was officially recognized as one, true," Negi admitted, "but I'm rather tired of travelling around Mundus Magicus after five years, so I thought I'd ask you for a steady job on the other side of the gate. I can still help people by staying in one place, right, sir?"
"Unusual, definitely, but many mages take up fixed positions at universities or hospitals and the like. After all, medical and magical research is easier when you're not prancing around the countryside in some remote third-world country." He opened a drawer and started rummaging. "Hmm... Let me see if I have anything for you. Aha, there it is!" The old teacher held up a letter triumphantly, quickly unfolding the message. "An old friend of mine is looking for a teacher at his school. Does that interest you?"
"A teacher for magic?" Negi asked, puzzled.
The headmaster snorted. "Not for magic, my boy; for English! That should be child's play for you, pardon the pun."
"Very funny, sir," Negi said drily, "even though I don't think I qualify as a child anymore."
"Some may disagree, young man, your emancipation notwithstanding." His eyes flew over Konoemon's letter. "It's a middle school, if I remember right. The headmaster is an old friend of mine."
"So it's true," Chamo muttered under his breath, "all old people really do know each other."
"What was that, Albert?"
"Nothing!" Negi said with a charming smile as he quickly clamped a hand over his familiar's mouth before the rodent could say anything. "An English teacher, then? That sounds doable."
"It's a school in Japan, though."
"Er... For the record, I do speak Japanese, sir."
"Really? Where did you learn it, young man?"
Negi thought for a moment, ignoring the struggling Chamo in his hand and looking rather uncomfortable. " Er, a friend I was very fond of taught me. To be fair, though, I'm not so sure about being fluent, she mostly taught me kanji... Say, when does the school year start in Japan, sir?"
"In a month, I think. Why do you ask?"
"I'll be able to teach a class in Japanese and English by then," Negi said, sure of himself.
"Learning to speak a new language in four weeks? Aren't we a little overconfident, sonny boy?"
"Aniki's smart, old man," Chamo said, having managed to wrestle himself free from Negi's grip with surprising strength. "Underestimating him is usually a bad idea, you know?"
"Confident little brat," the headmaster said, amused. "All right, I'll arrange everything for your move to Japan in a few weeks."
"Thank you, sir," Negi said, a relieved smile on his face.
"Another thing, though, Albert," the headmaster added with a wry grin. "I think you're going to like this last part about the school you're going to."
"Wazzat?" the ermine mumbled, chewing on a new cigarette he had apparently gotten out of nowhere – the old one had been squashed when Negi grabbed him.
"It's an all-girls school."
For a moment, Chamo just stared at the headmaster in shock. Immediately afterwards, he jumped up and whooped, doing a little victory dance on the top of the desk. "All right! Hot damn girlies, here I come!"
Negi watched on, flabbergasted, as the ermine did something that looked suspiciously like the moonwalk on the headmaster's desk. He threw a disapproving look at the man himself. "I'll blame you for whatever happens, sir."
The old headmaster just leaned and smiled benevolently as he watched their antics, stroking his long white beard.
Well, perhaps the two of them haven't changed that much after all.
The original manga of Mahou Sensei Negima! (Magical Teacher Negima!) was written and drawn by Ken Akamatsu and originally published by Kodansha in February 2003. It ended syndication in March 2012 after 38 published volumes. An animation series titled Negima! Magister Negi Magi was released by studio Xebec in January 2005 and ended its run after one season in June 2005. A series of original video animations (OVAs) have also been released. An alternate retelling of the series in form of an anime series titled Negima? was released by studio Shaft, its run beginning in October 2006 and ending after one season in March 2007. Various tie-in manga of the various anime adaptations have also been published.
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