Disclaimer

I don't own any of these guys.

I do own the situations, but only where the differ from the original storylines.

Sephiroth is not Lord Vader, and Voldie is not Moff Tarkin.

Therefore, I am sad to report, there will be no Death Star.

Even if I am stealing a bit of the cycle of the Dark Side.

Note

Well, we took mom off of the Metaprolol Tartrate and the Hydrochlorothiazide. She seems a lot more coherent without the heart medications and her blood pressure seems to have stabilized. The Vistaril – anti-itching – is still making her drowsy. She also, at the behest of the home health nurse, took a rather strong painkiller. That had her sleeping for close to twelve hours and she was groggy for much longer. I wound up not being able to get her to today's doctor appointment because she was having trouble getting to the bathroom, let alone the curb.

If she's not more aware by 3:30, I'm calling the doc and asking for advice.

This chapter leads with a bit of Umbridge crack, it was supposed to be an Omake. Sadly, it took my imagination and ran with it. Again. This comes at the behest of a Guest Reviewer on FFN. I've interpreted that request quite liberally, since he just wanted to see them come to the conclusion they do.

After that, I am leading the actual chapter with the (thus far) second most requested scene. Xahn777, you asked for it first so you get the credit for this. The most requested scene (Seph and Cloud's reunion) is going to be a while still.

Thank you, again, to all my reviewers/commentators/well-wishers. You make my life brighter.


Chapter Sixteen

Umbridge, in the gaudily-decorated office of the Minister of Magic, listened with growing horror as he related his findings from the Greek Ministry. His face was growing redder with embarrassment and anger as he spoke. "...and then, they tell me that he's been dead for centuries!"

"Cornelius," her voice shook. She needed him to divert his anger from her, and it could be true. Couldn't it? "Is it possible that there is... Oh, no..."

He frowned. "What, Delores?"

She looked at him, limpid eyes staring earnestly out of her round face. "I-I hate to think... I-Is it possible that this Plato person is a Dark Lord? Could he have survived so long without anyone knowing? It would explain how we still have his books..."

She swallowed, then continued when Fudge didn't respond beyond quickly losing the red color he'd acquired. "And, if that is the case... What if he has been the inspiration for all the Dark Lords since? Could he have backed You-Know-Who and that last Dark Lord from the Continent?"

Fudge's eyes widened and his face paled further. If his green bowler hat wasn't hanging from the hook by the door, he'd no doubt be wringing it into a misshapen mass of felt. "This... we can't let even the possibility get out. The public would lose all confidence in the Ministry if they knew we let it go on for this long."

She nodded, shaky hands reaching for her tea. "But, what do we do?"

He drew himself up as far as his short (and rotund) body would allow. "Weatherby!" he bellowed, "Get Croaker from the Department of Mysteries in here!"


Algernon Croaker sat behind his desk, laughing. "So, there you have it. I am to track down any trace of this new/old Dark Lord."

"How on Earth did they decide that I was a Dark Lord? And why would I want to be one, anyway?" The man sitting in Croaker's guest chair grinned in amusement. "It's far too restrictive, having to gather minions, submit to the Will of Evil, and such. I much prefer good, old-fashioned fact manipulation to achieve my goals.."

Algernon snickered, barely containing another belly laugh. His ribs were hurting now, dammit! "I don't know, Aristocles. Possibly because you're still alive?"

"Hmph." The Greek reached for a biscuit. "By that standard, the Ancient Order of Unspeakables is a society full of Dark Lords. By the way, are you going to kill this persona off any time soon, Isaac? It's getting about that time again."

"This from the man that thought Flamel would never reveal his extended life span to the rest of the world." Croaker, formerly the Alchemist and – to muggles - Scientist Sir Isaac Newton, shot back. "If we'd all done that, we'd never have to change names again."

"Yes," the man agreed, "and look at all the extra trouble it's caused him. Always in demand for advice, having to hide his Stone from predators... It's far easier to just change names every few decades. If I forgot to mention it all those years ago, well done on being blood adopted into the Croakers."

Croaker sighed, and pulled a glowing green vial from his drawer. "Yes, but now I have to make a new Stone as the old one isn't working very well with this biochemistry. Good thing the planet produces so much of the Secret Ingredient." He chuckled. "Someday, someone else is going to figure out that the mysterious 'white matter' is actually Mako and the 'red matter' is blood from a Phoenix summons."

"A new Stone is a small price to pay, my friend, for the security of your identity. And, they'll have to figure out the Tabula Smargdina, first."

"Quite so." Croaker couldn't help but agree with both sentiments. There was nothing worse than dodging law enforcement for a few decades until they became certain you were dead. Also, the odds of anyone puzzling out their old notes was smaller with every decade.

The man shifted in his seat. "By the way, the creature on sub-level forty-three has not settled. It's still stirring every now and then."

"How is that possible? It was supposedly in stasis." Croaker eyed the small rack of Materia he kept off to the side. If that Calamity was to wake... Well, that's why their Secret Society existed, right? To keep Jenova from reviving and purify her existence from the Planet. It was their duty as the descendents of, and friends of the descendents of, the original Society of Flowing Snow.


Black Materia. He reached a shaking hand towards it, but the hand fell without ever coming into contact. Blood. The scent of torn earth and the heat of the raging inferno. Mako acidly stripping the skin from his bones as he fell/floated into the depths of the Lifestream. A Temple collapsing in on itself. Stabbing Tseng, his blood flowing across his hands. A sword slicing him from shoulder to hip...

Anger. Pure anger welling up at the thought of experiment after experiment. Memories, of innocents killed – slaughtered – at the command of a corrupt company. Secrets that bit and snapped, not just at the men that hid them but at those that would discover them.

Fear. He was not his father. He would not be his father. He couldn't be his father. It had to be a lie. What father would do such things to his only son? There had to be another. He couldn't be the tainted spawn of that creature... No, he must be special. His Mother's blood must be enough to counter that horror.

Aggression. He wanted to destroy them. Destroy them all. If they didn't exist, then he had no connection to them. If they were dead, then they would be with their families. Families that didn't include Hojo. They would be better off. They wouldn't be able to control him, they couldn't hide things from him, if they were dead.

Suffering. No. He'd been down that path before. He touched his chest. He wouldn't – couldn't – do it again. It hurt too much. Mother coerced him, Mother encouraged him. His desire for revenge, his hatred, his pain. What Mother would do that? Why? Send him to avenge his pain by giving him more pain?

He didn't even realize when he collapsed to the floor and curled into a ball. He didn't realize that Hermione started to reach for him, only to have Genesis pull her away before she could touch and possibly be harmed. He didn't know anything beyond the conflict raging in his head and chest.

He didn't see Hermione turn to Genesis and put her knee somewhere that very few had dared. He didn't see Genesis literally get pushed up onto his toes briefly by the hit. He didn't see Genesis bend over, grabbing his manhood. He didn't wonder how a normal human put that much force behind a blow. He didn't conclude that she'd used magic to briefly augment her attack.

He felt arms wrap around him. He nearly struck out, but the scent... Parchment, leather, dust and ink. Old books shrouded in the remains of history. A hint of shampoo and citrus soap. Hermione. He let her pull his head to her neck. He let her run soothing hands up and down his back. He let her croon gently into his ear.

He wasn't crying, this time. But, he was trembling. He couldn't get the shaking to stop. He couldn't... It was too much. Too many memories hitting all at once, over and over. He felt his skin dissolve into nothing. He kept flinching as he felt blow after blow rain down upon him. The burn of Mako injected directly into his blood. The crawling sensation of Jenova beneath his skin. The wing, pressing painfully against the skin of his back before it ripped through...

It was forever, the images and sensations. An eternity trapped in his own mind experiencing fire and pain and death. Again and again it ripped through him. Once, he would have latched on to his Mother's voice to bring him out of it. No. Not Mother. Jenova.

Now, he heard Hermione's voice. She was telling him that he was safe. That he was uninjured. That she would not let anyone use him again.

He had to wonder how much he'd said out loud while he was falling apart.

Slowly, he pieced himself together. The mind was so much harder to grasp and so much more brittle than the body. Eventually, though, he managed. His shaking slowed. He was able to register that he was wrapped in warmth and softness. That the world may exist outside the cocoon of his dearest friend's arms, but he was safe inside at the moment.

He nuzzled further into her neck and hair, hiding his burning face as he realized that he had broken down. Again. What kind of General did this make him? He wasn't even in control of himself, how could he control an army? He was worthless now. His chest started to tighten, but the gentle hands stroking his back soothed it out almost as quickly as it formed.

They were his friends, right? They wouldn't judge him for this, would they? He dismissed the thought and focused on being held, enjoying the simple pleasure that had been denied him for so much of both his lives.

He had no way of knowing that Genesis and Angeal were remembering their own breakdowns and being mildly jealous that he had someone to hold him through it. Though, Genesis' was more of a side thought as he tried to soothe his aching crotch. Hermione was a born brawler.

Ron was feeling helpless, not knowing where to turn or what to say. Luna, on the other hand, was smiling like a woman with a secret. Her eyes danced happily at how pleased she was with this development. Sephiroth was unlikely to go evil with Hermione there to ground him. Whether it wound up romantic or just stayed friendly, the relationship was good for him.

Quietly, without the others noticing, Luna scooped up the two strange Materia and tucked them into her pocket. It wouldn't do for just anyone to find them and Ha... Sephiroth was not stable enough to have them yet.


Draco Malfoy stared at the canopy of his bed, once again pondering his lot in life. This year wasn't supposed to be like this. Umbridge was supposed to put Potter in his place. But, then, his entire school career hadn't gone to plan. He was supposed to be the prince of the school. He was supposed to be the one that everyone envied. Not Potter.

He was rich. He was a pureblood. He was handsome. He was supposed to be every girl's dream. He should have the witches of Hogwarts fainting as he passed them by. Did he? No. Potter practically did, though. To add insult to injury, the only ones that were fawning over him? The pug – Pansy Parkinson – and the Troll – Millicent Bulstrode. Even the first years tended to ignore him – or laugh – if he was mentioned or seen anywhere near Potter.

For the first time, he asked himself just why Potter was a hero to everyone. He could only get so much mileage out of his killing the Dark Lord. So, what did they see in him? His looks? He was prematurely gray at sixteen – in Draco's opinion, he looked like an old man with that hair. So, that couldn't be it.

He was a very competent duelist. No matter how much he'd tried, he hadn't been able to match Potter in that arena. (He deliberately ignored the memory of how many times his father had chewed him out for that!) Having had several instructors, Draco was forced to admit to himself that the Gryffindor had superior instincts in combat. Not that he'd ever admit it to anyone else.

Was it is social values? Potter's Court – if you could call it that with such a lackluster prince – was made up of mudbloods and the mentally deficient. They were the people that the school would have torn apart if Potter wasn't offering them his support. So... Why were they worshiped and he not?

He would spend the better part of the night contemplating this, just as he had spent most of the year thus far.


Hermione watched in awe as the boys fought. They had some limited downtime at the moment. It was a rare opportunity, with no DA or homework. So, they'd decided to visit the Room of Requirement for a little relaxation. Harry knew she was perpetually curious about everything, so had invited her to join them.

She was staring with wide eyes as they leapt and fought around the strange environment conjured by the Room. Her perch was at the top of a canyon. All around her were flowering plants that defied description and strange animals that ignored her, but frequently interrupted the sparring match. They died rather quickly after, but the boys seemed to find the interruptions to be good training.

Still, she couldn't bring herself to look away as they fought with spells and live steel. No practice swords for them. Though, from the derogatory comments, they felt that the rather plain sword that Angeal was using was little better. She was hard pressed to keep from arguing with them about the dangerous 'play' with real weapons. In her mind – in most minds – practice swords were better to use when not actively trying to kill.

Her one comment to that effect just had Harry smiling and telling her to find a wooden nodachi the size and weight of Masamune that would survive their practice and he'd use it. His argument – that a broken practice sword could be just as dangerous – was less than comforting. She hadn't been able to come up with a reply to it, and Genesis had rubbed his shoulder as if remembering something painful. So, she held her tongue.

Suddenly they stilled. Sephiroth cocked his head and a new door formed in the middle of the room near her perch. It wasn't attached to any wall, just standing there. She blinked as he opened it, then stepped through. He didn't appear on the other side. Genesis and Angeal were rather quickly following, so Hermione grabbed her bag and hurried after them. They hadn't said she couldn't, after all.

The door opened onto the grounds. She glanced behind her to realize that she was now standing in front of one of the outer walls. Genesis' voice cut through her shock. "He's almost here."

Angeal grunted in acknowledgment, almost vibrating with tension. Harry's hand landed on his shoulder, though, and he calmed immediately. Harry murmured something she couldn't quite hear, but she was fairly sure the word 'forgive' was in there. She chose to take it as a sign of his own agitation that she could hear something that was intended to be private.

The three were now scanning the cloudy sky with their eyes, searching for something – someone? She wasn't sure, but she did the same in the hopes of helping. A moment later, she spotted what looked like a winged – one winged – human drop down from the clouds. At this distance, all she could tell was that he was dark haired and clothed.

Angeal grabbed Harry's arm. "He has a wing..."

Genesis rolled his eyes at his friend and shot Hermione a wink. "We all have wings, 'Geal. Or did you miss that particular fact?"

Harry cuffed him lightly on the back of the head. "Genesis."

"Yes, General. Sorry, Angeal."

Angeal, not paying any attention as far as Hermione could tell, automatically replied. "Forgiven."

The other human landed in front of them. He almost stumbled on the landing, but didn't have a chance as he was pulled into Angeal's arms almost immediately. The burly SOLDIER was laughing and possibly crying a little. "Oof... Hey, 'Geal. Long time no see... Not that.. urk... I can see much right now. Can I... please... get my head... out of your armpit?!"

Hermione had experienced Harry's crushing hugs, so she winced in sympathy as she remembered her bones creaking under the strain. She was, frankly, amazed that he could breathe at all given how hard Angeal was holding him. The spiky-haired SOLDIER let out a sigh of relief as he was released and rubbed his ribs. He looked up at Angeal with a friendly smile... and punched him in the jaw. "THAT was for making me kill you, Asshole. Next time, come to us for help, will ya?"

Angeal, from his newly acquired seat on the ground, rubbed his jaw and nodded. It took a few moments, but soon all four men were chuckling. The new man was pulling Angeal to his feet and getting a hard smack on the back from him in return. Genesis was inspecting the newcomer's wing and teasing him about the fur on it.

Harry was just smiling, ever so slightly. "Welcome back, Zachary."

Hermione rolled her eyes. Boys.


Cloud stared at the street sign in front of him. 'Yorkshire 5km.' On the bright side, few things had changed when it came to getting directions. On the down side, he had no idea where or what a 'Yorkshire' was. All he knew was that he had to go north, find a weapon...

And steal some better fitting clothes than the ones he'd found on the line about fifteen miles back. They were starting to give him a wedgie.


The Dark Lord Voldemort ignored the others bustling around him. It hadn't been easy to gain access to the Library of Alexandria – especially the Ancient Arts section – without revealing his identity, but he'd managed it. Now, he was doing his best to translate books in languages that he barely knew. Worst of all, he had the suspicion that the information he needed was in the section that was warded beyond belief. The guards apparently knew everyone that had permission to access it and was able to see beyond every illusion and glamor he'd tried. He hadn't been able to get past them no matter his appearance or cover story.

Though, he could have sworn he saw Croaker go through there muttering about researching some calamity or other.


Chaos...?

WELCOME BACK, HOST.

What happened while I was sleeping? How long?

TIME HAS NO MEANING TO ME. YOU HAVE MISSED MUCH...


At MI-6, M sat in her office and indulged in a rare moment alone. Her elbows rested on her desk and her head in her hands as she tried to determine any way that they could find an 'in' where the Wizards were concerned.


Severus Snape listened as Harry described his most recent breakdown. The boy was hard pressed not to have another, just describing what had happened. And his reasons! He'd wanted the child to open up, but he was fairly certain he was going to have nightmares tonight.


Notes

According to Diogenes Laërtius, Plato's birth name was Aristocles. He was one of four children born to Ariston and Perictone. He was supposedly descended from a king of Athens and another king of Messenia. Speculation puts his birth year at somewhere between 429 and 423BCE. He was given the name Platon ("broad") by his wrestling teacher "due to his robust figure." (Thank you, Wikipedia.)

Sir Isaac Newton, like most scholar's of the time, studied many aspects of the Occult. One of these was, indeed, Alchemy. So, not as far fetched an idea as some might think. I'd think he could figure out a Philosopher's Stone, if it were possible to make one.

Society of Flowing Snow – if you didn't get that and you've played Final Fantasy VII... look up the meaning of 'avalanche.' If you haven't played Final Fantasy, look it up on the Wiki.

Yeah, I tell you... That Omake had me... Then it became not an Omake. Then I added more to the chapter. Then... Well, you get the idea. It's a little after two o'clock, now. I'm going to go over this for more obvious errors, then I think I'll post it and check on mom. We'll see if I need to panic and call the docs or not.

Vincent isn't rising yet, but soon. Also, I have a tentative idea for where this is now going. As opposed to where it was supposed to, originally. Yes, friends, this was not supposed to have nearly this large a cast. Logic, and requests, have dragged me further and further into the maelstrom of what the heck do I do now? Beware, the villains are going to be getting more boosts/allies soon.

I'll try to put a full therapy session next chapter. But, I didn't want to rehash everything Seph has gone through right now. Call me lazy.