Disclaimer: I don't own either Harry Potter or Bleach.
Chapter One: Beginnings
In Kings Cross Station, Dumbledore had said that his next journey would be full of suffering, but that he would be greatly rewarded in the end. As he dodged the sword of yet another man trying to kill him, Harry James Potter was pretty sure that his happy ending was never going to come.
Smoothly moving inside the line of his opponent's attack, he slammed his elbow into the other man's nose. He felt a savage sense of pleasure as he felt it rupture and break beneath his arm. He followed his attack up by striking the man's exposed head with his wooden bokken, the only weapon that he had managed to acquire during his hellish stay in Rukongai. As his opponent dropped to the floor, Harry spun round, raising his bokken up to block the attack that was coming from behind him.
Harry blinked in surprise.
His attacker was a young boy, maybe about ten or eleven, clutching a wickedly sharp hunting knife that seemed far too big for his small hands. With a shrill scream, the boy lunged towards him, chopping wildly with his knife. Throwing himself backwards, Harry unconsciously reverted back to his original training.
"IMPEDIMENTA!" He roared.
The boy's movements slowed, until he stopped completely, the razor edge of his knife inches from Harry's exposed belly. Harry slumped a little as he felt the toll that the spell had taken on him. In this hell, even his magic taxed him. Spells that should have been easy to use, had drained him to the point where he couldn't even move. It wasn't his magical reserves; they were larger than ever. Harry had deduced that magic here was simply not meant to be used in that way.
In his previous life, his world had been saturated by magic. When using a spell, a witch or wizard would essentially use a conduit, typically a wand, to temporarily open the path between their own magical core and the ambient magic from the world around them. It had been a safe way of using spells; if someone had depleted their magical core, nothing would happen, except that they would be unable to use spells until their reserves were replenished.
Here, it felt different.
In this place, magic was power. The power was linked to your life-force; lose it, and you would die. Not everyone in Rukongai had this power, which they called reiatsu, but Harry had heard tales of the shinigami in their shining city at the centre of the world. They were rumoured to be incredibly powerful and terribly brutal. Even in the outer districts, their ruthlessness was famed. To Harry it seemed as if it would be the perfect world for someone like Voldemort. Those who had power ruled, while those without, suffered needlessly.
Harry spat on the floor, as he collected the knife from the immobile figure of the boy. Without any knowledge of how to use magic in this world, Harry had been struggling through the districts by foot, travelling ever closer to his goal of finding the city of the shinigami. He knew that any life in Rukongai would be a life on the run; another life of pain and suffering. Harry had suffered enough during his first life; he would be damned before he had to live through that again. He deserved a nice, cushy afterlife, and he would only find it in the districts that bordered Seiretei.
It was a pity that he would have to cut through all the filth to get there. He would have liked a nice, quiet journey.
Harry regarded the child in front of him. Though he was paralysed, his eyes could still move. He was terrified, and rightly so. He had just watched a strange man cut through almost every person that he had ever known. If he strained his eyes, he could see them lying on the floor, but he didn't know if they were dead or just unconscious.
Harry grinned when he saw the fear in the boy's eyes. In his weeks of walking through District 80, he had perfected his 'scary act'. The men behind him were all just unconscious, but the boy didn't know that. Harry leaned in close to him, so that his lips brushed the child's ear.
"Next time, I won't be so merciful. If they come after me again, I won't hesitate to kill them."
A faint squeak was the boy's response, as his eyes rolled back into his head, and he collapsed to the floor. Dropping the spell, Harry smirked, before he took off at a run, away from the unconscious men. It wouldn't do to be around when they woke up.
Six weeks after his fight with that gang, brought Harry deep into the heart of District 78. He had been making good time, resting for only a few hours a night, but he had still covered a tiny fraction of the distance he needed to travel. Food had become a problem for him. Once he found food, he could enlarge the amount, or alter the taste of it with the little magic he could use, but the nutritional values of the food would remain the same. For example, if he found some berries, he could transfigure the food so that the berries became a three course meal of his favourite things. However, the large meal would only provide him with the same amount of sugars, calories and fats as the berries, which meant that while he may not feel hungry, he could easily collapse due to a lack of energy.
Which brought Harry neatly to where he was; crouching behind a stall in the first small town he had come across. He was eyeing the plump roast birds that were hanging from the roof of the stall, being jealously guarded by a rotund shopkeeper. His muscles groaned in protest at the thought of fighting the fat man, serving as a reminder that it had been far too long since his last proper meal.
In the blink of an eye, Harry was gone, a small knife flashing in his hands as he cut the ropes that held the birds. Quickly catching a brace of ducks in his arms, he shot off down the street, spinning wildly, as he dodged left and right, trying to get out of the town as quickly as possible.
He heard a shout behind him, and he knew that the shopkeeper was after him. Risking a look, he saw the fat man, who was surprisingly quick on his feet, and a few others brandishing cleavers, clubs and butchers knives as they chased after him.
Harry cheered mentally as he saw his exit; a small gap in the wooden fence around the town. Weaving his way in between the small crowd of people that were milling around, he was almost through the gap and away to freedom before he heard it.
An unearthly shriek rose above the roars of the panicking crowd, and Harry felt himself pinned in place by a heavy pressure. Struggling under the force, Harry turned around and was greeted by a harrowing scene.
There was blood everywhere.
Bodies littered the street.
It was pure fucking carnage, and at the centre of it all stood the thing responsible. Standing at about twelve feet tall, it towered over Harry, menacingly. To Harry, it looked like something out of a nightmare. It lumbered towards him slowly, as if savouring the fear that was rolling off his latest prey. Its knuckles grazed the floor as it moved, long arms swaying erratically. Its plain white mask split, as a gash appeared on its face, acting as its mouth. It reared its head back, loosing a frightful scream of pain and rage and hunger.
To Harry, it seemed as though the thing was in pain. It seemed almost Hollow, in a way. As if it's very soul had been stripped from it, and it wanted it back. The eyes seemed dead; not angry, not jubilant, just empty.
Devoid of all feeling.
Harry shook himself off.
"FIENDFYRE!" he roared, as he attempted to force his power through his hands, and against the monster. A thin stream of fire erupted from his palms, but the monster brushed it aside as though it was nothing.
Harry dropped to his knees as he let the spell disappear. The lack of food was taking its toll; he was too tired for his magic to have any real effect.
Cold fear gripped his heart with icy tendrils. He couldn't even move. The immense pressure that was coming off the monster kept him down on his knees.
'So this is how it ends.' Harry thought grimly. He chuckled morbidly at this turn of events. For a dead man, he certainly did have a healthy appreciation of his own life.
"Hadō 4: Byakurai!"
A shout echoed from behind the monster, before a bolt of pale lightning punched through its shoulder, almost hitting Harry on the way out. The thing shrieked in pain, before it turned towards the new threat. Still on his knees, Harry couldn't see what was going on, but he could hear another man speaking.
"An adjuchas, in Rukongai?"
Harry heard a crash, as the monster, an adjuchas apparently, slammed its fists down where the man was standing. Harry heard the sound of wind rushing past him, as he saw a figure dressed in what looked like black robes appear beside him.
"Come on lad, on your feet." The shinigami, as Harry now realised, said as he helped him to his feet. "Don't worry about him; he's too slow to be any real problem."
As if hearing his voice, the massive monster, turned to face the two men, before breaking out into a lumbering run that was surprisingly fast.
"Ah. Maybe I was mistaken." He raised his palm towards the monster. "If you wouldn't mind stepping back a bit…"
Harry hurriedly shuffled backwards, as the shinigami began to chant, in a deep voice.
"Ye lord! Mask of flesh and bone, flutter of wings, ye who bears the name of Man! Truth and temperance, upon this sinless wall of dreams unleash but slightly the wrath of your claws."
He took a deep breath, as he waited for the monster to near. "Hadō 33: Sōkatsui!"
A torrent of blue flame burst from the shinigami's hand, slamming into the monster with a thunderous explosion. The adjuchas, taking the strike head on, ploughed straight into the ground, coming to a rest by the feet of the shinigami. Terrible burns covered the greyish skin of the monster, as black blood seeped from its prone figure into the street, to mingle with the rivulets of scarlet that had once belonged to its victims.
'A fitting resting place.' Thought Harry.
He inched forwards, towards the monster. He was curious about it. Whatever it was, it didn't belong in this world. He vaguely heard the shinigami unsheathe his sword behind him, but he didn't care. Nothing could take a strike like that and still be standing at the end of it.
Harry was barely a foot from the monster when it happened.
Its eyes snapped open.
Its claws slashed down.
Time seemed to stand still for Harry. He could only watch the viciously sharp claws descend, still stained with the blood of the people that lay dead around them. He thought he heard the shinigami scream something. Maybe it was 'NO!'
Harry closed his eyes, not wanting to watch his fate approach.
He felt hot blood spray across his face, and he opened his eyes in shock.
The shinigami stood in front of him, sword raised in a half-block that was to no avail. Harry could see the tips of the monsters claws sprout from the back of his saviour. Four of its claws had brutally ripped through the man's torso, rupturing his chest in a devastating blow.
The man fell limp, still held upright by the claws of the adjuchas. The monster had fallen back down onto its knees, unable to remain standing any longer. It loosed a pitiful roar, one that grated at Harry's heart-strings, but he ignored it.
"… You there… boy..." The man's voice came out as a ragged whisper. He choked a little, as his own blood filled his airway. "… take… my sword." He stopped to breath. "and… finish it."
Harry took the sword from the shinigami's weakening grasp, before he approached the adjuchas. He raised the sword high above his head, before he brought it down, in a sharp thrust, straight through the creature's forehead.
With a mournful cry of regret, the creature burst into tiny blue particles that quickly dispersed, evaporating into thin air. Dropping the sword to his waist, Harry rushed back to the shinigami.
"Shinigami-san, isn't there anything I can do to help you?"
"… I'm afraid… that there is nothing… you can do... to stop my passing."
Even when whispering, Harry could make out that the man before him had an elegant, cultured tone to his voice. Every word was a struggle for the man, but he kept going. His eyes stared up at Harry, but they were blank, they couldn't see anything but the darkness that was fast approaching.
"… Give this… to my father." His hands clasped an ornate pendant that hung loosely around his neck. "… His name is… Kuchiki… Ginrei…of the Gotei… 13."
"I will. Now save your breath-"
"… tell… my brothers… I… will… miss… them."
His voice faded into nothing as he finished speaking.
Harry stood, brushing at the half-formed wetness in his eyes. The shinigami's body began to evaporate, much like the monster's had, except this time it was far more serene. The body began to disperse in a flood of tiny pink petals that seemed to dance on the wind, as they made their escape.
Harry looked down at the sword that he was still carrying, before he picked up the ornate, midnight blue sheath from the ground, and sheathed it. Bending down again, he picked up the pendant from the ground. It was quite beautiful; a single sapphire, bordered by small diamonds of the highest quality, all inlaid on a twisted streak of silver in the shape of a small flower. Stuffing it ungraciously in his pocket, Harry fixed the sword sloppily onto his belt, before he moved off, away from the village.
Harry's eyes snapped open.
'I'm waiting, my Harry.'
He rolled away from his camp fire, drawing his sword in a smooth motion. He circled his makeshift camp warily, keeping his sword raised.
'Can you not hear me, my Harry?"
"Show yourself!" He barked, more to reassure himself than for any other reason.
An ethereal laugh echoed around him.
'Can you not see me, my Harry?"
"I'm warning you. Stay back!"
The camp fire burst, as a gout of black flame erupted from it. The dark fires began to circle round Harry, twisting and snaking their way until they formed an enclosure around him. Though the flames burned with an incredible ferocity, Harry felt nothing from them. When he passed his hand through one of the flames, it felt cool to his touch.
In his hand, his sword began to warm.
"Can you not feel me, my Harry?"
He stared back at the sword in his hand, which seemed to resonate with warmth and power.
"My sword? You're my sword?" He asked incredulously.
"You're my wielder."
"That's not bloody possible."
"Remember where you are. Remember how you got me."
"You're the sword of a shinigami."
"Yes, and I'm also you're sword."
"I'm no shinigami." He protested.
"No, but you will be."
"What are you?"
"I'm an extension of your soul, much like your arm is an extension of your body. I will be your sword. I will be your teacher, but most importantly, I am you."
"Then what do I call you?"
"You can call me ….."
"I'm sorry, I didn't quite catch that. Could you repeat it for me?"
"So polite! But you're not ready to hear my name just yet."
"Then what can you help me with?"
"You saw the magic that the shinigami used, didn't you? Your power no longer lies in your magic, but in your new power; your reiatsu. I can teach you to use that."
"Are all shinigami taught like this? I thought that they had an academy for this sort of thing."
"They do. We're… cheating, in a way. Your magic reacted with the original spirit of this sword, and that sped up the process of creating me, giving me enough power to talk to you."
"Oh, well… err… thanks."
"It's what I do."
"If you don't mind me asking, what do you look like?"
Out of the black fires that surrounded Harry, the figure of a young woman burst out of the fire, flowing through Harry, before dissipating into thin air.
"Wouldn't you like to know."
"Lesson One: using your reiatsu."
"Alright, how do I do that?"
"If you'd listen to me, you'll fucking find out!"
Harry took a deep breath as he looked around the makeshift training ground. In the weeks since the death of the unnamed Kuchiki, he had covered very little ground, instead he worked on trying to sharpen his powers until he could use some form of his magic, namely his animagus form. With his animagus form he could reach Seiretei within a week, at the latest.
Before his new teacher had reached him, he had been trying to copy the spell that the shinigami had used, with relatively little success. He had realised that the chant framed the magic of the spell, focusing the intent of the caster until they forced the power out.
"Try the spell again, you twat, but this time reach deep into your core, and remove all your barriers. Force all of your magic out. Once your core is empty of magic, reiatsu should flood in to replace it."
"There's no need to swear!"
Taking a steady stance, Harry flared his magic as high as it could go. All around him, boulders cracked, dirt began to blow away, trees were flattened as a storm of wind and lightning erupted around him. Gritting his teeth, he let out a harsh bark, forcing out what little power he had left.
In a flash of blue energy, Harry felt power flow through his veins, infusing with his beleaguered muscles. As he began to intone the words for the spell, he felt the reiatsu flow through his blood and pool in his centre.
"Ye lord! Mask of flesh and bone, flutter of wings, ye who bears the name of Man! Truth and temperance, upon this sinless wall of dreams unleash but slightly the wrath of your claws."
Pushing the reiatsu out of his raised palms, he roared the name of the spell out. "Hadō 33: Sōkatsui!"
A huge wave of blue energy erupted from his hands, burning through the air to slam into a tree at the other end of the training ground. Harry panted tiredly, but a pleased smile remained plastered on his face.
"Excellent! Now three more."
Harry groaned, all trace of the smile gone.
"Lesson Two: Shikai."
"Shikai? What's that?"
"It is the initial release of a shinigami zanpakutō, one that many shinigami spend years training for. It is the first step on a long road to achieving power."
"Why am I learning it? I don't need power, I just want a quiet life."
"The shinigami that used to own my sword died to protect you. Are you telling me that you're willing to throw away your potential when your second chance was bought at such a high price?"
Harry looked visibly chastened at that.
"I'm sorry. Truly, I am. I hadn't thought of that." He took a deep breath, searching for a way to get away from the painful topic. "Do you think I'm ready for shikai?"
"In all honesty… no, but the main thing about shikai is forming a bond with your zanpakutō, which we've already done quite well, so…"
Harry sighed resignedly. "What do I have to do?"
"Let me show you…"
In a flash, the world around Harry turned black. He felt himself fall back, before his consciousness was gone from the campsite. With a dull thud Harry landed heavily on his arse. Looking around, he gaped in shock; He was back in Hogwarts!
"Very graceful." The ethereal voice teased.
"Oh, shut it! Where am I? This can't be Hogwarts." He was standing in the Great Hall, but it looked oddly Spartan. The picture frames were empty, the torches weren't lit, and even the suits of armour had vanished.
"This is your mindscape; the innermost reaches of your mind. Naturally, it took the form of the place where you're most comfortable; Hogwarts."
"Where are you?"
"I'm right here."
Harry spun round.
He was greeted by the sight of a woman. A very odd looking woman, but one nonetheless. She was tall, almost as tall as he was, with long and flowing black hair that hung down to her waist. Her body looked as if it was made from black coal and shadow. Her skin cracked as she moved, the shadows parting slightly to give a tantalising glimpse of the burning fires that they kept underneath, before they reformed again, starting the process anew.
She was a creature of fire and shadow and dust, and she looked the part.
Clutched tightly in her right hand was his sword, the wickedly sharp blade gleaming in the light from her body. She smiled terribly at him, before slashing her sword down. Harry rolled out of the way, startled.
"What the fuck are you doing?"
"This is your test. Show me the strength of our bond, and I will reward you with shikai."
Dodging blindly, Harry scampered away from the crazed woman, barely avoiding the blade that passed over his head. Stopping briefly to draw his sword, he readied himself, before lashing out at her in a one-handed strike.
Lifting he sword above her head, she easily blocked his attack, as she slid closer to him, to get more leverage on his sword. Harry grinned, before he pressed his free hand to her chest.
"Sōkatsui!" He roared.
The blue wave tore through her chest, leaving a gaping wound in her torso. She didn't even blink, instead she broke through Harry's guard and slashed his torso in retaliation. Before Harry's eyes, her chest seemed to knit together, as the shadows spread across her wound, repairing it with ease.
"A smart move. But this does not prove our bond."
Harry took off running. This bitch was crazy, she was really going to kill him! He heard a noise behind him, and only just managed to bring his sword up to block in time, halting the razor edge of her blade inches from his face.
"Come on, my Harry! Prove yourself!"
Knocking her sword to the side, he tackled her to the ground. He pinned her to the ground with his weight, before holding his sword to her neck.
"Yield!" He barked, angrily.
"This isn't winning, my Harry."
With a burst of inhuman strength, she flipped him off of her, hurling him across the hall. Harry picked himself up, slowly.
'She's taking it easy on me.' He realised. 'She's so powerful, I can't defeat he…. Oh!'
Cocky grin plastered firmly on his face, Harry clambered to his feet. Taking a stance that he had only seen in old Kung Fu movies, he gestured for her to attack him.
"Come on, bitch. Let's dance."
With a wild cry, she charged at him, chopping wildly with the sword. Raising her sword, she stabbed at Harry. Dropping his sword to his side, Harry flinched as the sword entered his chest.
The first thing he noticed was that there was no pain.
He felt a pair of warm arms wrap round him, as the sword in his chest vanished. Harry relaxed into the grip, revelling in the relaxing warmth that was emanating from her body.
"That wasn't so bad, was it?"
"It was great… now let's never do it again."
"You've earned this; my name. You can call me …."
Harry grinned at her, before he stepped back and raised his sword. He raised his reiatsu until a dark green aura became visible around him. Holding the flat face of the sword parallel to his face, he held the sword in the traditional grip of a military salute. Flaring his reiatsu as high as it would go, he began to intone the words to release his sword.
The world around him erupted in a flash of black, as black flames burned through the shadows of Harry's mind.
AN: This is my second story ever, but I'm not sure whether or not to continue with it. This story is set four to five-hundred years before the current Bleach timeline. Depending on the response to the story, it should end up at about twenty chapters, covering the whole timeline.
In terms of pairings, it'll probably be HarryxUnohana, or HarryxMatsumoto, but regardless of what happens, they will be major characters.