To say Harry Potter wasn't behind on homework would be to say Sirius didn't hate his mother's portrait. He hastily scribbled down some ridiculous dream in his dream diary and headed off with Ron to the North Tower. When Ron asked him about detention, Harry hesitated before answering. He wanted to rant his heart out about the old toad and her quills, but to do that would be defeat in his eyes. To complain would show weakness, and the last thing he wanted was to have Umbridge think he was weak. Plus, seeing his best friend's looks of horror would make the pain ten times worse. So Harry told Ron the half truth by saying he was writing lines. The redhead didn't have to know that he was writing in his own blood.
Meanwhile, both Ichigo and Shiro were working on their homework in Transfiguration class, as they had perfected the Vanishing Spell though they never practiced that night. Manipulating reiatsu was never their strong point, but with Zangetsu in his wand form, it was as easy as breathing. One of Harry's friends, Hermione, was glaring daggers at them as they worked; her eyes flashing like an animal whose territory had been invaded. She had been shocked when both had perfected the spell faster than her and jealous when Professor McGonagall had awarded House points to them. But she was nothing but sympathetic to Harry, who had bags under his eyes and was failing miserably at the spell. His reiastu (seen only by Ichigo and Shiro) was flickering and sputtering like a dying candle. It stayed that way the entire day, they noted with concern.
During detention Zangetsu was considerably quieter. Besides the occasional muttered threats, he stayed silent as they wrote. It was a gesture both the Shinigami and the Hollow appreciated, as they were concentrating on a problem at hand: Harry.
He was practically dying from exhaustion in between them. He was writing steadily enough, but his half-closed eyes and clammy skin were enough to show he was out of energy. Also, his reiatsu was almost at zero. This boy couldn't take any more cuts to his hand.
We could use hierro on him, so the quil won't cut him, thought Shiro.
But Toad-Face will notice the lack of blood and make a different punishment, and I think she can think up of several more.
Damned Toad. My hand itches whenever I write.
I know. It's as annoying as hell.
Oblivious to the mental conversation happening between his neighbors, Harry kept on writing with a growing tiredness. The quill's cuts were painful, and they were the only thing that kept him awake at this point. His skin, though it healed over and over again, was an angry red and stingingly raw. But he made no indication that he was in pain. Next to him, Ichiro and Shiro were working at a fast pace, cutting up their hands like blood? No biggie.
Harry shot a look at Shiro through his glasses. The pale fifth year had strange look on his face, almost bored, and was casually leaning on his free hand as he wrote. But as it turned out, he wasn't writing lines as he should. Harry's jaw dropped in shock when he saw what he was doing.
Shiro was doodling.
In his own blood.
It was a poorly drawn cartoon of him flipping his finger at a lumpy toad with a bow on its head. Harry looked at Shiro as if he was crazy. What was he doing! He was using precious blood to draw a picture!?
Harry swiveled his head to face Ichiro. Surely he had something to say about this situation? But when he saw the other twin's paper, his jaw dropped again. He was doodling too, this time a picture of him throwing rocks and trash at the same bowed toad, who this time was wearing a cardigan, which Harry was certain that would have been a horrible pink if it wasn't drawn in blood.
ARE. THEY. MENTAL!? He wondered in his head. By the looks of the papers before them, they wrote about three pages of lines before getting bored and doodling. Most were of them causing some kind of injury to the toad. He just stared at Ichiro open mouthed. Ichiro noticed his look and just waved him off.
The detention ended and Umbridge collected the papers. When she saw the doodles, however, she visibly reddened and stared. Harry craned his neck to see the papers.
There was them running over the toad, boiling the toad, playing football with the toad, and much more, all drawn in glistening ruby ink. From being used as a cleaning rag to being thrown off a cliff, they had drawn everything. Besides being horrified at the ungodly amounts of blood that covered the parchment, Harry was amused and impressed at their creativity. Umbridge looked up from the sheet, livid with anger, but the color drained from her lumpy face when she saw the twins. Harry turned to see what she was looking at.
The healing charms on the quills had long since stopped working on Ichiro and Shiro, and metallic smelling liquid flowed freely from the backs of their hands. But that wasn't what caught their eyes. Umbridge and Harry looked on in horror as they played hangman on an extra sheet, still using the cursed quills. Shiro was getting close to guessing the answer, but Ichiro had just about finished drawing a hanging toad.
The toady professor seemed to come to her senses and snatched the quills away. Shiro and Ichiro looked up in annoyance.
"C'mon Toad-Face, I was just about to win," complained Shiro.
Umbridge gasped, looking toadier than ever with her bulging eyes.
"Ah well, detention's over anyway, and I don't feel like staying in this pink hell much longer. Let's go Harry," said Shiro.
They both stood up, grabbing their bags and their game. Harry stumbled along, clutching his things. Ichiro and Shiro walked out, dripping blood onto the floor, past Umbridge and slammed the door behind them.
They were halfway to the Gryffindor Tower when Harry finally spoke. Or rather, half yelled.
"ARE. YOU. MENTAL?!"
Ichiro and Shiro stopped and looked back at him. In Shiro's hand was the finished game of hangman, probably completed by the remaining blood on their hands. But even though they had just played a game in their own blood, the twins looked at him like Harry was the crazy one.
"Are you mad?! Drawing in detention?!" cried Harry.
"Well, Shiro might be mad. I'm the saner one," replied Ichiro nonchalantly.
"Shut up," muttered Shiro.
"You drew in your blood! Blood!" repeated Harry, frantically trying to get them to understand the enormity of the situation.
"What did you want us to do, write lines?" said Shiro. "We were bored, so we doodled. Is there a law against that?"
"You could have died from blood loss, or gotten sick, or-"
"Harry," Ichiro cut in. "we're fine. Look."
Harry reluctantly stopped ranting and looked. Both of their hands were already healed. Their sleeves were still covered in blood, but otherwise there was no sign of injury.
Of course. Their strange ability. But they could have still hurt themselves badly, to just casually waste all that blood! Harry was about to yell again when Ichiro cut in again.
"It's late," Ichiro said. "And you're probably gonna need to do homework, so let's just hurry up and get inside."
Harry thought about the mountain load of homework he had and shuddered. He was right. Homework came first, but he would talk to them later. All three of them entered the common room.
To his surprise, the Japanese transfers stayed up with him instead of going to bed. Ichiro and Shiro helped Harry out on his homework, pointing things out and letting him use their work as reference. They gave him their essays on moonstones and the proper handling of bowtruckles first. Later they guided through the Transfiguration questions and, when necessary, poked him awake. Shiro seemed to enjoy this part a bit too much. Harry was sure that he would be covered with small bruises from Shiro come the morning.
Harry fell asleep that night late, but earlier than had he done his homework alone. Despite being fully dressed, he collapsed into bed and fell asleep immediately.
Thursday was sleepless hell. Even though he snatched a few more hours of sleep thanks to the Kuro twins, he was still bone-tired and heavy lidded through his lessons. Ron seemed to have trouble staying awake too, though Harry didn't know why. The orange and white haired pair seemed awake enough, though they had gone to sleep just as late. Maybe they were morning people? The world would never make sense.
In their last detention, Umbridge watched them closely as they wrote. Probably to make sure the twins didn't doodle again. They didn't doodle, but every so often the two would slip in some Japanese sentences. Harry couldn't read the characters, but he was certain they were insults directed towards the teacher. Umbridge seemed to think this too, and steadily added more and more lines to their quota. When this happened, they just shrugged it off. Their dismissal of pain was frightening and slightly inspiring. Though it was more frightening and left questions on their mental health.
What makes them able to easily cut themselves? Harry wondered as they walked back to the room. He shot another look at their right hands. They had already healed, something that confused and annoyed Umbridge to no end, you could see it on her face though she never said anything. Is it because they knew it would heal? But still, the pain must be unbearable!
As Harry was pondering why they seemed so immune to pain, Ichigo and Shiro were chatting lightly with Zangetsu. Suddenly Ichigo and Shiro felt another reiatsu hiding behind a statue a little further up their road. It felt like one of Harry's friends, the freckly red haired one. What was his name? John? Kon? Definitely not Kon. Kami knows he would remember another person with that name. Harry's friend, whatever his name, seemed to be hiding from something. Ichigo felt that it was something private, so indicated to Shiro to let the two talk in peace. Shiro nodded and grinned at Harry.
"Later Harry, we had a nice time cutting up our hands with you, but we think it's time for some sleep," said Shiro before darting into a hidden passageway.
"Yah, don't wanna butt into some conversation between friends," added in Ichigo before he followed his supposed twin.
What friend? wondered Harry as he reached the top of the stairs and turned a corner, only to almost walk into Ron.
He gave a great leap of surprise and struggled to hide his new Cleansweep Eleven.
"What are you doing?"
"Er-nothing. What are you doing?"
Harry frowned at him. Is this who they meant?
"Come on, you can tell me! What are you hiding here for?"
"I'm-I'm hiding from Fred and George, if you must know," said Ron. "They just went past with a bunch of first years, I bet they're testing stuff on them again, I mean, they can't do it in the common room now, can they, not with Hermione there."
"What have you got your broom for, you haven't been flying, have you?" Harry asked.
"I-well-well, okay, I'll tell you, but don't laugh all right?" Ron said defensively, turning redder with each second. "I-I thought I'd try out for Gryffindor Keeper now I've a decent broom. There. Go on. Laugh."
"I'm not laughing," said Harry. Ron blinked. "It's a brilliant idea! It'd be really cool if you got on the team! I've never seen you play Keeper, are you good?"
Ron seemed immensely relieved and began to talk about how he had played Keeper with his brothers. Harry learned that he had been practicing every evening since Tuesday, explaining his sleepless state. They both set off together towards the common room, Harry bitterly wishing he could be at the tryouts.
"Harry, what's that on the back of your hand?"
Harry tried to hide his right hand, but Ron had already grabbed it and pulled it to eye level. Harry frantically stammered to lie, saying it was a cut, but Ron had already read the words carved into his skin.
"I thought you said she was giving you lines?"
He hesitated, but since his best friend had told him the truth, he did the same about his detentions with Umbridge. Ron swore loudly and advised him to go to McGonagall or Dumbledore. But Harry refused, partly because he didn't want Umbridge to think she had got to him, he didn't know how much power the Gryffindor Head had over her, and he wasn't about to go to the Headmaster when he hadn't spoken to Harry since last June. Their conversation was about to carry on until the Fat Lady burst out in anger demanding that they get in or stay out.
"But you know Ichiro and Shiro, the twins?" continued Harry after they hastily entered the common room. "They have it worse, but they act like it's nothing."
He then described to Ron, whose eyes grew wider and wider, how many pages of lines the twins wrote on the first day and they didn't stop until Umbridge yelled out, like they weren't even aware of what they were doing. And how on the second day they just doodled and played games in their own blood, spilling more blood than if they had just written their lines. And finally their defiance tonight towards the professor by writing Japanese insults over and over again, even though they received more and more lines.
"And listen, they can heal themselves," said Harry as they reached their dormitory. "Their hands get covered with this white stuff, and it hardens, like rock. But when they break that white stuff, the skin gets healed! Nothing, no trace of cuts!"
"Blimey," Ron breathed, looking sickened and awed at the same time. "They're bloody mental, the two of them. Drawing with their own blood! I don't need to be Madam Pomfrey to know that that can't be good for them." Ron paused in thought before continuing.
"They grab a ghost, they write gallons in blood, and can heal themselves. Plus, Nick seemed to know them," Ron said as he counted off his fingers. He then stopped and glanced at Harry. "You know what, Harry, I think I actually might join Hermione in the library tomorrow. Something's up with them, I reckon, and I want to know what."
The next day, there was no sign of Hagrid and the looming prospect of detention again. At the Great Hall for breakfast, Ichiro and Shiro sat down in front of Harry, who sat alone that day. Both Ron and Hermione had gone off to the library in search of finding out the mystery of touching a ghost, healing oneself, and Death Gods.
The twins looked the same as ever, one grinning and one scowling like a pair of theater masks. Harry on the other hand, picked his food, dreading the idea of more homework and missed tryouts. He looked up to see if he would get any mail, but no sign of the snowy white owl. But there was something else flying with the owls and it wasn't a bird. It was small and black, and didn't glide like the owls did.
"Hey Ichiro, Shiro, what do you think that is?" Harry asked, pointing up at the dark blob. "Reckon it's a bat the owls carried in?"
Both looked up from their meal and searched for whatever he was pointing at. They pinpointed the flying object and groaned loudly. Confused, Harry looked at them.
"Dammit, they're here," muttered Ichiro, running a hand through his orange locks. "I hoped they would take longer."
"Can't help it, Jii-san has it out for us," cursed Shiro, for once the grin absent from his face. "All that crap about us not joining a squad."
"What's a squad?" asked Harry.
Shiro snapped his head up, again with the oh shit, I screwed up face. "Umm…" he started, looking for support from his twin. Ichiro returned him a glare that said, your mess, not mine. The orange haired teen turned his attention to clearing out a space on the table, pushing plates away from him.
"It's a… thing that our… school has," Shiro explained, though it came out like a question. "Um… our Academy is like a training school. We focus on defense against dark arts more than the parlor tricks-"Harry winced at the insult"-you do here. So we are divided like the military, with thirteen divisions. Each of the top thirteen students is in charge of a division, called a Captain, with another student as a second-in-command, called Lieutenant. Get it?"
Next to him, Ichiro snickered silently for some reason while stacking plates. Shiro quickly aimed a punch at him, which was dodged easily. Harry cut in before Shiro could try to punch his twin again.
"So, if your school is divided into sections, like Houses, which ones are you two in?" Harry asked. Thankfully, Shiro took his attention off of Ichiro and replied.
"And that's our problem. Every student has to register into a squad, but we wouldn't so Yama-Jii, our Head Cap- I mean, Headmaster, sends us loads of paperwork. Like homework." He ended with a grin.
Harry frowned. "How did you manage to not join one?" He tried to imagine if he had refused to join any House, not just Slytherin. Then a thought occurred to him. "Were you not qualified?" he asked before realizing how rude he sounded.
Shiro didn't seem to care though and shrugged. "Nah, wasn't that. We were qualified, but because of something a certain IDIOT," Shiro emphasized the word and Ichiro stiffened, "did, we pulled off not having to follow the rules. Not joining a squad usually means no paperwork, but," he stopped and pointed to the blob, with turned out to be a swallow tailed butterfly, much like the ones that invaded the Great Hall a few days ago. "tell that to Yama-Jii."
The butterfly attracted the attention of other students, and they were craning their necks to see who it was going to. The black insect glided over to the Japanese transfers, and landed lightly on Ichiro's open palms. Harry watched curiously as Ichiro suddenly winced.
"How do they work?" he asked, gesturing to the butterfly.
"They're like recordings of someone's voice," answered Shiro. "And only the people it's intended for can hear the message. So I can hear the message too."
"What's it saying?"
Shiro grimaced like an amplifier was booming next to his ear. "Mostly we're being chewed out by Yama-Jii."
The message went something like this: YOU IMBICILES! NO REPORT FOR THREE MONTHS AND NOW YOU WANT A VACATION UNTIL JULY?! YOU'RE LUCKY I DIDN'T SHOVE YOU INTO A SQUAD YOU BRATS! I'LL MAKE THAT DAMNED VACATION A LIVING HELL! ALL YOUR LATE PAPERWORK IS DUE BY TOMORROW BRATS! ONE COMPLAINT AND IT'LL BE DUE THIS AFTERNOON! AND NO SOUL PHONE!
The shouting made Ichigo feel like his head was being pounded against cement, an experience he was sadly familiar with. When he felt like he got the gist of the lecture, he dropped the butterfly onto the table, effectively ending the yelling in his brain.
The antennas of the swallowtail drooped down and it seemed to scribble something onto the surface. Harry got a glimpse of a Japanese character before there was a bang! and three stacks of papers fell from the sky and crashed down in front of the twins. Nearby students screamed in shock and some fell over. The bang echoed around the room, jerking all head to the Gryffindor table. Luckily, Ichiro had cleared away the plates, so there was no mess (except for Neville knocking over his goblet in surprise a few yards down) There was a teetering mass of paper at least three feet tall, and each paper was crammed with Japanese characters.
"Harry, learn to love homework here while you can," said Ichiro, who was eyeing the paperwork like Flitch eyed a Dungbomb.
Both transfers stood up and split the stacks into two. They heaved them up onto their arms with almost inhuman strength. Shiro's stack wobbled dangerously as he tried to grab his bag with his foot. Harry quickly grabbed it for him before the papers fell, as well as Ichiro's.
"Where should I put these?"
"Just put it on top of the papers," came a muffled answer from Shiro. Harry gently placed them as he requested. "Thanks. Later, Harry."
With the good-bye they walked out, ignoring the stares they received as they went.
Harry sat down in front of his meal again when they left. But he noticed a paper sticking out under a plate. Thinking they must have left something behind, he pulled it out. At the same time, Hermione and Ron arrived from the library, Ron looking mildly put out and Hermione raging frustration.
"I tried every book on magical creatures, but nothing on Death Gods!" she shrieked, slamming her bags down and falling into her seat. "And this 'Hero of the Winter War' doesn't exist! I looked over and over again, and still nothing!"
"Hi Harry, what's that you got there?" asked Ron as he served himself some toast, completely ignoring Hermione.
"Ron!" fumed the bushy haired girl.
"What? I already heard you rant outside of the library," he protested. Hermione huffed and turned away. "And I on the other hand, found out that they probably used a healing spell, though the description didn't say anything about a white stuff. So Harry, you learn anything while we're gone?"
Harry nodded. "Yah, I found out that their school is more focused on DADA unlike us and they sort students into 13 divisions, like Houses. But instead of teachers running the House, it's the top students doing so, acting as Captains and they have Lieutenants and stuff."
"Like a mock-miliatry," noted Hermione.
"Right," agreed Harry. "But get this: they're not in any House!"
Hermione's eyes widened. "But how does that work?"
"Shiro wouldn't explain much, but it sounds like someone did something so they didn't have to join a House."
Ron whistled. "Whoever did that must be really important, to keep them out of a House."
"I don't know," said Harry. "Shiro called him an idiot."
Hermione blinked and looked at the paper Ichiro and Shiro left behind. "What is that?"
"Huh?" Harry asked stupidly. "Oh, this? Something Ichiro and Shiro might have left behind. This morning, their homework from their school came by a butterfly."
"A butterfly?" repeated Ron. "Like the swarms that came that morning?" He shuddered at the memory.
"Yah, but only one. I guess it's like Japan's replacements for owls," said Harry, shrugging. "There was an entire pile of paper that appeared and then the two left with their stuff. Only I think they forgot something."
"What's it say?" asked Ron, who leaned over to look at the paper.
"I don't know, it's all in Japanese," replied Harry.
"Oh, give me that." Hermione grabbed the paper and pulled out her wand. She muttered a spell and tapped the paper. The letters began to move, like they were alive, and shifted into different shapes. Soon the entire paper was translated into English.
Seeing the boys' awed faces, Hermione answered the unspoken question. "I learned this because I wanted to be able to read foreign books as well."
Ron rolled his eyes and sighed. Hermione ignored him and they all crowded around the translated paper.
To the Substitute Death God and Vasto Lorde,
Here, Hermione gripped the table. "Death God!" she hissed.
The former Espadas Neliel Tu Oderschvank and Grimmjow Jaggerjack will be coming to the British wizarding school tomorrow in the morning. Please warn the Headmaster of their coming, to prevent any panic.
From the First Division Lieutenent
They read the paper, and read it again to make sure they read it right the first time.
Finally Ron spoke. "They're Death Gods!"
"No, one of them is a substitute for one. The other is a Vasto Lorde, which is Spanish for 'complete lord," corrected Hermione. "The problem is, which one is which?"
"Never mind that, Hermione," said Harry, shaking the paper. "These 'Neliel Tu Oderschvank' and 'Grimmjow Jaggerjack' people are coming to Hogwarts tomorrow!"
"If they're coming to Hogwarts, they must be teachers or high-ranking officials," continued Harry when they didn't seem to get it. "We have to tell Dumbledore that someone important is coming!"
"Harry, it says here that they're 'former Espada,'" said Ron. "Doesn't that mean they're quit or something?"
"Maybe," replied Hermione for Harry. She looked deep in thought as she looked up to the ceiling like answers would fall out of the sky. "Maybe they are really respected Japanese wizard, who was part of a group called Espada. Strange though, espada in Spanish means sword."
Harry pushed away his meal and stood up. "I'm going to see Professor McGonagall and show her this note," he said.
"But it said to give it to Dumbledore," protested Ron.
"He's probably too busy to listen to us," lied Harry. In truth, he didn't want to go to Dumbledore because he didn't feel like meeting someone who wouldn't even make eye contact with him. "Later."
At 5 o'clock, later in the day, the twins slammed open the door and strolled inside, Harry following like a miserable ghoul.
He had gone to McGonagall, and had first gotten a lecture on reading other's letters before he could tell her what was in it. The professor looked just as confused as Harry when she read the names, but she understood that a wizard from Japan was coming to Hogwarts. The Head of the Gryffindor House promised to inform the Headmaster and then rushed him off to his next class. But after the mystery of the letter faded away, he again faced the misery of detention and missed tryouts.
Harry positioned himself so that he could barely see the tryouts out the window. It was a terrible view, and impossible to see which flying figure was which. But it would have to do.
Meanwhile, Ichigo was dealing with Shiro complaining in his mind.
Kiinnngggg! It's so borrriiinnnnggg!
I know, I know, Shiro. Just keep writing. We need this report in by tomorrow.
That day, instead of writing blood lines, they had pulled out their paperwork and wrote on those instead. In case the toady witch looked their way, they cast up an illusion barrier to make it look like they were actually doing stupid lines. She never suspected a thing. And Harry was too busy trying to see through the window to even look their way.
King, it's time to go, Shiro said after a pile of filed papers.
Ichigo, who had been focusing on the papers, sighed and packed away the papers, careful to not disrupt the illusion. Then he pulled out from his bag a stack of papers with lines written in dark red ink. He gave half to Shiro and poured some extra ink on both of their hands. The red ink was a specially designed liquid that Urahara liked to use for his secret messages. A member of the Stealth Corps would recognize that it wasn't blood, but Umbridge would never suspect a thing. For fun, as it was permanent, they dumped the rest of the liquid on the floor to stain. When the work was done and their hands looked positively bloody, they dissolved the illusion.
Harry realized that detention was over. In the end, he couldn't see much of the stadium, so he had no idea what had happened. Umbridge walked over and trapped his bleeding hand in between her stubby fingers. He repressed the urge to shudder in disgust.
Suddenly, there was a flash of pain; not from his hand, but across his scar. There was also a strange sensation in his stomach area. And at the same time, the twins jumped a foot into the air and stared wide-eyed at Harry. Like they could sense what just happened.
I know King, I see it too!
Ichigo stared hard at the scar on Harry's head. Because, connected to the old wound was a Chain of Fate, floating gently in the air before fading out. It could only be a Chain of Fate, but there were several things wrong with it. The links were chipped, rusted, and in some areas coated with dried blood. And instead of being bolted to the chest like a normal chain, it looked like it was forcibly melted onto Harry's forehead.
But he isn't dead… He isn't even out of his body!
What the hell is wrong with that chain?!
Harry jerked his hand out of Umbridge's grip and moved back. Just now, he felt the pain in his scar again, when Umbridge touched his skin. And there was a weird feeling in his stomach, and a unnatural lightness somewhere in his ribcage. Umbridge's slack mouth curled into a sickly sweet smile.
"Yes, it hurts, doesn't it?" she said softy.
Was she referring to the scar? Harry had no way of knowing. He barely heard her as she dismissed them all. He left as quickly as he could, the twins right behind him. He was in front of the Fat Lady when he faintly noticed Ichiro and Shiro weren't there with him.
Ichigo and Shiro shunpoed to Dumbledore's reiatsu. Everything about the Chain was wrong. The damage, the placement, the reiastu. Both agreed that the Headmaster probably knew the most about the chain, and so they both sped to the office, their black robes billowing out. They stopped by a gargoyle that was guarding the staircase. It looked at the two and spoke.
"We don't have time for this crap," spat Shiro. "Get out of the way before we cero you into dust."
The statue was either incredible brave or incredibly stupid. "No password, no entry."
"Oh for crying out- Shiro! Let's go!" Ichigo nearly shouted as he shoved open a nearby window and leaped out. The gargoyle let out a strangled noise of shock as Shiro did too. He stared after them as they ran on thin air like it was solid ground. He shook his head and muttered the answer to every mystery in the wizarding world: Magic.
They used a more direct route to Dumbledore's office, running several stories off the ground. They reached Dumbledore's window and Shiro knocked loudly on the glass. Inside, the old man looked up in surprise and his mouth almost opened with shock. As it was, his brilliant blue eyes widened so much they could see the whites all around.
"Jii-san! Open the window!" shouted Shiro.
Dumbledore hastily stood up and pulled the window open, letting in two in. They leaped in and landed smoothly.
"Thanks," said Ichigo. He saw the older man's shocked expression and frowned in confusion. Then he realized. They had just, in Dumbledore's eyes, walked on air.
"Oh, uh, we thought it would be faster than guessing passwords," he explained lamely. Behind him, Shiro wanted to face-palm at his terrible explanation. But Dumbledore just nodded and walked back to his desk, surprisingly accepting the information well.
"Well, I would presume that you two were not on a midnight stroll?" He waved some seats into existence with his wand and gestured a hand towards them. "Please, sit, Mr. Kuros, or should I say, Substitute Death God Ichigo Kurosaki and Vasto Lorde Hichigo Shirosaki?"
Ichigo's mouth dropped open. "How-?"
"I have my sources," hummed the man. "And this one left an interesting tale to retell and a need for clean wallpaper."
Dumbledore was filing papers in his office when something whizzed through the open window at dizzying speed. In a heartbeat, it spattered onto the wall in an explosion of dark, red liquid. Dumbledore immediately leaped up, his wand pulled out and a spell forming in his mind.
Is this a Death Eater attack? he wondered briefly. The dripping liquid looked suspiciously like blood as it slowly slid off the wall and onto the floor. Remaining liquid soon spelled out a message, as ominous-looking as the message of the Chamber of Secrets. It said:
To the Headmaster of Hogwarts,
The students Ichiro and Shiro Kuro are Substitute Death God Ichigo Kurosaki and Vasto Lorde Hichigo Shirosaki. Do not pry into the matters of the afterlife through them. Tell them that a certain humble shopkeeper requires them to protect the school during their stay, and should they refuse, remind them that their paperwork can be increased significantly.
Kisuke Urahara (a humble shopkeeper)
Dumbledore read the message in astonishment. I could have sworn it was a Death Eater attack, he thought as he walked closer to the splattered wall.
And anyone who thought this was a Death Eater attack has a very bad sense of humor.
He was affronted. He had an excellent sense of humor, thank you very much! Nearby, portraits were muttering darkly with their neighbors. One former Headmaster commented loudly, "I hope it doesn't stain."
The liquid continued to slide off the wall and a new sentence appeared.
The painting swore.
"My source also saw fit to tell you two that you are 'required to protect this school' from a 'certain humble shopkeeper' and he also mentioned that your paperwork can be increased should you refuse."
Ichigo swore, "Damn Hats and Clogs,"
Shiro added in, "Humble my ass."
The man smiled even wider under his silver beard. "I'm afraid I am not allowed to pry into the matters of the afterlife, though I cannot deny I am most curious on the topic."
He had a hungry, but sad look in his eyes when he spoke. Ichigo almost certain that he had lost some people, and wanted to see them again. He felt the same way with his mother, who he never really found in Soul Society.
"Alright," said Ichigo. "Now that you know who we are to some extent, we'll move onto the next reason for us being here." Without further ado, he asked bluntly, "What was the Chain of Fate on Harry Potter's scar?"
The smile faded from Dumbledore's mouth. His eyes became grave. "Please elaborate on this Chain of Fate, Mr. Kurosaki. I'm afraid I don't understand."
"I thought Hat and Clogs explained this to you," said Ichigo in mild surprise.
"No, no," Dumbledore said, shaking his head. "I only received your identities. I know nothing of your backgrounds, or anything related. Though," he again gave a smile, "the terms 'Death God' and 'afterlife' leave little room for doubt on your occupations."
"I see," said Ichigo, leaning back into his chair. "Well then, a Chain of Fate is a chain that holds the soul to the body. And when a person dies, the chain is broken. It's usually bolted to the chest, though your wizard ghosts don't seem to have it. Probably because they have that special reiatsu-I'm sorry- spiritual pressure from when they were alive."
Dumbledore nodded to show he followed his train of thought. Ichigo took a breath before beginning again. "This chain was different, though. It was pretty beat up, rusted in some areas, and stained in others. The only time a chain is damaged, aside from being dead, is when it goes through an erosion process, which I am not going to explain. Also, a normal Chain would be bolted onto the chest, but Harry's was sort of melted onto his forehead, right on his scar." Ichigo described in a clear voice. "But Harry isn't dead, and it felt like it isn't his Chain, but someone else's. Like, I dunno, someone else's spiritual pressure latched itself onto him."
Dumbledore took in all this information with a slightly sad face. When Ichigo was done, he stared down at his old hands and said, "I'm afraid my theories have been correct. This foreign Chain on Harry's body is the final proof."
He looked up, suddenly looking much older. "Mr. Kurosaki, Mr. Shirosaki," he said.
"What do you know about Horcruxes?"