Chapter 29 : Head Strong
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P.S. Hanshi is a Japanese honorific which basically means ‘grand master’ of martial arts. Basically, the best of the best. Example: Wing Chun was Bruce Lee’s Hanshi.
Broken rib, bruised bones, concussion, facial lacerations, third degree burns, sprained ankle...just another day in the life of Albus Potter.
He had taken so much damage over the years that pain was starting to lose its potency. These were all small potatoes compared to some of the injuries he’d endured. Still, it wasn’t exactly comfortable.
The healers were applying bandages soaked in some kind of smelly green stuff to his burns. They had already bandaged his chest and he’d no doubt have to down a few cups of Skele-Gro later. That wouldn’t be pleasant.
But, truth be told, it was his face that he was worried about. Not out of vanity but because he really didn’t want to end up with a lightning bolt scar on his forehead. He looked enough like his father already without needing that addition.
Speak of the devil...Harry, flanked by Garrick, Ron and Hermione finally arrived at the destroyed factory. Japanese Aurors were already spread out all over the place, ignoring Al, Scorpius and Rose who were sitting on a broken control panel that had fallen over in the center.
He had half expected them to come in screaming about how stupid and reckless they’d been and how they’d now be grounded for the next thirty years but instead, they received hugs and looks of relief. Ron and Hermione practically had to be peeled off Rose and Harry didn’t seem to want to let go either.
When he finally did, he looked hard at the lightning shaped slice on his sons forehead.
“Will that scar?” he asked the healer.
“No. It’s a non-magical injury, we can clean it up in a day or two,” the healer said.
“Good,” Harry smiled then turned to his son. “It doesn’t suit you.”
“You don’t say,” Al said.
“God...what am I gonna do with you two?” Harry breathed.
There was a long silence. Al and Scorpius looked at each other wondering the same thing. No matter what happened to them, they’d never stop being this way. They would fight injustice wherever they saw it and they would break a lot of rules doing it.
“Put them to work,” Garrick said simple.
Al, Scorpius and Harry looked up at him.
“Well, at least that way you can keep an eye on them,” Headmaster Garrick shrugged.
Harry turned back to his son and a small smile crept from his mouth. “Certainly worth thinking about,” he mumbled.
Al and Scorpius couldn’t help but laugh. Were they actually being offered a job?
“I don’t have the Newt’s,” Al said.
“Well, don’t tell anyone but neither did we,” Ron smirked. As if the whole wizarding world didn’t already know that.
This was not what they had been expecting. After another bout of mass destruction, heavy body count, serious injuries and uncovering the biggest counterfeiting scam in history, Al and Scorpius were finally going to be allowed to train as Aurors!
“If it’s this hard to get a job, what are we gonna have to do to get a pension?” Scorpius laughed.
“I’m just gonna steal yours,” Al shrugged.
Rose jumped up and pulled both of them into a bear hug. After a second or two she let go and turned to her parents.
“Mum, dad, there is something I need to tell you,” she said, steeling herself for what was about to come. “I’ve -”
“Been helping me with my Newt’s!” Scorpius suddenly interrupted. “If I pass them, it’s all due to your daughter...she’s very bright.”
The poor boy had panicked.
“No I didn’t!” Rose said angrily.
“Yes, you did!”
“No, I didn’t! And that is not what I was about to say,” she hissed. She turned back to her parents and took a breath.
Scorpius looked ready to pass out.
“Mum, dad, I’ve been seeing -”
“Lots of wild animals while she’s been here -”
“Stop it, Scorpius!” she snapped. “This is happening so just deal with it!”
“It was nice knowing you,” Al whispered as Scorpius shrank.
“I’m in love with Scorpius and we’ve been seeing each other for several months now,” she said in a matter of factly way.
Hermione beamed. The smartest witch in the wizarding world had obviously known for a while now.
“I’m glad you are happy, sweetheart...and so is Ron, aren’t you?” she said to her husband.
Something very strange had happened to Ron. He had sort of become a human statue. He was just looking straight at his daughter, not moving, flinching, shaking or doing anything else. It’s like he was trapped in a time-warp and was moving at a much much slower rate than everyone else.
Hermione actually waved her hand in front of his face but he didn’t move a muscle.
“Daddy?” Rose asked, looking worried.
“Rose, I think you and Scorpius should be getting back to the school now,” Harry said, also looking very nervous at Ron’s sudden hypnotized state.
“Good idea!” Scorpius said before grabbing hold of Rose’s hand and rushing towards the entrance.
As funny as it was, this still brought a great pang of sadness to Al’s heart. He had just been (unofficially) offered a position at the Auror department. His dream had actually come true but he’d never be able to live it. He was stout in his decision to stay with Shiori. He would give up being an Auror for her.
As long as she was in Japan, so was he.
“I’m not leaving,” he said simply.
“What?” Hermione asked, looking slightly confused.
“I’m staying with Shiori,” he stated.
“Well, of course. She’s quite badly injured, you should -”
“No...” he cut her off. “I’m not going back to England. She’s not leaving, so neither am I,” he said.
Harry sighed. Some part of him had seen this coming.
Shiori’s eyed flickered open.
She was lying in a hospital bed at the Japanese Ministry which looked very much like a muggle hospital except without all the electronic equipment.
Albus was by her side.
“Welcome back,” he smiled. He had a large bandage on his forehead and bruises all over his face.
“Hi,” she whispered, still weak from the amount of drugs they had pumped into her. “Are you alright?” she asked, seeing his wounds.
“Yeah...shaving cuts,” he grinned.
“What happened to Katsumi?” she asked.
“She’s a little pressed for time,” Al said. “I really need to right these puns down, they’re golden!”
“You killed her?” Shiori asked in disbelief.
“Well...you were busy bleeding...sorry to steal your thunder,” Al shrugged.
“No, it’s not that, it’s just...well...no wizard has bested a Toushi in centuries. Merlin was the last to do it,” she said.
“Cool...” Al said simply.
“How did you do it?”
“I crushed her in the printing press.”
“I see...and she didn’t move?”
“She seemed a little more focused on the screwdriver I stuck through her hand,” Al grinned.
“Oh...” Shiori smiled, “not bad for a Brit.”
“Yeah, well, you Japanese are all talk,” he chuckled.
“Says the dirty, violent, mentally unstable British boy.”
“The dirty, violent, mentally unstable British boy is in love with you,” he said as if he had said it a thousand times before. It just felt natural.
“I love you...but...you can’t stay...”
“Let them try and kick me out,” he said.
“What aren’t you telling me?”
“What do you mean?”
“There’s sadness in your voice...you want to go back,” her voice had nothing but acceptance in it.
“It’s not that...” he sighed, “my dad offered me a job.”
Her mouth opened in shock and her eyes filled with pride.
“That’s amazing! You have to go back, Al! This is what you’ve always wanted!”
“It is what I always wanted...until I met you...” she looked sad at his words. “After all this shit, I’ve realized that being an Auror is my dream but I’d rather be awake and with the people I love than live a dream. I’d give everything up for Scorp and Rose and I’d give it up for you. Going back to England and being an Auror would mean nothing unless you were there with me.”
“Albus...I won’t be what denies you your dream!” she cried.
“You are my dream!”
No matter what he said, she still looked pained. As if she were stealing something from him, even though she didn’t mean to. She sighed to herself.
No matter what he said or how much she loved him, she couldn’t take his future away. The curse was real. After ten years of believe it was a lie, she now had proof that it was real. If she stayed with Albus, he would die.
She wouldn’t allow that.
It was like having a burning crowbar shoved through her heart. What she was about to say would do just as much damage to her and it would to him, but it had to be done. She loved him, and wouldn’t risk being his undoing.
“Can we have some privacy please?!” Shiori yelled in annoyance.
The door opened and there stood a monster of a man. He was bald, at least five foot nine and made a pure muscle. There was no emotion on his face whatsoever. He might as well have been a statue.
“Hanshi!” Shiori gasped then bowed as low as she could.
“What the hell’s a Hanshi?”
“Albus! Show some respect!” Shiori hissed.
“That’s not necessary...”
From behind the man/mountain a girl stepped out. She was Chinese and no older than twelve. She had silver hair with a bluish tint that was almost as long as Shiori’s. She was the type of girl that would obviously be extremely beautiful once she grew up but there was something quite eerie about her. Her big blue eyes seemed to have an unusual amount of wisdom inside them.
“He’s not my student and therefore is not required to treat me as a teacher,” the girl said.
“A master should be respected, even by strangers and enemies,” Shiori stated, still bowing.
“We are strangers by my doing. If I had given you permission to speak about me, perhaps Mr. Potter would be bowing also. I can’t expect people to overcome the obstacles I have put in place. I’m very good at placing them,” the girl said with frightening clarity.
“Master?! She’s your master?!” Albus blurted. “She’s a toddler!”
“Albus!” Shiori jumped up and growled.
“Shiori,” the girl said causing Shiori to fall into another bow. “Albus owes me nothing. I owe him,” she turned and looked at Al, “Katsumi was my mistake...thank you for dealing with her.”
“I let her keep the change...” Al shrugged.
The girl giggled but in a strangely mature way. “I heard that you enjoy your puns...Might I have a moment alone with Shiori?” she asked.
“Sure, I’ll em...go walk the dog,” he said, still a little confused by the age of Shiori’s master.
Both waited in silence for a few seconds after he left.
“Forgive me, I broke the rules,” Shiori said, looking away.
“I’m not angry about this. We can’t spend eternity hiding in the shadows and I’d much rather you used your abilities in public than risk getting eaten by a dragon,” the girl said. “I’m here because of more recent events.”
“Did you know?”
“About your father? No, I didn’t and too be honest, I never wanted to entertain the possibility,” she admitted. “The death of both of your parents would have meant Soushen’s curse was nothing more than a myth...now, I’m not so sure.”
Shiori tried to blink back the tears that were forming. It wasn’t fair. She was going to suffer for what her happened to her ancestor eighteen hundred years ago. She didn’t deserve this.
“If Albus stays with me...he’ll die?”
“It’s possible. Soushen’s magic was of a different caliber. I’ve only heard of one curse like this before and that was the one that Voldemort placed on the defense against the dark arts post at Hogwarts. This is different though. Soushen is long dead and yet the curse remains,” the girl said worryingly.
“I’ll make sure he stays away then,” Shiori sighed.
“Will you?” the girl asked, sounding a little surprised.
“He’s in danger if I don’t.”
The girl smiled warmly. “Shiori, after everything I’ve heard about him, Albus was in danger long before he met you. Mainly because he purposely places himself in dangerous situations. He doesn’t not strike me as the type of man that will die of old age. He’ll meet his end fighting for what he believes in and I seriously doubt that he would want it any other way. Because of his convictions, Albus Potters life will always be in danger. Whether or not you are by his side will not change that. And by that reasoning, I see no reason for you not to stay with him.”
“Shiori, I’d rather see you know a measure of happiness than become an expert in loneliness.”
Shiori sniffed, trying to find an argument strong enough to stand up to her reasoning but she fell felt.
“I’m releasing you from you commitment to Hokkaido academy,” she said simply.
“But, master, I -”
“The reason I send my students out into the world by themselves is because there are many things that I can’t teach you. You have to learn them on your own, from experience. Besides, Albus is vastly more protected in England than he is here,” the girl began heading back towards the door. “And, you never know, we might just be able to find a way around Soushens curse. I know Saya and Ariel are already searching.”
Albus threw a small green tennis ball across the Hokkaido courtyard which Trigger shot straight after. He and Scorpius were walking through the school one last time before he and Rose would depart, leaving his best friend behind.
“So, has Ron snapped out of it yet?” Al asked.
“I’m not going near him to check!”
“I don’t blame you. You have corrupted his little angel after all,” Al laughed.
“Don’t say that,” Scorpius sighed.
“Oh, come on, you knew you’d have to tell him sooner or later.”
“True. What’s your dad said about you wanting to stay here?”
“Not much. I think he’s sort of avoiding it. I heard that mums a bit upset though. She seems to think that I’ve been driven away or something, but I think she understands...besides, it’s not like I’m never coming back. I’ll visit and stuff,” he said as Trigger returned the ball to him.
“You damn well better, I’m gonna need back-up to stop Ron from trying to assassinate me!”
Al threw the ball again and the dog shot away.
“There are greater dangers than my uncle,” Al said.
“No shit...” Scorpius said, his eyes wide open and looking ahead.
Out in front of them, The Seraphim was standing with his trademark white suit and samurai sword. He nodded to them to follow him. They did so cautiously.
The Seraphim led them to a small, secluded part of the courtyard. There, sitting on a bench were Saya and Ariel. Both wearing beautifully crafted kimonos and dark sunglasses. Ariel began clapping lightly.
“Bravo,” she smiled.
“We are very impressed with you two,” Saya agreed.
“Scorpius, this is Ariel and Saya,” Al said wearingly.
“Pleasure,” Saya nodded. “So, case closed?”
“No quite, there’s still a few questions that need answers,” Al said.
“Fire away, Ariel said happily.
“Okay, let’s start with the one that’s been bugging me...why the hell did you poison me?!”
“That was you?!” Scorpius gasped.
“Well, we had to get Shiori to kiss you somehow,” Ariel giggled.
“That wasn’t a kiss, that was CPR!”
“Really, I heard she was blushing?” Saya smiled.
“You’ve got some messed up matchmaking skills!” Scorpius growled.
“Oh, don’t be angry. Nothing brings people together like mortal peril,” Ariel said simply.
“We may have put you two together but we didn’t make you fall in love. That was all you...of course, it’s not surprising. Shiori’s never met a man that could stand up to her and you’ve never met a woman as strong as her. It was inevitable.”
“Is that why you rigged the Goblet to pick me? And why you suggested that our punishment should be getting promoted to heads of school and brought to Japan?” Al asked angrily.
He didn’t like being manipulated and these two were masters of it.
“How could you forget about the pyromaniac?” Ariel smiled with devious joy.
“Or Smuggler’s cover?” Saya added with equal delight.
“You told that psycho about his wife’s affair?!” Scorpius blurted in disbelief. How long had the All Seers been playing them?
“And tipped off your father about Smuggler’s cove, knowing that you would overhear the information.”
“You’ve been purposely getting us into deep shit! Why?!” Scorpius demanded.
“No, we’ve been preparing you,” Saya corrected.
“For this goddess that Shiori’s dad was talking about...you want us to stop her?” Al surmised.
“Yes. We suspected that someone extremely powerful was working behind the scenes. How else could they have created a tattoo that can block my vision? Shiori’s father was just middle management,” Saya said.
“Any idea where he is?”
“We know exactly where he is,” Ariel said simply.
“He’s at the bottom of Tokyo Bay.”
“And no, it wasn’t us,” Ariel added. “It seems his employer, this goddess, no longer had any use for him now that he’d been exposed.”
Al wouldn’t be shedding any tears about that and he suspected that Shiori wouldn’t either.
“I’ve never heard of a goddess that smokes Cuban cigars,” Al said, extracting the stubbed out cigar from his pocket. He gave the tip a quick sniff. “And wears orange bust lipstick.”
“First time for everything,” Ariel shrugged.
“How exactly do you expect us to stop a goddess?” Scorpius asked.
“Well, according to Shiori’s father, she hasn’t reached that level of power yet. She’s still just a witch and between the four of you, I’m sure you can handle her.”
“I’m sure that Shiori and Rose will be in this fight with you.”
“Shiori and I are staying in Japan,” Al stated.
“No, you aren’t. You’re going back to England together where you will both train as Aurors. We’ve already discussed things with Shiori’s Hanshi,” Saya said quickly.
“Why us and why should we do anything for you two?” Scorpius asked.
“Because, what threatens us, threatens everything. You’re happiness with your partners will come crashing down along with everything else if this woman is allowed to succeed,” Ariel warned. “And the reason it has to be you is...well...can you think of anyone else that could do it?”
“We haven’t been controlling your lives; we’ve just been nudging them in the right direction. Things would be a great deal worse if we hadn’t done this,” Saya said.
“And now you know the truth. You have the facts and you understand the threat...”
Albus stared them down for a second. Some part of him actually understood what they had done. Much like Dumbledores manipulation of Harry in preparation for Voldemorts defeat, the All Seers had been getting them ready for their fight. Of course, that didn’t mean that he had to like it!
“The only question now is what are you going to do about it?” Saya asked.
“What do you think we’re gonna do,” Scorpius tutted.
“We’re gonna kill the bitch,” Al stated.
He and Scorpius turned and walked away from them leaving huge smiles to develop on their faces.
“Oh Saya, I like them...can we keep them?” Ariel asked as if she were talking about a puppy.
“I intend to...” Saya grinned as fresh images of the future began to shoot through her mind.
Things were about to get very interesting...
TO BE CONTINUED...
The Octane Generation: The Second Barrage.
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