Chapter 74 : Nanami Aoki
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A/N: Read, Review, and Enjoy!
After ensuring Elanya was disarmed, they released her from the net before tightly binding her to one of the chairs. As for Cho, they gave her an unceremonious burial at sea... Harry wasn't sure how to feel about it. Draco was hiding how completely satisfied he was with Cho's fate and part of Harry was right there with him; the other part was made up of regret and wishes that things could have been different, that Cho had never turned to her darker side and had simply graduated and gone on to live her life. As things were, he could see that none of them (not even Elanya) were all that saddened by her demise... they were simply in shock that it had happened so suddenly right in front of them.
Fred returned from below deck with more of his truth potion... they had decided that Elanya would have more information to give them since she was held higher in Elise's circle. He carefully walked up to her with hard eyes and whirling emotions. “You can either drink this willingly or we'll force you to.” He harshly told her.
“Are you going to be the one to feed it to me?” She asked him coyly.
Hermione angrily took the vial of potion from Fred's hand and stood before the other girl. “Drink it or I'll shove the entire bottle down your throat.”
“Well, well. There's no need to be so touchy.” She grinned before opening her mouth as Hermione none too gently poured the contents in.
Harry wasn't entirely sure about the tension between the three, but he had a pretty good idea what was causing it and so he stepped up to be the one to question Elanya. “Where have Talena, Elise and Sarah gone?”
“They're probably on their way to Japan. But you already knew that.” She smirked. “Then again, they may just change their minds... they do so often.”
“How were you able to sneak up on my ship?” Murdo demanded.
“Talena could sense the protection charms... we simply left our ship far behind and dove deeper than the charms reached so you wouldn't see us coming until it was too late. And Sarah had some kind of potion left over from when Snape had brewed a way for her to get past the charms around some Auror's house during the summer. I heard she killed him and his wife before skipping off undetected into the night.” She proudly answered. “Perhaps you should update your security measures so the same won't happen to you... again.”
“Oh, I will.” The demon promised with a sneer of a grin.
Harry pulled out the list of names they'd recovered from Rick and showed it to her. “We know Lucius put this together for Elise and that it's a list of people who are psychic. How many have you guys already approached?”
“Several.” Elanya answered smugly. “Some were willing to hear us out... those who weren't because they leaned towards either your side or Voldemort's were disposed of so they couldn't be made an asset to either of you.”
“What about this one?” Jacey came up next to Harry and pointed to a name on the list. “What about Stavros Petras?”
She shook her head and grinned. “Haven't been able to find him or a few others. They may already be dead or in hiding.”
At least no other coven member is on the list. Luna thought out, distracting Harry from analyzing Jacey's interest in Stavros. “How many have you recruited to your side?” She asked aloud.
“More than you'd think.” She winced as the potion forced her to be more honest. “I don't know the exact number but it's around ninety psychics with varying degrees of ability and hundreds of other magical folks with varying degrees of wand skills... and more added every day as those who've already joined us spread our message. There are many who are looking for the life we're offering- those who don't care about keeping wizarding blood pure and want equal rights for all... those who don't want words like squib, mudblood, halfblood, psychic or humanoid to classify them and want everyone to be looked upon for what they do and not who they are.”
“You know that's what we're trying to accomplish... only we don't want to take over the world in the process like Elise, Sarah and Talena do.” Ginny said, crossing her arms.
“But not everyone believes that. Of course, we've had to spread some lies and half-truths to make them not believe... but in the end, they were willing to trust us over anyone on your side. After all, we aren't famous and no one has ever printed anything bad about us until very recently.” Elanya grinned at Harry. He'd gone through bouts of both praise and condemnation in the public eye, as had Arthur and Dumbledore, ensuring that no one who didn't know them personally would be able to make heads or tales of who they really were as people. It made him angry to think of these women stealing away possible allies to him and the Order by spreading distrust of him and his goals in this war. Of course he wanted everyone to be equal... he just didn't think he, nor anyone else was capable of destroying all of the prejudice in the world. All they could do was make progress once those opposing equality were vanquished and if Elanya and the others were telling people that they could do more, then he knew they were flat-out lying. Unfortunately, those looked down upon for so long were clearly willing to believe in anyone who promised them an instantly better life and he could understand why... but that didn't stop him from thinking less of them or these women who were willing to lie to those who were so desperate.
“Nanami's name isn't on that list.” Luna pointed out. “How did you all learn about her?”
“Elise checked through several ministry records in different countries... anyone with psychic ability is automatically flagged in many ministries around the world. She specifically wanted to start recruiting influential telepaths so they could begin influencing the masses and continue our hold over the allies we've already assembled. Using Lucius and his contacts, they specifically pinpointed five of the most powerful and Nanami Aoki was at the top of that list.” Elanya looked from Luna to Harry to Jacey, studying them before dawning on an idea. “She's a descendant too isn't she? You three are only interested in her because of her ties to the first coven... we know about your lineage but thought it a coincidence.” She laughed heartily. “Are you really attempting to put together a new coven?”
“We're simply taking a page out of your book.” Harry replied, trying not to sound defensive. “We are looking for powerful psychics and Nanami was at the top of our list as well.”
“I don't believe you.” She laughed again.
“I don't care.” He crossed his arms and shrugged, casually leaning against the railing as if he had nothing to hide.
Draco stepped up, eager for his own answers as well as a distraction from this line of questioning... they all wanted to keep their secret of the coven for as long as possible, even from someone who was currently their captive. “What did Lucius trade for Kiara Smythe?” He demanded. “We know he gave Elise some kind of map... where did it lead?”
She sighed and shook her head, wincing as she tried to fight the potion. Clearly she wasn't as eager to spill her secrets as she was to discover theirs. “Hidden Falls.” She said at last, giving them no more than what had been asked.
“That place is a myth.” Hermione said uncertainly.
“Not according to the map.” Elanya sneered at her.
“What is it?” Harry asked in confusion.
Hermione could have given him the answer... instead she sat back and stared at Elanya with a look of satisfied contempt. She was going to let the other girl be the one to have to reveal what she didn't want known and seemed to enjoy the struggle Elanya was going through while battling the potion. “It's a place that's rumored to be the strongest energy source in the world. Any spells or psychic ability used there would be enhanced to their absolute highest. But despite the energy output,or because of it, the spot is impossible to find without a map... and there were only two maps known to still exist from the original twelve. Lucius somehow got his hands on one when Elise said it was the only way she would hand over his birth mother.”
“After making sure he would hear her out... why would Elise care about what Lucius did to Kiara?” Draco asked, unable to hide how eager he was for information.
“I don't know. Her reasons are her own and I knew better than to ask.” She grinned again, happy to at last not be forced into revealing anything.
“Who's blood did they find in Scotland then, if not Kiara's?” Harry asked.
“Some young witch named Cordelia King... Talena needed a meal and the girl was an orphaned urchin living on the streets. No one important is going to miss her.” She scoffed... though to Harry it seemed she was holding something back... something that hadn't been specifically asked of her. Unfortunately, he had no idea what it could be or what to ask to clarify and uncover whatever this secret was.
“Then why leave evidence of her death?” Jacey was clearly not concerned by the unfeeling way Elanya spoke of this Cordelia girl nor the hesitation in Elanya's voice when speaking of her death.
“So the Aurors you and your ministry had following us would think we'd killed Kiara. Rick had told Elise that you were all looking for Kiara and would eventually find her... so she wanted you to stop.”
“So if it's there to find, why was Elise interested in searching for Hidden Falls?” Luna suddenly went back in the conversation as some kind of intuition flashed through her. “It has to be for more than the energy output since she would have to lure her enemies there for it to benefit her.”
Elanya sighed angrily. “Because that's where she's heard that Julian Heath has gone to hide.”
“So he is alive?” Luna pushed.
“According to rumors.” She shrugged.
“What rumors?” Harry was now very interested as finding Julian may just lead him to Jennitha, the current keeper of his family's deepest secrets as well as one of three who knew the location of Tereus and the Marqueesian Scrolls.
“There are several.” Elanya answered with an amused smile. “Some say that recently a monster has taken up residence as the protector of Hidden Falls. I'm not sure how that made Elise think Julian was there, but it did and we knew better than to doubt her. She has so many contacts all over, she can find out anything about anyone it seems.”
“Maybe he's still working on the werewolf elixir while he's in hiding.” Fred suggested.
“I just don't see why he wants to at all.” Lupin said, shaking his head. “It's bad enough to have to change one time a month... I don't understand the desire to be able to turn whenever one wants.”
“That's because you are too weak to actually embrace the gift given to you all those years ago.” Elanya put in tauntingly before focusing on Draco. “You still have promise though... surely you can see the benefit of having the beast in your control... how many times would it have been beneficial to change in order to protect your friends?”
“Many I'm sure. But that doesn't mean I should.” He answered stiffly though Harry could see he was thinking on it more deeply.
“With Wolfsbane to keep the mind human, it seems extremely beneficial to be able to turn at will...” Lupin said slowly. “Until you realize you're still a monster not totally in control of yourself. You don't know anything about the wolf or how strong it can be.”
“But Fred does.” Elanya smiled warmly at Fred who looked away in quiet frustration. “He tamed the beast for you... any luck on a vampire cure?” She called out to him though he was intent on ignoring her. “Elise will want to know once she frees me.”
“No one is going to free you... and we're asking the questions.” Harry once more moved to stand in front of her, blocking her view of Fred. “And I have one more... who were you all going to look for after Nanami?”
“Daniel Phillips.” She answered briefly. This time she looked extremely upset to have to answer as the information would lead them right to her friends. And then she brightened and smiled again, this time at Luna. “But I doubt they'll stick to that plan now. They know better than to make any direct decisions.”
“Where can Daniel Phillips be found?” Lupin asked, ignoring the implication that the women would never do anything that would make it easy for Luna to see them.
“Toronto, Canada.” She was forced to admit.
Lupin nodded and turned to Murdo. “Go ahead and lock her away below deck until we can hand her off to the proper authorities. We'll all take shifts to ensure that she doesn't fall asleep and give Sarah the chance to use her astral projection.”
“Gladly.” The captain replied, grabbing Elanya and dragging her down the stairs.
“Now what?” Hermione asked. It was clear she was upset that they were going to be in such close proximity to the other girl.
“We are less than two days from Japan.” Lupin answered with a tired sigh. “Despite what I said before, I'm going to contact Arthur now and arrange a pick up at the docks so that Elanya will no longer be our problem. I'll also have him send someone to keep an eye on this Mr. Phillips just in case those women do decide to go find him. You should all go down and get some sleep while you can. Who knows what tomorrow will bring.”
“Are you okay?” Ginny asked as soon as they were alone in their room.
“Yeah, I wasn't hurt at all this time.” Draco answered distractedly as he lay down and stared at the ceiling, lost in his own thoughts. As far as she knew, the statement was true... she hadn't seen the spell Cho had sent that gouged him and he'd since healed the wound himself so as to leave no evidence of it.
“That's not what I meant.” She said, sitting next to him and reaching out to take his hand. “I meant... after what happened with Cho and after finding out so much about Kiara and Lucius, I know we sort of talked about it before Elanya... well, I just want to make sure you're okay.”
“Oh.” He sighed and sat up to face her. “I don't know.” He answered honestly as he played with her fingers in an attempt to not have to meet her eyes and see the heavy concern she had for him... especially since he couldn't offer anything to alleviate her worries.
“Well, at least things are settled with Cho now...” She said quietly, testing the waters of communication.
“Yeah, I guess they are... does it take away from the progress I've made toward being a better person if I admit that it makes me happy that she's finally gone?” He asked uncertainly.
“Laurel once told me that I was entitled to feel any way I want as long as the emotion is genuine. The same goes for you...” She reached out with her other hand to caress his cheek. “It's entirely understandable that you'd be glad to be rid of someone who was continually out to torture you... and hey, at least you weren't the one to have to do it.”
He moved away to sit at the edge of the bed and hang his head. “I kind of wish it had been me to do it.” He admitted, deciding to continue being honest.
“Yeah well, that's pretty understandable too.” She got up and came to stand in front of him. “But for someone who claims to be happy, you sure seem pretty upset.”
He looked up at her and shook his head. “It just happened so suddenly... I guess I wasn't prepared. To want someone out of your life for so long and then to finally have it happen... I think I'm still taking it in.”
“So what about Kiara and Lucius?”
“We didn't learn that much... other than that they have finally been reunited and seem entirely happy about it. Oh, and Elise has some mysterious reason to try and protect Kiara that she wouldn't even admit to her friends.”
“We'll figure it out.” She assured him, confident in her certainty. “We've been getting so much information about so many people for months now... it's only a matter of time before we learn more about Kiara. Or maybe Tonks will find her and Lucius and bring them to you directly.”
“Either way, it's nothing to worry about right now.” He stood and moved to open the porthole, wanting air. “If Potter and Luna can put aside their search for family information to concentrate on finding these other coven people then so can I.”
“You aren't Harry or Luna. You're Draco.” She said with a smile when he turned back to face her.
“Well, you are the observant one.”
“Come on.” She laughed lightly and pulled him back to the bed. They both sat and she took his hand again. “Just because everyone else is doing something doesn't make it right for you. We all had to decide for ourselves whether we wanted to come on this trip and it's up to you to decide how to handle or feel about your own familial mysteries.”
“So if I wanted to abandon this trip and go in search of Lucius and Kiara... you'd be okay with that?” He asked doubtfully.
“If it's what you wanted to do.” She shrugged. Then she smiled and leaned in to kiss his cheek. “And as long as I can go with you.”
“Well, that was a given.” He smiled back. “But I can't leave... imagine what that would do to Lupin... having to decide whether to stay with Potter or chase after me. Plus...”
“What?” She urged him to go on.
“I don't want to have to worry about Lupin or Potter or any of them... and I don't want them to have to worry about me.” He sighed again and brought her hand to his lips, kissing her wrist. “I've got a grip on this whole friendship thing now... I don't want to screw it up just for the promise of a woman who may be someone I wouldn't want to know anyway. I have Andromeda, Tonks and Lupin... that's enough family for me right now. Besides, we know Elise is looking out for Kiara for some reason, so at least she's alive for me to find later if I want to.”
Ginny leaned in once more, this time capturing his lips in a long, passionate kiss. “I love you so much.” She whispered.
“And I'll do everything in my power to try and deserve you.” He said before returning the kiss and letting the adrenaline he'd built up during the fighting fuel his passions now.
“So if not Daniel, who do you think they will go after?” Jacey asked, putting Rick's list in front of Luna in the hope that she would be given some hint.
She watched as Luna looked at the list and saw her eyes linger over Stavros's name, clearly curious about what had happened to the man. “I don't know.” She answered at last. “No one is jumping out at me.”
“Arthur can have Moody or someone look up all these people.” Harry said, anxiously looking out the porthole as if waiting for the next attack to arrive. “Once he knows where they all are, he can contact the other ministries and have Aurors tail them. Hopefully Elise and the others can be captured while they're out recruiting.”
“What about Nanami?” Ron asked. “Supposedly Rick saw us getting to her first... do you think we still will?”
Luna shook her head and picked up her mirror, holding it tightly in her hands. “I don't know... it seems there are still too many variables to know who will reach her first. But I'll keep trying.”
Harry came over and picked up the list, looking it over for himself. “I just don't understand... if Lucius made this list less than a year ago, then why would he include at least one person who is dead?” He looked at Jacey and she felt her stomach clench in anticipation. “You're absolutely sure this Stavros guy was killed?”
“I could not be more sure...” She said slowly. She turned her back and wrapped her arms around herself for comfort. “I am the one who killed him.” She admitted, waiting tensely for a reaction.
“Why?” Was all he asked, his tone holding only curiosity and not the accusation she had expected. Well, she would have to wait and see how both he and Luna felt after she confessed it all.
“Because I was told to. He was starting a rebellion in Athens, convincing people to rise up and oppose the Death Eaters who were slowly taking over. I did not want to kill him, I even tried to warn him the night before it was to happen... but he insisted I do what I was told. So I went to where he was giving a speech and I used my power so no one would be able to tell what happened. I saw him fall down and ran... confirmation of his death reached me shortly thereafter.”
“Who told you to do that?” Luna asked gently.
“My now ex-husband.” She turned back to face them and saw Ron shift uncomfortably as he was reminded that she had been married at all. “He was a Death Eater and I had been using him to stay alive, hunt vampires and get a wand. In exchange, I had to do many things I was uncomfortable with and many more that made me hate myself altogether. I can tell you everything if I have to, my whole sorry tale before meeting you all-”
“No.” Luna got up and came over to wrap her arms around her, taking Jacey completely by surprise. “You don't have to tell us anything.” She assured her as she pulled back from the embrace and smiled. “I know who you are, anything that happened in the past has only shaped the person before me and I could never do anything but love you for the friendship you've offered and your willingness to become the best version of yourself.”
She was touched, unsure if she could believe that her actions could so easily be forgiven without a full explanation of the events that led her to taking innocent lives. “We all love you Jacey.” Harry said. “When you're ready to tell us about your life, you will... but you don't have to explain to us what it feels like to be desperate to survive.”
“Besides, if Stavros told you to go ahead with your orders, then maybe he knew something you didn't.” Luna suggested. “We don't know what his psychic ability was and I can see in your eyes that until his name showed up on that list, you didn't know he had any powers at all... maybe he was like me, able to see the future, and therefore he knew you had to set him on fire, that he had to die to serve some greater purpose.”
“I love you all too.” Jacey blurted out, unable to keep in the emotions swirling within her. Their display of friendship and understanding was overwhelming... in that moment, she knew she would willingly lay down her life for any of them and that she would do everything in her power to ensure that Harry and Luna stayed in her life long after the war ended... if there was an end, that is.
Fred was clearly grumpy about Elanya being back on the ship... and as they shut themselves up in their room for the night, Hermione caught him glancing at her warily out of the corner of his eye, as if waiting for her to decide that their earlier argument wasn't over now that the subject of their upset was currently being held one deck below them. She sighed and changed into her night clothes before silently slipping under the covers and rolling on her side to face the wall. She wasn't sure how to feel, whether she should be upset or sad or jealous or scared or all of those at once. Feeling him climb in next to her while carefully trying to avoid getting too close, she realized that the small distance made her feel entirely lonely. She shifted slightly to try and look over her shoulder... he was laying on his back and staring at the ceiling, obviously wide awake despite the exhaustion of what they'd been through that night.
Deciding to give into her heart instead of her brain for awhile, she rolled over to drape her bandaged arm across his chest while resting her head on his shoulder. She could feel him holding his breath, waiting to see what was going to happen. “No matter whether they try to plant doubts in my mind or try to kidnap you to brew potions... I won't let Elanya or any of them take you away from me.” She quietly promised.
“But do you really doubt me?” He asked nervously.
Hermione was quiet for a moment while she seriously considered the question. “No, I guess I really don't.” She said at last. “I trust you... it's just...” She couldn't make herself go on. She'd already had to tell Harry last year about the issues she carried with her because of her childhood and the things her parents and other muggle children had said to make her feel so insecure. She didn't want to have to say it again, not to Fred. She so desperately wanted things to be different with Fred.
“What?” He urged, at last wrapping his arms around her to return her embrace.
“I don't like that she got to you first.” She admitted, deciding to go with a different truth that was bothering her. “I know you said you pushed her away immediately but...”
“Would it have been better if she kissed me after you and I got together?” He asked seriously. “I mean... I thought you and Harry were still together, it's not like I knew that being with you was even an option at that point and I still rejected her... because of how I felt about you. Isn't that enough to prove that she has no hold over me or my affection?”
She nodded slowly. “Yes. It's enough.”
He disentangled himself from her and sat up, running his hands through his hair while he thought. Then he turned to her, his eyes full of earnest hope. “So then, we're okay?”
“I think so.” She smiled, sitting up to throw her arms around his neck and kiss him. “You were right... you didn't know I was using that night to break up with Harry and make myself available for you and since we've been together, you've given me no reason at all to worry. It just took me by surprise when Elanya-”
He silenced her with another kiss before shaking his head. “I don't want to talk about her, not ever again if I can help it. Hopefully we'll hand her off to Tonks who will ensure she is securely locked away and we'll never have to even hear of her again.”
“You know Elise and Sarah will probably try to free her.”
Again he shook his head. “I've no doubt they will... and hopefully they'll get themselves caught up in the process. With the giants aware of how exactly those women had helped Cho escape, there's no way they'll let it happen again.” He lay back down, pulling her down beside him and holding her close. “I don't want to waste time thinking about any of those women. Letting them into our thoughts only gives them power to manipulate our emotions and I won't let it happen again.” He tilted his head to look her in the eye. “I promise Hermione, there's nothing else I haven't told you... everything in my life is an open book to you, always.”
“Okay.” She said simply, not daring to say more. They laid there and held each other, both lost in their own thoughts and just happy to be together. He gently ran his hand over her previously injured arm and she could tell that he was carefully checking to be sure it was still wrapped up tightly and safe from further injury. “It's fine.” She assured him with a smile. “Lupin knew what he was doing.”
“Let's hope. When we get in touch with Gabby again, we'll have her make sure.” He insisted.
“You're the one who's walking around with a bum leg.” She reminded him.
“Yeah, but I'm kind of used to it by now.” He said with a grin. Then he let out a wide yawn and burrowed deeper into the blankets before pulling her even closer to him. “Let's get some sleep and hope things are just magically better in the morning.”
“Yes, because that happens all the time.” She rolled her eyes and let herself snuggle into him. Within a half an hour he was asleep, breathing deeply and snoring lightly. Hermione however just couldn't shut off her mind in order to give into her exhaustion. Talking with Fred had made her feel better about things between them... but there was someone else she felt she needed to speak with, or rather, someone she needed to confront.
She waited another hour, hoping the need would go away but it didn't. So careful to make sure she didn't wake Fred, she slipped out of his arms and grabbed her robe from her bag. Going to see Elanya could be a big mistake, but she felt compelled to go... everyone else had gotten answers from the girl, it was her turn. She was almost certain the potion would still be in effect; Fred had told her back home when he was brewing it for situations just like this, that it could stay in one's system for up to twelve hours. She held her breath as she opened the door. Although Fred was normally a heavy sleeper, she wasn't sure that he had let himself go into deep sleep after such a trying night and with fears of Elise, Talena and Sarah coming back.
Once safely in the hallway, she hurried to the stairs and went down to the lower deck to see Jacey sitting outside of a room that had bars guarding it's entryway. “What are you doing down here? Harry has the next watch and that is not for an hour yet.”
Hermione walked up to her and glanced into the makeshift jail cell to see Elanya sitting in the corner, glaring at them both. “I want to talk to her.” She answered honestly, certain that Jacey would be the one to most understand.
Sure enough she nodded and stood up, stretching out luxuriously. “I will be in the hall upstairs... call me if you need me.” She said with a conspiratorial smile before heading off, probably to stretch out and catch a bit of a nap.
“What do you want?” Elanya asked with a smirk as soon as Jacey was gone.
“I want to know why Fred?” Hermione demanded. “We all know that your group wants him for his potion making intuition... but why do you seem to want him so much?”
“Why do you?” She shot back glibly before wincing in pain. But she fought it... it seemed that the potion wasn't as strong as it was at first and eventually she was able to grin through the pain. Clearly she was unwilling to divulge anything more than she'd already been forced to a few hours earlier... it was also clear that her tolerance for pain was nearly as high as Harry's seemed to be since the weakened potion could have only reached a slightly less than mind numbing level.
“You don't even know him.” Hermione went on, ignoring the girl's question. She knew exactly why she was with Fred and why she loved him and didn't feel the need to explain it to anyone. “You ignored him and every other boy when you were at school and since you came back, you've done nothing but make his life hell.”
“And your life too, by extension.” Elanya laughed, this time able to ignore the potion altogether as there was no question to dodge. “What's the matter? Can't stand a little competition?”
“What I can't stand is someone continually chasing after him, us, when it's been made clear she isn't wanted.” She returned stiffly.
“Has it been made clear?” She taunted. “You weren't on the island with us, you weren't in my father's office and ever since, all I've seen is him trying to reassure you that he doesn't want me. I think he's simply trying to convince himself that it's true.”
“Luckily, I know him better.” Hermione crossed her arms and stared at the other girl, completely confident in Fred's love for her. “And I was on the island... the day before we came to get him.”
“That's impossible.” Elanya laughed again.
“Actually, Luna had a vision that showed her how exactly you got Fred's cooperation. It revealed that in addition to threats against Ron and Ginny, you had threatened to have Sarah use her skill with astral projection against me. So I took it upon myself to learn the art as well, to be able to protect myself. That's why she couldn't get to me earlier tonight.” She answered smugly. “To practice, I went to the island and saw that Fred had spent most of his time there alternating between ignoring you and avoiding you altogether... that is until you threatened him to make him speak to you. I saw the whole exchange after talking to him.”
“You talked to him in astral form? Without someone else's body?” She asked in surprise before she could stop herself. Hermione saw the moment of angry regret pass her eyes as she realized she'd given something away.
“Am I to understand from your surprise that Sarah is unable to do that?” She was happy, proud of herself for pushing past the ability of someone who had spent years studying the art... it was the same way she felt every time she came out on top at school and it was good to know she could feel that way now that she was in the real world.
“Yes.” Elanya spat out, not bothering to fight the potion this time. “I knew I should have worked harder to kill you earlier.” She added with a scowl.
“And yet you're the one who's been captured and is awaiting a death sentence.”
“Only because you all ran into a demon.” She returned. “He accomplished what none of the rest of you could... and once I'm out of his presence, I'm sure escape is just a matter of time.”
“Unless you actually are sentenced to death for your numerous crimes.” Hermione said coldly. “But either way, that's in the future and I want to know about right now. So answer me because I'll keep asking until you can't fight the pain anymore or your head explodes from trying. Why are you so fixated on Fred?” If looks could kill, she was certain she'd be dead where she was standing as the glare Elanya gave her pierced right through her. Whatever the answer was, the girl did not want to reveal it. “Come on... why Fred?” She repeated, keeping her word on her threat.
“Because in the beginning of all this... he actually cared about me. No one else has, not since my mother sent me away.” She at last admitted, her voice so low, Hermione almost couldn't hear her.
“What do you mean?”
“He tried to talk me out of killing Edmund... even thought introducing me to my uncle would make a difference. And it wasn't just because he was trying to get himself out of the trap we'd set for him before it was too late... back then his tone with me was different than it is now. I thought once I got him to the island, I could convince him to be my friend and maybe more. I needed someone to care about me... don't we all?” She laughed bitterly. “I know Elise and Sarah only kept me because I was useful to them, they could care less about me otherwise. I was hoping Fred would be my way of breaking free of them... I wasn't lying when I told him that I wanted out... after all, some truth will make the lies more believable. Now I'm in too deep, but it'll be easier to accept with someone on my side.”
“You're wrong. He didn't care... getting out of your trap was all he cared about and instead you made him an accessory to murder.”
“Hey, you wanted the truth and it's not like I can lie at the moment. At least, not effectively.” She shrugged as if none of this mattered anyway. “I know what I saw in him...”
“But?” Hermione prodded, catching the other girl's hesitation.
Elanya sighed and shook her head. “But something changed after I came and told him that he had to arrange to run away with me.”
“Because he didn't want to leave me.” She answered, her smugness even more pronounced. “We had communication devices and the minute you left the shop, he called me. He was completely devastated, asking if I'd be mad if he had to leave for awhile... even if he promised to come back as soon as he could. You won his obedience with your threats, but I'd won his heart long before you came around and long before either he or I even realized how much we wanted to be together. You were never going to get him completely on your side. Did he wish you were different? That you could be saved from yourself? Absolutely, but only because that would mean you would leave him alone. Did you know that if you hadn't come and made him leave early, he'd planned to have Willem talk you into taking just him? Was it jealousy that made you force him away before the date you'd previously set?”
“Jealous? Of what, you?” She laughed before once again wincing in pain.
“You knew when he came to Hogwarts on Halloween that he didn't speak to Harry or Luna... that he'd only come to see me. And you couldn't have known what we discussed. For all you knew, he'd come to see me one last time before your plan took him away, considering Erebos only saw us in the courtyard.” Hermione pointed out, certain that she was right. And now she was going to force the girl to admit it. “Were you jealous?”
“Yes... but not because I didn't think I couldn't lure his affection away from someone like you.” She answered meanly.
“Because... you had something I wanted and he wasn't cooperating like every other dumb male I'd ever encountered.” Elanya muttered. “I guess that made me even more interested... because he was pretending he wasn't.”
“There was no pretending.” She insisted. “He really isn't interested because, you're right, he isn't like other guys. He can see past someone's looks to who they really are inside. You may be beautiful Elanya, even I can admit it. But inside you're a deceptive, untrustworthy, conniving brat and he saw through you the first time you walked through the door of his shop. And so now I come to the point of our conversation. Leave him and us alone. Take a hint and quit before your obsession with proving you are desirable to all men leads to worse than your capture.”
“Are you threatening me?” She asked with an amused smile.
“You better believe it.” Hermione answered steadily. “You can only push someone so far before they push back. If you somehow get free and decide to continue on with Elise, Sarah and Talena, then you need to give up your side quest for my boyfriend because he doesn't want you and I'm sick of you belittling yourself by continually trying to change his mind. Have a bit of respect for yourself before you hate you as much as we do.” She turned and walked back up the stairs, ignoring whatever Elanya was calling out behind her. She'd said all she'd come to say and wanted nothing more to do with the girl.
“Everything go okay?” Jacey asked from where she sat on the top stair.
“How much did you hear?”
“None of it.” She smiled in assurance. “I was focused on silently talking to Ron so that I could give you some privacy. We all have people we sometimes feel the need to confront and I figured this was the safest way for you to have your chance.”
“Thank you.” She returned the smile. “She's all yours. I never want to see her again.”
“Then let us hope you never will after we hand her off to Tonks.” Jacey got up and went back downstairs to ensure the Elanya didn't fall asleep.
Feeling satisfied and more at ease, Hermione went back to her room and carefully climbed back under the covers next to Fred. Once more cuddling herself into him, she closed her eyes certain that sleep would come to her more easily than it had in a long time.
It had been a long night and even longer next day, but Harry was pleased to hear that they were only hours away from docking in Japan. So far, everyone had taken a turn watching over Elanya... except Hermione and Fred as it was silently decided that it would be best if they kept their distance from the girl from then on. To pass the time while Luna was down there, he took out Julian's book on the Dark Society and began to read again, hoping for something that would lead them somewhere. He'd almost reached the last page when he finally found something and excitedly read on to the end.
“Hey... Ron's down there now.” Luna announced as she entered their room, collapsing on the bed and letting out a long sigh.
“You okay?” He asked, putting aside his discovery for a moment.
“It's just very tiring to have to ignore someone for three straight hours.” She said with a loud yawn. “She kept trying to goad me but I forced myself not to hear a word of it.”
“Yeah, I know the feeling.” He replied quietly. His own time with Elanya early that morning had been far from pleasant, leaving him with the certainty that he's never want a job as an Azkaban guard. He was fine with getting his enemies arrested but being forced to ensure they remain in custody was a whole different story. But now they had something else to focus on, something better. He handed her the book and pointed to the last passage. “Check this out. In the end, he said he planned to hide in a place that may not exist at all, but he felt compelled to follow 'her' there. We've already decided that whenever he mentions this mysterious 'her' he must be talking about Jennitha. He was planning to join her.”
“Because he knew that there were people after him for his research.” Luna said after reading the rest of the page. “And since the time he wrote this, we know Lucius got him and Jayalina may have freed him... but how do we know he kept to his plan?”
“Maybe you could know.” He suggested with a smile. But she wasn't quite paying attention as her eyes scanned over the pages.
“Look at this.” She sat up, her gaze narrowing off into the distance. “The place he was planning to go... he claims it was the site of the first coven's victory over ultimate evil...”
Harry grabbed the book back. He had read that part and dismissed it; the world had changed so much since those ancient times... how could it be possible to know where that battle took place. They had transcribed and gone through all of the records and while almost all of the smaller battles had been traced into modern times, there had been absolutely no mention of any location of that last fight between the coven and Marquees. But then... Julian had written that wherever he was going was somewhere that he may not be able to find.
“Hidden Falls.” Luna said at last as she came fully back to herself. “It is a real place... and remember when Elanya said that there were only two maps left of the original twelve? I think each coven member had one and over time most of them were either lost or destroyed... I also think...” She hesitated, not wanting to say whatever else her intuition had brought to her. “Well, I think Richard and Ruby may have had the map that Lucius gave to Elise.”
“Why?” He immediately demanded.
“They were historical archeologists... before their time infiltrating the Dark Society, they traveled the world looking for places of importance in the history of the magical world. But they weren't the only ones or even the most notable... so why would Jennitha have picked them to help retrieve the stolen Scrolls?”
“Because she had heard that they'd found one of the maps to Hidden Falls.” He said, catching on as he forced himself to look at things from an outside perspective.
“Exactly. It was something Rose was probably drawn to find, but either way, it led Jennitha to bring them in on her secret... I think she wanted to find Hidden Falls and hide Tereus and the Scrolls there once they got them back from Thadeseus. And now Elise has the map to find her way there.” She stared at him, letting the full weight of the possible outcome of Elise getting her hands on those scrolls... if they were at Hidden Falls to begin with. “It makes sense to hide them there.” She went on, answering his silent doubts. “If it really is the strongest energy field in the world, why wouldn't you hide one of the most powerful objects ever created there under energy infused protection spells?”
“And this 'monster' that's supposedly taken up residence there?” He asked.
“I think Elise was right in thinking it had something to do with Julian... I just can't see what yet.”
“Then we'll have to wait until we can go looking I guess. As for Elise finding the Scrolls-”
“I don't think she wants to use them...” Luna interrupted, her gaze once more growing distant. “I think she just doesn't want us or Voldemort to have them. It's Talena, she's the wild card. I could very much see her using them to call on Marquees's powers... and we know she isn't as loyal to Elise's cause as she claims to be.”
“So the question that will lead us to the last link to Hidden Falls, Jennitha, and Julian before anyone else is... how did Lucius get the map you're pretty sure once belonged to my parents?” Harry shook his head, knowing it wasn't a question Luna could answer for him... she'd made it very clear that she couldn't see the past.
“But Adam can.” She again answered his thoughts. “We're going to Australia next... we can ask him if he can see anything for us.”
“If he even agrees to join us... you're sure you can't see anything about Nanami?” He wanted something, some assurance that they weren't undertaking all this for nothing.
“Only that we're about to anchor down.” She smiled. Moments later, Lupin called down to all the teens, telling them to gather their things and prepare to row ashore.
“Well, here goes nothing.” Harry said, picking up his bag and following Luna up to the deck.
The Tamesis was too big to make it right up to the shore and so once again, they were all loaded into one of the small rowboats and used cloaking spells to keep from being seen. Luna was excited and nervous as she stared at the wide gathering of gleaming buildings on land. Looking over her shoulder, she saw Murdo rowing in on a separate boat with Elanya as his only passenger... it made her even happier to think that very soon, one of the people chasing after them would no longer be of concern. Well, at least until she figured out how to escape. It was late at night and the moon was shining brightly, not quite full. Even so, Lupin and Draco were tightly clutching their amulets... though once again Lupin had them hold off on drinking Wolfsbane as they weren't sure they wouldn't need their more animalistic side for protection.
Try it now. Harry silently told Luna, giving her a soft nudge.
Trusting the light, happy feeling she had, Luna already knew what the mirror would show her... still, she needed to be reassured just as much as Harry did. Pulling it out and holding the handle in her hands she clearly said Elise McKinney's name. Sure enough the woman appeared, Talena and Sarah beside her and they all three seemed to be sitting below deck on some other ship while looking over maps. “I guess they aren't as close as we are.” She said aloud as all the others gathered in to see.
“Well, they lost Rick, Cho and Elanya by attacking us... I'm sure they don't want to chance anything else going wrong for them and are being more cautious.” Lupin said with grim satisfaction. “I'll tell Tonks to have Arthur start with all the influential telepaths on this list... if they aren't going to stick to the plan to go for Nanami and then this Daniel guy, then there has to be another they think they can recruit. Is she already on shore?” He asked Luna specifically, unable to hide his excitement at seeing his wife even though it had only been a week.
Luna once more looked into the mirror before saying, “Nymphadora Tonks.” They were shown five minutes in the future, arriving on shore to Tonks, Kingsley and several other Aurors wearing strange clothing.
“Good, they've gotten the Japanese ministry on their side.” He said happily before waving his wand to make the small boat go faster. Clearly he recognized the strangers' clothing as belonging to the elite Japanese Auror guard and Luna was also glad that they had support in Nanami's country... she knew they couldn't expect the same once they reached Greece to look for Miles.
“If only we could've apparated.” Ron grumbled.
“So we could appear at random in places we do not know and into situations we are not aware of?” Jacey asked doubtfully. “Plus your sister does not know how.”
“She could learn easily and you know it.” He argued back. “And with you guys leading the way, we wouldn't leave any traces.”
“That still doesn't help with us not knowing any of the places we're going or what we're going to find when we get there.” Harry said, jumping into the conversation. “Plus there's no telling what Talena may be able to trace.”
“Exactly. We decided to travel the way we are for a reason... just because we can do something does not mean that we should.” Jacey sighed. “This is a lesson I wish I had learned a lot sooner.”
“Hey there!” They all heard Tonks call out happily as they made their way on shore. Lupin waved his wand to bring the boat fully into the sandy hollow they'd found under one of the many bridges in Tokyo Bay. They helped each other out of the boat and Tonks took the time to vaguely introduce them to the strange Aurors. Though she didn't give any names, Luna caught the glances the men and women shot at Harry... it seemed his fear of being recognized everywhere he went was a valid one and as she looked up at him, she saw that he was nervously fixing his hair to better hide his lightning shaped scar.
“I can't believe I'm known here.” He muttered quietly to her as Tonks led the way to Murdo's boat to take Elanya into custody.
“You stopped someone who was trying to take over the world and then informed everyone that he was back... I'd say your name and story has been told everywhere.” She replied, taking his hand and squeezing his fingers in comfort.
“If only we could be sure the story everyone hears is the truth.” Jacey added drearily, picking up on Harry's dissatisfaction.
“So you aren't taking her back to Azkaban?” Lupin was asking Tonks as they all tuned back into the conversation at hand. The Japanese Aurors had swarmed on Elanya and one had used a translation spell to tell the girl her rights under their ministry.
“Not right away.” Tonks answered quickly. “It seems we aren't the only country looking to prosecute Elanya Delamora for her crimes. We are currently working things out with the ministry in Sydney, Australia as well as the one in the southern United States.”
“Where Rick was from.” Luna said automatically before even realizing she had spoken. But the few details she had of the man who's life she'd been forced to take had been burned into her memory.
Tonks gave her a sympathetic smile. “Let's do our best to not mention his name again unless it's absolutely necessary... as I understand it, Lupin said there was no evidence that Rick was ever even on the Tamesis.”
“There's no evidence he's been anywhere for over a year.” Elanya laughed, breaking into their conversation now that the Aurors were ready to take her away. “Elise is wonderful at making people disappear.”
“I know they told you that anything you say can be used against you... why don't you just take the high road and shut up.” Tonks told her meanly before turning back to Lupin and the teens. “I have to go with them now to try and make our case for releasing Elanya into our custody before the representative from Australia arrives. You all be careful while you're here... I've been told by these Aurors that Death Eater sightings are becoming more frequent.” They promised to be as safe as possible and then Lupin pulled her aside for a more private parting.
“So where do we have to go now?” Fred asked, purposely ignoring Elanya who was now being led off to wherever the Japanese kept their magical prisoners.
“Chikara Mahou Gakkō.” Luna read carefully after pulling out her notes on the coven members. “It's the magical university hidden in Tokyo... founded by Okuni-Nushi over 700 years ago. I guess locals muggles thought the man a god of magic and healing when really he was the most powerful wizard in the country.”
“The history lesson is nice and all...” Ron turned and gestured to the thriving metropolis behind them. “But in case you haven't noticed, Tokyo is pretty big. We need to know where the school is, not the founding of it.”
“Maybe we should have had one of those Aurors stay with us.” Ginny said as Lupin came back to their group.
“That wouldn't have worked.” He answered her. “Tonks said the Aurors are on strict orders to forget they ever saw any of you... word of Harry Potter in Japan would bring out all the Death Eaters and the ministry here isn't ready to make that sort of move. Things are as tense here politically as they are in London... the right balance has to be kept while everyone on both sides plot their moves.”
“So even if we did need their help, they wouldn't step in?” Hermione asked incredulously. “We have valid passports to be here.”
“And none of us exactly went through customs, did we?” Lupin asked with a grin as he gestured around them to the embankment they had just snuck onto. “Relax, the right people know we're here and will help if we ask... what we need to focus on is getting out before the wrong people realize we're here.”
“So where do we find this university?” Fred asked, coming to look over Luna's shoulder at her notes.
“In one of the least populated special wards, Chiyoda.” She pointed it out to him.
Hermione opened her bag to dig out one of the many maps she had brought to help them find their way. Spreading it out for them all to see, the map of Tokyo showed all the wards and cities created by the muggles to divide Tokyo... but it also showed many of the magical communities and major attractions witches and wizards would be interested in. “It looks like the muggle Imperial Palace is located there along with the Japanese Wizarding Ministry.” She said thoughtfully as she took in the area they were looking to find. “Here it is! Chikara Mahou... right here hidden in the middle of this large muggle park- Hibiya Park to be exact.”
“Why would they risk building a magic school right in a place where a lot of muggles are bound to go?” Draco asked in confusion.
Fred shrugged and adjusted his bag as they all prepared to move on. “Who knows what has built up in 700 years... I'm sure it wasn't something that Okuni-Nushi guy had planned on when he first built it.”
“Either way, can we get going?” Ron demanded as he continuously looked over his shoulder. “We can't just stand here under a bridge waiting for someone to find us, whether they're magical or muggle.”
“Agreed... but it's a lot of ground to cover...” Hermione looked at Harry uncertainly.
He simply grinned and opened his bag to start pulling out brooms. “I was waiting for the chance to use these.”
“And these.” Lupin pulled out several strange hand-held devices, giving them out as Harry was handing out brooms. “Tonks gave me these for an occasion like this. They're cloaking devices, meant to hide flyers while they're in the air... but they only work once your feet have left the ground. The minute you land, you'll be visible again.” He warned.
“I'm going to fly with Fred.” Hermione announced, looking at the broom Harry was trying to give her as if it were a poisonous snake. “I don't trust myself to go very far on one of those things... at least not without falling off.”
Luna doubted that there was anything Hermione couldn't do if she really wanted to, but no one was going to push her tonight. It was late, it would be dark above all the city lights, and they all just wanted to reach their destination as fast as possible. She confidently grabbed one of the brooms for herself, actually thrilled with the prospect of flying. Through Harry, she'd felt what he felt when he was up in the air and it was entirely freeing. A few moments to forget about the stress of their mission seemed like a fine idea and nothing was coming to her to say otherwise. And so with everyone finally ready, they let their grip on gravity go and zoomed through the air, following Fred as he had Hermione and therefore the map.
“This is it, down there!” Hermione shouted to be heard over the wind. Fred simply nodded and pointed the broom downward before zooming back toward the earth. She let out a shriek and wrapped her arms more tightly around him to avoid falling off... not that he would have let her. But feeling him try to silently laugh made her grumpy. “I hate when you do that.” She muttered as they were the first to let their feet touch down in the park.
“But I love when you're all pressed up against me.” He grinned wickedly as the others landed around them.
“So where is it?” Ron asked eagerly.
“Over there.” Jacey pointed to a grove of trees... nothing else seemed to be there.
“Are you sure?” Hermione looked at the map once more.
“We can feel the protection charms.” She informed the rest of them as she, Harry and Luna seemed to be having some sort of silent conversation. “Just like the ones around Hogwarts. It is how I knew I had found your school all those months ago.”
“Well, not all of us can just walk through those charms... we aren't students here and so if anyone but the three of you cross the borders, we'll likely alert the whole school.” Ron pointed out.
“Hold on.” Luna once more pulled out her mirror, though it was clear her intuition was already telling her something. “Nanami Aoki.” She said loudly and clearly. They all crammed in around her, interested to see what would be shown. A very pretty young woman with short, raven black hair, chocolate colored almond eyes, and dressed in a wrinkled school uniform was sitting in a cafe, drinking from a cup and reading a book. Ron laughed when Nanami got up and tripped on her chair before falling clumsily to the ground.
“Not the most graceful, is she?” He smirked.
“Like you're always mister suave.” Fred teased.
“So she's not currently on the school's campus... so where is she?” Harry asked.
Hermione could hear the desperation in his voice and so she turned to Draco with an idea. “Maybe you can lead us to her.”
“I don't exactly have time to sort through a map... we have to get to her quickly.” He said, clearly nervous that something so important had fallen to him.
“You don't need a map, just the pendulum. Professor Trelawney used hers to find stuff around her classroom all the time... not that I'm sure it ever really worked for her. I think she simply walked around until she found whatever she'd lost. I have much more faith in your abilities though.” She assured him with a friendly smile.
“So he's just supposed to walk around with his pendulum while we follow him?” Ginny asked, looking around nervously. “I know it's late, but there could still be people anywhere out on the street... I thought the goal was to not draw attention to ourselves.”
“I doubt a group of people following someone with a swinging crystal is the weirdest thing some of these people have seen.” Lupin remarked.
And so with no other arguments forthcoming, Draco took out his pendulum and held it out. At first it only made small, uncertain circles. Luna went over and put her hand on his shoulder and Hermione figured it was to help feed him some of her energy... after all, none of them had met Nanami, but Luna, Harry and Jacey would be the ones most likely to be drawn to her. Sure enough, with her help and his guidance, the crystal began to swing to the east, indicating the way they had to go.
They were led out of the park to a rather busy side street... surprisingly no one seemed to care to take notice of them, though Lupin was sure to be on the lookout and even held one of the other devices Tonks had given him. “It'll detect if someone is following us.” He explained when Fred asked what the device was.
“She's close... I can feel it.” Harry announced excitedly as Luna and Jacey nodded in agreement that they also felt the presence of another coven member.
“There she is.” Draco pointed down the street to an outdoor cafe where Nanami was just picking herself up after the fall they'd seen her take in the mirror.
“Quick, into this alleyway.” Ron urged them all into the shadows so he could use his wand. He said a spell Hermione vaguely recognized and stood back in satisfaction. “There, now she'll be able to understand us and we can understand her.” He turned to Hermione with a grin. “Guess it really is a good thing you tasked me with learning translation spells.”
Suddenly the device in Lupin's hand started flashing a white light and they all turned to find Nanami herself standing behind them. “Hello... are you looking for me?” She asked in what Hermione could only assume was perfect Japanese... whatever the case, it was clear Ron's spell had worked as they had no trouble comprehending her words.
“Why would you ask that?” Harry returned carefully, seemingly surprised to hear himself speak in a foreign language.
“Because I hear your thoughts.” Nanami replied evenly. “And you...” she looked to Luna and Jacey, “and you too... you three can hear my thoughts also?”
All four coven members looked at each other for a moment before Harry smiled happily. “We have a lot to talk to you about.”
“I know a private place we can go.” She returned his smile before remembering that the rest of them were there. “I am not sure your friends will be able to go there undetected.”
“Well, if you can help me out I can keep myself entertained.” Fred said, quickly explaining about the store he was looking for.
“Ah yes.” Nanami nodded. “You are looking for old Chion's shop. You're in luck, he stays open almost constantly. I can show you on your map provided it shows magical communities.” Hermione handed the map over and waved her wand to produce a pen. Within seconds, the woman had circled the spot they were looking for and drew a line to show them the best way to get there on foot.
“I don't think splitting up is a good idea.” Harry said worriedly.
“Yeah, some of us are really going to stick out here.” Ron added, looking around at the people on the street, most of whom he towered over... not to mention his, Fred and Ginny's bright red hair that didn't seem at all common here... they were certainly the three to be noticed first. Hermione began to worry as well, though it really seemed that no one was paying them any attention.
“This is because you are in the Mahou Square... all witches and wizards.” Nanami answered her thoughts, making Hermione reinforce the shields around her mind to adjust for the added fuel another coven member was giving their powers. “No one here cares who you are or where you're from... they have their own lives to tend to.”
“If only it were that way everywhere.” Fred muttered quietly.
Nanami offered a sad smile and shook her head. “It isn't such a great thing... even if you are in need of assistance, there is no one that will even look your way because they don't want to be involved. Everyone here is scared of the invasion that has been occurring in other magical communities around the world. If you stick to the path I laid out, you should be able to go see Chion and come back to here without any issues.”
“You're sure?” Harry pressed.
“I'll be with them.” Lupin reminded him to make him feel a bit more secure with letting his friends out of his sight. Harry reluctantly agreed before he, Luna and Jacey followed Nanami back toward the park and hidden university.
“So what do you have to go to this shop for?” Ginny asked as their group moved down the street.
“I found out they have some rare ingredients there.” Fred answered tensely. He was holding Hermione's hand so tightly she felt like her bones were being crushed as he looked around at everyone on the street as if they were going to attack at any time.
“What are you trying to make?” Ron asked casually. It was clear he was just trying to make conversation.
“Nothing in particular.” He lied with a convincing shrug. “You just never know when certain things will be needed and I figured if we were going to be here already, I might as well try to get my hands on whatever I can.”
Hermione knew they had decided not to let on that he was going to go ahead and try to find a way to make a vampire cure... but now she had a feeling that not letting his brother and sister in on the secret would be a mistake with big consequences they would have to face in the future. While Ginny may be more level headed than she had been, she'd still been upset to be kept in the dark about the island and Ron had lost control altogether. What would happen if they learned that Fred was putting himself in danger again by attempting to do the thing that was one of the main reasons Elise and the others were after him for? And was she even really as okay with it as she had said she was? The shop was still a few streets away, there was time to voice her concerns and put a stop to this. But she said nothing... whether or not it was a mistake, only time would tell.
“Where are we?” Harry asked, feeling his tongue twist uncomfortably as he spoke a language entirely unfamiliar to him. They had put their trust in Nanami at the edges of the school's borders, allowing her to lead their apparation onto the grounds. Now it seemed they had arrived on a hidden part of the roof and were surprisingly surrounded by small trees and bright flowers.
“My secret serenity garden.” Nanami smiled, sitting on one of the pillows and gesturing that they grab one and join her. “This is where I come to escape their voices... much easier to drown out everyone's thoughts up here. It becomes tiring to always have to shield my mind from theirs.”
“We can relate.” Luna returned the friendly smile. “It's nice that you so easily trusted us.”
“I guess I have been waiting for you... though I wasn't aware of it until I saw you.” She admitted with a confused shrug. “I just felt like I was supposed to know all three of you. And to feel power equal to mine... it doesn't happen often.”
“Has it happened recently?” Jacey asked, her face expressing her grim interest.
“A few months ago.” Nanami nodded as she shivered in remembrance. “But his power was of a darker turn. I didn't care to seek him out. I had great fear that he was that Lord Voldemort who has been trying to terrorize the wizarding world.”
Harry looked at her in surprise... she didn't seem to be entirely aware of what was going on in the rest of the world... so did that mean she actually didn't recognize him?
“Why would I?” She answered his thoughts. “I don't even know any of your names... we are together right now based only on a feeling.”
“I'm Harry Potter.” He introduced himself and saw a slight hint of interest pass her eyes before he turned to the girls. “She's Luna Lovegood and this is Jacinda Nicolau.”
“Jacey.” She corrected before quickly getting to the point. “We are descendents of the original coven... do you know of them?”
Nanami sat straighter, leaning forward in excitement. “My grandfather told me many stories of our ancient ones. He said we come from great people starting with Isamu Shao who was a coven member, wasn't he?”
“According to our research.” Luna answered with a sigh of relief.
“I may not have recognized you, but I know the name Harry Potter... I think that everyone does by this point.” She looked directly at him. “But why do you know my name?”
“Because we are looking for all the descendants.” He explained. “Big things are coming and we're trying to stop it.”
“It's more than Voldemort.” Luna added, opening her mind for Nanami to see all the threats currently against the world... from Voldemort and his search for the Marqueesian Scrolls to Elise and Sarah wanting to defeat both sides of the brewing war to Talena and Harland who's motives are entirely unclear and who've both already begun creating creatures like themselves.
“And this Gabby you've already contacted, she's agreed to give up her life to join this coven?” Nanami asked hesitantly. “I've worked hard to get where I am-”
“And how long do you think you will get to stay where you are once Voldemort or those women take over?” Jacey challenged. “Gabby and I, we did not have lives to leave... everything was already taken from us and so joining Harry and Luna made sense. Do you not want to help us before everything is taken from you as well?”
“Like all of you, there isn't much left to take.” Nanami said quietly. She picked a bright pink flower and looked down at it in her hands, gently plucking the petals as she spoke. “My parents were both were killed a few years ago... my uncle... well, he was gone too... so my cousin and I went to live with our grandmother. We hated life with just her... she was very prim and proper and thought we needed to be as well, often going to extremes to ensure we were to become the perfect picture of an obedient woman and masculine man. So I often used my powers could help us, 'suggesting' to my grandmother that she wanted to look the other way and let us out to do whatever we wanted. I even had to use my influence to have her allow me to leave her house to come to university. But even she is gone now, lost to old age. I only have two people in the world that I care for and I couldn't just leave them here... I know you are right, that big things are coming and have been making their way into Tokyo for months now. How could I leave my cousin and my best friend here to face what is to come alone?”
“You wouldn't have to.” Harry told her with a sympathetic smile. “I couldn't leave my friends in London while I came looking for coven members... so they decided to come with me. We have a place, a safe house back home where we and our friends can hide while we prepare and plan. I would never ask that you give up everything to take on this quest when I couldn't give up the family I made for myself either.”
“What is that noise?” Jacey asked... they had all sat up when the siren went off, instantly clutching their wands in preparation.
Nanami stood and carefully went to the edge of the roof to peer over. “It is the signal that indicates someone has broken the school's barriers without permission. I hope your friends haven't tried to come find us.”
“They know better.” Luna assured her.
A loud slam sounded behind them and they all whipped around to see a man dressed in professor's robes staring around at them accusingly. “Master Kita!” Nanami stepped forward, locking eyes with the man. “Clearly there is nothing to see here... you want to go check the school's borders for intruders because there is no one here for you to find.”
Harry watched with interest as the man's eyes glazed over and he nodded, turning and walking back through the door as if nothing at all had happened. “Well, that must be useful.” He said appreciatively.
Nanami offered a tired smile. “We are only lucky that it was Master Kita... others here are much more used to blocking me out. Not that they are always successful.”
“People are searching the grounds.” Jacey announced from her perch at the roof's edge. “I am sensing some unfamiliar yet very dark presences.”
“Death Eaters.” Luna announced with certainty. “And it gets worse.... I'm seeing something about Head Auror Seth Nerezza... I can't be sure but I think he followed Tonks here.”
“What is it exactly that you're seeing?” Harry asked, reaching out to steady her as she swayed on her feet.
She shook her head, clearing it of the images being shown. “He's meeting with someone... I think it's about Elanya.”
“Maybe he is trying to help get her released into the jurisdiction of your ministry. I am sure Voldemort wants to ask her about her friends as much as we did and his pet Head Auror would gladly hand her over.” Jacey suggested.
“Either way, we have to find Lupin so he can contact Tonks and let her know.” Harry grabbed his bag, ready for action. “Then we have to get out of the country before Nerezza realizes we're here. The last thing we need is Death Eaters on our trail.” He turned to Nanami, unsure what to do.
“I don't want to meet you at your safe house... I've decided I want to leave with you now.” Nanami quickly replied to his thoughts. “But I must gather a few things and I have to contact Kage and Mai. They live four villages over.”
“You and Luna go with and help her.” Jacey walked up to Harry, putting her wand in her bag to keep her hands free and ready to use her power if necessary. “I will find the others and we will meet you under the bridge so we can all get on the Tamesis together.”
“So now we're supposed to split up even more?” He wasn't at all comfortable with the idea.
“Yes, but only Luna should go with me.” Nanami replied. “Two coven members with each group should be safe enough and she will be able to help me apparate us to wherever your meeting point is. Plus I like the idea of having the one able to see the future on my team.”
“I don't know.” Harry was even more uncomfortable now that the plan was to separate from Luna as well.
Jacey pointed up at the sky where the Dark Mark suddenly exploded across the stars. “There is not much time to decide.”
“Why are they even here?!” Harry asked, feeling desperate and unsure and not liking it at all.
“Probably for Master Himura.” Nanami answered unhappily. “He's been teaching here many years and has gained a reputation as one in the highest order of his craft... transfiguration. I know that he's been worried that he would be forced into recruitment for one side of the war or the other. It seems the Death Eaters have made the first to find a use for his knowledge.”
“Or they could be here for you.” Jacey added seriously. “If Elise was able to find out you were the best in your powers, then so could anyone else if they knew what to look for.”
“So we must hurry. Luna will help me and you two go find your friends. We will meet again in an hour or less.” Nanami quickly grabbed Luna's hand and before anyone could say anything, they were both gone.
“They're still somewhere on the school grounds... probably in her room.” Harry said, throwing his mind out to find theirs and preparing to apparate after them.
“Wait.” Jacey reached out and stopped him. “They will be fine... Ron, Hermione and the others are walking around unaware that anything is wrong at all. We have to find them and stick to the plan, even if it is one neither of us is happy with.”
“And if Nanami and Luna don't show up?” He asked, angry to be put in this position.
“They will... but if they do not for some reason, we will find them easily. Between our connection to them, Draco's scrying, and his and Lupin's werewolf senses, no one is better equipped to locate them than we are.” She smiled in assurance. “Now come on. Let us go find the others and get out of here.”
Luna hadn't been sold on the idea of splitting up... unfortunately, she wasn't given a choice. “Sorry about that.” Nanami said as they arrived in a small dorm room. She went to the closet and grabbed a bag before quickly walking around and throwing things into it while clumsily tripping over the furniture.
“Why me?” Luna asked, knowing the other girl had some motive in choosing her as a traveling partner. “What do you need to ask?”
Nanami sighed and looked directly at her before shaking her head. “I'm not used to others being able to see inside my head... When you were having your vision up on the roof, I saw glimpses of it, of this man Nerezza that you spoke of. But I also caught a glimpse of the person he was talking to and while you may not know him, I'm very afraid that I do. My cousin, Kage... he has been very strange lately and I was hoping you could tell me why you were given a vision of him speaking to your Death Eater Nerezza.”
She was surprised and instantly worried. “Kage is one of the ones you want to bring with us?”
“I had thought so... but if you can't give me an answer, then it doesn't seem very wise- does it?” She sighed and sat on her bed, looking around the room for a final time.
“You don't have to come with us now you know.” Luna said softly as she hesitantly sat beside her. “You can take the time to finish out your school and figure out your cousin... I know it can hurt to not be able to trust someone you love.”
Nanami shook her head again. “So then, you can't tell me why Kage was meeting with Nerezza?”
“No... I don't know when the conversation I saw takes place and all I was given access to was the part about them plotting to get Elanya into Nerezza's custody. And I can't see the past, I couldn't begin to tell you when your cousin began meeting with such people. But the person we're going to find next, Adam Azibo, he's postcognative. I guess we're all kind of hoping he can fill in a few blanks for us.”
“Okay then.” She stood and reached out for Luna's hand. “Let's go get Mai and then we can be on our way to Mr. Azibo.”
Luna got up on her own, reluctant to take the girl's hand and be whisked away somewhere she was even more unfamiliar with. “You're sure? Even Harry finished his schooling before heading out to find the coven.”
“And I have finished my secondary education as well, this here is simply extra. I may have worked hard to get into this university, but I never really cared for it here anyway... it was something to do and somewhere to be until something better came along. I've always felt I was just waiting for something and today, I know it was for you, Harry and Jacey to come find me. I may not know all about this coven like you three, but all I need to know is there is a bigger, more impressive life waiting for me to claim it and so I must.”
“And you can really just leave your cousin behind?” She asked doubtfully. After all, family was family even if one member did begin acting suspiciously.
Nanami's eyes turned dark with anger and regret. “He wouldn't be the first in my family to become a traitor... but I had never thought Kage would turn to a darker side as well. I hope we can discover what he is up to and that he is not guilty of any wrong, but I won't put anyone else in jeopardy... his father did enough damage to innocent people.”
She sighed deeply and came to the reluctant decision to share what she clearly considered to be a shameful part of her life. “The short story is- about five years ago, my father discovered that my uncle was dealing and trading with a revived section of Death Eaters out of the United Kingdom. Years ago during the first uprising in your country, my uncle had already been under suspicion for helping promote the idea of a pure wizarding race... he and his friends had even been jailed for having started a riot at a bar known to be frequented by squibs. This time my father was certain my uncle was taking a bad turn and before he could make a formal accusation to the ministry, my uncle and his friends killed him... and my mother as well, just in case she knew anything. They are lucky I was not at home.” She said darkly before shaking her head in regret and going on, moving past that hurtful memory. “But Kage was entirely on my side the whole time... he even testified to conversations he'd overheard his father have and was key in getting him sent off to prison. I would never have thought he would follow in his father's footsteps... but that's how it started back with my uncle, contact with Death Eaters.”
“Does your cousin share any of your powers?” Luna asked carefully.
“Barely. He was never able to do it as well as I could and it used to make him so angry when we were growing up.” She smiled in remembrance. “But it was the jealousy of children, he got over it. But his ability is enough to be notable by someone wishing to use him... if you're suggesting that may be why he was approached.”
“You're very strong to be able to separate who he is to you from who he might be to the world.” She offered, feeling a sense of respect and also a bit of unease towards Nanami. She wished she could be so logical.
“Logical is safer than emotional. It is a lesson my father taught me when he decided he had to turn in my uncle and he was right. Had he decided to go to the ministry sooner, maybe he and my mother would still be alive.” She smiled as she answered Luna's thoughts. “We should get going. There will be plenty of time for story telling on our way to get Mr. Azibo.”
Luna nodded and grabbed up her bag as Nanami looked around to be sure she hadn't forgotten anything important. Then the roaring started in her ears and Luna had to reach out and grab the wall as her vision briefly blurred out and a rush of images assaulted her mind. There was Nerezza, grinning madly as he pointed his wand at a young, unfamiliar Japanese girl... the man she'd seen in her earlier vision, the one now identified as Kage was there, staring down Nanami as he demanded something from her.
“Wait!” She shouted as she came back to herself and felt Nanami take her hand to apparate them away. But it was too late, the familiar sensations gripped her and within moments they were in an unfamiliar cottage
“Sorry! What's wrong?” Nanami asked in a hushed whisper as soon as they caught their bearings.
“Something isn't right here.” Luna nervously answered as she looked around the strange living room. “Where are we?”
“Mai's cottage.” She said, also looking around warily. Mai?! She silently called out to her friend.
“I think Nerezza and Kage are nearby.” Luna whispered, her nerves completely on edge as the all too familiar feeling of being in danger overwhelmed her. Both girls pulled out their wands, jerking their head to the left as the sound of a soft cry came from behind a door.
It's the kitchen. Nanami informed her before putting down her bag and silently stalking forward. Kage and Mai are in there, I can feel their minds though he is blocking his. The third person I sense must be Nerezza.
Be careful... Luna warned before briefly showing her the images she'd seen right before they arrived.
Are you ready? Nanami asked, her adrenaline already pumping as she prepared for the worst.
As much as I can be. She answered miserably. She took a deep breath and gripped her wand tighter before following Nanami as she kicked her way into the kitchen.
NOTE: More to come soon! Next chapter, the conclusion to the stand off between Nanami and her cousin... more information is brought to light... and the journey to Australia begins. Thanks for reading!
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