Chapter 1: First year, part 1
Harry has always dreamed of water. He dreams of many things – flashes of green and big black dogs, fireworks, flying motorcycles. But mostly he dreams of water. He never mentions these things to his aunt and uncle, who disdain anything that is less than totally normal; and if his aunt looks into his eyes and sees someone older look back, and if his cousin doesn’t dare lay a hand on him despite his bluster, it is never spoken of. Harry goes to school and soaks up knowledge and gets poor marks on purpose. When his class has swimming lessons he swims like a fish, and his relatives don’t mind much because at least this is a normal skill. In his dreams Harry hears a voice that he knows is familiar, but can’t make out, calling a name more his own than the one he knows, but that he can’t quite remember.
When the right wand is placed in Harry’s hand, he feels like he has regained a part of his soul. Sparks burst from the tip, and by reflex he wills them into fireworks of sea green and blue. The voice from his dreams says, “At last you can hear me clearly, my bearer.” Harry knows that this is part of his other power, the force he can sense in himself but not in other wizards. (Reiatsu, whisper murky memories.) He replies silently, “I’m sorry I don’t remember your name yet. But I will soon.”
Ollivander studies him with narrowed eyes and says, “You wield the power of the soul as well as of magic. Be cautious, for Dark wizards often seek such things, and the law makes no exception for those born to it.” Harry just nods, somehow not surprised that such things are forbidden to mortals. And he can’t help thinking his wand should be a sword.
“You are far older than you seem,” the Sorting Hat tells him. “You have experienced more than any Hogwarts student could dream of, though you remember little of it. Your magic is entwined with Water, which would suit Slytherin as it once was, but not as it is today. You value knowledge for its utility, not for its own sake, so you would not suit Ravenclaw. You have more than enough loyalty for Hufflepuff, and … oh. Courage even in the face of certain death. Definitely a GRYFFINDOR!”
Harry’s classmates and teachers don’t quite know what to make of him. He seems indifferent to his fame; if anyone brings it up, he tells them that he’s no hero, only a survivor. He bewilders both Ron and Hermione by completing his homework promptly and exactly to the specified length. He bewilders everyone by finding Snape amusing. Hermione is scandalised that he spends History of Magic doing homework for other classes, but later starts doing the same.
Defense class is useless, and Harry spends that time silently chatting with his wand (sword). He doesn’t ask about all the things he can’t remember, sure that he will in time. He performs well in his other classes but without enthusiasm; his professors worry about this, except for Flitwick, who shows his first-year class the Aguamenti charm and sees Harry’s face light up as if Christmas has come early. The spell becomes Harry’s favourite, despite being an upper-year spell, and he shows astounding control over the shape and amount of water he produces.
Snape grudgingly admits that Harry takes after his mother as well as his father, since he is helping the hapless Neville Longbottom with his potions. Neville responds with a mix of hero-worship and determination that reminds Harry of someone he can’t quite remember. He develops a protective streak towards the other boy, as demonstrated in their first flying lesson when he knocks Neville’s Remembrall out of Malfoy’s hand with a well-aimed Aguamenti.
Halloween arrives with a feast and an emergency. As soon as Quirrel delivers his warning and passes out, Harry knows that someone needs to find Hermione. He looks for Professor McGonagall, who is already leaving the Great Hall; he tries to tell a Prefect, but Percy just brushes him off. Harry’s jaw tenses. He has a responsibility to the members of his House (Division) even if he isn’t a Prefect (Seated Officer). When the Gryffindors start up the stairs to their tower, Harry slips aside. Without discussion, Ron and Neville stay beside him. Neville is white with terror, but determined; Ron looks eager for an adventure.
“Right,” whispers Harry. “Ron, do you know which loo Hermione is in?”
‘The one on the second floor that’s haunted.”
Harry nods and starts moving – there is no time to waste. “If we do run into the troll, what spells are you going to use?”
“Um, l-leg-locking jinx,” says Neville. “That way it can’t chase us.”
“Tickling charm to distract it, I guess,” says Ron. “I wish we knew the Stunning Hex.”
“I wish we knew the cutting curse,” Harry replies. “I’m going to try for an Aguamenti big enough to knock it out.” With that decided, they walk the rest of the way in silence.
They reach the second-floor girls’ loo safely, but before they can convince Hermione to come out, a roar echoes from nearby. Harry grabs both of his friends by the arms and plunges through the door, closing the latch behind them.
“You can’t come in here!” yells the ghost of a young girl.
“Not the time!” Heavy footsteps shake the walls and floor, and pause outside the door. Hermione emerges from a toilet stall, her eyes wide. Harry’s wand is in his hand, ready to cast.
The troll’s club smashes through the door, and the troll follows after it. The three boys cast their spells but only Harry’s water hits its target; it knocks the troll back, but not far enough.
The club swings up, starts to drop. “Wingardium Leviosa!” yells Neville, and the club flies out of the troll’s grip and into the ceiling. Ron casts the tickling hex again; Hermione gathers her wits and does the same, and this time the spell takes effect. The troll flails around madly, unfortunately between the students and the door.
Harry furrows his brow. “Help me,” he asks the voice in his soul, and draws on all the strength of both magic and reiatsu. Without words a torrent of water bursts from his wand; it smashes the troll through the wall into the corridor, breaking its neck and crushing its skull in the process. Harry’s sight blurs with exhaustion, and he sits down heavily. He is smiling, because his friends are safe, and because he has remembered something very important. “Thank you,” he says to the voice in his soul, “Nejibana.”
After Halloween, the school schedule resumes with barely a change. Hermione is now fast friends with Harry, Ron and Neville, which surprises everyone but Harry. Harry finds a book on wand-lore and confirms that most wizards do not hear their wand speak in their minds. But then, Nejibana isn’t a wand, she’s a sword that looks like a wand at the moment; she is not the manifestation of his magic, but his very soul. He doesn’t know yet how he knows all of this, but Nejibana assures him that he will soon enough. In the meantime they discuss his classes, and the weather, and Harry concentrates on being a student (again).
Among Harry’s Christmas gifts is a cloak saturated with reiatsu as well as magic. Reiatsu-concealing cloak, murky memory supplies, and he wonders what such a thing is doing here. Invisibility cloak, says Ron, and wants to use it to sneak into the forbidden third-floor corridor. “Snape’s up to something in there!” he declares.
Even if he is, neither Snape nor the contents of the third-floor corridor are an immediate danger to the students; as long as that is the case, Harry will let the Headmaster attend to his own business. He does wonder about Snape’s seemingly personal animosity. Harry looks him up on the graduation records and discovers that Snape was in the same year as one James Potter; that is explanation enough.
By March, Hermione is already talking about preparing for exams, three months away. “Technically,” Harry points out, “We’ve been preparing for the exams since September. If you don’t remember it from then till now, you won’t remember it from now till June. Now come on, it’s time for lunch.”
“But, the Second Goblin War is – ”
“Put the notebook away, Granger.”
Hermione pouts, but does as he says. By now she knows that he has a skill that even she doesn’t have: practicality. Often, Hermione researches absolutely everything about a subject because she doesn’t know when to stop. Harry, however, knows exactly what information he’s looking for, and usually finds it. Even if his choice of subjects is sometimes odd. She glances at the book tucked under his arm.
“Traditional Pureblood Etiquette?”
“I borrowed it from Neville. With all this Boy-Who-Lived rubbish, I’m bound to end up at some formal functions, and I don’t want to offend someone without meaning to.”
Hermione does not ask if there are any people who Harry does mean to offend.
It’s Neville who finds the magic mirror standing in a disused classroom, and drags his friends off to look into it. Ron sees himself as Quidditch World Champion; Hermione sees herself receiving a Nobel Prize. (Harry points out that she’ll have to work on her A-Levels over the summers if she wants to achieve that.)
Neville only says that he sees his parents, and since they all know he lives with his grandmother, nobody pries. And Harry … he sees an older version of himself, without glasses or scar, Nejibana a proper sword at his side. He is sitting at a desk, drinking tea with another, white-haired man. Somehow, he feels like this is a scene from the past, not the future. “We miss them,” Nejibana tells him. Harry smiles and says nothing.
Harry wakes up suddenly and is not sure what has woken him. Looking around, he sees that Ron and Neville’s beds are empty, an Harry’s invisibility cloak is missing. Frowning, he gets dressed and walks down to the common room, where he finds Neville frozen by a spell.
“Harry, it’s Ron and Hermione! They’ve snuck off to the third-floor corridor.” Harry sighs and scratches his neck. Those two are as much trouble as – as – somebody. “I suppose I should make sure they don’t get eaten. Come on.”
No matter how timid Neville is, he will follow Harry to the ends of the Earth. Minutes later they’re on the third floor; they find the door to the forbidden chamber splintered off its hinges, Fluffy stunned and bleeding within. Harry steps forward cautiously, wand in hand. Neither Hermione nor Ron know any spells that could do this; someone else has been here. “Neville,” he calls, “Go and get the professors.”
“What about you?”
“I’m going to make sure they don’t get themselves killed.” Harry drops through the trap door, casting a cushioning charm ahead of him. He lands in a still-smouldering pile of burnt vines. He can sense Ron and Hermione’s reiatsu now, and hear their whispered argument in the next room.
“You’re both idiots,” he says as he walks up to them.
“Well, if you two insist on risking your lives, I’m not about to let you do it alone. I sent Neville to get the professors.”
He captures the key to the next door in a globe of water, making Hermione gape. Ron guides them through the next obstacle, a chess game that reminds Harry of … something. Seeing Ron sacrifice himself to get them through sends a spike of pain through Harry’s head.
“Soon,” says Nejibana.
The obstacle after that is a logic puzzle involving potions, which Hermione insists on solving. “Most wizards haven’t got an ounce of logic,” she declares.
“I’m starting to realise that,” says Harry. Something is bothering him about the situation; something is off about the string of obstacles but he can’t put his finger on it. And so he drinks the potion and goes onward, because the alternative is letting Hermione do so.
The magic mirror in a bare room is a surprise. The evil spirit possessing a professor, even more so. Quirrell and his passenger are pacing in front of the mirror, attempting to remove something from it.
“Use the boy,” commands the spirit; Quirrell grabs a handful of Harry’s robes and drags him before the mirror. Harry sees his older self cut Quirrell’s head off using Nejibana. He says as much, and Quirrell is not pleased. His hands seize Harry’s throat –
– Teeth. A white mask, surrounded by tentacles. Mocking laughter. Being eaten. An ice-cold blade –
His reiatsu flares, and Quirrell jumps back with burned hands. He pounces before the professor can recover, concentrates Reiatsu in his fingers to burn the spirits out of their shared body. One, Quirrell’s, vanishes at once to the Next World. The other is tainted, tangled in broken links of chain; it flees through the wall. Stuck in a material body, he can’t pursue it. Still, he feels joyful, because he remembers his name now, and everything that goes along with it.
“Welcome back,” Nejibana says. “Kaien.”
He wakes up in the infirmary, and is briefly confused to see Madam Pomphrey there instead of Unohana-taichou. By length of time lived, he is more Kaien than Harry; which leaves the question of how this is possible and what he should do next. Fortunately, the death of Quirrell is ample excuse to act dazed and thoughtful until the end of term. The Dursleys are unlikely to notice any change in his behaviour; he settles into the routine of chores by day, and by night, he meditates. He is out of practice and it takes a week before he can enter his inner world.
“Sorry to keep you waiting,” he says to Nejibana. She giggles and wraps her arm around his; she looks the same as ever and so does his inner world: a figure in a deep blue yukata and an endless lake dotted with water lilies of all sizes and colors. Kaien stands easily on the water’s surface. He is silent for a time, content in the company of the other half of his soul.
“It seems like nothing has changed here,” he says eventually.
“There is one thing.” Nejibana raises a hand, and a stag walks out of the mist.
“Uwaaa.” It’s a magnificent creature, with fourteen-point antlers and golden brown fur. “And who are you, handsome?”
“He would have been your patronus, the spirit of your magic,” Nejibana explains. “Because of the way your spirit powers returned, we have become … connected. His name is Shikaku.”
“It’s very good to meet you,” says Kaien. The stag nuzzles his hand.
Kaien’s memories as Harry settle neatly alongside those of Soul Society. He wonders what is happening there; whether Ukitake-taichou’s illness is better or worse, who he has picked as Kaien’s replacement (and can they brew good tea?), how Rukia is dealing with having to mercy-kill her mentor. Knowing her, she is letting guilt eat at her for an event which wasn’t her fault in the first place. Neville is so much like her. Struggling under the burden of high station, and all he needs is a little guidance and approval. Kaien/Harry has stepped into the role of mentor even though they’re technically the same age. He resolves to get Neville his own wand as soon as possible.
He hasn’t heard from his living friends, which is slightly worrying. He sends out Hedwig with a letter and she comes back too quickly, empty-talonned and irritated. Someone is stealing his mail, are they? The next time the Dursleys are out of the house, he takes out the phone book and looks up the Granger Dental Clinic. Hermione is relieved to hear from him; she has been sending letters, and he has not received them. He promises to check in with her at least once a week.
When his birthday rolls around, this proves to be a wise precaution. The antics of a mad house-elf result in him being locked in his room with bars on the window. Kaien/Harry has to suppress a laugh; the last time he landed in jail for someone else’s actions, his cousin Ganju had gotten drunk and rode his pig through someone’s koi pond.
He spends his hours in meditation, working on sword katas in his inner world and spending time with his Zanpakutou spirits. Both of them; Ukitake-taichou is in for the surprise of his life.
Besides, only his physical body is locked up; there is a trick to leaving a gigai without assistance, and it works just as well with his living body. (To his surprise, Hedwig can see his spirit form.) He uses the ability sparingly, though, after he sees the peculiar state his Chain of Fate is in. Although he misses his friends and family in Seireitei, Kaien is in no rush to die again; his living friends now hold pieces of his heart as well.
They prove it when Ron, Fred and George Weasley arrive in an enchanted car to rescue him from durance vile. He spends the rest of the summer at the Burrow, which is full of life an energy and reminds him of the Shiba country house, right down to the explosions.
When Molly Weasley mentions a trip to Diagon Alley to buy school supplies, Harry suggests inviting Neville to join them. “I haven’t seen him all summer, and neither has Ron,” he says innocently. “And I didn’t have a chance to get him a birthday present.”
Molly agrees, and so eventually does Augusta Longbottom. When he arrives, Neville seems relieved to be among his friends again. At the first opportunity, Harry drags him into Ollivander’s.
“I’m getting you a late birthday present.”
“But, my father’s wand – ”
“Is obviously a bad match. Handicapping yourself is no way to honor him.”
“I could not put it better myself.” Ollivander appears from the depths of his shop. “Even identical twins may have vastly different wands. Let us find one that will suit you.” The wand maker begins pulling boxes from his shelves. “And Mr. Potter. You are remarkable indeed; few wizards learn the name of their wand at all.”
Ollivander, Kaien thinks, is far too much like Urahara. “… How?”
Ollivander ignores him and places a wand in Neville’s hand, “Maple and dragon heartstring, nine inches, springy.”
Nothing. Neville’s shoulders slump, but Ollivander shrugs and passes him another. “Rowan and unicorn hair, ten and a half inches, firm.” This one gets a few half-hearted sparks.
The wand maker tries out several more. While he waits, Harry idly arranges the discards by how flexible Ollivander says they are, from “whippy” to “rigid.” This seems to have more to do with their magical character than the texture of the wood. Ollivander arches an eyebrow, and pushes a stack of untried wands at him. “Try it with these. Mr. Longbottom, beech with mermaid hair …”
To spirit senses, the differences between wands are slight, but perceptible. They are not the blank slates that Zanpakutou start as, which is why a good match is so important. Soon Harry has a row of wand boxes laid out on the counter. Ollivaner gives them an inscrutable look (Urahara would hold his fan in front of his face). “Have you any suggestions for your friend to try?”
In fact, Harry does. “This one.” He slides a wan box forward.
“Hmm? Birch and hippogriff tail hair, pliable. Yes, that is a possibility. Mr. Longbottom, try it.”
The moment Neville grasps the wand, a fountain of glowing leaves shoots out of it. To spirit senses, the wand lights up as Neville’s soul infuses it. “Well done,” Ollivander murmurs. “Both of you.”
This is all I have written for this plotbunny, for now. I leave you with some unused concepts ....
- Harry practicing dueling with Flitwick.
- Binns gets the Konsou. And so do the Dementors.
- Urahara teaches DADA.
Kaien suspects that the deranged house-elf is busy again when he and Ron can’t get onto the train platform. Ron suggests they take the flying car to Hogwarts; Kaien knows there are more sensible ways to get there, but he is still a Shiba. Ganju would be proud.
It’s common courtesy for Kaien to warn the Hogwarts ghosts before wandering the halls in spirit form. He startles Sir Nicholas into stammering incoherence when he first appears.
“What – how – ?”
“I’m not sure how this is possible myself,” says Kaien. “You can tell the other ghosts there’s no need to panic; I won’t send anyone on unless they want to go.”
“Not even Binns?” Nick asks slyly.
“And lose my homework period?”
Nick laughs. “I’m not ready to move on just yet, but, could I ask a small favour?”
“Your neck, right?” Kaien draws Shikaku.
Lockhart, Kaien decides, is useless. He can stand flamboyance if it comes with competence – Captain Kyouraku, Yumichika and Uncle Isshin all come to mind – but even a normal twelve-year-old won’t learn anything from this buffoon. The mention of a duelling club sparks his interest, though, and Nicholas suggests that he speak to professor Flitwick.
“That man is certainly no champion,” the tiny Professor says. “Even if I no longer compete, I would know him if he was.”
“Could you give me some pointers, Professor?”
Flitwick encants, “Morpho gladius, ” and a sword appears in his hand. Kaien grins and mimics him; Nejibana is a familiar weight in his grip. Flitwick raises an eyebrow at the Eastern-style sword, but all he says is, “let’s see what instincts you have. Come at me.”
Kaien lunges, with an overhand strike and a whispered aguamenti at the same time. Flitwick dodges and counters, and in moments any thought of a lesson is forgotten. Swords clash and spells fly. Kaien’s socks get turned into ferrets; Flitwick’s hair grows to cover his eyes. After ten minutes Flitwick calls a halt; Kaien, breathing hard, lowers Nejbana and dismisses the conjuring. Flitwick studies him silently for a moment.
“Mr. Potter, I won’t ask where these skills came from, if you can promise they’re not the influence of the Dark Lord.”
Kaien smiles. “Nothing to do with him whatsoever.”
“Then I shall not mention it further. Would you be interested in making this a regular session?”
“I’d love to.” He has to keep his hand in, after all.
When Kaien hears a voice no one else does, rambling about hunger and killing, his first thought is that a hollow is loose in the school. He warns the ghosts to keep their eyes open, but none of them see or sense any trace of Hollow reiatsu.
Kaien is the guest of honor at Newly Headless Nick’s death day party. Two months are long enough for the ghosts to relax about his presence, even when he draws Nejibana to practice kata on the rooftops. The sight of a community of ghosts – a culture – fascinates him; Hogwarts is nearly unique, a place whose magic can sustain them indefinitely. The ghosts are equally curious about him, and he answers a few anxious questions about Soul Society. Kaien tries to be honest; Soul Society isn’t perfect, but it’s not a fate to fear.
On the way back to his body, which is resting in the Hospital Wing, Kaien runs into a crowd of students in the corridor. Unlike the ghosts, he’s invisible to ordinary Wizards; he leaps up on a pedestal to see what’s caused the commotion. As Halloween pranks go, it’s mediocre; a cryptic message in blood and a petrified cat. The troll had more flair.
“Hermione, what are you doing?” Kaien is sitting in a corner of the common room with a book of wandlore on his lap, watching Hermione trying to cast a spell.
“I’m trying to reproduce the charm that Malfoy used at the duelling club.”
Kaien didn’t go – it would hardly be a fair fight – so he missed the incident in question. “What does it do?”
“Malfoy conjured a snake that almost bit Finch-Fletchey,” crowed Ron.
“Serpensortia!” Hermione flicks her wand and a cobra appears.
“This place is cold and damp,” it hisses.
“It’s warmer by the fire,” Kaien tells it; Hermione and Ron both stare at him.
“Mate, did you just talk to the snake?”
“Yes … is that unusual for wizards?”
Hermione looks uncomfortable. “The only wizard in recent memory with that skill was You Know Who.”
“Ha – maybe you’re the heir of Slytherin,” jokes Ron. Naturally someone overhears this and it’s all over the school by morning.
During the winter break, Dumbledore invites Kaien to tea, and Kaien takes the opportunity to ask, “Do you have any idea why I can talk to snakes?”
“It’s qute a rare ability, my boy. I suspect that when Voldemort attacked you that night, a little of his magic was transferred to you, including the abilities of a parselmouth.”
From Voldemort. By absorbing part of him – just like Metastacia. Kaien spots a stone bowl on a side table and empties his stomach into it. “ … Sorry about that, Professor.”
“Quite all right, my boy, it is a disturbing thought. Though my pensieve will never be quite the same. Scourgify. ”
Dumbledore has a phoenix. The wizards take this as a sign of his connection with the Light; Kaien isn’t so sure. He knows that Second Division uses phoenixes to keep an eye on the living who meddle in things they ought not to. He resolves to be especially careful not to reveal his nature to the headmaster. On the positive side, he can ask Fawkes to deliver a message on his next burning day.
“His eyes are as green as a fresh pickled toad, his eyes are as black as a chalkboard, he’s really divine, I wish he were mine, the boy who defeated the Dark Lord.”
Ron roars with laughter, and Hermione elbows him. Neither of them notice Ginny slowly blushing scarlet further down the table. Kaien just smiles; the poem sounds like something Rukia would come up with. “I thought it had character.”
Then Hermione gets petrified. And now it’s personal.
“Her skeleton will lie in the Chamber forever.” The implications are horrifying, and Kaien doesn’t hesitate. He sheds his body and leaves it unconscious in its chair. He needs a quiet spot to summon Ginny’s spirit ribbon. As he runs, Moaning Myrtls floats beside him.
“It’s terrible!” she exclaims. “That girl – she wandered into my bathroom in a trance, and into a secret passage. Oh, it would be dreadful if someone else died the same way I did – like showing up to a party in the same robe! I couldn’t stand it!”
Kaien thanks her for the information, and follows Ginny’s spirit ribbon down and down, under the very foundations of the castle. Ginny lies in a cavern there, a spirit standing over her. Not a Hollow, and not a normal Plus soul either. Kaien lays his hands on Nejibana’s hilt and approaches cautiously. He can sense the reiatsu draining from Ginny into the spirit.
It notices his presence. “Do you think your ghostly sword can stop me? Behold, the return of Lord Voldemort! Soon, this girl will die and I will live again!”
Sure enough, Ginny’s soul is drifting loose of her body, though her chain of fate is intact. Kaien draws Nejibana in a single motion and slices through Voldemort’s neck; Konsou. He’s not surprised when the Gates of hell appear to capture the soul. Meanwhile, Ginny has noticed that she’s not in her body. “What the – am I a ghost? I’m too bloody young to die!”
Kaien puts a hand on her shoulder. “You’re still connected to your body, you’ll be fine.”
“Harry?” She looks from her chain to his, trailing off into the distance. “How did you …?”
“In you go.” He pushes her into her body; better she not know too much. Now how is he going to get a physical person back up to the school?
Phoenixes are handy to have around. Kaien makes it back to his own body just after Fawkes delivers Ginny to the Hospital Wing. He wakes up to pandemonium; the Weasleys are all yelling at each other and at Lockhart. Apparently, the celebrity tried to cast a diagnostic charm and obliviated himself instead.
“It’s a basilisk,” says Hermione as soon as she’s revived. “A giant snake that kills with a look – an indirect lok petrifies.” Hence the mirror she was carrying. Kaien smacks his forehead – he’s been hearing a snake all year, not a Hollow at all.
He knows a few things about fighting blind, thanks to Tousen. And he has a good guess where the beast is hiding. One night-time spirit-form excursion later – it takes using shikai, but the next morning Fawkes drops the snake’s head on Dumbledore’s desk.
Lucius Malfoy is there, arguing with the Headmaster about that very issue, and they both get splattered with blood. Disgusted, Lucius peels off his gloves and discards them … to be caught by a delighted house elf.
Thus, Second Year.