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Stardust

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It looked familiar, but at the same time somehow really different. The castle. Hogwarts – that was the name of this place. Carriage with strange horses stopped right in front of the huge door. The school where Yuuri studied magic before was way smaller and definitely not that scary. These were his first thoughts when he stepped on the cold autumn ground.

When they started to open up, he pressed bag in his hands a little bit tighter. Yuuri's other stuff should be already inside. Tall women behind the door looked like she doesn’t know what a smile is. Yuuri quickly bowed for her, because that’s how he was taught. That was a common sign of respect in Japan. As an answer, she nodded.

“Yuuri Katsuki, right? I am professor Baranovskaya. Please follow me.”

“Good evening....” that moment Yuuri felt glad that he didn’t listen to his friends who said, that in western countries he should smile more.

Yuuri's reactions weren’t fast enough to look at everything. Since it was evening, he saw only a few students passing by, but Yuuri couldn’t concentrate on them enough, because there was so much more around him. He was pretty sure that if someone asks to describe how Hogwarts looks like, he wouldn’t be able to. The boy was sure that he doesn’t even know enough words for that. Huge castle. Graceful, gorgeous, but intimidating and somehow scary… no. Not even close enough.

“Mr. Katsuki, where are you going? Here please.”

Yuuri felt so lost, that he didn’t notice how professor Baranovskaya stopped next to a big wooden door.

“I am sorry.” He blushed and quickly came back. She opened and entered, Yuuri quickly looked at the corridor one more time and followed her.

The room was spacious. It wasn’t a classroom, more like someone’s office.

“Hey there! Yuuri? I am Christophe Giacometti, one of the teachers here.” Yuuri instantly stepped back, when he saw a tall man in front of him. The blond man was smiling widely, showing a totally different impression than professor Baranovskaya gave just a few moments ago.

“I have some things to do, I am leaving him to you, Christophe.” The women from before rolled her eyes, like this kind of friendly attitude towards students would be unacceptable and then after nodding quickly to Yuuri, she left.

“Byeee, Lilia!” Christophe waved already to the closed door. “She is not always so grumpy, it’s just lately there is a lot of work because as you know we are searching for a new Headmaster. So as Deputy Headmistress she is trying her best. Poor old women, don’t you think she deserves more rest?” professor Giacometti laughed.

Yuuri was standing all lost in confusion. Not only professor just shared some information that is obviously not for students, but also called her old, and Yuuri didn’t know how to react to that. Well, she wasn’t young, but with all respect, Yuuri can’t speak or think like that about professors. Yuuri just came here, but on the other hand, does he have a right to disagree with professor Giacometti? Christophe was obviously young. In his school, Yuuri has never seen very young professors. Is it common here?

“You look so tense.” Professor laughed, and went to the big desk, Yuuri saw there an old hat. “It’s been some time since we had an exchange student. Are you excited? You must have read a lot about this place, right? You are in the sixth year?” professor Giacometti took hat into his hands.

“Yes… Sir.” With so many questions Yuuri wasn’t sure where to start, so he just said this word, which basically answered everything. Somehow this answer made professor laugh.

“I know that your school is sorting students by their exam results, but here we have four Houses, as you already know I think. This what we are using the hat for. Come here.”

Yuuri blinked, he has read about this so he knew, but of course, he can’t interrupt professor. The boy took a deep breath and came closer. How does it work? Will professor just put the hat and… oh. As soon as the professor did that, Yuuri couldn’t see anything. Obviously, it was too big for him. Pitch black.

“Well… what we have here.” Yuuri couldn’t help, he flinched when a silent voice started speaking right into his ear. Professor next to Yuuri giggled. That was unexpected. “It’s unusual to have a student in the middle of semester… I can see that you are smart… friendly… brave… which House you like the most?”

So now Hat is asking questions? Really? Yuuri never thought about that. He liked all of them, every house had something interesting and unique. Anything would be fine. So he should just speak out loud?

“Really? Even Slytherin?”

Oh. God. This hat can read minds?? Slytherin… well… why not? Or would this challenge be too big? Gryffindor? Yuuri didn’t think he is brave enough…. Ravenclaw? No no, he is not that smart. And not that friendly to be in Hufflepuff.

“Each House have so much more values than the ones you are thinking about. Of course, it’s hard to understand for someone who just came here. But that’s why I think you will perfectly fit in there. Your heart is too kind. Other Houses don’t deserve to have you. Hufflepuff!!”

Yuuri was still thinking about Hat’s words when professor took it off. Yuuri blushed, have professor Giacometti heard everything that the hat said?

“Well… it didn’t take that long. Then Hufflepuff it is! Sadly, it’s not my House… still, I will see you at Charms class.”

“Oh…” Yuuri couldn’t help. He liked professor Giacometti. He was friendly and maybe because he looked so young Yuuri could feel a little bit more relaxed in this unknown place. “Then who… who is the Head of my House?”

“It’s….” someone knocked on the door before he finished the sentence. “Come in.” The door opened and this time young woman came in, she smiled widely for Yuuri and then looked at the professor.

“Chris, are you coming? We want to talk about something before the meeting.”

“Sure, Mila, just a second. I will just introduce Yuuri to someone who will take care of him.”

“Oh, it’s our new student. What a cutie. Let’s go then.” She smiled again and disappeared behind the door.

“That was a professor of Muggle Studies. You don’t have this class, right?” professor Giacometti asked and Yuuri shook his head. He followed professor to the corridor and then stayed behind two of them. He tried not to listen too much what professors are talking about until women looked at Yuuri again.

“So you are in Hufflepuff? Lucky Shorter…” she laughed and Yuuri couldn’t say this woman is talking seriously or not. Who is Shorter?

“Professor Shorter Wong is the Head of your House. Also, he teaches History of Magic.” Giacometti explained for confused Yuuri. So many names. How to remember everything? “He is now in another city with some project, but he was really excited about new exchange student.”

Yuuri imagined professor Wong as an old man, he couldn’t explain why. Maybe because of the subject he was teaching. They stopped in front of one classroom and both professors were arguing who of them will knock for about a half minute. Is that teacher so strict? Also, aren’t classes over long ago? Finally, Giacometti lost.

He knocked and opened the door just a little bit to look inside.

“Oh. Where is professor? Already left for the meeting? That’s great… Eiji, have you finished? I want you to meet someone.” Professor stepped back and other boy came from the class. “Yuuri, meet this is Eiji Okumura. He is from Gryffindor, but since you are both from Japan I thought you can become friends. We must leave you now, Eiji, take care of him. See you later, Yuuri. If you have any question feel free to stop by any time.” Both professors waved for boys and went back the same way.

“Come here, Yuuri. We are taking extra classes of D.A.D.A. but professor Nikiforov had to leave for a meeting. So it’s just us. I am almost done with the task… after that, I will show you around. Oh, as professor Giacometti said, I am Eiji, nice to meet you.” Every second here Yuuri felt more and more surprised. Everyone seemed so friendly. And it was nice to find someone talking in Japanese. Since boy called him by the first name, Yuuri decided that it’s common here.

“Sure, don’t worry.” Yuuri looked around, there were four students more besides them. Yuuri saw that their neckties are in different colors, so they must be from different Houses. Eiji’s had red and gold. Gryffindor. The boy who sat close the window with blond hair had green and silver, few tables behind him there were others two one with blue and bronze, another with yellow and black. It’s Yuuri’s house colors. Eiji’s table was just in front of another boy from Gryffindor. Yuuri noticed that the blond next to the window is looking at him, but that boy didn’t seem interested in anything else except the book.

“Neeeew student! In what House are you??” suddenly student from Hufflepuff shouted and Yuuri turned around. Now he got everyone’s attention. Oh no. Yuuri didn’t like that at all.

“Hufflepuff…” Yuuri answered silently, but that boy just jumped in the spot from happiness and closed the book. It’s like he was waiting for this chance all along.

“Phichit, calm down.” Eiji laughed. “Professor Giacometti told me to show him around. You need to study.”

“Come on, you won’t be able to show him our House. I am coming along!” Phichit quickly looked at the boy next to him, but he just sighed. Are they friends?

“Shut up, both of you.” the blond next to the window hissed.

“Yurio like always. Let’s goooo! Let’s not disturb the princess!” Phichit grabbed Yuuri’s hand and the boy from surprise dropped the small bag he was caring with himself. All papers and books fell from it. “Sooooorry!”

“It’s alright, don’t worry… really.” He leaned down to take everything back, Phichit and Eiji helped him.

“Okay, let’s go. I will just finish later.” Eiji sighed and put his stuff in the shelf, then showed them to move when Yurio sighed again too loud. Phichit said something to the man he was sitting together before and then they were in the corridor.

“That boy seemed mad…” Yuuri looked back at the classroom door.

“Yurio is always like that… you did nothing wrong.” Eiji said with confidence. “He is not bad, just sometimes angry.”

“Yes, like most of them in Slytherin.” Phichit giggled.

Except for the blond boy from before, Yuuri felt like everyone here was waiting for his arrival. They walked to some main places, even if Yuuri was sure that he wouldn’t be able to find them by himself later. Phichit was one year younger, but Eiji studied in the same year and Yuuri was glad to see that they are taking same classes. Maybe, professor Giacometti knew that? Both of his new friends were super funny, they told Yuuri about all professors, some gossips and general things. It seems that most of the teachers were young since last Headmaster thought that young generation of professors could work as inspiration for students. Victor Nikiforov, professor of Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher was youngest among them. He came here just last year, but he seemed the most favorite one. He was also quite famous Pureblood in the world of Magic. It seems that Yuuri also heard about him before. Nikiforov finished with the best grades and wanted to become Auror, but because of unknown reasons, last second he chose to come and become a teacher here in Hogwarts. Phichit laughed that it’s one of Hogwarts mysteries. Phichit showed where their House is and told Yuuri how to enter. After that, he left Yuuri with Eiji and ran to date. Just when he left, Eiji told Yuuri that he is dating with the boy that they saw in the classroom. Seung-Gil. He was from Ravenclaw.

“Do you have…” Yuuri couldn't finish the question when he understood that he shouldn’t be asking this. “Sorry…”

“You wanted to ask am I dating someone?” Eiji smiled and Yuuri slowly nodded. He just got too much into conversation. That’s so embarrassing. But Eiji didn’t seem mad. “Not really… but… I am in love with someone. From the moment I came here. That’s one of the reasons I stayed in Hogwarts after my exchange program.”

“I see… is he from Gryffindor?” Yuuri asked because Eiji wasn’t avoiding this topic.

“No… he is not. It’s complicated…” He silently laughed and it was a sign for Yuuri don’t ask questions anymore. Somehow for one moment, Eiji’s eyes seemed really sad. Maybe that person is a professor? That would be really complicated.

After few moments of silence, Eiji started speaking again, as nothing happened. He showed for Yuuri the place where Hogwart's ghosts liked to meet. It was really strange. A room full of transparent people floating in the air, they seemed to know Eiji pretty well and were also interested in Yuuri. Back in Japan they also had some ghost, sometimes they were able to tell a lot of interesting stories, but just a few people listened.

“Oh. It’s almost ten. If someone catches us, we can lose points. Better go back for today. How about I come to your House tomorrow before classes and we can go together?”

“If that’s not a big trouble for you. Thank you for today.”

“No problem! I am sure you will like here in Hogwarts. See you tomorrow.”
They were next to the door leading to Hufflepuff dormitories when Eiji waved for Yuuri and turned to the stairs leading back to where they came from.

Yuuri wished they could become friends, but Eiji was in his sixth year, of course, he must have a lot of friends, so it’s probably impossible. Yuuri went to the bedroom that Phichit showed for him before and took out his clothes and stuff, made sure that everything would be in order. Then took a look at his new uniform. He liked those colors.

“Yuuri?” someone knocked and Phichit came in. “How is the place? You like it here?”

“Yes, everyone is so friendly.” Yuuri smiled. “Eiji showed me some interesting places and he said that we will go tomorrow to classes together. He is really nice.”

“Yes, that’s what I think. If you ask me, Eiji should be in our House.” Phichit sat down on the chair next to the table. “There were times when few students were living in the same room, just not long ago they did separate rooms for everyone.”

“Really?” Yuuri tried to put in order all the papers that fell from his bag earlier in the classroom.

“Yup. Talking about Eiji, maybe he will be able to find a friend. You know since you are also from Japan and so on. He is always alone.”

“What? But he is so friendly! I was sure he has a lot of friends.”

“Hm… yeah. I know, it’s strange. What is it?” Phichit asked when Yuuri started searching something around and under the bed.

“One letter is missing… maybe I dropped it somewhere….”

“Was it important?”

“Not really… just…” Yuuri loved writing. He always did it, when he had spare time. Yuuri was writing on everything he could. Mostly just his thoughts, depending on the mood. It’s really embarrassing. He never told this to anyone, he didn't want anyone to see… maybe he left it in that classroom? But at this time he shouldn't be wandering outside, right? But if someone finds it… “I really need to go and take it back. I might have dropped it in the classroom. I know we shouldn't be in the corridor at this time, but…”

“Time for adventure!!” Phichit laughed. “We with Seung-Gil sometimes do wander around at night, just don’t tell anyone. Let’s go! I am sure you won’t find the classroom without me anyway.”

Oh. It’s just a first day here and Yuuri already starts breaking the rules. That’s so bad. But he didn’t have a choice, someone in the morning might find it and read, let’s just hope that any other student didn’t until now.

“Just don’t turn the light on until we really need it. I know the way.” Phichit silently said, when they walked out. Other students didn’t say anything, everyone minded their own business. “Let’s take a longer path it is safer that way.”

Yuuri didn’t have any other option just follow. If Phichit ran away at this moment, Yuuri would probably just stand in the spot until someone finds him. Professor Giacometti was so nice to him, Yuuri really wouldn’t like run into him at night.

“Wait.” Suddenly Phichit stopped him and they started moving slowly. They heard voices. Both of them didn’t try to speak silently, but Yuuri still couldn’t clearly hear what they were saying. Boys stopped next to the corner and just a little bit sneaked heads out to see what’s going on. The moonlight through the window opened the view.

It was just for a second, Phichit looked a moment later so he wasn’t able to see it. But Yuuri saw. A boy. He wouldn’t lie if he said, that he had never seen such a beautiful person before. All his facial features were captivating. Maybe someone would call him perfect, but after seeing him Yuuri felt how someone squeezed the heart. Because of the transparent body, most of his beauty was hidden away. But he is so young… he shouldn’t be… a ghost…

“Ash, please!” a voice shouted, but beautiful boy was already gone.

“Eiji, what are you doing here alone in the middle of the night?” After seeing that the man here was Eiji, Phichit showed himself. “With who were you talking?”

Somehow Yuuri felt so glad that Phichit wasn’t in time to see the ghost. Yuuri didn’t know what just happened here, but Eiji looked really confused. Phichit was trying to see someone else that’s why again just Yuuri saw how Eiji quickly wiped his eyes with a sleeve.

“What are you both doing here? Someone might see you.” Eiji tried just ignore everything and speak normally.

“Look who is talking. Yuuri lost something in professor’s Nikiforov’s classroom, so we were heading there.”

“Couldn’t this wait until morning?” Eiji was already speaking silently, but after Phichit look he just sighed. Of course, because he was also walking in the middle of the night. “Okay, I will just go with you.” Like Yuuri Phichit also understood that it’s better not to ask what just happened here, so now three of them were walking through dark corridors.

“Here it is. Just make it quick, Yuuri. I will guard here.” Phichit nodded before Eiji with Yuuri entered into the classroom.

“How does it look like?” Eiji asked.

“It’s an envelope with yesterday’s date on it. It must be somewhere on the ground. I don’t see anything… damn it. Lumos!” Yuuri enlighted the way for himself, trying to remember in which spot he dropped everything.

They were searching on the floor forever, but there was nothing here. Yuuri already started feeling guilty, that he put these two boys in the risk. Maybe he accidentally left it in Japan at Home? Why he came here in the first place?


“This one?” Eiji asked, but he wasn’t searching on the ground. The boy was standing next to the shelf, on which he put the books before leaving. Yuuri quickly came to him and took letter envelope. That’s right. This is the envelope, but somehow it seemed different, yesterday’s date was crossed and today’s written instead of it.

“Yeah… But…”

“You two, hurry up! It’s cold here!” Phichit looked inside the room.

“Nox!” They both quickly ran out.

“Let’s just go back fast, Eiji which way for you?” Phichit silently closed the classroom door and they starting moving forward. Yuuri put the envelope under the sweater.


“I will just go with you guys until the stairs and then take a shortcut,” Eiji whispered. “Let’s turn here.”

“Did you find…” Phichit was going first but suddenly he stopped in the middle of the sentence. Yuuri raised his head. At first, he thought that it’s another beautiful young ghost. But this one was real. Just a light from the end of his wand made him look like a mirage.

“Good evening or should I say night.”

At that second Yuuri couldn’t explain what happened to him. Like two other friends next to him, he also had to let his eyes down from shame, but he couldn’t. Not sure was it because of those blue eyes, that went through him right away or was it because of the voice itself. Is it possible to feel something so strong from the first sight? And it wasn‘t magic. A tall silver-haired man in front him was real. Slowly slowly, some unknown force pierced his heart and Yuuri felt how his whole body trembled. What‘s that? Who is he? Yuuri felt speechless and yet for the first time today he wanted to say something so much that it even hurt. But would it be enough?

“Professor, Nikiforov… we are sorry…” Eiji murmured.

“Sorry won’t help you save 50 points for Hufflepuff and Gryffindor.” Even with these harsh words, professor didn’t look mad. Yuuri could tell, that he was just a few years older. When Nikiforov spoke, he turned eyes away from Yuuri.

“Noooo, we….” Obviously, Phichit got scared, but he didn’t know how to finish the sentence.

“Unless he will give me a proper explanation…” Victor’s bright eyes were again pointed at Yuuri. Impossible. Yuuri can’t speak, not in front of him. So this is famous Victor Nikiforov? Genius. Talented. Strong… and ridiculously beautiful. No… it’s impossible. Yuuri felt like a thirteen years old teenager. But he just turned sixteen. And Victor what? He must be around eighteen?

“Yuuri, say something…” Phichit punched him to his side.

“I…..”

“Vitya, what are you doing here?! Wow… boys, you should be in bed!” It was Christophe who suddenly showed himself. He hugged Victor around shoulders and pressed to his side. Yuuri quickly turned his eyes down. Are they close? Why this feeling is so annoying? “Go go go, I count to three and you must be in your beds.”

“Christophe… don’t you think you are too nice?” just from his voice, Yuuri knew that professor Nikiforov was smiling.

“Someone should be nice to our students in this place… not like Blanca… if he becomes Headmaster... I swear...” Christophe answered to Victor, but Yuuri wasn’t sure if he heard correctly because Phichit was already dragging him from the place, Eiji was going fast behind them. They didn’t talk just took separate ways next to the stairs.

“We were soooo lucky.” Phichit laughed when they were already safe in their dormitories. “See you tomorrow, Yuuri!” he went to his room and Yuuri entered his.

He couldn’t explain what happened there. He should have said something, but why he couldn’t? It’s not like Victor used some spell on him? Yuuri sat on the floor. His heart was still beating like crazy and his head felt dizzy like he had a high fever. Victor… can it be the truth? The thing he felt? Can it be real? Did he felt the same? Yuuri slowly took out the envelope under his sweater. He totally forgot about that. The boy closed his eyes and saw Victor’s face again. Did he lose his mind already? Just from this? Victor doesn’t even know his name, and Yuuri is already calling him by his first name inside the head.

But this evening didn’t end like this. Yuuri looked at the envelope again. Today’s date was written by someone else. He slowly took out the paper.

If I have lost something already? Can I be called as a whole?
What If Magic is everything I have left, but I don’t believe in it anymore?
And what if for a tiny second I believe that there is something more waiting for me out there
But there will be nothing more than Stardust?



This what Yuuri wrote, but it wasn’t the end. Someone wrote a response.


There is no whole or just part of you. You are you just you, with something lost and found.
With Magic or without it.
But if you are waiting for something, then you can tell that there is still hope.
Sometimes Stardust might shine brighter than a Star.
Maybe it’s worth the risk?


Yuuri quickly stood up, searched for a quill and sat at the table. He suddenly forgot that those letters are his biggest secret. Something inside Yuuri woke up, and he knew – he must leave an answer. No matter who wrote this. At that second he didn’t care who is the author. Yuuri never felt such passion to write, to talk… it was hard for him to speak, but in paper everything is different. Here he feels alive.
Sometimes he might say even a little bit too much.

This year might be something he was searching for all his life.

 

Chapter Text

“Merlin was a great wizard,” Eiji said with calm voice.

“Of course he was!” The Fat Lady in painting answered and smiled for Eiji, then opened the door leading to Gryffindor dormitories.

Eiji entered, there were still some students chilling near the fireplace, probably a few years younger than him. Eiji almost didn’t know any names of others from Gryffindor, nobody thought that he is friendly. To be honest, he was totally invisible almost for everyone here, but maybe that was for the best. A little bit further, sixth years tried to finish their essays. Eiji knew exactly what were they doing from their sighs, he was looking the same just a few days ago. It’s impossible to explain what kind of essay you have to write if you want to get a good mark from professor Blanca’s class.

“Hey.” Eiji waived for Otabek, who was sitting in the corner and reading a book. The boy nodded. He was in the fifth year, but Eiji thought that he is a way smarter than most of his classmates. Since they were taking the same extra class of D.A.D.A., Eiji wasn’t shy anymore to talk to him. “Did you finish all the tasks?” he came closer and Otabek closed the book.

“I think so, you want answers?” most of the people could think that he is making fun of you, but Eiji already knew that he is honest. A lot of people were scared of Otabek because he might look really strict, but actually, he was really kind.

“No no, thanks. I am fine. I will have the whole weekend for that. Hmmm….” Eiji wanted to ask about Yurio, but he wasn’t sure how.

“What?”

“Nothing, I am going to sleep. Showed all around Hogwarts for our new student. He is nice, you should meet him.” Eiji touched Otabek’s shoulder, laughed and then turned around before he said something else. Damn it, it’s so sad. Obviously, Yurio likes Otabek and Otabek likes Yurio, but neither of them talked to each other. Is it because of their Houses? It’s frustrating….

Eiji opened his room door and entered. He wasn’t joking about Yuuri. First, he just tried to be friendly, but that boy was really interesting and smart. Eiji didn’t ask, but he must have been from the Best grade class in their school. Eiji could just leave him to Phichit, but he didn’t think too much before suggesting help. They have the same classes anyway, and he is from Japan. Maybe….

“You sure like talking with him…” a silent voice behind him said and Eiji quickly turned around. Ash was sitting on his bed with his legs crossed. If not his transparent body this view may have looked very domestic.

“With who?” Eiji smiled turning his head to the side.

“With that other one from Gryffindor. Are you making fun of me?” Ash rolled his eyes.

“Are you jealous?” Eiji giggled. “Otabek is just a friend and he likes someone else so…”

“It’s not about that.” Ash sighed and fell on Eiji’s bed. “But maybe I am…” he murmured so quietly, that Eiji stopped in the middle of taking off his sweater. He knew it’s bad, but he really wanted to hear those words again. This time really clearly. Sadly Ash wouldn’t say something like that out loud.

Eiji pulled down his sweater again and came close to the bed. Why his cheeks suddenly feel so hot? He slowly sat down on the bed, but couldn’t make himself look at Ash, even if he knew that the man lying down on the bed is staring at him right now. Eiji slowly sat and then lied down next to him, looked at the dark ceiling. It’s strange. This thing inside his chest. It’s painful, but at the same time, he never felt better before in his life. Eiji knows it’s wrong, but who cares? His heart didn’t want to accept that this won’t last forever.

Eiji slowly turned his head to Ash and as he thought Ash was looking. Those beautiful eyes, Eiji always wondered what color they were. Blue like the sky? Dark like his? Or maybe green? How about his hair? There were so many questions Eiji wanted to find answers to, but it was impossible. Ash couldn’t remember anything from his life until he became like this. As he told to Eiji, his memories start from the time when he found himself in this room. It was just a few months before Eiji came to Hogwarts. A little bit more than a year passed since then. And Eiji found himself incapable of leaving Ash, that’s why he stayed here. Just the thought that he won’t see him again was so painful.

“You look at me like you can see through.” Eiji silently laughed.

“Very funny…”

“I am not laughing from you!” Eiji turned the whole body on his side and placed his hand next to Ash's, they both looked at the small gap between their fingers. Even if they can’t touch each other, Eiji could swear, he can feel weak currency running through his body. “You can look however you want at me…” he whispered still blushing, but this time Eiji didn’t let eyes down. He could give anything to move Ash’s hair from his eyes now. He is so gorgeous…

“Eiji… close your eyes and open your palm.” Ash silently asked and it wasn’t necessary to repeat. Even if he couldn’t see anything, Eiji wasn’t scared, he trusted Ash with everything he had. From the bottom of his heart he….

Suddenly Eiji gasped when he felt a touch. Well, not the real one, but the sensation was stronger than ever, maybe because his eyes were closed and all other senses became sharper. Like million cold raindrops, touched his palm and made fingers shiver. They were lying down like this for some time and then Eiji couldn’t hold it anymore.

“I love you, Ash…” it’s not the first time he said those words, not the first Ash touched him like that. But with each of these moments, his feelings were getting stronger and stronger.

“Are those tears of love?” he asked and Eiji opened his eyes. He didn’t feel how hot tear ran down his cheek. Ash followed it with his eyes. It’s so fragile, transparent…

“I still remember my promise… Ash, don’t think I stopped trying.” Eiji softly murmured, but Ash was looking at him with confused eyes. “I am still trying to find out something about your past life and…”

“And what?” Suddenly Ash moved the hand. Eiji tried to catch his fingers but grabbed nothing else than air. “What are you trying to say? I thought we got over this.” one second and Ash was already floating next to the bed. Eiji slowly sat up. Why he had to ruin this moment?

“If I'm not speaking about that, It doesn't mean I forgot…” Eiji also got up, he has to fix it, before Ash gets mad. He was like a match. “I am still searching everywhere I can and I won’t give up until I find out the truth. That’s the only way I can help you.”

“And what’s going to change? Eiji, why can’t you just leave it? There is nothing you can do.”

“Of course there is! I can….” Eiji was just in time to shut his mouth. He had a plan, but he was 100 percent sure, Ash won’t agree with it. It’s not like he can do something about that. It’s just Eiji really didn’t want to have a fight with him. He should have kept his mouth shut. Really.

“What? You can what? I will never be able to touch you! You won’t be able to touch me like you touched that guy today in the common room. Not even a hug, nothing! This is the truth. Stop living in a fantasy world. I can’t give anything to you.”

“Oh, so that’s what bothers you? I don’t care about any of this… as long as you are with me I…”

“I AM DEAD!” Ash shouted so loud that Eiji felt it with his every cell. It hurts. “I am dead. And you can’t change that, no matter what.”

“Ash…” Eiji sighed, they went through this a lot of times. Of course, every time when Ash let’s feel himself something stronger towards Eiji, he remembers this shocking reality. It hurts for him. That’s why Eiji never searched for friends, he didn’t want to hurt Ash. And that makes him even madder because Ash knew exactly why Eiji is always alone. On the other side, he couldn’t control his feelings.

The man looked at him for a second longer and then went through the wall without saying any other word.

“Ash! Don’t leave it! Damn it. Ash!!” Eiji hated when he leaves like that. He goes somewhere alone, starts thinking about unnecessary things. It doesn’t help. Ash told him once, that only staying close to Eiji he can almost remember what it means to be alive, so why is he leaving??

Eiji ran from the room down to the common room and then towards the exit, nobody stopped him, even if it was already too late for walking outside the dormitory. He really didn’t think about it, he ran through corridors. Eiji knew places where Ash might go, they both discovered them together. He knew all the shortcuts and ways how to avoid professors and caretaker.

Finally, he saw Ash slowly waking through one of the corridors. He really looked like a student. It was nothing on his body which might have shown from what he died. So probably it wasn’t an accident or murder. Maybe some rare illness? But his skin was perfect… he looked completely healthy or maybe a spell? Was he a student or already graduated? Ash was wearing casual clothes so it was impossible to tell something just looking at him. When they first met he said that his name is Ash Lynx, that’s the only thing he could remember. But no matter where Eiji searched, even in Hogwarts students list he couldn’t find anyone which such name. It's like… he never existed. But still… there were still so many things he hasn’t read, so many different years he could look through… Eiji couldn’t give up. To find who he truly is. Why Ash didn’t want to find this out? What happened to him? Why is he here?

“Ash!” Eiji was catching his breath, he ran all the way here. Of course, Ash stopped.

“You shouldn’t be here at this hour.” Ash turned around.

“Then stop acting like a child! I just wanted to talk and you ran away!”

“There is nothing more to say!”

“Well, I think differently! Why it’s so hard for you to accept, that the only thing I care about is you!?”

“Bloody hell… I swear it’s like I am talking with a wall… we are ending this topic. Go back, Eiji.”

“No. I am not going back until you say to me why it’s so wrong for us to be together!”

“Are you blind or what???”

Eiji couldn’t help, his lips started trembling. Ash words were harsh. Of course, he knows… because Ash is dead, right? That's what he had in mind…

“It’s because I love you too! That’s why it’s impossible! I can’t… Eiji… I…” suddenly Ash hushed, he turned his head and looked right at the end of the corridor, then turned around and disappeared behind the wall.

“Ash, please!” Eiji shouted, feeling how different palette of emotions painfully grabs his heart. “…wait…” he murmured to himself already.

“Eiji, what are you doing here alone in the middle of the night? With who were you talking?” Phichit’s voice explained the reason why Ash disappeared so suddenly. He didn’t talk with anyone else except Eiji. Eiji wasn’t even sure that someone else knows that Ash exists here. Girls would probably talk about Ash a lot if they knew that such a beautiful ghost lives in Hogwarts.

Eiji tried to wipe tears as fast as he could and still he was sure that Yuuri saw them. Yuuri? What they are doing at this time here?? Well, Eiji also wouldn’t be able to explain himself properly, so in the end, he decided to stick with them. That was just an easier way not to think about Ash. He won’t show himself at least a few days now. It’s always like that when they have a fight. But those last words he said….

They were already in professor Nikiforov's class and Eiji caught himself daydreaming, just looking at one spot. Oh. That’s the envelope! It wasn’t there before for sure.

“This one?” he asked turning to Yuuri. The poor boy was crawling on the floor. Was it so important? What is there inside? After seeing what Eiji is holding he smiled widely. Someone must have picked it up from the ground. Some of the students from before. Eiji was sure that some of them even came after they left since today was a deadline for one essay.

“Yeah…but…”

“You two, hurry up! It’s cold here!” Phichit shouted from the hallway.

To be honest, Eiji thought for a second that they should have chosen other way to go back. But they were in a hurry and it seemed that they passed through all dangerous places, where they might have met someone. But.

Professor Nikiforov had the talent to appear from nowhere. Oh no. Usually, he is super friendly, but Eiji was afraid about Yuuri, it’s his first night here after all. And they are in this situation. Eiji couldn’t explain why he suddenly felt so embarrassed. Professor Giacometti told to take care of Yuuri and… Eiji failed. Phichit was punching Yuuri to say something, but Eiji was glaring at him with pity… he knows exactly that professor Nikiforov likes to tease. They could have said the truth, but… before that, they were saved by the one that Eiji was afraid of just a second ago. After all, professor Christophe, the Head of Gryffindor, was the best. Until now he clearly couldn’t understand if they with Nikiforov are friends or not. Nikiforov is the head of Slytherin after all, they always talk to each other with that irony in their voice.

Eiji decided not to play with the destiny anymore, he could have searched for Ash again, but instead of that, he returned to the dormitories.

“Merlin was a great wizard.”

“No need to wake me up for that…” The Fat Lady sighed.

“It’s a password… let me in.”

“Next time I won´t if you be so rude.” She wasn’t happy but moved to the side and Eiji went towards his room, not looking around who is still hanging around.

Eiji changed into his pajamas, but couldn't sleep. To be honest, until the last second he hoped that Ash will come in. After a few hours he couldn’t lie down anymore, Eiji had to get up from the bed. There was no homework left to be done, except for the extra work which wasn’t obligatory. Eiji found his favorite place next to the window, hugged the pillow and looked through it outside. It’s late autumn… winters were way colder here than in Japan. Eiji was waiting for them, he wanted to see snow, Probably this Christmas he will stay in Hogwarts too… then he will be able to spend more time with Ash. It’s just a regular fight… tomorrow he will be here in his room, they will talk again, or just sit next to each other, right? Like always… it’s nothing wrong about that… there is nothing wrong.

Eiji hid his face in the pillow. Hurts.

 


“Eiji, are you okay??” Yuuri got so scared when he saw him next to the stairs first thing in the morning. Eiji couldn’t sleep all night, so his head felt heavy. What kind of idiot is he?? He will definitely get himself in trouble because of that.

“Yes… it’s just I couldn’t fall asleep.” He almost didn’t have to lie.

“To be honest, me too…” Yuuri sighed, and just then Eiji noticed that Yuuri’s also has dark circles around his eyes. But they are not that close friends to talk about their worries. Anyway, Eiji could have imagined, that Yuuri was probably really shocked after what happened yesterday.

“Eh… let’s go for breakfast.”

They reached Great Hall in silence. Eiji wasn’t in the mood to eat, but he could wait for Yuuri. Just last second he remembered that they are from different Houses, so they are not sitting at the same tables. Even more Gryffindor’s and Hufflepuff’s tables were on different sides of Hall.

“Oh, I see Phichit! I will just grab something… I don’t really feel hungry.” Yuuri said to Eiji and he nodded. Eiji stayed close the door. To be honest, he didn’t even look at Gryffindor’s table.

“Good morning, Eiji!” He flinched from the voice. “Hahaha, sorry didn’t want to scare you!”

“Professor Nikiforov, good morning.” He smiled for Victor, he was in a good mood like always.

“Why you are not eating anything? You look like you need some energy.” professor's look was a bit worried, so Eiji tried to think of a quick explanation.

“I already ate, waiting for a friend now. He just came here yesterday, so I am helping him to get used.” He nodded but suddenly remembered how professor caught them in the middle of the night. Good that today is Friday, he will forget about it during the weekend.

“Right… the one from yesterday? I remember him… what’s his name again?”

“Yuuri Katsuki.”

“Right… right…” Nikiforov nodded and then looked at the Hufflepuff's table where Yuuri was standing near the Phichit and explaining something, then he looked right at them and hid behind Phichit’s back. “He is funny.” Professor Nikiforov laughed. “See you in class!” he touched Eiji’s shoulder and went towards Staff table.

“Yes, sir.”

“Eiiiji… let’s go....” Yuuri was quickly coming with the brownie in his hand, he just passed through Eiji into the hallway.

“Yuuri?” Eiji ran after him. “Hey hey where are you going, the class is in a different direction!”

“Oh sorry….” Yuuri suddenly blushed and looked at brownie in his hand.

“Is it because of professor Nikiforov?”

“Wh-at??” Yuuri raised his head with even brighter cheeks. Is it so obvious that he likes him?? He wasn’t in time to hide??

“I mean… he might have scared you yesterday. But… professor Nikiforov is really nice. He wouldn’t have taken those 50 points. I don’t understand why such a nice person is the head of Slytherin.” Eiji sighed and started walking. Yuuri had a second to sigh from relief. Eiji didn’t understand the real meaning. That’s good. But that was a surprise to hear that Victor is the head of Slytherin.

“Are they all so bad? I mean… in Slytherin.” For Yuuri's safety, it was better to change the topic.

“How to explain… they are not bad… just… actually, I don’t want you to say anything. Make your own opinion when you meet them.”

“Fair enough.” Yuuri nodded. Well, Yurio from yesterday was a little bit angry, but maybe he just wasn’t in the mood. Yuuri didn’t think that all of them are like that. “Wait… is it professor Nikiforov’s classroom?”

“Yes… what about that?” Eiji was surprised that Yuuri has such good memory, it took a while to remember him all classrooms, especially because everything here was changing all the time.

“I will be quick,” Yuuri promised, he didn’t give a chance for Eiji to ask something more. Yuuri entered the class. For his own luck, it was still empty. Yuuri went to the shelf where Eiji found envelope yesterday and took out from his handbag another with today’s date on it. He wasn’t sure if that person, who gave him an answer, will find it, but Yuuri thought he will risk. Why not? Basically, it’s the reason why he couldn’t sleep all night.

Yuuri grabbed the door handle, but the door suddenly opened and he saw a blond boy from yesterday. Yurio.

“What…” he was smaller than Yuuri, and obviously boy didn’t like that. “Get out of my way.” Just one second and his wand was pointed at Yuuri’s neck.

“Oh wait… I don’t want to have any trouble…” Yuuri murmured.

“Yuuri! Hey, what’s going on??” Eiji came just in time. When both of Yuuri and Yurio looked at him, Eiji realized, that their names are almost the same. “Plisetsky, what are you doing? Leave him alone.”

“Mind your own business, Okumura.”

“If you be so angry, Otabek will never pay attention to you,” Eiji said it on purpose to save Yuuri.

“You said what…?” Yuri slowly turned around and Eiji grabbed Yuuri’s hand, dragged him from the room, he even smirked for Yurio. Which was equal to making fun of devil himself. A spell hit Eiji just next to the head. Actually if not Yuuri, who suddenly pulled out his wand changed spell's direction, Eiji didn’t have any idea what would have happened. But on the other side, he didn’t have any idea, why it’s so funny.

“Wow, you are good at this, Yuuri! Now run!!!” He started dragging Yuuri and laughing at the same time. By the time they reached the next floor both of them were catching air.

“Sorry, Eiji. But it looks like you have a death wish.” Yuuri pressed his back against the wall trying to breathe calmly.

“To be honest…. I don’t know what got into me.” Eiji was still laughing. “Anyway that reaction was super quick! You had some practice??” he was still really surprised.

“We can so… it’s a long story…” Yuuri looked away. There was something in his life, he didn’t want to remember. And Yuuri tried to avoid using magic as much as he could, unless it was necessary for studying.

“You will have to tell me someday! Now we have to go because professor Blanca hates when someone is late.” Eiji started walking down the stairs towards the Dungeons.

The classroom was full when they reached it. There were just 10 students in total. Different than in Japan, after the fifth year Potions wasn’t so popular here. Yuuri has sent his equipment from Japan before coming here so there was no trouble to get ready for the class. He put Cauldron next to Eiji’s and then looked around the class. There were three students from Ravenclaw, two from Slytherin, Two from Hufflepuff including Yuuri, and Eiji with other two students were from Gryffindor. After seeing a new student one girl murmured something for another and they both giggled. Yuuri let down his eyes.

“Even new students don’t have the right to be late… five points from Hufflepuff and five from Gryffindor…” these were first words from the professor when he entered the classroom. Eiji sighed. Yuuri’s first thought was that it might be a joke, but when he saw how big professor is, he understood that probably it’s impossible for him to make jokes.

Yuuri felt how every last part of his body strains. That’s professor Blanca, right? The one that Giacometti talked about last night? Does he want to become Headmaster?

“Yuuri Katsuki. You came from Boys Magic Academy in Japan... I heard that you think you guys are good at Potions.” Professor stood in front of the class and smiled, but that smile didn’t get to his dark eyes. Yuuri couldn’t move.

“I don’t think so….”

“Right? I guess they don’t teach you how to speak with professors there.” He was still keeping that dangerous smile.

“…Sir…”

“Sooo Today we will all see the power of well-known Academy in Japan. Mr. Katsuki will make Wit-Sharpening Potion for us. Everyone, take notes, I want you to carefully look and at the end of the class tell me what kind of mistakes you saw.” Professor Blanca didn’t say anything else, he just sat down at the table and started writing. And Yuuri was still standing still. What? Now? He? What’s happening?

“Yuuri… go, do something…” Eiji whispered. Yuuri felt how everyone is staring at him, he thought that heart might stop. He doesn’t like attention.

“No helping. Five points from Gryffindor.” Blanca’s words crossed the silence in the classroom.

Instead of Eiji, Yuuri was the one who flinched. Because of him Gryffindor already lost 10 points. And he hasn’t even done anything. He has to move. Yuuri took the book and opened it. His fingers were trembling a little bit, but he knew what to do. They already made this Potion in school is just… it was a surprise. Looks like professor for some reason was mad at him. But he hasn’t done anything. It was hard at first because everyone was staring. Yuuri heard how girls were giggling, and it made him mad because Blanca hasn’t said anything for them. Then Yuuri tried to think about something else. About the letter he wrote, he read it so many times this night, that he already knew every word from it. It wasn’t long, but Yuuri hoped that he will receive an answer.

 

Of course, I agree with this from one side, but I always thought that a person is made of different things: memories, emotions, experiences… so isn’t some kind of part that makes you a human?

As a wizard, you think that we can live without Magic? Weren’t we from the beginning learning, that there is nothing more important than believing in magic? Is it possible to live another way?

Hope. It’s a strong word, don’t you agree? I don’t believe that much in the world to call this feeling a hope, it’s more like a duty to move forward. Don’t stop. Because if I let myself stop and believe in the light, in something bright, then there will definitely be someone who takes it away from me.

I am pessimistic? Maybe? But from my experience, I just think, that you can't be hurt if you don’t have anyone who could do that for you.

So with all respect, I would like to say that Stardust should stay just dust where they belong.

 

Maybe he should have written something different. What if that person gets mad and won’t give a response? But Yuuri really wants to get it. It doesn’t matter if that person takes this seriously or not. He really needs…

“Time is up.” He suddenly heard a voice, which made him come back to reality. “Now everyone give me your notes.”

Yuuri so many times repeated letter in his head, that he didn’t feel how the class had ended. That was a nice way to get rid of anxiety. Yuuri didn’t know for who he was writing letters, but that person already gave him a lot. Yuuri sighed and looked at Eiji, he couldn’t explain why the friend was staring at him with opened mouth. His note was empty. Blanca walked around collecting works. Yuuri thought that friend will write something in that time, but he didn’t. He gave for Blanca empty sheet, just with his name on it.

“So…. how the student from famous school managed to do such simple potion….” Blanca came closer and for a few seconds just stared at the liquid inside it, then sired it a little bit. When professor smiled, Yuuri thought that he will start yelling any second or laughing, but it won’t be any good. “Twenty points for Hufflepuff. You should have given me your sheets empty. If there is written something more than your name, that will count it as a mistake.” More than half students sighed at the same time. “Nice job, Katsuki. You are all free for today.” Blanca didn’t look at Yuuri anymore just turned around and walked from the class. And Yuuri finally felt like he can move.

“Oh…my… I need to sit down.” He sat on the chair and slowly closed the book.

“Yuuri! Are you good at everything?? You looked so confident and focused, I have never seen anything like that. Wow.” Eiji clapped and smiled widely, then grabbed on Yuuri’s shoulders. Other students were getting ready to leave, some of them were whispering something, but some of them looked at Yuuri with respect.

“I thought that he really doesn’t like me!” Yuuri was looking how Eiji is cleaning his cauldron. Yuuri was still incapable to move.

“Well… he is annoying sometimes and he might be strict. But Blanca is not bad. You just need to earn his respect. I am still struggling at that… I am not really good at Potions.” Eiji giggled and Yuuri slowly nodded. So that’s how it is… Respect. But Blanca has a really scary look. Maybe that’s what professor Giacometti had in mind?

They left last, and Yuuri already felt how like little by little he is fitting in. He really couldn’t wait for next class. Which had to be History of Magic, but since professor Wong was still somewhere else, they had some free time and then lunch.

“After lunch we have D.A.D.A. and that’s it for today. I really like Fridays. I will sleep all day…” Eiji stretched his hands. “Want to take a walk outside, you haven’t been there yet, right?”

“Yes, sure." he agreed. "Is there any subject you like?” Yuuri asked when they were going towards the main doors, even from here yard looked different than yesterday.

“I really like professor Nikiforov’s class… but just because he is good at teaching. I don’t know… I am not really good at anything I guess… but some say that I am not bad at Quidditch, but I don’t know…” Eiji laughed. Probably even if he is perfect at those things, he won’t admit it himself. Yuuri was sure about that. “How about you?”

“You play Quidditch??” Yuuri said with a little bit of jealousy. He wanted to play, he heard it’s fun, but his school was focused on studying, not on games. “I don’t know… we had to be good at everything… so maybe that’s why I don’t have a favorite subject… it’s just something I had to do… but… I do love Care of Magical Creatures. Maybe because there I am able to relax a little bit more.”

“So you love animals?” Eiji wasn’t surprised, Yuuri looks like a person who has a good sense of responsibility.

“I had a dog back in Japan…”

“A dog? Sorry, it’s just strange to hear from a wizard, I don’t know why… everyone loves cats here you know…”

“My parents are muggles…” it took a second for Yuuri to tell this, he wasn’t sure how people here react to this. In Japan, some people didn’t accept him as a wizard because of that. No matter how good he was.

“I am half!” Eiji said happily, there was nothing wrong with this. It was good to know that they are not so different from each other. “My dad is a wizard and he told mom just after the wedding. As my dad is saying, he doesn’t want to remember that horrible event.” Eiji was giggling, but just a moment after this both of them were laughing out loud. It was somehow easy for them to talk. Yuuri also didn’t have a lot of friends in Japan, so it was strange at last find one so far away.

“By the way, Yuuri, maybe you want tomorrow go to Hogsmeade… it’s a village near….”

“Oh look who is here… Okumura finally found someone who can stand him. You probably didn't tell your friend, how you like talking with yourself.“ a really annoying voice behind two boys spoke, interrupting Eiji. He sighed loudly and turned around.

“Oh no…”

Yuuri looked at the unfamiliar face. Of course, he had to be from Slytherin. The man had long dark hair and small body features. Really, he was super skinny, just for a second (if not the voice), Yuuri thought that he is a girl. He came together with other three big guys, who were really similar to each other. Behind that smaller boy, they were like a wall. Are they in trouble now?

“Lee… I really don’t want to get involved with you now.” Eiji answered.

“Who said I care about you… but your friend seems interesting. Who is he?”

“None of your business… let’s go Yuuri.”

Eiji grabbed Yuuri’s hands and they just started going. Yuuri couldn’t understand, what that boy wanted from him and who he is in the first place? It’s not like they did something wrong here. Eiji doesn’t have a lot of friends… but it seems that people don’t like him for no actual reason. Suddenly they turned around like Eiji felt something. He pulled his wand out, Lee’s wound was already pointed at him.

“Lee…. You know that using magic to fight… is forbidden.” Eiji said still walking backward.

“Who said that I will be using magic?” Lee smiled and then said something for those big guys behind him. One of them started walking towards two boys. Yuuri couldn’t hear clearly. Is it Chinese?

“Shit…” Eiji whispered, but it was too late. He was in time to drag Yuuri behind the back and that’s why Eiji was the one who got the first punch right into the face. The big guy laughed.

“Eiji! What the hell are you doing?!” There was no one else who could have held Yuuri. His friend leaned forward, Eiji's face was bleeding and Yuuri had a chance to jump from behind him.

“Get lost or I will turn you into a pig,” Yuuri said and big guy just laughed. Yuuri raised his wand and the big guy his fist. It was just a matter of seconds who will strike first. There were hundreds of spells in Yuuri’s head which he could use. But he didn't want to hurt that guy, just give him a lecture.

Suddenly Yuuri couldn’t move. Neither other. Everyone froze. The feeling was really strange. Yuuri could hear, think and see everything and despite that, he felt like a statue. It was impossible to move.

“Let’s see… what we have here…”

Oh no. This voice. It’s Victor. Slowly Yuuri turned his eyes. Victor was walking towards them, holding a wand. Of course, he was the one who used the spell. For someone like Victor, it was unnecessary to say spells out loud. And he is a Head of Slytherin. That didn’t sound good for Yuuri and Eiji. And still, it's funny and embarrassing to admit, but even if Yuuri was frozen, he couldn’t let his eyes from Victor. Damn it… it’s impossible. It was love from first sight. There is no way he can hide it. But of course, Victor's eyes were telling another story.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Obviously, nobody answered to Victor. Yuuri could swear that his bright eyes were scanning everyone here. Victor wasn’t dumb, not mention the fact that he was one of the smartest wizards alive. Victor knew right away what happened for real and Yuuri hopped that he will set everything right. Victor came closer to them and released those four Slytherins from the spell. The big guy who was about to hit Yuuri fell on the ground. Eiji and Yuuri were still paralyzed.

“What happened, Yut-Lung?” Victor asked that Chinese boy.

“Okumura attacked us first, so my boys just tried to protect me. And his friend also tried to do the same, professor.” Lee said with innocent voice and Victor nodded.

Yuuri couldn’t believe. Even if not the spell, he would still stand frozen. How Victor could fall for such obvious lie?? Is it because of Slytherin? Does he believe that students from his House wouldn’t dare to lie? Something inside Yuuri started boiling. And Victor was thinking of something, with that deadly serious look. Of course, Lee looks like someone who can get easily beaten, but those three guys over there are like bulls! And they don’t even have a scratch, while Eiji’s nose is probably broken. And Lee had that sarcastic smile on his face. Seriously, Yuuri felt like any moment his anger might become visible. It’s just unfair. And Victor… didn’t Eiji say, that he is the best professor? Why everyone loves him so much if he protects those who are not worth protecting?

“Professor Nikiforov, don’t you think they deserve punishment for breaking the rules?” Lee asked with the same voice.

“It’s for me to decided what they deserve and what not, Yut-Lung.” Victor turned back to Yuuri so he couldn’t see what kind of face he made, but Lee quickly let his eyes down. “Now, go back. As I know you have a class to attend.” Lee didn’t want to, but of course, he couldn’t say anything to a professor. So with an unhappy face, he went towards the castle. Those three giants without words followed him. And that was the last drop for Yuuri.

“How could you??” he suddenly shouted and stepped towards Victor. “He lied! We did nothing wrong! We were just walking and they attacked us for no reason! Can’t you see that Eiji is injured? I can’t believe that you believed them! What kind of professor are you?!”

Yuuri didn’t sound like himself, he would never shout at anyone. Especially at the person towards which he felt affection. Moreover, it was his first normal words to Victor… not even mention the fact that Victor was a professor. Despite that when Victor turned around at Yuuri his face didn’t show any sign of anger, just astonishment.

“How… how did you get off the spell? I haven’t undone it yet…” Victor didn’t try to hide how surprised he is, but Yuuri just then thought about it.

Really? Yuuri was able to move so suddenly, but he couldn’t explain how. It was just a rush and… could it be…? No… no way. Yuuri turned his eyes down. Blood ran into his cheeks when he understood the meaning of his words before… oh no, he spoke without thinking. What will happen? Yuuri lost all courage, he again felt speechless in front of Victor.

“Eiji, are you alright?” Maybe Victor decided that Yuuri won’t say anything, so he moved forward. Eiji was released from the spell. He sat on the ground holding on his nose. “Let me see.” Victor leaned forward to look. He was thinking about something and then just for a second glanced at Yuuri. “Can you reach the hospital by yourself?” he finally asked Eiji and gave him a napkin. It was a strange thing. It absorbed the blood, but the napkin itself stayed clean.

“Yes, thank you, professor. But… Yuuri… he...” Eiji nodded and started speaking, but Victor shook his head. With Victor’s help, Eiji stood up and then started going towards the castle. He quickly looked at Yuuri, but his eyes didn’t say anything good. Is Yuuri in trouble? He felt totally lost. They won’t be punished? Victor also started moving and Yuuri didn’t have other option, just follow them.

“Katsuki, you are coming with me,” Nikiforov spoke when they entered the castle. Yuuri quickly looked at Eiji, his friend’s face was white like paper, he didn’t look at Yuuri anymore. Probably Eiji was thinking how not to faint.

Yuuri had to go with Victor, of course, he can’t run away. They were going in silence, just Victor nodded for every student they met on the way. Yuuri was going two steps from the professor, so probably nobody thought that they are together. Finally, Victor stopped, Yuuri didn’t have any idea where they are or on which floor. Victor opened the door and entered, Yuuri followed. Suddenly legs became really heavy.

“Close the door and sit down.” He finally spoke and Yuuri did what he was told. He tried not to look around too much. Even if this place was amazing. Really spacious and full of interesting tools, that Yuuri has never seen before. Yuuri also saw a big aquarium, of course, not with fish. There was also something else in the corner, but he didn’t look. Yuuri couldn’t believe that he came to Victor’s office in these circumstances. He should have kept his mouth shut… Yuuri slowly sat down on a chair in front of the table and watched how Victor walks in circles. Should he explain himself?

“I… what… what… I said… before… I…” Just ten minutes ago he was shouting at Victor and now Yuuri wasn’t able to say a sentence.

“How?” Victor stopped walking and stepped closer. “How you did that?”

Did what? How Yuuri was able to shout at him?

“How did you released yourself from the spell?”

Oh. Yuuri suddenly thought that he would be better explaining why he shouted than this. When Victor stepped closer Yuuri for the first time saw that bright color from this distance. He opened lips a little bit. Wow, that kind of color really exist.

“Well?” Victor spoke again.

“I don’t know…”

“I really don’t like when someone is lying to me.” Victor sighed and then went away. Yuuri should have said something else, just because Victor would stay a little bit longer. “But I do understand if you don’t want to tell me. Am I right?”

How did he know? It was the truth. Yuuri didn’t want to tell, not to Victor… not to anyone. Yuuri didn’t want to remember what happened. He didn’t want to remember what he had to go through. Even if that made him strong. He slowly nodded and Victor sighed again. He went towards the corner and Yuuri finally was able to look who is there. It was a bird. Yuuri has never seen such a beautiful creature with his eyes before. Of course, in books yes… but not live. They were really rare… not mention the fact that most of them were independent, they didn't want to accept humans as masters. But this one was sitting calm. He opened big black eyes, just when Victor came closer and touched his feathers with one finger. The bird let beautiful sound and leaned a bit closer to Victor.

“It’s Phoenix!” Yuuri opened mouth and forgot what they were talking about just now.

“Yes, his name is Maka…” Victor softly smiled at this wonderful creature.

Yuuri wanted to come and touch it too. Those feathers... Yuuri heard that they are really soft. Where Victor got it?

“Katsuki, why you think I let Lee and others go? As I understand you were blaming me.”

“Professor… I… am sorry…” Yuuri murmured, he could swear that Victor was smiling, even if Yuuri couldn’t look at his side anymore from embarrassment.

“Of course, I know that it’s their fault. But if I defend you in front of them, that would only give them a reason to hate you more.”

“But why they did that…? We really did nothing wrong.”

“To be honest, I try to stay away from students’ dramas, unless it somehow has an influence on me. School is a very good place to learn how to protect yourself.”

“So you think, that they did the right thing?” Yuuri asked. “… professor.” he added.

“I never said that.” Victor looked at Yuuri and suddenly the bird flew towards Yuuri, boy didn’t get a chance to move when Phoenix landed on the table, next to him. “He likes you. It’s a rare thing for him to get close to someone except me. You must be a good person.”

Yuuri didn't know what they were talking about when he got to see Maka from such close range. His red feathers were nothing like from the books, with a little bit of yellow and blue they looked like flames.

“He is gorgeous,” Yuuri whispered. “I love animals…” somehow he added even if Victor probably didn’t care about that at all. Since Victor didn’t say anything else, Yuuri slowly reached to touch it. “Oh my…” he sighed when Maka moved his head and Yuuri touched feathers with fingertips.

“Hm…. Right. If you don’t have any other questions and you are sure you don’t want to tell me how you got released from the spell, you are free to go.” Yuuri looked at Victor when he spoke, but professor wasn’t looking at him. Strangely he was pressing one of his fingers next to the lips, lost in his thoughts. If only Yuuri could understand what this genius is really thinking.

“Yes… Goodbye, Professor.” Yuuri stood up.

“Tomorrow eleven in the morning be next to the main door.” That was Victor’s answer and Yuuri froze already next to the door. “I hope you didn’t think that after shouting at me you won’t get detention?” Yuuri could swear that Victor is smiling again. It’s Yuuri’s second day and he already got detention. Just great.

“Yes, professor.” Yuuri nodded and left.

All this time, his heart was like frozen, but now it started beating so fast, that Yuuri had to grab on his chest. This feeling was new and Yuuri didn’t know what it means, but it’s like someone took all the air around him. He just wanted to sit down and let himself to calm down, but Victor could walk out any moment, so Yuuri had to run. Literally, he started running so fast, feeling how his cheeks are still blushed. He was in the same room with him and they almost had a normal conversation. What was that? A dream? And Victor was interested in him… for a second Yuuri thought that detention might mean more time with Victor.

Just when he went downstairs, Yuuri stopped and remembered that Eiji is still somewhere here. In Hospital, right? Yesterday Yuuri was shown how to go there, but no way he can remember… also, he didn’t want to ask someone. Just in case to avoid questions. Yuuri started walking where he imagined it might be, but a few minutes later he had to admit to himself that it's pointless.

“I am sorry, where is Hospital Wing?” finally Yuuri found strengths to ask some girl in the corridor. He on purpose waited for a person from Hufflepuff because he was not sure if he can trust someone else.

“It’s… on the first floor, you just have to turn to the right over there and keep going straight.” She was really friendly.

“Thank you so much.” Yuuri quickly nodded. He waisted so much time and it seemed that the place was just around the corner.

Yuuri stopped next to the big door, it was opened a little. He was able to see a lot of beds. Can he just enter like that? Yuuri stepped a little bit closer and looked through the door gap. He saw Eiji right away, he was lying in the bed with his eyes closed. There was no blood on his face and he looked totally healthy, but Yuuri didn’t enter because next to the bed he again saw the same beautiful boy. The one he saw at night in the corridor. This time Yuuri was able to take a good look. From appearance it was hard to tell how old he is. But probably around seventeen or eighteen. Are they friends with Eiji? But that wasn’t the only thing that stopped Yuuri from moving. It was the way that boy looked at Eiji. In his eyes Yuuri saw deep sadness, his hand was reached towards Eiji, but, of course, a ghost can’t touch people. What they are to each other? First time in his life he saw a ghost like this young man. It’s like… he was in pain. But… it shouldn't be like that, right?
Yuuri was so into this that he didn’t feel how doors opened a little bit more. That was his mistake. The boy turned his head at Yuuri and moved from the bed.

“No, wait. Don’t leave because of me… I am sorry, I didn’t want to disturb.” Yuuri said and the ghost stopped, he raised his eyebrow.

“Yuuri?” Eiji heard his voice and woke up. Yuuri looked at a friend for a moment, but when he turned his head back the boy was gone. He is really a ghost. It’s a second time he disappears so fast.

“Eiji, how are you feeling? Is it bad...?” Yuuri decided not to tell about the boy for now.

“What? Of course not. Jessica fixed my nose in few seconds, I just felt so tired that I thought I might take a nap…” he giggled. “But wait. What happened to you? Are you in trouble?”

“Vic…. Professor Nikiforov gave me detention.”

“He whaaat?” Eiji sat on the bed with opened mouth. “It’s a first time I hear something like that! Nikiforov has never given detention to anyone… well, you shouted at him, but… Tell me everything.”

Yuuri sighed and told Eiji how they went to Victor’s office, what he said about lying and interrupting the fight. Yuuri could have skipped the part about Pheonix, but he couldn’t.

“I see. I knew that he has Phoenix, one time he brought it to class, but you were able to touch it… I am jealous. Anyway, let me tell you something… no, first of all, let’s go from here. How long you waited for me?” Eiji got up, and Yuuri followed.

“I came just a few moments before you woke up.”

“I thought that I heard your voice… did you try talking with me…?” They left the hospital wing and went through the corridor.

“Hm… yeeees..." Yuuri smiled. He wasn’t sure why he can’t say the truth. It just didn’t feel right. That sad look that ghost had in his eyes… it really shocked Yuuri. But Eiji was not like Victor, he believed in Yuuri's words. They stopped next to the window from which Yuuri was able to see the Forbidden forest.

“So… what I wanted to say… it’s really strange.”

“What is strange?”

“Professor Nikiforov. What he said about interrupting between fights, that’s true. It was the first time I saw him coming in like this. I won’t lie, he saved our asses right there. But… let me say, that I don’t have any idea why… what’s more… Victor could have fixed my nose himself, just in few seconds, but he told me to go to the hospital… and then he gave you detention. Which is absolutely unbelievable…”

“What are you trying to say, Eiji?” Yuuri asked and leaned against the wall with his shoulder. It must be his imagination… but it sounds like… Victor…

“I think… professor is interested in you.” friend just finished Yuuri’s thoughts and smiled seeing how Yuuri suddenly blushed.

“W-what do you mean interested? Why he should be...?” Yuuri turned his eyes away and let his head down, but Eiji already saw his cheeks. Yuuri wanted to say something more, but maybe not this time. He just smiled and sighed.

“Well, you are smart and talented. Maybe he saw potential in you.” Eiji shrugged.

Oh. Why Yuuri feels a little bit disappointed?

Without any words, they walked towards Great Hall for lunch, this time they had to go to their tables. Yuuri sat somewhere at the end of it, still thinking about Victor’s words. It’s impossible, right? That Victor might like him… of course, he doesn’t. It’s just… maybe he wants to find out the truth about Yuuri. Then why Yuuri just can’t calm down? He looked at the plate full of food but didn’t want to eat. Head was full of thoughts.

They met again with Eiji after lunch and went towards Victor’s class. How he should look at Victor? With fear? But his voice was so soft and calm. When they entered the class, Eiji showed Yuuri to sit next to him. But before that Yuuri volunteered to get them textbooks from the shelf. Of course, he also checked if there is a new letter. Heart jumped when he saw an envelope with the new date.

Yuuri quickly took it. He really wants to read it. Yuuri couldn’t explain why, but he felt like this letter might help him find an answer for the way he feels now.

“Yuuri! Yuuri!! Hey! Yuuri!” Just after the third time, he understood that it’s for him. Yuuri turned around and saw Phichit at the doorway. He quickly hid the envelope under his robe.

“Phichit?” Yuuri took the textbook and came closer, Eiji was already next to Phichit.

“What are you daydreaming about?” Phichit laughed. “Professor Wong just came back, he wants to meet you.”

“Professor Wong?”

“Head of Hufflepuff. Come on, Yuuri…” Phichit couldn’t stop laughing.

“Yes. I know, of course. But I have class… I can’t just…”

“Professor Wong asked to say to professor Nikiforov: Chill your ass, nobody cares about your old magic tricks.” Phichit giggled. “Of course, I won’t tell…”

“Thank you for the message, Phichit.” Three of them froze when Victor spoke behind boys. Where he came from?? “Katsuki, you can go.”

“Y-es…” both boys said at the same time.

“Just don’t forget about tomorrow.”

“Y-es… professor.” Yuuri knew that everybody is staring at him, that’s why he quickly ran out.

“Wait, Yuuri… you don’t know where are you going!” Phichit caught up to Yuuri. “Tomorrow is Saturday, what Victor had in mind?” he asked.

“Hm… it’s about the information that you already learned… Victor wants to make sure that I know everything.” Yuuri couldn’t explain why it was so easy to lie.

“Oh… I see…”

“Is it what professor Wong really said?” In Yuuri’s imagination he was an old grandpa, but after that quote, Yuuri just wasn’t sure what to think.

“Hahaha, you will get used to professor Wong. I thought I will die from embarrassment. I can’t believe that Nikiforov heard!” Phichit laughed nervously. But Yuuri didn’t want to, maybe because of what happened before. “Here we are… just go inside. See you!”

Yuuri opened the door and saw professor Giacometti sitting at the table talking with punk on the couch. His hair was purple and the sides were shaved, his ears were pierced. The man was dressed in muggle clothes. Probably student… but he looked so relaxed and Yuuri thought that professor Giacometti must be really kind if he let students sit like that. Where is professor Wong?

“… and you know he said: Where is my gift? I am a gift myself, right?” the punk laughed and Giacometti rolled his eyes. Then they looked at Yuuri.

“Hello, professor…” Yuuri stepped in and closed the door.

“Did Phichit gave the message to my baby?” the punk asked with a smile.

What? Baby?

“Yuuri, this is Head of Hufflepuff and History of Magic teacher, professor Shorter Wong.” Giacometti introduced. And Yuuri couldn’t hold himself, just stare in amazement. It must be a joke.

“Oh, Chris, you will give a heart attack for the boy. He is cute, you were right.” Wong got up and came close to Yuuri. “Do you like it here, darling? If anyone dares to touch you, let me know and I will kick their ass. I am not soft like Vitya.”

Yuuri was still speechless, he could see that professor Giacometti is looking at him with that look full of pity. Somebody could have warned him!

“Yes… professor.” Yuuri honestly didn’t know what else to answer.

“Awwwww. I like him. Alright, I must go now to talk with that witch Lilia, before she came here on the broom and spanked me.”

“Shorter, that really doesn’t sound right… and please go to the Hospital Wing, I am worried about that wound.”

“I will be just fine. Yuuri, don’t go back to class. I will just tell Victor that we had a great talk with a cup of tea about our life experience. Run, do something meaningful in your life!” He widely smiled for Yuuri and then left. Just when Yuuri saw professor Wong’s back, he noticed that one side of his sweater is ripped. Is he injured?

When professor left, Giacometti sighed.

“I missed him so much. Yuuri, I suppose you didn’t expect that, but you will see professor Wong is great. Now, have a great weekend.” That was a sign for Yuuri to leave.

“You too, professor.” Yuuri walked out. Should he go back? It hasn’t been more than 10 minutes since the class started. Yuuri tried to imagine Victor’s expression when he comes in. No, today is just too much… he turned around and went towards the stairs.

“Are you… Eiji’s friend?” this voice made him stop somewhere in the narrow corridor, towards his dormitories. He was sure that nobody followed him, so Yuuri even flinched from surprise. He looked around and just after the third time he was able to see the boy in the shadow. He is the same from today!

“Yes… I am Yuuri. And you?” he asked. Wow, he is really talking with him.

“I am Ash. You… look similar to Eiji.” That boy was speaking silently like he wasn’t sure if it’s a right thing to do.

“Probably a lot of people would say so.” Yuuri tried to smile. First time Yuuri noticed at night and later in hospital, but Ash has really sad eyes.

But… why did Ash decide to talk to him?

“I see… it’s strange for Eiji to talk with someone so friendly. I saw you outside… and during the break. He seemed happy.” Ash looked away for a second and Yuuri couldn’t explain why he really wanted to hug him now and tell that probably Eiji feels the same way with him. “Please… keep talking with him.”

“Wait!” It’s sounded like Ash is about to leave. “Are you also friends with Eiji?”

“I am not sure who we are. I mean… I am nothing.”

“Why you say so? You came to the hospital, right?”

“It doesn’t change anything… Eiji and I… we are too different.”

“Even if you are right, it doesn’t change anything. Friends don’t need to be similar.” Yuuri smiled and hoped that Ash will smile too.

“That’s the problem. Friends.” He didn’t say anything else, but he also didn’t disappear, this time Ash walked away slowly. Really, like a human.

Yuuri returned to dormitories still thinking about what Ash said. Friends. What he had in mind? So he doesn’t want to be friends with Eiji or he wants? Something was missing here. Yuuri wasn’t sure that it’s his problem. He also didn’t have a right to say something. But what’s wrong? Yuuri knew some people who were good friends with ghosts, especially back in his school. But what’s wrong for Ash? He didn’t sound jealous of Eiji. Actually, his voice sounded relieved when he heard that Eiji and Yuuri are friends. It’s just a second day here, but a lot happened already… it seems that Yuuri's life in Hogwarts won’t be so calm as he imagined.

Yuuri was the only one in the common room. That's great, he will have time to read the letter and maybe give an answer.


You think that it’s possible to lose those memories, experience, and emotions? Or maybe someone hurt you so badly that you can’t recover anymore?

There was a time when I believed that magic is everything I need and then after one accident I started to hate it. Hate what I might do with it and how easy mistakes are made if Magic is the only thing you trust. Of course, we were taught to live with it, but… who says that we all have to be the same? Do you want to follow the crowd? If not using Magic makes you feel better… then do what you want. You don’t own anything. And I don’t think that someone has a right to say how I suppose to live. Yes, we learned. But I started a new page. Have you?

You don’t trust anyone, do you? So you are afraid? But at the same time, you still want to be saved? A little bit selfish, don’t you think? People hurt each other. That’s what we are. That’s how it has always been. If you are afraid of others, you are afraid to live. And that would be really sad.

So I was right, you have your own story. I also have mine. And yet, I answered to you… and somehow I am sure, you will answer to me.

So who we are? I won’t be against becoming a Stardust. They at least know, where they belong.

 

Yuuri read it a few times. Why? Why this letter gives him some strange feeling… something really nostalgic, but at the same time something he has never experienced before. Yuuri closed his eyes and pressed the letter to the chest. Where he belongs…? That’s a good question… does he still want to be a part of this magic world? And does he have a right to start a new page? This person, with his words, he made Yuuri think about things he wanted to forget. And still, he couldn’t get mad… actually, he wanted to talk… to write him everything that happened. The truth how he feels about it. But how? Why? Yuuri doesn’t even know him or… her… but then why heart says that he can trust that person? Maybe because they are writing letters? Yuuri feels like it’s impossible to lie when you entrust feelings to paper.

Yuuri came back to his room and took new parchment and his old quill, but just after ten minutes, Yuuri understood that he didn’t write a thing. He knew what he wanted to write, but hand just didn’t move. After an hour Yuuri had to give up, it’s better to leave it like that for now. When Yuuri came back to the common room there were some students. He noticed a girl who told him where to find Hospital Wing. She was talking with the other three girls. Phichit wasn’t around, maybe he is with his boyfriend. Boyfriend…

Yuuri left dormitories, just with one thought, he really wanted to find Eiji. But where to go? They really need something for communication. Yuuri decided to start from D.A.D.A. class, maybe he is still there for extra class? He reached the classroom, the door was a little bit opened. Yuuri saw Yurio and another student from Gryffindor, but Eiji wasn’t here.

“You again.” Yurio looked at him angry like always. “Want to fight again?”

“Have you seen, Eiji?” Yuuri decided not to look at Yurio, that other guy from Gryffindor was his hope.

“Eiji said that he is going back to dormitories. Want me to call him?” man silently spoke and Yuuri nodded.

“Yes… please.”

The boy got up from the desk, took all his books and came to Yuuri.

“Otabek? Where you… I mean…” Yurio tried to speak, but Otabek just left without listening to the end.

Just now Yuuri understood what’s going. What Eiji told… that Otabek will never notice Yurio if he acts angry. Maybe Yuri really should think about those words. Yuuri quickly moved away, before this blond boy said or did something else.

“You are Otabek, right?” Yuuri tried to walk fast enough with his huge steps.

“Yes… and you…Yuuri Katsuki?”

“Mhm… thanks for helping.”

“Eiji told me about you… he said we should get to know each other because you are interesting.”

“Really?” Yuuri blushed a little bit. Is he always so honest? Also, Otabek face was too serious. Yuuri couldn’t be sure if he takes this seriously or not. Maybe it’s just who he is? It’s not easy to express honest feelings, Yuuri knew this well.

“I will call him, wait here.” They walked for ages, Yuuri guessed that they might be in the tower. Otabek stopped in front of the huge portrait with Fat lady.

“He is not from Gryffindor. I am not letting him in,” she spoke and Yuuri quickly moved away, of course, he didn’t have a right to hear the password.

He walked a little bit further looking at those big paintings. Next to the Hufflepuff dormitories, Yuuri saw a lot of paintings with food, but here most of them were representing humans. Some of the people smiled for Yuuri, few of them started whispering something to each other.

“Yuuri!” Eiji called him and came closer. “How was your meeting with professor Wong? Sorry, I didn’t warn you about him…” Eiji tried to smile, but Yuuri saw that his eyes are slightly red. Was he crying?

“Eiji… I met Ash today.” Yuuri decided to tell him. If he starts hiding things that might hurt him later.

“What?” he opened mouth. “Wait. Come here…”

Eiji showed the way, they both entered an empty classroom. From the amount of dust on the tables, Yuuri decided that it’s not been used for some time. Eiji made sure that the door is closed. Both of them sat next to the window. Yuuri looked around and saw a big mirror, he could see their reflection. Eiji put his hands on the windowsill and laid down his head.

“I know… it’s not my business… I am sorry…” Yuuri finally spoke and looked at the sad friend.

“You know… it’s strange, but I feel like I can trust you, Yuuri. Is it because we are from the same country? Or is it because it’s so easy to talk with you?”

“We even look similar if I take off my glasses” Yuuri smiled and took them off. Sadly without them, he almost couldn’t see.

“You are right…” Even Eiji’s face from so close was a little bit blurry. “What a coincided… are your eyes bad?”

“Yeah, really bad… it’s been like that for almost two years now.”

“Have you tried to heal them? With magic, I mean?”

“Hm… I don’t think it’s possible. I lost my vision because of Magic…” Yuuri put glasses back and also looked through the window. It was already dark outside, Eiji looked like he wanted to ask more, but for some reason, probably because of Yuuri’s expression he decided to leave it for later.

“So… you met Ash…?” he finally asked.

“Right, he found me when I was going back to dormitories… he saw how I came to Hospital. Actually... he was standing next to your bed when I came in. Sorry… that I didn’t tell you right away.”

“He did…?” Eiji murmured silently and hid his face. “I haven’t seen him since the time in the corridor. I knew that you saw him… we had a fight and… he disappeared. I thought when I come back today to dormitories, he will wait for me, like always. But he didn’t… I told you, it’s complicated.”

“I understand… but… oh, wait. Oh… Eiji…I…” Yuuri didn’t know how to end the sentence. Just now he understood how everything is. Ash is the one Eiji is in love with.

“Yeah, that sucks… I met Ash when I came here. On my first day. At that time, he was staying in my room most of the time. I got interested, but he wasn’t. First, he ignored me… but little by little I made him speak with me. Ash… lost his memories, all he knew about himself was the name. I saw how lost and scared he actually is. I couldn’t explain why I wanted to speak with him so much. I just needed him by my side. So we made a deal. If Ash stays with me… I will help him find out who he is and what happened. But… I couldn’t. I searched everywhere I could… and it was pointless… then something… changed. My affection towards Ash… turned into something stronger. I couldn’t imagine my day without him. I… I fell in love. I wanted him always by my side, I wanted to listen to his voice, hear him laughing. And I couldn’t change that…. And I can’t. I need Ash by side to keep living. I am weird, right? Damn it…”

Even if Yuuri couldn’t see Eiji’s face. He saw how friend’s shoulders are moving. He was silently crying and Yuuri would have given everything if he only knew what to say. But… there were no words to help him.

“And then the time came for me to go back. Last evening, before the summer holiday, we were sitting in my room and just looking at each other. I felt… so peaceful... like never before. For one second I even thought that I could probably die to keep this moment forever. And then… then… Ash asked me to say. He whispered silently and that sound squeezed my heart. I was incapable to leave. So I stayed. I moved here as a full-time student. From that day I knew that our feelings towards each other are same. But the relationship between ghost and human… until this time we never talked about this, but when everything became clear… it became a major problem. Sometimes… I feel so tired because of those fights. Ash can’t understand that the only thing I need is him by my side, nothing more… but he… I think during the summer he gave too many thoughts on this topic. He wants me to stop searching for information... Ash always reminds me, that he is dead, that we will never be able to touch each other… last year, we didn’t even think about it. But now… just talking is not enough… or at least that’s what he thinks. It seems that lately, we do nothing more… just fighting.” Eiji wiped his eyes and then raised his head. “Sorry, I made you listen to all of this.”

“It’s alright… I can’t help you... but at least I can listen…” Yuuri thought that it’s best he can tell.

“You are the first person I told this.” Eiji sighed. “Thank you… maybe I really needed to let this out.”

“Ash told me… that… I am the first friend you have here. And he seemed glad about it. He even asked me to keep talking to you.”

“I…” Eiji sighed.

“Why Lee hates you that much? Really, I thought the same, you could have a lot of friends.”

“I… didn’t want to. Until now, I never thought that I need someone else here, besides Ash. Also, I didn’t want him to feel uncomfortable. But… it’s not like I don’t talk with anyone. There are some people I could almost call friends. And Lee… hm… well, he hates me from the first week. He tried to tease one boy from the first year, I stopped him and told professor Baranovskaya. Since then… I try to avoid him as much as possible. He can't stand me for hurting his pride.”

“And how about Yurio?”

“What about him? He is not bad… just… Yuri can’t get what he wants. Also, he is a bit jealous that I get along with Otabek and he doesn’t. It’s not like I am doing this on purpose… Otabek thinks that he is really immature, that’s it.”

“At least Phichit is happy.” Yuuri shrugged and finally made Eiji smile. Maybe if he tells him about feelings towards Victor, it will make feel Eiji even better?

“At least no one of us is in love with a teacher. That would be too much.” Eiji nodded and Yuuri froze. Alright, that’s bad. No, better keep silent. Too much. It’s time to change the topic. Yuuri couldn’t help, his hands started shivering. “Oh… I just remembered that you have detention tomorrow so we won’t be able to go to Hogsmeade… let’s leave it for Sunday.”

“Of course… I am just a little bit worried about tomorrow… it’s the first time in my life I get a detention.” Yuuri shared his feelings with Eiji. That didn’t sound wrong, right? How about his voice? Was it normal? What if Eiji understands that Yuuri wants to be with Victor?

“Yuuuuuri, really don’t worry. I am sure it won’t be hard and I am sure, not dangerous. Maybe professor Nikiforov wants to test you, probably. Hmm…. your knowledge about magic...”

Yuuri felt relieved a little bit, that Eiji’s voice didn’t show any suspicion. They both talked a little bit more, about things that Victor might tell him to do. Maybe he will give him some challenge with spells. What worse can happen? He will tell Yuuri to clean something? Then they decided to meet tomorrow around six, next to the library. Yuuri suggested that he can help with research about Ash’s past. Yuuri saw how important it is for Eiji. It wasn’t a selfish intention. But even Yuuri couldn’t guess that finding out the truth is just a beginning in Eiji’s plans.

When Yuuri came back he felt too tired for writing the letter. He had too many thoughts inside the head and he needed some time to think them over and put it on the paper. His second night in Hogwarts also wasn’t calm. There were a lot of thoughts about Eiji and Ash, about Victor, the fact that he is a teacher and strong feeling inside Yuuri’s chest that if only Victor would show him a sign, Yuuri wouldn’t care about anything else. Why… why he had to fall into this?

 

In the morning, Yuuri came to the right place earlier than Victor said. Nothing happened yet, but he couldn’t hold from feeling nervous. Not mention the fact, that from lack of sleep Yuuri’s head felt heavier. Of course, he saw Victor right away. Yuuri wasn’t sure, but for a second professor seemed a little bit upset about something. His face changed immediately when their eyes met.

“Hello, Katsuki.” Victor smiled when he came closer. “Let’s go. No time to lose.”

“Professor… can I ask, where are we going?” Yuuri found the courage to ask. He has a chance to spend time with Victor alone. He can't miss it and waste time to silence.

“To the Forest, of course.” Victor’s voice sounded too happy for these words.

Forbbiden Forest??? Yuuri remembered how he saw it through the window. The last place where he wanted to be right now. Eiji thought that Victor might give Yuuri a challenge. Well, maybe he wasn’t wrong.

 

Chapter Text

For a second Yuuri was staring at Victor and hoped that professor will laugh. Why he always hopes that people here are not that crazy as they look like from the first sight? For what possible reason they can go to the forest? Yuuri suddenly blushed, when other thoughts came to his mind. No, really he should be more realistic. There must be a logical reason.

“Katsuki.” Victor’s voice woke him up, from slumber. He was already outside. Yuuri hasn’t noticed before, but Victor looks really good with that long black robe.

He rushed to Victor and then they walked in silence. Yuuri wasn’t brave enough to ask what he wanted and Victor, obviously, wasn’t interested. It was a little bit awkward, but Yuuri couldn’t stop himself from feeling a little bit excited. Even if this supposed to be a punishment. Victor was taller, but still really young so compared to Yuuri they were not so different. Sadly, Yuuri knew that the youth is the only thing they have in common. Yuuri was born in a muggle family and Victor should be proud of having one of the oldest pure-blood lines. Yuuri was average everywhere starting with his looks and ending with magic, Victor – best in everything. A mystery why he decided become a professor instead of Auror was still open. But Yuuri should be glad because otherwise, they would have never ended up here, together.

“You will help me find Boggart. I need it for the third years’ class.” Victor stopped before entering the forest. Yuuri looked at trees. Even from here, it was dark. Yuuri didn’t want to imagine how it looks when you enter this place. He hated darkness. He hated forests like this one. It’s not like he was afraid of it… but…

“Why… why couldn’t we look for it in the school?” Yuuri silently asked and finally, Victor noticed that something with his reaction is wrong.

“Because looking in the forest is more interesting. Are you afraid?” after this question, Yuuri raised his eyes and they met with Victor’s. Strangely, but Victor’s voice was serious, he wasn’t teasing Yuuri, Victor was seriously worried. How can Yuuri explain this? And why every time their eyes meet, Yuuri’s heart raises?

“No… of course not.” How can he be weak in front of this man?

“Good. Let’s repeat some things. How Boggart looks like?”

“Nobody knows. It’s a shape-shifter, it will turn in what we are scared the most.”

“Good. Spell?”

Riddikulus.”

“Right. Stay behind me. I think that we might find one living in a tree cave. There are some big ones really close. If we are lucky, we might come back before lunch.” Victor stepped forward and this time Yuuri didn’t need to be called again. If he could, he would have grabbed on Victor’s robe or even hand.

“Professor…?” Yuuri couldn’t keep silent. The moment they entered this forest all other sounds around disappeared. That made him start whispering. To be honest, Yuuri didn’t know what to ask, just wanted to make sure that he suddenly didn't turn deaf.

“What?” Victor answered with normal voice, but Yuuri couldn’t answer at first. Just after some minutes.

“How do you know where to go?” This question was so random, that Yuuri wanted to hit himself for asking. Why in front of Victor he suddenly acts like an idiot? The end of Victor’s wand was shining, so of course, he perfectly saw where to go, even if the ground was totally covered by roots.

“When I was a student… I used to come here a lot, with my friends.” Victor could have ignored the question, but maybe he understood that Yuuri is just pretending to be brave. After all, it was a detention, not a romantic date. What surprised the boy more, is that Victor actually chose to say the truth.

“I thought that coming here is against the school rules?” Yuuri pointed eyes at Victor’s back, but the professor didn’t stop or somehow showed that this question made him feel bad. Actually, Yuuri’s question was almost funny. Victor silently laughed. Yuuri thought that he might be going insane since even in this situation Victor’s laugh was still attractive for him.

“I don’t regret it.” It’s all he said and then stopped. “Here we are. You don’t have to be worried, it’s unlikely we will find something that might harm you…”

“I am not afraid.” Yuuri didn’t let Victor finish what he wanted to say. The boy really wanted Victor to see that he is brave. Or at least looks like that.

“You see these two paths? I will turn right, you left. They connect again in the middle. If you find Boggart, use the spell to hold him and call me. I won’t be too far away.” Victor explained with a calm voice, but Yuuri wasn’t ready for them to separate. What he supposed to do??

“How...? How… do I search for it?” He had to ask something, just to make them stay together.

“Um… you look inside the cave…?” Victor knit his eyebrows. True, that was a very stupid question for a sixth-year student. “Really, if you don’t want to go alone or if you are afraid, just tell me.”

Yuuri froze when Victor touched his shoulder. His hand was warm and somehow just from this touch, Yuuri was sure that he can feel safe, at least here. This man in front knew what he was doing, he was sincere and if Yuuri had said only one word, if only he had nodded… Victor would have stayed with him. But. Well, Yuuri also wanted to be better, to overcome himself even if inside he knew that he is not ready for that.

“No, no. I am fine. Alright. Lumos!” Yuuri stepped back and then turned left. This path is not long, he can do it. Obviously, he won’t even look inside a single cave. He just needs to pass this path, that’s it. Nothing more, right?

Yuuri started walking little by little, very carefully looking where is he going. What he is afraid the most? With all his strengths Yuuri tried to push away all memories, which just started appearing inside his head out of nowhere. Well, that was a lie. These surroundings were so similar to the ones where everything happened. If Yuuri could close eyes for a second, he would immediately be thrown back. No, he can’t let this happen. Yuuri swore that he left everything behind in Japan. He started a new life. About one he was sure, after this day, he will never shout at teacher again. Finally, Yuuri was able to sigh from relief when he saw a light. It must be Victor’s wand. Well, it didn’t take that long.

But after a second light turned off.

“Professor?” Yuuri called him out loud. Someone is moving towards him. If Victor wants to scare Yuuri, he already succeeded. It’s enough. When Yuuri’s light finally reached far enough to lit a person in front of him, he saw a girl.

No.

It wasn’t just a little girl walking towards him. She crawled on the ground, slowly like a wounded animal. Her pale white skin and deep black eyes, instantly made Yuuri sick. Long dark hair was dirty and some of the parts the skin was loosened. Even if she was dead, her suffers were still not over, she bled and cried for help. Her hands were broken, but she still tried to reach Yuuri. Grab into a life, that she lost long ago. Just seconds before this, Yuuri thought about what he is afraid the most, but… he was way too far from the truth. This memory from deep inside him just became reality. And Yuuri couldn’t say anything. It wasn’t just a terrible fear that something like that might happen again, it was also guilt and a huge pain. All of that is his fault. Yuuri kneeled on the ground and blood stopped running through his veins, everything froze. The whole body started trembling and wand fell on the ground, dragging him in total darkness.

“Katsuki!!” Even this voice couldn’t save him. Because Victor wasn’t there when this happened. He didn’t kill this girl. It wasn’t him… nobody was there… “What…” Victor murmured, when in front of his eyes he saw greatest Yuuri’s fear and the boy himself, kneeling on the ground like he was ready to get killed. “Seriously??” Victor stood in front and something changed.

Yuuri couldn’t clearly understand what exactly, but the girl was gone. As he was able to see with teary eyes, something was lying on the ground next to Victor’s legs. Probably dead. Yuuri wasn’t sure was it a girl or a boy, he just saw blond hair and then heard Victor’s silent voice:

“I am sorry Aslan.” he painfully sighed. “Riddikulus.” Yuuri wasn’t able to understand what could turn a dead person into a funny thing, but Victor for a second leaned forward and then turned to Yuuri. “You are afraid of zombies? Really?” the professor asked and gave hand to Yuuri, but boy didn’t have strengths to take it. To be honest, Yuuri didn’t want to touch Victor. What if he hurts him like he hurt that girl?

After a few moments, even Victor understood that this might be more serious than it seems. He slowly kneeled in front of Yuuri and looked him in the eyes. In this darkness, only Victor’s eyes might be so bright.

“It’s gone now. Come…” when Yuuri didn’t move, Victor hugged him and help to stand. Yuuri leaned to Victor like he would be a wall.

Their first close contact wasn’t romantic at all, Yuuri thought that he might start vomiting any second. A disgusting feeling inside the stomach was still there. Yuuri grabbed on Victor’s robe. He would have given everything for this moment just some minutes ago. But not now. This moment holding on Victor was equal to a fight he had inside. He just started a new life… no way he can give up so easily.

“Hold on, you can get a little bit dizzy now.” Somewhere from far away, Yuuri heard Victor’s voice and second after that, the air from lungs disappeared.

The strangest feeling that he ever felt. It’s like every part of Yuuri's body suddenly were soaked into some invisible hole and before he understood clearly what’s going on, Victor helped him sit on the chair. What was that? Apparition? Yuuri thought that it’s impossible to travel by air inside Hogwarts territory.

“Was it your first time?” Victor’s voice was still somewhere too far away, but Yuuri thought he managed to nod clearly. “Then you are holding up quite good.” Yuuri heard other noises around, it’s like Victor was searching for something. “Listen Katsuki, I hope it was a lesson for you. If I ask a question next time, you have to answer the truth. Were you afraid to go into the forest? Were you afraid to go alone?” Victor waited a few moments for an answer. “Katsuki?”

The view was getting a little bit clearer, but Yuuri was still trembling. Good that he had a table next to him to lean. He looked at shivering fingers and for a second it seemed that they are all covered in blood, but that was just dirt from falling on the ground in the forest. He is no winner… more likely the biggest failure alive.

“Yuuri.” This time voice made Yuuri lift his head. Victor was kneeling in front of him. Looking right at his ugly crying face. But he called Yuuri by name for the first time, and somehow just then Yuuri understood that there is nothing to be afraid now. He slowly nodded. Yes, he was afraid… scared to the core. “Can you tell me why?” Victor asked with the same voice, Yuuri was still trying to read his eyes. Will he understand? That person which Yuuri saw next to Victor’s legs... He was dead, right? Maybe Yuuri is not the only one struggling with the same fate. Maybe they are more similar than he thought at first.

Someone knocked on the door. Yuuri couldn’t believe himself, he was about to tell the darkest thing inside his heart for this person. He was saved the last second. Victor moved away.

“Come in,” Nikiforov said and the door opened, of course, it had to be someone from professors.

“What’s up? Let’s go for a drink.” Yuuri heard a happy voice. It just had to be the head of Hufflepuff. “Hey, what happened here?” if Yuuri didn’t look, he would have thought that it’s a totally different person speaking. A smile from professor Wong’s voice was gone.

“A boggart.” Victor again was searching for something. “It’s not like you to knock.” Obviously, these words were not for Yuuri.

“I thought I have to change some things in my life.” Professor Wong said it in a totally serious voice, but it only made Victor laugh.

Yuuri can’t really understand their jokes. The boggart for them was nothing more just a fly and Yuuri almost stopped breathing from fear. Of course, he was unprepared to see that view, but it only proved how weak he still is.

“Yuuri, darling. Don’t be afraid of the dead, they can’t harm you. The ones you should be scared of are still walking around the earth.” After these Wong’s words, Yuuri could only stare. How?? How did he know? Was it just a good guess? Or the answer is written on Yuuri’s face? When these people are going to stop surprising him?

“Drink.” Victor gave him a glass with clear liquid inside. What’s that? Yuuri wasn’t sure. He couldn’t guess from the smell. “It’s water… don’t worry.”

“Oh my, Vitya. If you dare to scare my student again like that I will…”

“You will what? Walk around screaming about it?”

“Oh. Would that work?” professor Wong pretended curious about that for a second and then looked at Yuuri, who tried to drink water as fast as he could. That way he will be able to get out of here.

“Professor, can I go?” Yuuri asked, but actually, he was already standing. He just realized something, and now wanted to get out of here a soon as possible.

“Were Victor holding you as a hostage?” Shorter laughed and sat at the table. In Victor’s office, Wong was feeling like home. Just for a second Yuuri thought that he saw how professor Wong closed his eyes as he would be in pain. But maybe it was just Yuuri's imagination since Wong was widely smiling searching for something on Victor’s desk.

“Yes, of course. Thank you for your help today.” Somehow now it seemed that Victor wants Yuuri to leave. Even if just some moments ago he clearly wanted him to stay longer. Yuuri didn’t wait anymore, but before leaving he looked at the corner where last time he saw Pheonix, but Maka wasn’t there. “Shorter, take off your sweater.” Before closing the door, it was the last thing Yuuri heard from Victor.

So he was right. Something is happening between Victor and Shorter, they are not just colleagues, and obviously not just friends. Yuuri couldn’t explain why suddenly he started running. Every muscle still hurt after falling, but he couldn’t stop. He ran into the first bathroom and smashed the door. All this should stop. Everything should be stopped. Victor is a professor and Yuuri is too broken inside to be brave enough.

He washed face and hands. Of course, it would be better to go back to dormitories and get changed, but Yuuri didn’t want to meet Phichit or someone else while he looks like that. Yuuri also tried to clean his clothes and just when he wanted to use magic for that, the boy realized that his wand is gone. He didn’t have it. Think Yuuri… think… when was the last time he saw it?? Yuuri grabbed on the sink and froze for a second. He had it in the forest, used for the light and then… oh shit. Yuuri couldn’t clearly remember how Victor helped him to get up.

“Yuuri! Here you are! I shouted through all corridor, but you didn’t stop.” Eiji ran into the bathroom and sighed from the relief. He was trying to catch the breath. “How was detention? Hey… is everything alright??” He saw Yuuri’s face and clothes.

“I lost my wand in the forest.” Yuuri murmured.

“What…? What forest?? FORBIDDEN FOREST?? What you were doing there??” Eiji’s face was shocked. If not the whole situation it might have been funny. He was looking at Yuuri’s face reflected in the mirror.

“It was a part of my detention… we… we went there to search for Boggart. What now? I need to go back.” Could this day get any worse? He just made out of that place and now he has to go back. Of course, Yuuri can’t live without his wand.

“To the forbidden forest? Are you crazy? We should go to Nikiforov and ask him for help.”

“No!” Yuuri shouted to suddenly and turned to Eiji. “No… he… he is… with professor Wong.”

“Um… so?”

“Nothing… is just… maybe it can wait… we can go there later…” Yuuri took off his glasses, he even managed to get them dirty. It doesn’t matter that magic did a lot of bad things for him. Yuuri had to admit, that without it life would be so different. One thing is when you grow up in the word not knowing that real magic exists, but another thing is to let go after it became a huge part of you.

“Let me help you with that. Scourgify!” Eiji pointed the wand at Yuuri and then nodded. Yuuri's clothes were clean “Better than I expected. Yuuri did something happen…? if you keep everything to yourself it will only get worse…”

“Thanks… Maybe… Sorry, I just need to sort my thoughts… I will be fine. Probably Boggart scared me more than I thought it will.” That’s the best thing Yuuri could have said to Eiji. Of course, the prehistory itself was so much darker.

“But Boggarts… that’s what they do… Haven’t you learned about them like ages ago?” Eiji giggled and they together walked out from the bathroom. “But professor Nikiforov… I never thought he will do such a thing! To take a student to the forest? On the other side, it’s the only legal way to get there… I never had a chance… it’s not like I really want to go there, but still…” Eiji was talking more to himself than to Yuuri. Slowly they walked to the Great Hall for a lunch. Yuuri sighed. Probably he could have found a bright side for today’s events. But even now he only could see either the girl’s face, either Victor talking to professor Wong in the way he will never talk with Yuuri.

 

After lunch, Yuuri was suddenly dropped into reality. Eiji finally remembered to tell him about the homework they had to do this weekend. As Yuuri understood excuses that he just came to this school won’t work for any of the teachers. Good that Eiji didn’t remember all of this on Sunday’s evening. They had to write an essay for Transfiguration class, Eiji tried softly explain that professor Baranovskaya is even more strict than professor Blanca. To be honest, that was already clear from her face. Also, they had some reading material for History and Care of Magical Creatures. It seems that Yuuri didn’t miss much on Friday’s D.A.D.A. class. They were talking about last essays that Victor corrected. Eiji said that they have to write another essay, but it was due to the Christmas holidays, so they still had almost a month. And the topic was free.

Yuuri didn’t expect them to take so long, but since they wanted to go out tomorrow everything had to be finished today. By the time they did that, the common room for studying was almost empty. Actually, there were just a few students on Saturday. Probably nerds. Just like Yuuri and Eiji. For Yuuri studying helped concentrate and forget what happened today. For Eiji not to think about the person he wanted to see the most.

“Oh… at last! It feels great.” Eiji put down the quill and looked at his Transfiguration essay. “Probably something still will be wrong… but the day when professor Baranovskaya is going to give someone’s essay without any corrections must become Saint. Are you done with yours?” Eiji looked at Yuuri. Actually, he was done long ago, now he tried to think of the topic for Defense the against Dark Arts class. “Oh no no, it’s enough for today. Let’s take a rest.” Eiji closed Yuuri’s book.

“Are we going to do some research about Ash?” Yuuri asked, and at the same second regretted.

“Maybe… not today… I feel a little bit tired.” Eiji tried to hold back his sad voice. But Yuuri was still looking at him, so Eiji lifted eyes to a friend. “I know it’s dumb… but maybe if he wants to leave it this way…”

“Eiji. Why are you suddenly giving up?”

“I am not… I am just trying to think what I can do… I don’t want him to be mad at me.”

“Let’s be honest… Ash must have really stubborn personality. Maybe he is also afraid to find out the truth. But what can happen?” Yuuri kept silent for a second until Eiji nodded. “You know what is a ghost?”

“Well... yeah… It’s a spirit…”

“That’s not the most important thing. It’s a soul that can’t move forward. It’s stuck in here. Trapped. Something is holding it, something that happened before the death… I think it should be very sad to know what you did and why you can’t finally go to rest. But I can’t even imagine what it might mean… not to remember anything. I just tried to think what Ash is feeling… must be horrible.” Yuuri explained to Eiji. Probably friend knew that himself, but Yuuri had to remind him. He didn’t want Eiji to give up. Finally, he nodded. Of course, Eiji wanted to help Ash, probably more than anything. Even if that means that Eiji might hurt himself.

“Alright… so… yes. Since Ash is in Hogwarts, he must be a wizard, also that means he has to be somehow related to this place. I don’t know when he died, but… looking at his outfit and the way he talks it’s probably not that long ago. I looked through graduated student lists of the past ten years, also I tried to find as many articles about deaths or murders, but there was nothing… it’s like he never existed. Probably Ash saw how desperately I am trying to find something, then he started going against it. But to be honest… I have no idea where to search anymore.”

Yuuri calmly listened to what Eiji had to say. There must be something he missed. It’s hard to do that kind of work alone.

“How about we look through the students' lists again?”

“Yeah… maybe.”

“Can we borrow them for some time?” Yuuri looked around. For him, the library and studying room were too formal to do a research about a ghost.

“Probably. Why?”

“Maybe we should find a less formal place for that… just my thoughts.”

“I have one idea. Let’s meet next to the Great Hall tomorrow after breakfast.”

“Boys, it’s already half past nine.” A librarian opened the door and they both nodded. At ten everybody must be at their dormitories. They were studying all day. Unbelievable.

When Yuuri came back to his room, he remembered about the letter, parchment was still on the table how he left it. There is no way he can make someone wait for so long. Yuuri wrote the answer. He didn’t say what happened, but he let all the feelings to that paper, how scared he is of life and of the things he might do. He didn’t know who is standing behind those letters, but that person also probably doesn’t know anything about Yuuri, so he wasn’t scared to show how he really feels. And of course, when he finished, Yuuri just had to bring it to the classroom. It could and it should have waited until morning. But it was just fifteen minutes after ten, so probably nothing bad will happen if he meets someone. The way to the classroom was successful. Yuuri opened the door, it was empty. He left the letter at the same place as always and then left. To be honest, Yuuri was almost feeling proud of himself when he saw stairs leading down to his dormitory, but when he finally reached them there was Victor going up.

“Here you are.” His voice wasn’t mad, it’s like he was expecting to meet Yuuri on his way back.

“Professor…” Yuuri just stepped back into the shadow and watched how Victor with few steps reached him. The only question Yuuri had on his mind right now was about professor Wong. Did they have had a great time? No, that’s not his business… nothing about Victor was Yuuri’s business. He should probably be worried how not to get detention again.

“I hope you didn’t try to look for it yourself?” Victor stepped closer.

“For what??” Can Victor read his mind or what?? Maybe professor suspects that Yuuri is interested in him?

“For your wand.” Victor took Yuuri’s hand and gave it back. “I picked it from the ground, but forgot to give you back.”

“Oh.” That’s only thing Yuuri could say. Of course, he forgot because professor Wong came in. If Victor had it all the time, so why just now? Was he with Wong all this time? Why Yuuri can’t stop thinking about it?

“As I see… your gratitude is floating from the bottom of your heart.” Was it a reality or just shadow’s fault, but Victor’s smile looked really sad.

“Thank you, professor…” just now Yuuri understood that their hands are still touching. It was warm and somehow really nostalgic, maybe that’s why until this second this hasn’t bothered him.

“Yuuri.” After these words, Yuuri’s heart stopped. When did Victor start calling him by the first name? But Victor also calls Eiji and Phichit by their first names, maybe it’s normal… Then why Yuuri suddenly feels like melting? Victor wanted to say something more, but at the last second changed his mind. “Goodnight.” It was just Yuuri’s imagination or he really squeezed his hand a little bit before releasing?

“Goodnight…” Yuuri whispered, but Victor probably didn’t hear him. Before going back to the dormitories, Yuuri for a few minutes waited just next to the door. He pressed the hand that Victor held to his cheek. It was burning. How can he change this confusing feeling? When Yuuri finally entered his room and looked outside, the sky was fulfilled with a white dance.

 

First snow.

Eiji looked through the window and touched the glass. It was the second day of December. A little bit early for the snow or maybe it’s about time. Usually, snow made Eiji happy, but he wished that his first experience this year would be different. He didn’t want to be alone at the time like this. How can he make Ash smile again, like he used to do when they first met? Eiji was afraid that new season this time might bring something scary. What if they find out something about Ash and that will help him move forward? What if one day he will stop existing? Eiji can’t let this happen. But he was also sure that Yuuri won’t approve Eiji’s original plan. That’s why he can’t tell this to anybody.

“Eiji…” When Ash’s voice called him, Eiji closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Finally. His heart shivered from the relief.

“What took you so long, Ash?” he silently asked. Now nothing else mattered. Ash was back by his side, silently standing next to him. Transparent and so fragile. At the same time, Eiji knew that Ash is actually stronger than anyone he has met before.

“It’s snowing…” Ash sighed and slowly started reaching for Eiji’s hand. Eiji opened palm and favorite feeling – million drops of rain – touched his entire body.

“I missed you… I missed you so much.” Eiji looked how Ash opened his palm a little bit more and tried to intertwine their fingers, but they just slipped through. Right. He can’t get everything. “I thought that you won’t forgive me this time…”

“I wasn’t mad at you. Stop thinking like that.” Ash moved a little bit back, then sat on Eiji’s bed, crossed his legs and looked at the boy in front of him with that stabbing look. Ash… what eyes color you had? Eiji wanted to know that so much.

“You mean so much for me… Do you know that?” Slowly Eiji sat on the ground and pressed his back at the wall.

“You think if we met earlier something would be different?” Ash asked silently.

“I am sure… that nobody could ever change my feelings” Eiji could sit all night and just look at Ash like that. After two days Ash finally showed up and Eiji again felt so light, he was able to breathe without pain. To be honest, if Ash wanted, he could not speak with Eiji. Just Ash’s existence here, next to Eiji is everything he will ever need. If he only will be able to find out what happened to Ash… Eiji perfectly knew how he will change everything. Yes, even the past.

“Yes, probably… Can you imagine waking up every morning together? You making breakfast for me…” Ash pretended that he is deeply touched.

“Hey, who told you that I would be the one making breakfast.” Eiji showed him tongue and Ash rolled his eyes. Then finally Eiji got what he wanted – the view of his beloved smiled. That moment didn’t matter at all that they are separated more than eternity one form each other.

“You seem tired…” Ash sighed. “Do I have to look after you like a baby?”

“What if the answer is yes?” Eiji bit his lip looking how Ash moved. He came closer and sat next to Eiji.

“Then I will stay until you fall asleep.”

“Today… and tomorrow… and every other day.”

“Sure.”

“Promise?” Eiji closed his eyes. This position was so uncomfortable but at the same time, after two sleepless nights, he finally felt so calm inside. Eiji was complete.

“I am nothing in this world without you. As long as you remember me, I will stay.” Ash’s voice was like a wind, it tickled Eiji’s cheek. Or maybe it was his lips, but when the cold feeling like ran down through the body and Eiji couldn’t help just smile.

Eiji’s heart belongs to Ash and Ash’s soul to Eiji. What else he could have dreamed about?

Eiji wasn’t sure when he fell asleep. There were only a million raindrops. The only sign that makes him alive.

 

“Wow. You look happy.” That was really noticeable. When Eiji showed himself next to the Great Hall after the breakfast Yuuri just had to point this out. Even his eyes were shinning. It was impossible to compare him to that boy who not long ago cried eyes out.

“Well… I can’t disagree.” Eiji smiled like a child and Yuuri just knew that it must be related to Ash. Probably everything is alright for now. “Look, I have the list.” Eiji was carrying a backpack. “But before going maybe you want to stop at professor Nikiforov’s office?”

“For… what?” Yuuri blinked and he couldn’t explain why suddenly he hid the hand behind back. Like Eiji could understand that yesterday Victor was holding it.

“Your wand…? Don’t you want to get it back?”

“Ohhhh… right.” Yuuri felt so stupid. “Yesterday professor came to Hufflepuff dormitories and gave it back to me.”

“I told you he is the best.” Eiji shrugged, it was an obvious fact. Why Yuuri couldn’t look at Victor simply like that??


Hogsmeade was the village Yuuri came from when he transported through Floo Network. When Eiji first mentioned this town Yuuri couldn’t understand because he didn’t know the name, but now he was sure. As they were getting closer he got more and more amazed by the landscapes. Surroundings changed so much just in one night! In the morning snow stopped, but ground covered by a tiny layer of snow reminded Yuuri the view from a beautiful postcard. It’s not like he saw the snow for the first time in life, but this place really had something magical. No wonder why Hogwarts is so popular. Eiji thought that they might go to the pub. As he said, already from the early morning pub is always full of people so nobody will be interested in two teenagers. Also, they were dressed in casual clothes and nobody really noticed that they were students. When on Thursday Yuuri came here in the evening it was too late to look around. Now Eiji had a chance to show Yuuri the best places. At the shop called Dervish and Banges, they bought two little mirrors that were connected with a spell. Finally, they won’t have to search for each other while running around and asking for help. They both laughed for hours thinking how girlish they both might look from the side because of the mirror. Sadly, such things as cell phones from the muggle world don't work here. Sometimes it was funny how wizards tried to ignore everything discovered by muggles even if it could be useful at some point. But from the other side, a mirror for talking can be seen almost like a video chat. Good that Eiji could understand these jokes, probably it wouldn’t be so fun to talk with pure-blood wizard.

After buying some candies they ended up at Three Broomsticks Inn. Eiji said that Yuuri just has to try their Butterbeer. Even after Yuuri told that he already tried it before, Eiji insisted. He promised that after drinking it here, Yuuri won’t be able to drink it somewhere else. They found one free table at the end of the hall, went there already holding a big glass of Butterbeer.

“Here we goooo.” Eiji took out a file from the backpack.

“Did you tell Ash where are you going today?” Yuuri asked, taking the file into his hand. It was huge, but they had to give a shot or at least start from somewhere. Maybe Eiji won’t feel that hopeless.

“Well… I said that I am going with you to Hogsmeade… which is not a lie.” Eiji tried his beer and Yuuri could only respond with a smile. Of course, it’s for the best not to tell Ash what they are doing. Yuuri didn’t want to see Eiji sad again.

“Hey… you were right… it is great…” Yuuri tried the drink and couldn’t believe himself how honest his words were.

“Told you!” Eiji laughed and then stood up. “But before burring ourselves under these papers I will go to the bathroom.” He left and took the stairs to the second floor.

In front of Eiji’s eyes, Yuuri would never do that, but now he used the chance that friend is not around and opened files, searched for the right paper, quickly looking through years. Finally, he found it. Victor Nikiforov graduated Hogwarts two years ago and Yuuri knew that he shouldn’t be surprised seeing Slytherin written as his House. Of course, soon Yuuri found another name. Shorter Wong graduated together with Victor. At least they were in different Houses. But somehow this fact wasn’t comforting at all. They were friends how else… maybe even something more. Yuuri sighed and closed the document. He wished to search for more information about Victor. But what then? It will only hurt more.

A strange thing is coincident. Yuuri was thinking about Victor’s and Shorter’s relationship when he saw them walking through the bar. He couldn’t be sure, but it looked like both of them weren’t talking very friendly. To be honest, Yuuri never imagined, that Victor might show this kind of mad face. He even opened the pub’s door with such force, that Yuuri could only stare. Wong, who usually was walking around smiling, also said something with a strict face. But because of the people and noise around Yuuri couldn’t hear what was it. When they passed through to the stairs, Yuuri just hid the face behind with scarf and pretended that he is into reading, Eiji, come back quickly….

Eiji was washing his hands in the bathroom when he heard voices, they weren’t friendly as he was used to. Actually, it was the first time he heard professor Wong shouting.

“Why you never want to talk about that??! Victor! Look at me and stop avoiding the topic! You can’t even say his name properly!”

“Shut up, Shorter… not now.”

“No, I won’t. At least I am trying to do something, but what about you?! You are acting like it’s over! Of course, you are feeling guilty! Ash is still… Where are you going??? Merlin’s beard, the guest room is over here.”

“To the bathroom, get lost. Why every time you come back it has to end up like this…” Victor opened the door and saw Eiji in front of him just staring with big eyes. “Eiji???” It was clear Victor and as his student were feeling same. Professor didn’t expect anyone to be here. Especially Eiji. Such embarrassment. It’s because of stupid Shorter. If he wants to put blame just on Victor, why he had to do it here? “Sorry...” Victor couldn’t explain why he felt the need to apologize.

“No… professor… I was just about to leave…” Eiji quickly went through Victor and Wong. Neither of them said something else. Well, it was really awkward to get caught by their student in this situation. But they couldn’t have known that the real reason, why Eiji felt shocked to the core, wasn’t because of their shouting.

“Yuuri…” he came the table and slowly sat down.

“Have you seen professor Nikiforov and Wong? They looked pretty pissed off about something…” Yuuri quickly looked upstairs and then again pointed eyes at his friend in front. Eiji knows them longer, perhaps it was too strange for him to hear their voice raised.

“Yuuri…” Eiji’s eyes were like made from glass. Maybe he heard something wrong? Maybe they were talking about another person, or maybe… it wasn’t even a person… but for Eiji… for Eiji Ash was everything. And that second he heard only those things he thought might be the truth.

“What… what’s wrong?” Just a moment ago, it was a little bit funny for Yuuri, but Eiji looked like he just saw something horrible happening. Yuuri leaned forward a little bit. Even if there was zero chance that somebody might overhear them.

“What if… we are not the only ones who know about Ash? What if somebody here knew him while he was still alive?” Eiji’s voice was trembling a little bit. “What if… somebody, we know did this to Ash?”

Yuuri again quickly looked upstairs and then at a friend. To be afraid of people who are still walking on earth, isn’t that what Wong said?

“You mean… them? Did you hear something? Eiji?...”

They were looking at each other’s eyes and Eiji took a deep breath. He was ready to give his life for Ash, but that would be way too easy. Too predictable. Eiji slowly shook his head. No, probably he just misheard everything. It has to be something else. If Ash would be somehow related to Victor or Shorter, he would know… he would have heard about it somewhere… somehow…

“No. I didn’t. Never mind.”


Maybe Eiji forgot about it too quickly or just pretended that he did. But Yuuri from that day while readying same students lists and materials over and over again felt that something is missing. Or maybe he wanted this to happen. Just to find a little reason more that could help him get closer to Victor.

Chapter Text

Eiji was right. After almost three weeks Yuuri had to admit it. Every day, he went to the library and searched. To be honest, Yuuri started doing this just to prove himself that there must be something. Anything! Thousands of lists and files where Ash's name could be mentioned. It was impossible to be sure in such amount of time. On the other side, Yuuri focused on finding how Ash is related to Hogwarts at first, but there was nothing. Like Eiji said some time ago, it’s like Ash never existed. But that just absurd. Yuuri was like that. Very stubborn. And as a great example of a nerd, he thought that there is nothing he couldn’t find. Eiji also, but he already went through with this disappointment by himself last year. So even if Eiji didn’t give up, it was already different from his side of view. Friend was thankful for Yuuri’s help even if every day he had to watch how Yuuri also gets more and more disappointed. Probably little by little deep in his heart Eiji started accepting the possibility that they might never find out the truth. He wasn’t giving up, just trying to be a little bit realistic.

“Mr. Katsuki, I was searching for you. Can you come with me for a second?” Yuuri lifted his head from homework and saw professor Babicheva looking at him with a pretty smile. Eiji who was sitting next to Yuuri was also confused.

“Yes, of course.” Yuuri got up. After his first day in Hogwarts, she hasn't talked with Yuuri even once. Obviously, he started to think what could have happened. Until they reached the door, Yuuri even thought about the possibility that she might have found out about their research on Ash. It’s not like they are doing something illegal, right? She doesn't even know who Ash is…

“I heard that you are staying for Christmas Holidays in Hogwarts?” she smiled and Yuuri blinked. What?

“Well… yes. I am.” Yuuri nodded totally confused where this is heading. He decided to stay in school that they could have even more time for searching. He was pretty hooked up on this topic about Ash. Even if Yuuri hasn’t seen him personally after that one time in the corridor.

“That’s great!” professor almost jumped from excitement. “Please, could you do a lecture about Muggles life? You are from a Muggle family, right? I have some students who would love to hear it! Of course, for extra credits.”

For what extra credits?? He doesn’t have a Muggle Studies class. Not mention the fact that Yuuri wouldn’t do that even for 100 points to his House. A speech in front of people! No, no way. No really…

“So?? So what do you say??” even her eyes were shinning. And why him? There are other students from Muggle families! Who gave her this brilliant idea in the first place?

“I am… not sure what could I say, professor…” Yuuri silently murmured.

“It’s not a problem, they will have a lot of questions! Professor Nikiforov said that you would love to do that, so of course, I am happy. I just wanted to make sure that you are staying here during the holidays…”

“What… professor Nikiforov did? I…” Yuuri took a deep breath. That’s going too far. “Well… I can try… maybe.”

“Perfect!” she clapped hands still with a smile. Babicheva totally ignored that Yuuri’s voice sounded pretty much dead. “So on the first day of Christmas we will have this party, so maybe before it… or it’s better after… hmmm… I will give you details later! My students will be so excited!” She smiled again and waved for Yuuri then walked back almost dancing. Yuuri could just stare, it was still hard to understand what happened. But one thing was obvious.

“He hates me… he hates me so much…” Yuuri complained. He came back to the library, slowly sat down back on the chair and placed his head on the book.

“What? Who hates you?” Eiji turned the page of Potions textbook. Only professor Blanca could give a test on the last class of this semester.

“Nikiforov! Who else!” Yuuri shouted, but immediately closed lips with a hand when he felt angry librarian look at his back.

“What?” Eiji almost laughed. “Why would you say so?”

“Then why did he said to professor Babicheva that I would love to give a lecture about Muggles life in front of students on Christmas day??” Yuuri sobbed when Eiji started laughing this time for sure. On whose side is he?

“It’s so sad that I won’t be able to see this…” Eiji sighed, wiping off an invisible tear.

“What do you mean?” Yuuri suddenly lifted his head. “Aren’t you staying??”

“Well, I am… but I need to go back home for a few days.”

“That sucks…” Yuuri sighed.

Victor why?

 


After that time when Victor gave Yuuri’s wand back, they didn’t have any close contact. After that Sunday in the pub, the real life started. Yuuri came almost at the end of the semester so he had to work harder than anyone else. And every professor was different, some of them (for example Victor) he couldn’t figure out until now. Yuuri had to be honest that the hardest class appeared to be History of Magic. Even if professor Wong’s speech was really informal and he normally called famous wizards “blockheads” he made students remember every event with exact date and information. Until the point where everything just sounded the same. Before the final test Eiji spend more time complaining about this than studying. Despite that, he and Yuuri got the best results from the class. And still, no matter what, Yuuri just couldn’t look at Wong the same even if the reason was so illogical. Of course, he can’t change anything about his hand Victor’s relationship. Also during these three weeks, Wong was constantly traveling somewhere, so few times classes got canceled on the last minute since he wasn’t in time to come back. Everyone who Yuuri asked said: “He has a lot of projects.” But it seems that no one was sure what he is doing for real.

“Alright… let’s say he is not doing any projects, then what he is doing? What do you think?” one day Eiji got tired of Yuuri’s suspicions.

“I don’t know…” Yuuri sighed. “Something else…”

“You also should be doing something else.” Eiji pushed the Transfiguration textbook towards Yuuri and the talk was over.

Transfiguration with professor Baranovskaya was everyone’s nightmare. Most of the students swore that they had a nightmare with her at least once. For Yuuri Transfiguration wasn’t that hard. As proof, he got the first essay back with no corrections. Eiji suggested frame it. Baranovskaya didn’t have any favorite students she was equally strict to everyone, but especially for those who had good grades. So this included Eiji and later Yuuri because she saw potential in him.

Professor Giacometti and Charms class were totally different. Perhaps the funniest class Yuuri has even attended. No matter what they were talking about everything was funny to professor Giacometti. Especially he liked when they had to practice magic on each other. Eiji already told this to Yuuri once, but after some time he noticed the same. By having fun in class they learned so much more than in any other where everything was too serious. And for no reason Giacometti liked every student, he knew all their strong sides and was able to provoke them. So obviously Yuuri never heard someone saying that they hate Charms class. Examples and questions in tests were also written with humor, for example: What kind of spell would you use on professor Wong if he came to the class with a hangover? How would you use the spell without him noticing? Give an explanation with details. Sometimes Yuuri was wondering if Giacometti shows somebody else those answers. Or just reads them by himself in the evening with a glass of high-quality Elf-made wine.

Yuuri also learned that it’s wrong to judge a person too fast. After the first class of Potions, Blanca didn’t try to make fun of Yuuri. With that single lucky chance, he earned professor’s respect. Even if later Yuuri also had some failures. But poor Eiji suffered there the most. Blanca could be nice, but he also had that sarcastic humor that made Eiji want to hide under the table from embarrassment. Also, Blanca was the head of Ravenclaw. To be honest, it was hard to believe when Yuuri heard about it for the first time. But later it started making sense. Blanca like every other person saw that Eiji can do better, so he tried to provoke him. Sadly, that kind of methods didn’t seem to work. But Yuuri had to admit, Blanca was a great teacher, there was nothing to add. At the end of each class, Yuuri was able to tell that he learned something new.

The only class, where Yuuri was able to relax a little bit, was Care of Magical Creatures. Hogwarts had so many young teachers that Yuuri got a little bit surprised when he saw that the professor of this class is older. Celestino Cialdini was a bit younger than Baranovskaya but also had his style. Actually, there was no style at all. He made sure that everything would be safe for students and then they were able to have fun. At least for Yuuri, it was fun since he was able to see every creature from so close. Obviously, they were different from the ones in Japan, that’s why it was really interesting for him. They had to read materials about new creatures before lectures. It was the only thing that professor Cialdini required. Yuuri was sure that in spring when Quidditch season starts and Eiji won’t have so much free time, Yuuri will be a real headache for professor Cialdini. He already noticed that Yuuri loves this class and they were getting along pretty well. Professor even gave him some extra books. Yuuri enjoyed reading them before going to sleep.

And finally… Defense against the dark arts class. Everyone’s favorite… but Yuuri couldn’t make himself to love this class. Even if Victor without any arguments was the best. When they were studying theory everything was fine. Yuuri was able to answer every question. There was no one else who knew that much as he did, that’s why Yuuri didn’t need extra classes like others. But there was another thing… the practice part. No matter what, every time when Yuuri had to use magic, he couldn’t say a word. Nowadays they were learning to use nonverbal magic, so maybe that wouldn’t be an issue. But Yuuri couldn’t make himself move at all. Anxiety was taking over him until the last cell. He wasn’t able to do any, even the simplest spell. And it wasn’t because of the love for Victor. If Yuuri could he would probably show everything he had the best, just to make an impression. But he couldn’t. It wasn’t Victor’s fault… only Yuuri’s. Every class of practice was stressful and after it, Yuuri couldn’t make himself to talk with anyone. Eiji tried to calm him down at first and ask things, but after some time he saw that it best to leave Yuuri alone. And Yuuri couldn’t make himself look at professor’s eyes. He was too scared to see disappointment. Probably Victor thought that the time when Yuuri released himself from the spell was just an accident. But only he knew the truth… if only Yuuri could say about it to someone… anyone.

Actually, there was one person who almost knew, but not the facts, just Yuuri’s emotions. His secret pen pal. They were still writing letters to each other and Yuuri had to admit that he never felt so good while talking with someone. The truth was that even though he fell in love with Victor and with each passing day that strange feeling was getting only stronger, he couldn’t help but also feel affection towards his secret friend. Yuuri didn’t know his name or any other details, but the connection they made with those letters were stronger than anything that Yuuri had before. He knew about Yuuri’s fear towards magic and what happens when he has to use it. On the other hand, Yuuri also knew about that person's private thoughts, they were similar. He also had a fear of using magic some time ago but managed to overcome it. Also, Yuuri learned that his secret friend is feeling guilty about one horrible accident and he wasn’t able to forgive himself. Most of the time he couldn’t even sleep without medicine. Sadly, Yuuri was able to relate so much, that he could only agree. But since his friend didn’t tell what happened, Yuuri also kept silent. On the other hand, it was fine like that. Yuuri just kept wondering, what if they meet for real? Could they continue talking in the same way or the connection would be lost? Maybe that person could help Yuuri forget the one he will never be able to reach? Maybe they could help each other find the place they belong to? So finally, Yuuri found the courage to write that. On the last letter, Yuuri asked if his friend would like to meet on Christmas day. And with hard and a little bit painful excitement Yuuri waited for an answer. Two days passed since then. For his friend, it never took so long to reply, but maybe he was also busy with assignments. Yuuri didn’t want to think that suggestion scared him away. No, that’s impossible. Yuuri was sure that he did nothing wrong… but what if he is the only one who feels this way?

“Yuuri, let’s leave on professor’s desk essays before the lunch,” Eiji said when professor Blanca let them go. It was the last class before the holidays. But this didn’t stop professor Blanca from not just giving a super hard test but also starting a new topic. Blanca held them 10 minutes longer than usual.

“What essays?” Yuuri shove textbook in his backpack. Usually, he would leave it on the shelf, but professor Blanca won’t be happy if he forgets things during the holidays. Sad nerd life.

“For D.A.D.A class.” Eiji sighed.

“Oh, I already did that two days ago.” Yuuri was struggling with zipper.

“Whaaaat? Well, thank you, friend, that you waited for me. Then I am going first, see you next to the Great Hall.” Eiji murmured something more about friendship and then left the classroom without Yuuri. He is like that the whole day. Probably something again happened between him and Ash.

“Katsuki, can you stay for one second?” Blanca suddenly spoke and Yuuri just froze next to the door. Is something wrong? Professor never asked to stay. He barely spoke with students after the class.

“Yes, of course.” Yuuri turned around and stopped next to the professor’s desk. When the last girl from Ravenclaw left the classroom and closed the door, professor raised his head from papers on the desk and looked at Yuuri.

“What are your plans after graduation?” Blanca asked. To be honest, Yuuri never seriously thought about that. He wasn’t even sure about his future. How long can he stay a part of this Magic world before finally breaking?

“I am not sure professor….” Finally, he answered. Are they really talking about Yuuri’s future?

“It’s been some time since I saw a talented person. It would be really sad if this talent is going to be wasted.” Blanca said this with a straight face, but Yuuri couldn’t help just blush. It’s even more embarrassing than professor Babicheva asking him to make a lecture.

“Well… I am not… talented…” he tried to mumble, just to say something.

“Believe me, if I say so, it’s true. If you want to be successful, you need to use your strengths.” It was really Blanca speaking. Yuuri wanted to punch himself and wake up. It must be a dream. Eiji won’t believe him! “I had a student a few years ago. Extremely talented. Well, he was good in everything, but Potions were something he could do for hours. Probably in Hogwarts History, there was no one like him before.”

“Is… is he working right now something related to this?” Yuuri just had to ask. He suddenly got curious who is that person. He must have graduated together with Victor.

“He didn’t graduate from Hogwarts. Actually, he would be a seventh-year student right now…” Blanca stood up. Yuuri always forgets how tall and big he is because professor usually sits during the class.

“Oh… did… something happened?” Yuuri didn’t expect that answer. Also, he wasn’t sure if he has the right to ask something like that.

“Aslan… he was too mature for his age… maybe that wasn’t a right thing, to begin with.” Blanca sighed. It was the first time Yuuri heard professor talking with that tone. Aslan?? Where did Yuuri hear this name before…? “Well, just think about what you want from life.” Professor smiled and left the classroom. Yuuri was standing confused. There was something he forgot… but what?

 

“Hey, I waited for you, but I was too hungry.” Yuuri met Eiji next to the hall after lunch.

“It’s alright… professor Blanca asked me to stay after the class.” Yuuri couldn’t stop thinking about that, the answer was on the tip of his tongue, but he couldn’t remember.

“Whaaat? Why?” Eiji blinked surprised. They left the castle. The last class this semester was the Care of Magical Creatures.

“Not sure… he just asked what I wanted to be in the future.” Yuuri couldn’t make himself to tell Eiji about Aslan.

“Really? What’s going on with those professors… first Babicheva asks you for a lecture, then Blanca is interested in your future…” Eiji giggled. “I am telling you, they want you to stay in Hogwarts. That would be cool… we could graduate together.”

Yuuri shrugged. Probably he could stay. But for what? For Victor, like Eiji stayed for Ash? Ash at least is talking to Eiji, even more, they do love each other and Yuuri for Victor is nothing.

“I already thought that you went to search for a reply…” Eiji quickly glanced at Yuuri.

“I did… but there was nothing.”

Yuuri told Eiji about letters. It wasn’t such a big secret, to begin with, and second Eiji saw how Yuuri is always writing something not related to Homework. When he asked about it, Yuuri wanted to lie, but… finally, he just answered honestly. Of course, Eiji was surprised, but it’s better to tell him this than the fact that Yuuri is in love with a teacher. Actually, Eiji was the one who persuaded Yuuri about the meeting. He was amazed that Yuuri can write letters to someone he never met before. Yuuri didn’t even know is it a girl or a boy. Eiji kept talking about Yuuri’s secret friend nonstop but stopped two or three days ago. It’s like he wanted to say something but didn’t. Yuuri knew that friend is suspicious about this situation, so it’s better if he keeps silent. Yuuri had enough anxiety in his life for now.

“Maybe… it’s even better? I mean… you don’t have to meet him…”

“Or her…” Yuuri stopped next to other students who were waiting for the class. “Weren’t you the one who suggested to meet that person in the first place?” They both with Eiji were really alike. Always had something to talk about, even their characters were similar. But sometimes Yuuri just felt that it’s hard for him to understand what Eiji is thinking. It’s like he couldn’t tell all his thoughts out loud.

“Yes… but…”

“Hello everyone! Come here closer!” They heard clear professor’s voice and Eiji didn’t have a chance to finish his sentence. Good. Yuuri didn’t want to talk about that. He just hoped to find an answer next time.

 

 


“I can’t anymore! I almost told him the truth today!” Eiji walked into his room and fell on the bed. Ash was floating next to the table, staring at the book with a plain face.

“Finally, you came back. Turn the page. I already got sick from reading the same over and over again.” Ash looked at Eiji.

They usually spend evenings like that. Eiji just had to turn pages for Ash and make sure to bring new books, because Ash was really picky about them and hated to read the similar stuff. To be honest, he wasn’t like any ghost that Eiji met in his life. Ash wanted to learn more and more new things. But that’s one of the reasons why he was so special. When Eiji didn’t move Ash sighed and came closer.

“So just tell him. I already told you before, Yuuri has to know the truth.” Ash crossed arms on the chest. They just had a fight about it this morning. Eiji didn’t want to go through it again.

“How can I tell him? I would destroy the hope he has!” Eiji rolled on his stomach and pressed face to the pillow. He hated to lie. He never lied for anyone so much before. And Yuuri became really close to him. These past few days were like torture.

“Eiji, be realistic. There is no such a thing as hope in that situation.” Ash sighed, but when Eiji just groaned into his pillow Ash knit his eyebrows. “I wouldn’t have stalked and told you if I knew that everything ends up like this.”

“Ash!!” Eiji jumped on the bed and looked at Ash with an angry look. Of course, if it’s possible for Eiji to look at Ash like that. Probably not really. He was more worried than angry. “How can you say so?? No, I mean… I can’t believe… Professor Nikiforov… is a professor!”

“No shit…”

“And Yuuri is a student!”

“Oh really? Wow. I didn’t know that.”

“It’s not funny, Ash.” Eiji grabbed the same pillow and squeezed between his hands.

“I am a ghost and you are a human.” Ash shrugged.

“It’s not the same! I was just worried… that’s why I asked for you to find out who that person is. And when I told Yuuri to meet him I still didn’t know… But I have never imagined that it will be Nikiforov…” Eiji looked down. He just couldn’t figure out what to do. How to fix this situation?

“I know, Eiji… I know.” Ash sat on the bed next to him. They talked about this already countless times. For Ash, the only way to end everything was telling the truth to Yuuri. There is no other logical solution.

“Do you think… Nikiforov knows that the one he is writing for is Yuuri?” Eiji tried to grab on the last thing to safe professor’s reputation.

“I suppose he should know since you had to submit those essays… so just from the handwriting. But even before, it’s should have been clear that it’s the student he is writing for. That’s why… it’s better to tell Yuuri the truth. Maybe even today.” It wasn’t about Yuuri. Ash saw that Eiji is suffering in this situation.

“But… maybe this is not love-letters? Yuuri never told me what they are talking about… also… Nikiforov hasn’t answered for Yuuri a few days already, so maybe… there is nothing to be worried about?” Eiji spoke again after a pause.

“Are you trying to find a reason not to tell him…?” Ash couldn’t believe. His patient might end any second now.

“No… Or maybe… I just don’t want Yuuri to suffer, that’s all.” Eiji watched how Ash slowly stood up and it was clear that he won’t hold back anymore.

“If you won’t tell him, I will. I can go even now.” When Ash moved a bit, Eiji jumped from the bed like he could stop Ash in any way.

“No! No no no no.”

“Don’t you think Yuuri deserves to know the truth?” Ash moved a little bit and Eiji went to the door, like protecting the exit. Seriously?

“Of course he does… just…”

“There no just. Tell him or I will. That’s it.” To be honest, Ash wasn’t really interested in Victor’s and Yuuri’s relationship.

He wouldn’t really care even if both of them started dating. So what? It’s their business. Eiji asked to find out, so Ash went to the place where Yuuri left the letter, waited while hiding in the closet and saw how professor took it. That’s it. And that’s what he told Eiji. Ash didn’t even know that the person he saw was a professor. Just when Ash described his appearance for Eiji, it became clear that they are talking about Victor Nikiforov. Whoever he is. Ash didn’t expect Eiji to react like that. It made Ash sad, he didn’t want Eiji to be bothered about it anymore…. Also, Ash was a little bit selfish. He couldn’t understand why all Eiji can think about these days is this stupid situation. It’s not even Eiji’s business. It has nothing to do with him… Of course, Yuuri was Eiji’s friend… but from the other hand. What’s so wrong? In Ash’s opinion, Eiji was making a drama over nothing and Ash wanted it to end. For Eiji’s sake, not for Yuuri’s or someone’s else.

“Ash Lynx. You are not telling anything to anyone. Or I won’t talk to you for a whole day!” From Eiji’s lips, this threat sounded even cute.

“Alright, I can live through this somehow.” When Ash replayed with a smile on his lips, for the first time it was Eiji who walked out slamming the door.

Stupid Ash. Of course, he won’t go to Yuuri. He wouldn’t dare. Right?
Eiji went down to the common room. Most of the students were already gone, just some of them will stay for the holidays. And for Eiji’s surprise, one of them was Otabek. He was sitting in the corner with a book in his hands, like always.

“I thought that you will leave for Christmas.” Eiji came closer and sat next to Otabek. He usually doesn’t do that, but now Eiji didn’t want to be with Ash. Also, he ran away after the last class and told Yuuri about unfinished business. Which wasn’t a lie, but also not true. How long can Eiji lie for a friend?

“I was planning to… but Yuri invited me to the Christmas party.” Otabek lifted his eyes from the reading material. Eiji could only stare.

“Yurio did?? Christmas miracles! Hahaha, tell me!”

 

 

Yuuri wouldn’t be able to explain why, but after the last class, he just went to Victor’s office. He couldn’t think of any clear thing what to tell Victor, but… he just did. Yuuri didn’t know if Victor is going to stay for the holidays or not. But what if he won’t be able to see professor for two weeks? Also, Victor was the one who told professor Babicheva that Yuuri wants to do the lecture about Muggles. Why? Yuuri wanted to apologize for the trouble he is making during the class. What a failure. He can’t even cast a simple spell. No… this reason was not good enough. What actually Yuuri is doing here? When Yuuri thought that he won’t get a replay from his friend for two weeks it was sad, but when he started to think that he may not be able to see Victor… feelings were totally different. Heart squeezing.

“Yuuri, are you waiting for professor Nikiforov?” Oh my. It’s Phichit. He wasn’t bad, but sometimes he just asks too many questions. This moment Yuuri didn’t know the answer to any of them. Should he say no? Then why he is standing here?

“Hmm… I guess… but he is not here, so… where are you going?”

“What for? It’s holidays! Forget about studying.” Phichit widely smiled. “Go outside with me and Seung Gil! Let’s play snow war!”

“I… well…” Yuuri’s brain just was filled with other things and he couldn’t think of what to say.

“Come oooon!” Phichit grabbed Yuuri’s hand and was about to drag him from here, but the door opened.

“Yuuri, you were waiting for me, right? Sorry, my door was locked because I needed to do some paperwork.” Honestly, it’s good that Phichit was too surprised with sudden Victor’s appearance, so he didn’t notice that Yuuri is standing with the same frozen face. Victor lied to Phichit! Yuuri didn’t even knock! But somehow Victor just knew that Yuuri is standing here and professor just went along with this game. “Come in. Phichit, you are also waiting?”

“No, professor… Goodbye! Yuuri join us later!” Phichit left and Yuuri didn’t have any other choice just go inside.

“How did you know…?” he asked. “…professor.”

“Obviously I will know when somebody is standing next to my door for whole five minutes.” Yuuri let his eyes down, but Victor’s voice was soft like always. How can a person be so kind? No matter how many times Yuuri failed during the class Victor never got mad. “Is there any specific reason why you were waiting?”

Yuuri looked at Victor then at the corner. Maka was sitting there like the first time, sleeping while holding his beak under the wing. That’s the point, there was no clear reason why Yuuri came! He just came… because of a thousand different things.

“You know… I already read your essay.” Yuuri couldn’t say anything so Victor broke the silence first. “It’s great. When you are writing… I can see that you understand everything about spells and how to cast them… but in reality, it’s a little bit different, right?” Yuuri could feel from Victor’s tone that he understands what it means. Professor wasn’t making fun from Yuuri… it’s like he also went through this.

“Professor, do you think it’s possible to change that?” Yuuri was the one who stepped closer Victor, for the first time. His and professor’s eyes met and then something changed. Victor was looking at him differently. Not like in the classroom. Yuuri couldn’t understand why but it felt like he is seeing a different person. Not a professor, but someone closer… someone he can relate to. How is it possible? He and Victor Nikiforov? Different parts of the universe.

“Of course. Professor Giacometti told me that in Charms class you are doing just great. So… problem is somewhere else. I can help you if you want. Or at least try.” The eye contact lasted for so long that when Victor spoke and stepped away, Yuuri felt a little bit rejected.

“Extra classes?”

“Sort of… It will be like compensation for that lecture about Muggles. And before you start asking why…” Victor raised finger when Yuuri was about to ask. “… I am sorry, it’s just professor Babicheva couldn’t leave me in peace. So I just said the first student born in muggle family which I had in mind.” Victor laughed and went to his table.

Yuuri couldn’t believe. He was the first student Victor thought about? Really? Why he is not angry about that anymore? Somehow now it feels warm and good. Victor thinks about him…

“Are you serious, professor? About extra practice?” Yuuri finally asked.

“Of course, if you want that.” Yuuri watched how Victor started picking papers from his desk. So he was really doing something important… and Victor stopped doing the work just to save Yuuri from Phichit? And now private lessons? What kind of dream is that?

“Yes… I would be really thankful.” Who is Yuuri to say no for Victor? From the bottom of his heart, he wanted to have that practice with Victor, even if it didn’t make sense. Yuuri was sure that he won’t be able to cast any spell. Sometimes he can do something, but just when adrenaline rush runs through veins.

“Okay then.” Victor smiled and Yuuri could only stare like an idiot. “How about after Christmas? I think we should start with Boggarts, hm?”

Boggarts.

Boggarts.

Aslan.

How he could forget?? That’s what he was thinking about all this time! Victor’s boggart! In the forest, he apologized to someone named Aslan. Back then Yuuri was in such shock and completely forgot about this fact. But finally, he was able to remember. Blanca said that… Aslan never graduated and Victor’s boggart was a dead person. Aslan was probably Victor’s friend… and something happened to him!

“Okay okay, don’t make such face. We can start with something very simple!” Victor’s voice sounded really worried, so Yuuri tried to imagine how his face looks like. Of course, Yuuri could just ask Victor about it, but… how and why…

“Sorry… Boggart really scared me.” Yuuri’s voice was trembling from the shocking news. But Victor, of course, thought different, that’s why it wasn’t hard to lie.

“I understand…” he sighed. “I mean… then you can think of any spell you want to start the practice, alright?” Victor’s voice at first sounded really lost like he accidentally said something he didn’t mean to.

“Your boggart was also scary, right… professor? But you managed to capture it without any effort.” At last second Yuuri changed his mind. He tried to provoke Victor a little bit. Maybe professor will start speaking?

“Really?” Suddenly Victor turned his eyes down. What does that mean? Did Yuuri hurt him? “Sorry, but I really need to finish this paperwork until the meeting.” Victor again smiled, but the smile was different, the connection between them was lost. Yuuri should have kept his mouth shut. Why he has to ruin everything??

“Yes, professor… thank you again.” Yuuri nodded and went towards the door. Maka wasn’t sleeping anymore, but since Victor asked to leave Yuuri didn’t stop to touch it.

“I will come to your lecture!” he heard Victor’s voice before closing the door. Here we go again.

 

 

Of course, Yuuri ended up in the library. Where else. Finally, he found out something about Victor, that might be interesting. Something that professor doesn’t want to speak about. Of course, if something bad happened to Aslan, it must be really painful for Victor to speak. This time Yuuri searched for students list accepted to Hogwarts. If Aslan should be a seventh-year student, then he must be a year older than Yuuri and Eiji. Yuuri searched through the years and then started reading the list. Aslan Jade Callenreese. Pure-blood wizard. He was sorted to Ravenclaw. Nothing strange that Blanca liked him. As the professor said, Aslan was better than any other kid.

Strange. Why nobody here talks about a talented student who dropped out or died before finishing school? He should be still studying so there must be people who knew him, right? Or did something horrible happened and no one wants to speak about it? Then it had to be really shocking. Why Yuuri never heard about this? He searched for a file with a pure-blood families list. Surely it didn’t take long for him to find Callenreese family. The family was marked as extinct, all of the members were already dead. And Aslan’s name wasn’t there. Doesn’t make sense. The list was strange, there were names, but with no birth or death dates. Then Yuuri opened Nikiforov’s family list. Victor was in it. That family was huge! Victor’s birthday is on December 25? Christmas? And Victor chose to come to Yuuri’s shitty lecture instead of celebrating it somewhere with professor Wong? Yuuri couldn’t help just feel how heart starts beating faster. If only he could tell someone about this strange feeling inside the chest…

Yuuri could have looked through all pure-bloods families and try searching for Aslan’s name, but… why should he be somewhere else? He belongs to Callenreese family, so if he is not there… Then what? No, really. That’s just absurd. It’s like he exists, but at the same time doesn’t… like his name would be fake… or…

Suddenly Yuuri forgot about Aslan and all other pure-blood families. He jumped in the spot, quickly put all files back to their places and ran from the library. He needs to talk with Eiji! Why he never thought about that before… how Eiji never suggested such possibility??

“Eiji!” Yuuri ran somewhere in the corner at the end of the empty corridor where no one could hear him and took out the mirror. Please have it with yourself. Please, please.

“Yuuri? Heeeey….” Eiji’s face showed up. “Something happened? You look pale like a paper!”

Actually, Yuuri was just super excited, he couldn’t wait to share it with Eiji. Finally, after weeks he was able to think of something. Something possible.

“Everything is alright… I need to talk to you. Right now. Are you in the bedroom?”

“No… I was in a common room talking with Otabek just now but already left the dormitories. Where are you?"

“Then go somewhere, just for a second. It just popped to my head and I can’t wait.” Yuuri was speaking so fast that it took for Eiji a second.

“Okay, then tell me. No one is around.”

Good. Because Yuuri couldn’t hold it.

“You said that Ash doesn’t have any memories from the time he was alive?” he started.

“Yeees….” Eiji wasn’t sure where this is going.

“So… how can we be sure that he is… who he is?”

“What?” Eiji had to stop in the spot. He could just stare at Yuuri. What he is trying to say?

“If Ash lost his memories… how can you be sure, that he is… who he is? How can he be sure about himself? I mean… what if he is not Ash?” Yuuri tried to think how to say this clearly. No one else besides Eiji wouldn’t be able to understand Yuuri.

“Yuuri… what you are trying to say is… oh! That Ash is not his real name??!!”

“Yes! That’s why we couldn’t find anything about him on the list! Because Ash Lynx doesn’t exist.” Yuuri finally said it and sighed at the same time. That was something and just opened so many possibilities. They always tried to look something related to the name and forgot that there can be so much more. The sad part about it, that now they don’t have anything to hold on to.

“Then… who he is, Yuuri? Who?” For Eiji everything was clear. But he just couldn’t hold the tears, they started strangling him.

Eiji believed in Ash so much, that never thought about the possibility that his name might be fake. But now… it does make sense. Really. If Ash doesn’t remember anything, then how can he be sure about the name? Eiji never asked him. Of course, it’s not Ash’s fault… but still. It hurts. Why?

“I don’t know… Eiji…” Yuuri bit the lower lip when he saw friend’s face. Maybe Yuuri shouldn’t have said this… Eiji covered the face with a free hand and Yuuri couldn’t help just feel a little bit guilty. “Where are you? I am coming.”

For some time Yuuri will have to forget about Victor and Aslan. He must help a friend first. He promised this for Eiji and now Yuuri can’t let him down.

Chapter Text

Yuuri lifted eyes at Victor who was sitting at the staff table and talking with professor Wong. They both laughed because of something and Yuuri sighed. Since it was holidays and a lot of students went back home, nobody really cared at which table the rest were eating. Great Hall became a place for gatherings. Friends from different Houses were sitting together, laughing and talking about the upcoming Christmas. At first, it was strange for Yuuri to see everyone around so relaxed. No one tried to eat and do homework at same time or practice some spells under the table. The bubble of tension exploded with the first day of holidays. Actually, it was the first time Yuuri stayed for holidays at school. Everything was new for him, especially Christmas decorations. Twelve big and gorgeous Christmas trees in the Great Hall and even snow falling from the ceiling, which disappeared before reaching tables. First real Christmas for Yuuri. He couldn’t help just feel a little bit too excited. There were other things which didn’t let him feel happy to the fullest though. But Eiji said that they should stop thinking about everything else, at least on Christmas. And after those words, Eiji is leaving. Even if it’s just for one day. Still… secretly Yuuri wished that he didn’t. It wasn't about being alone… just that strange feeling inside the chest… maybe because they both were always spending free time together?

Like every morning flock of owls flew inside the Great Hall carrying post for students. Usually, there were dozens of them, but today just around ten. Students, who stayed, will get their presents and greetings tomorrow. There was almost no reason for a post today. Otabek, who was sitting few seats from Yuuri, caught a newspaper, which his owl dropped. Yuuri also saw that black beautiful owl brought something for Victor. It landed on Victor’s shoulder and waited for a reward. Yuuri couldn’t let his eyes down. When professor Wong, instead of Victor, tried to give something for the owl, it bit him. Yuuri smiled widely and silently laughed. At the same second, Victor’s bright eyes turned right at Yuuri. He couldn’t have heard him from so far, right?

“What’s funny?” Eiji asked next to Yuuri and he quickly turned eyes form Victor. Then noticed that Eiji also got something. Actually, his parent’s owl brought a letter. Now it tried to steal some leftovers from Eiji’s plate.

“Aren’t you going home today?” Yuuri asked still staring at the envelope. Why would Eiji’s parents send him a letter if he is going back?

“Mom just reminded me to take some stuff for cleaning. You know… moms.” Eiji giggled, but at the same time hid the letter inside the inner pocket of the rob.

“Sure…” Yuuri smiled, but he couldn’t relate. His parents may send something tomorrow, but they knew he is independent. Also, Yuuri himself asked for some space. That was one of the reasons why he came to Hogwarts. “When are you leaving again?”

“I need to go back to dormitories, take some stuff… we can meet again next to the entrance.”

“Sounds good, I will take some money… so after an hour?”

Eiji nodded, they both took a second muffin with a cranberries jam inside and left the Hall. If not Eiji next to him, Yuuri probably would have looked at Victor again. But now he had to hold himself back. Yuuri turned left and Eiji took the stairs. When Eiji was safe on the second floor he finally sighed with relief. Yuuri’s thoughts probably were full of other things, so that’s why he didn’t notice that Eiji lied about the letter. He is such a loser. He wasn’t able to tell Yuuri the truth about Victor. Also had to lie about the reason why he must leave today. Eiji took out the envelope and again looked at the letter. His parents were leaving for Christmas to grandmother’s place like every year. Mom wished happy Holidays for Eiji and asked to give greetings for Yuuri. That’s perfect timing for going back home. Eiji knew that there will be no chance that someone might come back. Also, the boy hoped that soon he will be able to tell Yuuri about everything. About the plan and about Victor. There is nothing to be worried about.

Eiji entered dormitories, his room was empty. Ash perfectly knew that Eiji’s parents are gone. Since Eiji wasn’t able to tell a clear reason why he is going back home, Ash hasn’t said a word. Eiji couldn’t lie to Ash, but the truth would make him even angrier. It’s unfair, he knew. Sooner or later Eiji will have to tell him and Ash won’t be able to do anything. But now it’s better to keep everything like this. Eiji quickly packed some stuff, he probably won’t even use it. He just needed to give an impression of carrying something. Since he will have to go a long way until home by foot it’s better not to make backpack too heavy. Eiji looked at the spot where Ash loved to stand, just next to the window, and then left.

When Yuuri came, both of them headed towards Hogsmeade. Eiji had to travel from there to the town next to his place in Japan. And then parents had to take him. Of course, that’s how Yuuri thought. The reality was a bit different. From that town in Japan, Eiji will go by foot all the way. Through forest until his house. It will take at least four hours.

It was cold and snowing outside, so Yuuri and Eiji almost didn’t talk. Just when they reached the pub, from where Eiji had to leave, they both happily took off hoodies.

“I feel like a snowman!” Eiji tried to clean himself from snow and Yuuri at the bar asked for two glass of Butterbeer. Just in this short amount of time, this became a tradition. They couldn’t leave Hogsmeade without drinking at least one glass of this perfection. Eiji and Yuuri found a free table and chatted about random stuff for about an hour. Then Eiji went to the guest room with one of the bartenders. There they had a Fireplace connected to the Foo Network. Yuuri sighed. First time since Yuuri came to Hogwarts Eiji won’t be with him for more than a day. Now he was thinking should he just head back to Hogwarts and stay in the library? That way he won’t have to think about anything else.

“Is it free here?” Yuuri lifted his head and saw a boy with short black hair.

“Sing! Hey, sure. Sit down.” Yuuri smiled for him.

“What are you doing here alone?” He took off the coat. Sing was a fourth-year student also from Hufflepuff. Yuuri met him one evening in common room. He was popular and had a lot of friends. One evening Sing just came to Yuuri, who was sitting alone, and started talking. They weren’t friends but always waved for each other in hallways.

“My friend went home for a few days, so I came to see him off. What about you? It’s really strange to see you alone…” Yuuri looked around as if Sing's gang might be sitting somewhere next to them. Guardians, like in some movie about the mafia. But Sing's gang was a way different from Yut-Lung's.

“Most of them went back home for Holidays. Also sometimes I just want to have myself time." He made a short pause. "And my parents decided to go on Holidays without me.” Sing added and drank a bit of his Butterbeer. “You know it’s tiring to be popular…”

“Oh Really? Thanks. Then I will try to avoid this…” Yuuri couldn’t hold the laughter. Probably Sing said this because he wanted to make Yuuri smile. Even though he was popular, Sing wasn’t full of himself, that’s why he is Hufflepuff student and not Slytherin.

It was really fun to chat with him. Sing didn’t know anything about Yuuri, Eiji, Ash, letters or something else. That’s why it was really easy to forget everything around. Since one of Sing’s parents was a Muggle, they were also able to talk about topics not related to Magic world. Sing’s and Yuuri’s personalities were very different. Yuuri felt that he couldn’t become close friends with Sing like with Eiji. But sometimes chats like this one were necessary. Yuuri felt happy when Sing suggested join him in the Great Hall for Christmas Eve dinner. The boy felt grateful that he won’t have to spend this evening alone. Yuuri wouldn’t have found strengths to ask for this himself.

 


Sing waved for Yuuri in the Hall when he just came inside. Of course, Sing wasn’t sitting alone. It had to be obvious, but Yuuri didn’t give it a thought before coming here. This boy wasn’t really good around people, but Sing probably saw everything differently. He saved a seat just next to himself. Yuuri waved for everyone and then sat down. Probably he won’t be able to say a word during the whole evening. Everyone around was talking and laughing. Most of the students were from Hufflepuff, but there were some from other Houses too, except Slytherin. Yuuri saw students from Slytherin sitting at their table. They also looked like having fun. Yuuri still had a hope that not all of them are assholes. Victor is a great example of that. Yuuri also saw Otabek, he was sitting with Yurio at Gryffindor table. Wow, that’s another great example. Anyway, most of the students were sitting here next to them. Probably Sing was the one who invited them.

“You are silent.” Sing looked at Yuuri with a full mouth. Yuuri couldn’t help, he was staring at Victor like always. They with Wong were laughing again. This time Wong was almost crying. Victor didn’t show his emotions so openly, but still, his smile was wide. And beautiful. Of course. “What are you looking at??” Sing also glared at the staff table, Yuuri hoped he was in time to turn eyes down.

“Nothing… just…” he sighed thinking how to change the topic.

“You think I am popular…?” before Yuuri said something else, Sing spoke again. “You think so because you weren’t here when professors Nikiforov and Wong were still students.” After these words, Sing had all Yuuri’s attention. Sing was here when Victor was still a student!

“What do you mean? Were they so popular?” Yuuri tried to hide how interested he was.

“Oh yeah… I finished the second year when they graduated. So, of course, I wasn’t interesting for them. But professor Wong was from our House. I saw… how everyone loved and respected him. But it was a little bit different since he didn’t really care about that attention. He was best friends with professor Nikiforov and... that other boy… how was his name…hmmm…”

Yuuri perfectly knew what he is talking about. Everything inside froze. Maybe actually Sing knows more than Yuuri thought at first. Can this be the truth?

“Aslan.” Someone was listening to their conversation.

“Oh right. Aslan. Thanks, Lao. So three of them were always together… and everyone wanted to be like them. You know elite of Hogwarts. For me, twelve years old toddler, they were even scary.” Sing giggled and looked around the table for something delicious. But these words weren’t enough for Yuuri. How to ask? Maybe Sing knows what happened to Aslan?

“Have they changed since then?” Yuuri’s question sounded like everything happened long ago.

“Professor Wong not so much… but Nikiforov had long hair back then.” Sing shrugged and Yuuri tried to imagine this. Victor with long hair… was there any reason why he decided to cut them? “I remember that they used to laugh and smile a lot more though… now sometimes they look kind of dead inside, you know? Probably adults’ life is not that fun as it seemed to be. Still, I want to be just as professor Wong. He is so cool.” Sing didn't try to hide respect in his voice.

Did Victor use to be happier than now? Yuuri looked at Victor’s smiling face and tried to imagine how he was. Probably girls were head over heels for him. Well, that hasn't changed much. And then there is Yuuri. A potato.

“How about… that other one…?” Yuuri tried to look innocent. Like he couldn’t remember the name.

“Aslan was younger, right?” This time Sing wasn’t the one who spoke. It was the boy who reminded the name before. Lao. “I think he finished the fifth year when they graduated.”

“Yeah, but he was a genius. I wouldn’t be surprised if he knew more than Nikiforov or Wong did when they graduated.” Sing added. “But Aslan wasn’t very talkative. I don’t remember him having a normal conversation with someone else except them… as I said, they were always together. So no one else knew them well.”

“Right… but then… he is still here? That boy? He must be in the seventh year, right?” Yuuri asked and even pressed fork stronger between his fingers. He might find out the truth now.

“Hm… No, he is not. Maybe he dropped out? What do you think Lao?” Sing didn’t look really interested, he just shrugged.

“I just know that he didn’t return to Hogwarts in September. Maybe he didn’t want to study here without Nikiforov and Wong? I mean they were inseparable. Or maybe he was just too bored here?” Was it just Yuuri or Lao sounded a little bit jealous?

“Yeah… But Victor and Wong came back as professors same autumn. So… I don’t know…” Sing decided that it’s enough for serious talks. It's time for food again. He turned at some girl and asked for a plate with cake. Then they started talking about something related to tomorrow's party.

Anyway, one thing was clear now. Nobody knew what happened. Students and books won’t help for Yuuri. And he couldn’t ask professors about that. So this is the dead end for now. Yuuri sighed. Well, at least he learned some new things about Victor. If he was so talented and popular… maybe he received some awards? Yuuri could try to look in archives, maybe even find some pictures. Victor with long hair… probably that’s a new thing that Yuuri won’t be able to stop thinking about.

 

 

On Christmas morning Yuuri woke up suddenly just with one thought. What he is going to do about that lecture? After yesterday’s dinner professor Babicheva came to Yuuri and said that they will do the lecture before the Christmas party. So he had to come to the Great Hall earlier. Yuuri felt so nervous, that even thoughts about food could make him sick. Why he agreed with that? Who cares what Victor think about what Yuuri can do? What if he says no? Yuuri sighed. Really, what he should do? Especially when Yuuri knew that Victor will be watching? Or maybe he won’t come? Maybe, in the end, he made some Birthday plans with Wong? No, that would be even worse.

When Yuuri came to the common room, he didn’t expect for presents. In Japan tradition of exchanging present was probably more between couples. But he had to freeze. There was a package with his name on it under the Christmas tree. Yuuri saw it even from the other side of the room. Parents wouldn’t send him anything. With Eiji, they decided to go to Hogsmeade during the Holidays and treat each other. So there was no one else in Yuuri’s mind who could send this. He slowly reached for the gift. Merry Christmas was written on the small card. This handwriting… it’s from his secret friend! How… how did he know?? Name and House?? Yuuri could only stare. But even with all these questions the happy feeling inside appeared. So he didn’t forget Yuuri. Probably just went back home, like everyone else. Now it feels a little bit unfair that Yuuri can’t send a gift to him… if that person knows who Yuuri is… then he also wants to find out.

With trembling fingers, Yuuri slowly opened the wrapping paper and saw a brown leather box. Maybe it just looks expensive… probably. But Yuuri had a bad feeling about this. And he was right. Inside the box, Yuuri saw a new quill. Golden Quill. No. No way he can accept that. This thing is worth more than Yuuri could ever spend on something this simple. Of course, Yuuri's was old and he really needed a new one. But this was just too much! Is that person in his right mind? He is a student, right? Why he has so much money and why he is spending them on Yuuri?

On the other hand, Yuuri couldn’t help just feel some squeezing thing inside his chest. Someone thought about him and bought a present. To be honest, even a candy would have made Yuuri happy. The most important thing was attention. After what happened in the summer Yuuri lost everything. So every person he met here and every even the smallest thing they gave meant a world for him. Even if Yuuri didn’t deserve any of this.

Before leaving to the Hall, Yuuri smiled for the gift he got. It was lying on the table. The place where he will be able to see it. He will have to return it after the holidays but until then...

He took a little box with himself. Yuuri wanted to give it to Victor for his Birthday. Of course, if he finds enough strengths inside for this mission impossible. Probably not… after yesterday’s talk with Sing and Lao… Yuuri was even more sure that his love for Victor will stay hidden until the last day here.

Yuuri reached Hall and went towards professor Babicheva. The Hall was different. The four long tables were gone. Instead of them along the walls, Yuuri noticed a lot of bean bags and small coffee tables. The middle of the Hall was empty. Probably for dances. Yuuri thought that this way the Great Hall looks very cozy. Yuuri also heard soft Christmas music. He could smell cinnamon and ginger even if there was still nothing on coffee tables. Is this how Christmas looks like?

“Yuuri! Hey! Sooo I thought about this corner. What do you think? I don’t know how many people are going to come. But here everyone will be able to sit comfortably and listen to you.” Babicheva showed at the corner next to one of the Christmas trees. Yuuri nodded. For him, anything would be fine, but this atmosphere is even better. It almost feels like he will have a chat with friends. “You can sit next to the tree, so everyone would be able to hear you… okay? Don’t worry!” She laughed. Yuuri wasn’t able to hide how nervous he is. “Hey, Victor!” When professor Babicheva waved, Yuuri understood that he is doomed. Victor really came. Moreover, after saying this professor Babicheva just left.

“Hello, Yuuri. Merry Christmas.” Yuuri turned around and saw smiling Victor's face.

“Merry Christmas, professor…” Yuuri was sure that he blushed. Let’s hope Victor didn’t notice. Should he give the present now? But what if Victor asks how Yuuri know about the Birthday? Victor was carrying something in his hands. That thing made Yuuri forget for a second everything else.

“Professor… why you need… this?”

“Oh, this?? Because I love coffee! I wanted to show you!” Victor had a little aluminum espresso maker in his hands. Victor is interested in Muggle things? “That’s my treasure.” He laughed and Yuuri couldn’t help just smile. He wanted to ask if Victor knows how to use it, but professor Giacometti showed up.

“Vityaaaaa, Happy Birthday! That’s for you! What’s that…?” As soon as Giacometti spoke, Yuuri moved away. That’s why he couldn’t see what kind of gift professor gave for Victor.

Yuuri sat down on the bean bag and sighed. He should be happy that Victor is here, that he chose him. That's the best he could get for Christmas. Soon students started coming. All of them were carrying something with themselves. For Yuuri it might be funny because those things were so common, used in everyday life. But students held them with such care that Yuuri had to hold himself from laughing. They brought them instead of stuffed toys. Yuuri tried to smile politely. Are wizards really so interested? Yuuri saw from their eyes the excitement. All in all, eleven students came. Victor and professor Babicheva were sitting in the back and looked like children themselves. Babicheva was holding an iron on her legs. Everyone was staring at Yuuri, like waiting for some magic to happen. But his hands were shivering. He was afraid to start speaking.

“So, Yuuri, where your parents work?” professor Babicheva broke the ice and asked the question.

“My parents… have family business… my mom and dad run a hot springs resort in my town…” The heart was pounding inside the chest, Yuuri felt like he was taking a final exam.

“Hot springs? What’s that…?” one of the boys asked. Yuuri thought how to explain this to a person who probably doesn’t know anything about geology.

“It’s like outdoor bath… in form of a small puddle and the water there is always naturally warm. We also have guesthouses… and a small restaurant where my mom makes homemade food… In Japanese hot springs are called Onsen.” Yuuri tried to explain and probably no one would be satisfied with this kind of explanation, but everyone here looked amazed. Of course, in the Magic world, they had similar things. The only difference was… that wizards can make this kind of thing anywhere. There is no need for some kind of resort. Everything is so simple…

“Wow! It sounds like magic!” One girl shouted with a voice full of surprise.

“Please visit in summer...” Yuuri didn’t know what else to say.

“Do you have any hobbies?” someone asked.

Yuuri had to think a little bit before answering… it’s been so long since he lived like a muggle. Now a lot of things have changed. He doesn’t remember well what he used to do back then.

“When I was little… I used to skate on ice… but when I got a letter from Magic school I had to stop.” Yuuri shrugged. That’s the only thing he could remember. They had an ice center in his hometown. It was fun to skate there with friends… when he still had them. Yuuri hid his hand behind back when fingers started to tremble again. This time because of different reasons. This talk won’t go well…

But it seems that nobody was interested in Yuuri’s childhood anymore. Wizards also skated on ice.

“I am interested in muggles music. Is there any band you could recommend?” A boy who was holding a Walkman spoke. Wow, those things really still exist? Since it is an electronic device it probably doesn’t work here. But there was another problem. Yuuri wasn’t really into music. So he wasn’t sure what to say.

“Hm… have you tried the Queen? That’s an old band, but you have a sticker of their logo on your Walkman.”

“Really?” first of all boy seemed like a serious person, but now his eyes started shinning with excitement. Yuuri felt happy that his answer was good enough to make the boy smile.

Yuuri’s fear that they will be sitting in silence was gone in seconds. Everyone had questions and no matter what Yuuri said it sounded really smart for them. To be honest, Yuuri really didn’t know a lot of things. Girls were interested in cooking devices and recipes. Yuuri wished he had paid more attention to what his mother was doing inside the kitchen. Yuuri just told everyone about favorite dish Katsudon and some other Japanese kitchen traditional things. Boys, of course, wanted to know about electronic devices and at this point, Yuuri felt even more stupid. He knew the names and how to use those things, but not how they are made. It was beyond common Muggle’s knowledge. One of the boys had a huge collection of muggle money from all over the world. Yuuri promised to give him some Japanese money. That made a boy almost cry from happiness. Students were also curious about traditions and jobs. It was interesting for them… how people can live without magic. Yuuri couldn’t help just think that now it would be hard for him too… at least in daily life. When he thinks about it, he still manages to live without magic during the summer… maybe one day he will have to give up on this life for real.

“Is school in Japan similar to Hogwarts?” they were talking already for an hour when one girl asked this question.

“You mean Muggle schools?” Yuuri just wanted to make sure. The education system was a little bit complicated.

“No… I mean the one you came from. School of Magic.”

“Oh… not so much… just in my school, we don’t play Quidditch.” After these words, everyone was in shock. How is it possible?? Yuuri remembered another thing. “And on summer time we have these camps… where everyone… studies…” Suddenly Yuuri couldn’t say a word. He was so into this talk, that for a second lost control and didn’t feel when accidentally touched this topic. He should have kept silent.” Students…just…studies… together.” Finally, he ended somehow and turned his eyes down.

“Well, look at the time, dinner starts soon! Yuuri is probably tired. Let’s end this for today.” For Yuuri’s surprise, Victor was the one who said this. Of course, students didn’t notice how Yuuri’s face changed. Everyone seemed sad that this discussion ended. Some of them even murmured something disappointed. But most of them thanked Yuuri and stood up.

“Thank you so much, I knew everything will be great!” Babicheva waved for Yuuri, she quickly looked at Victor before leaving. Probably they decided that Nikiforov will be better at dealing with situation. Yuuri couldn’t look at him, even if he knew that Victor was already sitting right in front. Yuuri was afraid of his questions. Afraid of the answers professor wants to hear. Yuuri just keeps running… but there is nothing he can change.

“You know… I can do coffee with this thing.” Victor spoke and Yuuri didn’t feel himself how he lifted eyes at the professor. All this time, thinking about summer, Yuuri didn’t cry, even once. Because Yuuri felt like… he doesn’t have a right to cry. He is not a victim. But that time in Forbbiden forest and now he felt like he might start. Why Victor makes him feel this way? Like Yuuri has a right to cry?

“Really? I would like to see it someday, professor…” Yuuri forced himself to smile.

“Why not? For example, after our practice… You have time next week for that? Tomorrow I am leaving for a few days… so it’s impossible to do it this week.” Victor’s face was soft and another thing… he was really close. Yuuri finally understood how young Victor is. Probably if not that abyss that was separating their worlds they could talk like friends.

“Yes, any time is fine.” Yuuri nodded few times. “I wish I could be as strong as you…” Oh. Did he just say this out loud? Of course, Victor laughed, but he didn’t seem disturbed by Yuuri’s words.

“I think you can become better than I ever was…”

What Victor is saying? He doesn't know anything. Victor reached for Yuuri’s hair with his hand. Yuuri was sure that Victor didn’t think before doing. Yuuri never imagined that this might be coming, so he was sitting still. The feeling was new and so warm. From Yuuri’s hair, Victor laid fingers on his shoulder. Is he for real? Those words…? Or he just wants Yuuri to feel better? Victor… Yuuri wanted to learn more about him. Not just who he was…but also who is now. Somewhere really deep inside Yuuri wanted to be able to control his thoughts and actions, but he also knew that it’s impossible. So when Yuuri saw that one strand of Victor’s silver hair is falling on his eyes, Yuuri wanted to do something about it so much. He imagined how the hand moves on its own. How he slowly tucks loosen hair behind Victor’s ear, then smiles and receives the same answer from Victor. If only Yuuri could cry now, this time he would… just to get Victor’s attention. If only they had met a little bit earlier… While Victor was still a student. But probably then he wouldn’t have paid attention to someone like Yuuri. Elite… Who is Yuuri compared to him? Nothing…. No. Even worse.

Someone screamed excited and then started laughing. With this sound Yuuri was thrown back to reality, he quickly moved back. Victor did the same only slowly.

“Yuuri… there is… something…” he started, but Yuuri didn’t want to get dragged into the feeling again. He can’t refuse to Victor. And if he gets some hopes, later it will hurt even more. Yuuri jumped on his feet.

“Ha-ppy… Happy Birthday.” He said with shivering voice, like a girl who decided to make a love confession. He quickly put the little box into Victor’s hands and started running. Yuuri ran so quickly from the hall that one girl was just in time to step aside, otherwise Yuuri would have hit her.

Everyone will be at the party, dancing and having fun… but he was too embarrassed to go back and face Victor after acting like this. Yuuri felt so ashamed, but what’s done it’s done. He can’t become someone else if he was born as a loser. Yuuri stopped running just when he was on the third floor. He didn’t even think…. Ended up here, next to the common room, where he and Eiji were usually going after the classes. But Eiji is not here… this time there is no one who can listen to Yuuri. Should he be holding this just to himself? Or maybe it’s better to tell Eiji what he is feeling for Victor… maybe a friend will help him somehow…

“Yuuri.” He heard this voice just one time, but it was enough to remember it. Yuuri turned around in corridor and saw Ash. He was floating just a little bit above the ground. Does he like to surprise people like this?

“Ash… hey. How are you?” To be honest, Yuuri didn’t have any idea what to say. There must be a reason why Ash is talking to him again? He wouldn’t show himself to anyone except Eiji.

“Hmm… like dead?” he silently laughed, but Yuuri couldn’t. Maybe he will understand this kind of jokes after turning into a ghost.

Yuuri still couldn’t breathe normally after running all the way, but Ash’s sudden appearance made stop thinking about things he left behind in the Hall. They were standing in silence, then Ash started moving. Yuuri just went along with him. Ash was looking straight and when they passed a really dark corner, shadows made Ash invisible. It was strange to walk with him like this. Is not like they had a destination. Yuuri was just following. Ash probably knew paths that nobody else goes through.

“Were you waiting for me...?” Yuuri asked and Ash nodded. So it’s like he thought. Was he waiting for the time when Eiji won’t be around? “Is it because of Eiji?” he tried to guess. What else could it be?

“Not necessarily. But if you know where he went, that would make me feel calmer.” He answered silently.

“Wait… I thought that he went home? Because his family asked to?” Yuuri felt totally confused. It can’t be that Eiji didn’t tell Ash where he is going.

“You see… every year his parents go to visit their grandmother on Christmas. So there is no one home.”

“What? So… Maybe he also went to his grandmother's place?” After Yuuri’s words, Ash silently laughed. Probably answer is no. Yuuri couldn’t understand. Eiji lied? It’s impossible. Why would he? If he didn’t go home then where is he? “So what did he told to you then?”

“Exactly the same… that he is going home. But then I asked why and he couldn’t answer.” From Ash’s voice, Yuuri couldn’t understand what he is trying to say with this. “Eiji never lied to me before… until he met you.” he ended his thoughts. So that’s what going on.

“You think… that… I am doing a bad influence on him?” Yuuri stopped and looked at Ash. He couldn’t walk and talk about this kind of topic.

“I just know that you are also hiding something… is it the same thing? Is it different? I can’t understand…” Ash sighed. For a ghost, he was looking too tired. “I just want him to be safe… you understand?”

“You think I might hurt Eiji?” Yuuri blinked. He would never… not Eiji. Yuuri would never make the same mistake again.

“I don’t know. Can you?” Ash moved a bit, giving a sign for Yuuri to go along, but he didn’t. Slowly Yuuri shook the head. No, impossible.

“There is nothing in my past that might hurt him now. I learned my lesson. So you don’t have to be worried.” Yuuri wasn’t happy anymore about seeing Ash. His look was too straightforward. Yuuri couldn’t look away. If they had to spend more time together, Yuuri had a feeling that both of them wouldn’t get along very well. On the other side, he is just protecting Eiji…

“Then why it’s such a big secret? Eiji told me, that you are the best in every class yet you are not able to cast any spells during Defense the Dark Arts. How is it possible?” Probably no one else in the whole world, just Ash, could ask a person this kind of question with such a calm voice and cold face.

Of course, Ash has nothing to lose. And Eiji… does he tell to Ash everything? Until the last detail? Except for important facts, like research on Ash or the real reason why Eiji left today.

“I don’t… I don’t want to hurt anyone…” Yuuri murmured. What’s going on? Why is he telling this to Ash? Parents, teachers, doctors… no one was able to make Yuuri speak. But here is this ghost, whose real name no one knows, and Yuuri just started talking.

“It’s just a class. It’s impossible to get hurt. Teachers...”

“So what? Teachers… can't guarantee anything. ” Yuuri interrupted him. “Listen, Ash… if that’s your real name…”

“What do you mean? Oh shit. You are helping Eiji to search for information about me, right??” Now they were both staring at each other almost angry.

If Ash starts blaming Yuuri for this, he will turn around and leave. But… Ash acted totally different. He suddenly moved into the dark shadow and Yuuri wasn’t able to see him anymore. Just a second before that, Yuuri saw how sad Ash’s face became. It hurts for him so much.

“Why… why can’t he stop? I asked him so many times…” strange it’s sounded like the air is speaking.

“Because he cares about you. Probably nothing is going to change, but the truth… it might help you to find peace. Or at least why you are here. Eiji is not doing this to satisfy his own curiosity. He truly loves you, Ash.” Yuuri protected a friend. Maybe after Ash hears this from another person, it will be easier to understand. The reason is simple.

“And then what? There is no happy ending, even if he finds out the truth. Also…” for a second Ash was thinking should he say it or not. “I am worried that the truth might scare him off… What I will do if he disappears from my side?” his personality changed so quickly that Yuuri felt like talking with another person. This topic was really important to him, right?

“I don’t think so… Eiji doesn’t have any reason to run away from you. But… from me… well, that’s a different story.” Yuuri laughed nervously. Here they go again. Yuuri started speaking without thinking. He needs to shut up before he starts regretting.

“Why you say so?”

“What if… I have hurt someone…” Yuuri sighed. “Or even worse…”

No no no… what he is saying...

“What do you mean?” Ash whispered.

“Physically….”

Why he is still talking?? Shut up Yuuri. Shut up. His inner voice was screaming.

“Have you… killed someone…?” maybe Ash hasn’t even asked this and it was just Yuuri’s imagination. Because there was nothing scarier than the possibility that someone might force him to answer this question someday. “What do you think about Victor Nikiforov?” Ash again stroke right through Yuuri’s chest with another question, after a minute of silence. Where this came from?? Why now? Does Ash know Victor? How come? Yuuri lost his voice completely, also the capability to move.

But just before something else happened, Yuuri suddenly saw Ash's transparent hand. He showed him to keep silent. It’s not like Yuuri could say something, but this sign made him forget about their conversation for a second. Footsteps.

“Ash??” Yuuri called out loud, but he was already gone. Yuuri just felt that there is no one standing in the shadow anymore.

“What did you just say?”

Professor Wong’s voice broke the silence into a thousand pieces. His tone, the way how he walked towards Yuuri – he never saw this person before. Angry? Scared? Disturbed? Confused? Yuuri couldn’t breathe, he stepped back and pressed the whole body to the wall where just a second ago Ash was standing.

 

 


If Eiji needed to travel somewhere one of the parents always helped. It was the first time he walked by foot all the way. Eiji wasn’t scared to walk long distances, also this forest he knew well. There was a road and everything. But still at least ten times he reminded himself to start exercising more. He hasn’t walked so much in a long time. Finally, when he reached home, Eiji smiled. Tomorrow he will have to go all the way back, but let’s hope it was worth it. He opened the door and walked inside. Home smell. That was wonderful. He will be able to sleep on his futon tonight! Maybe someday they could come here with Yuuri? There is a river nearby and from the window, in Eiji’s room, at clear nights stars were visible. Eiji has never brought a friend before… Interesting how parents would react if he brought Ash one day? You know mom… I am dating a ghost? How does that sound? Pretty cool?

If Eiji succeeds… Ash will be able to live again… probably without Eiji. But he was already ready to sacrifice this for Ash’s life. Eiji walked around the house for a bit and ended up in his parents’ bedroom.

Eiji’s father was working at the branch of the Ministry of Magic in Japan. They had a lot of interesting stuff at home, most of them were broken. They had them legally or not, it wasn’t important. When Eiji was little, sometimes he loved to look through them. As he remembers father was never happy about that. He always tried to hide everything. But Eiji had a talent to find something forbidden. Eiji’s mother was always so mad about this, not at Eiji, of course. She shouted at dad, complaining that he can’t find a proper place for that trash. Everything ended when Eiji started going to school. Since he was coming back just during the holidays, that made him a better kid. He started respecting father’s belongings.

The school where Eiji went was different for the one where Yuuri studied. It was called ISM – International School of Magic. They had a lot of foreigner students and with their studying methods reminded more Western Schools. The system wasn’t so strict like in the Boys Academy from which Yuuri came. Eiji chose to go to Hogwarts because it sounded interesting. Eiji never thought that the day might come when he decides to touch father’s belongings again. But this time not for playing. He decided to steal it.

After Eiji left home, parents decided to change house design. So all things that they didn’t use… were put into boxes and until today were lying inside the old wardrobe. When Eiji opened it, he just sighed. There was a lot of boxes. It might take a long time, even the whole night. Since Eiji was still underage he can’t use magic to find it. The thing he needed was small. As a child, Eiji once found it and father took it away, hid between other dangerous things again. He told Eiji never search for it again. That time he really scared the boy. He couldn’t understand why. In their family, mom was always the one shouting on two stupid wizards. But that one time, dad was the one who raised the voice. For the first time. Now Eiji knows. Let’s hope, father forgot about it.

As Eiji thought it’s impossible… everything was mixed together. Most of the things were broken or too old to be used. Eiji was sure, that now there is a new version of the thing he is searching for. That’s another reason why father must have forgotten about this a long ago. Or Eiji hoped so.
He was really tired after walking so much and almost half of the night passed. When the sun rises, he needs to leave, if he wants to come back in time to Hogwarts. But Eiji also knew that he just can’t leave without anything. This might be his only chance. He sighed and lied on the floor. Now he regretted not saying goodbye to Ash. Maybe he would have said something sweet. It’s cold here… and Yuuri probably is eating pudding… That sucks. What did he expect? To come here, find it in ten minutes, cozy spend the night in his room and go back? Obviously, Eiji’s father is not that dumb he probably hid it somewhere safe….

Or not.

Eiji turned his head and between things scattered all around he saw a dark little bag. Just a second before he was feeling sleepy, but now with a new wave of energy Eiji jumped in the spot and took the bag into his hands. The heart was pounding inside the chest. It can’t be… for real? Did he find it? He slowly opened the bag, in his mind begging for the luck.

Inside the bag, there was a golden chain with a small clock hanging on it. Simple as that. Anyone would probably think that it’s just an old fashioned pocket clock. That’s what Eiji thought when he first found it. That’s why it was so hard to understand why father took it away. But now it’s different. Now he knows how much this thing might do. How it can change… how it can help.

Small, but one of the most powerful guns.

With a smile on his face, Eiji lied down on the floor again and closed his eyes. Soon Ash. Really soon he will be able to save him.

It was a Time-turner.

 

 

Chapter Text

If only Yuuri could, he would have probably chosen to become a part of this wall or just disappear. He would have jumped out of the window or turned himself into a mouse and ran away. Anything would be better than this situation. The dark shadow was his worthless hideout, and Yuuri thought that he can’t move, but actually, the whole body was trembling in fear. What… what professor heard? That Yuuri has killed someone?


“Yuuri.” Wong was already this close, just a few steps from the shadow.


His strict voice made all the air from lungs gone. This man was totally different from the one Yuuri knew. Totally divergent from that Shorter Wong who used to laugh during the class. The one, who was kind and funny. The one, who was respected by everyone or the one who probably doesn’t really know how to be serious.


Lumos.” That moment when the light from professor’s wand reached Yuuri, and he couldn’t hide anymore, the boy knew… he was doomed. Wong will force him to tell the truth. And then everyone is going to find out what Yuuri did and he wouldn’t be able to escape.


Professor’s face was strange. From the moment when he clearly saw Yuuri, Wong’s eyes changed. Just a second before Yuuri could swear that they were full of confusion, but now Wong looked at him surprised. The other thing that Yuuri noticed was professor’s face. Covered in scratches and small wounds. This not how a person should look on Christmas day. What kind of crazy project professor is working on?


“Yuuri…” this time his voice was softer, but Yuuri’s heart couldn’t stop painfully pulsating. No matter what, this won’t end well for him. If professor Wong heard what Yuuri did… nothing can be changed. “Hey… listen… calm down… I…” these words were not even close to those that Yuuri expected. Perhaps Wong got disturbed by Yuuri’s reaction? What he is waiting for? He already heard the truth. Why he is not doing anything? Why suddenly his voice and face looks gentler than a minute ago?


“Shorter!! I told you to wa--- Yuuri!”


Of course. It’s him. But Victor ran after Wong, not Yuuri.


Now everything is over for sure. Professor Wong will tell Victor what he heard. During these months Yuuri constantly repeated to himself that he doesn’t have a right to cry. He knew that the day, when he will be punished, is going to come sooner or later. But he was so afraid to face reality. Nobody will believe in Yuuri. And Victor... what if he finds out?? That would be the end.


“What… what happened here?? Yuuri, are you okay?” Victor almost ran towards them. He touched Yuuri’s shoulder and probably felt how the boy is trembling. Yuuri couldn’t lift his head. He tried to breathe slowly, but that didn't help.


“It’s probably my fault… I just thought that I heard Yuuri saying something, maybe I scared him. But I didn’t do anything! There was no reason to react so sensitively. Yuuri, listen… it’s alright… calm down. I am sorry… ” Yuuri thought he heard a pang of guilt in Wong’s voice. But this answer didn’t satisfy Victor.


“Anyone would be scared to see you like this. I told you to take your ass into the hospital or otherwise, we won’t go anywhere tomorrow. And what did Yuuri say?”


This question made Yuuri finally move. He surprised not only both of the teachers but also himself. The boy suddenly grabbed Victor’s robe as hard as he could. No… no… no… please. Don’t say it. Don’t say it. If only Yuuri could scream right now, he would. Wong sighed.


“Nothing… never mind. But why you are here alone in the first place?” Yuuri didn’t know what made professor change his mind. But Yuuri felt thankful, maybe Wong didn’t hear him clearly enough to make conclusions.


“Oh, that’s probably because of me.” Victor silently laughed. “But we are going back to the party, right? And after Jessica treats you, come to join us.” Victor took Yuuri’s hand and patted Wong’s shoulder. “Cool your head. Stop being reckless… please.”


They were going in silence, but Yuuri couldn’t explain why Victor didn’t let go of his hand. Maybe he thought that Yuuri might run away again. That was so embarrassing… all this situation. Yuuri couldn’t properly explain what happened, but he can’t remain silent forever. Ash asked does he like Victor…? Isn’t that obvious? Yuuri’s fingers were still shivering a little bit, but Victor’s warm and strong hand felt nice.

“Professor… I am… I am sorry. It’s just…”


What he should say?


“Yuuri, have you ever been obsessed with something?” he asked and before answering Yuuri finally raised his head. Victor was looking forward, but his eyes in this darkness seemed somewhere lost.


“I… I don’t know… never thought about that.” Yuuri tried to answer honestly.


“Well… Shorter is. And he doesn’t understand where he is dragging himself into. Don’t be mad at him… he is just lost.” Victor looked at Yuuri and smiled sadly. Strangely this gave him strengths from somewhere. Victor’s smile, no matter what kind it was, always made Yuuri feel better. Victor truly cared about Shorter, Yuuri could hear this in the voice. It must be wonderful to have someone like Victor next to yourself. From the other side, Victor didn’t ask what Yuuri was doing alone in that hallway. Nikiforov didn’t have to cover this boy, but for some reason he did.


“It’s alright… Professor Wong didn’t do anything wrong… he must be tired and I was just surprised.” Yuuri murmured quietly and at that moment Victor pressed Yuuri’s hand a little bit stronger. Yuuri said words that Victor wanted to hear. Probably now it’s the only thing Yuuri can do.


They walked down the stairs. Lights coming from the Great Hall and festive loud noises gave a clear hint that the party already started. Yuuri wasn’t sure if he wants to go there, but spending all evening alone in the dormitory also didn’t sound like a good solution. Victor stopped not far away from the stairs and let go of Yuuri’s hand. So that’s it. Few minutes of this little miracle were over.


“Before going back, I wanted to thank you for the present. If you had waited for one minute longer, I would have said this earlier.” Victor laughed and Yuuri couldn’t help just feel how his cheeks suddenly heat up from embarrassment. Again. That just epic. Such a failure. “I won’t ask you how you knew about my Birthday… but… I really love this.” Victor continued and Yuuri bit his lower lip. Yuuri tried to figure out, what he wants more: run away screaming or just roll in some corner. 


Victor showed a small bell. This was inside the little box. Yuuri noticed how Victor gently held it in his palm. When professor moved the hand it rang.


“It’s… Omamori… a charm for luck.” Yuuri explained still blushing.


“Oh, I see! But I have never heard such beautiful sound before! It’s like a wind! What kind of magic is that?” Victor’s voice sounded really interested, he rang the bell again and smiled for his palm

.
“No… there is no magic here.” Yuuri couldn’t believe that Victor was so surprised by such simple thing. Yuuri asked his mother to send one of these from Japan a few weeks ago. He never thought that Victor might react like that. This bell is not worth much. How can this man be so adorable?


“I will treasure it! Thank you again.” Victor smiled widely like a child and Yuuri felt that legs aren’t holding him anymore. Oh… damn it. How can Victor make him feel this way? Every time stronger and stronger.


Victor hid the bell inside his robe, in the deepest pocket, and then smirked for Yuuri. This man. There are no words to describe him. Still, with red cheeks, Yuuri smiled to Victor’s back, when professor stepped towards the Hall. And who would have ever thought that Yuuri will fall for someone on the other side of the world? Until now Yuuri thought that there is no way he will ever feel alive again.


The hall was full of people. Yuuri saw Phichit and Seung-Gil sitting in the corner. Phichit was telling him something and waving with hands. Normally Seung-Gil’s face is very cold, so Yuuri was really surprised to see him smiling while watching Phichit. On the other side of the hall, Yuuri saw Sing dancing with some girl from Gryffindor. She laughed when he whispered something into her ear. Sing must be really good at this. Yuuri wished he had a little bit of his courage. But the most surprised he was to see Yuri with Otabek. Both of them were standing not too far away from the nearest window and talking. They were holding hands. Eiji… you can’t imagine how much you are missing… Yuuri smiled. Let’s hope Christmas party at Grandmother’s place is worth it.


“Are you hungry? I love this pudding the most!” Victor came to Yuuri holding two glasses of Christmas pudding. He gave one for Yuuri.


“Thank you, professor…” Yuuri took the glass, a little bit angry at himself. Why his hands just can’t stop shivering!!


“Oh my… look.” Victor laughed and walked towards one table with four bean seats. Two of them were occupied. Yuuri just went along. There were professors Giacometti and Cialdini. It didn’t take for Yuuri to understand that they are already a little bit drunk. There was an empty bottle of wine on the table and they just started a new one.


“Victor! Oh! And Yuuri! Sit down!” Giacometti talked like Yuuri would be equal with them. “Yuuri you want wine?”


“I… I can’t… professor…”


“Chris, what are you saying…” Victor rolled his eyes and sat down on the free seat. Will he also drink? But for now, Victor seemed more interested in his pudding.


“I am just kidding, Vitya.” Both professors laughed. They didn’t seem really drunk, just a little bit funnier than always.


“They have grape juice though.” Victor took an empty glass and poured in it juice from the jug. Then tasted it. “Not bad…”


“Yuuri, I heard from professor Babicheva that your lecture was really interesting… how come I wasn’t invited?” professor Giacometti looked at Yuuri pretending very hurt.


“I… well…” Yuuri didn’t know what to say. He never thought of inviting someone.


“But I am sure Yuuri will choose Charms class as the best one this semester, right?” professor smirked.


“What are you saying… Yuuri loves Magical Creatures class the most!” Cialdini drank a little bit of his wine.


Now both of them were staring at Yuuri, waiting until he chose. Poor boy had enough stress this evening and now he was dragged into this again. What he should say? Yuuri was standing like a statue, but eyes turned at Victor, silently asking for help.


“Both of you stop before Yuuri faints here.” Victor laughed. For him it was funny. But probably he also thought that it’s enough for Yuuri today. Thank you, at least for that.


Suddenly someone not far away from them started to laugh. All four of them looked at that side. Some of the students were making colorful small fireworks with their wands. Three professors next to Yuuri sighed at the same time.


“Who is going?” Professor Giacometti and Cialdini glared at Victor.


“Why me?? I am not even on duty today!” Victor leaned back on his seat and crossed arms.


“Okay. There is only one choice then.” Cialdini nodded.


Yuuri was sure he is not hallucinating and probably he would have given everything that Eiji could see this. He was standing and watching how three well-known wizards and very respected professors of Hogwarts started playing rock-paper-scissors. Yuuri could only stare with opened mouth. That must be an event of a lifetime!


“Damn it…” Victor murmured when he lost the last round to Giacometti. “Oh well, at least it's fair now.” He stood up. “Yuuri, sit down, drink some juice. I will be right back.” Before leaving Victor touched his shoulder.


Yuuri felt really strange, but inside his heart, he really wanted to stay here, otherwise, he would be standing alone somewhere in the corner. The boy sat down at the same place where Victor was sitting. He reached for the glass with juice. At the same time with professors watching, how Victor is giving a lecture for the group of students. All of them quickly let heads down, Victor had a strong voice. Obviously, it’s forbidden to use magic at the party for their own safety. With a big smile on his face, Yuuri pressed glass to his lips and took a few big swigs.

 

 


 


“Please…” she cried blood and her face was burning. Red liquid flowed down her face on Yuuri’s hands. He was silently crying, but not only for her. He couldn’t see well only blurry girl's face. Blood from her and Yuuri’s eyes – all of it mixed up. It’s his turn next. Knowing this, even in the huge pain, it was hard to stay still. Yuuri would have given everything to say sorry. He wanted to apologize more than anything, but couldn’t. There was no point. None of them will survive.


“Stay… stay with me. Please… I can’t… don’t leave me…” he begged and cried, but she was in so much pain, that all words were useless. Yuuri was afraid to stay alone here.


“Senpai…” she whispered. “I can’t… I can’t… see...” suddenly she screamed and Yuuri leaned even more forward as if he could protect her with the body. But he can’t save her, he couldn’t save anyone. They were all dead. “It’s dark… it’s dark…” she choked and her body trembled with huge force. Her scream pierced Yuuri’s heart the last time.

 

 

 


“Yuuri… wake up. Hey…”


He suddenly opened eyes and the view was blurry, just like in the dream. Yuuri couldn’t help. The heart was beating fast and irregular. Why he can’t see?? Who called him?? Where is he? The boy tried to reach for something near him and felt a hand. The fear held the scream inside the throat and Yuuri just let a silent noise out.


“Yuuri, here are your glasses…” Victor’s voice reached him and Yuuri put them on with his free hand. “Was it a bad dream?” Yuuri turned his head and saw how Victor leaned forward worried. Yuuri got so surprised that he quickly let Victor’s hand go. His cheeks blushed. Why Victor is here in his room? Is he still dreaming?


It took a few seconds to understand that he is in Victor’s office lying on the couch. Why??


“Well… Yuuri! What a night, right?!” Other cheerful voice asked. When Victor stretched his back, Yuuri saw that they are not the only one in this room. Professor Wong was also here, happy like always. WIth healthy face already. Yuuri felt so confused. Also, he still had the last image of his dream inside the head. It was hard to understand what’s going on.


“What… what happened?” He silently asked. Professors looked at each other for a second then Shorter started laughing really loudly.


“Yuuri, you don’t remember anything?” Victor couldn’t hide surprised voice and Yuuri didn’t answer, just nervously touched hair. “Hmm… you accidentally drank wine instead of juice. It was not so much though… I didn’t think you had such intolerance…”


“I… WHAT?” Yuuri almost screamed. He jumped on the couch turning all read. Then quickly pressed the blanket to his face, covering up to the nose.


“I can’t believe… You didn’t look like you were SO drunk.” Wong couldn’t stop laughing, he almost cried. “Oh my… Yuuri, brilliant! So you don’t remember how you danced with me or Victor?”


“I did…? What… what… have I done…?”


“It’s better to ask what you haven’t done…” Wong was still giggling at Yuuri just wanted to hide under the blanket or even couch. “If you don’t remember then I must warn you to be careful around Yuri Plisetsky. He wanted to take your head off when you asked his boyfriend for a dance.”


“No….” Yuuri’s dark eyes were in size of a plate.


“Shorter, enough. Yuuri, don’t worry… You did nothing wrong. Really. From aside it looked like you were just having fun.” Victor tried to smile, but it wasn’t enough. Yuuri wanted to die from embarrassment. The whole school saw this humiliation. 


“But… but… what… what happened...?”


“Actually, finally you just slipped into Victor’s hands and at the same second fell asleep. I swear I haven’t seen anything so cute in a long time…” Shorter were looking at the wall like having a memory about some scene from a sweet romance movie. At least someone had fun, but Yuuri didn’t know how he will be able to look at professors’ eyes ever again. “Your dance moves though…”


“Oh, just get out already.” Victor pushed Wong through the door. He waved for Yuuri before leaving. Yuuri couldn’t feel tears in his eyes, but all his insides were screaming. “Yuuri, sorry to wake you up, but I must leave now. Take a good rest and before leaving drink what’s in the glass on the table. It will help you feel better.”


“I am sorry, professor… for the trouble…” Yuuri murmured silently.


“Yesterday you called me Victor…” he said and Yuuri gasped. Oh no. What else? What else? “Don’t worry, nobody heard. And really, nothing bad happened. I carried you safely here, so you could have a rest.” Yuuri slowly nodded and Victor softly touched his head. For him, Yuuri probably looked like a hurt puppy. “I am coming back tomorrow, so let’s say on Monday after dinner, come to my classroom. We can start our practice.” His hand slid down on Yuuri’s burning cheek. When boy nodded again, Victor smiled and then left.


Yuuri wished to know where Victor is leaving, but who he is to ask? He ruined everything!!! Probably Eiji was staring at Victor so much, that accidentally took the wrong glass!! What an idiot. Damn it, Eiji. If he would have been here, none of this happened. No, of course, it’s not his fault. Still. Yuuri grabbed a pillow and hit himself in the face. Damn it. Why… why… just why he is such a loser at everything??? He really called Victor by his first name?? But… why he didn’t look mad about that at all?


Suddenly Yuuri flinched when he felt that something is sitting next to him, he moved the pillow and saw a phoenix with gorgeous red feathers. How he didn’t notice him in the corner?


“Maka…Hey.” Yuuri sighed and lied head on the same pillow, then slowly touched the bird. It happily moved closer to Yuuri. So soft. Finally, Yuuri smiled even if just a little bit. Maka let some cute and heartwarming sound. What a wonderful creature. Yuuri couldn’t stop looking at it. Maka was so warm. It had the same effect as looking at Victor. Yuuri felt a little bit calmer. Maybe he can let himself to stay here a little bit longer? The boy closed his eyes, still holding hand on soft feathers feeling phoenix's calm breathing.


Yuuri had a chance to look through Victor’s things. Maybe he would have found something about Aslan. But Yuuri felt like Maka is following his every move. Of course, it’s not like a bird could do something about it, but still. Also, Victor helped him yesterday so much, he took care of Yuuri… Victor trusted him by leaving here alone. Yuuri felt like it would be really disrespectful to satisfy his curiosity now.

 

 


 

 

“Eiji!” Yuuri shouted when he saw him going down the stairs. He was waiting here in the pub for more than two hours. There were so many things inside Yuuri’s head that he didn’t know from where to start. One thing for sure, he can’t hold it anymore just to himself.


“Yuuri! Hey!” Eiji smiled widely, but Yuuri noticed that his eyes were sleepy. And in general, he looked tired. Maybe the party didn’t go well for him well too?


“I have so much to tell you...! We will need more than one glass of Butterbeer for that.” Yuuri started speaking right away.


“Oh… Merlin’s beard, why interesting things happen when I am not around?!” Eiji laughed. “Okay, sure. Let’s find a free table.” From the way that Yuuri acted Eiji could guess, that yesterday wasn’t easy for him. To be honest, while walking back from home to town Eiji thought that it’s time to tell Yuuri his real plans about Ash. But probably this will have to wait a bit.


Yuuri found a table for them in a very corner. If he is going to speak, better make sure that no one overhears. Eiji put his backpack on the seat next to himself and sat down. It felt so good to sit after all these hours of walking. If only he could lay the head down, probably immediately would have fallen asleep. But Yuuri looked like he is preparing to say something really important, so Eiji took a sip of his Butterbeer and tried to concentrate.


“First… there is something I couldn’t make myself to tell earlier… but… there is someone I like.” Yuuri silently started after a minute. He had to collect all his thoughts. Maybe the word ‘like’ wasn’t strong enough, but Yuuri decided to leave it like that for now. He got Eiji’s attention, but he couldn’t have known that this is just a beginning.


Hard to tell how long they were sitting in the pub, but once Yuuri started speaking he was incapable to stop. Obviously, he needed this so much because holding everything inside was just too much. Yuuri tried not to look at Eiji’s opened mouth when he silently admitted that the one he likes is Victor. But since this point, everything else became so easy to speak out. Yuuri started with Aslan, that third mysterious friend who never finished Hogwarts and nobody knew where he is. He told Eiji everything: about Victor’s boggart, how Yuuri searched for information about Aslan, what Blanca and Sing told him. Then he jumped right to the Christmas day and told Eiji how he met Ash. Yuuri just missed the part where they talked about his past. Later Yuuri explained how Wong showed up and how Victor said that Shorter is obsessed about something. And after this brain crushing information, for a dessert, Yuuri told Eiji about the Christmas party and what he has done in front of the whole school. Yuuri couldn't remember when was the last time he spoke so much without any pauses.


“And… professor Nikiforov said that I called him Victor… can… can you believe it? I… Eiji?” Yuuri talked at the same time holding on his head, that way hiding blushing cheeks. But that’s why he didn’t notice that Eiji is staring at one spot on the table already for some time. Maybe it was just too much for him. After all, Yuuri told a lot of things at the same time.


Eiji didn’t mean to, but he stopped listening Yuuri probably when he just started speaking about the Christmas party. So sadly he didn’t hear the best part of the story. But at that second a lot of things inside Eiji’s head connected and he found an answer. An answer so simple which was lying in front of him from the start! Eiji could have asked why Yuuri didn’t tell all of this earlier. He could be shaken about the fact that the friend is in love with a teacher. But… not now. One and a half year Eiji dedicated his every free minute for finding out the truth. How many times they were fighting with Ash about that? How many times did he want to give up and then found motivation again? But the truth… the truth is… here. They both with Yuuri were so blind, so stupid for hiding things. Eiji also thought that it’s his fault, he should have been more interested in what’s going on around him.


“Yuuri…” he slowly spoke, still looking at the same spot.


“What...?” For a second Yuuri thought that he overdid it. Probably said something that even for Eiji was too much.


“Remember… remember our first time in this pub? When… I was in the bathroom... Wong and Nikiforov were fighting?” Eiji started. It was hard to speak. The truth that he realized was still too much to bear.


“Yes… and?” Yuuri couldn’t understand what it had to do with his story, but the way Eiji looked now was almost scary. His whole face was pale.


“And… I thought… I heard… how professor Wong said Ash’s name. I thought I misheard it, that’s why I didn’t tell you anything… but… but… now…” with every second it was harder to speak.


Now Yuuri understood why Eiji asked those strange questions when he came back then. Yuuri couldn’t forget them until now, but at the same time, there was no clear reason to bother himself with this. Yuuri let down his shoulders but pressed harder the glass between fingers. If someone was watching them from the side, probably thought that someone just died. Yuuri held air inside his lungs. Yesterday… when Wong asked him about the last words. He… he wasn’t talking about Yuuri’s past, right? Yuuri was so scared back then that he couldn’t think clearly, but… actually, his last word was… a name. He called him.


“Ash…” Eiji started and looked right at Yuuri’s eyes. “Ash is…”


“Ash is Aslan. They are the same person.” Yuuri finished and both of them didn’t know what else to add here.

 

 


 


When they came back to Hogwarts it was already very late. Both of them barely spoke. When everything became so clear any other topic seemed meaningless. But their thoughts were similar. There were some facts that no one wasn’t able to deny. Wong and Nikiforov weren’t just Ash’s friends, they are somehow related to his death. Obviously, Aslan came back to Hogwarts that autumn, but this time already as the ghost, not human. Then he met Eiji and probably because of his character just didn’t want to show himself to anyone else, except him.

For Eiji it was easier to admit that Victor or Wong, or both of them, hurt Ash in some way and they are responsible for what happened. That’s why Victor is feeling guilty, right? But for Yuuri, it wasn’t so simple. He didn’t want to believe that Victor killed someone… not just someone, but his best friend. Yuuri was sure that he is blaming himself for what happened, that’s why his boggart looked like Aslan. But neither Eiji, neither Yuuri could say their thoughts out loud for obvious reasons. They were standing on different sides this time. Especially when Yuuri just admitted his feelings for Victor to Eiji.

Yuuri couldn’t believe how everything turned upside down just in a few hours. He still remembers how he waited for Eiji to come back, but now… somewhere deep inside he didn’t. Eiji didn’t want to fight with Yuuri, he became a very important person in such a short time. But at this moment… there is no way he can support Nikiforov. Of course, there were so many unclear parts in this story. The fact that Yuuri wasn’t able to find any information about Aslan in the pure-blood family list. Or in what circumstances did Ash die. So actually, it’s just a start.


They took different directions without saying any words. Neither of boys could sleep that night. Probably situation was worse for Eiji because Ash came to his room and tried to speak. He wanted Eiji to tell where he really went. For the first time, Eiji was the one who didn’t speak back to Ash. He knew that it hurt him in all possible ways and it’s not fair, but what he can do? Eiji just hid head under the pillow and remained silent for the rest of the night. Finally, Ash gave up, he came closer to the bed and just sat down next to it. He sighed and laid head next to pillow where Eiji was hiding. If only he wouldn’t be useless at this point. If only he had a choice. It was so hard to watch at Eiji suffering and not knowing why and what happened. Ash could only ask himself, does really Eiji trust him? If Eiji could feel what Ash feels this second… he would understand how much it hurts to be in his place. Place where he can’t do anything. Just stay by his side as the shadow.


 

 

Next morning Yuuri was already in the library. He wished to do that from the moment when Sing told him how popular Victor was. Yuuri took a big and heavy book, in which all students awards from the last ten years were recorded. There was a lot of talented people. No wonder that Hogwarts is known as one of the best Magic schools in the world. With this book, Yuuri went to the common room for studying. Because he knew that Eiji will be searching for him. And Yuuri was right.


Eiji came after an hour or so. At that time when Yuuri was staring at Victor’s photo from school days. Like Yuuri thought, Victor with long hair was someone that you won’t see every day. Next, to a long list of all awards, there was a colorful moving photo. From the moment Yuuri got to know magic world until now he was amazed by fact that people in photos and paintings are moving. Victor was smiling for him honestly, his eyes were full of energy, very lively. The way he looked at Yuuri was open and clear. At first, Yuuri couldn’t believe that this is the same Victor. Finally, he understood what Sing had in mind when he said that sometimes now professor looks like dead inside. Victor’s smile nowadays became different. Even if honest, but it didn’t reach his eyes. What happened, Victor? Is it because of Aslan? While looking at the photo Yuuri understood that this Victor would never be able to hurt someone. It’s impossible. Yuuri sighed and Victor inside the photo wasn't smiling anymore. Like he would be worried about the person, who was looking at him. One thing for sure, Yuuri would have fallen for that boy in the photo even harder than he is now.


“Hey….” Eiji sat down next to Yuuri and also looked at Victor. “That’s professor Nikiforov?” his voice was surprised. Victor smiled again in the photo for Eiji and Yuuri quickly turned the page.


“I want to show you something…” even before taking this book, Yuuri already knew that there is a high possibility that he might find Aslan here. Why he didn’t think about this before?


“Wait. I wanted to apologize.” Eiji looked at Yuuri’s eyes. “Maybe I can’t understand what it means to like a professor, but I do know what it means to love…” he spoke before friend said something else. “So… I just wanted to say… that yesterday I shouldn’t have thought only about myself or Ash… I know it was hard for you to admit that you like Nikiforov. And you wanted my support. It just… everything happened so quickly…” Eiji let his eyes down and Yuuri, finally after a whole sleepless night, smiled.


“I know. You don’t have to say anything… but that reminded me, that we still don’t know a lot of things. So maybe we shouldn’t be jumping to conclusions.” Yuuri shrugged.


“Yes, you are right.” Eiji felt so relieved. It’s so simple to be friends with Yuuri. Probably it’s about time to tell him the truth.


“First, I wanted to show you this.” Yuuri was holding a finger between pages and opened it for Eiji, then pushed the book towards him.


Now it was clear why he hasn’t found anything about Aslan in pure-blood family list. It seems that he changed the last name after starting Hogwarts. Hard to admit, but Ash’s awards list was even longer than Victor’s. Obviously, he was a genius.


“Oh… my…” Eiji forgot how to breathe.


Maybe it was interesting what kind of awards Ash had. But when Eiji finally saw Ash’s colorful photo everything else just disappeared in his mind. Aslan looked stunning. Ash was standing with his arms crossed on the chest and glared at Yuuri and Eiji with suspicion. Eiji didn’t feel how tears started appearing in his eyes. Colors. Blond… No... golden hair and deep green eyes were in perfect harmony with bright skin and strict face features. Ash… he had such wonderful eyes. Million times more beautiful than Eiji ever imagined. While looking at Aslan, Eiji could imagine spring and warmth. He slowly grabbed on the chest and smiled strangled by tears. But probably for Ash, who lived in this picture, it was enough of those stares. He rolled eyes and turned back for Eiji and Yuuri.


“Well… that was expected of him.” Eiji half cried half laughed from Ash’s behavior. Even inside the photo, he is still as stubborn as ever.


“No wonder I couldn’t find him in the list. Look at the name, Eiji. Aslan Jade Golzine. The last name. He changed it…” Yuuri showed the line with Ash’s name for Eiji.


“Golzine?? Like Dino Golzine from that powerful pure-blood family? He is my father’s boss! Well not exactly… more like boss… of the boss… of the boss…. Or something. Anyway, it can’t be him, right?” Eiji looked at Yuuri totally confused. But Yuuri felt the same. He didn’t know what to say. He personally never heard about Golzine name. Let’s be honest, Yuuri knew very little about pure-blood families. So nothing strange.


“Hmm… probably there is no other pure-blood family with the same last name…” Yuuri tried to think logically.


“We are so close, Yuuri! I can tell. And as soon as I find out the truth… I will be able to save Ash.” Eiji smiled more for himself than a friend.


“Yeah, he deserves to know the truth… or… what do you mean?” Yuuri tried to guess, but it didn’t fit with Eiji’s words. Save Ash? How…? No matter how they look at this… he is dead.


“Well… it’s broken for now. I need to find a way to fix it. But as soon as I do that… I can change everything.” Eiji took out the bag with a clock inside it and gave it to Yuuri. Before opening it, Yuuri looked around, but the room was empty. They were the only stupid people to come into the studying room during the holidays.


“What…” Yuuri gasped when a small clock fell into his palm from the bag. “Is that… what I think it is?? Where did you get it?” Yuuri was holding that thing frozen like it would be poisonous.


“My father had it…I… borrowed it. Well, maybe stole it. Never mind. The most important thing that we have to fix it and then…”


“Eiji! No… do you know what are you saying??” Yuuri put that thing inside the bag again and quickly gave it back to Eiji. “You can’t do it! It’s… strictly prohibited. Not mention the fact that this thing is broken, so it’s even worse.”


“As I say… I will make sure it works. It’s not like I will use it today.” Eiji tried to explain patiently because Yuuri’s face was full of dread. “Yuuri… what’s so wrong if I want to save Ash's life? I thought about the consequences… and I don’t care that Ash won’t recognize me.”


“You don’t see further than this, right? The fact that he won’t remember you are less that concerns me. You mustn’t change the past! That’s the main rule… what if something happens? What if something goes wrong?”


“You mean… to me? I am telling you, I won’t do anything unprepared…”


“No, Eiji. Not just for you or Ash. What if something happens to someone because Ash survives?? If he stays alive the whole future might change, including ours! What if someone else dies instead of him? Will you be able to live knowing that? Or… I don’t know… let’s say he survives, who can guarantee that you will meet again? Or that we are going to meet? Or… that Victor comes back to this school as professor… or…”


“Oh. Now that sounded really selfish. So you are afraid that you won’t get to know Victor. Admit, Yuuri… you don’t care what will happen to others.”


Yuuri felt how with every of Eiji’s words his body cheeks start to burn from strange anger. This idiot. Yuuri quickly stood up and grabbed the book from the table. Yuuri’s heart was painfully pounding. Maybe Eiji was right, but even so….


“You don’t know what are you saying… It’s insane. I want you to remind something. It’s not coincident that there is no spell that might revive the dead. Because what’s dead should just stay dead! I know what I am saying!” With last sentences, Yuuri raised the voice because of all those feelings that just flew so suddenly and crashed his chest. He can’t accept this.

Eiji flinched. Those words hurt very badly. Yuuri said this without thinking, right? Right?


“Yuuri… wait… I….”


“I won’t be a part of this any longer. I am sorry… Eiji. I won’t help you anymore. I can't. Just not after this.” Yuuri bit his trembling lower lip and just left. It can’t be helped, but Yuuri didn’t want to be dragged into this.


Maybe Yuuri reacted too quickly and spontaneous, even cruel. But just with these thoughts, Eiji really scared him. How can he even think about changing something in the past? That clock shouldn't exist at all!

 

All that day Yuuri was sitting inside his room, most of the time just staring at Victor’s photo. To be honest, he really wanted to write his secret friend a letter right now. He wanted to tell how it feels. Now Yuuri felt so weak that probably he could even tell what really happened that summer, two years ago, during the camp. Really? Could he? To a person who seems to know who Yuuri is, but the boy still didn’t have any idea.

Yuuri slowly he sat down, took a new quill into his hand and started writing. Every detail until the last one. He couldn’t hold the sobbing. Tears started appearing already from the second sentence. But as soon as the hand, holding the quill, started sliding through the paper, it became impossible to stop. Just for a few times, Yuuri took a pause when he had to wipe tears because it was impossible to see the paper. First time in his life, while writing he cried so much painfully and out loud. Yuuri let the heart out, with trembling fingers engraved into the paper that day and at the same time feeling like some kind of darkness leaves his body. It was an agony, to remember or to accept it, but at the same time, something changed a bit. With ever sentence hand felt lighter. It would be impossible to explain what kind of relief took over the body, when Yuuri put down the quill and letter was sealed inside the envelope. Then he finally was able to put the head on the table and close swollen and heavy eyes. Every muscle was trembling. But maybe, for the first time after everything, Yuuri felt that he won’t have to hold everything inside anymore.


On Sunday Yuuri made himself to go outside just before dinner. He couldn’t go to practice with Victor having an empty stomach. When Yuuri reached the Great Hall, he saw Eiji right away. He was sitting alone at end of Gryffindor table, staring at his empty plate. Eiji raised his head as if he felt when Yuuri entered this place. But Yuuri couldn’t make himself to go there. He turned head and went to Hufflepuff table, took a seat next to Sing.


“Hey, Yuuri! I thought that you went home after Christmas party!” he happily shouted. Of course, Yuuri was staying in his room, so Sing couldn’t see him.


“Hello, Sing…” he nodded but didn’t know what to say about Christmas party.


“It was wild!” he continued not noticing Yuuri’s current mood. “I didn’t know you can dance like that! We had a lot of fun! Right?” Sing as always was in such a great mood. His aura shined brightly and that light was like protection from grumpy people around. Maybe Yuuri should learn something from him?


“Yeah, it was fun.” Yuuri thought that he will just agree to avoid more questions. Probably he danced with everyone on the way. When someone else asked Sing for something, Yuuri took a chance to grab porridge, quickly ate it and then left. Before going he glanced at the place where Eiji was sitting. It seemed that he didn’t move from the spot.


When Yuuri came to Victor’s classroom it was empty, so he used the chance and hid the letter on the shelf. When his friend comes back from the holiday, he will find it here like always. Yuuri sat down in his usual place next to the window and with his thoughts went back to the Great Hall and that lonely silhouette of Eiji. Maybe he should have acted differently? Maybe he should have said something? Maybe… they could have figure out something together? But now Yuuri just left him alone to deal with everything. It’s not how friendship works… It’s not Eiji’s fault that everything turned this way. Probably he couldn’t even understand why Yuuri was so mad. The boy sighed then the door opened.


“Yuuri! Hello.” Victor had the same smile almost like in photography. Yuuri couldn’t stop himself from comparing.


“Good evening… professor. How was your trip?” Yuuri didn’t have any idea where he and Shorter went. Probably to celebrate Victor’s birthday.


“I wouldn’t call it a trip… But it was okay, I guess. At least nothing bad happened.” What he has in mind with these words? Was it dangerous? Victor passed through Yuuri and went to the front. There was a lot of free space. Yuuri also stood up and came a little bit closer. Victor was openly staring at him with no shame, scanning with his bright eyes. “Yuuri… you don’t look like you had a rest...”


Yuuri should have known that he won’t be able to trick Victor.


“Are you sure you want to practice today?” he asked because Yuuri kept silent.


“Yes. Yes, I am sure.” Yuuri nodded and Victor just decided to give up.


“Alright. So, you know... I thought that actually, it doesn’t matter what kind of spell we will practice first. The thing is that you can’t cast defense or offense magic at all. But as soon as we break the ice, it should be fine. Let’s just go… with Expelliarmus.”


“Disarming spell?” Yuuri couldn’t hide how surprised he was. Isn’t this too simple??


“Yes…” Victor took out his wand. “Just make me release my wand. Nothing difficult.”


“I will be practicing spells on you, professor???” with each passing second Yuuri regretted coming here more and more. He can’t use magic against Victor.


“On who else?” he silently giggled. “Come on.”


Victor’s bright eyes were slowly killing Yuuri. It’s obvious he didn’t have any other choice. Yuuri took out his wand and stood in front of Victor. Professor was smiling, Yuuri saw that he is not even holding the wand properly. It should be really easy. But not for him.


“Well…” he tried to encourage Yuuri with a nod. “Anytime you feel read. Just say the spell.”


Even if Victor wasn’t rolling his eyes or sighing, Yuuri still felt the pressure. Professor doesn’t understand. Yuuri just can’t. That’s it. He can’t.


“Ex…ex… Expell…ia….rmus.” he murmured and of course, nothing happened. Yuuri saw how hard Victor tried not to smile. It was really pathetic.


“Alright… try saying it without any pauses. Or no.” Victor raised his hand to stop Yuuri. “Give your wand to me.” When Yuuri slowly put the wand into Victor’s open palm, professor let both of the wounds down. “Now say the spell.”

“Expelliarmus.” Yuuri didn’t hesitate. There is no risk that he might harm Victor without a wand. Nikiforov for a second looked at Yuuri.


“You are afraid to cast a spell against the person.” It was a fact, not a question. So even if Yuuri nodded, Victor already knew. “Yuuri, I don’t want to sound mean or anything… but you know that you can’t hurt me… probably with any spell that you know.”


Oh, Victor… if only you knew. That’s what Yuuri wanted to say the most, but he just shrugged. Victor is one of the strongest wizards, everyone knows that.


“You never know…” he said quietly.


Victor put both wands on the table and then stepped closer to Yuuri. Boy’s feet were stuck to the floor he couldn’t move and he didn’t want to. They were separated only with a small gap, if Yuuri leaned forward he could put the head on Victor’s chest.


“But what if one day… you will have to save someone? And that will be the only chance? Won’t you do it?” When Victor spoke Yuuri lifted his hand and covered mouth, otherwise, he would have gasped. It’s not like Victor said something new, just… Yuuri prepared to hear this. But he wasn’t able to save anyone. “What if your magic might save lives?”


“No! No… I can’t save anyone! Can’t you see?!” He shouted. Again. On Victor. Yuuri had to cover his mouth this time with both hands. Will he give Yuuri detention again?


“The only thing I see… is that you are hurt…” Victor said with a serious voice and Yuuri sobbed, then men slowly reached for Yuuri’s arms and made him move them from the mouth. “Don’t run away, Yuuri… it’s enough. You suffered enough. You don’t have to fight alone anymore.”


Yuuri couldn’t explain why Victor’s words hurt so much. It’s like he knew what happened to Yuuri. Like he was able to feel the same. Or read Yuuri’s mind. See through him without any efforts. And Yuuri also couldn’t explain how he found strengths to make a move. This connection and the fact that Victor was so dear and could understand him without knowing anything… it gave courage for this boy. Yuuri leaned forward and when Victor released his hand, Yuuri wrapped them around man’s waist. Probably these shocking words made him dizzy and Yuuri wasn’t able to understand clearly what is he doing. Victor might push him away any second now. But Victor acted another way around.


Oh, this feeling. Yuuri is actually safe from the world and everything else. There is nothing more. Just him and Victor. Just this man who could reach Yuuri’s heart without even trying. Yuuri wanted to be open with him, he wanted for Victor to care. And when his arms were holding Yuuri tightly around shoulders, the boy couldn’t help just feel calm. Victor was like a shield, which might protect Yuuri from the rest of the world. Victor doesn’t have to love him like a man… just to stay here like this would be fine.


They were standing for ages. Just Victor moved a little bit that he could lean back to the wall. Could Yuuri just admit, that he likes Victor? Right now? And see what happens. Who cares that Victor is a teacher? Yuuri finishes school just in a year and a half, then the waiting will be over. If only Victor is not doing this because of the pity… if only he feels the same. But how to find this out?


“I… I… am writing letters with someone. I told a lot of things about myself for that person. Sometimes… I think… it helps me to feel a little bit better. When I am sharing my thoughts with someone else.” Yuuri spoke. He could have listened to Victor’s calm heartbeat forever. Maybe that’s why he felt so relaxed and just confessed.


“Really...? You see… there is a way.” Victor’s voice was a little bit strange. Maybe he didn’t like that Yuuri is trusting someone? Or was he just suspicious like Eiji? The boy moved his head a little bit and looked at Victor’s eyes. This intimacy between them right now was maybe awkward, but neither of them wanted to let go first.


“Hm… probably…” Yuuri saw a hint of sadness in Victor’s eyes and also wished to learn the truth. Just a little bit more.


“You see… I wasn’t in time to protect my friend… when he needed me the most. But I think that even worse than this… was betrayal. I betrayed him. Magic can make actions, but sometimes there are things more important.” From Yuuri’s shoulders Victor’s palms slid up to his cheeks, he softly rubbed them with his fingertips. Yuuri held the breath. “Yuuri, don’t think you are the only one who suffers.”


“I don’t want you to suffer… Victor.” Yuuri called his first name for the first time out loud. Well, at least it was the first time he remembers. Was he talking about Aslan? Probably. “I could… I could listen to you.”


“Same goes for you…” finally Victor smiled a little bit. Maybe he was waiting for this moment when Yuuri calls him by name again. “I know it might sound wrong… but I really don’t want to keep myself away from you.” it was the first time when Yuuri heard Victor speaking so quietly.


“Me too…”

He let Yuuri go.

“But I really think you should go rest for today… I seem that you didn’t have a good sleep in a while.”


That’s it? Maybe Victor feels like he just said too much. But there was a strange, pleasant heat inside Yuuri's stomach. A naïve hope maybe?


“Yes… probably. And… I am really sorry about your friend. That he died.” Yuuri took Victor’s hand and pressed fingers. Somehow everything here sounded like a confession. So even if his cheeks were red, Yuuri was like in heaven.


Instead of an answer Victor raised their hands and kissed Yuuri’s fingers. Just a second more and Yuuri would have melted. Now he could only feel how the wave of warmth runs through his body. Victor’s lips, they were incredibly soft.


“Don’t forget your wand this time, Yuuri.”


“I won’t.” he took it and moved away with jumping heart. “Goodnight, Victor.”


“Goodnight.” He smiled. “And… Yuuri?”


“Yes?” boy stopped next to the door. An idiotic thought that Victor might ask him to stay popped out. That just insane. He wouldn’t ask something like this.


“My friend… is not dead. But the state he is into might be even worse than the death.” He shrugged with a sad smile on the face and then waved saying goodbye.


Yuuri couldn’t answer. He walked out and closed the door. What. WHAT. Aslan is not dead?? Or he is talking about some other friend? But… the ghost and everything, how to explain that? Does Victor know about Ash’s ghost?? Yuuri started walking, but just because he didn’t want Victor to come out and find him standing like a statue. What else except the death might turn you into a ghost? Hahaha… bullshit. There is no other way… just a second ago Yuuri felt like flying because of Victor and that hope between them. But now he was again dropped back on the ground.


Eiji! He must tell Eiji! But Yuuri didn’t have a mirror with himself, so he started walking faster and then running towards dormitories to get it. He ran through a few students and professors. He probably heard when professor Baranovskaya shouted “It’s prohibited to run in hallways! Ten points from Hufflepuff.” Yuuri didn’t care. He stopped just next to stairs leading to the dormitories, but just because he saw Eiji standing next to the entrance. He tried to figure out how to open the door.


“Eiji!!!”


“Yuuri!!”


“I have something to tell you!!” they said at the same time and moved towards each other.


“Oh… then you can go first…” Eiji tried to smile. He really looked exhausted. How Yuuri could turn away from a friend??


“No no… just tell me. Because what I want to say, might take some time.” They were standing in front of each other.


“Alright… I wanted to say sorry. Again. I really was just full of myself and the fact that I might be able to save Ash blinded me. I talked over some things with him… and… well… I am sorry. I don’t know what I was thinking… can we talk again? Please?” Eiji sighed and Yuuri felt like a stone squeezing his heart fell on the ground. Know he will be able to sleep. Whoever changed Eiji’s mind… thank you. “Also… I decided… that it’s enough secrets between us. I don’t want to hide anything else from you anymore. So there is one more thing I have to say.” He continued talking.


Yuuri felt so relieved. Soon he will be able to tell Eiji, that there is a possibility that Ash is not dead (even if it still sounded crazy). But maybe Yuuri is not the only one who got hope today. No matter what Eiji has to say, everything might turn now into a better way from now on.


“Yuuri… I know this for some time already. I just thought that… if I don’t tell… I will protect you this way. But now you have to know. When you told me that you like professor Nikiforov… he just…”


“Yes… about that… Eiji, you won't believe, but I probably think that Victor feels the same for me!” Yuuri couldn’t hold it. He smiled widely and just said it. Eiji’s sentence came just after his, there was no way to stop it.


“He is the one writing letters for you. Ash saw him a few weeks ago taking your letter from the shelf. Victor Nikiforov is your secret friend.”


Strange how your world might turn upside down even a few times in the same day.

 

Chapter Text

“You don’t know what are you saying… It’s insane. I want you to remind something. It’s not coincident that there is no spell that might revive the dead. Because what’s dead should just stay dead! I know what I am saying!” With last sentences, Yuuri raised the voice.

Eiji flinched. It was the first time he heard Yuuri shouting. But what scared Eiji more was the tone. Yuuri wasn’t angry, he was completely terrified. Probably of the time-turner itself and things that might be done with it. Eiji could feel like there is a giant gap and lots of misunderstandings between them. Which he couldn’t feel before because Eiji was too focused on his own problems. He didn’t mean to hurt Yuuri… he wasn’t laughing…

“Yuuri… wait… I….”

“I won’t be a part of this any longer. I am sorry… Eiji. I won’t help you anymore. I can't. Just not after this.” Yuuri took the book and before Eiji had a chance to say something else, he was already sitting alone in the room.

What if someone else dies instead of Ash? Will you be able to live with this? Yuuri’s voice was still screaming inside Eiji’s head. Will he? For Ash? Is he ready for this sacrifice? Leave the whole world behind for the love of his life? For the one who doesn’t even want to be saved…

Eiji glanced at the little bag in his hand. Ash’s picture was still clear enough to remember the color of his eyes and hair. And…scent? What kind of scent he had? Also, like those fragile spring flowers? But Eiji knew that Ash behind the surface was different. Probably he knew what he is capable of… probably he had something to fight for. Nikiforov and Wong, right? His two best friends. And still… after Yuuri left Eiji here and pointed out those terrible ideas, he couldn’t change the opinion so easily. Eiji needed to know what happened. Even if this won’t change anything… even if its no one’s fault… and even if Ash turns his back on Eiji.

Eiji couldn’t remember how he came back to dormitories, everything in his mind seemed so unstable. Like he would be holding a glass and walking towards the end of the pit. When he opened the door, just for want second when Ash’s and his eyes met, he thought that it’s the same man from the photo. Eiji’s heart froze when his tired mind played the cruel game.
He imagined that Ash is standing there glaring at him with those green eyes. The kind of green that had the power to push away piles of snow and make it melt inside your heart forever. Remind you that once again spring might come to your life. But. This beautiful young man… lost his life. And what for? Eiji dreamed of the day when he will be able to see how Ash looked like. But when it finally happened, the pain burned out the heart even more than before.

Eiji leaned back to the door and sighed pointing eyes at his feet. Everything inside felt like a strange mixture. Should he tell Ash the truth? But where he should start from? What kind of words would fix this terrible situation? Yesterday he ignored Ash all evening… No… probably what Eiji did was even worse. He needs to say something.

“Ash… I…”

“I am leaving,” Ash spoke with a clear and strong voice. Eiji wasn’t in time to make his mumbles understandable. “Just wanted to wait for you and say goodbye.”

Eiji suddenly raised his head. What? Where? Why? Eiji just blinked. There has to be an explanation… no, he probably didn’t hear clearly.

“When… when are you coming back?” Eiji’s voice sounded miserable. What is he saying? These 10 seconds of silence, before Ash spoke again, were just too long.

“I am not… coming back. I am leaving this place.” Ash’s voice sounded the same.

No… he is not leaving Hogwarts. He is leaving Eiji. When did he decide that? Obviously, Ash had this in mind for some time already. Why Ash never mention this before? Eiji stayed in Hogwarts for him and Ash is just leaving? Because it’s so easy? Why it’s so easy for him? Why suddenly his eyes are watching at Eiji giving that cold breeze? How could he have made this decision alone? So, all those words, promises and dreams mean nothing? Did he get tired of everything? Of this impossible love? And still… when finally, Eiji is so close to finding out the truth and saving him for real. Either Ash is here or not... Eiji can still go back in time and save him, right? Just a little bit more…

Eiji didn’t know what to say or how to ask. How can he stop Ash? Ash, even in this state, was always independent. He never asked for Eiji’s opinion about decisions… They never talked about what Ash might be doing when they are not together. Of course, he had a lot of time to think. Probably too much. And if Ash had made his mind to do something, no one can stop him.

“So… you don’t want to say anything?” Ash spoke again. Eiji completely lost his voice. The painful feeling inside was saying that he might be never able to speak again. “I see… goodbye then, Eiji.”

Ash stepped back into the wall. Just with this simple move, he was gone. Vanished like a shadow, leaving no presence after himself. Until this moment Eiji never through that it will happen for real. That’s why he was still standing the same. Hoping that any moment he will wake up from this crazy nightmare. Or Ash just shows up again laughing. Because no matter what, Ash was the only one who didn’t have a right to leave Eiji. He promised. He asked. There is no way Eiji can continue doing something all alone. What he was trying to fool? Without Ash around nothing makes sense.

“ASH!” Eiji screamed like there was no tomorrow. Probably the whole dormitory and common room heard him. Maybe even paintings in the hallway. Eiji has never shouted for someone like that in his life. No, probably it was the first time he raised his voice in general. But he didn’t care. As long as Ash would hear Eiji’s desperate words. As long as he comes back. It doesn’t matter who else will be listening. Eiji could scream his lungs out… he could do anything… anything.

“Ash… Ash… Ash…” the boy couldn’t stop repeating. But sounds coming from his lips were turning more and more pathetic. Eiji slowly sat down on the wooden floor, still calling the same combination of sounds. As if he could forget Ash’s name any second. This time was different than any other fights they had. Eiji felt with every inch of the body that Ash is gone. He didn’t leave for a walk. Ash is not coming back and Eiji missed the chance to say last words for him.

As long as Ash’s soul was here… for Eiji he was alive. In every cell of his. But this sudden emptiness, that Ash’s disappearance gave, was so painful. Eiji thought he will rather give up on everything and everyone than live another second with this feeling.

Did Ash Lynx come back?

No, he didn’t. Not after an hour or two. Not even after Eiji burst into loud selfish tears. Yes, he was selfish. He hid the truth trying to convince himself that this way he is protecting Ash. Trying to calm down himself insisting that this is the only way to save Ash without hurting. Selfish. Arrogant. Eiji thought just about his safety and feelings. He forgot the real purpose. Once there were no secrets between them and those times were the only ones when Eiji was able to breathe without the pain.

After all regrets. Did Ash come back? No, he didn’t. There was no one who could tell this man what to do. That was also the reason why Ash ended up like this.

 


Because Eiji already had few sleepless nights before, his body just couldn’t hold up any longer. At some moment he just passed out and opened eyes just next day, lying on the floor. Before he even thought about this, the body jumped on its own and eyes started searching for the man they wanted to see. But Ash wasn’t here. Of course. He left. Ash left. Eiji tried to understand his fact, but it was impossible. He also couldn’t make himself to move.

So this was the sacrifice? Was it a challenge? If he changes the past… and every day becomes like this. Without Ash’s existence. How? How to live?

With trembling fingers, Eiji took out the pocket watch from the bag and without thinking tried to turn back the time. He spun the arrows, but nothing happened. This thing is broken, now he knows for sure. And Eiji didn’t have any clue how to fix it. It’s worthless now.

He made himself to leave the room, just when it was impossible to sit there alone any longer. Eiji went down the stairs and passed through few students in the common room. Even if someone called him, he couldn’t hear. Eiji went down to the Great Hall and chose the seat at the end of Gryffindor table. Was he still selfish? Did Eiji actually come here, because he hoped that someone will see him like this? That someone here, not only Ash, actually cares about him? Eiji never appreciated how much that man tried to do for him… how much he cared and how Eiji couldn’t see more than his own curiosity.

It was pointless. No one came and Eiji couldn’t make himself to eat. No matter what, he was staring at his plate or in front. He couldn’t see anything. There is no other way. Just go back to that room and try to understand that all this time spent with Ash was nothing, just his imagination. Right? Eiji wished he could talk with Yuuri right now.

He could cry, but there were no tears left. And still what will change if he cries? It’s his fault. If only he would have said something that time… he could have made Ash stay. If only…

Eiji came back and closed the door behind himself. He was so disturbed and gone off the rails that he saw Ash standing in the same spot as always. With crossed arms on the chest and with that bored face of his. Probably silently complaining that Eiji took too long to come back from somewhere.
Wait. Is he completely out of his mind or…?

“Ash???” with quick few steps Eiji was already in the other side of the room. As if he could catch Ash, but this transparent figure can’t be caught by anyone. Probably from the time he was alive this hasn’t changed.

“Well, how does it feel?” he asked observing Eiji’s exhausted face. “As I see… not so good.”

“You didn’t… you… didn’t leave…?” after all those efforts to call Ash back, these were the first words Eiji said.

“How can I leave you? I am going to haunt you for the rest of your life.” Ash was speaking calmly like nothing happened yesterday.

“You tricked me?? I called you so many times. I shouted and cried your name and…” Eiji wanted to shout at Ash, but he couldn’t. Not just because of the weak voice. More than he felt confused and hurt, Eiji’s whole body was splashed by the wave of relief. It hit him like a cold shower and probably because of that his legs couldn’t hold anymore. Eiji sat down on the floor and Ash also did the same. Right in front of him.

“And what...? Eiji, I have no intentions to leave you. But if you continue to hide things and lie to me, there is no point for me to stay next to you. This is how I feel every day. From the moment you started lying.”

Eiji found out this answer already. He knew why Ash left, but Eiji thought that there is no way he can fix everything.

“You are so cruel… Ash.” Eiji sobbed with no tears. He should be embarrassed and so on, but also Eiji couldn’t stop staring at Ash. Not seeing him for some time, but knowing that he will be waiting. And passing just a day without him, but with thoughts that they will never meet again. These were two totally different experiences. Eiji was sure, he doesn’t want to go through this ever again.

“Am I?” Ash ran through his hair with fingers and softly smiled.

“I want to hug you and punch you… And punch you again.” Eiji’s hands were still trembling. But despite that voice got a little bit stronger.

“Yeah, that may be almost possible if you find out where my grave is.”

“It’s not funny… Wait… you know?” Eiji gasped. For how long??

“What? That you are still searching for information about me? Sadly, you weren’t the one who told me this.”

“Yuuri… right?” Of course, probably on Christmas.

“Oh. So he told you about our talk. You trust him more than me.” From Ash’s lips, it didn’t sound like a question.

“It’s not---“

“Eiji.” Ash interrupted. It’s enough of those pointless talks. They need more than that right now.

“I don’t trust him more than you. The only reason why I haven’t told you anything is that I didn’t want you to get angry. I was tired of endless fights. It hurt so much… and I was selfish. Was it because of you that I wanted to find out the truth so much? Or was it because I tried to satisfy my own curiosity? I couldn’t tell anymore. I just needed to know what happened.” This whole time Eiji didn’t want to admit this, but once he started speaking to Ash, everything became clear.

“It’s called obsession.” It didn’t seem that Ash was judging, just stating the fact. “And what then?”

Instead of an answer, Eiji glared at his bed, where he left the pocket watch.

“The watch? And? Is it special or what?”

“Time-turner…” Eiji murmured. “It’s broken now though!” then quickly added before Ash understood the meaning of this.

“What a crazy idea…” Ash finally said. “Let’s do it.”

“Seriously??? You are not angry??” Eiji jumped in the spot and even leaned forward. What? That’s totally different from what he expected to hear.

“Of course I am angry.” Ash rolled eyes. It had to be obvious from the start. “You would be really stupid to think that I’d agreed with this nonsense.”

“You are teasing me again…? I don’t understand, Ash.”

“There is nothing to understand. Throw that thing out before you or someone else gets hurt. And if you want to suicide, there are easier and faster ways for sure.” He said this with a touch of sarcasm in the voice. But there is no way he would let Eiji go with this idea any longer. Is there anything else he should know? Something even crazier?

“I want to help you so badly… that even this crazy idea doesn’t sound so crazy anymore. I love you, Ash. And after this day, I can say for sure that I can’t live without you… I need you next to me so badly that probably I would do or give anything.” Eiji admitted. His cheeks were burning, but not from this confession. Just from the shame. Of course, Ash would never agree to do anything that might harm Eiji.

“I am here. And I will be. What else do you want, Eiji? Weren’t you the one who said that it doesn’t matter that I am in this state as long as we can be together? Weren’t you the one who changed my mind? I almost started believing that it’s really enough… but what are you saying is very selfish.” As soon as Ash started speaking, Eiji couldn’t move. He held the breath. Like these words, which he will be about to hear, might change everything. Usually, Ash doesn’t bother himself to make speeches. But now it’s something he needs to say. How could Eiji be so blind… “I am also like this, the most selfish ghost in this planet, so that’s why there is no way I am going let you leave me on your own will. Or change the past. Do you understand? Even if you don’t care that someone else might die or get hurt… I am asking you to hear what I want. At least this once. If you want to find out the truth… fine… okay. Whatever. But from now on, I want to be a part of it. You or your friend Yuuri won’t do anything without me from now on. If finding out the truth will lead to your happiness and ensure our future. Let it be.”

What Ash said made Eiji speechless. But this time, probably the first time, not from pain. All of this was clear long ago, but when Ash finally spoke thoughts out loud, it sounded way different.

“Ash…” Eiji slowly opened palm for him and waited until he places the hand where it belongs. And then the favorite feeling, millions of raindrops, runs through the body.

“No. I am still angry. Time-turner…? Don’t tell me that Yuuri agreed with it?” His arms stayed crossed on the chest.

“Actually… he left me and said that there is no way he is going to be a part of this any longer…” Eiji sighed. He almost lost Ash because of this reckless idea. But Yuuri was important too… what should he do?

“So what are you waiting for? Go and bring him over.”

“N-now?”

“No. Next week. Of course now. I want to hear what you both know.”

Maybe that would be the best thing to do. Since there was so much to tell, that Eiji probably wouldn’t know where to start from. There is just one problem. It doesn’t seem that Yuuri wants to have any talk with Eiji.

“But what should I say??”

“Same what you told me… that you are selfish and a little bit an idiot…”

“Alright alright, I will figure something out.” Eiji stood up. “I will bring him to the empty classroom next to this dorm.”

“And I think it’s about time seriously quit with lies and secrets. Tell him the truth about that professor of yours.” Ash also slowly got up. Eiji nodded.

Yes, it’s time. Eiji even thought that he waited a little bit too long. Now that Yuuri admitted his feelings for Victor, it’s not clear how he will react to this reality.

“Yeah… okay, I will try to be fast.”

“Eiji?”

“What??” he had to turn back to Ash again already holding the door opened. But when they faced each other again, Eiji didn’t except for Ash to stand this close.

It’s impossible to avoid it. Since Eiji already had a chance to see the Ash picture, he couldn’t stop imagining. Eiji saw Ash’s light hair falling on the eyes in the shade of green, like a mixture of the sky and grass. Ash was angelic, yet there was something inside that look that probably could make anyone get down on their knees.

“I love you too.” Ash placed his lips on the fingertips and then touched Eiji’s lower lip with the same fingers.

Eiji honestly smiled for this man. Stubborn, selfish and does just whatever he wants. Is there a possibility that Eiji will love someone more than him?

Did Ash Lynx come back? No. Because he never left.


 


 

 

 

 

 

Victor followed with his eyes the boy until Yuuri closed the door. Fingers automatically touched the hair. It’s still the habit from those time when they were long. Victor sighed. Yuuri’s lasts words were still in his ears. Why he pointed out Aslan now? How he guessed that it was Victor’s friend and not a brother or someone else? Why did he say so confidently that "the friend" is dead?

Probably Victor just thinks too much. No way, that Yuuri could know something about Ash. Why should he? Even if Yuuri tried to find out something more about Victor, which was obvious, since Yuuri knew his Birthday date, there is still no reason why he should know something about Aslan. Information was well hidden. Also, it’s impossible that Yuuri could remember something from that day.

From the other side… how about Victor? How long he will be able to pretend like that? Victor knew it will be hard, but every time they meet… Every time when they get closer, Victor can feel that Yuuri loses his strengths… And how about Victor? How he really feels? That’s a strange question… he shouldn’t be feeling anything.

“Is that what you had in mind when you said that real monster lives inside me, Ash?” Victor silently asked and looked through the window. He could see the reflection of himself. And those bright eyes… only Victor knew how ugly he is behind them.

Yuuri trusts him so much. He trusts every lie that comes from Victor’s mouth until the last one. But are those really lies? He can’t tell anymore. No one made Victor send that Christmas present for Yuuri. His heart shouldn’t have pounded like crazy from happiness when that kid gave him the small worthless bell. As if Victor would be able to love someone? He can’t. Yuuri’s feelings are also fake… the poor boy just doesn’t understand. Who would fall in love with a monster?

After those last words about Aslan being dead, Victor couldn’t help just remember their last talk with Ash. That summer evening, a day before everything happened.


 

 


“You and Shorter are the same. You know, I have the door for a reason… and before coming inside, it would be nice to knock.” when Ash came in, Victor raised his head up from the last year Auror's exam questions.

“Well well… aren’t we sensitive? Is this shit hard or what?” Without any further invitation, Ash grabbed a chair next to the window and placed it in front of Victor’s desk, then sat down. And crossed legs.

“Not really… just annoying…” Victor ran through his long hair with fingers. Ash quickly caught one loosen hair.

“It almost shines in the dark…” he giggled.

“Really funny.” Victor sighed and closed the book. Ash would never come into his room just to kill the time. He probably wants to say something. “How is Shorter?”

“Fine fine… running outside like a good puppy. Tomorrow in the morning he will be like new.” Ash shrugged.

Summer holidays just started and outside the Hogwarts, it was easier for them. Especially for Shorter and Victor. Now, when they both finished school, everything seemed possible. Adult life might be fun. Victor had this summer house, a gift from his parents. Three of them were able to spend all the summers here together.

“You wanted to talk about something…?” Victor tried to guess because Ash just kept silent. The blond boy in front of him was looking so much older than he had to be. Not even mention the fact how much Ash had to go through already.

“I don’t know. Just thought that this life… and everything that’s happening lately is such nonsense…”

“Are you talking about Golzine? Don’t worry about him anymore. Now, when I and Shorter graduated, everything will change. After tomorrow you will be free. I promise you, Aslan.” Victor saw how boy knit his brows and quickly glared at him.

“Don’t call me by that name…”

“Sorry.” Victor smiled. Ash was still such child sometimes…

“You are sure? That… everything might change?” He stretched back and looked at the silver-haired friend in front. Even if Ash was just fifteen, his eyes were telling horrible and sad things. Victor couldn’t help just feel also responsible. Ash was like a brother for him.

“Positive!” Victor laughed and tried to reach Ash golden hair, but he was fast enough to move a little bit back.

“Life in Hogwarts won’t be the same without you and Shorter. It will be boring as hell.”

“Ash… come on. Holidays just started!” Victor couldn’t stop smiling. What’s got into Ash today? Maybe most of the time he can be serious and grumpy. But it’s not like Ash to act so sentimentally. “Three of us are still friends! That won’t change.” Victor added. “I am sorry that this burden is on your shoulders though… I feel like we should be taking care of you. Yet most of the time, you are the one saving our asses.”

“I know right? You would be dead without me long ago.” Aslan waited for a moment, like expecting that Victor is going to start clapping.

“No… I am serious… Just because of your potion Shorter can live a normal life and me…” Victor didn’t know how exactly he has to end the sentence.

“You are still one hell of a bitch, Nikiforov. You could probably seduce even a stone.” For someone else, it might sound like a joke. But this laugh, that came from their mouths, was a sad reality. “Shorter at least has a chance to find love."

“At least one of us should be happy,” Victor added.

“You can also be happy. You are not a crazy freak like I am.” Ash almost insisted. That’s something that he never said before.

“I am cursed. People will never love me. Just this mask. They only see what they want. People are stupid.” For Victor, it was clear long ago. What made Ash start this topic again?

“Thanks?” Ash silently laughed. Victor called him stupid. That kind of words he won’t hear every day. “But maybe you are right. And probably that’s why you are the only one who can understand me. We are both broken because we can’t escape the reality. Who we are.”

“What do you mean, Ash?”

“Listen… about tomorrow. If anything happens to me. Promise you or won’t let Shorter do anything stupid. Promise me that you will just let me go.” Ash spoke after a minute of silence. After these words, it became so quiet that Victor could almost hear how Shorter makes funny running noises outside. He probably tried to catch a bird or something.

“Why…?” Victor asked. He could have asked a million questions. For example, what Ash has in mind? Does he know something more? What he is not telling? And what could possibly happen? It’s just a summer camp and they are going there with only one purpose – finish everything. But instead tons of questions, this one word slipped through Victor’s lips. Why? Why he wants them to give up?

“Because… I am tired. I know you are the most positive sunshine in the universe. But that old asshole will never let me go. And if you think differently, you are just fooling yourself. So if something happens then… it should be like this.”

“I can’t… promise you that. You know I can’t.” Victor could have promised a lot of things, but not this.

“You will give up or you will have to cut your hair. Choose.” Ash leaned forward so fast that Victor almost jumped back. Is this an ultimatum? A few seconds of tension and then Victor burst into laughter.

“You know I can’t cut my hair! It’s my main magic source!” Victor was still laughing. Sounds like a joke, right? But it’s not. If he cuts the hair, then… he will become visible. But worthless at the same time. He won’t be able to protect himself from those stupid people around. “Moreover, it would probably hurt like hell. No, hair was a big part of Victor. The only thing Victor was able to accept from this curse.

“True. I mean… who would love Veela without its hair.”

“I am half Veela and not a woman. I don’t need to be loved. Still a monster though.” Victor reminded Ash some facts.

Victor was still giggling even if there was no smile on Ash’s face. What a strange conversation. Ash stood up after Victor’s words.

“I think… the real monster lives inside your heart, Victor, and it’s has nothing to do with Veelas or your curse.” Ash dragged back the chair and placed it next to the window. “I am going to have a quick run with Shorter. Joining?”

“Maybe later… need to finish this. Just don’t turn into a mouse or Shorter might accidentally eat you.”

“Hahahaha, so funny.” Ash left the room, slamming the door a bit too loud.

The monster inside his heart? Probably. Either way, no one will ever be able to love Victor. Because what they feel is not love… it’s just affection. Nothing more just magic.

 


 

 

“Victoooor! Why the long face?”

The man next to the window woke up from this memory when Shorter entered the classroom.

“Nothing, just thinking… isn’t tonight a full moon?”

“No, it ended on the Christmas day. Why?” Shorter was going towards Victor when he suddenly stopped and looked at the shelf.

“Because you are annoying as hell. Why you came?” Victor watched how Shorter went to the shelf and took something into his hand. “What’s that?”

“Your sense of humor might get me a serious mental illness one day. Are you still mad about that incident yesterday?” Shorter sniggered. “It looks like another letter from Yuuri. I thought you quit with these games and went to the real deal. Since it doesn’t seem that he will tell you what happened on those letters?”

“Incident? Shouting at me and punch in the face. You call this an incident?” Victor sighed and then came closer. “I haven’t answered him to the last letter… I don’t know why he wrote another one. Maybe to say thank you for the Christmas present… eh… I won’t read it. It doesn’t matter.”

“Christmas what ??” Shorter jus ignored the first part. “I swear to Merlin, Victor… that’s just too much. Just use your Veela magic or something and get the truth out of him. You don’t need to go so deep and pretend that you are in love with him or something.” Shorter did a facepalm and let a groan.

“It’s not that simple.” Victor quickly took the letter from Shorter’s hands. Indeed, it was Yuuri’s handwriting. Did he leave it here before Victor came in? “I don’t want to hurt him…”

“What...?” Shorter almost laughed. “And you are saying this now after everything? Remember, that Yuuri is the only one who knows the truth. Without the truth, we can’t save Ash. And we have to get information from Yuuri faster than they will.”

“And even then we can’t save Ash unless you find his soul.” Usually, Victor just keeps silent, but he couldn’t this time. Could this be because of Yuuri? Because actually, Victor starts to feel something more? No. No. That’s impossible.

“I am working on this. You just do your part. That’s all we need.”

“Like hell, you are working… probably you will get yourself killed before finding Ash…”

“Shut up! What kind of right you have to say something like that?! You told yourself that we should go to the hospital and visit him on Christmas. Yet, you didn’t even enter the ward! And now you are trying to put the blame on me??” Shorter grabbed Victor’s robe.

“I am not putting the blame on anyone… calm down, Shorter. I will find out the truth, don’t worry. Yuuri will soon tell me everything. He is completely in love with me already…” Instead of fighting back, Victor placed his hand on Shorter’s shoulder and pressed it. They shouldn’t be fighting… it’s enough pain.

“I… am… I am sorry Victor…” they looked at each other and then Shorter let his arms down. “I don’t know what’s happening to me. It’s been so long… and with every day it seems harder and harder.” His head bumped into Victor’s shoulder. “Since that day… it hurts so much to see him like that. It’s our fault…”

“I know...”

Victor is a monster. In every possible way. The thing he is doing to Yuuri now is unforgivable. And almost disgusting. The poor boy believes that he came to Hogwarts just by accident. He thinks that Victor has feelings for him. Yuuri is sure that he is writing letters for a friendly coursemate, who can probably understand him better than anyone. He has a hope to find friends. He trusts Victor… he trusts him with all that pure heart. Victor was able to see this in Yuuri's eyes today. And even if those feelings are not real… it still somehow squeezed Victor’s heart. He is a monster… worthless piece of shit.

But both of them Shorter and Victor had to do something. They owed for Ash at least this much.

From that day... when everything had to end.

 


 

 

Victor walked into Ash’s bedroom like here he could find any answers. Everything in this room was messed up, like always. Bed, clothes on chair and ground, opened wardrobe doors. Except for Ash work table. That was the only place where every tool had its place. Dozens of bottles and ingredients for potions. At this time, Ash would be probably sitting here and doing those strange experiments. And then started swearing when something went wrong. But… he is not here.

If something happens tomorrow… that’s what Ash said. Did he know that this will happen? Did he run to save that boy on purpose? Ash, why you gave up on everything so easily? Victor didn’t want to believe that friend won’t wake up. Just as Shorter, Victor didn’t want to accept the truth.

At least Shorter was stronger… he brought Ash’s body to the hospital and stayed there. Victor ran away. Like a coward. He ran away from that cruel reality. It’s his fault… he should have stopped Ash. He should have said something else yesterday. No… he shouldn’t have let Ash go today with them in the first place.

Victor touched knife on the table. Ash would have punched him for that. This one was his favorite. But who can stop Victor now, right? Victor took it and stepped into the bathroom. Just this morning Ash had a shower here. The towel was still lying on the ground. Just not long ago…

Victor looked at the mirror in front of him. Disgusting. Those bright eyes of a monster, nothing more than a curse. Victor ran through his hair with fingers. These long hair, reaching tights were his whole life. Probably the only thing he liked about this curse and Veela destiny of his. Thick and thin. Silver and almost white as snow in the dark they were like a shield. Protection from the outside world, from everyone who could actually see how ugly Victor is without this magic.

Victor always thought that this day will never come. But. There are more important things than magic will ever be. He strongly pressed lips and held the breath. With the hand holding hair as high as he could.

One move. Just one move with the knife. And sharp blade slid through the hair like it was made from air. Maybe he couldn’t feel the physical pain because it was nothing compared to emotional. Then Victor saw a drop of blood on his lips, it ran down his chin and fell on the sink. Victor let the arm down and knife loudly reached the floor.

Handfuls of hair fell on the ground. It wasn’t that scary… more beautiful and probably sad. Like falling stars, flying into the abyss… they reached the destination and turned into nothing more than a Stardust.

It hurt. A wave of pain suddenly washed him over. Victor fell on his knees and covered the mouth to hold down what was coming out because of nausea. He tried to breathe slowly and drag himself into sitting position. But the pain went through his whole body like a merciless flame. Victor closed his eyes and shivered from this cold world. So that’s how it feels… this world.

“Victor are you here? Victor!!” Shorter ran into the room and then in the bathroom like a wind. He grabbed Victor’s body and instead of doing something that could lighten this agony, Shorter started to shake him. “Are you insane? You, stupid shit!! What you have done?! Are you doing this on purpose?? First Ash! Now you! What the…”

“Shut up… Shorter… I am okay. It will be alright. Wait a second…” Victor silently sighed and grabbed on a friend. Shorter, right… between three of them, he was the fighter.

“You cut your hair?? Why?? But you can’t cut… you…”

“I can do anything I want. I am alright, Shorter. Don’t make a fuss…”

“It must hurt.”

“Probably it would hurt less if someone sets my body on fire…” Victor tried to smile, but only felt that there is still blood coming from his mouth.”

“Want to try? Just kidding… oh, damn it… you are both insane…” Shorter sat down next to Victor and wiped the blood from friend’s chin with his sleeve.

“And Ash…”

“Ash… He woke up.”

“What???” These words were like healing magic itself. For a second Victor forgot about the pain.

“Yeah…” but why Shorter’s eyes look so dead then? “Ash… opened his eyes. And there was nothing. Victor… there nothing inside. I… called him… but he can’t hear me, he doesn’t understand… he can’t think… he can’t see… Victor… Ash is…” Shorter closed eyes, he couldn’t complete the sentence.

“What… do you mean…?” Victor asked, even if he perfectly knew the answer.


 


 

 

 

“Soulless??” Eiji asked again.

“It means body without a soul.” Ash rolled his eyes. He was sitting on the table and watching at two Japanese boys in front of him.

“I know what it means!” sometimes Ash’s sarcasm goes too far. “I mean… how is it possible? I thought only Dementors can take a human soul? Yuuri, what do you think? You are quiet today…”

“I ran from Victor again…” to be honest, Yuuri wasn’t even listening what two of them were talking about.

It’s been almost three weeks since that evening when Eiji told Yuuri the truth about his secret friend. That explained everything about the Christmas present and how he knew where to find Yuuri. It also explained how Victor could understand Yuuri so well. And why it was easy for him to say those comforting words. It was hard to believe for Yuuri that everything was just an act. Only question… why? What Yuuri did wrong that Victor decided to play with his feelings in such cruel way? Also the last letter… where Yuuri told the whole truth about what happened to him. At the same moment when Yuuri understood that Victor is the one who will read the letter, he dragged Eiji with himself into the classroom. But the letter was gone. That broke Yuuri completely.

But days were passing and nothing happened. At least Victor’s behavior hasn’t changed. That made Yuuri think that maybe he decided not to read the letter? Of course, this thought would be really naïve, but there was no other explanation. Yuuri tried to stay away from Victor as far as he could. During the holidays sometimes he asked Eiji to bring the food from the Great Hall. Or before entering the hall Yuuri had to make sure that Victor is not there. Also, Yuuri saw him few times and it looked like professor wanted to stop him, but Yuuri was too fast. Then the new semester started. He wasn’t able to avoid lectures, but Victor couldn’t say anything personal during them and Yuuri made sure to leave first after each class. To be honest it was torture. This constant running… what’s more, even after this humiliation, Yuuri still had feelings for Victor. No matter how bad he tried to forget.

Since the day Ash started helping, it actually became easier. Yuuri couldn’t hide the truth. Ash was probably the smartest person Yuuri ever met in his life. Now they weren’t afraid to say the word person since Ash’s body was alive. Probably at someplace safe. To all the information about himself, Ash reacted oddly calm. He just didn’t like to be called by the name Aslan. Of course, he probably just pretended. Yuuri couldn’t know how Ash’s really behaves once he stays alone with Eiji. But when three of them met for the first time, and Yuuri said what Victor told him, both Ash and Eiji changed. The possibility that Aslan’s body might be alive, gave them the hope that they needed so much all this time. Yuuri wished to tell the same about himself.

“So..? Stop running from him and face the problem?” Listening to Ash everything sounded really simple. But it is not.

“Ash, wait. Yuuri, tell us what happened?” Eiji asked.

“Nothing new. I went to the library because I wanted to take that book for Ash. Victor was waiting for me next to the entrance. I don’t know… I just left the book and ran away. He seemed sad though…” Yuuri sighed and placed his head on the dusty table. Perhaps it was too cruel to bring the quill back for Victor? It was a gift after all… Yuuri just left it on the shelf in the classroom like nothing.

“Maybe… it’s better just tell clearly… if you want him to stay away from you? Eiji suggested.

“That’s the thing… I don’t want him to stay away… but…”

“You are making problems where you don’t need to make them.” Ash pointed out and Yuuri almost closed his ears. He didn’t want to hear this truth. “Actually I was thinking about it for a while now… can we really find out the truth without them? I mean I don’t remember neither of those two and that’s why I don’t really care, but they might be helpful.”

“No.” Eiji shook his head.

“No Victor and Wong. No way.” Yuuri agreed with the friend.

“Okay okay… whatever.” Ash somehow seemed a bit pissed off.

“Sorry guys, don’t pay attention to me. Let’s just continue the talk… I still have transfiguration homework to finish after this…” Yuuri just had to take himself into hands and at least for a while stop thinking about Victor. He will have the whole night for that. “So what you were saying?”

“Ash… guessed that his body is alive somewhere just… without a soul?” Eiji made this into the question.

“That’s the only possible option. If we can believe Nikiforov’s word that I am not dead for real. I have read a little bit information about Dementors.”

“Dementors… You mean guards of the prison for wizards?” Yuuri just wanted to be sure, since in Japan there were other creatures with the same duty. He didn’t know much about this prison in Great Britain.

“Yeah… they guard the Azkaban. So, those creatures are feeding themselves with emotions of prisoners and so on… but their ultimate power is to suck out human’s soul… and there is no way to return it. I am not sure what happens to the body.” Eiji nodded. Yuuri heard about them, they had a topic like this back in Japan. What disgusting and cold creatures they are.

“It stays alive,” Ash answered. “Like an empty shell… just exist. The body’s existence without a soul is meaningless… it can’t think, can’t understand what it hears or sees…”

“Sounds… horrible.” Eiji covered lips, he couldn’t take eyes from Ash. Is he like that? Lying somewhere powerless all alone right now? Staring with an empty look at the wall… as life left his body forever. Eiji didn’t want to imagine this, but it couldn’t be helped. “But it couldn’t be a Dementor, right? Since they eat the soul! And… and you are still here.”

“That’s where I got stuck. I need more information… but there is nothing. At least on these books which I was able to read.” Ash sighed. He somehow seemed a little bit sad now. Or it was just what Eiji's thoughts? Because the boy was still seeing Ash’s body as an empty shell. It hurts. Is there a way to explain this? To fix everything?

Probably no one knew what to say. Or not.

“There is… a spell… which… can separate the soul from the body.” Yuuri spoke and broke the silence. He could almost feel how Ash and Eiji stare hole in him.

“What do you mean? I have never heard anything like that before…” Eji’s voice was confused.

“It’s… it’s Dark Magic.”

“Dark Magic! Yuuri, how… how would you know such things?!”

“Is there a way to fix it…?” Ash was more interested in a solution than the source of Yuuri’s knowledge.

“I don’t know… probably there is… I could try finding…” Yuuri couldn’t help just feel how his voice starts to tremble.

“Wait wait wait wait! Stop it. Dark Magic! It’s another level… no, we can go into this. Ash, you are now in this position, so you can’t cast magic. We with Yuuri are nothing more than students. And Yuuri is struggling with casting magic too, right? It’s too dangerous!” Eiji couldn’t believe that neither Yuuri or Ash thought about this. “Really, Ash?” This question made shut him up. Maybe Eiji was right. That would be kind of impossible in their state.

“Dangerous? Weren’t you the one who wanted to use time-turner just a few weeks ago??” Yuuri wanted to make this tension disappear, but his laugh sounded fake.

“Shut up. I said no. Let’s talk about this next time… Let’s go, Yuuri, we still need to do the homework.” Eiji grabbed Yuuri’s hand and made him stand up, then pushed towards the door. “See you later.” He quickly waved for Ash and still was able to see how that stupid ghost was smiling. Seeing Eiji acting like an angry mom. That was cute.

Once they were in the hallway, Eiji let Yuuri’s hand go. It was almost seven in the evening. They still had some time to finish homework.

“Yuuri, really… Dark magic? You just accidentally heard about it somewhere, right? Riiiighhhhttttt?” Eiji just wouldn’t leave him in peace. Yuuri should have kept his mouth shut. Yes, of course, there is a spell, he knows better than anyone. But… who could have used this on Ash? It was experimental… and not just the spell… but potion as well. Ash wasn’t there that time.

Yuuri suddenly stopped when a shadow passed through another hallway. What? No. It must be his imagination.

“What is it...? Yuuri?”

He thought… that he just saw that man. But he turned behind the corner, so Yuuri wasn’t sure. He was walking with professor Baranovskaya. No way. It has to be someone else… But Yuuri must check it… he must make sure.

“Come here!” Yuuri turned left through the shortcut, dragging Eiji with himself. Maybe it’s just because he remembered about the spell? Maybe this association made this idiotic hallucination. Because if that person for some reason really came to Hogwarts… then it really might be the end.

Chapter Text

“Yuuuuuri! Where are we going??” Eiji tried to run after Yuuri as fast as he could. Since Yuuri was holding on his robe it was easier, but at the same time, Eiji felt how he already lost breath. He just couldn’t understand what happened that they need to run so suddenly? “Yuu—“

“Shhh!” They stopped at the end of this narrow corridor and Yuuri pressed Eiji against the wall with his hand. They just need to wait here silently and see who will pass by. Most likely it was just Yuuri's his imagination because of the talk earlier.

Eiji couldn‘t help just feel a little bit scared and confused. Is it Victor or who? Why they stopped and now hiding? Or are they waiting for someone? Yuuri was still pressing Eiji’s chest with a hand. But Eiji felt that Yuuri's fingers are a little bit trembling. They were waiting for something to happen, but Yuuri’s eyes were almost closed. Eiji was able to feel that friend’s breathing also became louder.

“No, really, what’s going on, Yuuri?” he silently whispered and then Yuuri slowly opened his eyes.

“It’s…”

His words were interrupted by the red light. Eiji gasped and instinctively jumped back. But Yuuri was already lying on the floor, holding his hand on the bleeding cheek. The one, who did this, used nonverbal magic. So at first, it was impossible to tell, who used the spell and what kind it was. But without a doubt, it was cast on purpose.

“Mr. Fox!” Eiji lifted eyes from Yuuri on the floor. It was professor Baranvskaya who shouted. Next, to her, Eiji saw an unknown man.

From this sudden and unexpected attack, Eiji felt like paralyzed. His heart was jumping in the chest, but legs were made from stone. This all happened just in a few seconds. The man was tall with a gray hair, probably in his mid-fifties. It was hard to tell from his sharp face and cold grey eyes.

“What are you doing??? You can’t use magic against a student!!” Professor Baranovskaya was in the same deep shock as Eiji. “Katsuki, are you alright?? Can you move…?” Yuuri was kneeling on the floor. His cheek had a deep cut, blood was running through fingers and falling on the ground. But when Yuuri lifted his eyes at Eiji to make sure that he is not hurt, there was no sign of tears in Yuuri’s eyes. He couldn't be weak right now.

“I don’t like when people are sneaking... he scared me.” the sharp voice spoke with sarcasm and just then Eiji saw how Yuuri breaks. From all his body position it was clear – he knows this strange and obviously dangerous person.

“He is a student!! And this is a school! You can’t…” Professor Baranovskaya shouted terrified and wanted to step towards boys.

“Shut up, woman.” The man held her back with a hand. “You are not in a position to order me around. Long time no see mudblood. I expected to see you here. But you should have known your place.” The person sarcastically smiled for Yuuri’s back and just then Eiji felt like he was released from some invisible chains.

“Yuuri!..” he helped a friend to stand up, hugged him around the shoulders and swiped places with him by stepping forward. Like a wall, Eiji wanted to hide Yuuri from this sick old man. Eiji’s actions were funny for Fox.

Why professor Baranovskaya is not doing anything??

“Okumura, please lead Katsuki to the hospital…” she silently asked. It was the first time Eiji heard Baranovskaya talking like that. Is she scared?? Of him? Who is he? Why does he know Yuuri?

“Wait wait. I didn’t let them go… who is this kid?” the man asked while staring at boys in front. Eiji felt how Yuuri is shaking head behind him. Eiji sighed. Why this suddenly gave him strengths to protect the friend?

“Eiji Okumura.” He tried to make his voice confident.

“Oh…” he smiled again. “We have another brave one...”

“Stop… please stop this…” Yuuri’s silent whispered behind Eiji. “Don’t speak to him, Eiji… don’t say a word…” Yuuri grabbed Eiji’s robe. He was so afraid that this man might do something to him. Eiji has nothing to do with this. It’s not his fault… It’s Yuuri’s…

“Mr. Fox… let’s just go…” First time in more than the one and half year Eiji saw that professor would be in this kind of position. She couldn’t do anything. She couldn’t protect her students.

“I told you to shut up. Annoying.” This time he looked straight at Baranovskaya with deadly serious eyes. This kind of look that would have made anyone speechless. Even the strongest one. That was a glare of a cold-hearted killer. Of the one, who doesn’t care about anyone until he gets what he wants. “Yuuri, nice to see you holding up just fine. How long has been since then?”

Of course, just from his voice, it was clear that this person remembers everything. Fox just wanted to tease Yuuri more. Yuuri, still holding the palm pressed to the cheek, couldn’t figure out one thing. Why is he here? What does he want? Why now? The view in Yuuri’s eyes was blurry. And every second it was getting harder to catch air.

“What’s going on?” professor’s Wong’s voice came from the other side of the hallway, behind two boys. He was coming towards them and Eiji first time during these weeks felt so relieved to hear this voice. No matter what he might have done, Wong would never go against his students.

“Yuuri! Eiji!” Of course, Wong came with professor Nikiforov, whose voice reached every corner of this place. Before someone said or did something else, he grabbed on Yuuri’s shoulders and made him turn at him. “Oh… no... Show me, Yuuri. It’s alright… show me.” He tried to move Yuuri’s hand really gently.

Yuuri couldn’t help it. He tried to avoid Victor as hard as he could. But after all these weeks, when their eyes met again now, something exploded inside him. He couldn’t refuse. Of course, he was still hurt by Nikiforov’s actions, but this second he couldn’t feel more thankful for showing up here.

“What the hell are you doing here?! How you dare to raise a hand against my student??!!” Shorter shouted with such voice, that even Yuuri and Eiji froze like statues.

Wong's eyes were full of hatred and obviously not just because of what happened here. Yuuri understood, both Victor and Shorter knows Fox. From where? Why? Do they have to do something with everything? From Wong’s face, it was clear that he is ready to fight. But he pushed Eiji behind the back really softly.

“Yuuri… show me. Really… I won’t hurt you. Please.” Victor’s voice was so soft and warm that Yuuri just had to give up. He moved away shivering bloody hand from his cheek and saw how Victor pressed his beautiful lips into a narrow line.

“Wow… the whole Zoo came. Veela, hold your wolf, looks like he is ready to bite.” Fox kept silent on purpose, with eyes he was observing the situation. “And you should think what are you talking or you will be sleeping outside, doggy.” He smiled for both professors. Neither of them didn’t try to hold back their emotions on the face.

“You don’t have any right…” It’s just Yuuri or professor Wong almost growled? And what’s with the Veela and wolf?

“Just for now…” he shrugged and turned around. “See you later, Katsuki. We have a lot to talk about.” He stepped forward. Professor Baranosvkaya gave them a look with great regret and apology. It’s good that she was able to send a quick message for Nikiforov and Wong. Seems that Fox didn’t notice this. Now students were safe, there is nothing to worry about. She followed Fox and after few moments four of them were alone. Good that no one else came here at this time. 

“Yuuri… are you alright?? I am so sorry!” Eiji spoke first. He came closer and watched, how Nikiforov takes a better look at the wound on the friend's cheek.

“What are you… apologizing for?” Yuuri asked. It was hard not to blush when Victor touched his face. But since his cheek burned from pain, it was hard to notice the embarrassment.

“I had to protected you…” Eiji murmured. Even if he perfectly knew, that in this case, it was impossible to do something. Eiji wanted to ask so much why all of this happened and from where Yuuri knows that terrible person. But probably it’s better to save this for later.

“I swear… I could kill him with my bare hands… that bastard. How is Yuuri’s cheek?” Shorter also stepped closer and Yuuri felt like someone kicked him in the stomach. He didn’t like to be at the center of attention.

“I am… I am… fine. I should probably… go to the… hospital…” he tried to murmur and turn his head away. But Victor held Yuuri’s chin pretty strong.

“No… let’s go to my office. I will heal you…” his voice was dry. It’s like Victor held back his real thoughts. He was able to hide them, not like Shorter. “Probably I will be able to treat it without even leaving a scar behind.”

“I agree with professor Nikiforov, Yuuri…” Eiji nodded.

Better than anyone else Eiji knew what Victor has done to Yuuri. But this time, they will be safer with them than wandering around alone. Yuuri just sighed and also slowly nodded. Victor gave him a napkin, the same kind as he gave to Eiji when he was hurt. Yuuri pressed it to the aching cheek and almost sighed from relief. He couldn’t explain from where, but this thing was cool and it helped to quell the pain.

“Professor, who was that person?” Eiji asked when they moved. Probably Victor wanted to stay with Yuuri alone, but Eiji gave a clear sign that he is not going anywhere without the friend. Yuuri couldn’t feel more thankful that he was now.

“Eduardo Fox. Temporary Headmaster… until Ministry of Magic confirms.” Shorter said this like he was speaking about some kind of disgusting trash.

“What??” Yuuri gasped and stopped. It can’t be the truth? Here? Now? Why him? Who let this disaster to happen?

Fox came for him. He came to finish what he started. Suddenly hit by the huge wave of this terrifying thought, Yuuri couldn’t hold himself anymore. Good that professor Wong was going just behind him.

“Yuuri!” he held the boy on his shoulders, that he could stay still. “Are you alright? You want to sit down?” his voice sounded caring, with no sent of irony, like most of the time. Hard to understand the real reason, but Wong was really worried.

Eiji could only watch at Yuuri with fear in his eyes. It’s not because of the wound, right? Yuuri knew that person? He is probably bad… really bad. And he has done to Yuuri something… something so horrible, that even a thought of him staying so close, made Yuuri lose strengths in his feat. Can this be related to the reason why Yuuri is having troubles with using spells?

“It’s probably because of the blood loss. We are close, can you walk?” Victor leaned closer and Yuuri hurried up to walk again. No way he will ever let Victor carry him…

This truth hit him too sudden and right to the core. This second Yuuri wished to be far away from this place. He wanted to go back to Japan or somewhere else, just not here. Not in the same building with Fox. He was the one responsible for what happened that summer… he left them there. He knew how everything will end, but the experiment was more important than the lives of Mudbloods.

As they were walking in silence, Yuuri and Eiji could almost feel what kind of vibes Victor and Wong are giving. Professors probably haven't done anything more, just because they wanted to make sure that Eiji and Yuuri are safe. Finally, Victor opened his door to his office and they walked in.

“Lay down, Yuuri… I will find the medicine…” Victor silently asked and Yuuri just did what he was told. His body was still trembling a little bit, he couldn't notice this while walking. Definitely not because of the cold. Yuuri followed Victor with eyes. His hands were covered in Yuuri’s blood.

Shorter stayed close to Victor. They started talking. Really silently and fast. Even if Eiji and Yuuri were also pretty close they couldn’t understand anything. It wasn’t English or any other language they knew. Sounded strange. Maybe Russian? Just one time they clearly heard name “Aslan” from Victor’s lips. Now they were sure that it’s not coincident. Yuuri and Eiji quickly exchanged looks. Eiji, who was sitting next to Yuuri’s legs, pressed his robe between fingers.

“How can Ministry make such person a headmaster...?” Eiji asked loudly. He didn’t know Fox. But just from today, it was obvious that life in Hogwarts might become horrible. Will he use physical punishments every time when someone goes against his opinion???

“We don’t know either… but obviously, someone is pulling wires there.” From Wong’s voice was clear that he knows who, but probably he can’t speak about that to students. “Someone… says that Hogwarts became soft… they don’t like that there are so many young professors here... someone thinks that…”

“Shorter it's enough.” Victor stopped him. “No matter who and what, Fox didn’t have any right to hurt Yuuri.” Victor was standing in front of an opened cupboard, quickly mixing some ingredients.

“Okay okay. But still, I think they do have a right to know. It's not like we can do something about it for now. We don’t have any word there… especially me. At least let Yuuri and Eiji know what kind of bastard Fox is for real and that we as professors are against it.” Wong strickly looked at Victor, but after a moment sighed and gave up. Of course, they can't let Yuuri understand that they know more.

Yuuri let his eyes down. There is something more going on. Since both of professors perfectly knew who Fox was, it made Yuuri think that maybe they know about the experiment too. Maybe… what happened to Yuuri wasn’t new for Victor? It’s the first time when a thought like that occurred to Yuuri’s mind. Eiji didn’t know a lot, but he also was sure that Nikiforov and Wong are somehow involved more than they told them.

Maka came from nowhere. A second ago Yuuri was lying on his side and looking at the empty floor and then this beautiful bird landed just next to the couch. Phoenix was so big, that it’s and Yuuri’s eyes were in the same line. Maka leaned a little bit forward Yuuri’s face and the boy froze. What’s going on? Does Maka understand that it hurts? Yuuri wanted to touch Maka, but at the same time didn't want him to smear it with blood.

“Wooooooow!!” Eiji couldn’t hold down, how surprised he was. As he said to Yuuri before, he never had a chance to look at Victor’s Phoenix from so close.

“Victor, you can stop making that muddle... Someone was faster than you.” Wong spoke slowly, but with a smile inside his voice. He and Victor thought that nothing can surprise them more today. Well, both of them were wrong.

First Yuuri wanted to move, but he suddenly gasped, after feeling how something hot falls on his face. He couldn’t explain why, but instincts told him to move the hand from cheek. Then he felt it again. A drop of something warm, but not painful. Actually, all the way around. It was healing him. Within these few seconds, heat from the cheek melted away and the pain disappeared. Yuuri quickly touched his cheek and felt nothing more than the remains of the blood. The wound was gone! Eiji next to the Yuuri was sitting with opened mouth.

“Well… you just look at this….” Shorter spoke to himself. Obviously no one in this room expected for Maka to heal Yuuri.

“I have never seen… that Maka would heal someone else…” Victor spoke after a minute of silence. From all of them, he sounded the most surprised.

Yuuri probably didn’t felt such warmth in a long time. This wonderful creature every time was able to make him feel better. And it's not just about the wound. Yuuri was feeling so anxious about everything that happened, but this Phoenix somehow made the heart calmer. Like Maka without words would be saying that this boy deserves better. Yuuri knew, that actually he doesn’t. He also couldn’t explain or understand why Pheonix decided to be so nice to him… but the boy felt so grateful from the bottom of his heart. Somehow he was able to feel a strong connection between them, from the first moment they met. Without knowing, Yuuri found another friend here, really precious one. Animals are not humans; they don’t betray you.

Yuuri got up still looking at Maka. Now he couldn’t stop smiling. Was it real? Or just some magic that might help him temporary feel better? Who cares now? The Pheonix finally moved back and then flew right to Victor. He sat on the table, next to him, like waiting for an award. Victor was cleaning his hands, so Yuuri couldn’t see what kind of face professor made.

“Well boys, probably it’s better if you go right away to the dormitories. Don’t worry, we won’t let anyone hurt you again.” Shorter nodded and opened the door. “Eiji, let’s go. I will go with you.”

This time, even if Eiji tried to make a stubborn face, he couldn’t do anything about it. Last time he looked at Yuuri before leaving with Wong. Yuuri knew this glare very well. They will talk again today using their mirrors.

So here it is. Yuuri couldn’t believe it. Just a few hours ago he was running away like a child from Victor and now he is here in this office. It’s like Victor planned everything. But of course not… Victor saved him. It’s not like Yuuri can escape. If Fox really becomes Headmaster… that’s so bad.

“Come here, Yuuri… clean your face a little bit.” After Victor’s words, Yuuri walked towards him. Professor was holding a drizzled towel. Yuuri tried to take it in the way that their fingers wouldn’t touch. Then he took a look at his face in the mirror. Not even a scratch left. What a wonderful magic lies inside Phoenix tears. Yuuri couldn’t know, that one day he will be able to feel this himself. He tried to clean blood as fast as he could. Still, Yuuri couldn’t hold himself just stare at Victor through the mirror, but professor was standing next to his table and haven't looked at Yuuri’s side even once.

“Where… where should I leave the towel? Professor.” the boy asked. He will have to take shower, there was some blood on the hair.

“Just leave it on the table.” Victor raised his eyes at Yuuri. “You are ready to go?”

“I can go alone…! Really.” He started nodding at the same time thinking about more excuses, but Victor was already next to the door.

“I understand.” His reaction was calmer than Yuuri expected. “But just not today. He won’t be here tomorrow, so don’t worry… he just came for the first meeting. But today I don’t want to risk anymore.”

Risk what?

Yuuri couldn’t say a word. To be honest, he was afraid to go back by himself. But going with Victor... How this will turn out? The last time when they were alone, everything was so sweet almost to the point where Yuuri felt like flying. Then the truth made the bubble of hope explode. Yuuri couldn’t face Victor since then. He was afraid that professor might point this thing out now. Yuuri didn’t need his explanations. He just didn’t want to give Victor another chance to make fun of him. But professor kept silent, even when they were already going through the hallway. Time to time Yuuri kept stealthily glaring at Victor. But professor’s face was serious.

They stopped next to the Hufflepuff dormitory and Yuuri tried to think should he just say Goodbye or Goodnight.

“See you tomorrow, Yuuri.” Victor nodded and was about to leave.

“I was wondering, professor… have you read my last letter.”

WHAT? What he just said?? It’s not how this should have ended! Why he just didn’t say goodbye and left? What kind of devil pulled his tongue to say this thing!

“What…?” Victor turned around. When Yuuri saw how confused professor's face is, he regretted everything he possibly could. He stepped to the side. Probably it’s better just let go. Leave. He must leave. “You… know. How long do you know that it was me?”

“Around… around… three weeks.” Yuuri couldn’t manage to keep looking at Victor anymore. He was still standing still, but with his eyes let down.

“That explains a lot… I understand how you feel…” he spoke softly.

“No. No, you don’t, professor. You don’t understand anything… all this time you knew the truth but kept hiding it from me. And I… and I… like an idiot thought that you really care about me.” Yuuri squeezed fists behind the back. How can Victor say like that? How can he say that he understands after everything?

It was silent. Yuuri was still looking down, so he thought that Victor disappeared. But boy couldn’t make himself to lift his head and make sure. Suddenly Yuuri silently gasped when he felt a touch. Victor grabbed on his chin and lifted the head. Probably even if Yuuri wanted to, he wouldn’t be able to let his head down now. Another thing, he didn't want.

“I haven’t lied… to you. Everything that you read about me in those letters, was the truth. Yuuri… these past weeks… I couldn’t understand what happened. You kept avoiding me and I couldn’t understand why. I just can’t leave you alone… I don’t want to leave you. Please.” Yuuri wasn't excepting to hear something like that. He even bit lower lip. Is it the real truth?

What sort of magic is this? Yuuri couldn't think anymore. He had to believe in Victor. It seemed like everything around Yuuri was gone. In the whole universe, there was just two of them. Victor’s voice was like honey, so sweet and delicious. And his face. Yuuri hasn’t seen anything so… breathtaking. When Victor leaned forward, not letting Yuuri go from that captivating and a bit intimidating gaze of his, Yuuri literally forgot how to breathe. He forgot his name or who he is. There was just this man, whose forehead was almost touching Yuuri’s. Just him and this hot air between them. Yuuri’s body slightly shivered and he felt the need to grab on Victor. Right now. But somehow still was able to keep his hands behind the back.

Victor could see in Yuuri’s eyes, that probably now he is afraid of him more than anything. But at the same time there no one else in the earth for him. That’s how this magic works. Simply as that, Victor didn’t really try much. Just a few words, closer distance and he almost could feel how Yuuri’s heart is trying to jump out of the chest. It’s like Yuuri was completely under Victor’s command… any word and he would have done that, right? Because actually, this boy is like anyone else, simply incapable to resist. All people are the same… Of course, it's unfair. But since the start, Victor behaved like this.

Probably all of this would have been enough for today. But together with this boy, Victor also found himself hard to let go everything just like that. His breath hastened and they both kept gazing at each other. No one said a word. Is this wrong? Probably. But Victor thought that he, on his free will, now wants nothing more just softly brush lips against Yuuri’s. What’s happening? Boy in front opened his lips a little bit and it was like a sign. Right? Would it be so bad? So unforgivable? It’s not like Yuuri can resist… it’s not like he wants to resist?

“I am sorry, professor… but… it’s hard for me to believe your words right now.” Yuuri slowly said and then moved quickly away. “Goodnight.” He added and just entered dormitory before something else happened.

Also, Yuuri's face was burning and the boy felt like he could faint any second. He never expected this kind of thing to happen! They almost kissed! Yuuri ran towards his room through other students, then made sure to close the door. And finally was able to cover his face with palms and lose strengths in his legs by falling. Yuuri didn't try to hold back, he squealed from excitement and embarrassment. THEY ALMOST KISSED!

Yuuri left Victor frozen in that hallway. The man slowly stretched his back, looking at the door with wide eyes, where Yuuri disappeared just a second ago. What. How??? How this boy was able to resist??? Is it the same thing, when he was able to release himself of the spell ?? Not even mention the fact, that Yuuri was muggle born. He shouldn’t be able to move or speak in front of Victor. Especially when he looks at him that way. Victor slowly reached his lips with fingers. On the other side, he almost kissed that kid. Not because he needed… because Victor wanted. Yuuri Katsuki, who are you? Why?

“You never fail to surprise me…” after a moment Victor felt that he is smiling.

It was the first time when someone did this to him. How is it called? Rejection? Strange feeling. Victor has never felt it before. He couldn’t understand. It’s a little bit unpleasant… But that moment the man felt that there is nothing more than Yuuri that he wants. Because first time probably in his life, Victor was able to feel like a person, not a monster.

It’s better not to mention Shorter about this.

 

 

 

 

“Professor, can I ask you a question?” Eiji spoke when they reached the next floor. Walking in silence next to professor Wong was comfortable.

Wong was humming some really nostalgic song and seemed in a good mood. But probably there was a chance that he pretended for Eiji’s sake.

“Sure. I hope is not about homework. I am not prepared to answer that…” they both laughed from professor’s words. Eiji quickly shook his head.

“What… what that man had in mind when he called you a wolf and professor Nikiforov Veela…?” Eiji tried to make his voice as neutral as possible.

From all possible questions, Wong didn’t expect to hear this one. Probably because he thought that Eiji and Yuuri were too shaken that time and wasn’t paying attention to words.

“Oh… so you heard it... Well, what do you think he had in mind?” It’s not like Shorter tried to hide the truth about himself or Victor. From the other side, it would be too simple to give an answer.

Eiji didn’t answer anything. He had something in mind, but as he tried to think more about it… it sounded too crazy. Professor Wong a wolf…? Is it just an insult? Is he an Animagus? Or… a werewolf??? And professor Nikiforov? Veela? That’s sounded even crazier. All Veelas are women. So… it doesn’t make sense. Probably it's not serious, that's why professor hasn't answered.

“Then let me ask you a question,” Wong spoke when he saw how deeply Eiji is lost in his thoughts.

“Yes?”

“Don’t you think… Yuuri knows Fox from somewhere?” professor carefully watched at Eiji’s face to see if he is lying or not.

“Why don’t you ask Yuuri, professor?” Eiji just shrugged. Even if Eiji also suspected something, he couldn’t betray a friend.

Question to a question? Wong didn’t feel how he started to laugh. So Eiji does know something.

“Sounds fair enough.” He nodded. “Eiji, you are one of the cleverest students I have…. Let’s just talk hypothetically… so what if Yuuri knows Fox from somewhere else. Wouldn’t you want to talk with him about this?” Wong now looked straight. He gave Eiji a little bit more space to think.

“Probably… I would.” Eiji thought that he needs to think about every word from now on. Professor’s words about being a clever student where nice, but Eiji is not so easily broken. “But I would wait until Yuuri tells me everything himself… at least I think that friendship works this way.”

“Hm… yes…” Shorter had to agree. That made him think about his and Ash’s friendship. Was he always like that to him? “But let’s say… that person hurt Yuuri in some way, and you can see that a friend is feeling bad? What you would do?”

“I would protect Yuuri. And stay next to him…” Eiji answered after thinking. Oh, Merlin’s beard… the tension was huge. It felt like an examination.

“Right… but what if finding out the truth might help Yuuri to recover? Wouldn’t you ask him to tell you? How can you help if you don’t know everything?”

“If that might help him. Of course, I will try to find out the reason.” Eiji even thought that other kind of answer shouldn't exist for this question.

“So that means you know what happened?” Professor Wong stopped.

“I thought that we are talking hypothetically.” Eiji smiled.

They were next to Gryffindor’s dormitory. For a moment they looked at each other and then professor started laughing. Shorted haven’t laughed so honestly for some time already. Eiji was incredible.

“Alright alright. Goodnight… you will still have time to cuddle with your girlfriend before sleep.” Professor Wong winked still with a smile on his face.

“I don’t have a girlfriend…” Eiji shrugged. “But I do have a boyfriend.”

“Oh.” Shorter froze. He didn’t expect to hear that, but Eiji didn’t look like he was embarrassed about it. “Hm… is… he… from Gryffindor?” Wong couldn’t explain why he asked this. But it can’t be Yuuri?

“Noooo… he is not. He is not a student…” Eiji wanted to add for now but somehow didn’t. And it was a good choice.

An adult???? Shorter just blinked. To be honest, he never thought that he would be in this kind of situation. Like a teacher… it’s his duty to say something, right?

“Hm… be careful.” It’s the best he could think of.

“Don’t worry, professor. He is really nice… and it’s easy to see through him.” Eiji nodded. He said the last words on purpose. Like literally it was easy to see through Ash since he was transparent… his personality was a different thing though. “Goodnight.”

“Goodnight…”

“Hippogriff,” Eiji said a new password to the Fat lady porter and entered the dormitory.

Shorter sighed. Wow… Better to keep this from Victor for now.

 

 

 

After Eiji told Ash everything what happened he understood that professor’s Wong’s words are not leaving his thoughts so easily. Really? What happened to Yuuri today… and how terrified he was of that person. Eiji wanted to be able to say something about it so much… he wanted to help. But how can he do so if he doesn’t know anything about Yuuri? Just now Eiji understood this clearly…

Yuuri knows everything about Eiji and he… he didn’t know anything about his friend. Just the fact that he came from another school in Japan. Eiji glanced at Ash who seemed deeply lost in his thoughts. After Eiji told about Fox, he hasn’t said a word. Strange.

“What are you thinking about?” Eiji, finally, asked.

“I need to go somewhere for a second…” Ash just murmured and left through the wall.

"Hey! Ash!... Damn..." Eiji tried to call him back, but unsuccessfully. Probably Ash is angry at himself that he is not in the condition to do something and protect Eiji. It’s not like it’s possible to change that now…
On the other side, Eiji wanted to be left alone for some time too. He took the mirror in his hands.

“Yuuri, are you here?”

Friend’s face showed up after a few seconds.

“Yes…” he was still a little bit blushed. “Eiji…”

“What…? Did something happened?” is it Fox again?? Eiji couldn't ask, but he was afraid to hear a positive answer.

“Victor almost kissed me!!” Yuuri wanted to say this silently, but it almost sounded like yelling.

“WHAT??? OH SHIT. What do you mean almost???” Eiji also screamed.

“I ran away… I simply can’t get through that he played with my feelings… especially when I was so honest with him about everything…” Yuuri sighed. But he wanted Eiji to know that actually, Yuuri wasn’t sad about what happened in the hallway, just next to dormitory full of students. He was super excited.

“Honest about everything…? You mean… even what happened to you and how do you know Fox?”

Suddenly just in one moment, this almost funny conversation turned upside down. Eiji, of course, could have asked this later… but maybe it’s enough of waiting? Aren’t they friends?

“You… know?”

It was a silent confirm. Yes, Yuuri told him everything in the letter. But after today he was sure that Victor hasn’t read it. He would have reacted differently to Yuuri's words otherwise.

“I don’t know anything, Yuuri… just… I wanted to help you so much… I want to be your friend, for real. And I don’t want to hear this from someone else than you… so… like… I am not forcing… but…” Eiji tried to think of the way how to ask nicely.

“Do… have… you heard about the International summer camp two years ago? The one… where only students from muggle born families were invited?”

Huh? Eiji had to think. He saw how Yuuri’s face changed drastically. International summer camp… Eiji remembers… it was all over the news, in newspaper, even muggles were writing about that. Dad had to work extra hours to cover everything… but what it had to do with Yuuri?

“I mean… yeah… probably… are you talking about the one where all students died because of a strong earthquake?”

Earthquake?? Yuuri pressed his lips into a narrow line. Yeah, that’s what Fox had done. Made this sound like a natural disaster. Funny. He was so… brute. From the second everything started. Who were they? Muggle-borns. Who cares about them? No one.

"Eiji… it wasn’t an earthquake and not all of them died. There was a survivor. Just one.”

 

 

 

 

When Wong met Victor in the hallway, both of them just sighed. There is not much to say, right? They just needed to do something about Fox. And fast. Somehow… make Yuuri tell everything… in a nice way. Before Fox does it with force. The boy was seriously in danger. Do they have any more time for games?

“Maybe…” Wong started speaking, but suddenly completely lost his voice.

Victor too. He saw that even a second before Shorter did. Every last drop of blood was gone from his body. Shorter next to Victor looked like he had a stroke. He tried to breathe, but the air just wouldn't enter his lungs.

Is there someone playing tricks on them?

“I will be quick. I don’t like you and I don’t trust you. But it seems that this is the only way I can help Eiji. So just tell me what you know. Everything. ”

Ash blocked the way for these two men. And he had no intention to move until he finds out the answer.

 

Chapter Text

“You look like retards. And I just wanted a simple answer.” Ash spoke again when neither Victor nor Shorter said anything.

Both of them simply couldn’t understand why they are seeing Ash now. If he was in Hogwarts the whole time, then why it’s the first time they see him? And why he came here? And what kind of answers he wanted to hear? And what it has to do with Eiji? Probably there were so many questions inside their heads that both of them couldn’t choose where to start from.

“Ash… it’s me… Shorter.” After infinity Wong started.

It’s like Ash didn’t know who were they. But even if he was a ghost now, his eyes were so alive. It’s been so long since they saw that strange flame in his look. This Ash… he is alive. He exists.

“Ash… it’s me. It’s me!” Wong stepped forward like he could catch this transparent man. But Victor didn’t move. Shorter was so obsessed about finding Ash’s soul, that when this happened, he couldn’t see this obvious reality. Ash wasn't the same.

“Shorter.” Victor grabbed his hand and stopped the friend because from Aslan's face one thing was clear. “He doesn’t know who we were…”

“Of course, I know. Victor Nikiforov and Shorter Wong… two douchebags who play with people feelings and lie to them.” Ash told them with no emotions inside his voice. Actually, it wasn't impossible for him to understand how could they be friends? Must be lies.

“You… you probably don’t know a lot of things. That’s why you feel confused. We should go somewhere and talk.” Victor was still holding Shorter on his robe. Just in case.

“Now we are talking. You know where my body is?”

“Ash! It’s us! Come on..! How could you… not…”

“Shorter… wait. Yes, we do know… let’s just go to my office. We will tell you…” Victor continued. It doesn’t matter that Ash doesn’t remember now. As soon as they will be in his office, Victor will use the spell that will keep Ash still. And then he won’t be able to go away.

“Oh… you, insidious snake...” After a moment Ash silently laughed. “We are not going anywhere. I don’t trust you.”

“You do know… we searched for you everywhere and we took care of your body. Two years passed since then…” Shorter’s voice turned a little bit silent. He didn’t sound like himself. Bad. When Wong is like that Victor is not sure what he is thinking.

“Well… so sorry that I lost my memories. Help me return to my body and then maybe we will talk again about the trust.” Ash shrugged.

“How we can be sure… that you are Ash?”

“And who am I? A hallucination? A spell?” Ash knew they were idiots… but he didn’t think it was so bad.

“How should we know? If you lost your memories, then how you do know that your body is still alive somewhere? How do you know that we have to do something with it?” Shorter was all tense.

Victor was right. He might lose control any second. Shorter had hot-temperament… and of course, he imagined that meeting Ash after such a long time will be different. Three of them were always together, they knew everything about each other. But whole Ash pose and face features said, that everything has changed. But how he knows the truth?

“You said… Eiji? How do you know Eiji?” Victor suddenly remembered Ash’s first sentence.

“Don’t you dare to touch him.” Ash was floating a little bit above the floor. But as soon as Victor mentioned Eiji, Ash's feet touched the ground. And that voice, it was deadly serious. Shorter and Victor couldn't feel more confused than they were now. What's going on.

“We would never hurt Eiji. Listen… I don’t know what you heard, but we are not bad people...”

Ash just laughed at Victor’s words. Maybe he was right, maybe they were that bad. Still, there was no reason why Ash should like either of them.

“Does… Eiji know about you?”

“I think I am the one who asks questions here.” Ash couldn’t believe that for a second he was about to answer this. These idiots. Well, at least now he knows that his body is somewhere safe. “Alright, whatever. As I see, you won’t give me any answers. When you grow up, you know where to search for me.”

It’s been a little bit more than fifteen minutes since Ash left Eiji in the room. He might go search for Ash soon, and that would be bad. To be honest, Ash, like an idiot, thought that it will be simple. But Nikiforov and Wong knew how to play. Let’s see for how long. Anyway, he did the first move, even if it was against Eiji’s and Yuuri’s will.

“Wait…” Shorter said silently, but Ash just turned around and showed them the middle finger. After a moment it seemed as if everything that happened just now was their imagination. “What… the hell, Victor??? We thought that he should be near the place where everything happened…. But he was in Hogwarts the whole time?? And what this has to do with Eiji Okumura? Does he know who Ash is? How he found out? If he knows how come, he was able to hide this from us?? Was this really Ash? Was it him? Really?”

“I don’t know… there is still a lot of questions. And Fox is still here… it’s better if we go to our rooms now.” Someone of them had to think clearly. Victor needed some time to calm down. Everything within was burning from various thoughts.

“How… how can you be so calm?? Your best friend just…”

“I. Am. Not. Calm. Shorter.” Victor pronounced every word separately. Even if his face was still, every muscle inside his body trembled. “I am just… not like you. I don’t show my emotions so openly.”

“That’s why you are fucked up, Nikiforov. At least one time in your life… do what you actually feel. Damn…” Shorter sighed leaving him alone. Victor wanted to stop him and make sure that he won’t go back to Gryffindor dormitory. But after a moment he just walked towards the bedroom. Shorter is not like that. They need to think it over. To see Ash so suddenly out of nowhere was something that none of them expected.

But still… Yuuri asked him… about the letter? Have Victor read it...? No, he hasn’t. Because he wanted to put the end for that. But why Yuuri was so considered about the last letter? Does Yuuri know about Ash too? That… that would explain his strange question about Aslan that time. Does he know about this for so long?? Could it be that Victor has an answer?? It can’t be… He started walking faster finally not holding back emotions behind the mask.

 


 

Every year's summer camps. That’s something that all the students from my school wait for. During those camps, everyone becomes closer. You get to know people that earlier seemed so different from you. Summer camps helped me understand, that no matter what families we came from, we were more alike than I used to think. Pureblood. Muggle-born. It didn’t make difference.

That summer had to be the same. After exams, we got to spend two weeks at home. Usually, letters were arriving a week before the camp started. That summer I got nothing. I tried to think about the reason. Of course, going to the camp was a kind of privilege. Only students with the best grades could go there. That was no problem for me. Because of high scores, already from the first year, I was in the top of all classes. I tried to think that this summer they decided to do the camp a bit later.

Honestly, my life here in a muggle world during summers was boring. I wanted to cast magic. I wanted to keep getting better. I wanted to be in a place where I belong. Even if I am a muggle-born, after seeing my skills no one ever dared to call me a mudblood. I had their respect. I knew I deserve it. Magic was my home. It gave me happiness and motivation to move forward. It made me believe that one day I will escape this dull world that I was born in.

But the invitation never came. Instead of it, after two weeks of waiting, I heard a doorbell. Then I met him. Eduardo L. Fox. Fox’s had eyes that I couldn’t read. He smiled, but I couldn’t make myself to trust him. I swear something about him was wrong. But then I couldn’t even imagine how bad it was. He told me that this year he is here to take me to the International summer camp. Only for the strongest muggle-born students from all over the world. Ten days’ journey that I will never forget. That’s what Fox said. Well, I can’t say he was wrong.

Twelve. There were twelve of us. Two from each country. Two from Japan. Two from America. Two from China. Two from Canada. Two from Russia. Two from Italy. For a long time, I tried to figure out, why us exactly? Because we were the strongest? Is that’s all? Then during the camp, it occurred to me. An answer so simple that it made me start desperately laughing. Because nobody cared about us. They chose those people who will be not missed even if they die. Who will search for us? Who will try to find out the real reason what happened? And even… and even if some of us stay alive… who will believe in the mudblood's words?

Two years already passed. And at nights I still hear their screams. I open my eyes and I can’t see anything, yet I feel the blood on my hands. I can't stop to think of those names, that I never had a chance to learn. But I can also hear their laughter. I see them dancing and all of us eating together. I still hear them singing. I see all of us watching at night sky. From one side, they never left me. No, they are not ghosts. Their souls were destroyed, but still. This feeling is haunting me. That they haven’t disappeared. And I know that I should have died together with them, I don’t have a right to live. My hope in magic was destroyed. I can’t see this world as I used to do. It’s dirty and scary. Magic is not beautiful and I can’t really find the reason why I am still here.

Everything started differently though. When we came, no one had an idea that this place will be our graveyard. The camp was near the sea, beautiful nature and clear sky. Was it magic or not? We lived in a small wooden house, that had seven rooms. Six of them were for students. And the seventh for two people who had to “take care” of us. I didn’t care much at first. I mean, I was chosen! From all of the students around the world. This was the only thing I could think. I was proud. The first person I met was Kenjirou. Japanese. Sort of sunshine type, who always laughs. At least for a first few days. He was also from my school, but we never had a chance to talk before.

Then was the first time when I thought that something is not right. I didn’t want to say a bad word about him. But Kenjirou wasn’t one of the strongest students. Actually, he was from those who always tried to run after someone like me. This time also. I can’t describe in words how happy he was when he saw that we will be staying in one room. Kenjirou wasn’t bad, just a little bit annoying because he couldn’t stop saying compliments for me. He even asked to cast some spells and gasped with every successful move. Maybe from one side, I am afraid to cast magic, because… I am so scared I will hear his excited voice again.

We met others during dinner. We were sitting at one table. Kenjirou next to me. Then from the other side, there was a boy. He smiled widely to me and presented himself as Skip from America. A little girl with a long black hair next to him looked so lost. I never got to know her name. Now when I think, I have never heard her talking. But they were around the same age. Probably eleven. Strongest…? I doubt it.

Two students from Italy were a little bit older than me. Brother and sister, Michele and Sara, who were always together. Sara was very beautiful and had probably the kindest heart from all of us.

Students from Russia were the oldest among all of us. Georgi and Ana. There were some strange vibes between them. Maybe they didn't like each other that much. If only everything had been different. Maybe… maybe I would have had a chance to ask. I would have asked them so many questions… all of them.

On the other side of the table, there was a couple. Jean-Jacques and Isabella. Even if they were from Canada, I could clearly say that Isabella’s nationality was Chinese. That’s another one from a thousand things I couldn’t learn about them. Jean had a very big ego. He thought that he is the best one here. But his heart wasn’t bad. And obviously, he didn’t deserve that kind of destiny. When Isabella learned that I am Japanese, she started calling me senpai, just because I was a year older. I didn’t like it, but there was no point to say something. For her, it sounded funny. And last were boys Guang Hong and the other one, who never spoke with anyone. Not because he was shy like that girl from America. But he just didn’t want to be here.

He was the first, who died.

We were in the care of Frederick Arthur and Griffin. He only said his name. Griffin. When I first saw him, I thought that I have never seen such an empty look in anyone else eyes. He was looking at me, but it seemed that he couldn’t see. Like someone would be controlling his actions from the distance. Probably Griffin is under the Imperio curse. That time I thought about and it seemed funny.

Arthur was strange, it’s like he didn’t know what to say to us. He smiled, but it wasn’t honest. I think everyone knew it. It felt like he was just in charge of us. To make sure that no one escapes. He said that from tomorrow we will start learning new spells. That was enough for us to get excited. That first evening we were all sitting next to our house and making colorful fireworks with our wands, laughing. Sara sang for all of us. Italian was an unknown language for me, but I thought that I have never heard anything more beautiful in my life. Now I wish this voice disappeared from my memories. But she is still singing.

The next morning, I woke up from the scream. We all did. Guang Hong was in the hallway and tried to open the room where Griffin and Arthur should have stayed. His schoolmate from China had a very high temperature, there was blood coming from his mouth. No one understood what was going on. Finally, the door opened and Griffin was there with that dead look of his. He went into the room and took that boy in his arms. Then left the house and disappeared. We never saw that boy again. When Arthur came he made his bed disappear. Like he never existed. Just like that. He told us, that the boy was brought to the hospital. Arthur made us believed that the Chinese had poor health in the first place and that’s why he didn’t want to come here. I don’t know how, but he managed to calm down everyone. Except me. Just the day before he was looking just fine. But there was nothing I could think of. So eventually I believed Arthur’s words. We all did.

After breakfast, we went outside on the grass and Arthur gave us parchment with spells. We had to memorize and learn them. To be honest, I have never seen anything like that before. They weren't just hard. It was another level. Poor Kenjirou was sitting next to me total confusion. I could even see regret in his face. Until the dinner, none of us were able to cast any of those spells. Odd things. Arthur didn't explain what those spells might do or on what we should cast them. He told us, that it’s a surprise. As for Griffin, he returned the same day, very late in the evening. I tried to ask him about that boy, but it’s like he couldn’t hear me. The man just passed and closet his room door.

That evening I heard a lot of stories about each country: cold but stunning winters in Russia, about Italy old cities which look like live museums. About Canada and its nature. Even Skip told us about American gangs. Just Guang Hong was sitting silently. I couldn’t blame him.

There was some kind of fear that next morning someone else might get sick. But there was nothing. I think that made Guang Hong feel a little bit better. So during the days, we were learning how to cast those impossible spells and at nights I was able to learn a little bit about other places. For me, the boy from a little unknown city, everything sounded like from some fairytales.

To be honest, I couldn’t understand the real purpose of this camp. But somehow I felt alive. I couldn’t wait for the moment when after graduation I will be able to visit all of my new friends. In my school, I was a loner. But here this strange atmosphere made us stick together. I hoped that this will last for a lifetime.

It all started on the day sixth.

I went into the kitchen and poured myself a drink into an empty glass, but someone grabbed my hand. It was Georgi. He ordered me not to drink this, not to eat anything. Then without any further words, he led me to his room and I saw Ana. She was bleeding from her eyes. Georgi said that it started a few days ago. First, they were normal tears, so they thought it’s some kind of allergy. But now it turned into blood. Like a stupid person, I asked if we should tell this to Arthur. Obviously, she needed help. Fast.

Instead of agreement, Georgi said that he wasn’t able to sleep for a few days already. He learned that others also had different symptoms. Jean was fighting with a terrible headache. Isabella said that her bones hurt. And there were others. They suspected food and drinks as the reason. Now I can’t remember all of them because of this kind of information, my head started to spin. I know it was a strange thing to ask this. But I couldn’t understand why I feel normal?

Then we remembered that today there was no news from Skip or that little girl. We knocked on their door, but no one answered. After a few minutes, we had no choice just enter. Skip was lying in the bed. Sleeping. At least we thought so. But when Sara came closer to him and tried to wake him up, Skip didn’t open his eyes. His skin was ice cold. He was dead. Sara's scream pierced through the air, Michele was just in time to grab her and take out of the room. Few of us went to search for Griffin or Arthur. I with Kenjirou and Guang Hong ran to search for the girl. We went all around, but it was meaningless. We also find out that Griffin’s and Arthur’s room was empty. We were alone with probably poisonous food and drinks, with a dead child and a missing girl.

We decided not to wait. We had to escape. And we tried. Just to find out, that this place is under some spell. No matter where we went, we just ended up getting back next to that cursed house. There was no escape. Arthur did his job well.

We all decided to sleep in the same room. Without food or drinks, most of us started to feel dizzy. The fear overtook everyone so badly, that even drinking water from the tap seemed dangerous. I couldn’t stay in that room for long. Maybe because it didn’t seem real. So I left the house and looked at the horizon. I could see the sea, but I started wondering is it real? Maybe all of this was just hallucination. What else could I think back then? I was also scared to the core. But then I was still able to trust myself. I knew I was strong and it’s just a matter of time when I find out the way from here. Also, I was sure that somebody will be searching for us. I made myself to keep calm.

Someone was there. Next to the trees.

The little girl from America. That one, who we thought that went missing. She was crawling towards me. Loosen skin, dead eyes, deep wounds all over her body were still bleeding. She tried to say something and I stepped forward. No, I actually ran to her, took her in my arms and shouted loudly for help. Probably I held that loud voice from the first day here. I touched her black long hair, but she couldn’t hear me, no matter what I tried to say. Somebody ran from the house. I heard their steps and her body trembled in my hands the last time. But a second before that, I swear I saw her lips moving. I thought that she said “Run”.

Her suffers ended. But my vision was blank. Honestly, I don’t remember who dragged me back into the house. I almost don’t remember that evening at all. Then and now I see her going towards me, trying to move lips, reaching me with those smalls hands. I closed my eyes and covered my ears. And I felt like I am going insane.

When I woke up the next day, the situation was even worse. Georgi was sat next to my bed. His face was pale. From hunger, dehydration or from pain. Probably every of this played its part. He told me that Jean tried to break the spell that kept us from running away and that it accidentally hit Sara. She died. On the spot. Michele tried to beat Jean, but they succeeded to separate them. I simply couldn’t understand anymore what Georgi is talking about. Honestly? I wanted all of this to be gone. I wanted him to shut up and leave me alone. But he kept talking and talking and talking with that desperate voice. He said that all those spells we had to learn are the Black Magic. That we have to find out what it is because it might be the key to freedom.

I knew what they were talking behind my back. I was the only one who didn’t have any symptoms. Of course, I was hungry and thirsty like others, but despite that, I didn’t feel anything else. Whatever happened to them didn’t have any effect on me. From the other side, I couldn’t blame them.

Food kept appearing in the kitchen three times a day and there was always plenty of water for all of us… yet we chose a slow and painful death instead of that. Maybe we had a hope that on the tenth day someone will come to take us from here. Our parents will start searching and somehow this might end up well. Well? Funny. Griffin and Arthur never showed themselves again, but I always had a strange feeling that they are watching. It didn’t take long for me to understand, that others are actually not good at magic at all. They were average and I was still in the fourth grade. I am constantly thinking if only that time we were stronger. Just a little bit stronger. Maybe we would have found the way out?

On the eight day, Ana died from dehydration and blood loss. Her face was red from that red liquid, so it seemed that she might have been murdered. None of us had tears to cry, but we were broken. The only thing that kept us from going insane was the countdown. But I kept wondering that this couldn’t be the reason why we are here. Did they want to kill us? There must be a lot of faster ways. I was staring at sheets with spells for hours, thinking why we weren’t able to cast them and what that supposed to mean. All of the spells were somehow incomplete.

I heard a scream from the house. When I ran inside I saw some of us were eating. They were like animals, living on their instincts. I saw Michele who lost his sister and didn’t care about his life anymore. I saw Jean who felt too guilty to stay alive. Isabella, Guang Hong, and Kenjirou tried to stop them, but nothing worked. They were too hungry, too lost. It was all planned from the start. I noticed that Kenijrou skin on neck starts to peel off and it reminded me of that little girl. I just left.

From all of us, who were still here, Georgi was not in the kitchen. Probably this moment I remember the best. I found him outside. He was sitting on the stairs, holding the same papers with spells. His hoarse voice was barely understandable. The pain, which probably overtook his body until the last cell was the main reason for this. I saw in Georgi's eyes. He didn’t die like a hero, yet I always thought that he is the one who should have survived instead of me. I remember every one of his lasts words: “It’s not different spells. It’s one… it’s a ritual. That’s dark magic.” He kept looking at spells, as seeing something more. Something that none of us could. Then he grabbed my hand. At least he thought so because Georgi's fingers were so weak that they kept trembling. “Yuuri… find out the truth.” These were his last words. Georgi started choking with blood and fainted. Fainted. Just fainted. I kept saying this to myself even after we left him in the room with other dead friends. That’s how I failed to save another life. What kind of truth I had to learn? Good question. I thought it’s just rambles.

Do I need to tell how the rest died? Almost the same. When the tenth day came, of which we thought as the end of this nightmare, me, Kenjirou and Isabella, the only ones who survived, were just sitting outside. Even this passed so long ago, I still remember that I couldn’t feel anything. I didn’t care what will happen or who will come or won’t. I didn’t care how we ended up here and I didn’t care that there were dead people inside the house. People. Actually, just children who did nothing wrong. Who didn’t deserve this fate. They just trusted the wrong person.

You know, I tried to do something at first. On first days, we all did. We tried to use healing magic that we knew, tried to search for ingredients and make something that could make the pain at least a little bit bearable. But with each passing day, I cast fewer spells. I couldn’t make myself to say those words anymore. I was so worn out that my life didn’t make sense. I wanted to die. That’s what they had done. How three of us survived without water and food? Can you believe? I still thought that it might be a destiny… but it wasn’t.

Arthur showed up from nowhere. I remember how I raised my head at him, thinking that it might be a hallucination. Since the only thing he asked was a question. Did I learn how to cast spells? Yes, he didn’t ask Kenjirou or Isabella. He asked me. Arthur's voice from somewhere in the distance said that I might save everyone. Because I am the one who can. Because my body is capable of it. Because my body was the only one who refused the drug. That's what it was. Poison. Drug. That killed them from the inside. They chose people with different structures and tested it on us. It was just a coincidence that I survived. A mistake.

Revive the dead. Who wouldn’t wish that? What did I suppose to do? With dry lips I read the spell, realizing that Arthur planned this all along. That all of this was just a cruel challenge. I don’t want to remember those words, even though I read them so many times. But until now they are carved inside my head. For a long time after everything, I was waking up in the middle of the night screaming them.

What’s the scariest thing you have ever seen in your life? How a person is dying in front of you? Believe me, it’s a way scarier to see how they come back to life. When they should be dead. How they walk from the house, how you hear those noises. Do you know? If I listen in the darkness, I can still hear them walking. I can see them coming to me.

Even if Isabella didn’t have any strengths, she jumped first to meet Jean. It was an adrenaline rush, probably nothing more. I swear when he walked through the door, I heard Arthur laughing next to me. Just then something inside of me turned upside down. Empty eyes, blank face and dreadful walking. They were alive, but they didn’t exist anymore. They were soulless. But worse than that they weren’t controlling their bodies anymore. Dead army.

And they attacked us. With the magic. Kenjirou died on the spot he was sitting. I wasn’t in time, to jump and defend him. Fail. Fail. Fail.

I am writing right here and it seems like a fictional novel, right? Even if you are a wizard all of this might sound insane. You might think that I am crazy. And well you won’t be that wrong. In order to save my life, I killed all of them. Probably I could say that Arthur didn’t give me another choice, but that would be wrong. Because it’s my fault. The last thing I remember was Isabella in my arms, bleeding and dying because of the spell that Jean let on her. Not her Jean anymore, but she couldn’t understand. Maybe that’s a good thing. She called me senpai and begged to save her. She said that it hurts and I wasn’t able to do anything. Again. And Again. And Again. Again… I also got hit by the spell but tried not to give up. Just to stay a little bit with her. I was afraid to stay alone because I knew that Arthur is still here. Watching. He didn’t need to save me. Experiment succeeded. Now he could throw everything away.

When I woke up in the hospital, my parents were sitting next to me and a nurse said that our camp was hit by an earthquake. I believed in her. Probably because my mind didn’t want to accept the truth. It was easier to believe in this. Wouldn’t you agree? Until Eduardo Fox entered my ward. It happened on the third day after I woke up. He said that he came to apologize and he is happy that I stayed alive. But there was Arthur next to him. Smiling. Smiling the same. And… my head exploded.

They blamed the earthquake. They said I hit my head. No one believed me when I tried to scream the truth. No one cared about my words. I shouted and even used force. But it was like I was talking to the walls. That’s when I understood the real reason why they chose us. It was an experiment on rats, that no one cares about. Want to know what happened? They locked me in the hospital and said that I am unstable. Until I stopped screaming at nights. Until I pretended that I got better. That was the only way. Then they let me out. Do you know what’s worse? That I had to live with this truth. Knowing how ugly magic is and what kind of people walks around us… and nobody cared. They chose to believe in purebloods and not me. A mudblood. No one.

Until now I can’t clearly say why they let me go. They send me back to school and said to live a “normal” life. So here I am. Living a normal life with the same nightmares. I thought that at least I will never see those people again. But then this year, just in the middle of November, they told me that I am chosen to come here. To Hogwarts. Why? Probably there is a reason. I just still can’t figure it out. But to be honest, when I am writing these letters to you I almost feel that I might be closer to an answer.

You don’t have to believe me. I won’t ask you that. I won’t even ask you to answer this letter. But if you finished reading… then thank you for saving my life. You can’t even imagine how much that means to me. You are the first person who listened to me until the end.

 


 

 

Even if he wanted, Yuuri couldn’t make himself to tell Eiji what happened. He knew that it's not fair, but Eiji like everyone else knew ugly surface that Fox and Arthur created. Earthquake. Sadly. Of course, Yuuri couldn’t stop thinking about that camp and probably he never will, but it’s not that easy. Back then Yuuri would have given everything for someone to listen. To believe. But now was different. Eiji was his friend, but it doesn’t mean he will believe him. Who would?

Eiji didn’t make Yuuri speak. At first, it seemed like he will. But Yuuri's voice started trembling. And when face became pale, Eiji changed the topic. He was able to sigh from relief when Yuuri’s face turned into normal color again. After around ten minutes, there was nothing else to talk about. Memories from today were still too fresh. Yuuri wasn't ready to talk about the past. Poor Eiji couldn’t imagine how much this was related to each other.

Yuuri said goodbye, let the mirror down and sighed. He really wanted to tell. He wanted Eiji to know but he also wanted him to believe. What if Eiji won’t believe him? Like everyone else. Or even worse, what if he also starts repeating that it’s Yuuri’s fault. Yuuri was scared to the core that he might lose Eiji from his side. Even if he knew that everything that happened was his fault. He killed people, who were his friends…

Yuuri hugged his knees and hid the face. He sat like this for some time and tried to stop those thoughts, but it was impossible. Whatever was the reason he felt calm before, now it was gone. What Fox is doing here?? Could it be… that he planned all of this? That he is the one who sent Yuuri to Hogwarts? What if… he will start experiments again? What if… he needs more people now… What if he searching for new victims… Eiji.

Yuuri jumped and ran to the door, opened them widely and bumped right into someone. Strong arms stopped his body from falling. He was pushed back in the room. Yuuri quickly stepped back and saw Victor. He closed the doors behind himself while Yuuri was just staring.

“Professor…? What… what are you doing here??” It’s not even his House dormitory. How he ended up here?

“Yuuri… I…”

Yuuri concentrated the look. Victor’s eyes were full of tears. He didn’t cry, but it seemed like he was about to. Yuuri always thought that Victor is strong and is able to control himself. But this time Yuuri saw so many emotions in professor's face. Yuuri wasn’t able to name them all. Victor stepped forward and took Yuuri’s face between his fingers. This time differently than the last one.

What a strange thing… they were standing almost in the same position not long ago and Yuuri pushed Victor away. But now… now Yuuri felt like he is looking at a different person. A person, that Victor was hiding from all the world until now. But why… why did he decide to show this to Yuuri? Why he now?

“Yuuri… I came here to tell you something…” he sighed and one of the tears ran down that beautiful cheek. Yuuri’s body even shivered how much he wanted to catch it. Victor didn’t look like a famous wizard or Hogwarts professor. Yuuri saw nothing more just a broken nineteen years old boy.

“What…?”

“Yuuri…” he leaned down a little bit forward and again their forehead touched. This time Yuuri felt like he can escape. He was able to move freely. Yet. Yuuri didn’t want to. He wanted to hear Victor saying those words. No matter what they were.

He waited until Victor’s lips moved again.

“Yuuri… it’s not your fault."

What…? Just one second and Yuuri’s eyes were also full of tears. He didn’t need to hear the context. Just those words. No one ever said anything like this to him before. Until now Yuuri heard only silence or mistrust. Until this second came he couldn’t clearly understand for how long he waited… for how long.

Victor didn’t need to say anything else. Yuuri understood. He knows. He has read the letter. Probably just now. Yuuri slowly raised hands and touched Victor’s chest. He pushed him. First time very weak, then a little bit stronger.

“Please… leave…”

“No. No, I am not leaving. Listen.” Victor made their eyes meet. He didn’t use any kind of magic. There was no reason for that. “It’s not your fault.”

“Stop…”

“It’s not your fault…”

“Please… stop…”

“I believe you… I believe you… You hear?” he pressed Yuuri to the chest and sighed.

There was no reason to trust Victor. He could be lying or using Yuuri again. But what if he is not? What if Yuuri’s words reached that part of him, that can’t lie anymore. Yuuri squeezed Victor’s clothes between fingers and tried to breathe in the air, but it seemed too heavy. He knew what might happen any second and he wanted Victor to leave. But on the other side, Yuuri couldn’t let him go. It seemed that he was holding on Victor’s clothes every second stronger.

“It’s okay… you are not alone anymore.” The man gently touched the boy’s hair and sighed. No hiding meaning. Victor couldn’t explain how he ended up here. If he had to tell reason he wouldn’t be able to. He just really wanted… he wanted to say those words for Yuuri.

This is all it took for Yuuri to finally break. He didn’t break quietly; the feeling crushed him to pieces. It was like every atom of his started to scream. Like his brain was being shredded from the inside. It hurt so badly, that this emotional pain flowed out with a great force. Yuuri screamed. He screamed pressing face to Victor’s chest. It wasn’t about the sound he made… more about the feeling that came with it. So many tears burst forth, spilling down his face. His chin, legs, and arms, probably all the body was trembling from this huge force. Yuuri’s throat burned from the inside when he held back another silent scream. He didn’t cry like that since that day… no… probably he never cried like this in his life. Like someone would be ripping the skin from his body. Yuuri cried like the raw pain inside would be the only thing he had. How long… for how long… did he wait?

Victor hugged him around the shoulders and pressed all Yuuri’s body to himself. He didn’t ask Yuuri to stop or to calm down. While reading the letter Victor couldn’t help just imagine what Yuuri had to go through. And to be honest… he couldn’t. No matter what, he couldn’t image the pain, the agony, and that insanity. Yuuri didn’t deserve that. He didn’t deserve to be in such pain because of their mistakes.

Probably a few hours passed, just then Yuuri lost all his strengths. They were sitting on the ground, just next to the window. All this time, Yuuri held his face pressed to Victor’s chest and now the dark sweater was all wet from tears, sneeze, and saliva. But Yuuri was still not in a condition to realize that and Victor couldn’t care less. He rested the head on Yuuri’s hair and probably at least a few times touched them with lips.

Yuuri was already just sobbing, but this sound was heartbreaking enough. It’s like he was broken in all possible ways, but Victor hoped that it will turn out into something better. He can help… he wants to help.

“How are you?” Victor whispered. Yuuri’s head moved. Probably he tried to nod. Does it mean okay? How can he be okay?

Yuuri felt so tired… like crying would have taken out one last of his strengths. He felt so empty inside, but this feeling was good. How long Victor will let him be like this? If Yuuri could choose he wouldn’t get up. He would just sit here, with a person who believes him. A man who just in one day was able to break so many walls inside him. Yuuri looked at his hands, from squeezing Victor’s sweater fingers hurt.

“Why… why you believe… me…?” Yuuri’s voice was pathetic, but he whispered this with the whole pallet of emotions hidden inside those words.

“Because I know what it means when no one believes.” a silver-haired man touched boy’s chin and made him lift the head. Their eyes met. Yuuri was without his glasses, they were lying somewhere on the floor, and his eyes were a bit swollen from crying. Despite that Victor’s face was clear.

But this time it wasn’t about his face… Yuuri forgot how breathtaking it is when he saw another side of Victor. He was sad and so real… the reality that pierced Yuuri’s heart and chest when he understood that this person is nothing more just a simple human who also wanted to be loved.

Then… probably just then Yuuri clearly realized his feelings. It wasn’t an addiction, obsession or affection anymore. The hot magma inside followed down through the empty and tired soul. It was an incredible new feeling that finally made his lungs full of air. Simple as that, Yuuri was sure that he really fell in love. It won’t matter what Victor might do from now on… it can’t be changed. Just because he believes… just because he also feels the same pain.

“Ah…” the silent sound slipped through Yuuri’s lips when Victor leaned a little bit forward.

Victor stopped searching for explanations. He didn’t try to figure out what is going on with him, Yuuri or both of them. Victor stopped thinking of how to describe that strange scratching feeling inside, that he couldn’t get rid for some time already. Explanations… metaphors… illusions. Victor made all of this disappear. The first time, Victor forgot that he is a monster… because just next to Yuuri the world seemed different. Clear. And when this new burning feeling overwhelmed him to the core, Victor came here. He came and didn’t regret it for a second.

Their eyes followed each other until lips met in halfway. Yuuri was the one who timidly hugged Victor’s lower lip with his. Oh… what is this feeling? Is it wrong? Is it right? Is this a kiss? Or a silent promise? From this sweetness, Yuuri sighed again.

Victor gently pressed Yuuri’s face between his fingers and the ice melted. The pain was gone. There was no need for Magic. All this time, he couldn’t help just think that if Ash wouldn’t have sacrificed himself to save Yuuri’s life, none of this would have happened. What he should do about this sweet and painful feeling inside? And how Victor will be able to keep betraying Yuuri now? How he will hurt Yuuri in order to save Ash? How?

Chapter Text

“Good morning” Eiji’s silent voice spoke next to Yuuri. He was about to leave the Hall and wait for Eiji somewhere near the stairs.

 

“Good… morning.” Yuuri felt strange. He had to put a lot of strengths to say these words.

 

He could have blamed yesterday’s crying and stress, but it was not that. Not even close. This feeling wasn’t bad, even if Yuuri felt a bit lost. But something inside was so warm and light. That kiss… it was real. Yuuri was sure that it wasn’t his imagination. The first touch of lips. With Victor. Yuuri remembered that he fell asleep in Victor’s arms. And when he woke up in the middle of the night, the man was already gone. Yuuri was covered with Victor’s robe, which proved that everything wasn’t just a remarkably realistic dream. With a smile, Yuuri warped himself stronger in Victor’s scent and didn’t wake up until the very morning.

 

But since he left the room, Yuuri was walking like blind, lost in his feelings. Yuuri's heart jumped every few seconds when he thought about seeing Victor today. To be honest, Yuuri was daydreaming so much, that he didn’t even notice Eiji’s mood. What could have happened anyway? Probably regular fight with Ash. Just this time, Yuuri wanted to keep being happy for a bit longer.

 

They walked in silence to Transfiguration class and went to their places. Professor Baranovskaya came a little bit late, which was unusual for her. But when she almost ran into the classroom, everyone saw how frightening her mood is. Today's material was very hard. No one understood anything.

 

“Katsuki! Okumura! What’s happening?!” She shouted so loudly that every person in the room flinched. Both of them couldn’t cast a spell right. “Stop daydreaming!” she let some strange sound out, like a cat. Yuuri couldn't focus. Eiji next to him probably felt the same. They sighed at the same time and quickly exchanged looks.

 

“Give me your homework before leaving.” Baranovskaya gave up on those two and for the rest for the class just ignored them. Then at the end reminded about this.

 

Homework??? Both boys felt like pulled out of the water. Yuuri totally forgot about it! First, he met Fox, then that all thing with Victor… there was no space in his mind for homework! How could he?? Yuuri didn’t know Eiji’s reasons, but the friend’s face was made from stone. He also forgot.

 

“Professor…” Eiji and Yuuri started at the same time when everyone left. They didn’t even need to finish the sentence, Baranovskaya slowly shook her head. They will get scolded and probably she will give them extra homework.

 

Professor walked towards the door and closed them, then turned at boys.

 

“I am sorry that I shouted at you, it's just a habit…” obviously neither of them expected to hear something like that from her, “I know… that what happened yesterday was a great shock for you. You probably felt hurt that I didn't defend you. But trust me… I am not on his side. I was the one who called professor Nikiforov and Wong. No one was expecting for that move… I am still not sure what’s going on, but believe me. I won’t let anyone hurt my students ever again, alright? I know that probably it’s hard for you after what you saw… but please trust me.”

 

Yuuri regretted that he couldn't record professor’s speech. He would have listened to it later, just to believe that this wasn’t his imagination. Of course, now they both were speechless. Baranovkaya just apologized for them!! But neither Yuuri nor Eiji didn’t even think that all of that was her fault. Not mention the fact, that their mood had nothing to do with what happened yesterday.

 

“It’s… alright, professor. We trust you…” Eiji finally spoke and Yuuri just nodded.

 

“Good.” Now they were sure that it was just imagination because for a second seemed that professor smiled. Impossible. “But you still have to do homework for tomorrow.” She went back to her usual cold face.

 

“Yes.”

 

“What class do you have now?”

 

“Professor Nikiforov’s,” Yuuri answered right away. From the moment he woke up, Yuuri was counting minutes until this moment. He wanted to see Victor’s eyes. What kind of look he will give to him?

 

“Oh… I forgot to tell… Professor Nikiforov and professor Wong had some business in the Ministry of Magic today. So their classes are canceled… I need to go and warn others.” She sighed.“Both of you, use this free time for your homework.” She nodded before leaving.

 

What kind of business they have? Could it be something related to Fox? Obviously, no one wants him as headmaster. But yesterday Wong mentioned that they don’t have any strong word in the Ministry. What that supposed to mean?

 

“Hey… is it about yesterday?” Eiji asked when they were walking through the corridor. They still had Care of Magical Creatures today, but just after lunch.

 

Yuuri couldn’t help just feel how balloon of some strange exciting happiness explodes. So he won’t see Victor today? Probably this sad thought, made him come back to reality.

 

“No...” Just now Yuuri finally noticed that Eiji had dark bags under his eyes. “And you? Is something wrong?”

 

Maybe it’s has nothing to do with Ash after all? Maybe Eiji was really just worried about what happened? Yuuri couldn’t tell about his past for Eiji yesterday… but now, after Victor believed him, maybe he will be able to. Also… he has to tell Eiji what happened between him and Victor. Hiding this will just bring more trouble later.

 

Eiji slowly nodded.

 

“I need to tell you something.” They spoke at the same time.

 

Eiji silently laughed. The boys stopped at the end of one hallway, where students were rarely walking. There was a window with a wide windowsill, where they both used to sit and study sometimes. Especially when the library was full of people. The view through it was amazing. Forest and the lake were fully covered in snow. They should go skiing on the lake, while the ice is still thick. Yuuri wished they could have a free weekend for that.

 

“Okay, you start,” Eiji spoke and sat on the windowsill. Yuuri was just about to tell the friend to go on first. Alright, never mind, both of them will have to speak anyway.

 

“Hmm… so… shortly… me and Victor… kissed… ehm. Yesterday.” Yuuri let the eyes down, hiding blushing cheeks.

 

“You mean… almost kissed? You told me that, remember?” Eiji blinked.

 

“Well… that happened… after we finished talking… Victor just came to my room. I kinda… cried… and then we kissed… and I think I fell asleep in his arms. WE DID NOTHING ELSE THOUGH!!” At first, Yuuri’s voice was even trembling a little bit from the embarrassment. But then he understood how those words might have sounded. So he just wanted to make things clear before Eiji did his conclusions. Yuuri even raised his voice.

 

Friend’s face was priceless. Eiji's face for a second was blank like his brain's would be still processing the information. Then his lips shaped into perfect letter O.

 

“Oh.” Eiji silently sighed. “OH!!!” after the second he gasped and jumped in the spot. “Yuuri!! WHAT? I mean...? What?? I don’t know, should I just… be happy or throw at you bunch of questions. I mean… wow… Are you sure it wasn’t just your imagination?” Eiji smiled.

 

“Hahaha… not. I swear… it was… something…” Yuuri was standing, but after this confession, he had to sit down. He sat next to the friend and leaned with his back against the window. When Yuuri has split this out to Eiji, head started spinning again. He wanted to see Victor so much… just to confirm that this sweet feeling inside is real.

 

“You… kissed… Nikiforov. No… wait… you kissed someone you like. How does it feel?” after a minute Eiji asked.

 

“You say this like you don’t know…” Yuuri almost rolled his eyes and then froze. Oh no. Eiji and Ash… “Oh… Sorry… sorry… I just… I didn’t think before speaking. Sorry, Eiji.”

 

That’s why this dizziness is a bad thing!! Yuuri couldn’t think clearly! How he could have said something like that to Eiji! Of course, probably there was nothing Eiji wanted than be able to touch Ash for real.

 

Eiji sighed and shook his head. He wasn’t mad about what Yuuri said. But some unpleasant feeling was still there. It wasn’t jealousy. Just... Eiji and Ash were together for more than a year. He would have given everything… for a single touch. And Yuuri had all of this, even more. Of course, it’s not Yuuri's fault. But Eiji wondered how it really feels when someone you like touches you for the first time.

 

“Now when you told me this, I am not sure if this alright for me to say what I wanted…” Eiji thought that it might ruin Yuuri's mood.

 

“What are you saying! Of course, it’s alright… it has to do something with Ash?” That was the only thing that Yuuri could think of.

 

“Well… probably. You see… yesterday, I told Ash everything what happened in the hallway and after that...” Eiji murmured.

 

“So?” Yuuri couldn't see anything bad. Eiji had all rights to say this to Ash. Unless Ash’s reaction was something he didn’t expect. Maybe Ash got mad again, that he wasn’t able to protect Eiji?

 

“Well… at first, Ash left… and I thought he just needs to gather his thoughts.” Eiji nodded just confirming Yuuri’s guess. “But then he came back… and…"

 

“What..?” Yuuri had a bad feeling about this. Did Ash say something offensive?

 

“He went to Nikiforov and Wong. And pushed them to tell him the truth… of course, they didn’t. What’s more, he mentioned my name. So now professors know that I have to do something with all of this. Probably they can be suspecting you too since we are friends.” Eiji said everything without any pauses. As if the situation won't be so serious then.

 

“Oh no…” Yuuri slowly covered his lips. “When… when did this happen?”

 

“When we were talking… I am sorry, Yuuri. I can’t believe that Ash did something like this before talking with us. I was so mad, and he doesn’t feel guilty! Of course, I tried to understand… since now there is a possibility that his body is still alive. Ash just wants answers. But he also involved us into this. Especially you. I don’t want you to get in trouble.” Eiji sighed. “I couldn’t sleep all night… thinking about how I will have to tell you all of this.”

 

“Hmmm….” Yuuri tried to look like he was thinking, but actually, he just tried to keep breathing. Victor came into his room after the talk with Ash. What if he again tried to use Yuuri? What if he just wanted to find out what Yuuri knows about the Ash??

 

No. Wait. Victor didn’t even ask any questions about Ash… they barely talked at all. And Yuuri felt that Victor really cares about him. Yesterday… that feeling was real. He knows. Yuuri wanted to believe.

 

“Yuuri, what we should do?? To be honest, everything seems so dangerous now… and there are so many questions! I can’t calm down.” Eiji tried to hold his thoughts back before, but as soon as they started speaking it was impossible.

 

“We need help.” Yuuri finally decided. Obviously, all of this is getting beyond their possibilities. “We need more information.”

 

“You mean professor….”

 

“Let’s go now.” Yuuri got up and started quickly walking. Eiji didn't have any choice than run after him.

 


 

 

“Yuuri. You must be kidding me. No way.” They were standing next to the stairs, but Eiji didn’t want to go down.

 

“Why not? He knows something and I am sure we can trust him!” Yuuri couldn’t see the reason why not. Wong and Victor obviously had their secrets, which they didn’t want to share with anyone. So Eiji and Yuuri can also do the same.

 

“Professor Blanca hates me!!” Eiji whined when Yuuri went down the stairs. “And why you think he will help us? Yuuuurii…. Maybe he is not even in his office. I don’t want to….”

 

“Eiji, honestly, who in the world could hate you?” Yuuri giggled.

 

“What that’s supposed to mean?”

 

But Yuuri didn’t listen to him. He knew that at this time professor Blanca doesn’t have any class. If Eiji had been a little bit more interested in Potions he would know, that during this time Blanca accepts students for consultations. But Eiji was scared of Blanca like he would be a devil himself. Yuuri changed his opinion long ago.

 

He knocked.

 

“Come in, Okumura, Katsuki.” They heard a calm voice. Of course, he heard how they talked. Eiji’s face turned red like a tomato.

 

“Professor…” Yuuri opened the door. Eiji next to him just quickly nodded. He would never go here alone on his own free will.

 

“Well… Katsuki, does it mean that you decided about the future? And Okumura, maybe you finally want to get serious?” Blanca was writing something. Professor wasn’t even looking, but Eiji next to Yuuri couldn't stop nodding.

 

“Actually… we came for different reason…” Yuuri started.

 

“Yuuuri….” Eiji grabbed Yuuri’s robe and tried to drag him back.

 

“Well, then you should pick another time…  unless you are here to talking about my classes” Blanca’s voice was serious. Like always, he didn’t like to get off the topic. But Yuuri had to try.

 

“We want to talk about Aslan.” He just said it without any introduction.

 

They watched how Blanca’s hand stopped. He slowly raised the head and his dark eyes just went through the boys.

 

“What… about him?” he asked with a strange voice. Probably Blanca remembered how he told Yuuri about Aslan.

 

“You said… that he was your student. And that...”

 

“And that’s it. He was a great student. Now he is not here anymore. I don’t think there is something more to know for you.” Blanca didn’t even give a chance for Yuuri to speak. Maybe… they can't trust him after all.

 

“But what if we already know?” For Yuuri’s and Blanca’s surprise, Eiji was the one who spoke. Probably when he heard Aslan’s name, something inside him changed.

 

“What do you mean?” Blanca’s voice became deeper.

 

“We know that he died. And we know that it has something to do with professor Nikiforov and Wong.” Eiji spoke again. Really? Even Yuuri could have believed the first sentence. Which was a lie, because now they know that Ash is not actually dead. Eiji didn’t trust Blanca enough to say the truth.

 

“Close the door.” For a second they thought that Blanca might kick them out. But he just sighed and Yuuri quickly did what he was told. “So what do you want to hear? That Nikiforov and Wong have nothing to do with Aslan’s condition? I can’t tell you this. Because I would be lying. But I can’t also say that all of it was their fault.” Blanca stood up and Eiji and Yuuri like always felt like they became shorter because of his height. Blanca walked around the table and opened the shelf.

 

“We don’t want to blame anyone… we just need the truth.” Yuuri tried to talk neutral.

 

“How you learned about that?” Blanca at them. He was holding something in his hand.

 

“When you told me about Aslan… I started to look for information and then… we found out that all three of them were friends… and then… Aslan disappeared… and somehow we came to this conclusion.” Yuuri randomly created something and Blanca didn’t look convinced. Yuuri’s story had too many opened spots.

 

“Mhm…” professor raised his brow.

 

“We just think that it would be fair to know what happened,” Eiji added.

 

“So you are telling me… that you just find out some information about Aslan, which made you think that two professors from our school are murders? And now you want evidence...? There is nothing else you are hiding from me?” Blanca stepped forward towards them. Yuuri and Eiji tried to look stronger than they were. Both of them just nodded. Of course, it sounded so ridiculously when Blanca said it that way.

 

He showed them what he had in the hand. It was a photograph. When Eiji took it, Blanca sat down on the table next to the boys. It was another colorful picture of Ash. This time with Victor and Wong. This Ash was different from the one Yuuri and Eiji saw in the book. Probably he was just in the third year or so. The blond boy was smiling widely. Also, Victor holding his hand on Ash’s shoulder and Wong sitting on the ground next to them. Ash from the picture suddenly jumped on Shorter and Victor started laughing holding on his stomach. They all seemed… young, happy, naïve, careless.

 

Eiji with last strengths, he tried to keep the face still. Like this picture would mean nothing for him. But Yuuri saw, that friend’s fingers are shivering. Eiji could have started crying any second. And for Yuuri, it was really hard not to stare at that Victor. With long hair and a smile, which would have enslaved anyone's heart. Yuuri quickly took the photo from Eiji’s fingers and gave it back to Blanca.

 

“Aslan was from Ravenclaw. My student… he came from pureblood family, yet he was so different. I was the one who introduced Aslan to Victor and Shorter. They were not like other kids. Life wasn’t nice for them, that’s why I thought that they could become friends.” Probably Blanca didn’t even feel how he just called professors by their first names. “Back then Aslan had a family and so on… but he still was like a son to me. That’s why it’s bad to get attached to students… and just for you to know, what is probably obvious from this picture, three of them were like brothers. There is no way Victor or Shorter would have done something to Aslan. So don't even think about that.” Blanca was looking at the picture with a smile. “They were best students of mine… but with every year they were keeping more and more secrets from me. Then just before the beginning of the fifth year… almost everyone from Aslan's family disappeared. He had only his brother left. But Aslan’s brother took a wrong path… he started working with bad people. And that was too much for Aslan to bare. He thought that he can save his brother… but he couldn’t. Sometimes you just have to give up. But… Aslan wasn’t like that. I should have stopped him… probably Victor and Shorter think they should have done the same.”

 

Yuuri felt how with this story a hard stone squeezes his heart. How much Ash had to go through?

 

“I also… saw that his last name changed.” Yuuri spoke, Eiji kept silent.

 

“Yes, he was adopted after his family disappeared.” There was something more, but Blanca didn’t say it. Yuuri heard it from the tone.

 

There must be something more. Ash wasn’t adopted just by some random person? It was Golzine. And if he was like a son for Blanca why he wasn’t the one who adopted him?

 

“Well… and you will still lie to me, that there is nothing more I should know?” Yuuri was just about to ask something more when Blanca spoke. His eyes were pointed at Eiji.

 

Eiji’s eyes were like made from glass. Yuuri could have predicted this. The story was too much for him.

 

“I… I saw… Ash’s ghost.” Eiji murmured. “That’s how we know that he is dead. It’s just… sad to hear that this happened to a nice person.”

 

“What??” from all those things, Blanca wasn’t expecting to hear this. “Where?? In Hogwarts? It’s impossible… But you called him Ash… only a few people knew this name.” Blanca slowly shook his head. Obviously, he was convinced. “I didn’t know you are so sensitive, Okumura.”

 

Eiji didn’t answer, but he slowly shook his head, then wiped away tears from the face. Yuuri wanted to pat Eiji. Well played… probably now they have Blanca on their side.

 

“You two. Do you have any classes today?”

 

“Yes, the Care of Magic Creatures,” Yuuri answered.

 

“Hm… probably it would be better if you didn’t skip it. Let’s meet after it, next to the lake… there is something I want to show you two. Since you know that much.”

 

“What’s that?” Eiji blinked.

 

“Aslan’s favorite place.” Blanca smiled.

 

Favorite place?

 

 

 


 

 

Eiji and Yuuri couldn’t believe that they succeeded to drag Blanca to their side, without actually telling him the whole truth they knew. It was even too easy! And little by little Blanca will tell a lot about Ash… and they will get closer to the truth. That's the plan for now. Slow but effective.

 

Neither Eiji or Yuuri were able to focus on class again, but this time for different reasons. Professor Celestino at the end of the class was just speechless… because somehow Yuuri wasn’t even able to get along with a Hippogriff. And he loved those creatures. No wonder why after the lesson Celestino asked boys is everything alright.

 

They almost ran towards the lake, even if professor Blanca still wasn’t there. Where exactly he wants them to meet? The lake was huge. Is it on this side or other?

 

“Well, boys. Are you ready?” Blanca appeared from nowhere. So he can also travel by air in school territory?

 

“Is it far away?” Yuuri asked. He wasn’t scared to go with professor Blanca, but something was telling them that the place is not near.

 

“Don’t worry, by air it will take only a few seconds. Just before that…” Blanca touched their heads with the top of his wand. Both of them just blinked. They didn't feel any difference. What happened? “And put on these.” Blanca gave to Eiji pair of glasses which were exactly like Yuuri’s. “Wow. You really do look like brothers now.”

 

Blanca was happy about his work. Yuuri glanced at Eiji next to him. With the hair combined back and those glasses, it really almost seemed that he is staring at the mirror. Probably Blanca used some magic to make them look similar. Eiji’s face also was telling that it’s hard for him to see the difference between them.

 

“Why we need this, professor?” Eiji asked. Even their clothes changed into a simple dark green sweater and jeans. These clothes didn’t fit into the magic world.

 

“Just in case. Now, hold on my hand.” Blanca opened palm for them and boys took it. Suddenly something dragged all the air out around and it was impossible to breathe in nor to breathe out.

 

When Yuuri tried to take in the air again, they were already standing somewhere in the dark place.

 

“Where are we?” Eiji’s voice asked, but Yuuri couldn’t see the friend.

 

“Shhhh… follow me.” Blanca’s voice spoke just next to them. He didn’t let go of their hands. Why it’s so pitch dark here? What is this place? Just a second ago Yuuri was sure that professor wouldn’t take them to someplace dangerous. But he was so wrong. “Oh, here it is!” Blanca let them go and after a second the room was full of light.

 

It was a hospital's ward. Just with a single bed.

 

“We are in the muggle world, but Magic doesn’t work here…  This ward is protected from magic.” Blanca explained while Yuuri was looking around, trying to understand what’s going on.

 

Eiji was staring just at one spot. At bed. Just now Yuuri noticed that someone is lying there. With eyes closed, probably sleeping. Someone? Even Yuuri’s heart froze, when he understood who is that person, probably Eiji was already dying.

 

“Want to meet him?” Blanca asked because Eiji and Yuuri were too shocked to speak. This place. Hospital, right? Professor went towards the bed,  leaned forward and touched the person’s shoulder. “Ash, look who came to meet you for the first time.”

 

The blond man slowly opened his eyes.

 

Yuuri felt like he was looking at the human’s size doll. Blanca helped him to sit, stand up and then stepped back. Waited. He waited for Yuuri’s and Eiji’s reaction. Yuuri wasn’t sure what he is seeing. No actually… he knew. He saw that kind of look that summer. All those unnatural moves. Ash doesn’t hear, he doesn’t understand… he just does what he is told. Yuuri didn’t feel how he stepped back. This Ash wasn’t even looking like the one, that Yuuri had a chance to know. His hair was longer, skin a little bit pale (probably because he was in constant darkness) and basically, he was just skin and bones. This sad view scared Yuuri to the core, he didn’t want to be here. Somehow looking at Ash he felt ashamed, embarrassed… guilty. If Yuuri feels that way, then… what about Eiji?

 

Yuuri saw the worst situation, but for Eiji everything was different. Instead of pale skin, he saw a real body, instead of empty eyes his saw that remarkable color they had. It took for him more than a few seconds to understand this view, even if it was right before his eyes. Surprise or even amazement doesn’t even cover what Eiji was feeling at this second. He stared at that blond man in front feeling like something stronger than anything in the entire universe was dragging towards him. When you love someone, you tend to ignore all the wrong things. You see only beautiful parts that make you feel alive. Or in Eiji’s case understand that there is nothing more in the world than this wish… this impossible hope. For him Ash was beautiful. So different from the one Eiji saw in the picture, but at the same time, it was him… his Ash. His love.

 

“You lied to us…” Yuuri murmured to Blanca when the professor came closer. Eiji was like on another planet, where others didn’t exist.

 

“You also lied to me…” Blanca smiled. “Like I will believe that there is nothing going on by looking at this.”

 

Yuuri sighed. Because of his experience, he didn’t want to get even close to this Ash. But Eiji was slowly walking forward. Reaching.

 

“A…sh…” Eiji’s voice cracked in the middle of the name. He wanted to say more. He wanted to say so many things. He wanted to hug him and touch for the first time. Ash seemed that he is cold. He is lonely and cold.

 

Ash was looking forward at Eiji, but he couldn’t understand. He was so far away, somewhere where Eiji just can’t reach. The boy stopped just in front of him and looked at Ash’s face. Something was going on with his heart. It hurt, but at the same time, some light feeling went through it. Ash is alive. He is alive. He is. Eiji never had a chance to clearly see that Ash is a little bit taller, but now he could see the difference. Clearly. With a trembled heart, shivering hand, and with the tears of happiness in his face, Eiji started reaching him.

 

“Oh no… I thought we will have more time. Probably after Victor’s and Shorter’s last visit they have tightened security. Let’s go. Now.” Suddenly Blanca spoke and after the second all of them heard a sound outside. Someone was shouting. “I will hold them back, go outside. It’s the only place from where we can go back.” After saying these words so fast, that Yuuri didn’t even blink, Blanca left.

 

“Eiji! Let’s go.” Yuuri grabbed friend’s hand. “Let’s go, Eiji!” he tried again. From the professor’s voice, it sounded very serious. They were here just a few minutes here, but probably it was enough. As Yuuri understood they didn’t have any rights to be here in the first place.

 

“I will come back for you, Ash. Okay? I will.” Eiji quickly murmured, he touched just the tips of Ash’s hair. It wasn’t just a promise, more like a pray, coming deep from his heart. Yuuri even felt a little bit embarrassed, like he didn’t have any right to hear this.

 

Another sound outside made Eiji finally move. Yuuri opened the door and pushed Eiji first outside, just before closing them he quickly looked at Ash again. The young man was standing the same, but the eyes were turned right at Yuuri. Ash… how to save him? Yuuri didn’t have an answer. But that look made him feel guilty… This Ash couldn’t understand, but Yuuri suddenly felt like the blond man knows him from somewhere. It was just a second before the door closed, so probably not real.

 

When they were in the dark hallway, Eiji quickly wiped tears.

 

“Where now?” Eiji asked. “Where is Blanca?”

 

“I don’t know… let’s just go there… we must find the exit.” Yuuri turned around the corner and almost bumped into someone. “Eiji! RUN!” he shouted when invisible hands grabbed on his neck. It was the last words Yuuri was able to say. The view got dark and annoying ringing in the ears appeared. Yuuri tried to raise his hand, but there was just air. Some kind of spell was killing him and Yuuri didn’t have any chance to defend himself.

 

Stupefy!! Yuuri!! Yuuri… what…. Finite incantatem!” Eiji’s voice cleared the view, the invisible unhuman force stopped breaking his neck. Yuuri didn’t feel how he fell on the ground. Now he was trying to catch the air. “Can you hear me? We have to run!” Eiji grabbed on his shoulder.

 

Yuuri took a deep breath, but everything around was still spinning. Even if Eiji helped him to stand up, Yuuri had to hold on him tightly. No one of them expected this sudden attack. The enemy now was lying on the floor petrified from Eiji’s attack. Yuuri told him to run, but instead of that Eiji saved his life.

 

Of course, now there was no time for talks. They quickly turned to the other side and started walking as fast as they could. From the pain inside his throat, Yuuri barely could stay focused. It hurt so much, but he just had to keep walking. When they reached some stairs, Yuuri understood that it’s better to stop for him. Yuuri was just keeping Eiji down.

 

“E….” he tried to make the sound, but couldn’t. Instead of this, Yuuri just stopped. He leaned against the floor and grabbed on his throat, like this could stop that insane spinning inside his head. Or the burning pain.

 

“No! Yuuri we have to go! Don’t you dare to stop.” Eiji intended to move him from the spot, but the damage from the strong spell was too big. Yuuri tried to push Eiji away, but the friend didn’t give up. He grabbed on Yuuri’s clothes. “I will even carry you if I have. Damn it! Yuuri!”

Yuuri was already sitting with his eyes closed. He couldn’t even sigh,  it also hurt to breathe. But Eiji’s voice just kept reaching and disturbing the dark that tried to drag him. Yuuri didn’t have any other choice just to open his eyes again.

 

He saw a man, just behind Eiji’s back. He was just about to cast the spell and Yuuri’s body moved before the mind did. The hand itself reached for Eiji’s wand, which was sticking out of his jeans pocket. And without any words, Yuuri let the red light out. The man’s wand fell from his hands on the floor.

 

“What… shit.” Eiji quickly grabbed his wand from Yuuri. “Petrificus Totalus!!” he shouted and the man fell on the floor. “Yuuri! You were able to cast the spell! Even in non-verbal form! Yuuri!” It wasn’t the time to be happy, but Eiji couldn’t hide his emotions. “Now, let’s go!” He tried again to lift Yuuri again and this time it was a success.

 

Yuuri wouldn’t be able to say how he did it. Unconsciously. Just like that time, when he protected Eiji from Yurio’s spell or how he was ready to protect him from Yut Lung’s gang. If Yuuri would be in his right mind now, probably he wouldn’t have done anything. But the spell Expelliarmus just appeared in his mind. At that second Yuuri thought how much he wished that Victor would come, like the last time. Thoughts about that man made him stronger. In some way. Like always.

 

When they somehow reached the first floor, Eiji saw that outside door is open, he didn’t have time to look around. They just had to go out and wait for Blanca. It was too dark to see anyway.

 

“We are almost th--…” before finishing his sentence, Eiji saw someone outside. But it wasn’t the professor. Eiji instantly pulled Yuuri behind his back, went outside himself and closed the door behind him. Yuuri can’t fight. Probably in the darkness, he will be safer than here.

 

There was a blond man standing, with a sarcastic smile on his face. He was holding a wand in one hand and something else in another one, but Eiji couldn’t see well what was that.

 

“Yuuri… Yuuri…” the man spoke. “What took you so long… you know how long we waited?” He stepped forward. “Of course, Nikiforov and Wong tried to protect you, but obviously there is a huge gap in their security system.” The man himself laughed at that stupid joke.

 

Eiji was standing confused. Yuuri? He called him Yuuri… it’s probably because of their similar looks. Eiji didn’t have any idea, who that man was, but if he has to pretend to be Yuuri, he will do so. It’s better not to speak, or the man might see through Eiji's act. The boy could try casting non-verbal magic, sometimes he was lucky and now the adrenaline was going through his veins. Eiji raised his wand, but that man was too fast. Just with a one almost invisible move, he made Eiji’s wand fall on the grass.

 

“Oh, really? Stop joking.” The man was still smiling. He slowly began moving forward and Eiji stepped back until he was touching the door. “We knew you will come back, as soon as you find out the truth… must hurt, right? Don’t worry, now there’s nothing to be afraid of. Look what I have for you.” Just in one second, he was already holding Eiji on his hair. The boy instantly let the painful moan out and grabbed with nails on the blond man's hands, but nothing worked. “Let’s hope, this time it will work,” he whispered into Eiji’s ear and then pressed something to his lips. Since he was holding Eiji’s head tilted backward, the boy had no choice just to swallow some tasteless liquid. Is it water? He tried to get rid of those strong hands, but the man was holding the wand pointed at Eiji's neck. He couldn't do anything.

 

“Okumura!! You fucker, Arthur. I should have known, that you are somehow related to this.” Eiji saw the light coming from the side and he fell on the ground when the man released him.

 

Eiji quickly tried to touch his face and see if something has changed, but he was feeling totally fine. On the other side, Arthur was lying next to Eiji unconscious. The boy quickly moved from there and searched for his wand on the ground.

 

“Are you alright? Where is Katsuki???” Blanca looked around. It was the first time Eiji saw him in such panic.

 

“Inside. He is hurt… professor, what happened… here?”

 

“There is no time to explain now. I shouldn’t have taken you here. Damn it.” Blanca quickly opened the door. Yuuri was sitting against the wall holding on his throat. Without any question, Blanca grabbed Yuuri around the waist, like he was some kind of doll, then did the same with Eiji and everything disappeared. Just a second before they traveled back by air, Eiji saw a broken window. Probably that’s from where Blanca came. Arthur was caught unprepared. They were just lucky.

 

“Jessica!” Blanca shouted.

 

When Eiji blinked again, they were already in the school’s hospital. The nurse ran from her office and for a second was observing the situation. It was still bright outside. But at the place, where they came from, was a night. On what side of the world they went to? Eiji wasn’t hurt, but his legs were trembling. So many emotions were going through him, he couldn’t even understand everything. Blanca helped him to sit down and Jessica was already taking care of Yuuri.

 

“Sergei… what have you done??” she was asking at the same time trying to look at the damage that was done. She touched Yuuri’s neck with her wand and the boy flinched from pain, he tried to push her away. “You are safe… calm down… I think something happened to his vocal cords… that’s a pretty nasty spell.”

 

“Will… will he be alright?” Eiji was afraid to hear the answer.

 

“Of course he will. Just he has to spend the night at the hospital.” She sighed and helped Yuuri to lay down. "You too."

 

Eiji looked at the professor who was just standing. Blanca's arm was bleeding. And some of the clothes were ripped.

 

“Sergei. Tell me what happened.” She asked again and tried to touch him, but the professor stepped back.

 

“Take care of the boys, I need to get something. Okumura, are you really alright?” he asked before leaving.

 

“Yes… I am fine. But professor, your wounds…”

 

Blanca just shook his head and left. Then Eiji felt that Jessica’s eyes were pointed at him. But he couldn’t say anything. That would be too complicated to explain. Probably she thought that Eiji doesn’t know anything.

 

“I am going to bring the medicine for Katsuki. Were you hurt?” she finally asked, when the boy was just sitting with the head let down.

 

“I… I think I wasn’t. There… there was a man who made me drink something… but I don’t feel bad. So I don’t think it was a poison.” Eiji shrugged. That didn’t sound important. Now he wanted just to hear answers, but Blanca ran away.

 

“Hm…” she came closer, leaned forward and made Eiji lift his head, turned it to one side, then to another, then touched his shoulder with her wand. “I don’t see anything… probably whatever he gave to you, needs a spell to start working. After a day it will just naturally evaporate. Just drink more water.” She nodded. “I will bring you something from shock. Don’t worry, here you are safe.”  Jessica smiled for Eiji and went to her office.

 

Just when the nurse pointed this out, Eiji understood that his hands and the whole body were really shaking. He was feeling a little bit cold. Nothing like that ever happened to him before, that’s why it all seemed unreal.

 

“Yuuri…” Eiji somehow stood up. He came closer, Yuuri was in pain, but he was conscious. His dark eyes were following the friend. “Listen… do you know someone named Arthur…? He thought I was you because of our appearance.” Eiji took off those glasses and ran through his hair with fingers. He wasn’t blaming Yuuri for that. It was Eiji's choice.

 

Yuuri's eyes just in one moment became wide. With the last strengths, he grabbed on Eiji’s hand. What? Arthur? What he was doing there? How? Did he do something to Eiji? What the hell is going on??

 

“No no… don’t worry. Blanca was in time to save me.” Eiji nodded, but Yuuri’s face didn’t change. They all came back. Fox and now Arthur…. There must be a connection. And that place where they went... Where was it? What Ash’s body is doing there? Why someone is guarding him? And what the hell Ash has to do with Arthur?

 

Both of the boys more or less were thinking the same.

 

The hospital’s door opened and Blanca came in again, this time he wasn’t alone. Of course, there was Victor and Wong with him. Both of them almost ran inside. Even Eiji noticed, how pale Victor’s face became when he saw Yuuri lying in bed like this.

 

“Oh no…” Shorter grabbed on his hair. “What they have done to Yuuri??”

 

“Nothing. Nothing… it’s just his throat, but it’s nothing to worry about.” Blanca tried to calm him down, even though his arm was still bleeding pretty badly.

 

“Nothing?!” Shorter shouted. He turned around and grabbed on Blanca’s robe. Shorter was really tall and had a strong body, but compared to Blanca he still looked like a gnome. “Why the hell did you brought them to that place??? Were you in your fucking right mind?? You know that we have to protect Yuuri with all cost! And how about Eiji?! Did it seem fun for you?? Damn it!! Why, Blanca?? Why did you bring them there?!” Shorter pushed him and the strong man fell on the ground. He didn’t even try to resist. And for the first time, Victor hasn't even tried to stop Shorter. Both of them were still wearing coats. Probably they just came back.

 

“They know more than you think, Shorter. I thought that they have a right to see him.” Blanca spoke quietly. “I didn’t expect that there will be a bunch of wizards waiting for us. Especially Arthur. How could they know that we will be there…?” He didn’t get up, spoke still sitting on the ground. Shorter was breathing deeply. He position openly stated that he was about to hit Blanca.

 

“I can’t fucking believe… Victor, say something!” Wong rolled his eyes.

 

“I can say something. Two of you get out, this a hospital! Boys need to rest!” Jessica came back angry at everyone, who disturbed the peace of this place. “Sergei, you will have to get out as soon as I take care of your wound. Shorter, don’t make more.”

 

“Right now… I would like to rip his he…”

 

“Both of you, are you okay?” Victor asked looking at the boys. Both of them couldn't even breathe because of the sudden tension. Eiji slowly nodded. “Alright, we will come back in the morning. Probably you both agree that there is a lot to talk about.” He continued, but eyes now were pointed just at Yuuri. Victor wanted to stay with him, but he couldn't. At least not now.

 

Nikiforov and Wong were gone after a few moments. Actually, Victor had to drag Shorter out. When Blanca appeared in front of them looking like that and said what he has done, Shorter and Victor were scared to the core. But Yuuri and Eiji didn’t have serious injuries… so probably the talk can wait until morning. They just wanted to make sure, that situation is not that bad,  how it sounded.

 

As soon as they were gone, Jessica started making an order here. She gave for Eiji and Yuuri pajamas and while they were changing (Eiji had to help Yuuri), she took care of Blanca’s injury. Neither of them spoke again. But as soon as she finished, Blanca stood up.

 

“I am sorry.” He only said before leaving. Eiji was sure that he will never see Blanca like this again.

 

Actually, the boys felt too tired to think about something more. Jessica gave medicine for Eiji, which helped all the thoughts disappear and he just rested the head on the pillow. Eiji really wanted to see Ash before the morning comes. Because after today there is no way they can escape from talking with Nikiforov and Wong. But the body was just too heavy to get up.

 

Yuuri even after drinking the medicine, when the pain went away, wasn’t able to fall asleep. Probably Jessica thought that he will be tired enough and there is no reason for sleep potion. But Yuuri’s whole body was tense. Eiji was already sleeping for a while, but he couldn’t. Yuuri was thinking the same things over and over again. The thought that what happened today was actually somehow Yuuri’s fault just didn’t go away. Yuuri hated himself, he couldn’t change that. Why… why can’t he find the connection between all of these things?

 

After a few more hours, he suddenly heard how the hospital’s doors open. Yuri still couldn’t talk or turn his head, but heart immediately started throbbing inside the chest. Where is Jessica?? Maybe Eiji also heard this sound?? Who can this be? Yuuri tried to move, but as soon as he tried, someone’s hand really softly pushed him down.

 

“Yuuri… it’s me…” Victor’s voice whispered in the dark. “It’s okay… it’s me…”

 

Yuuri almost started to cry from all that fear which passed away and relief after hearing this voice. Victor… he came. He came back. Yuuri couldn’t see his face in the dark, but just from his gentle hand on the shoulder heart was already calm. Victor sat down on the bed next to Yuuri and leaned forward a bit.

 

“Your neck… those marks… Arthur did this?” he softly asked. Victor placed his fingertips on Yuuri’s neck, but there was no pain… just that blessing feeling, that now he is safe.

 

Yuuri didn’t even try to think about how Victor knows Arthur. Is it because of Yuuri’s letter? No. It’s naïve to think this way already. There is probably so much more. He slowly shook his head. On one side, he wanted to lie and say that it’s Arthur’s fault. Just because maybe then… Victor will be able to put the end for this. Selfish. Yuuri hated himself for this too. But the thought that someone like Arthur would be gone forever… somehow it was satisfying.

 

“Yuuri… I don’t know what to say… and yet… I have so much to tell you.” Victor sighed. Instead of pity for what happened today, Victor felt another feeling so much stronger. Forbidden one.

 

Falling in love with Yuuri was an easy part. Probably it all happen even before Yuuri got to know who Victor is. Admitting this to himself, this part was hard. Victor was a teacher and Yuuri a student. They were from different words. Victor was a monster and Yuuri a boy who didn’t deserve all of this. Victor played such a huge role in Yuuri's past that probably when the boy finds everything out, he won’t even want to see Victor ever again. But Yuuri somehow found the door inside Victor’s frozen heart and the man couldn’t change his feelings anymore. Life probably will set them apart sooner or later. But not here. Not now. Victor touched Yuuri’s forehead with his lips and sighed with such big relief. He felt it even until the tiptoes. Yuuri is safe now. That’s alright… the only thing which is important.

 

Yuuri lifted his fingers and reached Victor’s face. Feeling him was such a miracle. He didn’t need anything more now, just this… just him right here. Probably he could get addicted.

 

“I wish I could promise… that I will protect you. But today I already failed. I don’t want to lie anymore, Yuuri.” Victor’s lips moved just above Yuuri’s. He kissed the spot on the cheek and then a little bit closer lips.

 

Yuuri wanted to tell so much that Victor is everything he needs right now. Yuuri wanted Victor to know, that he believes in him with everything he has.

 

Probably that was a mistake. But…

 

Now it was just them. Only their lips, which tasted each other again for their second kiss. Careful like the first one, yet Yuuri started feeling dizzy from that sweetness. Only Victor… only his lips could taste like this.

 

 

Next morning Eiji opened his eyes and at the same time jumped in the bed. Yuuri was still sleeping. It’s still very early. Eiji didn’t wake up even once during the night, but as soon as he opened eyes full palette of emotions just splashed on him like a bucket of cold water. He saw Ash yesterday. Real Ash. And then… they were attacked. Ash’s body is locked out at some place where nobody can legally get in. Why? Ash… Ash… he must be worried because Eiji didn’t come back yesterday to the room. Was he here during the night? Eiji got up and started going towards the door. He needs to see Ash now. It’s a life or death question. He couldn’t hold the tears back. He wanted Ash to know, how close Eiji was to him.

 

“Okumura, where are you going?”

 

The boy froze when he heard a woman’s voice behind him. The nurse.

 

“I didn’t let you out. Go back to the bed.” She continued and Eiji sighed. He can’t just run away, can’t he? The boy turned around and lifted guilty teary eyes at the woman. She was staring for a second, then gasped and covered her mouth.

 

This reaction was odd. Of course, it’s embarrassing that he is crying in front of her, but… there is no need to react that way. Eiji let the head down.

 

And saw red drops. They were falling down on the floor, running through his cheeks. Still not fully understanding what he sees, Eiji raised the hand and touched face. He tried to wipe the tears. Or what was it? Eiji took a look at his fingers. They were bright red.

 

He was crying blood.

 

 

Chapter Text

Victor stayed with Yuuri holding his hand until the boy fell asleep. What did he suppose to do now, with that new throbbing feeling inside the chest? Everything had to be simple, as they planned. Finding out the truth about the events during the camp. Information should have helped to plan the next move. Victor had to gain Yuuri's trust. Nothing more. After that leave him behind. Everything was in order to save Aslan's life. But Victor failed. He failed as a friend and a person. He failed by falling in love with Yuuri.

 

Victor didn’t want this to be over. He didn't want to lose the opportunity to feel. That's why until now Victor was keeping the information from the letter just to himself. Actually, things which were written there only confirmed their theory. So, there was no actual reason for Shorter to know something else. Feelings, that Yuuri had left curved on that paper and his tears, which made the ink spill. Victor didn’t want to share it with anyone else. The man came back to the hospital because he knew that they don’t have much time left. Even if Victor wishes to continue like this forever, he can’t hide the truth anymore. Not like that. If not Blanca, Victor could have had at least a few more weeks for his greed. But does he really have a right to blame Blanca?

 

Before going back to his room, Victor kissed Yuuri’s forehead.  Yuuri's condition scared him. But that fear was different from the one he felt when Ash was hurt or any other he had in his life. Victor still couldn’t find words how to describe it. Even leaving Yuuri here in the bed, where obviously he will be safe, was hard. Because… what if something happens again? How he will be able not to follow Yuuri around all day? Because that’s what exactly Victor wanted to do.

 

When he came back to the bedroom, Victor couldn’t stop thinking about what happened today. Blanca told them everything that he knew, but still… there were so many questions and only Yuuri or Eiji knew the answers for them. For the first time, Victor felt like he didn’t want to speak… just to have a little bit more time.

 

 

“Victor!! Victor, open the door!!!” Shorter’s voice was in a panic.

 

For the night Victor always made sure to lock the door with a protection spell. It’s an old habit to make sure that Shorter or Aslan won’t come whenever they want. Victor jumped, he fell asleep just a few hours ago on the couch, his neck hurt.

 

“What…?” he reached for the wand and made the door opened. What time is it?

 

Shorter was standing there with Eiji next to him. The boy's face was covered in blood, eyes full of fear.

 

“What happened??” Victor forgot about the sleepless night right away. Shorter came in with Eiji and closed the door. “Sit down, here.”

 

“Tell him, Eiji.”

 

“Yesterday before going to the hospital, where Ash is, professor Blanca did something to me and Yuuri. Until we came back here, we were looking almost identical. And… when Yuuri got hurt… I... left him inside the building and went outside by myself. There was a man waiting… professor Blanca called him Arthur. He… he confused me for Yuuri… and… made me drink something. I…” Eiji’s voice was emotionless.

 

He couldn’t understand what’s going on. After seeing blood coming from his eyes, the nurse told to follow her. On the way, they met professor Wong, who brought him here. Neither of them said anything… Eiji just saw how frightened they were to look at him. Maybe, he is still dreaming?

 

“What? Why didn’t you tell this to Jessica?” Victor took Eiji’s face and looked right at the eyes.

 

They weren’t bleeding anymore because from the whole confusion Eiji stopped crying. He had a little bit of fever though. Even if Victor’s voice was calm, actually it became really hard to control himself. But he didn’t want to scare Eiji even more.

 

“I told her…” Eiji looked away. “But… she checked something and said that it’s nothing serious… but what is it? I don’t understand. What’s happening to me?” Eiji’s voice started to tremble. He didn’t want to cry, actually, he was even a little bit mad. Victor slowly stretched his back and went to the other room, probably bathroom. Shorter followed him.

 

“What do you think? Can this be…” It was so quiet around that Eiji perfectly heard every word coming from the room.

 

“What else could this be?” Victor’s voice sounded empty.

 

“It means that they still use Ash for making it…  Do you think Blanca knows something?

 

“I don’t care about this right now. Don’t you understand? Eiji’s body refused the potion, it's been more than twelve hours. Shorter, it's too late--.”

 

“What’s going on? I want answers.” Eiji reached his limit of tolerance. He blocked the way out for professors. Both of them glanced at him and Victor sighed. He can’t give an answer just like that. It would be too cruel.

 

“Eiji, listen…”

 

“I have a right to know, what’s happening to me. No matter what it means. I want to know," First time in his life, Eiji interrupted a professor, but he didn’t care about that. “I am not weak.” He added.

 

“We don’t think that you are weak… just…” Shorter started slowly.

 

“Just?  What? Just I don't understand? Is it something serious? Why you act with me like I am an idiot!” Eiji was so tired. Sincerely.

 

Yesterday he had so much stress. To see Ash in that condition, the first time in his life use a spell against a real enemy. Some unknown man, made him drink something, which probably is the reason for this bleeding. He has to know. Why they don’t understand?

 

“There might be the way...”  Victor turned his eyes at Shorter. It’s like they didn’t hear Eiji’s words at all.

 

“What?” Shorter looked at Victor and Eiji just covered his filthy face. At least they could let him wash it.

 

“Eiji...” Victor stepped closer and the boy didn’t have another choice just to look at the professor again. “We need to talk with Aslan now. He might be able to help. You need to convince him to come… we will explain everything.”

 

“Aslan? What…?” Eiji blinked. Are they talking about Ash?? Should he pretend not to understand what Nikiforov is talking about?

 

“But he doesn’t remember…” Shorter’s face for a second was full of ideas and then again became doubtful. They with Victor were thinking almost the same.

 

“Listen, Eiji. This is really important. We know that you have something to do with him. Ash doesn’t remember us, but for some reason he trusts you… He is the only one who can save you. I can give you something that might slow down this thing … but…” when Victor started to speak, he forgot how these words might hit Eiji.

 

“Save me...? Am… am I dying or what?” Eiji said this with the slight of humor in his voice. Because obviously, it can’t be the truth.

 

The boy was so sure about it that when professors were still keeping silent, Eiji just thought that they don’t have anything to say. Probably because the answer is simple, right? Eiji just needs medicine to feel better. It’s apparently something like flu. But why Ash? Or is just because they want to get closer to him using Eiji? Either way, that’s unavoidable now, since what happened yesterday marked the end for all secrets.

 

“Do you have any idea where is he now?” Shorter made a little bit softer voice.

 

“Probably… in my room.” For some reason, while saying these words, Eiji’s cheeks blushed. Nobody saw that because of the blood though. “I am not sure…” he added, but like he was pretty sure. Ash couldn't be anywhere else.

 

“Okay…” both professors were a little bit confused by this answer but tried not to show this. It’s not the time right now.

 

After fifteen minutes Eiji and Victor were already next to the Gryffindor's dormitory. Eiji had washed his face, and professor Wong brought clean clothes, meanwhile, Victor made him some potion. After drinking it, the temperature was gone. So whatever was wrong, now didn’t matter.

 

Physically Eiji felt good and he even thought about lying that Ash is not in the room. Last time Eiji talked with Ash it also didn’t end well. How can he convince him to go?

 

“Professor, can you wait for a few minutes?” He asked when they were next to the stairs leading to Eiji’s room. “I don’t want him to run away… Ash doesn’t like surprises.”

 

Since it was morning, the common room was empty. Everyone was taking classes. Obviously, Nikiforov’s and Wong’s lectures will be canceled today too. Maybe Blancas also. It almost should feel like holidays for students.

 

Nikiforov decided that he will talk with Eiji and Ash. Wong went to tell everything for Yuuri. They decided to meet afterward. Eiji was a little bit suspicious of that. Why they just couldn’t be all together? Also, Nikiforov, when they decided that Shorter will be the one who speaks with Yuuri, made a very strange request. Victor asked Shorter not to tell Yuuri some kind of reason for something. Eiji couldn’t understand what they were talking about. But anyway, Shorter shook his head. He didn't agree. Wong answered that they held back everything for too long and that’s why they ended up in this situation. Victor turned his back at Wong. And Eiji saw. He saw how Victor’s emotions break into a thousand feelings inside his face. Even if it was just for a split second.

 

“I know that he doesn’t like that.” Victor slowly nodded. Eiji felt like Nikiforov was thinking about something else at the same time. “I will wait. Five minutes.”

 

Eiji thanked and ran up the stairs. Surely it’s because of the stress, but somehow it was a little bit hard to walk the stairs up. He opened the door and of course, Ash was here. He probably heard Eiji coming.

 

“I saw you in the hospital tonight.” Aslan started with no introductions. Maybe it’s better that way.

 

“Yes… yesterday something happened… but I am alright. Sorry, I couldn’t come back.” Eiji leaned back against the door.

 

“You did something without telling me. Again. It’s just too much, Eiji. I am tired.” Ash sighed. That’s the reason why he wasn’t today in the hospital when Eiji woke up. They were talking about the same things over and over again. It’s like a closed circle which keeps repeating. To be honest, Eiji is also exhausted.

 

“Like you went to Nikiforov and Wong without telling me?” Eiji didn’t want to put it like that. It just slipped through his tongue. But how can Ash blame Eiji when he acting the same? And it’s not like Eiji went to have fun yesterday.

 

“I told you why! I was worried about you! I can’t do anything to help. I am useless, Eiji. What do you want me to do?? What I can do?” Ash also didn’t mean to shout, but Eiji poured salt on that open wound on purpose.

 

“I don’t need you to do anything… I just need you to stay by my side…” he murmured. Not long ago it was enough, but now, just in a few months, everything changed. How? How they ended up here?

 

“And? Something can always hurt you and I can’t do anything about it! You haven’t hurt yourself seriously this time, but who says that it won’t happen next time? And it’s everything because of me. I didn’t even ask you to save me. Not even once. But you just kept going further and further. And look where are we now.” Ash hasn’t raised his voice. That was even worse. It hurt. It hurt so much.

 

“I just tried to help, because I love you!” Eiji’s hid hands behind his back when they started to tremble. He can’t cry. What if he starts crying blood again?

 

“I don’t need help! I don’t need it. Not in exchange for you getting hurt over and over again because of me. I don’t care if I stay like this for the rest of my life! I don’t…”

 

“I saw you!! Yesterday I went to the hospital where they keep you! I saw your body, Ash. I… was so close. Almost touched you for real! Your body is lifeless... why don't you want to change something?!” Eiji couldn’t keep it down anymore.

 

Of course, he imagined this confession differently. Maybe a little bit more romantic? Well, maybe not little. Eiji wanted to tell this in a different tone. He wanted Ash to hear how close they are now. He wanted to tell how happy he felt. But. It turned out into a complaint. After what they found out together, Eiji couldn’t believe that Ash still doesn’t care.

 

“What…?” Ash stared. “How…? Where…?”

 

“One of the professors brought me and Yuuri there because we asked for help. But I am not sure what happened and... we were attacked. Yuuri got hurt…” Eiji used a moment when Ash was too surprised to talk. “Since everything ended up like this, we can’t keep away from Nikiforov and Wong anymore. I am sorry, that I got mad. I was wrong. I want them to help you.”

 

“Who…”

 

“Well, sorry to interrupt you. But we don’t have time.” Eiji felt how the door opens, so he didn’t have any other choice just move. Victor didn’t wait for five minutes, Eiji wasn’t in time to prepare Ash for this meeting. “I am here to talk.”

 

“Eiji? You knew that he is waiting?” Probably if Ash wouldn’t be a ghost, he wouldn’t have strengths to stand anymore.

 

“I asked Eiji to meet you,” Victor answered.

 

“I am not talking with you.” Ash cut off.

 

“But I am. Listen, I would like to take time and discuss everything in the way you want. But Eiji’s life is in danger now. And you are the only one who can save him. So, please, hear me out. Not because of me. Because of him… sorry, I overhead everything. He is important to you, right?”

 

Victor closed the door and just went towards the bed. The man sat down, giving a clue that he is not going anywhere.  Eiji sighed. Victor explained everything like Eiji really would be dying here.  But he feels perfectly fine.

 

“It’s not your business who is important for me. What do you mean in danger? How can I even trust you?”

 

“Ash… please, let’s just hear him out.” Eiji begging was the only thing which could have changed Ash’s mind. He doesn’t have a choice.

 

“Yesterday, when Eiji was attacked, they made him drink a potion. It destroys the human's vital organs or parts. Unless it’s activated with the spell which drags the soul out from the body. The spell also makes you subordinate for the one who casts it… but there is an antidote. Which might save the body.”

 

Victor wasn’t sure where to start. There was so much they didn’t know. But finally, he decided to get right to the point. Probably that was a mistake because Ash and Eiji were staring at Victor like seeing him for the first time.

 

“You… are saying… that… something is destroying Eiji’s body from inside at this very moment?” Ash slowly spoke. His voice was shivering a little bit. It was hard to accept this. Impossible.

 

Especially it was hard for Eiji, who honestly wanted to laugh. It must be a joke. He is fine. He is feeling fine! What potion? What spell? What Nikiforov is talking about?

 

“Sadly yes… I gave him something that will slow down the spreading, but…”

 

“Sadly yes??? That’s all you can say?! How did this happen? If you know all of this why did you let him go there? Why you haven’t protected him from this? Where is the antidote? What are you waiting for?”

 

Ash's angry voice was nothing more than hidden horrible fear. Ash didn’t want to understand the meaning of Victor's words. Aslan was smart, he knew that this man is not lying. And even if at this moment Eiji seemed totally fine it probably won’t take long until he starts breaking. Ash knew the reason why Victor was in such a hurry to tell this. But why he came here to Ash instead of doing something??

 

“I don’t know how to make an antidote… only you know, Ash.” Victor answered. It was hard, but what else he expected? To speak with Ash after all this time. Victor never imagined that everything turns like this.

 

“What…? What do you mean, I know? Like… in the past? I don’t remember…” Ash wanted to scream to that idiot's face to go and fix everything, but Victor was well prepared. He just threw this burden at Ash, which instantly made him feel guilty.

 

“We have all your notes… Maybe if you read them, you can understand something.  We don't have the knowledge about potions close to yours. Even if you don’t remember… you are the only one who can understand those documents.”

 

“Okay. Let’s go.” Ash would never get himself into this obvious trap, if not Eiji. To be honest, at this second he didn’t even care if Nikiforov or Wong will try to use him. If that’s how he can help Eiji, it doesn’t matter.

 

“Wait!” Finally, Eiji himself spoke. The talk here was going on about his life, yet Eiji didn't have his word. “Nobody is going anywhere until I understand what’s going on. I don’t know, maybe you two are able to understand each other just from a few phrases or something. But I don’t. And I am refusing to go anywhere until I hear answers.”

 

For the first time, Ash heard Eiji not agreeing on something like this. The Japanese boy showed the character which previously wasn’t noticeable. And Ash couldn’t explain why, but somehow it made him feel proud. Eiji is able to seek what he wants. He cares about his own health. He doesn’t trust Nikiforov so openly. Just Ash wished it would have happened in different circumstances. As for him… he would have found out the truth differently, but Eiji wasn’t like that. He needed a clear explanation of everything. That’s something that Ash found irresistible cute about him.

 

Victor could have argued, but probably there is no way to run from this. Maybe it’s even better to tell him now. Victor knew that as soon as Ash hears it, it will be easy to convince him. Ash follows his logic, not emotions. At least that's how it always has been. He tends to do anything, that might even sound brutal for others if that just might save the ones he cares about. And obviously, just from this small talk, Victor already knew that Eiji became one of them. Ash, without any memories, trusted Victor in order to save Eiji. What happened to Aslan’s soul, Victor wasn't sure. But if this would be different timing, he would be happy for Ash. His soul found love. Just like Victor did. Strange that this happened to be Eiji… Strange that for Victor it happened to be Yuuri. From the other side, Victor and Ash didn’t believe in love at all before. Everything changed now.

 

“What do you want to know?” Victor asked. That might take some time.

 

“Everything. From Ash until the person who attacked me and the thing which is…” Eiji couldn’t say killing me. That would have sounded too dramatic. Also, he couldn’t so simply believe in it.

 

Everything. Everything might hurt Eiji to the point that he won’t be able to recover. But… he has a right to know. At least something…

 

“Have Yuuri told you something about international summer camp that he attended?” Victor asked.

 

“What this has to do with Eiji?” Ash sighed.

 

“He mentioned few times… but it’s hard to speak for him about it.” In his heart, Eiji already knew for some time, that all of this probably has to do something with Yuuri. But he tried to deny it.

 

“That camp was organized by the secret department which was integrated into the Ministry of Magic. Actually, there were just a few people who knew about its existence. It’s a group that couldn’t care less about the existence of wizards who were born in muggle families. The head of the department was named Arthur Frederic. At the time he also had a really high position in the Ministry. He organized an international summer camp with the only purpose. To try the new experimental potion and spell. I already told you more or less what it does to a person body… they can control the body which is under the spell however they want. Make them do things… because the soulless body doesn’t understand nor it cares. The body can be woken up even after the death caused by the potion, but… it doesn’t work that well then. Since the body can’t think anymore, so it might be used just as killing gun. That’s what they wanted to try. From twelve people in the camp, Yuuri’s body was the only one who didn't get damaged. The potion didn't have any effect on him. Although other eleven died because of it and then they were woken up by the spell. In order to save his life, Yuuri was forced to kill everyone. That’s the reason why he can’t use magic at the present time. Probably because of the fear.

At that time I, Ash and Shorter, we were trying to search for Griffin, Ash's brother. He was working in that department for a long time already. We suspected that he might be under the spell. We couldn’t find his location for a long time until the research led us to where that camp took place. We were too late. All the children were already dead, except for Yuuri. He was barely alive from injuries. Arthur was just next to him and he saw us… Ash… Ash,  asked him to leave Yuuri alone. To let him live. Arthur agreed with the only condition. He had to take Ash instead of Yuuri. Shorter tried to stop him, but I didn’t… instead of that, I tried to stop Yuuri's bleeding. He was bleeding from eyes, ears, noise… he was in so much pain. And Ash… you agreed to this so simple. You stopped Shorter, took potion from Arthur and drank it like it was nothing… then Arthur used the spell on you. Shorter thought that he was in time to interrupt before Arthur disappeared. That time we ourselves weren’t sure if the spell really works. It looked like you just fainted… Shorter was crazy mad at me, he took your body and brought it to the hospital. And I made sure that Yuuri would be found by our people.

You woke up, just soulless. That’s when we understood that the spell and potion work just fine. If to cast it before the body starts damaging… so at first twelve hours. Later… it’s impossible to do anything. At least that’s what our research said. But as I told before… we didn’t know that much with Shorter as you did.

 

There were a few reasons why we kept watching Yuuri. Your body was taken by Arthur and other enemies. And Yuuri’s body was… a perfect thing for experiments, since it somehow has immunity for the potion. So… Oh god… now when I think about that… it’s so disgusting… but at first, we thought that later we can do the exchange…  change your body over his. Because those bastards do care only about the experiments and results. So… we made sure to keep Yuuri safe in some institutions were others won’t be able to get in, like a mental hospital. But before trying the exchange we… we wanted to get the information ourselves from Yuuri. That’s why we invited him to come to the Hogwarts. For the past years we were searching for your soul everywhere, but unsuccessfully. Hogwarts and working undercover as teachers seemed the safest place for us. We didn’t think even once, that you might be so close. We just desperately wanted to save you… and…” he wasn't able to finish. Victor thought he will get sick from his own words, which not long ago made so much sense.

 

It’s been so long since Victor spoke like that. There were some details he hid, but for now, it should stay like this. The main points were pointed out loud. Especially the ones which proved what kind of monster Victor is for real. He used Yuuri. Now everyone knows.

 

“That’s… that’s why yesterday Shorter said… that you have to keep Yuuri safe with all cost.” Eiji couldn't hide how shaken to the core he was from Victor's story. Even if that's just one part. He heard enough for today.

 

Eiji’s mind almost split from all the new information. It was too much. Too brutal. And he wasn’t sure if he understood everything right… but one thing is sure. Eiji was right from the beginning. It was Victor’s and Shorter’s fault. Just… he was a bit wrong about the person, they were trying to hurt.

Victor couldn’t deny what Eiji said and that made everything even worse. Will it help if Victor says that he regrets? That he fell in love with Yuuri and now he wants to protect him? Yuuri and Ash. Victor doesn’t want anyone to get hurt… but who can trust him after this?

 

Eiji turned around and ran from the room. He heard enough to understand that at this moment there is someone else who needs the support. Or maybe a true friend. If Shorter really went to Yuuri and told him the same… It must hurt to know the truth. Eiji couldn't even imagine what Yuuri could be feeling right now. That’s what Arthur said yesterday, right? He thought that Yuuri came by himself to give in because he couldn’t handle knowing the truth.

 

“Eiji!” Ash called him but didn’t go after. “Why you said that to him?” he angry gazed at Victor

 

“I didn’t want to lie… but... now you understand why we must do something. It’s been more than twelve hours. But I still hope we might find the way. He may think that we are monsters, and he won’t be wrong. At the same time… now he has more reasons to survive because Eiji is not someone who will leave his friends suffering."

 

“Don’t speak as you know him… or like we were friends. I may not remember things, but I know that I would never do something that you and Wong did. Probably I didn’t know the real you.”

 

“Oh, you think so?” Victor let his head down. “I think you were the only one who knew how important we were for each other. Because there was anyone else in the world that we could trust.”

 

“Screw yourself.” Ash sighed and slowly went towards the open door. Victor also stood up. Ash didn’t have a choice; he must do everything to save Eiji.

 

 

 

 

“Yuuri!” When Eiji ran into the hospital, Yuuri was sitting on the bed. Shorter was keeping his distance; his face was showing nothing more than guilt. That's right. That's how Wong should feel. Yuuri raised the head and looked right at Eiji.

 

Just from a friend's glance, it was obvious. He knows. Everything? Eiji couldn’t be sure. Shorter saw Eiji, he even asked him something, but Eiji pretended that he didn't hear. Yuuri stood up, he slowly came closer and without any words, they both left the hospital. Just like that and no one dared to stop them. Not now. In silence, they went towards the place where they liked to sit just like that. Don’t think about anything. Forget. Now it was impossible. The cruel reality pierced through their feelings and both of the boys at the present moment felt empty. What could they say to comfort each other? Probably nothing. One of them is dying and the other one stayed alive just to be used as a tool later. Tool to save Ash. What Eiji will do now?

 

After a few minutes, when Yuuri sorely sighed, Eiji turned at him. He didn’t say anything. Not a single word. Just hugged. Eiji Hugged Yuuri really really hard. This was a touch from a friend to a friend. From one damaged heart to another. Not in a romantical way at all. Probably there is no way that in any other circumstances they would have done something like that. But… just now. Even if their situations were truly opposed, Yuuri felt like inside this toxic place he doesn’t have anything closer than Eiji. Yuuri grabbed on friend’s sweater and let his soul shatter. He felt humiliated, confused, guilty and so broken. But this second… Yuuri couldn’t have asked anything more than a hug from a friend. Who can’t and won’t ask anything more than that.

 

“I am sorry, Eiji.” Because of what happened yesterday, Yuuri’s throat still hurt a little bit, but he was a least able to speak properly.

 

Their hug didn’t last long, but probably that was the only thing they were able to do to make each other feel better.

 

“For what?”

 

“If… yesterday it was me… instead of you… then…”

 

“Yuuri, stop. Don’t blame yourself. I did this on my own free will. I can’t believe that you try to take responsibility on yourself.”

 

“But now you… you…” obviously he couldn’t say that word.

 

There were so many things that could have saved Eiji… that could have saved Ash. But Yuuri was in the way for all of them. If only he hadn’t survived back then. Just like they planned. What was the reason for him to stay alive? Why did Arthur agree? Why did Ash want to save Yuuri? To keep him as some sort of animal until the time comes, when they will be ready to end his life? Should it be like salvation? For Shorter it wasn’t easy to say the truth. But now everything started to make sense to Yuuri. From the start to the end.

 

“I am not going anywhere, Yuuri…” Eiji tried to keep the voice still.

 

“You know why… why Blanca made us similar yesterday? Because if anyone started to chase us, it would be harder to know who of us is me. He knew all along. Blanca, Nikiforov, Wong… am sure there are others. Who made fool out of us. They knew what will be the end of this story. And enjoyed it to the fullest.” Yuuri sadly smiled. What’s wrong with that? He should have died with everyone in that camp anyway. Isn’t that right?

 

“Yuuri! Stop, please! No one is going to touch you. I swear. No one has a right to decide who lives and who not.”

 

“What about Ash? How are you gonna save him? According to Wong, I am the only one option.”

 

“No. No, Yuuri. They changed their minds. And I am sure, that Ash won’t agree to that. It’s insane. We will think the other way out.”

 

“Changed minds? And decided to pity me? Well, how lucky I am... You speak like Wong. He apologized to me, you know. Said that now they would never let something happen to me. He even called himself an idiot and traitor… he spoke honestly. Probably. Even if it’s really hard for me to say this word. But what else you can do? Do you know for what they use Ash there? Did Nikiforov tell you?”

 

“For what…?” Eiji slowly asked. Victor didn’t say anything about this part.

 

“They are making him make that potion… and then use the spell. They are making Ash kill people. Shorter told me that. There are bad people within the Ministry of Magic. One of them you know very well… it’s Golzine. Even if he has really good alias, but Fox and Arthur are working for him.” Yuuri shared this information with Eiji. From his face, it was obvious that he didn’t hear anything like that.

 

“Golzine…? My… my dad works for him and… Ash’s last name. He was the one who adopted Ash! Why?? Oh God, Yuuri… I…” Eiji was out of words.

 

He just sat on the floor and Yuuri did the same. Yes, there are still things to find out. But Eiji didn't know how much he can handle. And why. After a few minutes, students started coming from the classrooms. They heard footsteps from different sides, but no one passed this hallway. Anyway, the sign was clear… life is still going on for someone.

 

“That’s why… it’s not just about you or Ash. You see… it’s better to sacrifice one mudblood than lose a lot of people. If they get Ash back… they can stop Golzine. Who needs me anyway, Eiji? As soon as you get Ash back, you will forget me… who needs a mudblood, who can’t even cast a spell? I am broken Eiji. I don’t belong to this world anymore. I knew this from the moment I raised the wand to kill people who once appeared to be my only friends. By losing me, the world won’t miss anything. Think logically. This is only a matter of time when Nikiforov and Wong will start thinking the same again.”

 

“Yuuri… what in the world… don’t say things like that. There are plenty of people who need you. Your family… me… You only speak like this, because you are hurt. But why do you think they are worth your pain??”

 

“My family can get their memories deleted… and it will be like I never existed. And you… Eiji, please. Believe me, I want to be mad at Nikiforov, Wong and even Ash… but somehow… I can’t. Maybe I also had enough.”

 

“No matter what you say… I won’t let you do anything stupid. No one will.” Eiji was stubborn as ever, but Yuuri knew Eiji will soon understand. Was Yuuri thinking rationally? Probably not, but who in his place could?

 

Yuuri gave up, after what he heard from Shorter today, there was no more reason to fight. His heart was ripping in parts from pain. But it’s also temporary. Like everything else. Soon he will stop feeling. Lies. His whole life feels like a lie now.

 

“Yuuri, I know what you are thinking.” Eiji continued talking. “Stop… please.”

 

“I am sorry, Eiji... I only wish we could get out of here.”

 

Shorter told Yuuri that Eiji cried blood. There were no words needed. Why everyone he gets close to… are ending like this? Why it had to be Eiji? From all people here, he was the one who didn’t deserve anything like that. And yet, Eiji didn’t blame anyone. He was a wonderful person indeed.

Yuuri closed his eyes, he was afraid to think how much time they have left… unless Ash will do the impossible.

 


 

A little bit more than two weeks passed.  Life hasn't changed drastically, but some things became different. First, they also had to tell Nikiforov and Wong the story from their side. Mostly Eiji was the one who talked, first days it was hard for Yuuri even to speak or look at Victor's side. Anyway, that was an easy part. The hard one was to keep trusting them. Yuuri and Eiji had no chose. Better trust them than give up on Eiji's life. For Yuuri's point of view, Eiji was too kind. But Yuuri agreed that now Eiji has to avoid bad emotions as much as possible. Also, all teachers from the day they found out the truth, seemed suspicious. Who knows who else knew everything. Even though during the day Yuuri and Eiji acted like nothing changed, as soon as classes were over, they stayed away from everyone. Mostly because Eiji was feeling very weak.

 

Eiji should have stayed in his room and rested, but he decided not to skip classes. Even when he started coughing blood, somehow managed to stay positive. The medicine made by Victor that Eiji was taking, gave them time, but not enough. Ash day and night was sitting and reading his notes from the past. They were all over Nikiforov’s office, but even for him, it was too hard to understand. Ash didn’t have a clue what was written there. He guessed that he used to encode notes, that nobody else would be able to understand. Sadly, now Ash also couldn't.

 

During the day time, Yuuri tried to stay neutral. He never talked about giving up just for Eiji's sake. But obviously at nights’ situation was different. The guilt took Yuuri over until the last cell. And because of the endless anxiety, he pushed away Victor, the only person who could have helped him in some way. Yuuri didn’t try to run away from Victor like the last time. Actually, already the next day, he came to him and just asked to stay away. That’s it. It’s like Victor was expecting this (of course he did). Nikiforov didn’t try to change Yuuri’s mind or explain himself.  Somehow that only confirmed Yuuri's fears, until now the boy can't believe how naive he was.

 

Eiji said that he also rarely sees Ash. Sometimes he comes back to the room to check up on Eiji, but they don’t really talk anymore. There is nothing much to say… probably because words won’t help.

 

And despite everything… Yuuri was still completely in love with Victor. The feeling was still so strong and scratching, that Yuuri could have forgiven Victor’s betrayal, but it didn't seem like Nikiforov wanted this. Also seeing his face right now was too painful. Their kisses and hugs were nothing more just a part of the plan. The emotional pain was so sharp that it led Yuuri to the point where he stopped caring about everything. Other feels blocked the way towards Yuuri heart and Yuuri got frozen, with all that unbearable love inside. His first one. Every morning he woke up just thinking about the time when he will come back. Yuuri wanted to see Eiji but, at the same time, he didn’t because, with each passing day, friend's face was losing its color. Sometimes Eiji started to stare at the wall with that dead look, which scared Yuuri to the core. Yuuri wasn’t like Eiji, he couldn’t lie to Phichit, Sing, Otabek or Yurio (who probably because of Otabek started to act a little bit more friendly), but Eiji kept smiling for them and laughing. He explained that the bags under his eyes are probably because of the stress and homework. This life under the mask… was probably the only way Eiji to resist the fact that his time here was going to the end. Yuuri was wondering does he also cry at nights? Did he tell parents? Probably no. Nobody else knew.

 

By the end of the week, when they left the Charms classroom, Eiji stopped Yuuri from going to Hall.

 

“When I came for the medicine today, Nikiforov told me, that he wants to talk with both of us. Probably they have something important to say.”

 

“Really?” Yuuri sighed. Let's hope it is something about Eiji. Otherwise, he doesn’t care.

 

They went this time to Wong's office, which was a little bit more crowded than Nikiforov’s. Books about magic history had their place in every corner of the room, even on the desk and floor. Yuuri even had a thought that probably Shorter knew very little about the History before coming to teach at Hogwarts. And what for he came here? It’s ridiculous.

 

“Thanks for coming boys…” Victor spoke when they entered.

 

“Can we just move on to the point?” Yuuri was staring at the wall and Eiji next to him sighed.

 

Shorter, Victor and Ash were standing on the other side of the room. What a beautiful friendship. Irony. They fit well though. Well hopefully, they will be together soon. Again Sarcasm. Yuuri couldn’t stop his thoughts. He felt like any moment staying longer here could make him sick. When was the last time had a normal sleep? Probably in the hospital… because now every night, even if he was lucky to fall asleep, there was dead Eiji in all of his dreams. At first dead people, that he had to kill and now his dead best friend. Wonderful. And that Arthur’s voice kept repeating It’s your fault. It’s your fault.

 

“There is something we have found out. But because of the lack of information… we need to move to a place, where Ash kept his other notes. Just for this weekend.” Wong spoke.

 

Obviously, it was Victor who had to speak, but after seeing Yuuri, he couldn’t. Yuuri officially removed D.A.D.A. classes from his schedule. There was no point to go there anyway. He was useless at casting spells for defense or offense. And he will never be able to change it. “We want you two to come along… just in case. You understand...”

 

“Of course… just in case you need to sacrifice someone.” Yuuri smiled and nodded. At least Wong and Nikiforov had enough shame not to look directly at Yuuri.

 

“Yuuri…” Eiji sighed again. “And where is that?”

 

“It’s my summerhouse… in Russia,” Victor answered silently.

 

“Okay… I…” Eiji started to speak, but his voice broke and he swirled. Yuuri was in time to catch him. At the same second every other emotion disappeared. He always gets so scared when something like that happens.

 

“Eiji!” Ash came closer, but it’s not he was able to do something. Shorter and Victor jumped in the spot.

 

“It’s okay, Ash, don’t worry… it’s just my head… and oh…” he grabbed on the nose when blood appeared.

 

“I will make sure he will get rest in the hospital,” Yuuri said with a serious voice. “Please… just do something.” Last words he didn’t plan to say, but after Eiji fell into his hands like that, Yuuri wasn’t able to hide his true emotions. The heart in the chest was painfully beating.

 

When they left, Shorter grabbed the nearest book and threw across the room.

 

“We are running out of time!!!” his anger was so visible, like always.

 

He was the one from them who until now didn’t try to hide feels at all. But showing them in front of those two boys was too risky now. They were already flinching of every extra sound around.

 

“I am sure… from those notes… that I have more information. There must be something… more. If only I can get back to my body… I can help Eiji.” sighed, his face stayed calm, but the voice shivered.

 

“But we will tell them, or not?” Shorter looked through the window, how students are walking outside. Clueless about horrible things which were going on.

 

“What do you mean?” tired Victor’s voice asked. Oh, right. That thing. The one they couldn't say for them earlier. “No... we can’t tell them. That would be too much.”

 

Since Yuuri stopped going to his classes, Victor has seen him only a few times. Yuuri asked to stay away, he avoided Victor in every possible way. Coming to eat just before the ending of meals and choosing hallways that no one goes through. Victor one time found the courage to ask Eiji about Yuuri, but the boy refused to answer. He had a right. Also, obviously Eiji was on Yuuri’s side. Victor didn’t deserve his forgiveness. But he just wanted Yuuri to know, that he has changed. Now his feelings are real. Everything was before he had a chance to know Yuuri. Now Victor would never let anyone hurt him, including himself. But how to reach him now? Yuuri couldn’t sleep during the nights? Well neither could Victor. The silver-haired man from the beginning knew well that they don’t have much time together, but he selfishly kept silent and tried to win at least one more day… but this was too short. It was enough for Victor to see Yuuri’s face today, the fragile sensation between them was destroyed. Yuuri looked right at Victor’s face and didn’t even blink.

 

“I don’t know. I guess if we do tell them, then even Eiji will turn back on all of us, including me. And how about Yuuri? I think he can't take anymore…” Ash sighed.

 

It wasn’t hard to find out the truth. It was written all over his notes, almost everywhere. Every detail… every correction. It was clear. Obvious, undeniable fact. Even if it is Shorter’s idea and Victor found the spell. But…

Ash was the one who originally created the formula of that potion.

 

How far games for satisfying curiosity about their limits can go? And what happens when it falls into wrong hands?

 

They had all of the answers now.

Even if they wish, they hadn't.

Chapter Text

“Wow, this place is huge!” Eiji started with amazement at the place from the inside. They came to Victor’s summerhouse using the fireplace in his office, which was connected to Floo Network.

 

Yuuri wondered if someone else knows that they left Hogwarts for the weekend. He came here for Eiji. If it had to be Yuuri's choice he would have stayed in the school, far away from the person who hurt him in all possible ways. And despite that, he couldn't get Victor out of his head. The change in Yuuri’s personality was too obvious, bet probably even the strongest finally breaks. And this time it was too much for him to handle. The boy just didn’t know how to act anymore. Of course, Victor’s summerhouse was amazing and luxurious. He was from a rich family after all. But Yuuri, not like Eiji, hasn’t said a word. He let the head down, pressing the backpack to the chest a little bit harder. Two days. it’s just for two days.

 

“It is, even if from outside it doesn’t look so spacious,” Victor answered, but it was just for the sake of keeping the conversation.

 

“Magic?” Eiji asked to make sure.

 

“Yup.” Victor nodded. “Yours and Yuuri’s room will be on the second floor. Doors are in front of each other... Ash?” Victor looked at the man who was staring in the opposite direction.

 

Even if Yuuri couldn’t feel almost anything, the fact that ghosts can also travel using chimney was new for him. Probably that’s why they chose this way of transportation instead of travel by air. And in general, it was hard to realize that they are in Russia at the moment. Ash turned a little bit away from them and went towards a huge wooden door.

 

“What is there?” he asked.

 

“Your room…” Shorter was the one who answered. Both professors glanced at each other for a second. Did Ash remember? What could it mean?

 

“Oh… Good. All of my notes are there?” Ash couldn’t explain the feeling. He hasn't remembered but just knew… somehow Ash felt like he knows that place. Did it have a great meaning for him? Either way, Ash somehow felt relieved about this. That there was place… he felt good in.

 

“Right, I will take them out for you…” Victor nodded. “Shorter, show rooms for boys, alright?”

 

Since it was Friday evening and there was nothing more for them to talk about, Yuuri couldn’t agree more. Now he wanted to lock himself in that room and stay for the whole night. It was obvious that Eiji will stay with Ash until he loses all the strengths for today. For now, both boys followed Shorter to the second floor. There was a long hallway with a big door at the end of it. What is that? Could it be Victor’s room? This kind of thought Yuuri had only just for a second. Why he even cares? Whatever is over there, has nothing to do with him.

 

“So… Yuuri, you will stay right there and here is the room for you, Eiji.” Shorter opened doors just in front of each other. Yuuri was expecting to see a simple small bedroom, but he caught himself staring at the five-star hotel apartment. The room was enormous, with a big window, also a desk, sofa, wardrobe, coffee table even a huge warm carpet. It also had a separated bathroom.

 

“Well, that how rich purebloods live…” Eiji was looking at his place with the same expression.

Just a second before Yuuri wanted to stay inside his room, but now he wasn’t sure anymore. He is definitely not used to this kind of life.

 

“I am going to Ash's room,”  Eiji added.

 

It’s just like Yuuri guessed. Eiji didn’t even ask for permission, he just stated the fact. Of course, even if Shorter was against it, wouldn't be able to say anything. Seriously, sometimes it was so obvious how guilty they feel.

 

“Yuuri what are you going to do? Want to go together?” Eiji asked, but Yuuri was already inside his room. I guess there is no other choice, just stay here.

 

“I am going to sleep. Goodnight.” He nodded and closed the door.

 

“Don’t look at him like this. What else you were expecting?” Eiji asked Shorter. The man was staring at the door like he could fix everything just with his eyes. “I even would like to point out, that as a person who was tricked in one of the most disgusting ways, Yuuri is holding up pretty good.” Maybe the fact that Eiji was seriously ill made him a little bit braver. He wasn’t afraid to reveal the truth for Shorter.

 

“Probably. I wish I could change something now…” Wong sighed and moved towards the stairs.

 

“Why?” Eiji asked going after him. That made Wong stop. “Why did you change your mind so fast? I mean it’s been just a few months since Yuuri came to Hogwarts.”

 

“Realization how much he had to go through opened my eyes. I knew this in theory, but… when Blanca came that night and told us what happened, I don’t know… it probably was quite a strong punch for me and Victor. No matter what, they won’t leave Yuuri in peace… it’s our fault after all.” Wong never thought that the day when he will speak with Eiji so openly will come.

When professor sat down on the stair, Eiji also leaned back against the wall.

 

“I know that you wanted to save Ash, but that doesn’t give a right to decide who lives and who not. And despite that… it’s not your fault that Yuuri ended up in that camp.” Eiji was like that. He always tried to find at least one positive thing everywhere.

 

“Actually it is.” Shorter looked at Eiji with serious eyes. “All of this is our fault…”

 

“Don’t make a drama of it… and how it is your fault? Do you want to say you were the one who invited Yuuri to the camp? Or you were the one who made me drink the potion? As I see now you are trying to find a way to save us, not to kill. I know that people might do mistakes, but it doesn’t mean everything is their fault… I believe that there are people who might change. No or better I should say… people who want to change. So… professor, Wong… tell me if I am wrong?” Eiji was even a little bit mad. How can Shorter find strengths to pity himself right now?

 

“You have a wonderful heart… no wonder why Ash fell for you. He always searched for something he was lacking…”

 

“What?”

 

“Warmth.”

 

Wong gave for Eiji sad smile and stood up, they both heard steps downstairs. Victor probably is wondering why Shorter is taking so long. Even if Wong hasn’t directly answered to Eiji’s questions, the things he said made something inside to pinch. It wasn’t hard to see how Ash was watching at Eiji. Their relationship was so obvious, that even Victor or Shorter didn’t have any question.

 

“Professor…” Eiji murmured, with his head let down. It’s been more than two weeks. With every day he feels worse. Even if he tried not to show this to anyone, but Eiji couldn’t hide the situation from himself. Probably without Victor’s medicine, he would be long dead. “I don’t… want to die.” Finally, he said after a pause. He didn’t want to leave all of this life and people, even if sometimes it was painful.

 

“Eiji…” Shorter really wanted to know what to say. But he didn’t. He really doesn’t know. “Believe in him. Ash saved me so many times… I know that now it sounds strange, but that man never gives up. And you are important to him… So… Don’t you dare to give up too.” Wong touched Eiji’s shoulder for a second and then wanted to leave, but Eiji was holding on his robe.

 

“Take this… it’s broken. I don’t even know if it’s possible to fix it… just…” Eiji quickly put the bag with time-turner into Wong’s hand. The clue was obvious. He knew that Shorter is capable to fix magical tools. He even had an award for that. Eiji saw it in the same book, where they found Ash and Victor.

 

Professor gave it a look, from his face it was clear that he perfectly knows what it is.

 

“Where… where did you get this from??” Shorter couldn’t hide astonishment. Eiji didn’t know was it a good reaction or not. Well, at least Wong didn’t start to shout at him, like Yuuri did, or make fun, like Ash. Eiji knew, from all of them, Shorter is the one who likes to risk the most.

 

“Hey, is everything okay?!” they heard Victor’s voice, he was going up. Eiji didn’t answer anything to Shorter he just nodded and went down. Now he wanted to be with Ash. Especially after Shorter’s words…  He trusts Ash and he doesn’t want to die. But nobody knows for sure what might happen.

 

“Is Ash in that room?” Eiji asked Victor when they met halfway.

 

“Yes… and Yuuri?” of course, every one of them was interested in different things.

 

“He already went to sleep.” Eiji passed Victor, without a second glance.

 

 

 

 

“Ash…” he entered the room. The floor was covered in papers. Eiji couldn’t explain why, but this room obviously was Ash’s. Eiji easily could have pictured that Ash lived in here. He even saw a desk with a lot of tools for making potions.

 

“Hey.” He was sitting in the middle of this, quickly running through the papers with his eyes. Eiji leaned forward to look, but honestly, he couldn’t understand anything. There was a lot of numbers and words in different languages. Is that the code he was talking about? Eiji will be useless here.

 

Eiji found a clear spot not far away from the window and sat down over there. He could have laid on the huge bed, but this way he felt closer to Ash. He laid the head on knees and just looked at the man’s profile. Somehow Shorter’s words were still inside his head. Eiji is Ash's warmth? Really?

 

“I learned so much from you, Ash…” he spoke out loud after a short pause. Even if Eiji knew that it’s better not to disturb him.

 

“Don’t speak like you are dying,” Aslan answered. Ash was still looking at papers, but Eiji saw that his eyes are not moving.

 

“Well… I… kinda…” Eiji silently giggled. But it wasn’t because of fun, more because he felt so pathetic.

 

“No!” Suddenly Ash shouted so loud, that Eiji even flinched. He knew that Ash is scared because of him, but Eiji didn't have a clue how much. The fear in Ash's voice pierced the boy's heart and he held the breath. One second and Ash was already in front of him, just a few steps away. “Don’t you dare! You can’t. I will save you. Can’t you trust me? At least this once?”

 

“Ash… love…” Eiji couldn’t help, he was smiling. Of course, he believed. If he didn’t… there would be no point coming here. “I just thought… how unfair… that we didn’t have a lot of time. It’s so unfair… I was this close… like this…” Eiji couldn’t feel how drops of blood appeared in his eyes. He didn’t cry from the day when he learned what's happening to him. The boy reached for Ash with his hand and when the transparent man leaned forward, Eiji wanted to touch his hair. But fingers brushed only air.

 

They didn’t have a normal talk for almost two weeks. But the reason why they came here… is probably because they are out of ideas about what to do. That’s why they brought them here, right? Because… if they can’t find answers here it might be the end. Didn’t Eiji deserve at least now to touch Ash for real? But it’s unfair. This life…

 

“Eiji. Listen. Eiji.” Ash whispered. Eiji was already sitting with his face covered, but only this voice made him open up again. “It’s my fault and I will fix it… I promise you, no matter what. You are not leaving.”

 

“What do you mean it’s your fault? Why you are talking like Wong?... Ash… is there… is there anything you are hiding from me?” Until this second Eiji was sure it couldn’t be the case. But this kind of coincidence just doesn’t happen. He knows something. Eiji felt it. It also might be the reason why Ash almost hasn’t talked with him all this time. He… was feeling guilty? Why?

 

“Did… Shorter said to you anything?” he slowly asked.

 

“No… Why? What he should have told me…? Ash?”

 

Aslan knew that all three of them agreed not to tell for Yuuri or Eiji, but what about their promise not to have any secrets? Even if it might become a reason why Eiji starts hating him.

 

“The thing… the thing that is killing you… was created by me.” He said. Even if technically Ash didn’t need to breathe, but somehow the feeling was like he starts suffocating. It was harder to speak than he thought.

 

“What?? What do you mean?” Now Eiji wanted to laugh, but he couldn’t find the connection between all these things. How is it possible?

 

“Once… I started searching for information, I discovered more and more strange things. Victor and Shorter didn’t have other option, just to tell me. And then the things I read only confirmed my fears.” Ash wasn’t sure if he is doing the right thing. Because it might end in the worst possible way. But what else he is supposed to do?

 

“I don’t… I don’t understand, Ash… what are you trying to say?” the narrow lines for blood were running down Eiji's cheeks, but this confusion made the tears stop.

 

“It seems that when I was in the fourth year… we decided to do that kind of experiment. Well, it was Shorter’s idea, but we all agreed to do it. It seems that we wanted to find some way that could take out the human’s soul… we wanted to try becoming ghosts but at the same time stay alive… that we could go back to our bodies anytime. It was just out of curiosity… and no one believed that it might actually work. But… Victor discovered that spell… and I… I created the formula for the potion… originally it wasn’t like this one… but once it ended up in the hands of Golzine, they turned it into a gun and… Eiji?”

 

Eiji’s eyes became like made from glass. He tried to understand. To understand why. Why them? Why him? Why all of this happened? Why Ash hid the truth? Why everything turned this way? He had a lot of questions…how that thing got into hands of Golzine? Why it seemed fun for them to do those kinds of experiments with black magic? How Ash just in the fourth grade was able to create such advanced potion? Were Victor and Shorter in their right minds? Why no one stopped them? Where was Blanca?

 

However, instead of all those words, Eiji slowly stood up.

 

“So you are… saying that the thing that killed Yuuri’s friends in that camp was made by three of you? You are saying… that all those people are dead because you three were curious?” Eiji slowly spoke looking at his legs. Really naive side inside of him was still hoping it's not the truth. Even now Eiji couldn’t think about his health… He drank that potion just accidentally because Arthur mistook Eiji for Yuuri.

 

“It’s more difficult than you think, Eiji… we…”

 

“So do you have all the answers? Satisfied your curiosity?” Eiji asked again. It's not like he started feeling hate towards Ash. No, that would impossible. But it was just a sudden wave of emotions.

 

“Please… don’t hate me. I can’t live if you…”

 

“You understand that you are in this condition because of the thing you made? Ash…” It was the first time Eiji interrupted Ash while he tried to speak about his feelings. Eiji shouldn’t have done that. It’s rare for Aslan to talk like that. But Eiji couldn't think about feelings at this second. Just not after this shocking truth. Eiji almost could hear the annoying beeping inside the head. Like some kind of error. He got up to leave the room. Before this, he just wanted to spend a little bit more time with Ash. Now Eiji didn’t know what he wants.

 

“Where are you going?” Ash wanted to beg Eiji to stay. Not turn the back at him. But he didn’t have a right.

 

“I need to think. Please, leave me alone.” Eiji left the room.

 

Actually, there was nothing to think about. Did he need to tell this to Yuuri? Of course, he does. But can he? That’s another question. Probably that would break him into the last pieces. Maybe… maybe it’s better if he doesn’t find out. Eiji didn’t know what else to think. He quickly rubbed bloody cheeks, before the liquid fell on this perfect floor. No wonder why they are feeling guilty. Ash… Eiji couldn’t be mad at him. Even now. The boy stopped in front of Yuuri’s bedroom door and wanted to knock, but changed his mind. Why he also feels guilty? Because no matter what, Eiji still will stay on Ash's side? He can't choose.

 

Next day, when Yuuri came down to the kitchen, Eiji was drinking his medicine. One of the sleeves were pulled up, Victor was taking a look at his hand. Yuuri froze like a statue when he saw Eiji’s skin. There was a spot on his skin, almost pitch black. Eiji's skin over there started to loosen up.

 

“Yuuri!!” Eiji moved his hand and pulled down the sleeve. “It’s nothing… really.” He tried to smile, just for a friend’s sake.

 

It's just funny how they are doing things for each other, not even realizing it. Yuuri made himself to move. But he already regretted for leaving the room. Yuuri couldn’t sleep all night like always. In such a big space, he felt so small. And yet, instead of coming here, he should have stayed in that corner, where he spent almost all the time.

 

“Yuuri, eat something. And then we will tell you good news.” Victor showed with his hand to the table. But Yuuri just ignored it. They need to stop acting like this. They can’t pretend that everything is fine when it’s not. Yuuri looked around, Shorter was sitting holding a cup of coffee. His hand was trembling a little bit.

 

“Where is Ash?”

 

It’s just Yuuri or really it seemed that everyone looked at different direction when he asked. Even Eiji.

 

“Ash… thinking of the plan.” Shorter answered. “He thinks, he found how to go back to his body. Once he does so… it will be really simple to find out how to safe Eiji. We are thinking of going tonight…” Shorter nodded.

 

Yuuri should have seemed happy. At least a bit. But why he can’t he feel anything? Is it because Victor is looking at him right now?

 

“You will stay with Eiji here.”

 

“Of course, how else.” Yuuri sighed and left the room.

 

Eiji told Nikiforov and Wong that he knows the truth. He couldn’t have hidden it anyway. But more than solving everything, Eiji wanted to help Yuuri… not to ruin him even more.

 

“Professor Nikiforov… I think you two should talk. Before tonight. Even if Yuuri is hurt. He cares about you more than you think… and more than he will show now.”

 

“I agree with Eiji.” Shorter raised his hand like this would be the voting. Victor was just an inch from rolling his eyes, probably first time after long years.

 

“You would agree with everything he says… Yuuri doesn’t want to talk with me. He was the one who asked to stay away from him. It’s not like I can blame him.” Even without Eiji telling it, there was nothing more Victor wanted now than to talk with Yuuri.

 

But how? How to get close to him? Yuuri kept the cold distance. But to be honest, Victor would be lying if he said, that he hasn’t thought about it before coming here. And tonight they will try to bring Ash back. It’s risky… they should talk. First time in his life, Victor was a little bit afraid. Yuuri made him ran through so many emotions that he never thought he could feel.

 

All day Victor tried to find the chance to talk. Yuuri came out of the room just once but didn't even eat anything. Just like during breakfast, he stared at the table for a few seconds and then left. If this continues, Eiji won't be the only one they need to treat.

 

 

 

In the evening Yuuri couldn’t stay in that room even a second longer. He needed fresh air. Since the boy thought that Eiji is with Ash, he decided not to bother the friend. He just tried to fight with the anxiety himself. But everything has its limits, he needed to get out. Yuuri didn't want to admit, but since they are so close, he might see Victor. Why he is trying to hurt himself like a masochist? There was no rational answer.

 

Before it turned completely dark, Yuuri left his room and went down the stairs, then opened the main door. It was the first time he left this building. Seriously from the outside, it was looking like a simple summerhouse. Completely different from the impression of some castle inside. Magic, right? There were times when Yuuri would have been really fascinated by this. The boy followed the path for a little bit and then stopped. They were surrounded by woods and on the left he saw a lake. Looks peaceful. He heard that Victor, Shorter and Ash used to spend all the summers here. Was it fun? Probably Yuuri will never find out.

 

Of course, since it was still January, it was super cold. Too cold to stay outside just with a sweater. There was so much more snow here than in Hogwarts. Yuuri sighed, looking at the frozen clouds coming from his mouth.

 

Yuuri heard Victor coming even before he spoke. How Yuuri knew that it’s Victor? Only his steps can be this graceful. The boy hugged himself around the waist, but not exactly from cold. It seems that his evening's journey ends here. Yuuri turned to go back.

 

“Wait…” Victor asked. So he came here for him.

 

“No,” Yuuri said silently not stopping.

 

“Please… Yuuri.” Victor reached for him and grabbed the sleeve of the sweater.

 

“Let me go...” Yuuri wanted to say this with a clod voice like always, but it trembled in the end. He will be soon betrayed by his own emotions.

 

“I didn’t lie to you about my feelings… Yuuri.” Victor whispered and Yuuri suddenly moved, he stepped back and looked right at Victor.

 

“Seriously? You are lying even now. Victor, I don’t care what you did. I don’t care that you wanted to use me, alright? I am just tired… I just want it to be over. So just leave me alone. I don’t need to hear that you are sorry.”

 

Yuuri hasn’t spoken with him for almost two weeks, but once he started words just came out of his lips. He couldn’t do anything about it. Victor’s blue eyes in this sunset were getting darker and darker, like the expression on his face. He knew that Yuuri’s words might hurt, but it was too much. Because Victor was the one who made him like this.

 

“So then… what you want me to do? Yuuri? I would do anything. To prove you… how much I have changed because of you.” Victor tried to stay strong. It’s much harder to talk with the person who means a lot to you, than fighting against the enemy.

 

“Anything?” Yuuri silently laughed. “Don’t you think you did enough? I don’t need anything… Victor, just…”

 

“I need a chance. Please, Yuuri… I know that no matter how cool you are trying to act, you… are hurt. So let me help.” Victor couldn’t let this go so easily, especially now, when Yuuri didn’t leave him standing here alone after all.

 

“You really would do anything?” he asked after a pause.

 

“Yes.”

 

“Promise?”

 

“Yes.” Victor didn’t even hesitate to answer.

 

“Then promise me… when all of this will be over… when Eiji will be safe and you will put the end to this horrible thing for the experiments with people… promise me that… you will delete my memory.” To be honest, Yuuri was thinking about it already for a while. From all options, this one seemed like the right one.

 

“What?” Victor thought he misheard.

 

“Exactly what I said. You will delete my memory about this magic world like it never happened. I want that. I want to get away from this world. I don’t want to stay a part of it. Not after everything… not after it became so ugly.”

 

“I… what…? I can’t, Yuuri.”

 

“That’s the only way. If you want me to get better, that’s the only thing you can do. I don’t need anything else from you.” Yuuri shrugged, but his voice trembled again. Somehow they with Victor were standing so close to each other. Yuuri didn't even notice how he moved forward. “You already promised to do anything, so…”

 

“Yuuri… I would do anything, but this… this…” Victor lifted his hand and touched Yuuri’s cheek. The boy wanted to move the head, but suddenly he was captivated by Victor’s eyes. Is like some sort of magic was holding him. Just like that time in the hallway. “Do… do you really want that? Forget everything and everyone?”

 

Forget me? Victor wanted to add, but he didn't.

 

“Yes,” Yuuri answered not even giving a second thought.

 

Victor turned his eyes away from Yuuri. So that’s it? So that’s how it will end? Victor selfishly fell in love with Yuuri and now he wants to run away? Leave him? What if Victor can heal his scars? What if he can make him feel better? But Yuuri’s eyes were telling a different story. The silver-haired man tried to find the hope inside them, the silent request for help, but there were no emotions. That’s not the shy boy which he met in the hallway in the middle of the night on his first night in Hogwarts. That’s not the boy who cried hugging him… that’s not even the Yuuri that kissed him. What… what he has done?

 

Suddenly the door opened.

 

“Victor!!!” Shorter ran outside, holding on the head, he could barely hold up on his feet.

 

Nikiforov was about to say something, but all the thoughts disappeared. He looked at the friend, then at the sky and realization pierced through his chest. Oh no… he totally forgot because of everything!!

 

“Yuuri! Run back to the house!”

 

“What..?”

 

“I SAID RUN BACK IN THE HOUSE RIGHT NOW!!” Victor shouted and at the same time catching Shorter, who looked like he is in so much pain. “YUURI!! NOW!!!"

 

This voice woke up something inside. He never heard Victor shouting like that. And not just because of his raised voice, more because of all of the emotions inside it. Yuuri couldn’t disagree. He turned around and ran back, closing the door after himself.

 

“Yuuri?! What happened to professor Wong?? We were in the living room and suddenly he started trembling… I don’t know…” Eiji came from the room together with Ash.

 

“I don’t know… Nikiforov told me to go back home… he shouted… and… I don’t have any idea.” Yuuri couldn't help, somehow it had a bad feeling about all of this.

 

All of them looked through the window.

 

“Shorter… Shorter… did you drink the medicine?” Victor tried to keep him on feet but it was pointless. Shorter was holding on him, and Victor felt how growing nails are slowly ripping his clothes and skin.

 

“I… forgot… I was worried… about… forgot…” Wong couldn’t even speak properly. It was just a matter of seconds now. The full moon was hiding behind the clouds, but the night still came. How they could forget about the upcoming full moon?

 

“Oh… no… Shorter.” Victor hugged the friend a little bit harder. “It’s alright… everything is going to be okay…”

 

“Sorry…” Shorter could barely hold back from screaming, the pain started running through the body.

 

“It’s not your fault. No matter what happens, it’s not your fault… Everything will be alright.” Victor had to say this. It's been so long since they lost control of this. It's obvious that all the latest events had a huge impact on them too.

 

Victor could have done something, but he left the wand in the house. And the worst thing, that Shorter won’t be able to control himself. So… Victor must do something because Yuuri and Eiji are there. Shorter in Victor’s hands yelled from pain and grabbed on the chest. Then Victor heard the first groan. He was just in time to jump back.

 

The transformation was always painful to look at but it's been some time since Victor saw him in so much pain. Because of medicine, Shorter didn't have to feel pain and was able to keep his human mind at nights, also turn back into a human during the day. Now it’s too late. He will have to stay in this form for a week. Shorter cried again and Victor quickly glanced at the house. Yuuri and Eiji were looking through the window. Well, they would have found this out sooner or later anyway. Even from so far Yuuri’s and Victor’s eyes met. Just for a split second, then Victor sighed and turned his head away. There is still so much he couldn't tell to Yuuri. The man just with one breath turned into the silver wolf. The fur's color was just like his hair. Most of the time Victor would choose to turn into a wolf as Animagus. Shorter’s transformation was a little bit longer and of course so much more painful. He was tortuously shouting and holding on hair when the body began to change the shape. Friend’s eyes lost their normal vision. He was already incapable to tell a friend from the enemy.  Shorter was gone.

 

Victor just had one purpose: drag him away from the house. That's why he attacked first. He grabbed on werewolf’s leg until he fell down and started dragging him away. But the worst thing about Shorter tonight was… that he had too much energy. Probably because it’s been a long time since he turned into a werewolf without the medicine. Actually so long, that even Victor forgot how aggressive he can be. The beast groaned and jumped on Victor, instantly letting in teeth into wolf's fur and skin.

 

“Victor!!!”

 

No! Victor wanted to scream. But not from the pain. He heard Yuuri’s voice outside. Why he came?? Victor told him to run! He should have stayed home! Why he doesn't listen? Why he puts life on risk? Yuuri can’t even protect himself!! The werewolf heard the new sound and, of course, became more interested in the boy than some wolf. Shorter turned around and ran towards Yuuri, with those scary sounds coming from his mouth. With the only one purpose - to kill. As the boy on the path was standing frozen, there was no chance for him to survive.

 

Victor just made in time between them. He jumped grabbing the werewolf on the throat. It started to defend himself with the claws, trying to rip the attacker into pieces. Victor let the sound full of pain when one of the nails ripped the skin and werewolf's teeth pierced through his skin. Shorter seized the wolf’s body and threw him across the yard. Victor painfully fell on the side, the falling was so hard, that for a second he couldn’t hear or see anything. He could only think about one thing. He had to get up. He has to. And Victor tried, he tried so hard. The wolf almost unconsciously ran back to the creature and attempted to bite him, but he only saw how Shorter raises his claw to hit him again.

 

Bombarda!!” Someone’s voice shouted and the ear-splitting sound made everything disappear. Something next to them exploded. Probably some area of the ground. It sounded like a bomb. Especially for sensitive ears. What a powerful spell it was!! Victor couldn’t understand where it came from.

 

“Victor!! Wingardium Leviosa!!” Yuuri’s voice reached Victor. He still felt dizzy, but someone was carrying him somewhere. That's the only thing, Victor was able to understand now.

 

“Eiji! Close the door!!” Yuuri made sure, to let Victor’s body, which turned back into a human’s form, on the floor really softly. “Victor? Victor, do you hear me? Oh… No... the blood… Eiji… bring something… please… Victor, Victor…”

 

It seems that sounds came back, even if it was still hard to understand them. The man slowly opened his eyes. Yuuri had covered him with few blankets and now tried to take a look at injuries. To be honest, none of them knew what to do… or where to find medicine. Eiji ran to search for something.

 

“I found it…” Victor murmured when their eyes met.

 

Yuuri’s eyes were full of tears, his hands were trembling and covered in Victor’s blood. That second when Victor was attacked... when Yuuri saw the blood... when he thought that something can take away Victor... Yuuri felt like he was pulled out of the water. Of course, he was almost crying, shaking... the mind got corrupted by terrible thoughts and memories. Just not Victor... just not him...

 

“What… what are you talking about?” He touched Victor's silver hair.

 

Everything Yuuri felt or not felt before now was gone. The cold emotionless feeling melted inside like ice in the spring. Once Yuuri saw Victor outside… once he saw how werewolf grabs on his skin… something inside again throbbed and Yuuri realized that no matter what… he doesn’t want to lose Victor. He can't afford to lose someone else. And Victor… Victor took his heart long ago. Yuuri thought he managed to close emotions and heart, but just this was enough to break all his locks again.

 

“That… side… of you, that I thought I destroyed… I found it.” Victor sighed from relief. Even if Yuuri’s was crying, Victor saw thousands of beautiful emotions inside the boy's eyes and it felt so good.

 

“What rambles are you talking…” Yuuri sobbed, whole trembling in fear. But if Victor was talking, that’s a good sign, right? Yuuri was still touching those silver hair… What he saw just minutes ago was processing inside the head.

 

“Yuuri, I couldn’t find anything! I don’t know where to search! I brought water and towel… professor, can you hear me?”

 

“Yeah, I am fine… don’t worry…” Victor felt a little bit dizzy from that sudden realization, that his Yuuri is here. The shy and soft boy. He even thought that it was worth hurting himself, just to find this out.

 

“In what kind of place you are fine…?” Yuuri’s hands were unstable, so the only thing he was able to do, hold on Victor. Eiji had to clean the blood. They had to see how bad Victor is hurt.

 

“Yuuri… Merlin’s beard… look….” Eiji slowly spoke. He took Victor’s hand and showed it to Yuuri.

 

To be honest, when the friend spoke like this, Yuuri was afraid to see something that might completely drive him insane from fear. But it was different… or maybe from another side, even scarier. Victor’s wounds just in front of their eyes were healing.

 

“What is that…? Is he… turning into a werewolf? Professor?? What we should do??” Eiji even held his breath.

 

Yuuri didn’t know what to think. But probably it doesn’t work that way, right? Or does it? Victor had a lot of bite marks… So… no way. It was first time in Yuuri's life he witnessed something like that. There is no way he could have known.

 

Instead of proper answer Victor silently laughed.

 

“No… no. Don’t worry… it’s because… I am half Veela. The healing magic is inside my blood…” he spoke a little bit sleepy, but the voice was clearer than before.

 

“What…?” Eiji just blinked. He couldn't help just remember when Fox called Victor a Veela and Shorter a werewolf. So he knew. It's the truth after all?

 

Wong is a werewolf? Victor is Animagus? And now half Veela? Eiji and Yuuri just didn’t know if it’s possible to follow all this new information at the same time.

 

“Where is Ash? I thought he was standing there?” Yuuri looked around.

 

“He probably went back to working… he doesn’t like just standing if he can’t be useful. I will go search for him.” Eiji stood up. The boy felt like dropped from somewhere really high. Maybe he already started hallucinating because of the illness? Find Ash was his excuse to leave Yuuri and Victor alone. It didn't seem like the professor's life was in any danger.

 

“Mhm…” Yuuri followed Eiji with his eyes and then went back to Victor, just to realize that he tries to get up. “Hey! What are you doing??”

 

“I need… to go back. My wand is in the kitchen...”

 

“I scared the werewolf... I mean... professor Wong away with spell… I don’t think werewo… professor Wong will come back soon.” Yuuri tried to calm Victor down, he can't go anywhere in this condition. Yuuri was scared of letting Victor go again.

 

“It was you who cast the spell??” Victor still managed to sit, holding on Yuuri’s shoulder. “You… were the one who protected me?” he couldn’t hide the surprise in his voice. He still didn't have time to give it a thought, but definitely, Victor would have guessed that it was Eiji. The spell was too powerful for someone who couldn't cast the spells for so long.

 

“Well… I didn’t even think before doing it… I don’t know how this happened…” Yuuri murmured. It’s not the first time this happened when a lot of emotions goes through him. And now… saving Victor was the only thing he could think about. “I am probably… just… lucky.”

 

“Yuuri!! It means you can do it. You really can.” As an answer to Yuuri’s mumbles, Victor suddenly hugged him and pressed face to the boy’s shoulder. Of course, it was just an excuse to hug him. And even better. Yuuri didn’t push Victor away. Instead of that, he wrapped arms around his waist.

 

“Probably… I don’t know… but…. How about Wong? What to do?” Yuuri asked. What if he injured professor with the spell?

 

“If he really ran away, I doubt he will come back… now Shorter won’t turn back into a human for the whole week… That was stupid of us to forget. Just because there are a lot of things happening at the same time. Poor Shorter…” Victor sighed.

 

Yuuri had to agree. No matter what he has done, it’s not Wong’s fault He can't control it. Yuuri saw in how much pain professor was. No matter what… Wong didn’t deserve it. Of course, Yuuri had a lot of questions. But it’s not the time to ask them now. He couldn’t blame Victor or someone else for hiding this, it was too private. Maybe they were afraid… Yuuri tried to think about what he would do in Shorter’s place, and he couldn’t imagine. One thing for sure, he wouldn't like other people to know. No one can understand what Shorter is really feeling.

 

“You… need to rest. Can you already move?” Yuuri asked. When Victor nodded, he helped him to stand up and they went towards the stairs. Like Yuuri thought, Victor’s room was over there. The last one in the hallway.

 

“It seems that tomorrow I will have to go with Ash… sadly we can’t wait until Shorter returns.” Victor held Yuuri around the shoulders. Deeper wounds were healing slowly. Some of them hasn’t even started healing, there were still bleeding. If only Victor had long hair, probably he would have been already almost healthy. Now it will take all night…

 

“Don’t think about that now…” before climbing the stares, Yuuri glared at the side where Eiji went, but he couldn’t see anything. Probably they are talking with Ash inside the room.

 

The journey through the stairs was painful. For Victor and also for Yuuri because he had to watch how Nikiforov is suffering. Few times they even had to stop. When they reached the second floor, Yuuri felt like they did so much, but it was just halfway through. The other part until the room, didn't look that difficult at first. But Victor felt dizzy because of the pain. A few times he hit into the walls, and since Yuuri had to hold Victor's weight, they were both walking like drunken. Finally, the bedroom was reached. As expected… King size bed and everything else, Yuuri thought that he hasn’t seen anything like that even in movies. This room even had a big balcony. Probably it could be used as dancefloor too.

 

“I will wash up… you also should change clothes. Take anything from the closet” Victor let Yuuri go and grabbed on the table next to him.

 

“Do you need help?” at first Yuuri didn’t even think how this sounds, but when he realized cheeks automatically blushed.

 

“It’s fine… just can you give me your wand? I left mine downstairs.” Victor probably was too tired to think about the secret meaning in Yuuri’s words. That's good.

 

When the boy gave the wand to him, the man slowly reached the bathroom door and went inside. Yuuri sighed. Here it goes again… obviously, he couldn’t hide feelings anymore. Already, when they started talking outside, Yuuri thought how long this will last… he probably wouldn’t have held up any longer. That’s why all these weeks Yuuri tried to stay away from Victor. Just because he knew that if he won't, it will end up like this. Yuuri's heart was devoted to this man. What can he do? No matter how hurt he felt. But Victor regrets, right? He wants to prove it.  He already did this… Victor jumped between Yuuri and Shorter without thinking, right? Just when the boy looked at his hand, he realized that fingers were still shaking from the shock.

 

Yuuri opened the wardrobe. It was full of Victor’s clothes. And more than that… they were soaked in his smell. Yuuri still had Victor's robe in Hogwarts dormitory. And he didn’t want to give it back.

 

Yuuri chose a simple black sweater, maybe because he hoped that Victor will let keep it. The sweater didn’t look very expensive. Yuuri's jeans weren’t that dirty, so he didn’t search for anything else. After changing and wiping hands into the dirty sweater, Yuuri went to the balcony. The boy stopped for a second to listen. He heard water running in the bathroom, so everything must be alright.

 

Wow, this place is really amazing. But if Yuuri had to live here alone, he wouldn’t. Too spacious. He would feel lonely here. Is that’s the reason why Victor, Shorter, and Ash were staying here together?

 

The bathroom door opened, Victor went out just with the bathrobe.

 

“Thank you. You have a really powerful wand, Yuuri." He gave it back.

 

Amazing… Victor probably healed himself with spells. That was another level of casting magic. If Victor had his wand, probably he wouldn’t even get a scratch from Shorter.

 

Yuuri took it back and watched how Victor sits on the couch. The man leaned back crossing legs. Probably he was more tired than he looked like. Of course, a lot of bad things happened to Yuuri, but he couldn’t imagine what it means to get so many injuries at the same time. Or maybe he just couldn't remember. Hm… should he go? Should he stay…? Yuuri felt a little bit embarrassed about his behavior before. He totally lost control, but if he just starts acting cold again, that would be really stupid. Yuuri cares about Victor, he can't change anything.

 

Slowly he came closer and sat next to Victor on the edge on the sofa.

 

“Are you worried about professor Wong?” the boy asked.

 

“Not really… it’s not a first time for him…but  I just remembered something.” Victor turned his head at Yuuri, their eyes met and Yuuri didn’t want to look away anymore.

 

“What?”

 

“The time when I first saw you…”

 

“You mean in the hallway…?” Yuuri almost smiled thinking of that moment when Victor caught him on the first night at Hogwarts. It seems like years passed since then.

 

“No… I first saw you… in that camp.”

 

“Oh right…” Yuuri forgot about it just for a moment. Victor’s voice while saying this was kind of sweet. Yuuri tried to imagine himself bleeding and unconscious because of pain. What is sweet about that?

 

“I ran to you without thinking. I wanted to save you so badly, even if I couldn't explain why… did I fall for you already back then?” Victor slowly reached for Yuuri. Just in these few weeks he missed touching Yuuri so much, that Victor couldn’t hold himself back.

 

Yuuri blushed a little bit. Form Victor’s voice and from his gentle touch, when he reached Yuuri’s cheek with fingertips. Maybe the Yuuri was feeling that these hands are so familiar because it’s not the first time there are touching him? It’s just Yuuri couldn’t remember at first.

 

“Victor… don’t hurt me again… please. You mean so much to me… that’s why it hurts so badly.” Yuuri asked silently, almost begged, even without realizing.

 

“I am sorry, Yuuri… I wish I could say something more… but now I can only think of how you ran to save me just now… why I deserve it? A monster like me? To deserve someone like you? I kept myself asking during these weeks over and over again."

 

“You are not a monster, Victor… what are you saying?” Yuuri didn’t feel how he moved even closer.

 

The boy placed the hand on Victor’s which was lying on his cheek. But when Victor kept looking at him with the same hurt eyes, Yuuri remembered something. Does he have a right to ask this now? Is it okay?

 

 “Victor… you mentioned… something about being half Veela…”

 

“It's a long story…” the man closed eyes for a second.

 

“Do you think that you are monster, because of that?” Of course, Yuuri wanted to know the story, but it was more important to hear Victor’s opinion about himself.

 

“Hmm… well a part of me is. But only with you, it doesn’t feel this way…”

 

“And why is that?” Yuuri couldn’t understand why he is so special. He did nothing. All this time, Yuuri actually thought that he had to be invisible for Victor. That's why Victor's betrayal made sense. The strange part, why something made Victor's change his mind.

 

“At first I couldn’t understand… but it seems that… the magic that comes from me, doesn’t have any effect on you. It feels like… you are with me because you really feel so… You know, Yuuri, you were first who rejected me.”

 

Rejected? Victor can’t even imagine how hard it was to push him away. And still, there was something Yuuri couldn’t stop wondering about.

 

“If I were the first… then how many others there were?” Yuuri asked leaning a little bit forward. Obviously he is not the first for Victor, but still… how many had a chance to be with this man?

 

“I just told you… that I have magic which basically can control people’s mind… and you are asking this?” Victor couldn’t help just laugh. The side, where the wound was the deepest, still hurt from this move.

 

“Are you avoiding the question?” Yuuri couldn’t leave it just like that.

 

“You are the first, that I like… isn’t that enough?”

 

“Maybe….” Finally, Yuuri smiled honestly and his heart raised.

 

Yes, that’s enough to satisfy him. He leaned even a little bit more against Victor’s chest. Why every evening that they are spending together turns to be with so many emotions?

 

Victor kissed Yuuri’s hair and sighed. That’s okay… just for a bit more. He can hold Yuuri in his hands again. There is nothing more he dreamed about. So... just for a few minutes more.

 

“Is… Professor Wong… was always like that?” If Victor didn’t want to answer questions about himself, Yuuri hopped to hear at least about this. “And… you are Animagus??”

 

“So in which answer you are more interested?” Victor hugged Yuuri harder and kept the lips placed on his forehead. Victor just couldn’t resist. He could probably fall asleep like that but… he has to answer for Yuuri. Talking with him is like a blessing right now. He wasn’t the only one Animagus among them… Ash… also…

 

“Oh.. no…” Victor suddenly jumped. “Yuuri… Yuuri, I can't walk fast for now. Can you go to check what Ash and Eiji are doing?”

 

It wasn’t just a bad feeling… more like Victor knew Ash too well. If he had information about something, he wasn’t the one who could wait. Not even for a night.

 

Victor’s desperate voice scared Yuuri a little bit. He couldn’t even ask why. The boy just nodded and quickly walked out of the room. Yuuri went down the stairs and then towards Ash’s room. He opened the door, but it was empty.

 

“Eiji!!!” Yuuri shouted. It didn’t seem like someone walked outside. “Ash!!!” Yuuri slowly went towards the main living room where the fireplace was.

 

There was some green powder on the floor. That second Yuuri just knew what happened, without any further explanation. He quickly ran back to Victor’s room. The man was already standing, with worried eyes. “They are gone, Victor. What to do??”

 

It wasn’t even a question where they went. Obviously, to bring Ash back.

 

Chapter Text

Eiji left Nikiforov with Yuuri in the room and went towards Ash’s place. The boy's hands were still shaking a bit from what he just saw. So many things happened at the same time so it was hard to understand. Just in front of Eiji´s eyes, one professor turned into a werewolf and another happened to be an Animagus. And also half Veela, whose almost deadly injuries just started to heal, like it was nothing. Are they really safe in this place? With these people? What else they might be hiding? For the first time, Eiji started thinking if it’s alright to keep trusting them. Even Ash. After he started spending time with these professors, Aslan changed. Of course, probably he is just worried. He wanted to save Eiji’s life and so on... But Ash was the one, who said that they have to stop keeping secrets from each other. And yet. Eiji couldn't help just feel truly hurt.

 

“Now you are the one who became like this…” Eiji said out loud and stopped next to the opened door.

 

Ash turned head a little bit at Eiji´s side. But just for a second, then went back to reading.

 

“Are you here to complain?” the man silently asked.

 

So that’s how it goes. Yesterday after Ash told Eiji the truth, they haven’t talked much. Ash was worried because Eiji said he needed time. Space. Aslan couldn’t understand what this unpleasant feeling means. Eiji has never pushed him away before. It’s not like he can complain. Ash deserves it. From the other side, Eiji was always next to him, Ash's peaceful oasis. Home, where he always was able to come back. But now Eiji stepped back in order to figure out his thoughts. Until this moment, Ash couldn’t understand how much he was afraid of this exact moment to come.

 

“No.” Eiji sighed. “I just.... never mind.” He turned around to leave.

 

Just a few minutes before, when all of this happened between Nikiforov and Wong, Ash came into the living room and wanted to say something. Then Eiji felt strange hope. He believed that this misunderstanding between them might be quickly solved. As the boy wanted to make this situation better but he didn't know how. It’s not so easy this time. After all, Eiji was the one who pushed Ash away first. Then Wong suddenly began feeling sick and the moment was destroyed. Professor ran out without explanation. Eiji with Ash just followed him not having any clue, what all of this might turn into. Now they have what they have. Of course, Eiji understood why Ash was disappointed. This evening should have been very important for him… and nothing can be done. Eiji thought he might say something to support him, but the situation between them was very uncomfortable. Probably he should just return and help Yuuri with Victor.

 

“Eiji. Wait…” Ash’s silent voice spoke again and at the same second, Eiji felt so relieved that he had to grab on the wall.

 

Without any question, he turned back at the man. Ash was looking at him, piercing with eyes through Eiji’s body. Like the boy would be also transparent.

 

“I know… that you hoped to go tonight… but probably one day won’t hurt.”

 

“Eiji… I counted.” It’s like Ash even didn’t hear the boy’s talk. “One week.”

 

“One week what?” Eiji blinked a few times and stepped forward. Ash’s eyes were telling the worse possible scenery. But Eiji had too many positive thoughts. He simply didn’t want to read the answer from Ash's expression.

 

“You have… one week left. Medicine can’t fight with it anymore… your body is giving up. I counted… I was counting all day, hoping that I made a mistake…” Ash didn’t let his eyes down, so Eiji was able to see how painful it was for him to say this. Obviously, Ash never makes mistakes in his projects and calculations. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be in this situation right now.

 

“Oh.” That’s all Eiji could say. When strange wounds started appearing on the skin, he probably could have guessed this himself. Everything was coming to an end. But Ash just made it clear. What else did Eiji suppose to say?

 

“So It’s not just about me… I need to go tonight. This is the only way to save you. I can still make it in time, Eiji. I can still make it. I know I can.” Aslan tried to keep his voice strong, but Eiji’s face in front of him was too much to handle.

 

The boy couldn’t explain what kind of expression he made, but probably nothing nice. He is dying? For real? And he even knows when? Maybe Eiji shouldn’t be here?

 

“And… how? Nikiforov and Wong are not in the condition to go tonight. What… if you can’t, Ash? Have you ever thought that sometimes… you just can’t?” Eiji’s voice was without any emotions. He spoke but couldn’t understand the meaning of words. Why does Ash think that he can do everything? Maybe this time is really impossible?

 

“No. No, you are wrong. I can. Eiji, it doesn’t matter that you hate me now. But there is nothing more important than you for me. You asked to stay with you… and I only can ask the same. You can’t leave me now.” Ash came closer when Eiji slowly sat down on the spot, where he was standing.

 

He didn’t even have strengths to argue with Ash this time. Otherwise, the boy would have certainly said something. He could never hate Ash. He is also important for Eiji, the same or even more. But now only one thought was inside his head.

 

One week. Just one week. So what now? Go back home? Finally, tell parents? Or maybe just disappear like that? Eiji sighed. Ash's voice merged somewhere in the background. The first time, Eiji felt like he needs to stop being so positive. Just like Yuuri, he should just face reality as it is. Maybe that would be the best for all of them.

 

“Eiji… look at me. I won’t forgive you if you give up now.” Ash kneeled in front of him. So that should scare him now? What difference will it make? Eiji will be dead anyway…

 

He slowly looked at the man. In this dusk room, Ash's eyes seemed almost dark. But Eiji knew their real color. He hoped that one day he will be able to look at them without any fear that he might lose Ash. Eiji hoped that one day, those captivating green eyes will be looking at him. Only at him. What for? Is everything in vain?

 

“Then what should I do, Ash? You just stated the date of my death and you think I can jump around in happiness? What do you want me to do? I really don’t know anymore...” Eiji leaned his head at the wall and just looked at the man in front. If only he could see alive Ash for one more time. If only before everything ends Eiji could touch him for real. The boy knew that if only he gets the chance, nothing else will matter anymore.

 

“So… help me… help me return to my body.” It’s like Ash was not sure about these words. If only he had any other choice, he would never risk sending Eiji to that place. But now there is no other possible way. Eiji is the only one who can do it.

 

“What?” one moment and Eiji was sitting straight. How until this moment the possibility of doing that hasn’t run through his mind. “Am I able… to do so?” The fact itself that for the first time Ash asked Eiji’s help himself, made the boy clear his mind immediately. Right… Ash never thought that Eiji is useless.

 

“As soon as I understood that Victor and Wong won’t be able to go, I came back here and thought about different possibilities. I can’t… force you, because I don’t know what might be waiting for us there… but it’s possible. Victor has prepared the potion and the spell… if… oh… no, what I am saying. No, sorry… I can’t. I can’t make you risk like that…” Aslan started explaining, but then sudden realization that Eiji was still a student; he was ill and that hospital was the last place he wants to be in, made Ash understand what kind of idiotic idea it was. No, he can’t. Victor might be able to go there tomorrow… even if Ash has six days instead of seven is still might work… he probably can make in time. Maybe.

 

“What… wait! First, you give me this suggestion and then suddenly change your mind?? Who do you think I am, a brat? I will do it. You are not forcing me. I just can’t think so fast as you, alright? If this kind of thought would have appeared to me first, I would be the one pointing it out. Let’s do it. Tell me what I have to do…” Eiji slowly stood up, but he already made his mind. And Ash, even if he doesn’t want to, what kind of other option does he have? If something happens, nothing changes. Eiji is already halfway gone.

 

“But…”

 

“At least once, try being selfish! I said I can do it. I trust you. Do you trust me? You said you have a plan. Will it work?”

 

When Ash also stood up, their eyes met and he saw that Eiji’s eyes are full of determination.

 

“Of course, it will work.” there was no doubt about that. Potion structure the spell, everything had to be correct. But since it will be one person instead of two, Eiji will need to do everything faster. Ash knew that Victor and Shorter can hold each other back if something turns wrong. But who will protect Eiji?

 

“Then what? Why you are looking like I am made from glass? I am not dead yet, Ash. Let’s just go, without telling anyone and come back together.” Eiji won’t let this go now for sure.

 

Ash wasn’t sure, should he be fascinated by this courage that Eiji had or should he be scared. Because from aside it sounded like a perfect suicidal plan. No matter that Ash always thought of Eiji as a fragile being, actually, he is so strong. All this time, he was the one protecting Ash from everything and everyone. Eiji kept his secrets until the last moment, he sacrificed everything including his life, just to find out the truth. This boy is not weak at all. Eiji was brave. He didn’t run away back then, neither he is now…

 

“Okay… alright. The potion and the spell are on the table. Here. We must use the fireplace, that I could travel along… Victor connected one of their chimneys to the Floo Network just in case, so it should work. We will land two floors above my ward.” Eiji followed Ash to the table, there was just a small bottle with the transparent liquid and a paper with a spell. Is that all? Really? Eiji didn’t have time to ask how Victor was able to connect fireplaces. For now, he just had trust in Ash’s words.

 

“Okay? How this is working?” Eiji waited for further explanation.

 

“It’s reverse from the actual spell which turned me into this state. First, you have to say the spell and then make me drink this. That should work.” Ash followed how Eiji’s puts the bottle and paper into the deepest pocket.

 

Ash instincts were screaming that he mustn’t do this. He wanted to save Eiji, but instead of that now he will put him even into greater danger. If something happens… Eiji won’t have even a week.

 

“You shouldn’t be hesitating now or it won’t work.” Eiji couldn’t explain how, but he was able to see through Ash’s thoughts. Probably from the facial expression. They spend so much time together, that sometimes, Eiji didn’t even need words to understand what Ash is feeling. “Believe in me, Ash.”

 

“I do…” It was strange for Ash to say these words. It’s like they switched places.

 

“When should we go?” Eiji asked.

 

He wanted to do this before any other feeling overtook him. Honestly, he was afraid of that place to the core, but for Ash… he was ready to go anywhere. And the fact, that he is the only one who might do something about it now, made Eiji feel stronger.

 

“Probably now would be the best time, since the guards are changing… but Eiji… promise me, if anything happens you will run and save yourself.”

 

“Of course not  because we will run from there together.” Eiji nodded.

 

Even if it's going be the last thing he will do, but he wanted to be worth it. There are a lot of things he still didn’t know about Ash. And Eiji wanted to learn all of them.

 

“Alright…” Ash looked at his palm.

 

He wanted to ask something, but maybe that would be too much. And again, there was no stronger connection than the one which existed between them. Eiji touched Ash's opened palm with his fingertips and sighed. Despite all the things that made that big gap appear in their relationship, there was nothing more important than the actual feelings. Eiji loved Ash, with everything he had… and even if the boy asked for space or time, there are things that he can’t change. Eiji smiled from his favorite feeling, which almost felt like a real touch. Until his fingertips and back, he was wrapped into that chilly but so familiar sensation.

 

Everything will be alright. After today, they will have plenty of chances to touch each other. Just a little bit more.

 

Eiji took some green powder for traveling and stepped in the fireplace. Also a little bit with himself for the trip back. Just when some of it fell on the floor from Eiji’s hand, he understood that fingers are slightly trembling. Ash said clearly the address, entering together with Eiji into the green fire.

 

Eiji blinked, they were already in different place, it was pitch dark, so he couldn’t understand the situation they are in.

 

“Wait here…” Ash’s voice spoke next to him, for a few moments Eiji was standing in silence, waiting. Ash was probably checking if the way is clear.

 

“Ash?” Eiji silently called him, when heart started loudly beating inside the chest. Is like his mind remembered the place even before Eiji saw it.

 

“It’s alright, go straight, doors are in front of you,” Ash answered in the same voice.

 

Eiji stepped forward, of course, his steps were slow because of insecurities. He knew they have to move faster, but in this kind of situation, he couldn’t. When fingers finally touched the wooden material he sighed from relief and opened the door. The hallway was empty.

 

“We won’t have a lot of time. Since you are underage, you still have a Mark…” Ash spoke and showed him to wait again.

 

“Oh, you mean they know when I use magic?”

 

Ash nodded and started moving. Eiji followed him from the behind, with his wand ready. The last time, they with Yuuri used some spells, but there was no news about that from Ministry of Magic… can it be that Nikiforov and Wong did something to cover this?

 

There was dead silence in the hallway. Was it the middle of the night or early morning hard to understand. For Eiji, they were going too slow, but Ash was the one leading the way, so he couldn’t say anything. From the other side, probably that’s a good thing since Eiji’s knees were trembling.

 

“Stop…” Ash raised his hand and disappeared behind the corner. Probably he was checking if the way was clear. There was one more floor left. He already did the same few times before, so Eiji was waiting in silence.

 

But this time Ash didn’t return. Maybe Eiji was counting seconds inside his mind too fast? He tried again to count until thirty. But after that Eiji was still standing alone. He didn’t have any other option just to move forward. There could be only two possibilities. Either Ash is waiting for someone to move away and clear the path for them… or…

 

“Ash!” Eiji couldn’t hold the voice back when the boy saw him frozen.

 

Frozen? He wasn’t just floating. Ash’s transparent body was under the spell. Eiji forgot all the safety instructions, he quickly ran to him, but man’s eyes were as dead. He didn’t move. Ash was just there in the middle of the hallway, like some strange ghostly statue.

 

“Ash… Ash!” Eiji felt like something starts strangling him. Without Ash, there is nothing Eiji can do! The boy didn’t even know where the spell came from. He raised the hand and attempted to touch Aslan.

 

“In your place, I wouldn’t do that.” The familiar brute voice spoke.

 

Familiar? Not so much. Eiji heard him only once. When he was visiting his father in the Ministry of magic. That day he came to dad’s office, to look around what it means to work in this kind of place. That day he saw this man. That time he didn’t even directly glanced at Eiji, just gave some order and left. The man, who somehow was related not just with Eiji father's career, but also with the person Eiji loves. The boy actually didn’t know much about Ash's past or the reasons who lead him to this life, but obviously, Golzine man didn’t come here just to great them. 

 

“You think I am an idiot, boy? You think I wouldn’t understand if my own son comes to a place like this?” Golzine's voice was disgusting.

 

It’s like he was talking with sarcasm, but at the same time, he was dead serious. Just seeing him, made Eiji want to run away and never look back. But he couldn’t leave Ash here. No way. Not just the voice, his appearance was shouting what kind of man Golzine is.

 

“What have you done to him?” Eiji tried to be brave. For Ash. For himself.

 

“Where I have seen you before…” Golzine just for a second seemed a little bit interested. Then he just thought that it’s not that important. He actually didn’t care from where this punk came or who he is. One way or another, Eiji just gave him what he wanted. Ash’s soul.

 

Everything was in vain. So they knew everything… they perfectly knew when Eiji appeared here. Probably as soon as they stepped out of the fireplace. Eiji could just silently beg, that it would be impossible to find out where they came from. Probably Nikiforov or Wong would know what to do in this kind of situation, but Eiji just felt like he was fooled, no… not by Ash. Just by himself. He dared to believe that everything will be easy.

 

“I have never seen you." Eiji lied. "But I know who you are. I know what you have done to Ash…” Eiji wished he could have trusted his words, but it was only a guess. Ash didn’t have a chance to tell him…

 

“You don’t know anything, boy… Probably Nikiforov and Wong send you as bait. You poor little thing. So where they are? Hiding somewhere?” his voice was empty. And even if Golzine was talking with Eiji, his eyes were pointed at Ash. It’s like he was preparing to eat him. “I guess I will have to make them come out. In their type of game. Let’s see if you really mean that much to them. Or you are nothing, like everyone else.”

 

Some things for Eiji were clear. First, Golzine wouldn’t believe that he came here alone, also he didn’t have any idea, that Eiji was the one who was forced to drink potion last time. The only thing that Golzine guessed was the fact that Nikiforov and Wong have something to do will all of this. But even here he was wrong. Who would believe that a kid would come here alone?

 

Eiji lifted his wand. No matter what Golzine is planning to do, Eiji won’t give up without a fight. But the old man didn’t even move his ass, he half sighed half laughed from this brave Eiji’s reaction.

 

It would be dumb to think, that this boy is alone here, probably everyone else is waiting somewhere behind.

 

Eiji should be ready, he should stand facing a wall with his back, to see everything around. Just to be ready for what it’s coming.

 

But he couldn’t. There was no way he knew what kind of tricky magic they are using. One lazy Golzine's move with the finger and Eiji felt like something is dragging him towards the floor. If he was just a little bit healthier, probably he could have resisted, but now tired body gave up too easily. And still, the last thought together with the painful moan was Ash. Eiji couldn’t leave him here. He just can’t.

 

Suddenly the boy opened his eyes, he was in the ward. The light was on and someone was sitting on the bed. Staring at him. Those eyes.

 

“Ash…?” Eiji weakly murmured and tried to get up from the floor, the head was spinning. He saw some blood on the floor, it was coming from his nose. He is in Ash’s ward? What he is doing here? How?

 

The man slowly got up from the bed and went towards Eiji. All his stiff and unnatural moves gave a clear hint, that his soulless. Nothing has changed.

 

Somebody had to tell him to wake up. But who? Is there someone else in the ward, Eiji didn't have strengths to look around. Although he tried to get up again, hands were too weak to hold the body. The chest was moving fast and irregular, he was sweating and shivering.

 

“Ash…” Eiji spoke again when the man stopped next to him. Here he is. So close… maybe instincts told Ash to come closer and help? Maybe Ash’s body just can’t ignore someone in the same room? Eiji managed to lean against the wall. He tried reaching for Ash with his hand. If only he helps Eiji to get up…

 

Eiji was too exhausted to think of what just happened. He could feel that a bottle was still inside his pocket, they probably didn’t know about that. Also, Eiji's wand was lying just next to him. Ash stretched his hand, but instead of Eiji he leaned forward and took the wand. Eiji was just in time to grab on Aslan's sweater sleeve. Touch. Heart painfully bumped inside the chest.

 

“Ash… it’s me…” somewhere deep inside, Eiji knew that Ash can’t understand. But he said without thinking. Because how… how he can’t recognize him? It’s Eiji. He came back, as promised, right?

 

Ash's eyes were powerful but emotionless. They were calm, but at the same time held no warmth, just impression of endless cold. Eiji tried to call him, but obviously, there was no point. For a second Ash glanced at Eiji’s trembling fingers on his clothes and then raised the fist.

 

Touch. Their first touch. No matter what was happening, Eiji never imagined their first touch to be like this. The boy didn’t want to, but he moaned from the pain when he felt punch on the face with the huge force of his beloved hands. If the hatred coming from the Ash would be visible the air would have been scarlet. But instead of letting him go, Eiji just grabbed on Ash’s sleeve harder. Ash didn’t need to repeat the move to make the boy cry, the bloody tears started running even before Eiji understood what will happen. Ash didn’t stop. He straddled Eiji’s body and leaned forward. He didn’t breathe in the air nor he tried to catch Eiji’s eyes and see how much he is suffering. Ash’s body was like a robot, solder, just doing what he was told. The sudden movement again, with so much violence with every blow. He hit Eiji’s face and head again, again, and again… until Ash's knuckles became red from their both blood. Ash probably didn't realize that he can use the wand which was lying again on the floor. Or maybe he did just what he was told. Shed his hatred for the world on Eiji’s body.

 

Did Eiji ever think that he will actually be killed by Ash? No, not even once. Not even that time when the man said, that he was the one who created the potion. Eiji always through of Ash as his savior. Even now, while chocking by the blood and gasping from pain, with beggings coming from his mouth. Eiji kept repeating to himself, that it’s not Ash's fault. Sadly, the boy's hands were too heavy to do something about it. So he just kept holding on Ash, because it was the only and last thing Eiji could do.

 

Eiji imagined… he imagined that all of this was different. He opened heavy eyes when Ash stopped. Eiji's body wasn’t even flinching anymore. The boy could only poorly see with one eye and it was pointed at the place where their bodies were touching.

 

The touch was all he needed. It had to be different. Even if it will be a lie, Eiji wanted it to be this way. He wanted to be drowned in that sweetness of their body connected, of the real, actual touch… of that moment when there will nothing who can separate them.

 

“A…sh…” he barely could say his favorite word. The punch again. Eiji tried to take in the air, the last drop around him. He is holding on him… holding so close. The boy tried to move, the last move he could possibly do and with a finger. Just with a very tip, he touched skin on Ash’s wrist. Where is it? The feeling? Where is his favorite feeling when a million raindrops run through is the body?

 

But there was nothing, only a cold skin of a man that Eiji didn’t know. That probably was the piece of a puzzle which made him break into shreds. Eiji’s fingers let Ash go, his hand fell on the chest and he sighed. The boy couldn’t feel any part on his body, except for the pain in the heart. Their first touch. It’s a lie… it’s a lie… it was different… it was different.

 

“Kill him, Aslan… my boy.” A loud voice spoke in the room. Disappointed voice. Was it just Eiji’s hallucination or maybe someone was watching them all this time? He perfectly heard how the door closes when someone left. Probably they had enough fun watching from the corner. There was nothing interesting to see.

 

Will Ash hit him? Or use the wand? Does it matter? But there was one thing. The last one, Eiji had to do. No matter what, if the day comes, when Ash will be back to his body, he will never forgive himself. Of course, he won’t… that’s why Eiji, form the bottom of his heart, even without seeing the favorite color of Ash's eyes, wanted to remind him.

 

“Come… Ash… I told… I told… you that I will… come… back... for you.”

 

He expected to get a punch again for these words Or even for the sound he made, since this Ash even if he heard, couldn’t understand the meaning. Or it’s just what Eiji thought. Instead of a strong punch, Ash’s fist stopped on Eiji’s skin, just next to the jaw. For some reason, he didn’t hit.

 

Ash remembered. The words. It just as he remembered and reacted to Blanca’s voice… even if for this Ash Eiji was unfamiliar, but he remembered that promise he made. The color of Eiji's voice, when he said this last time. Maybe… maybe somewhere deep inside Ash was also waiting.

 

Eiji’s other hand, which was lying on the floor slowly moved. He started reaching for the wand. To end suffer. Which ones? Probably both. The boy pressed the end of the wand to Ash’s leg. And the man suddenly jumped away with fear. Eiji didn’t even have to use the spell. Ash’s body reacted to the wand pointed at him. It was already an instinct. Ash was afraid of this thing. Are they using spells to torture Ash? Or making him to torture others? Eiji wasn’t sure.

 

His movements were slow and Ash could finish him anytime, but as Eiji was holding the wand, the man didn’t move from the spot. Funny thing, since the boy was sure that he wouldn’t be able to cast any normal spell. Eiji would never be able to hurt Ash. Eiji came her to save Ash. Save. Save. Save Ash.

 

With the other hand, Eiji finally reached the pocket. When he took out the paper with the spell, because of shaking hands and poor vision, the letters were unreadable. And yet, letter by letter Eiji tried to figure out the words. Silently. Sooner or later he will have to read it or at least he will end up trying to do that. Eiji wanted Ash to know, that he tried to do everything, that he didn’t give up easily. The man on the other side of the room slowly sat down on the floor and covered himself with hands from fear. Ash's body tried to protect itself. It just knew that every time, when someone holds the wand, the torturing feeling comes with it. It’s not an actual pain that Ash was feeling. There were no emotions inside him, but the body itself knew that it hurts. Animal instincts. Like a child, Ash hid the head under palms and sat in silence, while Eiji’s lips slowly started moving.

 

All of these words were unknown to him. Until the last one. But Eiji knew how to pronounce them and it was enough. When he finished reading, the boy sighed. He closed eyes for a second, still pressing the wand in his hand. He didn’t have much time, anybody could come in to check up if Ash finished what he had to do. And if anyone sees Eiji alive, they probably will start torturing Ash for real. Just thinking about it, Eiji got a little bit distracted from the pain. He can’t let this happen…. Didn’t Ash suffer enough? But what Eiji should do? How can he reach him from so far?

 

Eiji turned on his side and spit the blood from the mouth, as much as I could. Eiji could feel that there is more, but he had to save energy for the moves, not for himself. Somehow legs refused to listen, so Eiji didn’t have any other option just crawl. The face was like one big wound and the boy bearly understood what he was doing. The doors were just next to him, so he could run away. But where he would go? Right in the hands of the enemy? Even if he didn’t succeed with the spell, Eiji wanted at least to end everything in those hands which… would never hurt him, if only they knew what is happening. Eiji sounded now like insane, going back to the one who has beaten him to this state. And still holding on with his elbows Eiji moved forward.

 

“Oh… shit…” he sighed and stopped for a second when the huge amount of pain went through his body. Everything until the last cell was screaming for him to give up or at least turn back. Eiji pressed his sweaty and bloody forehead to the cold floor. He can’t. He can’t. He can’t give up. Not now, not here. Not until he tries.

 

“Ash…” he murmured, just a few centimeters away. Literary even if he wanted, Eiji couldn’t move more. “Please… Ash… I am begging you…” the voice wasn’t strong at all, but the man in the corner just covered himself even more. And all of this, just because Eiji took wand in his hand? What those bastards have done to Ash?? “I won’t hurt you…” he tried to say it, but it was the same as Eiji talked to himself.

 

Eiji wanted to hug Ash. He wanted Ash to share all of his fears. Eiji wanted to take all bad feelings from Ash with himself, wherever he will be gone after this. Somehow Eiji finally managed to lift heavy body at the same time groaning from the pain. The boy grabbed on Ash’s pants, which on that exhausted body looked like a sack.

 

“Damn… everything… Ash… damn you too…” Eiji cried and shouted from the feeling, which was breaking all his bones and shredding throat. The heart pulsated inside the chest and the huge wave of shudder took the breath away when he tried to lift himself a little bit more. Eiji’s body just fell on Ash, like some sort of shield. “Drink. Drink this. JUST DRINK!!” he shouted desperately, not just because he felt pathetic, but because there was no way he could avoid the pain anymore.

 

And he couldn't understand why. Or how. But Ash reached for the bottle in Eiji’s hand. He took it and opened, Eiji instantly fell back until his back uncomfortably leaned to the wall. That sucks… probably Ash listened to the voice because he shouted at him… Eiji shouted and pointed the wand. Like those bastards… he made Ash into a doll who listens to orders. Nothing more. Even if Ash hands were still and didn’t tremble, Eiji saw his eyes. Wide like a child’s, in color of the green forest, just touched with the drop of sun the early morning. Eiji wanted to apologize, but... probably there is no way he can speak again.

 

Ash pressed the bottle to the lips and drank all of the liquid. With Aslan's move, Eiji heart almost stopped for a second. After this, his hand automatically let the wand go. It loudly fell on the floor. Now Ash can beat him. Beat him or kill him. Ash can do whatever he wants. It doesn’t matter. Eiji felt like finally there was nothing more he could have done. Even if the door opens now and someone comes in, everything is over.

 

Ash was just sitting with the bottle in his hand and closed eyes, like thinking about something. Maybe expecting that the wave of pain will cross through the body. But somehow the man seemed a bit different, maybe more relaxed? Or at least that’s what Eiji wanted to think. He felt sleepy and dizzy and too tired to be thinking about the pain. There was simply too much of it to handle.

 

Eiji sighed and moved fingers a little bit. Even if it was a silent move, but at the same time Ash opened his eyes like he just heard it. He pointed them at Eiji in front. Maybe Ash will try to beat him again? This time, there is no reason for him to stop. Eiji won’t be able to reach the wand. Ignoring bubbles of blood coming from his mouth and loud respiration, Eiji again moved fingers towards Ash. If only he could grab his sleeve again. Just to hold, while everything turns cold around. Ash also slowly moved his hand. But in the way, like he was not sure what he is doing. Just a little bit more. Eiji even managed to take a deeper breathe when there was nothing more just one inch to overcome. His peace, it’s almost here, even if it will be just a bit of stardust he will get to touch. Finally.

 

The slamming sound broke everything and the disgraceful green light enlightened the room.

 

Avada Kedavra!!”

 

“EIJI!!!!!”

 

Here it is. The voice, Eiji was waiting for. The real one. Ash came back.

Chapter Text

Ash’s jumped in order to protect Eiji without thinking. Before or after the spell was cast, Ash couldn’t tell. After all the time, spent just half existing, the man was almost waiting for that useless feeling to come. The moment when he will just go through Eiji like an air. But it didn’t happen. Ash’s body lied on Eiji like a shelter from all disasters.

 

“Eiji…” he looked at boy’s face. From this point, because of the blood and wounds, it looked like the worse possible case of this situation. “Eiji…” Ash’s voice trembled again from this combination of letters, but nothing changed.

 

Aslan knew what happened just now, but he didn’t want to accept the truth. He also perfectly knew what is going on and that he finally returned to the body. All memories from two separate lives, he was living, merged together. But the huge wave of self-destructive feelings was washed away by the view next to him. It’s not true. It’s not true. Eiji can’t be gone.

 

Ash slowly turned his head to the side and saw a body next to the door. There was a dead man on the floor. His eyes were opened wide, as made from glass, lips still a little bit open. He died on the instant. Obviously, it wasn’t an act, but Ash found himself slowly standing up. Just to be sure? Not just because of it.

 

He is standing on the floor. His body is held by two legs. What a strange and powerful feeling it is. It’s not that easy as it seems at first. To walk. You have to move every muscle and lean down with the whole body. So many things to do at the same time, just for the sake to move forward! Floating as the ghost was so much easier.  And still, somehow this strong gravity feels a way better than being light as a feather. He couldn’t feel for so long and now there is just too much of everything. Stomach was itching, but not from the hunger. This feeling was disgusting and Ash could almost taste a sour tang inside the mouth. Every last cell of his body heated up as he took a deep breath in the lungs. Even the air here stinks because of this sudden anger that Aslan couldn’t control. Ash stepped one more time and another. He leaned forward and grabbed on the dead body, wrapped fingers around his neck. He was able to feel bones under the skin. There was no life, no pulsating heart. Nothing that Ash could do, to take revenge. And still, he opened mouth and let some strange sound. It doesn't seem like his voice at all. It was hoarse from such long silence; Ash wasn’t sure how to use it anymore. But he didn’t need to speak, the scream was enough. Aslan lifted man’s head, still holding on the neck, and hit it at the ground.

 

Why? Why? If Ash wouldn’t be strangled by tears, he would have screamed into that face. Why him? Why you just didn’t kill me? Why you had to use him? It could have been anyone, but why it had to be him. Ash again smashed man’s head against the floor. Like this would change something.

 

“Oh, no. Eiji!” the voice appeared suddenly, but Ash couldn’t lift his head to see the source. Not now, not until this rat wakes up and takes responsibility for what he has done.

 

“Yuuri, wait! Don’t go closer… Aslan doesn’t understand. He might hurt you.” someone else answered.

 

“But Eiji… did Ash do this to him???”

 

“I don’t know… stand back!!” Victor quickly pushed Yuuri behind his back, when Ash finally lifted the head letting the corpse go.

 

This man. Aslan’s eyes were scanning Victor, trying to figure out how much he missed. At the same time adding new information, he learned about Victor from a different perspective. Behind Victor’s back, there was Yuuri. That boy… Ash remembers him well. He was the one dying in the camp. The one who lived instead of Ash. Yuuri… Yuuri… Eiji’s friend.

 

It was so confusing. His memories, from the same time, but different view. Ash took a deep breath. Both men were staring at him, waiting for Ash to attack any moment. Attack? He doesn’t want to… he just… he just wants to understand. Why? Why did this happen? He felt so lost. Ash let his head down feeling how something wet falls down from his eye. Tear? Is that it?

 

“Aslan…?” Victor stepped closer, showing for Yuuri to wait behind.

 

So much time has passed since Victor saw Aslan’s real body. All the time, when they broke in here with Shorter, Victor never entered the ward. Or he stayed as far away as he could in the corner. Was he feeling guilty? Embarrassed? Scared? Ashamed? Maybe everything at the same time. He couldn’t make himself to see Ash. Because Victor couldn’t do anything about that situation. So after two years, he is finally so close and yet it doesn’t feel that strange. Actually… under those Ash's hands covered by blood, Victor saw how fingers are trembling.

 

“Aslan??” Victor called him again stepping even closer and then the man raised the head.

 

It took just a second to see life in his eyes. Not an empty look blinded by frozen mist. Victor silently gasped and grabbed Ash in his arms. He just told to stay back, but Aslan was like a brother to him. Maybe it was just a hallucination, side effect because Victor really wanted to see Ash coming back? Hard to believe that they succeeded after so long, in the most spontaneous way possible.

 

For Yuuri Victor’s interaction with Ash seemed like a silent confirmation that there is nothing to be afraid of. It didn’t seem like Ash was about to attack them. And the path until there was cleared by Victor. So for some time, they shouldn’t be disturbed by anyone. Yuuri quickly rushed to Eiji and kneeled next to him. What a horrible view. Even Victor, which was bitten by werewolf didn’t look that awful as Eiji right now. What to do?

 

“Eiji?” Yuuri leaned a little bit forward and touched boy’s hand, probably the only place which wasn’t covered in blood. But he didn’t move. Nothing happened “Please... Eiji.”

 

Suddenly someone screamed, Yuuri turned his head and saw that Ash is standing with a covered face. He was completely leaned against Victor. It was a mystery how Victor in such poor condition was able to hold on his feet so well. Not mention the fact, that he had to cast a high-class spell to break through their path to Ash’s ward.

 

“Aslan… it’s alright now. It’s over…” Victor tried to hold him still because Ash’s body was sliding down.

 

Yuuri wanted to help, he wanted to understand what the hell has happened. To Ash, to Eiji… who is responsible for all of this?

 

“He… killed…”

 

It’s was barely understandable what Ash said. Also, his voice was strange. Yuuri saw that he is still holding on Victor. Is he feeling weak? Wait. Ash spoke. Yuuri stared at the man, trying to figure out how is that possible. Could it be, that they actually succeeded to bring Ash back??? It's really possible??

 

“Yuuri, is Eiji breathing?” Victor looked over Ash’s shoulder.

 

“He…” to be honest, Yuuri was very afraid to check. And he wasn't sure how to do it.

 

Eiji’s face was a mess, lips opened just a little bit and Yuuri was never good at searching for a pulse. He slowly leaned forward and pressed the ear against Eiji’s chest.

 

“He… is… he is alive! I can hear his heart beating!” Yuuri quickly looked back and sighed from relief. Of course, Eiji’s situation was really bad, but there was hope.

 

“What?” It’s like suddenly someone has pressed a button inside Ash. He stepped back from Victor and a moment later he was kneeling on the other side of Eiji. “Are you sure?” he was too scared to check himself.

 

“Yes…” For Yuuri, it was really strange. To speak with Ash.

 

Human Ash… he is not transparent. And his movements were different from the last time. They weren’t like poorly calculated some wrong mathematic formula. Does Ash understand that he is not a ghost anymore? It’s like he hasn't touched Eiji because he thought that he won’t be able to.

 

“I know we all feel confused, but we need to go back. Yuuri, can you lift him?” Victor quickly looked back at the corridor.

 

That’s a good question. Their height was similar, probably weight too. Victor will have to defend them if something happens. And Ash look was still too lost to do something. Yuuri just nodded and hugged Eiji’s body. For his own surprise, it was so much lighter than he expected. It’s probably because of the illness. Still, Yuuri wasn’t that strong. He will have to pull him.

 

“Okay, I will cover you.” Victor came closer, Yuuri heard how hard and irregular his breathing is. Victor was giving his last strengths for this. Yuuri told him not to come, but there was no way, Victor would let him go alone. “Aslan, if you could…”

 

“Yes.” He stood up, holding Eiji’s wand in hand. Ash breathed out the air and softly touched Eiji’s head with the wand.

 

Yuuri didn’t know what to expect, but suddenly friend’s body became even lighter. Magic? Is that what Ash just did? What kind of genius he is? It’s has been just a little bit more than a few minutes since they came. Then Ash was looking completely broken. But now he is able to cast this kind of spell?

 

Yuuri wrapped hands around Eiji’s body a little bit stronger and lifted until he was able to throw friend over the shoulder. Probably it’s not very good desition, but let’s hope they won’t take that long to reach the exit.

 

Victor was going first. Yuuri caring Eiji in the middle and Ash behind them. Yuuri was walking slowly, but loudly. On the other hand, if he wouldn’t hear how Ash is breathing, there would be impossible to tell that someone is behind them. And his breathing… it’s like he was in pain.

 

The path was clear. Victor did his job well. Yuuri didn’t have any idea what kind of spell the man used. The moment, when they stepped from the fireplace and were attacked, Victor hugged Yuuri around the waist and said few really difficult words. Then some strange mist surrounded them. When it disappeared everyone was lying on the floor except them. Yuuri was afraid to ask was it the Dark Magic. But he couldn’t blame Victor. At least not this time. Let’s just hope spell will last long enough for them to escape.

Yuuri almost couldn’t remember the last time he was in this place. Probably because he was nearly unconscious because of the pain. What kind of institution this is? Last time Blanca said, that it's in Muggle world. Where exactly?

 

“Aslan, stop!!!” somebody shouted and all of them froze already next to the door.

 

Yuuri’s legs were trembling. He won’t be able to hold Eiji any longer. While walking Yuuri tried to make sure that friend’s head wouldn’t be let down because he could choke on blood. That’s why caring Eiji became even more difficult.

 

Yuuri turned head because the new voice was creepy familiar. One moment and he dropped Eiji's body as some doll. Good that Victor was in time to catch him. Both of them fell on the ground. But Yuuri couldn’t do anything, what he saw made all his body numb.

 

Arthur was standing at the very top of the stairs, holding on the wall. He was probably also caught by Victor’s spell, but some snakes just don’t give up so easily.

 

“Didn’t you hear the order? Kill them!” He ordered silently but confidently than he saw Yuuri behind Ash. “Oh… do you ever die? You should know, dear Yuuri, how bodies like his work. Aslan won't listen to you. He is my slave.” he tried to laugh, but not so successfully because of the pain.

 

Ash was looking in front for a second then stopped Yuuri with a sign and sighed. Burning rage hissed through his body like deathly poison, screeching a demanded release in the form of unwanted violence. Ash knew that now they don’t have time for this and still that irritating voice played its part. Ash heard it too many times. All those things Arthur made him do… and he will never stop. Ash slowly turned back at the man and pressed Eiji’s wand harder between fingers.

 

“What the hell are you doing?! I told you to-“

 

He stopped in the middle of the sentence when his and Ash’s eyes met. Yuuri saw something in Arthur’s eyes which reflected his own feelings. Fear. Man’s face has changed in a few seconds. The difference from this Ash anger and the one which was forced against Eiji was obvious. Now he was perfectly aware of his actions.

 

“I am not your fucking slave…” Ash’s voice pierced the silence and came together with the blue light from the wand, which hit Arthur right in the chest. The effect was strange. It’s like in front of their eyes something turned the temperature down. Arthur’s body not just froze. It became like a real glass statute which could be easily shredded even by a light smash.

 

“Ash! No!” Yuuri grabbed on Aslan’s hand. “For Eiji… you are not like this.” To be honest, Yuuri didn’t know what kind of person Aslan is for real, but the situation a little bit changed. Within these few minutes, Victor was able to drag Eiji’s body outside. It might be their only chance to get out.

 

Even if Yuuri didn’t want to see anything more than the death of that bastard, but this time there were more important things. Eiji’s name worked like magic for Ash, he turned around, as if he remembered that the boy must be lying somewhere here. Victor was standing outside holding Eiji.

 

“Hurry!!” he shouted, reaching for Yuuri’s hand. Yuuri pushed Aslan first and for a second turned back just to see, if Arthur is not chasing them. Instead of him, Yuuri saw another man, but he wasn’t doing anything. Not even holding the wand. Just looking at them with the dead eyes. Soulless.

 

Griffin..?

 

Yuuri wasn’t sure because that second his fingers touched Victor’s and the air around them was dragged in.

 


 

 

Eiji never thought that death might be so fast. And not even painful. Well, despite that all his body was in pain back then, but the end itself was very peaceful. A flash of green light, his favorite color. Just Eiji’s beloved voice calling out his name and that’s it. Then it was dark. It’s like he fell asleep but without any dreams. Just stopped existing because it didn't matter anymore. Eiji never wanted to die, but now he understood that there was nothing to be afraid of. Really. Fear is just a human’s creation. In this peaceful world, it doesn’t exist. There is nothing to be worried about.

 

But Eiji also never thought that he will be given a chance to open his eyes again. They were heavy and the calm feeling with every second was melting away. He blinked a few times. It didn’t hurt but still was a bit uncomfortable. The whole body felt numb like he hasn't used it for some time. It shouldn’t be like that. Eiji took in some air and breathed out. He felt a bit dizzy as he had too much sleep. Apparently, that was the truth. He is not dead, right? But then where is he? It’s a room in Victor’s summerhouse. Not just room. It’s Ash’s bedroom! Eiji knew this place well, also this bed. Even if he didn’t have a chance to lie down on it before.

 

The boy suddenly jumped and looked around. The place changed. The floor wasn’t covered by papers anymore, but Eiji saw that there are some new things on the table and a few opened books. Despite that, he was alone in the room.

 

What happened? He remembered the pain. And Ash. He remembered Ash’s voice calling him. Eiji wanted to touch him, but something interrupted and then there was just a green light. Why? Why he is alive? That was a killing spell! And Ash? What happened to Ash? Eiji quickly got up and was just about to jump off the bed when the door opened.

 

The blonde man entered the room, holding a book in one hand and a glass of water in another. He closed the door behind him and stepped forward. He perfectly knew where to go because he didn’t even lift up his eyes from the reading. Probably he would have just passed through Eiji.

 

“Ash?”

 

It should have sounded like a calling, instead came out as a question. Is this really him? Eiji remembered his empty wide eyes, how he was trembling in the corner, covering head like a child. This man was nothing similar. It’s like Eiji knew him because the features were the same, but at the same time, he didn’t. A human. Not just a lonely lost soul anymore.

 

Finally, Ash stopped, the book fell off his hand when eyes turned at Eiji, who was sitting on the edge of the bed. Obviously, Ash wasn’t prepared. He knew that sooner or later Eiji will wake up but secretly hoped to have one more day to prepare. How to face him after everything? He didn’t have a clue.

 

Ash had time to have a good look at Eiji, while he was sleeping. Of course, there wasn’t even mark left on his body, Victor made sure to heal him. Still, it couldn’t change the fact, that Ash was the one who made them. That’s why while watching at Eiji sleeping, Ash didn’t touch him. He had some sort of paranoid feeling that he might hurt Eiji again. Instead of that Ash just observed all those features, that were so well known for him, but Ash has never looked at Eiji with these eyes before. It felt like the first time. Eiji was irresistible beautiful and not just this. He was everything that Ash was missing and what he will never have. After what happened in the hospital, Ash was sure. What Eiji has done for him was not just a sign of love or bravery. All his movements were full of hope, Eiji sacrificed himself because he believed in Ash. Eiji was able to believe in good like no one else will be able to.

 

“Hey…” Eiji tried to smile, but his lips started to shiver so much, that he barely succeeded. Ash was looking a lot healthier than that time in the hospital. Of course, he is alive after all. Finally. Eiji didn’t ask for gratitude or something in return he did this not just because of Ash. Also, because of himself.

 

Ash not so very confidently but stepped closer Eiji. While watching him coming towards, Eiji wanted to jump and run. He wanted to wrap hands around Ash’s neck for the first time. But Ash’s beautiful eyes were telling a different story. Eiji perfectly knew what it means. He didn’t want to hear it, that’s why he remained so calm. Ash stopped just a few steps away, with that painful distance. He won’t come closer.

 

“Hey, Eiji…” Ash answered. He saw how Eiji bites the lower lip and lets the head down. Is he afraid? Aslan wouldn’t blame him. Maybe he doesn’t even want to be in the same room?

 

“You have cut your hair…” Eiji spoke again after a few minutes.

 

So awkward. Finally, when he could speak freely, Eiji didn’t have any idea what else to say. He remembered that Ash's hair was a bit longer. Nobody took care of him. He was lonely and probably felt so cold. But why this distance now suddenly hurts even more than the one they had in the hospital? Because Eiji knew that back then Ash couldn’t control his actions and now he can, but still decided to stay away? Why?

 

Just when first drops of tears fell on Eiji’s palms he understood that they are transparent. Just normal tears, there was no blood.

 

“It’s working as I see… Good to know.”

 

That so cruel from Ash's side. Eiji felt so stupid because he was sure, that when he wakes up, Ash will be here, lying next to him, cuddling. They will hug each other and drown in that amazing feeling of warmth. They will take back for all those two years of platonic relationship. But what is going on now? Nothing. Nothing is happening. So that’s the reality. Did Ash’s feelings disappear as soon as came back to his body? Maybe he doesn’t even like Eiji anymore. Just like when they met for the first time.

 

“The medicine? You made it?” Eiji also decided to act like this. If Ash wants to. The boy quickly wiped tears away. If everything was just an illusion, there is no point to cry.

 

“Yes… you will have to drink it for a week or so. Most of the parts of your body were already badly damaged, but… it can heal you. It’s going to be alright, so don't cry.”

Eiji wasn’t looking at Ash anymore, it was just painful. Does Ash think that Eiji is crying because of the health? What stupid man he is. And why Eiji doesn’t feel happy? Maybe if he would be sick Ash would love him? Eiji didn’t want him to feel guilty. But from the other side, maybe it's the only connection they still had.

 

“Where is Yuuri?” Eiji asked.

 

Suddenly it hurt so much to stay here, that the boy didn’t want anything else, just to find a sense of peace for a bit. Try to convince himself about this cruelty reality, where Ash doesn’t love him. Where everything that happened between them will remain just a dream. A fairytale about the impossible love between ghost and human.

 

“He went back to Hogwarts with Victor. And Shorter still didn’t come back. It’s been a few days since then…”

 

Ash didn’t even have to say this. Fact. They were alone in this huge house. Situation because of this was even more painful. And confirmed Eiji’s guess.

 

“Alright… okay. I am also going back.” He stood up, but at the same second head started spinning so badly that he almost fell back on the bad. Eiji had to sit down again.

 

“Eiji! No… I mean… you still can’t.” It’s like Ash wanted to catch him, but in the end, he didn’t. Just kept standing there holding that stupid glass in his hand.

 

“Why???” Eiji couldn’t hold it. He thought he will be able to, but it seems that he can't.

 

“Because your body is still weak…”

 

“No. Why you won't touch me, Ash? Why you are standing so far away?! Why?”

 

Eiji pressed blanket between his fingers. If head would stop spinning, he could just jump ay Ash and do it himself. Sadly, now he was able just to ask desperately. Probably it seems pathetic.

 

“You don’t love me anymore?” he asked again when Ash just remained silent like his mouth would be full of water. Probably just Eiji would be able to ask something like that looking directly at someone's eyes. Not someone's. Just Ash's.

 

“Can I? Do I have a right? To keep loving you?” Ash couldn’t throw those thoughts of his head for the past few days. But just now he spoke them out loud. Is there any reason to hide it?

 

“What do you mean?” Where this came out from? Weren’t they together for such a long time? Or was it alright, just because Ash was a ghost?

 

“What I did… to you… I kept hurting you, Eiji… your body, face… you almost died because of me.” For Ash, it was strange. How Eiji can even ask?

 

“It wasn’t your fault. And you were the one who healed me.” Eiji couldn’t believe in Ash's words. That doesn’t sound like him.

 

“I was the one who created that potion.”

 

“Are you searching reasons to push me away??? Ash!” Eiji in the end just shouted his name. Just to show him how serious it is. How wrong Ash was about everything. Especially about Eiji’s feelings.

 

“I am not pushing you away…” Eiji succeeded. Ash’s answer was silent, but at least going in the right direction. He slowly placed the glass on the night table next to the bed and stepped closer, then squatted down in front of Eiji.

 

“Ash… what do you feel?” the boy asked, looking at the man, who was staring at his hands, like preparing to touch something forbidden. But Eiji… Eiji belongs to him for a long time already, right?

 

What does Ash feel? What a strange question. For almost two years he couldn’t feel anything and at the same time, he lived through so many new emotions. So many first times. For example, falling in love with Eiji. When they were together everything around was frozen. As if time would collapse into a tiny speck and then exploded at the speed of light. Ash didn’t have any memories from the past, everything… his whole universe started and ended with Eiji. There was nothing else who could have replaced Eiji. To be honest, that hasn’t changed. Even now, when he came back to this body. or when Ash remembered how broken he actually is. Still… all paths, all Ash’s thoughts lead back to Eiji.

 

What does he feel? Ash couldn’t answer. Not in words.

 

“Ash…” Even if he was closer, the silence lasted for too long and Eiji’s heart inside the chest was beating too fast. He actually was able to feel the warmth coming from Ash. Real. It’s so real.

 

When blond man lifted his hand, Eiji was sitting with his arm raised a bit and with the opened palm facing Ash. He hasn’t said a word what it could mean. Ash perfectly knew. He also wanted to do that, just didn’t know how to ask. The touch. When their hands would meet, the feeling was different for both of them. For Eiji, it felt like a million drops of rain and Ash… Ash was almost able to understand what a human’s warmth means. What it means to be warm, to be warped around that sensation. But now… what he will feel now? When their both temperatures are the same?

 

Ash raised his shivering hand and like in slow motion movie reached for Eiji’s fingers. It started with the fingertips. The feeling. Ash’s defenses, his insecurities melted into Eiji like an ice-cream or warm porcelain bowl. Just proving that Ash belongs next to Eiji, like Eiji belonged just next to Ash. Their hands perfectly matched for each other, covering and healing all the missing puzzles. Did Ash feel just the warmth? No, it was much more. Like a seal… when two incomplete parts connect to become one. It wasn’t something special about the feeling on the surface. The one important was inside.

 

Eiji loudly gasped from this unknown and a little bit painful emotion. Something inside like shattered as soon as their skin touched, every bad thing like it was a cold and long nightmare. This is the reality he was waiting. Eiji was waiting for it so long… for so long. A million raindrops, they were gone. Instead of that… it became billions of insane waves which ran through his whole body like a current. He couldn’t help just smile like he hasn’t for so long. Or maybe never.

 

It was the first time Ash saw Eiji smiling. Well… technically not… but now, when he can look at him from a new point of view, everything feels like the first time. Eiji smile was like the bright sun, but it didn’t hurt eyes at all. All the way around… it healed. Ash was able to see those cute little dimples in Eiji's cheeks. The boy softly blushed and Ash wanted to stop the time. Just to keep this moment in his memory. The first memory he really wanted to guard forever.

 

Their fingers intertwined becoming a beautiful piece of art and then nothing could have stopped him. Just with one move Ash jumped forward and hugged Eiji as hard as he could. He kneeled and hiding face in Eiji's warmth. This way trying to run from the outside world, but actually, Ash just found the way back home. It felt more than good, something he didn’t expect. Doesn’t deserve. But how far Ash can drag Eiji into this darkness he was surrounded by?

 

And then it happened. Ash burst in silent tears, but his whole body was trembling. He was coldhearted and cool. Calm and serious. Everywhere. Just not in front of Eiji. 

 

“I am sorry. Eiji… I am so sorry. Don’t leave me. Please… don’t.”

 

Eiji’s felt so light inside the heart. He happily sighed and touched Ash’s blonde hair. What a beautiful color. They were still a little bit rough, but Eiji couldn’t think of another more pleasant feeling. He ran through them with fingers and then softly pressed Ash’s head to himself harder. What a fragile being he is… and only Eiji had a right to know that.

 

“I will never leave you, Ash… no matter what.” Eiji promised. As words they were weak, but as a promise, it was locked inside their hearts.

 

Ash few times nodded and Eiji softly smiled from this childish gesture. So sweet, so pure… Ash wasn’t a bad person. Eiji refused to believe in that. He is just a person who had to go through a lot of bad things. Eiji hoped that one day he will be able to help Ash heal. Little by little he will learn new things about this man until there will be nothing more to share. Just their love. Can he have hope that this day will come?

 

“Come here…” Eiji invited Ash to come closer on the bed. Strange to say because they were so close, but Eiji already missed the color of his eyes. Some time will have to pass until he gets enough of it.

 

They lied down on the bed and Ash hugged Eiji again around the waist.

 

“You are so soft…” Ash murmured pressing face to Eiji’s chest, the boy felt how Ash’s lips softly vibrate.

 

“I want to kiss you…” As soon as Eiji understood what kind of feeling is that, he couldn’t stop thinking about Ash's lips. He wants to try them… he wants to know.

 

Ash finally lifted the head and their eyes met. Eiji reached for Ash’s cheek with his hand which made both of them sighed with pleasure. To be touched. And to touch. As long as their bodies can connect. It's still hard to believe, that it can be so easy. Feel each other for real. How they will get enough of this?

 

Kiss? Sounds simple. Just a word from four letters. Then why Ash suddenly feels like he doesn’t know anything about it. True… he has never kissed anyone before. First kiss? Eiji is his first in everything. Ash lifted his body a little bit, watching at Eiji from above. His eyes were shining and cheeks painted in that natural and healthy soft pink color. Ash couldn’t imagine that one day he will see something more perfect than this.

 

“I also want that…” he answered.

 

Ash slowly lowered his lips on Eiji’s and then both of them closed their eyes. There was nothing more to see. Just feel. The kiss wasn’t that long… and certainly wasn’t something special. But it was wonderful in other ways. They again melted from this secret touch as there was nothing else left in this world, just this moment, which consumed everything around. Eiji pressed his hand on Ash’s cheek a little bit harder, feeling how dry his lips are but at the same time hot.  Eiji softly brushed through them with the tip of his tongue and Ash sighed. This first tender touch of lips and still why it felt so nostalgic? Like some favorite toy from childhood. Ash finally smiled. Eiji was soft indeed, not just his body… everything. Especially this part. Warm, wet and soft. Ash moved the head a little bit to the side, and kissed the spot next to Eiji's lips, then a little bit lower… jaw, cheek, and the little spot next to the ear. Ash kissed him everywhere, where it hurt. Where he left painful memories. He kissed rewriting them and Eiji accepted his apology. Even if he didn’t need it.

 

“Ash, I love you… I love you.” Eiji murmured and this time he was the one who hid face inside Ash’s chest. What a feeling... not just one, thousands of them. Everywhere. Like a song or a powerful spell overtaking his mind. Eiji smiled and cried. They both did. From happiness. There was no one and nothing who could stop them.

 

But Ash didn’t give Eiji the answer.

 

 


 

 

“Here, the blanket.” Ash came into the living room caring it, Eiji was sitting on the couch, trying to understand what Ash was reading just a few minutes ago. But it was impossible. Something about potions? Probably. Eiji is not even close to his level.

 

“Thanks.” Eiji smiled when Ash sat down next to him, lifted up Eiji’s legs on the couch, then covered them both.

 

Eiji moved a little bit to the side until he was able to place the head on Ash's shoulder. All of these days were wonderful. Well, more or less. Eiji didn’t expect to learn everything at the same time, so he tried not to ask. Instead of that, they spend time learning small things about each other, creating new memories. Eiji knew that Ash is actually not that sweet, but somehow only with Eiji, he was caring and even sweet. Also, this time together was so different from anything they had before since they were able to touch each other. And somehow every touch was still so timid and uncertain… as both of them were still afraid to do something wrong. And still, with every of it, Eiji felt absolutely happy. He just didn’t want to push Ash to do something he didn't want to. So even if they were talking about insignificant things, Eiji felt that they are getting closer in a way, they couldn’t, when Ash was still a ghost.

 

But at the same time… something about Ash's was different. He spent years living two different lives and now he had to figure out his thoughts. That’s why Eiji tried to convince himself that it’s just a matter of time when Ash opens up. Or when he at least tells Eiji how he feels.  Most of the time Eiji was the one who tried to kept a conversation going. Ash was silent most of the time, just listening by his side. Does he need time? Or he was always like this? To be honest, Eiji was afraid to ask. What if the Ash he got to know during these past two years, actually doesn't exist? What if this man is different? And still, Eiji's feelings couldn't be changed. And he was already used to the pain. He can live with everything if only Ash stays. Eiji wanted to speak about this with Yuuri, but they haven’t talked all this time. Eiji didn’t have the mirror with himself, also Ash wouldn't leave him alone even for a minute. They even slept in the same bed hugging each other. That was the closest connection they were able to create. Just while sleeping in Eiji’s arms, Ash seemed relaxed and almost happy. Is he happy?

 

“I wanted to ask…” Eiji started. He loved to watch at Ash doing something. Aslan was able to keep reading books for hours in silence, but he wouldn’t let Eiji do anything, just rest. That’s why it was a bit boring.

 

“Hm?” Ash drank a little bit of tea from a big mug and gave it to Eiji, he did the same.

 

Indirect kiss. Eiji couldn’t get enough of these cute moments. Also real kisses… they did that at least once a day… but Ash still hasn’t kissed him today. Probably after this question he really won’t.

 

“Just don’t get mad,” Eiji warned him about the topic. For obvious reason, Ash refused to talk about what happened in the hospital, Eiji already tried to ask a few times.

 

“We are not talking abou-“

 

“Why I haven’t died? After the killing spell? It was it, right? I heard.” Eiji always tried to ask more complicated questions. About Golzine or Arthur, but it was the first time he asked this. Of course, it's wonderful that he survived, but there had to be the reason.

 

“You really want to hear the answer?”

 

“Do you really know it?” Eiji blinked. “Yes, I want to know… I have a right at least to know this.” Eiji couldn’t help, just tease Ash a little bit. For this, Ash rewarded Eiji with “scary” glance. For Eiji, it was nothing more just a possibility to see his favorite color. He is not afraid of this lonely and scared child.

 

“They improved the potion. It makes a shield around the body from some spells which can directly kill or physically hurt. This way, it gets harder to destroy the body.” Ash answered like some sort of dictionary.

 

“You mean… if somebody becomes soulless with this new type of potion… it will be impossible to defeat them?”

 

“Pretty much. At least with Magic.” Ash sighed. “But you don’t have to be worried about that, no one will hurt you again. I promise.”

 

“It’s not just about me. Ash…” Eiji touched his face with the free hand. “How about you? Tell me, please. Did… did they hurt you? Were they torturing you?” he silently asked, but instead of the answer, Ash turned away the head. Here it goes again… He is blocking himself from Eiji.

 

“Eiji, stop. We are not talking about this.” He kept silent for a long minute and then answered. It hurt, but Eiji tried to understand. He tries every time. “I am going to make more tea.” Ash stood up. The mug in Eiji’s hand was almost full.

 

Yeah, right… the boy sighed giving up. Not today, maybe tomorrow, maybe after a week… month. He will wait. Eiji perfectly knew that these peaceful days is not the end. Golzine, Arthur, Fox... they all were still there.

 

It was already dark outside, but Eiji still saw that something is moving. Coming towards the house. He couldn’t say walking because the person or whoever it was didn’t look stable. Drunk? Of course not, they are in the middle of some woods.

 

Eiji suddenly jumped taking the blanket with himself and ran towards the door.

 

“Eiji???” Ash shouted when he heard how the door opens. “Eiji!! Where are you...??”

 

The boy ran outside into the freshly fallen snow, just with his slippers. That person…

 

“Professor Wong!” he shouted running towards him. Oh. He was totally naked. Not mention the fact, that the body was covered in scratches and wounds. But he was alive and this is all that matters. The person raised head and blinked when he saw the boy.

 

“Eiji??..” Shorter couldn’t believe in his eyes. Eiji looked completely healthy. To be honest, Wong didn’t expect to see here anyone. It has been a week. Shorter was expecting to hear the worst. For example, they couldn't make it on time. He thought that light inside the house was only his hallucination from exhaustion.

 

“Profess-or…co-cover… cov-er… yourself please.” He stopped next to Wong and quickly gave the blanket.

 

“EIJI!!!! For the love of Merlin what are---” Ash ran after him. He probably thought that Eiji got mad or something, even if that sort of behavior wasn’t like him at all.

 

“Ash…?” Now Shorter was entirely sure that it’s just a hallucination. It’s impossible, right? Did Victor went alone and succeded? It’s him…

 

“Shorter…?” Ash slowed down his steps. “You…” he took a deep breath. “Look like trash…” after a few seconds of silence he spoke again.

 

Shorter’s face was like made from stone. But suddenly he burst into laughter. The man fell on the snow, wrapped in that silly blanket and laughing out loud. He hasn’t laughed like that for years.

 

“Still golden, even as trash…” he covered face with one hand, but couldn’t stop giggling. Maybe he is going insane from everything.

 

While watching how Ash helps Wong to get up and how they hug each other, as long lost brothers, Eiji hugged himself around the waist. He smiled seeing how happy Ash is. How good he feels to be back. Eiji was able to see how close he was actually to Shorter… probably also the same to Victor. And still somewhere deep inside, sad and unpleasant feeling punched, creating a strange itching in the throat.

 

It wasn't just a feeling. More like the fact… how far Eiji is from knowing Aslan this way. Will he ever reach him?

 

 

Chapter Text

Yuuri clearly knew that from now on everything will change. They managed to get Ash back, but this only brought more questions and threats. All of them were in danger. Yuuri didn’t have much time to get to know Ash. As soon as they came back, Aslan locked himself inside the room in order to make medicine for Eiji. Victor tried to keep positive thoughts, but just for Yuuri’s sake. Actually, they were now in one big mess. Fox who seeks for Hogwarts Headmaster's position, Arthur who probably will try to find them in any cost and Golzine who had such power that none of them could ever imagine. Nobody knew how and when, but obviously they won’t leave it like that.

 

Victor’s summer house was hidden with powerful magic. Only people to who Victor himself told about the place were able to find it, so, for now, it seemed the safest place for Ash to hide. Eiji, of course, had to stay with him, until he gets better. For Yuuri, it was a bit hard to leave a friend like this, but he had to go back. Other teachers, who didn’t know anything about this situation, could get suspicious about their disappearance. Victor somehow managed to convince professor Baranovskaya that Eiji had to go back home because of family issues. First, she was really mad that Eiji left without telling her. She was responsible for students as Deputy Headmistress. But Yuuri heard later on from other students of Gryffindor that professor Giacometti defended Eiji and said that he was warned about it. Barinovskaya didn’t have another choice than give up. The whole week they had extra homework because of her bad mood. Yuuri guessed, that Victor asked Giacometti for a favor.  But there was also a possibility that Giacometti knows something.

 

Victor had a lot of work. His own classes and he also took responsibility for Wong’s lectures. Probably Baranovskaya knew the real reason why Wong is gone, but this didn’t fix her attitude. Yuuri was sure that she thinks that they are irresponsible, but he also couldn’t blame professor. She was worried. If something goes wrong the responsibility for school will fall into the hands of Fox. Since Yuuri didn’t have D.A.D.A class anymore, during this week he saw Victor just one time. He came a little bit late to the History of Magic class, with the pale face and obviously tired. By looking at the man, Yuuri could tell that he didn’t have much rest since they came back. Yuuri tried to understand, that’s why he didn’t chase for Victor. The boy wanted to see him, hug and maybe say something comforting. But Yuuri would only bring trouble now. Probably, in addition to the whole work he had in school, Victor also had to think about what to do with the mess they made in the hospital. So on Tuesday during History of Magic class Yuuri remained silent. He was listening to Victor’s voice, more than the meaning of words. Yuuri tried to imagine that those words are meant only for him. Just in few days, Yuuri missed Victor's voice so much. He planned after the class accidentally stay longer than others and talk with Victor. But when Victor let them go, he left the classroom first. Maybe he just didn’t have time for talks, maybe he didn’t want to risk for someone to see them together, Yuuri couldn’t know. He just hoped that Victor won’t start to avoid him from now on.

 

Four days’ later situation hasn’t changed much. Yuuri managed to see Victor just once and at the time he was talking with Blanca. Yuuri with Phichit and Seung-Gil passed through them with a quick greeting, but Victor didn’t even look at Yuuri’s side. The boy noticed that the bags under his eyes were even darker than always and something sharp from this view squeezed his heart. It’s also Yuuri's fault that they are in this situation and there is nothing he can do to help. Yuuri would be just standing on Victor’s way.

 

Before leaving Victor’s summerhouse on Sunday, Ash told that probably Eiji will be healed by the end of this week, so Yuuri had a hope that friend will be back soon. Phichit’s and his boyfriend’s company wasn’t bad, but he couldn’t talk to them about everything. Yuuri was also very worried not knowing anything about Eiji’s or professor Wong's conditions. Was he still in the woods alone? Yuuri had to live through this week somehow… but without their constant secrets, life in Hogwarts didn’t seem so interesting anymore. Maybe he became so used to being in constant danger that now Yuuri felt like he was left out. Of course, it’s for the best… Probably. Maybe.

 

On Friday they had a test from Potions and Yuuri left first. He didn’t bother to check the answers. Usually, he would stay just to help Eiji figure out what to write, but now there was no point. Blanca quickly looked at Yuuri when he gave the test to the professor.

 

“Are you okay, Katsuki?” he silently asked.

 

“Yes, professor…” Yuuri answered like a robot.

 

What else he could say? That he misses Victor? That he wants to know the answers? Probably, Blanca wouldn’t tell him anyway. The boy left the classroom and decided to go straight to the dormitory, there was still some time until lunch.

 

“Katsuki, where is your friend? Maybe finally reached the end?”

 

That annoying laugh. Yuuri perfectly knew who it was. Usually, Yut-Lung Lee is not that brave when there is more than one person around, but as soon as he meets Yuuri alone, he never misses a chance to bully him. Yuuri couldn’t figure out what he has done to him? Or what Eiji did to deserve this hate? Yuuri tried not to pay attention, he just needed to reach the place with people and he will be safe.

 

“Ignoring? How mature of you.” Lee laughed while following Yuuri.

 

Suddenly Yuuri stopped and turned around. He takes words back. It was unusual for Lee to wander alone. He also stopped holding that right distance, but still keeping the sarcastic smile. Where is his guard this time?

 

“No, seriously what do you want?” Yuuri breathed. He didn’t want to fight or get into trouble. For his own sake and also for Victor’s.

 

Yut-Lung was looking forward at the wall and Yuuri noticed how actually fragile he looks. Especially because of long dark hair, which today were braided. From the side, he doesn’t seem dangerous at all. But anyone who thinks this way is a fool. Yuuri knew that Lee's magic is strong. He also knew that there was a reason why Lee was in Slytherin. He was a perfect liar, he knew how to manipulate people. During Yuuri’s few months in Hogwarts, he already had to deal with Lee's bullying several times. To do this together with Eiji and losing a few points for it was even fun sometimes, but now Yuuri didn’t want to. Either way, Yuuri was feeling so sad after this week, that probably Lee couldn’t make it worse. Also, this fancy prince doesn’t even know that his joke about Eiji reaching the end, wasn’t so far away from the truth.

 

“So?” Yuuri sighed. Did Lee want to tell something or not? Somehow his behavior was kind of odd.

 

“Do… do you know Sing?”

 

“Who?”

 

Yuuri thought that he misheard something. Sing? Is he talking about Sing from Hufflepuff? What it has to do with Yuuri? Lee hasn’t answered, he was still staring at the wall the same. Yuuri didn’t know how he supposed to continue this conversation, he wasn't prepared to hear something like this.

 

“No, nothing… nevermind. I knew you will be useless.” Lee tried to return cool face back, but unsuccessfully.

 

“Why you need Sing?” Yuuri didn’t pay much attention to Lee's words. He actually became a little bit curious. “If you want to bully someone again then better…”

 

“No. I just… saw you talking with Sing the other day, so I thought you might know him. That’s all.” Lee let his head down and his dark loosen hair fell on the face. Wait… is he blushing???

 

“Yut-Lung…”

 

“You don’t get to call me by my first name!” he dramatically shouted, but Yuuri almost held a laugh. It can’t be it.

 

“…can it be, that you like Sing?” Yuuri stepped forward. For the first time during this week smiling. That’s something he wasn’t expecting.

 

“What?! Do you think I am homo or something??” he quickly leaned forward, but Yuuri didn’t move.

 

Yuuri noticed that without his constant guards Lee is not scary at all. He was even a little bit shorter than Yuuri. Looking at that blushed face, Yuuri thought that he is hallucinating. That just too funny. Eiji won’t believe him!

 

“It’s nothing wrong with that…” Yuuri also wanted to add, that the one he likes is also a man but was just in time to shut up. That would be too risky. The worst part, that Yuuri wasn’t sure if Sing is into men. Was Yuuri really thinking of helping Lee? Maybe.

 

“I will kill you if you tell someone…” Lee didn’t even take his wand out, he instantly grabbed on Yuuri’s robe with both hands. What a funny way to look intimidating. Form the side their current position would have seemed even a little bit intimate.

 

“It’s strange for you… right?” Yuuri took Lee’s wrist between his fingers and squeezed a little bit. Yuuri felt like he could break it if he just tries.

 

“What?” he hissed.

 

“To love.”

 

“You…”

 

“Yes, love is real magic. And at the same time so beautiful!” Yuuri heard a happy voice behind them and both of the boys quickly jumped back from each other.

 

Professor Giacometti laughed walking towards them. It didn’t seem that he heard anything else, probably just Yuuri’s last words. First time in his life Lee didn’t know what to say. Yuuri could have tried to explain himself, but a person walking next to Giacometti was no one else than Victor. Oh no. He also heard Yuuri’s words and probably saw them too… of course, this situation was just a big misunderstanding, but Yuuri couldn’t understand Victor’s eyes.

 

“No… we… are... not.” Yuuri murmured looking at Victor, not at Giacometti.

 

“We are not here to judge you… Hate to Love relationship is pretty common…” Giacometti was still giggling as if he remembered something really sweet.

 

He was the only one having fun here. Yuuri tried to speak with Victor just by looking. He can’t actually think that something is going on between Yuuri and Lee, right??  Does Yuuri look like someone who would jump from one person to another just in a week?

 

But nothing else happened. Yuuri was standing lost, Lee looked like he wants to set himself on fire and professors just passed through them. Victor said nothing, Giacometti winked for them. And Yuuri thought that situation can’t get even worse. After they were gone, Lee also quickly moved away without any word. So awkward.

 

The week was coming to an end and during it, Yuuri hasn't seen Victor at the Great Hall. But today on the lunchtime he was sitting at the Staff table together with other teachers. Just Wong’s seat next to him was empty. Yuuri bit his lower lip when he saw Victor. The boy was standing next to the Hufflepuff table but still kept looking at Victor’s side. He even came at the front of the table, which was the closest spot from which he could see Victor. The boy hoped that their eyes will meet, but Victor was talking with Celestino.

 

“Heeey, Yuuri! What’s up?!”

 

Sing just showed up next to him from nowhere.

 

“Sing… Hey.” Yuuri looked at him without that friendly sparkle like always.

 

“Wooow, don’t kill me.” Sing laughed and sat down. He grabbed on Yuuri’s sleeve and made him sit down too. “Sooo… I heard it.”

 

“You heard what?” Finally, Sing said something that made Yuuri turn his head at the boy.

 

“You know… between you and Lee.” Sing’s smile was wide. He was totally ready for the gossip.

 

“What…? WHAT? There is nothing going on between me and Lee!!!” Yuuri shouted a little bit too loud. He felt as someone has punched him in the stomach.

 

Where did Sing hear it?? How?? Few girls who were sitting not too far away looked at both of them, and Yuuri quickly hid his face. Oh no… where he pushed himself into? From fighting for his life, he suddenly ran into some love drama? Can he just say that the one Lee like is Sing?

 

“Okay okay, man… you don’t have to shout. Just… Lao heard how Cain spoke with Alex who heard from Akira that professor Giacometti said something about it for Nikiforov next to the classroom.” Sing quickly explained with raised hands, like trying to protect himself.

 

“I mean… what?” Yuuri got lost between all those unknown names. It’s been just a little bit more than an hour since this happened. Does everyone in school already know?

 

“I meaaannn… Giacometti told to Nikiforov…”

 

“I heard you, Sing.” Yuuri stopped him. “But… it’s nothing more just a stupid rumor… probably… that person… who heard professors understood something wrong.” Yuuri didn’t want to guess who it was, because he already forgot.

 

“So you want to tell me that you didn’t meet with Lee today?”

 

He just can’t give up, right?

 

“I did… but…”

 

“So there is something going on between you two!” Sing quickly grabbed a banana and pointed at Yuuri like a gun. The boy just didn’t know what kind of face he has to make for this statement. That's just ridiculous.

 

“No! Let the banana down, Sing.” Just because of this stupid situation, Yuuri couldn’t help just smile.

 

“So then… what…”

 

“There is someone else he likes… alright?” Yuuri took away from Sing the fruit and put it back on the plate.

 

Friend's eyes just couldn’t stop teasing him. Sing won’t give up.

 

“So this is one-sided love…? I am so sorry to hear that, Yuuri…” he sighed and placed the hand on Yuuri’s shoulder.

 

“Siiinnnnnggggg!” Yuuri bumped his head at the table. That only made a friend laugh harder. He hugged Yuuri around the shoulders, leaning a little bit forward.

 

“I am just joking! From the minute Lao told me, I knew it was bullshit. You and Lee, really?” Sing kept giggling and shaking Yuuri.

 

That was so stressful. Yuuri didn’t know if he should just laugh together or remain silent. Somehow Sing’s character reminded of Wong’s a bit. Probably he is trying to be funny as his idol.

 

“He is not leaving you in peace? Want me to talk to him?” Sing asked again after releasing Yuuri.

 

Yuuri slowly turned his head at the friend.

 

“No…” there was no need to go this far, this time Lee didn’t do anything wrong. Sing was looking at Yuuri with that kind of relaxed face which just confirmed that there was no big deal for him to deal with someone like Lee. On the other hand. “Or…. Maybe? But just talk, alright? I don’t need any conflicts and misunderstandings!”

 

Yuuri thought that this could be a perfect chance for them to talk. Lee actually wanted it, right?

 

“Sure sure… I got everything! He owes me anyway.” Sing kept that cool face, while finally reaching for something to eat.

 

“What do you mean?” Yuuri came here but he didn’t feel hungry at all.

 

While waiting for Sing to chew what he had in the mouth, the boy quickly glanced at the Staff table, but Victor wasn’t there. When did he leave?? Yuuri didn’t notice at all. He hoped to get a chance to explain himself. It seems that he lost it again.

 

“Like a week ago, I saw him near the lake… alone. And he jumped into the water… or maybe fell. I am not sure… And I saved him.” Sing made a voice like telling a big secret, he even leaned forward to Yuuri.

 

“Wait. It doesn’t make sense… the lake is frozen!” Yuuri looked at Sing with suspicion.

 

“I don’t know, man… I just told you what I saw. Maybe ice was thin there or something. So, anyway I saved his ass, but instead of saying thanks he pushed me and ran away. I am telling you, he owes me one. Even if he doesn’t want to admit it.” Sing had a bit of potato on his fork, but that didn’t stop him from waving hands. Yuuri felt that this won’t end up well and he was right. Soon the potato was smashed right into Lao’s face when he turned at their side to take a plate with salads.

 

“Sing!” he shouted all reddish and Yuuri used the chance to get up.

 

“I will talk with him, don’t worry!!” Sing waved for Yuuri, seeking to release himself from Lao’s hands who tried to strangle him. This way Sing is just dragging attention toward this damn topic! Yuuri quickly moved away.

 

“Yuuri! What’s happening between you and Yut-Lung??” Phichit ran after him, that made him walk faster. Where did he come from? “Yuuuri I want to knoooow!!!”

 

“Phichit, let’s go. I want a cake.” Just before Phichit caught to him, Yuuri heard Seung-Gil’s voice.

 

It’s not the first time he is saving Yuuri from Phichit’s excessive curiosity. Finally, Yuuri managed to run away from people when he reached the third floor. He has never been in such a situation before. Moreover, it was a huge misunderstanding! He is not used to this kind of things and dramas. To be honest, even if that sounds funny, but when life gets in danger it's easier. Since at least you know where the threat is coming from. But now everyone seemed to be against Yuuri! And the only one person he wanted to see wasn't showing any kind of interest. Yuuri walked through another hallway and took a shortcut downstairs. Just half of the lunchtime has passed, so he wasn’t expecting to see someone. But he was wrong. Yuuri couldn’t see who it was, but in the narrow dark corridor, he heard something. Heart froze. The boy wasn’t afraid to walk alone inside the Hogwarts, but his experience and instincts were like a wild animal's. Yuuri was ready to start running at any moment.

 

It became quiet for a second and Yuuri already thought that it might have been just his imagination. He turned the back to keep moving forward, but someone grabbed him on the rob and dragged into the shadow. If that had been someone who wanted to hurt him, everything would be already over. Yuuri let the gasp out, but it was consumed by some soft material. Yuuri’s whole body became enslaved in warmth.

 

Safe. The feeling. It’s safe. Yuuri’s muscles relaxed at the same second when he was able to sense his favorite aroma and recognize this hug. He instantly smiled also wrapping arms around man’s waist and the back was pressed to the wall.

 

“Victor…” Yuuri sighed with relief and wanted to move a bit away, just to see his face, but the man was still standing still.

 

Victor pressed face to Yuuri’s shoulder. The boy felt that pleasant weight. It’s so warm. Yuuri just now realized how much he missed it.

 

“Is everything alright?” he asked after another minute when the man just didn’t move from the spot. Yuuri wasn’t against this, but still, this behavior wasn’t like Victor at all. The man slowly shook his head.

 

“What happened..?” After everything that happened and will probably happen, Yuuri couldn’t help just feel a little bit scared. Is it about Victor? About Wong? Aslan? Eiji? “Victor… tell me what happened…” maybe that would explain his strange behavior earlier.

 

Somehow Yuuri was able to move a little bit and finally, Victor raised his head. In this almost pale darkness, it was really hard to see his face. Victor's expression seemed strange. Yuuri has never seen him like this before. No… he was not worried… and he not sad. Something is different.

 

“Do you like him?” Victor finally silently spoke. His voice wasn’t judging but somehow seemed empty.

 

“Who?” Yuuri blinked.

 

“Lee.”

 

“What…? Are you serious now? Victor?” Yuuri didn’t know he should laugh or what. He was just standing with opened mouth. Victor hasn’t actually asked this, right?

 

“How about Soo-Ling?” he continued with the same voice.

 

“I… don’t understand what are you talking about, Victor…” Yuuri probably hasn’t spoken so honestly in some time.

 

Victor again leaned forward, this time pressing the cheek to Yuuri's. His lips were almost touching Yuuri’s ear. One of the hand he was holding on Yuuri’s waist, and another wrapped around shoulders. It’s like he was protecting Yuuri. But there was no one to protect from.

 

“So… what did you say to him back then? And Soo-Ling… he hugged you.”

 

Victor’s voice was even quieter than before, that’s why Yuuri got a feeling that he might be imagining all of this. It just doesn't make sense. Why Victor would have such questions? He perfectly knows how Yuuri is feeling. What could have changed in less than a week? Unless…

 

 

“Victor… are you jealous…?” Yuuri asked. Why this sudden strange thought made him happy? Is Victor jealous? Impossible, right?

 

Instead of an answer, Victor just let some odd sound and then placed hands on Yuuri’s blushed cheeks. Strange feeling. That someone wants you. Yuuri felt a little bit guilty that he started to have doubts before. The boy leaned forward and their lips met. With the jumping heart, Yuuri gave an answer to this short kiss. Victor leaned just a little bit back, but after a few seconds, they again found each other. Yuuri was merging with that wonderful melting feeling inside. With every slow move of Victor’s lips. How he hugs lower lip between his, then upper and repeats the move. Something deep inside Yuuri was running in constant waves. Just with this, every bad emotion disappeared, all this sad week didn’t matter anymore. Yuuri had silly dizziness surrounded by this heat. He hugged Victor stronger and honestly smiled on his lips. It wasn’t just a kiss, with every of his move, Victor was obviously enjoying someone who belongs to him.

 

“Were you jealous...?” Yuuri asked again when they were just standing, embracing and breathing into each other lips. He wanted to hear Victor’s voice, no matter what he has to say.

 

“I don’t know… I just didn’t want them to be close to you. I… I have never felt like this before. Before my emotions were very limited. But now I don’t understand what I was feeling… They annoy me. Everyone who gets close to you.” Victor silently confessed and Yuuri felt like giggling, but he somehow managed to hold back.

 

That’s so adorable. The way Victor is acting. Of course, this was jealousy, even if he doesn’t admit. Yuuri kissed Victor’s cheek and happily placed the head on his chest. Probably he could listen to these words over and over again.

 

“You don’t have to be worried about that… trust me.” If only Yuuri could tell someone about their relationship, which was actually real. He would run around screaming. Well, probably not, but the feeling was close to it.

 

“It’s not about you. It’s about them…” Victor murmured, his voice was a little bit deeper than always. It’s obvious that he is not used to talking on this kind of topics. “Yuuri… come back, please.”

 

“Where?” he asked a little bit lost.

 

“To my classes. This is the only way I can see you more...”

 

Yuuri wouldn’t hide, without D.A.D.A. his life was a lot easier. Less homework, also he was able to focus on things he likes more. For example, The Care of Magic creatures. And the anxiety because of his inability to use offensive spells disappeared. But of course, back then the first reason why Yuuri changed schedule wasn’t because of this.

 

If there is a chance he can see Victor more, Yuuri will use it. Especially because Victor just asked for this. Himself.

 

“Professor Baranovskaya won’t be happy that I am changing my classes again.” Yuuri smiled, but he agreed without any talks. “I missed you…” he added when the boy heard how Victor sights with satisfaction.

 

“Yuuri… I don’t have words how much I wanted to meet with you… but there was o much work. Every free minute I had, I felt too tired to move.” He silently admitted. So Yuuri was right. Just from Victor’s voice, it was clear that it’s not just about school.

 

“I understand, I am not blaming you, really… ” Yuuri touched Victor’s neck with a tip of his nose, cuddling a little bit closer.

 

“I also missed you…  I miss you every minute.” Victor responded and then took Yuuri’s hand into his. The man pressed it to his chest and Yuuri felt Victor's strong heartbeat running through his fingers. What a wonderful feeling. “You are so precious to me… It’s the first time for me… so I am sorry.”

 

“You are saying sorry? Victor, you must be crazy… Really. I couldn’t be happier than I am now.”

 

Yuuri placed his free hand on Victor’s cheek. His soft skin and strong jawline. Even in the darkness Yuuri perfectly knew how Victor looks like, just by touching.

 

“Yuuri, I want to spend more time with you. I really do…”

 

“But we can’t, right? I know, don’t worry…” Yuuri just finished the sentence before Victor said anything else.

 

“That’s why… let’s go together somewhere on Sunday. Just two of us… Don’t worry I will have everything covered here. What do you think?”

 

Since Yuuri was still moving through Victor’s face with fingertips, the man also did the same. He touched Yuuri’s lower lip with the thumb. It was still burning from their last kiss. What a strange but at the same time amazing thing, to feel each other just by touching.

 

“I would love to…” Yuuri admitted. He didn't even try to hide the excitement in his voice. Wait, is it a date? Their official first date?? “What are you doing tomorrow? Preparing for next week's classes?” Yuuri asked this not because he wanted to control Victor's free time. The boy was just curious.

 

“I guess so. Also, I don’t think you will want to go tomorrow somewhere…”

 

“Why is that?” Victor’s statement made Yuuri come back from fantasies.

 

What is happening tomorrow? But of course, Victor didn’t answer. It’s something bad, right? Of course not.

 

At that moment they both heard students’ voices coming towards. That was a sign for them to separate. Yuuri didn’t want to, but Victor still had classes. Then Sunday it is. They slowly moved away from each other, both of them against their will.

 

“See you on Sunday, then…” Yuuri smiled like a child, but Victor took his hand before he went away.

 

“Give me another kiss…” he asked and there was no need to repeat.

 

Yuuri quickly jumped and pressed lips against Victor’s. He kissed lips, cheeks and even a delicious spot on his jawline.

 

“Hey… don’t meet with Lee, alright?” Victor asked. He wasn’t sure about the way he should ask for it. It wasn’t a warning, but also it would be impossible to set it as a request.

 

Yuuri laughed and placed another kiss on Victor's cheek. Then it was a time to let his hand go. Yuuri was still feeling Victor's hand on the cheek, but when the boy blinked again the man was gone. Yuuri was alone in the hallway. Dizzy from being foolishly in love.

 


 

When on Saturday before the lunch someone knocked on his doors, Yuuri’s heart jumped. Somehow he was sure that it will be Victor. But sadly, when he opened the door it was only Phichit. He probably wanted to suggest spending time together. Yuuri tried not to show how disappointed he was.

 

“Yuuri there is someone waiting for you next to the dormitory.” He said with a smile. "That person asked me to call you."

 

“Professor Nikiforov?” Yuuri guessed already going through Phichit. He asked without thinking.

 

“Why professor should be looking for you on the weekend?”

 

Phichit giggled in confusion and Yuuri instantly regretted his words. Of course not. He should start thinking about what he is saying. But it’s hard when the head is full of other thoughts. Obviously is nothing bad, since Phichit came with a smile, so he knows the person. Yuuri just hoped that it’s not Lee.

 

“Eiji??” The door opened and he saw the friend standing a little bit further.

 

What stupid Yuuri was! All this week he was constantly thinking of Eiji and just one meeting with Victor made forget it.

 

“Hey!!” He quickly came closer. Last time Yuuri saw Eiji, he was still looking pretty bad. But not anymore.

 

“Yuuri!” Eiji widely smiled. “Let’s go for a walk. I just came back from professor Baranovskaya’s office.” He giggled, but more nervously than funny. “She is really in bad mood…”

 

“You look great! I mean… is everything alright now?”

 

Without any words, they went up and turned towards their favorite place. Now Yuuri understood what Victor had in mind about Saturday. He, of course, knew that Eiji will be back. What a perfect surprise.

 

“Yeah, Ash said that I am alright. He wished I would have stayed longer just in case… but I can’t let myself miss any more classes.” Eiji shrugged.

 

Yuuri couldn’t stop looking at Eiji's healthy eyes and natural skin color. It was a miracle indeed. After what Yuuri had to go through he never thought that it’s possible. But Ash… Ash somehow managed to do this.

 

“Professor Wong also came back, he is not in the best condition… Well, you can imagine.” the friend added.

 

“Oh, glad to hear that he is at least fine… I am sure he can deal with other things somehow.” Yuuri nodded. That’s such relief to hear finally good news. “And you…? I mean… you and Ash? Is everything okay?” Yuuri wanted to ask more but didn’t know how. It was a little bit embarrassing.

 

“You asking if we kissed?” Eiji was more straight forward about it. “Yes, we did. But… hahaha… you know… it’s still a bit unusual for us.” The boy blushed a bit, but the smile didn’t disappear from his lips. Yuuri nodded, he perfectly knew. “It was strange to come back here though… and not find Ash waiting for me in the room. But… he is alive and it all that matters. Maybe one day he will be able to come back here and finish studies.”

 

“Do you think he needs it? I mean… isn’t Ash already super smart?”

 

“You right… he is.” Eiji laughed, with those warm sparkles in his eyes. Finally, he felt comfortable talking about it with Yuuri. Of course, there were lot of other things he had to stay. Eiji wasn’t sure where to start from.

 

“But it’s not over, Eiji, right? I mean… everything just started?” Yuuri didn’t want to jump to sad topics already, but it just came out. It’s related to all of them.

 

“Probably… But I am not sure what’s going on. And what they are planning. You see… Ash doesn’t want me to know.” Eiji sighed, they stopped near the narrow stairs leading to one of the towers. He sat down and rested his chin on the palm. “I think he is too overprotective…”

 

“Well… maybe he just needs time? I mean… you almost died, Eiji. I am not surprised by Ash's behavior.” Yuuri was always on Eiji’s side, but this time he had to agree with Ash.

 

The situation would be different if Yuuri knew something, but he was also left with the same thoughts. And he didn’t blame Victor… actually, Yuuri was even a bit thankful that he can have a peaceful life. Even if just for a bit.

 

“I know… I know… it’s just we were always so close. I knew everything about him. But now… it feels like I don’t know anything. He is the same Ash and at the same time… he is totally different. It’s hard to explain.” Eiji was staring at one spot thinking.

 

Yuuri just sat next to the friend crossing legs without any words. It’s hard to understand completely what Ash and Eiji were going through. It’s not like Yuuri has ever been in similar situation before.

 

“You think… Ash knows everything about you?” Yuuri asked. It was logical. If Eiji wants to know about Ash, he also has to give the same.

 

But Yuuri didn’t think that this simple question will make Eiji freeze from confusion. He was sitting still for a second and then laughed. Maybe a little bit unnatural.

 

“What do you mean? What he could know about me? I am like an open book, Yuuri…” he rolled eyes and Yuuri sighed. He had to agree. It was very easy to read Eiji's thoughts and emotions.

 

The truth was that Yuuri didn’t know a lot about Eiji’s past. Just the school's name he came from. Also a little bit about his family. But that’s all. But maybe there was just nothing to say. Not everyone has a dangerous and complicated story. Yuuri wished to be the same. Sadly, it was way too late.

 

“I am sure you will be fine… just give him more time.” Yuuri tried to comfort the friend a bit, that the sad expression would disappear from his face.

 

“Yes… I think so too. After what happened to us, everything seems possible, right?” Eiji quickly got back to his positive mood and Yuuri couldn’t agree more.

 

Until now Yuuri couldn’t understand how happened that Eiji never had friends until Yuuri came here. He was such an amazing person.

 

“By the way…” Eiji spoke again after a short pause. “Yuuri I never thought that you find him attractive. Why didn’t tell me?” he made a little bit hurt voice on purpose.

 

“Who…? What?”

 

“You and Lee!” Eiji laughed when Yuuri covered his face and let the groan out. Of course, he was teasing, but then they really had a fun talk about Lee and Sing. Both of them haven’t laughed like this for weeks. It felt great to be back together.

 

On Sunday Yuuri had to meet Victor after breakfast near the lake. This note he found on the bed. Yuuri was already nervous from the early morning. Strange anxiety didn’t let him feel fully happy. It’s the first date for him. But Eiji’s excitement was enough for them both. Phichit couldn’t understand what was going on and why both boys had such strange moods. But nobody else needs to know, that's what they have decided.

 

“Yuuri!! You will be fine!” Eiji laughed when they left the Great hall. Yuuri couldn't make himself to eat something.

 

“What’s happening? Tell meee!” Phichit begged the same for already thirty minutes in a row.

 

“Nothing, Phichit… nothing.” Eiji answered with such a voice, that even the most naïve person would be sure that it’s a lie.

 

“Eiji!” Three of them turned around when they heard a low voice behind them.

 

For Yuuri and Phichit it was unknown, but Eiji’s face suddenly changed. Yuuri couldn’t understand how. It was just different. There was a middle-aged man with brown hair and a beard. Despite being Japanese and having a serious look, he was smiling.

 

Who is he? Yuuri and Phichit stared at Eiji worried.

 

“Uncle! What are you doing here??” Eiji spoke after a long pause like he would have forgotten how his own relative looks like.

 

“I was passing by… so I thought I will visit you. It’s been so long since you came back to Japan! Do you have a second?” he kept smiling, but somehow this conversation for Yuuri seemed a little bit odd. Are they close? Yuuri wasn't sure.

 

“Yeah…” Eiji again answered after a pause. “See you later, guys.” He waved for Yuuri and Phichit and just went forward. Eiji’s uncle smiled for both of them and followed Eiji outside.

 

“That’s strange…” Phichit spoke, still looking where Eiji and that other man went.

 

“What?” Even if Yuuri asked, he couldn’t agree more.

 

This was really unusual. Eiji hasn't presented his uncle Yuuri and Phichit nor both of them seemed in good terms. Is everything okay? Maybe something happened in the family?

 

“His uncle said, that Eiji wasn’t in Japan for a long time. But… he just came back from home, right?”

 

“Oh… you are right.” Yuuri didn’t think about this at all, because he knew the truth. But Phichit was introduced just to the story which they created to explain Eiji’s absence. “It doesn’t seem that they are close… maybe they just haven’t seen each other in some time?”

 

“Maybe you are right. Eiji’s uncle is Auror, he is probably traveling a lot.” Phichit agreed. “But I can’t imagine Eiji having a fight with someone…”

 

“Yeah… I mean what? Auror?? How do you know??” Yuuri glanced at Phichit shocked.

 

“It’s not that hard to recognize them. He also had an identification card in his hand. It’s not so easy to enter school’s territory, you know…” Phichit explained. The first time Yuuri got surprised how Phichit is able to pay attention to details. “Hey, let’s follow them!” he had those flames inside eyes and for a second Yuuri wanted to agree, but…

 

“Sorry, I have a meeting. And it’s not very nice to follow people. Eiji will tell us what’s going on, I am sure.” 

 

“Meeting with whoooo??” It was enough for Phichit to forget about Eiji and his cool uncle. But Yuuri just smiled for a friend. Seung-Gil came to the rescue just in time. Yuuri waved for them and left the school.

 

As he was going towards the lake, Yuuri saw Eiji with the man. They were standing too far away, so it would be impossible to hear the talk. But Eiji’s hands were crossed on his chest… probably something is wrong, after all. Maybe Eiji doesn't get along with his other family members. That would explain why he never talks about them.

 

Eiji with the man walked in silence for a few minutes, until the boy was sure they are far enough from the school.

 

“What the hell, Ibe? You can’t show up like this in front of my friends! I am sure now they are suspecting something!” Eiji didn’t even let him start speaking. But the smile didn’t disappear from Ibe's face.

 

“I am your uncle now?” Ibe giggled. Eiji turned his eyes away from the man. What else he had to say?

 

“And friends? That’s a strong word, Eiji. So you really into this, right?” Ibe spoke again with the same expression, but when Eiji didn’t answer Ibe sighed. “We haven’t received a report from you in more than a month. I was sent to check up on you.”

 

“What else I supposed to say? You don’t trust me or what? What have I done wrong?” Eiji kept the serious expression on his face. This conversation was meaningless. Every minute they were risking that someone might see or hear them. He will have to think about how to explain for Yuuri and Phichit what happened.

“I am your partner for three years, of course, I trust you, Eiji. But now there is chaos going on in the Ministry… so you know…”

 

“No. Stop… Ibe.” Eiji shook his head. He doesn’t need to know. He doesn’t want to know. Not now. Just no.

 

“Listen, Eiji. I didn’t come here to give you a lecture. But… there are only three people, including us, who know what's going on here. Of course, you look like a child so it was very simple to incorporate you into the school life and so on…”

 

“Ibe…”

 

“But you are Auror, Eiji. Even if you are working undercover. You can’t have friends or pretend to be one of them… I hope you do understand. No… actually I hope you still remember.”

 

“I…”

 

“Drop all these masks, Eiji, I know who you are. You don’t need to act in front of me.”

 

Eiji lifted empty eyes at Ibe. He knows. He knows it should have been different. And at first he was doing just fine, but who could have thought that everything turns out this way? Who could have thought this will be a place where he will finally find himself? Act? Everything is just an act?

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

“Eiji!! Eiji! Can you hear me??” Ibe’s voice is somewhere near yet so far, everything around is spinning. I am not sure where or what I am doing. I can’t help but get the sick feeling, from that strong pressure inside the head and pain all over my body.

 

“Come here… like that… I am holding you don’t worry…” he repeats again. I am sure that he is not trying to calm me down. Ibe is doing this for himself. I can hear how scared his voice is, yet it’s hard to concentrate. He tries to stop the blood, but it’s just too much of it. Anyone, even the silliest one would understand that it’s the end. There is no point saving me when there are tons of others who need help. Who still have time.

 

“Eiji! Don’t you dare to give up!”

 

I probably was out for a few minutes, but sadly I can hear and feel again. Not in my right mind, but I cry from the pain into Ibe’s robe. It burns so hard. I have never experienced such pain before. I want it to end. I want to be again with my parents. Anyway, one side of me died when they were killed. It’s like I was waiting for this moment to come all along. It’s empty. There is no reason for me to continue trying. There is no one else who I believe in. We have failed.

 

I lose Ibe’s voice somewhere again. I can only hear that he is murmuring something. Just when some sounds from sudden sharp pain come out of my mouth, I understood that Ibe is using spells. I want to yell at him and ask to stop, but he won’t.

 

“Ibe!!” Someone shouts and just then he leaves me in peace.

 

“We lost! This is the end… This Uprising is the last one. Ministry of Magic is taken down. They have the power now… I just try to think of the way, but there is none. Sadly, we lost too many good wizards today… How is Okumura?”

 

“Chief… with all the respect… but you can’t be serious! Are we just giving up?!”

 

I can understand the meaning of these words and they wake me up from the painful slumber. Bring memories back. This is the third uprising. The farthest line we were able to cross. The two first ones already did great damages. Starting from the promotion of trainee wizards, who still haven’t finished their Auror training, into the official Auror status and ending with hundreds of their and others death. For what? For something that already can’t be stopped. Something that nobody can understand or control.

 

“What are you suggesting me, Shunichi? You two are the only ones I found alive after the explosion. We don’t have any idea where are others. And how we will get out of the Ministry?” her voice is irritated and tired. She doesn’t sound like a person I got to know during this time. But who can blame her? Everyone lost all hopes. Even the bravest people can get broken down.

 

“Ibe…” I try to speak and both of them shuts up at the same time. There is no point for them to keep fighting with each other. “Leave… leave me and go…”

 

“Stop, Eiji. I am not leaving you… like ever I could leave my partner.”

 

That’s funny of him. I was appointed as Ibe’s partner just after the first Uprising when they decided to make all of us official Aurors because there was already a lack of wizards who can fight. Ibe lost his current partner during the fight long ago. To be exact he joined the dark side and betrayed Ibe.

 

Since then Ibe was working alone. I thought that he won’t ever be able to look at me seriously. He had a lot of experience and I didn’t… I was a burden, but he silently accepted my existence. During the second Uprising, when my parents were killed, Ibe was beside me. He watched how emotions leave my face, how I abandon every last feeling and he still kept silent.

 

I couldn’t see the purpose of this anymore. The reason why I wanted to become an Auror was my parents and now what? Should I just make my life all about revenge? And what then? I couldn’t do it. So I just decided to give up. Simple as that, there was no place I can call home anymore, this world became too corrupted. Leave the emotions and obey the law. Have I ever asked myself what it means to be an Auror? Because the answer is as simple as that. We all were meant to die for the world of Magic. So, why I was different? I already did what I had to do. This fight is over.

 

After Ibe’s answer, I sigh. If he doesn’t leave me, it's only a waste of time.

 

“There might be a way…” she slowly speaks and just then I open my eyes.

 

I can’t recognize this dark place in ruins. Maybe we are somewhere downstairs? Or not. Ibe is sitting next to me, holding on his right side, all covered in wounds.

 

“What do you mean?” he asks, but I guess they know each other too well because it’s enough for them just to exchange looks. “Oh no… that’s crazy… the council has declined this case as a possible solution, remember? Not mention the fact that it’s just an experiment. Nobody knows what kind of consequences it might have!”

 

“So, look where we are now. I can’t think of anything else, and you? If it works… if you can find out what happened and stop it before it’s too late. It’s worth the risk. Shunichi?”

 

I am sure that I don’t understand their conversation, not because of the pain. I just don’t know anything about any experiment. They would never entrust something so important to a new Auror. No matter how strong or talented they would be. And I… I am just average. But as Magic World reached the end in such short amount of time, they probably didn’t care anymore who will hear it.

 

“Let’s say… it is possible. Where should I start? When actually it has begun? We don’t have enough information.”

 

“It all started inside the Ministry… we had a traitor among us all along. If you find him before he creates this unbeatable army of killers, it should be enough… Listen, Shunichi… I know it’s too much to ask, but now who else could it be?”

 

“Eiji…”

 

“What?” instead of me, Chief is the one who asks. Of course, this wasn’t the answer she expected to hear.

 

“I will do it only if Eiji comes with me.”

 

“What are you…”

 

“It’s the only way I can save him.”

 

“Ibe no…” I whisper with my last strengths. It’s hard to speak.

 

The view gets darker with every minute and still, I continue to resist him like always. I don’t have any idea what they are talking about, but I don’t want to be a part of it. I don’t want to do anything else… I don’t have any will for that.

 

“Only if he gives Unbreakable Vow to you,” she answers after a few seconds.

 

“Oh… for the sake of Merlin, do you need to go this far??” Ibe sighs. “I trust him, isn’t this enough?”

 

“Not for me. I know you for years, Shunichi. And I believe your words. But like you said yourself, we don’t have any idea what happens over there… you have to be sure, that there is no risk. One of you might become traitor. You should perfectly understand what I am talking about.”

 

She knows where to strike. I can see from Ibe’s face, that he gives up. Probably it wouldn’t have been so fast, but we are running out of the time. He turns at me, for a second just stares, how I am instinctively trying to catch small sips of air, and then leans forward. I can’t explain how hard it becomes for me to keep eyes focused when Ibe intends to lift me up. I hold on and him with trembling hands, trying to hold back the screams, but he is a cruel man, doesn’t let me rest even for a second. Finally, I am sitting and when I can again understand my surroundings Ibe is holding my hand.

 

“What…” I try to speak. “Please… Ibe…” I want to explain that no matter what kind of idea they have, I don’t want to move forward. I want to give up, I want to rest. I want to die. Doesn’t sound like a word from Auror? Well, maybe I shouldn’t have become one in the first place.

 

“Okumura, I perfectly understand how you feel, but it’s important. It’s your duty, understand? Law and order go above emotions. Remember?” Chief speaks fast.

 

Those perfect phrases are taken from a bunch of rules that we had to remember. This elite job is nothing more than following laws. Scarifying your dreams and future. You don’t even have a right to die before they tell you so. Do I have an option? I don’t have my opinion here anyway. She told me to live and I have to. Because that’s the life I chose.

 

Chief touches our hands with her wand, at the point where they connect, and then my and Ibe’s eyes meet.

 

“During this task, will you promise, Eiji, not to betray me?” he speaks softly, as a father talking to a son, but I know his true intentions.

 

“I will,” I answer still wondering how he thinks that I might betray him.

 

“And will you promise not to lie to me, even if the information might be against one of us?”

 

“I will.” Something inside my throat is stuck. I can’t believe that Ibe doesn’t trust me so much. What kind of plans they have?

 

“And no matter what, you can’t tell anyone the truth about yourself. Will you promise me that?”

 

“Yes, I will.”

 

As I speak my last words the red light from the Chief's wand wraps around our hands, like some sort of chain and then disappears. I don’t feel any different or some weird connection between me and Ibe. Just a strange feeling inside that I must follow these vows. Unbreakable Vow. I couldn’t be more sure about my words because Ibe is the closest person I have left in an entire world. I didn’t want to live anyway, so this kind of promise didn’t mean much. If only it was important for him.

 

“Are you happy now?” Ibe looks at the woman and when she nods he quickly hugs me around the waist and the next second we are already traveling by air.

 

I know that because for a second I can’t breathe at all and because of that my body starts to tremble even more. I can barely see what’s going on, just feel how we are moving somewhere. I knew the Ministry from the inside well, but I am not sure about this place. My body feels too weak to move. Even when Ibe lifts my head and tries to tell something I am not sure if I hear well. His face is like paint, merged all over.

 

“Eiji! Hey… listen. Can you hear me? When you wake up… search for me. Don’t try to make your own conclusions, just search for me, alright? Come to the Ministry of Magic in Japan. I will be waiting for you. Do you hear me? Eiji, nod.”

 

“It’s too risky. I think he doesn’t understand what’s going.”

 

“He does.” Ibe doesn’t give up. “Eiji, nod!”

 

I try to do so. Just because he asked. They speak something more and somehow their voices make me feel even more relaxed from pain, I feel calm. It feels like a dream then I start to fly, crossing some endless path.

 

 

 

 

When I open my eyes, it’s warm and safe. It doesn’t hurt anywhere and it smells nice. I somehow instantly smile, when I remember this nostalgic scent. That’s how my mother’s pancakes used to smell, with strawberry jam… she used to make them during my summer holidays. I happily stare at the familiar ceiling still a little bit dizzy from this pleasant dream. I miss home… I miss mother and her pancakes, I miss everything about this place, which now stands abandoned in the middle of the forest. The place where I won’t be able to return.

 

“Eiji! Are you still sleeping? Get up!” her voice reaches me and before I understand what’s going on, I am already sitting in the bed with my wand ready. It’s not a dream! Or is it?

 

I jump out of the bed and run from my room through this perfect illusion into the kitchen. My mother is baking pancakes still wearing her favorite bathrobe with flowers and father is sitting at the table reading a newspaper. He always used to do that before leaving to work. I freeze as they both look at me with confusion in their eyes.

 

“Good morning!” then she notices my wand. “Eiji? Is everything alright?” She asks and this time since she is so close it's even more painful to hear.

 

I know something is wrong here because both of my parents were killed almost a year ago, but I can’t hold myself back, because it seems so painfully realistic. My wand falls down and I can’t stand calm. I ran to her and wrap my hands around my mother’s shoulders. She is a little bit shorter than I am. Just as I remember.

 

“Mom…” my voice cracks at the end, when body trembles. I thought I won’t ever be able to hug her again. And here it is. I don’t care what kind of magic they used, but I am hugging her and it’s enough. Yes, that’s her… I wouldn’t be able to forget the way her arms used to hold me.

 

“Hmmm… what happened? Bad dream?” she smiles and pats my head.

 

“Okay, I love you too, darling, but if you won’t let me go, I will burn the pancake.” She laughs and softly kisses my cheek. I step back just to look at my mother, then I turn at my father who is hiding behind the newspaper again, but obviously laughing from my behavior.

 

“Already fifteen but still acts like a child. And you say, you want to become an Auror?” he keeps giggling, but not in a bad way, just teasing.

 

Want to become an Auror? Fifteen??? My eyes automatically search for the date on the newspaper first page, it makes me completely astonished. It’s almost five years less than it has to be! I blink and slowly sit down on the chair. What’s going on?

 

I try to remember anything, but it’s hard. I remember the explosion, the pain and then the vow I had to give to Ibe. I remember something more, but it’s not that clear. I am sure about one thing. The reason why I am here now must lay inside those things he told to me. I need to search for Ibe.

 

“Oh, I need to go to work… Eiji, you sure you are fine?” It’s unusual for my father to be so concerned, but maybe my face seems so confused that even he is worried.

 

“Yes… I… just… had a long and bad dream…” I murmur something and it makes him walk away with a smile. As my father is passing by, I can see the bracelet he always used to wear, I smell his expensive cologne. It’s really him. “Wait! Dad, can I come with you?” I shout and that makes him look back.

 

“Really? Sure!” He seems happy because it is rare for me to show interest in father’s work. “Get ready then.”

 

“You are not going anywhere without a breakfast!” Mom grabs on my shoulders when I try to get up and pushes me down.

 

Instead of turning mad at her, I smile. I know that all of this probably has some crazy explanation and is only a temporary thing, but still, I can’t help just feel alive again.

 

“Will we travel by air?” I ask my dad when we leave the place.

 

“Do you know how to do that?” he laughs and I quickly shake my head. It’s better not to tell anything until I get all the answers. If I really somehow am fifteen again, I can’t use magic freely, as I already am used to.

 

“But… why not? Just don’t tell mom. You know how she doesn’t like when we do simple things with magic.” He winks and takes my hand.

 

Dad’s hand is strong and warm, we are almost the same height and look so alike. Just some wrinkles next to his eyes remind that actually, he has so much more experience. Without dad noticing I secretly stare at him, still trying to convince myself that I won’t wake up any moment now.

 

Our Japanese Branch is just as I remember before the Uprising. While walking with dad through hallways, I try not to show any kind of a surprise when I see familiar faces, but they don’t seem to recognize me. We reach my father’s office, which belongs to the Department of Magical Education. The room is spacious, there are just a few papers on the table, probably by the end of the day there will be more.

 

“Sit down, Eiji.” He smiles showing towards the couch. “I will answer a few letters and then I can show you around! Why you decid—“

 

Before dad has a chance to finish the sentence the door opens and a man comes in. I know who he is just from documents and general knowledge since Aurors had nothing to do with him. But he is the head of this department. My father doesn’t work for him directly. What he is doing here?

 

“Sir Golzine, Good morning.” my father also seems confused.

 

“Okumura. Where is the list? It should have been on my table this morning. The camp starts after three weeks, I need everything to be ready.” He speaks calm yet somehow I find his voice even a little bit disgusting. He speaks like my father would be no one. Some kind of trash.

 

Did he come here to get a summer camp list? Why he would come here by himself just for this unimportant thing?

 

“I will do it now, Sir. I am sorry.” My father bows and Golzine leaves without any word. He didn’t even glance at my side. So that’s how he looks in person. I heard a lot of talks about him. Golzine was a cruel man for his subordinates. But since the first Uprising, it was hard to focus on something else than saving people and fighting. I wasn’t sure about the future of this person.

 

As soon as he leaves my father sighs. Even without words, I understand that now he has to do tons of work. But that is not a problem.

 

“Can I walk around by myself? I promise not to disturb anyone…” I raise my head and try to smile.

 

“I very doubt that… but alright. Just try not to talk with anyone.” He nods a few times. There is no other option or else I will be stuck here with him until lunch.

 

I perfectly know where I need to go, that’s why I don’t even stop for a second to look around. I use the stairs instead of the elevator, ran a few floors up and here I am in front of Department of Magical Law Enforcement. Nobody stops me, since I look like I know what I am doing, but to be honest I don’t. I just know I need to find Ibe, but what if he is not here? What if he doesn’t recognize me like everyone else? I stop in front of the Auror Headquarters.

 

“Hey, kid! What are you doing here?” at first I don’t even react to this voice because obviously, I think that it’s not for me. Just when someone’s hand touches my shoulder I quickly turn around. “That’s not a place for children… where did you come from?”

 

As I try to figure out what to say, someone comes from behind.

 

“He is with me, Toshiro!” this voice I could have recognized from anywhere. “Trainee…” Ibe laughs.

 

“Oh, I didn’t know we have one.” The man shrugs and passes through us.

 

“Ibe!” I turn around just to see the man. Oh! I forgot that he used to be without his funny beard. Surely he changed a lot during those years. “What is going on?”

 

“Come here …” he shows me to follow. “To be honest I didn’t think you will show up so quickly.” We enter a small cab where Ibe used to work and he quickly uses the spell to ensure that no one overhears us from the outside. As soon as I am sure we are safe, I can't stay calm.

 

“What have you done?? Did we go back in time?? My parents are alive? And what I am fifteen now?? Is this real? Ibe, what have you done??” I repeat. I don't hold back my questions. He just listens and this disturbs me even more.

 

Probably I am right and the truth is so unbelievable, that I can’t stand still. He was expecting that, right?

 

“First, sit down.”

 

I don't want to do so, I keep standing.

 

“Sit down, Eiji.” He repeats and I finally do that, because otherwise, Ibe won’t talk. “I am sorry I couldn’t explain this before, but you were dying, I had no choice. I am just glad that you managed to come to me before jumping into some conclusions…”

 

“Do you think I am an amateur or what?”

 

Technically now I am, so no one of us answers.

 

“In the Department of Mysteries, there was one project. Only a few people from our department knew about it... they tried to make a portal. It works differently from the time-turner… If you go back in time using time-turner, you can live through the past again, while your past self also exists in the same timeline. So technically you are in two places at the same time…”

 

“So you tell me that there is also another me right now?”

 

“That’s why there were so many troubles about the time-turners. If you could meet yourself who claims to be you from the future, probably you would think that you are going insane. Portal works differently… it actually brings you back to the past time. There is no present or future you… just this timeline. You understand, Eiji… the portal was made just as an experiment. No one ever meant to use it. Because of it, now we are the only ones, who knows what will happen in the future.”

 

“It’s difficult to understand… but you want to tell me… that we didn’t just travel back in time… but it actually teleported us back to the time five years ago… like time loop?”

 

“Pretty much… I am sorry I never told you about it, Eiji. I swear… we never intended to use it until the last second. It was incomplete and also dangerous. It project should have been stopped… but the last Uprising destroyed almost everything… we didn’t know what to do.”

 

“But why now? Why exactly this time?”

 

“I don’t have any idea… but we still have almost five years until the first Uprising. We are the only one who can stop it. That’s the reason why we came. And at the same time, we can’t let anyone else find out… anyone can be a traitor.”

 

“I perfectly know that. Unbreakable Vow, right?”

 

“Oh, so you remember? I thought that you acted unconsciously.” Ibe sighs and lets his shoulders down. I still have a lot of questions.

 

“So we are here, but what now? Where do we start? I am fifteen, it means I still need to go to school… I can’t use magic and I can’t be Auror… where are we? At the beginning of summer? And since my birthday is on February… we have what… one and a half year until I turn seventeen? You actually don’t think that I will just sit here doing nothing, right?”

 

“I have to think about everything… but Eiji, you still are Auror, don’t forget that. You have to…”

 

“Follow the law and forget emotions. I know, I know don’t worry. Like I could live somehow else after everything we have been through…” I sigh and look at my hands, suddenly everything seems not funny anymore. I am still on duty, right? Even if no else can’t find out. For a few moments, we sit in silence and then I remember something. “What kind of dangers you are talking about, Ibe? You said the portal was dangerous? Some side effects...?”

 

If side effects are my parents who I will be able to save from the tragic destiny, I don’t mind it. But it couldn’t be just that, right?

 

“I can’t be for sure, but the creator of the portal thought that… it’s impossible to live in the past with memories about the future since it goes against nature. He thought that… it’s very possible that as soon as you start adapting to life in the past the memories from the future will just fade away like it never happened.”

 

“Who… who created the portal?” I silent ask and Ibe already opens his mouth to answer, but then we both see my father coming towards us. Damn it. Ibe quickly removes the spell.

 

“Okumura! Hello! I just met your son. Eiji, right? Very interesting and talented boy, I think…” Ibe nods, and I don’t know how should I react to this. I am a very bad actor.

 

“Hello, Ibe. Eiji! I told you not to disturb anyone, but I knew you will want to come to meet an Auror. He actually wants to become one!” my dad looks at Ibe and I can hear a sip of pride in his voice. He always wanted me to be one.

 

“Really? Well, I think it’s possible!” Ibe smiles. “About your questions, Eiji, I can write you a letter when I have time, is that alright?”

 

Letter? When? What I suppose to do until then? Have a summer holiday and live a normal teen life? I don’t remember how to do that anymore. What did I use to do during summers?

 

“Sure, thank you so much.” I nod and get up, my father hugs me around shoulders as If he wants to make sure I won’t run away and then we leave the headquarters.

 

“What did you tell him, that he agreed to answer your questions? Since Ibe's partner betrayed him a few years ago, he doesn’t let anyone close to him… you have some charms, Eiji.” My dad is still laughing and I want to laugh together, but actually, I feel like a wounded old man, who is trapped in the body of this naïve teenager. From the powerful wizard, this is where I ended up.

 

 

 

I sit in my bedroom looking at the stars through the window, trying to figure out today’s events. It was so good to talk with my mother again and be able to look at how dad listens to Quidditch match on the radio. I also used to play Quidditch in school. Wait, it means I still do, right? The future from which I came still doesn’t exist and if we manage to find out the truth it will never come. Nobody gets hurt. Is it really possible? I couldn’t help just hope that Ibe somehow will be able to do something, that I won’t have to go to the school… the stuff they are learning there will be too easy for me. How will be able to pretend that I don’t know anything?

 

I remember the time when I was living this life before. I used to have a lot of friends, but now it would be too risky. I was good at everything, except potions, but during the last year of school, I managed to get better. That’s when I seriously decided to seek the hard path and become an Auror. My mother was worried, she thought that the job is too dangerous, but all I wanted to do, was to make my father proud. I finished school with the best grades, passed the first test and joined the training. By that time, I was still so naïve, a little bit too pure and self-doubting. To be honest, if not the Uprising and its consequences probably I wouldn’t have passed all the tests. It wasn’t a power or knowledge that I lacked. I just… wasn’t sure if I am in the place where I supposed to be. Sure, from the side it seemed so cool be among the Aurors. But I liked to watch them not the job itself. I couldn’t drop it because I was afraid that my parents will be disappointed. Ibe saw how actually fragile I am and strangely he didn’t try to convince me to stop. He knew I have nowhere else to go. I wasn’t able to find my path in this world and when the war started it was already too late. After the massive killings during which my parents died, something inside me changed.

 

There was no point for me to try anymore, prove something or to think about someone. That’s the path of Auror. Sooner or later you lose everything and everyone that is precious to you. That’s why it’s better not to have anyone. That’s what I had to learn. Law. Orders. No emotions. They didn’t make me become like this, I chose myself. The only way to keep living. There was no home to return to, there was no one waiting for me… so I did what they asked. I used the Magic against others and turned off every feeling inside me. The day after the day… day after the day…. I didn’t see anything more than this war we were living in. Constant fights and deaths… Everyone knew that the third Uprising is coming, but when? We thought we might be prepared for this one. We were wrong.

 

The last attack came from the inside. The Ministry became corrupted, more and more people joined the other side, which obviously had greater power. The plan was made by genius indeed. No one didn’t know when it began and from where… but when people started noticing that something is wrong it was way too late. There were some guesses what it might be. A new spell which controls people minds? Potion? Possession? I have seen people who were under it. Empty look and unnatural moves. The only way to kill them was by using knives and other Muggle tools. Spells were useless. We were losing not just the fight, but the whole war. Does Ibe really think it’s possible to change that? I couldn’t understand. I was lonely before… but now the feeling got even worse. The life, where you can’t trust anyone?

 

Letter from Ibe came after a week.

 

Eiji,

I passed the letter directly through your father, so there won’t be any risks. There is one more person who knows the truth now. For the sake of safety, it’s better not to know who it is. Don’t worry, it’s someone we can trust. I am sorry that I wasn’t able to come and tell you this in person, but it’s better to interact as less as possible.

As soon as you turn 17, you will be able to use all the privileges as an Auror, but until then because you have the Mark there is nothing I can do about it. Please bear with it for now.

But there is something you can do. And actually, you are the only one who can. The first Uprising occurred in the school of Magic in the United Kingdom. Hogwarts. We want you to go there. It might be a reason why this place happened to be attacked first. We even think that they might have started using the spell, or whatever it is, on students as experiments. You can stay there for a year, just to look around. Maybe we are wrong, but since I am working to find out what is going on inside the Ministry of Magic you can do the same in the place where everything has begun. We expect from you to get a report every three weeks. Tell us everything even if it might seem not very important.

The bad thing about this, I won’t be able to support you in any way. If there will be something you want to find out, you will have to use only the sources you can find as a student. Same goes for Magic and traveling by air. Don’t forget about Mark! If you use the Magic outside the school territory they will know. If there will be an urgent situation to use it, think about the spells, don’t do anything that might expose you. Don’t forget about the Vow you gave.

As you will be working undercover, there are things you must remember. Don’t make friends there and try not to interact with others too much. Just as much as you need that they won't have any suspicions. And it’s important, Eiji. Don’t let yourself too much into this life. Don’t forget why we came here and what we must do. Don’t forget who you are for real. Don’t let emotions control you.

Laws and Orders. Okay?

One day, everything will be over. We need to fight for that.

 

Ibe.

 

P.S. Get rid of the letter as soon as you read it.

 

I stare at this letter for a second longer. It’s not like I hoped to find something comforting or encouraging, but now I and Ibe… we are alone here in this world. But there is nothing more in this letter just orders and reminders. He also told everything to someone. And who have I? Is there anyone I can trust? Why does he think that it’s not difficult for me? I know I don’t have a right be me mad and actually… I am not. Just sad. Painfully lonely here.

 

I had a whole summer to prepare myself for Hogwarts. For parents I told I want to try studying abroad because it seems more interesting, it wasn’t hard to convince them. I read my old journals and went through the pictures to remember what kind of positive sunshine I used to be. But at the same time, I had to cut lines with my old friends, who just couldn’t understand what made me want to go studying in Great Britain. Sadly, I couldn’t explain to them either. It wasn’t my choice, even if in order to lie I had to convince myself differently. That was the only way, I can make myself to believe that I want to go there. The day I had to say goodbye to my parents went easier than I thought. My mom hugged me next to the fireplace at our local Floo Network and I just smiled. Because I knew I will come back no matter what. I won’t let them get hurt, not again.

 

So here it is. Hogwarts. Shorter Wong was the first person I met here. He waves for me already from far away and it just makes my life easier.

 

“Good evening. I am Eiji Okumura.” I bow as a normal Japanese person and that only makes Wong smile.

 

“What a cute little boy. Actually, I am also new here.” He laughs, but I can’t understand what’s so funny in that. “They told me to lead you to the Baranovskaya’s office. She is really scary. But you didn’t hear this from me.”

 

He doesn’t stop talking as we walk through the hallway. There is no need for me to do anything, just look confused. And it’s not so difficult because I don’t understand half he is saying. Wong seems young, to be honest, he looks like a student, not a professor. It’s not hard to be with him because basically, I don’t have to do anything. I just keep wondering what subject he is teaching? From Wong's appearance, I would say, that he wasn’t meant to be a professor… and from his laughing but at the same time strange look, I understand that he also has a story to tell. While working as Auror you start suspecting everyone.

 

The ceremony to sort me in one of the Houses is strange. Baranovskaya sits at her table and looks at me, but seems too tired to talk. Other professor named Victor Nikiforov stands there with no expression on his face. That’s what they call a perfect soldier. Even I wouldn’t be able to understand what he is thinking. Professor’s voice is soft and I can see that he and Wong are really good friends, but that’s pretty much I can figure out about them. What are they doing in this school? I couldn’t get rid of the question. Professor Nikiforov puts the old wizard’s hat on my head and just after a second it screams “Gryffindor.” I can’t understand is it just my imagination or I really heard a voice inside my head saying “It will be really hard for you. Good Luck.”

 

It seems that none of them is the Head of my House. Nikiforov explains that I will meet that person tomorrow and then after saying goodbye to Wong and Baranovskaya I leave the office with him. This time is very different. Nikiforov doesn’t say a word, just looks in front as someone might attack us any second. He reminds of myself during the war. As we walk in silence I can’t help just feel a little bit nervous that he might be suspecting something. But nothing happens. We stop next to the dormitory, he tells me the password, gives a sheet with the timetable, explains which bedroom is mine then leaves. Simply as that. Odd. Something is really odd about them.

 

I enter the common room, but it’s empty. Because of the different time zones, it’s a middle of the night here, everyone is probably asleep. Even better. It’s already too much for me. But as I go up the stairs I can only a sigh with relief. Maybe it’s not that bad as I thought it will be. I mean who would suspect a fifteen years old boy to be an Auror from the future? After convincing myself during the summer, this thought also seems funny. With a smile on my face, I open the door.

 

And there he is. The man who turned my world upside down at same split second.

 

He is standing next to the window, looking through it, but as soon as I open the door he turns at me. I don’t know who he is or why he is in my new bedroom, but to be honest, at that second I don’t really care. Our eyes meet and I lose my breath. For that second I forget why I came here and what I must do. The only thing I am able to think of is now. My heart breaks into some unfamiliar pieces as this moment last almost for a minute.

 

Was he always here? Waiting for me to come? Because surely I want it to be that way. First time in my life I feel something so strange, my heart rushes inside the chest even before I understand what I am seeing. A transparent body. A ghost. Just a memory of someone who once lived. The most beautiful human being I have ever seen. I don’t know what happened to him and why, but it hurt so badly that I want to cry. Love from the first sight? Maybe. Maybe this is it. I don't understand what I feel at this point. Is it something I was always searching for and had to go to the past to find? So it had to be this way? Form the start? I don’t care that he doesn’t exist anymore. I want to talk. I want to get to know him. I want to be as close as possible. I don’t care about warnings that Ibe gave, this man can’t be harmful. Or wait?

 

His serious eyes saw right through me. I didn’t even need to try.

 

“Very nice staring. Now turn around and get out where you came from. Right now.”

 

His powerful voice. I close my eyes, just to hear it better. His first words to me.

 

Together with these new feelings that suddenly grows inside, another thought occurs to me. This man is the biggest threat to me. I was just pressed down by tons of emotions, which I didn’t have any right to feel.

Was there a love?

 

No. Only a war of hearts from the very beginning.

Chapter Text

“That’s… my room.” I can’t explain why while talking with him my voice suddenly begins to tremble.

For a second longer, he stares at me, the feeling is a little bit scary. It’s like he can tell what I am thinking. My heart painfully beats inside the chest. I know I am strong, I know what I have to do but until he turns away from me, I am not sure about anything anymore.

He leaves through the wall and the room feels totally empty, the sense is gone. It’s like he has never been here. Maybe everything was just my imagination? Probably there is a lot of ghosts in Hogwarts, some of them may not be friendly.

I get ready to sleep but leave all the unpacking for tomorrow. I still have a lot on my mind, especially the eyes of that man. No matter what I felt, I need to forget it as soon as possible. It is strange that I got lost in a moment.

I know that morning still hasn't come, but I open my eyes and he is here. Staring at me from so close. To be honest, I didn’t expect this at all, so my eyes get wide and instead of the scream, I jump back, falling on the floor, at the same time taking my wand and pointing at him. It took just a few seconds to happen. I didn’t even think just acted from instincts. He doesn’t say anything, but I can swear that he smiles before turning back at me. With sarcasm, of course. What kind of ghost is he? When he is gone I try to go back to sleep, but it's mission impossible.

As my first night at Hogwarts is not that successful, no surprise that I can’t focus during classes the next day. Someone from my House helped to find the right classroom, but I don’t even try to remember the person's name. During the lunch, I just follow the crowd to the Great Hall. I wish I could look around a little bit more, but the only thing I can think of is sleep. So the next class, which I had to attend, Potions, goes horribly bad. I accidentally get confused between ingredients and professor, who is twice higher than me, only rolls his eyes. Success, now he can’t suspect me. Even if it’s the first day of classes we already have some homework, but I can’t do anything. All I can think about is the bed. So after the Potions, I turn back to the Gryffindor House and, of course, I get lost.

“You seem lost.” I hear a laugh just next to me, it’s a man. Probably professor, but I haven’t seen him before.

“It’s my first day…” I don’t know why I feel guilty. I could just use magic to find the way back, but from now on I will have to forget about higher level spells.

“I know. Okumura Eiji, right? I am Christophe Giacometti, the Head of Gryffindor.” He keeps smiling mood on and I feel so relieved. “Is there are a reason why you seem so tired?” he keeps talking when I quickly bow for him.

“Yes… there is a ghost in my room and… he scared me yesterday, so I wasn’t able to fall asleep.” I complain like a child. Really, Eiji? Really?

“Oh…” I am sure that it’s hard for him to hold back the smile. I can’t help but notice that Giacometti’s eyes seem so open and lively compared to Wong’s and Nikiforov’s from yesterday. I don’t want to suspect anyone, but probably this is just who I am. “Actually, it’s forbidden for them to disturb students during the night. How does he look like? I will try to talk with him.”

“He looks young, I guess… but… but don’t worry! I think he was just messing with me because I am a new student. I will talk with him myself…” When I start speaking, I change my mind. I don’t want to tell anyone about that ghost and I can’t explain why.

“Young boy… hmm…” Giacometti is thinking and I am silently begging in my mind that he wouldn’t know him.

“Chris!!!” this happy shouting comes from across the hallway and I recognized it right away. Professor Wong is waving for us coming closer, next to him is Nikiforov, emotionless just as yesterday. “Eiji! How was your first night here?”

I am a bit surprised that he remembers my name, I just quickly and a politely nod. Between them, I feel very small.

“Your dormitory is just up these stairs,” professor Giacometti shows me and I am out as fast as I can. I am still in time to hear how Giacometti mentions to Nikiforov and Wong something about the ghost, who is disturbing students during the sleep. I shouldn’t have said anything.

When I enter dormitory I can’t help just feel a bit mad at Ibe. He puts me in this school, separates from whole information about this case. I know that he wishes just best for me, but that’s just too much. The worst part that I will have to spend the whole year here and already the first day seems long enough. My room is empty so I decide that the ghost from yesterday was probably just a one-time deal.

 

 

“Please!! Stop!”

I can’t take it anymore. I shout out loud after a week when I fall out of the bed because of sudden noise. My guess was wrong. He keeps coming here every day, at nights and that’s the reason why I can’t sleep. Ghosts can’t touch things, but it seems that he is perfectly capable of making some strange wind from which everything falls down. I pretended that I don’t care, but after seven days, when my head is literally burning from the pain I grab a book next to my bed and throw at him. Of course, it just goes through. His cold face is driving me insane! It doesn’t seem like he is having fun, but then I can’t find a reason why he doesn’t leave me be. A few days ago I tried to visit the place where all ghost usually gather, but nobody had a clue what I am asking about. Even for a ghost, he was too mysterious. As always after waking me up, he turns to leave.

“Wait!” I shout again and for my own surprise, he stops. “What do you want from me? What did I do wrong to you? At least explain!” But he doesn’t, like always just disappears.

I know the reason for his action. Just as his first and only words said, he wants me to be gone. Or at least move out from this room, but if I leave, then it will be his win. I don’t want to do this. I want just to talk, to get to know him, but like ever I will be able to.

 


As I thought studying in Hogwarts is easy, I know all the answers, but for my own sake, I pretend that I don’t. I could do better, but… but my headache makes it impossible. It seems that the only place where I am able to sleep was the common room. On the couch next to the fireplace, nobody cares what I am doing. I was not the first and not the last. Also, that's the reason how I got to know Otabek. I can’t call him a friend for obvious reasons, but I was able to talk with him just because it didn’t seem like the one who wants to get attached. He was calm and seemed always too serious.

Even if I tried to stay away as far as I could, after the first weekend in Hogwarts, when I saw that someone is making fun of the first year student, I had to protect him. That’s how I met Yut-Lung and his gang. I probably should mention, that they were the bullies. I wish I could have turned him into some kind of funny animal, but instead of that, I accepted the punch right in the face from his giant friend. That was the first time he broke my nose. The same week, I asked to join the Quidditch team and almost got caught when I heard how they are talking about the upcoming World Cup. I knew who will win, so I almost screwed everything up.

More or less it seemed like a typical school from the side. Even if something what caused the first Uprising happen here, probably it occurred just before the event itself. Also, I guessed that they chose Hogwarts as a target because it was full of students who couldn’t protect themselves.

In the middle of the second week, I fell asleep on the couch next to the fireplace. Everyone is already in their rooms so I wake up by myself from the pain in the back and slowly move towards the bedroom. When I still sleepy open my door, I can’t understand right away that the ghost is sitting on my bed.

“Why?” I hear myself asking, before thinking, but this is bothering me for some time already. Why he is not leaving me be? Why me? I couldn’t make myself to hate him, I just want to understand.

Like always the man doesn’t answer, but neither he gets up. I know that everything goes right through him, but don’t want to lay on him, that just seems wrong. No, probably more embarrassing than wrong. Why I didn’t tell anyone again about this man, I can’t explain. Maybe professor Giacometti could have changed something about it. But the situation didn’t seem like a joke, more and more it was getting too personal. It seems like this ghost is holding something against me. And I couldn’t understand what. It took me some time to understand how hurt he actually is.

 

 

“A report? Who is Ibe?” silence voice makes me flinch and I quickly turn around hiding the letter. These were his first words to me after three weeks and I wish I could react differently. But I can’t let him read. Usually, he doesn’t stay in the room during day time, so I wasn’t expecting anyone to come.

I just stare at him without giving an answer. It’s like we changed places, but I really want to speak. I do. It’s just I can’t… I let my eyes down squeezing parchment between my fingers. Every following seconds matter, because if I don’t tell something he will leave again. For the first time during long years, I can’t find any words. I don’t want to lie for him. I can’t tell the truth. When he leaves as I sit with trembling hands. I don’t know why it hurts so much, why I feel like I am betraying someone whose name I don’t even know? I finish my first report to Ibe with tears in my eyes. I feel so lonely. During the war, fighting was all I knew, and now I don’t know how to live anymore.

The ghost doesn’t come during the night. It’s not like I am waiting for him to show up, I am just almost used to his teasing. But the room is empty. A few days ago I would have given everything for this, but now I feel anxious. Maybe something happened? I know I should just be happy and get a normal sleep, but instead of that I get up and leave the room. I don’t have any idea where to search for him, but it doesn’t take that long. I see him floating towards me already in the hallway. It’s the middle of the night, I shouldn’t even be here at this time. Probably he thinks the same. He stops looks at me for a moment and then turns around, quickly moves away. I am seriously getting out of my mind. Instead of going back to the place where I should be, I decide to follow him. So I just start running without saying anything. I know. I can’t make friends, but he is not an actual human. What a ghost could do? Also, I can’t explain why I want to talk to him so much. I just feel the need. That’s it.

“Ok. Stop following me.” After a few floors in some strange hallway where I have never been before he stops.

“But you come to my room every night,” I answer. He doesn’t like my answer.

“Huh? Revenge or what?” he almost laughs. We have never talked like this before. Well, that’s not a normal conversation, but it's the first time I notice how actually young he is.

“No… but I just wanted to ask why?”

“So you followed me three floors wearing these funny slippers and pajama with bears?”

“What’s wrong with my slippers?” I don’t understand his humor, or maybe he is not joking? His face doesn’t have any expression. Somehow it reminds me of professor Nikiforov.

“Better to ask what’s wrong with you. You are not just a student, right?”

“What are you talking about?” my heart stucks inside the throat. I pretend that I don’t understand, but my face is too open. I am incapable of lying to him. The boy rolls his eyes almost dramatically and moves a little bit back. “Wait! Wait… please.”

“You see… I can see right through people like you. You are not the only one here full of lies, but that’s why you should have just left when I told you.”

I am not the only one? Who else? What if this man has the information which I need? I knew he saw through me. It’s not something magical about it. He can tell from experience. We might be even more similar than I thought. Just like me, this man just doesn’t trust anyone. I invaded into his private space and probably that explains his actions.

“If you think… that I am a liar… then why you haven’t told anyone?”

I don’t want to give him ideas, but I still ask. Because this man is smart, probably I could call him a genius. But he chose to bully me until I will get out of this way… wouldn't it be much more easy to tell someone his suspicions? He doesn’t speak with other ghosts, nobody of staff or students seems to know him. For how long he is keeping himself away from everyone? Hidden in that room or between these hallways in the dark?

“And why didn’t you tell about the annoying ghost in your room?”

Annoying ghost. That’s the word I used in the letter for Ibe. So he was in time to see that. Anyway, his answer is fair. We both are somehow lost between good and bad. He can’t answer why he can’t leave me alone or why he didn’t tell anyone about the suspicions I gave. And I can’t get him out of my head. I didn’t lie to Ibe, it was annoying… but why then do I feel like I want to be annoyed by him?

“So… will you come again? Back to the room?” I ask while looking at my fingers. Like a child, I can’t make myself to lift my eyes. I can swear my cheeks are blushing too. Eiji, what’s happening to you??

“It’s Ash.”

“What?” Maybe he didn’t understand my question. Where is ash?

“My name. You wanted to know it.” He doesn’t ask, somehow he just knows. From my eyes? Expression? Tone? Yes, his name was one of the things I wanted to know the most.

Ash… it’s simple but beautiful. My lips tremble a bit and I smile. This is a totally different smile. I already forgot that I can do it, it’s like something inside me woke up after a long time. Something real, not the mask I had to wear.

“I am Eiji.”

 


Probably the talk we had doesn’t seem so special, but it was. Knowing his name made the view clearer for me. There is something else I really wanted to find out, but I still didn’t know what. I could only repeat in my head. Ash. Ash. Ash and wait for the evening to come. For the time we meet. We didn’t become friends, I wouldn’t call us even roommates. He was just there and I was here in the same space, separated by death and life force. Most of the time he was still ignoring me, even when I tried to speak, but at the same time, I was able to feel that the vibe changed. He stopped waking me up at nights, but now another problem came. I still couldn’t feel calm because I knew he is staying while I am sleeping. So secretly, hiding my face, I started to watch him, standing next to the window, looking at the horizon. Who held Ash back from going further? Why he is here? Who he was? I had so many questions and with every day nothing changed. I didn’t have a right to ask more, because I won’t be able to give him anything in return.

The first time I broke down, happened suddenly. During the class, I couldn’t remember the spell. Of course, it was a new one for these students, but it shouldn’t have been for me. And still, I stared at the book, just as my classmates with total confusion, while professor Baranovskaya tried to explain the meaning for the third time. To be honest, it’s scared me to the core and at that same instant, I remembered Ibe saying that I will start forgetting things. Because that’s how it should be? So here I am. An Auror, who lived through a war, staring at the fifth year student’s book and I don’t understand a thing. Did I get scared? Of course, I did… it was just a stupid spell, but it felt like sky started to fall down, like… sooner or later because of this, I will forget who I am. Just after I heard a bell I ran back to the dormitory, inside the room and tried to write down all the things. Not just spells, but also dates, orders, my mission… everything and anything I could remember. And I felt like I should remember more, but I couldn’t.

“Interesting… A third Uprising? What’s that?” I hear Ash voice and I am just in time to jump from the corner where I am sitting and pick up all the papers.

“I am sorry… I can’t… I can’t… let you…” I sob, crawling back from where I came from. I wish for him to leave. Just for today.

“Did someone threatened you?” sarcasm from his voice is gone. Probably it’s enough for Ash to see my state.

I shake my head.

“No. Please… don’t ask. I am beginning you. I can’t answer.”

“It’s not like I will tell anyone. If I wanted I could have already done that.” He sighs. Ash doesn’t understand, he obviously thinks that I just don’t want to speak.

“No… I can’t. I can’t tell you.” I cover my face because now I feel the need to talk about this with someone. And Ash is the only one who could listen and yet, I am left here to suffer.

It’s hard… it’s so hard to keep silent. I don’t even look like the one with a higher mission to save the Magic World. I am nothing more just a boy. Who has to keep the mouth shut.

“Alright alright… it’s not like I trust you either…”

It’s not these words I want to hear from Ash.

“You don’t understand… if I tell you… I will die.” I mutter. Before talking, I think carefully. No, by saying only this I didn’t break any of the Vows.

Silence overwhelms us, only my sobbing stays. I am not even sure if Ash is still here, but I can’t open my face to see. I just hope it’s enough for him to understand.

“So it’s the same for us.” I can’t tell how long does it take for him to speak again, but when I finally look at Ash with my swallow eyes, his expression has changed. “We both can’t speak about our past… for different reasons.”

For the first time, Ash’s face is so clear. It’s like he was in some kind of pain all this time, but not anymore. He slowly comes closer.

“You have to change. Instead of getting rid of emotions try using them. That way no one will suspect anything.”

Use emotions? Use something which was forcefully taken from me? I know that he is right, but I feel betrayed by the whole world. They told me to live on and forget what it means to feel, but now it is the only way to survive? Doesn’t it sound like absolute madness? Moreover, I am being taught by a ghost! I sigh and press my head against the wall. Either way, we are both stuck just in different ways.

“Why… you don’t move forward? What’s keeping you here?” I ask after a few moments. Ash stands close. Just now I understand what kind of person was hiding behind his cold expression. He is hurt… he probably could understand me.

I am not sure how things work after death, but I wonder. Can they choose to stay or leave?

“I can’t move anywhere… I don’t… remember anything.”

I blink. Thoughts about my own problems simply fly away. That’s something new.

“You mean… you don’t remember how you died?”

“No. I don’t remember anything from the time I was alive. It’s like my life started here. In this room.”

I look at him, trying to understand what kind of joke it is. But Ash is serious. And suddenly that explains everything. His reactions. I tried to imagine him waiting here without any memories for someone to come and enlighten him. It’s the only thing he can do. He is afraid to show himself because he is not even sure about identity. I can only guess for how long he has been standing next to that window until I showed up. Without any clear expression on my face, full of lies… I didn’t give him any answers, just made even more questions. And I am here worried about a few spells that I forgot?

Ash moves a little bit back.

“I won’t bother you anymore.”

“Wait!!” I suddenly shout, without even thinking. I haven’t related to anyone so much for so long. I need him here. I need another lost soul. “I…. what if I help you to find the truth, what happened to you? I mean… with knowing your name it shouldn’t be hard.”

He is thinking, I can see that. Thinking how much he can trust me on this… thinking if I am worth to know who he is for real. But we both guess the answer. Ash doesn’t have any other option.

“What do you want for this?” he slowly asks. This will be a deal, nothing more.

“Talk with me… there is no one else I can talk with.” I admit. If I can’t escape, I will find my own way to live through this.

 

 


“Oh my, it’s freezing…” I am trembling. I wrapped another blanket around my shoulders. I knew winters are cold here, but why it had to be so cold even in the bedroom? I guess I have a little bit of a fever, because of that annoying cold. I should have worn warmer clothes.

Ash is sitting in front of me, of course, he can’t feel the same. So for him, I am nothing more than a mountain of warm clothes. I put my hand closer to the jar between us. I made a little blue fire inside of it to keep myself at least a little bit warmer. Ash said that it looks romantic. No, actually he laughed. Because of the blankets, which covered half of my face, he didn’t notice how I blushed. Romance? Already more than four months it’s only one-sided feelings.

“I wish I could do something about it. Shouldn’t you visit the hospital?” he suggests, but I just shrug. Actually, I don’t want to leave the room, I want to stay with him here, like always.

“Hm…. I always wondered how it feels to do… that?”

“Do what?” he leans a little bit forward and I quickly let my eyes down.

“You know… to touch.” I silently answer.

“I wonder…”

Ash is not like me, he is not shy, he doesn’t think much before making decisions. He is totally the opposite of me and I could only wonder how used to be back then. When he was still alive. I wish I could have found something to prove his presence. But no matter how hard I tried to search for Ash… Ash Lynx didn’t exist in any archives which I was able to reach. It’s like someone has deleted his existence. I haven’t given up… but I wonder what he thinks? Lately, we don’t talk about this much, I just don’t want Ash to be disappointed in me.

Ash slowly stretches his arm over the little jar with a blue warm fire and open his transparent palm. It’s like an invitation, which I thought I will never get. I wanted to touch him for so long, I wanted to know the color of his eyes and favorite year season. I wanted to talk even more and get to know him better. But did I have a right? I don’t know. At some point, I told Ash that I have made an Unbreakable Vow with someone. Since then he didn’t ask any questions about it. We both knew what the wrong answer could mean. It was also easier for me that way. Easier… not to remember what kind of bond I have. Sometimes I could forget about this for days and feel like a normal teenager. Sooner or later I always came back to the point where I remembered who I am for real. But who I really was? I couldn’t tell anymore.

I reach for Ash's hand with my fingertips and softly touch his transparent skin. I can’t hold the gasp; it comes right from my chest together with the strange feeling. I can’t explain in words how the touch feels. It should be the same as touching air, but it’s not. I can definitely feel that he is here. That he exists. Ash is here. It’s like a million drops of summer rain and the feeling that I am complete. And it’s not my fever talking, this touch was a whole new experience. I feel alive. Does he?

“Can you…?”

It’s not like Ash to talk so silently.

“What?” probably at this point I could have done anything. I don’t want to move my hand away.

“You know… that...”

It’s hard for him to ask, I can clearly see it. And still, Ash is trying to overcome himself to make a request. What is it?

“Hmm?”

“… smile.”

Instead of it I accidentally start to laugh because of Ash's expression. It’s hard to laugh because of the cold, my throat hurts and I want to sneeze, but I am still laughing. Because it’s the last thing I expected from him to hear. Ash was the one who told me to show emotions instead of hiding and at first, it was hard to understand what he had in mind. Whenever I tried to smile or look happy I thought that people will notice that something is wrong. But they didn’t… instead of that they finally started to look at me as one of us. I still didn’t try to make any friends, but now more because of Ash and not because of my mission. Every free minute I tried to spend with him, even if most of the time we didn’t talk. But you know… when you meet the other half of your soul, you just know. Sometimes there is no need to talk.
So I smile for him as honestly as I can. From the bottom of my heart. And even more. Ash smiles me back.

 


We sit after my last exam. My clothes and stuff are already packed, but I want to repack them… take everything out. I know I have to leave this place, but I don’t want to. This whole year I was acting so selfish.

It’s already dark outside as we sit next to the window looking at the forest. I don’t know why but in the evenings we usually end up like this. Just sitting and reading or silently talking… I tend to bring books for Ash and turn pages for him.

“What did you tell in the last letter for Ibe?”

“I don’t know… the usual… what should have I said?” I shrug. I am not even sure anymore why I have to write those letters. Report? Report what? Those letters are just something I do… because I know I have to. That’s it.

“Beats me…”

“Remember I told you about that professor who seems like he doesn’t have any emotions?” I asked Ash.

“Yeah?”

“It seems that he is better now! He talks more, I even saw him laughing… that made me wonder, that every wound might heal… you know.” I try to smile, but to be honest I am not sure what I am seeking with this statement. Probably I am talking about myself because it hurts to leave. And I can’t rid of the feeling that it’s only me who feels this way.

“Hmmm… when are you leaving tomorrow?”

Why we have to talk about this?

“Early in the morning,” I answer and then there is nothing more than silence. Our last evening shouldn't have been like this. I wanted to tell him so much more, things… that I will never be able to tell again. This is my only chance.

“Ash…”

“Eiji…”

We speak at the same time and no one finishes. Maybe it’s for the best, probably I would have regretted my words because Ash’s reaction wouldn’t be the one I want to see. What will happen to me when I leave this place? When Ash won’t be by my side anymore? Who will make me smile? Who will give me the purpose? Who will be my home?

“Stay…” he whispers. “Please. With me."

The answer is so simple. I should just stay. I should just write to Ibe that maybe one more year might give answers to something he wants to know, to something I can’t remember anymore. And it wouldn’t be a lie. And why until I heard these words from Ash lips I couldn’t think myself of this simple solution? Why always he is the one who leads my way through the darkness?

“My world would be so dark without your existence, Ash… I love you.”

Words just come out from my mouth. I don’t even need to try anymore. It’s so easy to tell him the truth. There are no lies between us and it feels so good. Just him, us… just now.

“Love…” he chuckles. “That what it is.”

 

 



 

“Sorry, Eiji…” Ibe sighs. “I didn’t mean to be so rude…” he waits for a boy to make any move, but Eiji is only looking at him.

It’s Ibe’s fault that everything turned this way. It’s obvious, Eiji’s life here had a big influence on his actions. Ibe should have expected that. In front of Ibe’s eyes, Eiji was a grown-up emotionless Auror, but here he is only a lost teenager.

“Listen...” the boy sighed. “I will write the report, okay? I am sorry, a lot happened.”

“Forget the report… Eiji, after a week you will turn seventeen. You know what it means?” Ibe smiled, like a real representation of the father. But he is far away from that.

“You mean…” to be honest Eiji totally forgot.

“Getting out of here! You can use all your privileges as Auror again! Isn’t that wonderful?” Ibe smirked for him, but Eiji couldn’t help just still stare. Oh no. He doesn’t want to. He is not prepared to betray everyone here.

“But… I mean… I can’t.” Eiji’s heart started pounding in the chest. No, just not like this.

“I know you feel confused, but as soon as you come back to your old life everything… will be…”

“No… Ibe no. I can’t come back.”

“Are you betraying me?” Ibe raised his brow, but he couldn’t help just keep smiling. No, Eiji would never do something like this. “Or maybe… you find out something?” he guessed.

“I….” Eiji can’t lie. “Yes, I found out something… probably more than you expected that I will. But… Ibe, trust me… I need more time.” Eiji needed just a little bit more time. To think of something. What does he suppose to do?

“How long?” Ibe sighed. Of course, he couldn’t have imagined how much Eiji knows.

“Until summer?”

Eiji tried, but of course, that made Ibe laugh. He shook head. Poor Eiji, he totally lost himself in this life, Ibe couldn’t blame him much, because he knew this might happen. But that’s the reason why Ibe can’t let this continue for too long.

“One month, see you then. And I am waiting for the report.” He touched Eiji’s shoulder and nodded. Interesting what happened. All this time, Eiji’s letters weren’t very useful so Ibe wasn’t expecting much. It’s time to finish games, they have less and less time to play.

Ibe pressed Eiji’s shoulder a little bit harder and then turned around to leave, he walked back towards the gates not looking back again. Poor Eiji, someone needs to show the way back for him. This student life is not for him… probably it was a mistake to let him in, in the first place.

Just after Ibe reached the gates and passed through them, he heard a voice inside his pocket. There was a simple watch, nothing special from the outside. But actually, it was one of the most convenient ways to communicate. Nice spell.

“How is he?” a cold voice and sarcastic voice came out of the watch.

“Totally lost it… it will be difficult. But he is perfect Auror, don’t worry. And I am sure he learned a lot about Hogwarts so it will be useful later… ” Ibe answered following the path. He could try to understand Eiji, it was probably really hard not to have a chance to speak with anyone.

“What a brave boy…” the voice silently laughed. “From next week I will keep an eye on him.”

“Yeah, I am counting on you, Eduardo. Are you in the office?” Ibe asked.

“No, I have something to take care of… it won’t take long. We can expect good news, soon.”

“What do you mean? Hello? Eduardo?” Ibe tried to call him, but the connection was already lost. No point. While talking Ibe was able to hear voices in the background. It seems that Eduardo was walking in the crowd. Is he in the city? Muggle world? Sometimes he can be so strange…

 



Once Ibe left, Eiji turned around and ran towards the castle as fast as he could. A month?! He tried to repeat this inside his head again and again, but with every time the panic was growing. What will happen when everyone finds out the truth? What will Eiji do, when there will be time to choose the side. Ibe’s appearance cleared his mind a bit. If Ibe finds out about Ash, he will be arrested or even worse. Eiji doesn’t have a proof, that Golzine is behind everything. But he needs to get one as soon as he can. He must do everything and anything to protect Ash. Good that Yuuri left with Nikiforov, that means professor’s office is free. Eiji got up the stairs and ran through the hallway.

Alohamora.” He unlocked the door and went inside.

This is wrong and he shouldn’t be doing it, but at this point, Eiji didn’t care anymore. He had to. The boy found green powder just next to the fireplace, then quickly looked at Maka, Victor’s Phoenix, who was glaring at him with big black eyes. It’s not like a bird can do something about it, right? Eiji’s hands were shivering as he threw the powder inside the fireplace and clearly said the address.

Here it is. This living room in front of him and the feeling that he shouldn’t be here. The guilt. On the other side, there is nowhere else he could possibly be.

“Ash!” Eiji called him loudly stepping on the carpet. “Ash!!!!” He screamed this time. It was him who taught not to hide the emotions. It was Ash who made him feel again. Eiji knows on which side he has to be, but… what if he doesn’t want to. Not anymore.

“Eiji?” Ash ran inside the room half naked, probably just after the shower. His hair was still wet. “What’s wrong? What are you doin---”

Ash shut his mouth in the middle of the sentence when Eiji ran to him and wrapped hands around the neck. The boy pressed face to Ash’s shoulder, hugging him a bit stronger.

“Eiji…?” Ash this time asked as softly as he could. He got the feeling that nobody knows that Eiji came here. “Tell me…” he pressed lips to his hair. Ash tried to be patient because Eiji’s body was still trembling. He slowly wrapped arms around Eiji’s waist and sighed. He won’t lie… there is no better feeling than this.

“I… want… I want you to meet my parents. I want us to look at the stars together and travel. Go to the Muggle supermarket to do shopping… I want to dance with you and sit in the rain… Ash, I want to have so many evenings with you. I want to spend my life with you… I… want that. Is this so wrong?” Eiji whispered one wish after another. One hand holding on Ash’s golden hair he gently brushed his nose against Ash's neck. His skin is so soft and smells so familiar. Eiji loves him to the point that life without Ash seems impossible. Aslan’s existence is already part of him.

“Eiji…” Of course, even if Ash wanted, he didn’t have any idea what to answer. He only felt the strong heat in the cheeks as holding Eiji in his arms was the most perfect thing that happened in his miserable life.

“But… Ash... you can’t trust me.” Eiji spoke again before Ash destroyed his courage. “So you can’t… we can’t… anymore…”

Eiji slowly moved back and looked at Ash’s face, the man was keeping silent. The boy’s eyes were full of tears as he was literally forcing himself to say those words. It hurts. The feeling is crushing. Eiji tried to smile, just as Ash loved to see, but… how can you smile to someone who you are about to leave?

“Eiji, I don’t care what you have done or did or will do. Can I trust you? Can you trust me? I can’t make myself speak about what happened. Can we touch each other?” Ash reached for Eiji and hugged his face with the palms.

“I don’t know… Ash. I don’t know anymore…”

Eiji placed hands on Ash’s.

“I know.”

“What?”

“I love you, Eiji.” Ash lowered his head. “And nothing can change that.”