Chapter 1: Prologue
A wizardry School.
Dante had yet to come to term with that concept. For one thing, and that was a strong reason, he didn't appreciate his mother being called a 'witch'. The word itself sounded evil, and he repeatedly shut out the voice in his head that reminded him he had no way to complain, being half-devil and all.
Son of a demon and a wi- scratch that, magical woman. Dante supposed that was ample reason for his and his twin's eccentrics.
Thinking of Vergil always brought that pang in his chest that three years had done little to sooth. In here, the orphanage, he was looked upon as either the spawn of the devil himself (teachers and bullies), or a superhero (bullied children). The only exception had been his brother, the only child equal to his talents and sheer power. And he had to go and kill himself in show-off of heroics.
Yeah, he never thought he'd say it, but he missed the brat.
Your sheer idiocy never ceases to amaze me, brother. Sentiments cannot-
"Shut the hell up, Verge." Dante growled to the monotonous voice in his head, and then realized he had spoken aloud.
"Sorry?" his roommate frowned at him.
"Nothing." Dante waved a hand dismissively. Their room was in the second floor of the old orphanage, with cracks and holes in the ceiling, plaster peeling off of walls. Dante absent-mindedly studied the faded gray of the plasters. Once it must have been white. Like their cottage in the small, quiet village at the foot of the mountain. The sun used to shine over the red tiles when he sparred with Vergil in the lawn. Late afternoon, the diminishing rays would fall on the armchairs just beside the flower beds, his father would be standing straight with his hands clasped behind his back as he analyzed their moves, and leaning forward on one of the chairs, hands gripping the handles in excitement and shouting encouragements would be his….
"Okay there, Tony?"
Dante shook himself off, angrily wiping at his eyes. Fool that he was to even think of such things…"Fine. Just got carried away."
A sympathetic look. Everyone here were orphans, they understood the pain memories caused. For some reason, that bothered Dante. Sympathy helped when one wanted to move on, not when one wanted to just lock himself away and hate fate for placing him in this position. They all thought they understood. Dante knew they'd never understand. They'd never know what it was like to be different and then having the only persons who knew taken away forever.
And he knew nobody in the wizardry world would understand him either. Not completely, they were humans. But he also knew he had to strengthen his powers, be it magical or demonic, in order to survive.
Which was why he had said 'yes' to the giant guy that came this morning.
Dante frowned as he did a back flip effortlessly, but failed to get the sword in a straight arc in mid-air. He was deep inside the 'mini-forest', as Dante had taken to call it, behind the orphanage. It was a new moon night, so no chance of being seen, but only a half hour until dinner began. He had to get this move right before then. A shadowy demon was lurking about the area, one that he was going to hunt down tonight. This one never got down in the ground, so he had to use moves in mid-air.
Getting a half-arc before he was down on the ground, he was going up again when he heard motorbike in the vicinity. A second later, his superior hearing clearly heard the words, "I have a message for Tony Redgrave."
He swung himself up through the branches of the tallest tree, crouching behind some leaves. He looked down.
A giant was talking with the head of the orphanage. It seemed to be male, with big beards and a baggy overcoat, holding a big umbrella. The headmaster was just up to its stomach length, so a fitting thing to compare its height was the growing apple tree beside it.
A demon was Dante's first guess. He gripped his sword, ready to fight if it came down to it. His mother had already given her life for him; he wasn't going to let any more people die in his place.
A moment later, he let out a sigh of relief. Demons capable of assuming human form wouldn't give out letters in his name. And that was exactly what that giant was doing.
"I'll send for him." The headmaster was saying. "He's in the hostel."
Dante jumped all the way down, landing in a crouch. He had to be back in the room.
Dante was still panting as the woman walked into his room.
"There's a gentleman looking for you, Tony." She said. "Come with me."
Gentleman, Dante mentally scoffed. Maybe I could call him that…if I was a dinosaur back at Jurassic Park. Haven't this guy ever heard of razors? No, check that, this one needs a sword…one as big as Rebellion.
But no way I'm gonna lend him…
He stepped through the entry to the Headmaster's office to see an interesting sight.
The headmaster was staring in horror at his broken desk, and the giant was waving his hands frantically.
"Didn' mean ter do that, lemme fix it, c'mon, stand aside…"
The headmaster clutched a broken piece almost in a protective way, eyes wide as saucers. He was sweating.
Dante was having too much fun seeing their stern sir so cowed to just barge in, but the woman beside him interrupted them by announcing Dante's presence.
The man looked so relieved. "Ah, Tony, come right on in." he said. "Mr. Hagrid, this is Tony Redgrave."
The giant – Hagrid, smiled in what he probably hoped would be reassuring.
"Rubeus Hagrid." He said, holding out a hand. "Keeper o' keys an' grounds at Hogwarts."
Dante raised his eyebrows and crossed his arms silently. The giant withdrew his hand, looking a bit disappointed. Dante didn't care. He wasn't going to break his hand over this.
"This is fer yeh." Hagrid said with a small smile, handing the letter out. Dante flipped it open, scanning it quickly.
Dear Mr. Redgrave,
We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted in Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Professor Minerva McGonagall
There were some papers attached. It described the things he'd need to take.
"I'm going to a wizardry school?" Dante asked in disbelief.
"Of course. And I'm 'ere to get yeh the things yer gonna need."
Dante scoffed. "And why would I wanna go?"
The giant looked really surprised at his words. "Why won't yeh? Yeh don't wanna learn magic?"
"That's what they're gonna teach me? Sorry pal, I don't do pointy hat-tricks."
Now he looked angry. "Yer a half-blood, right? Yer parents never told yeh that yeh need to learn magic?"
Dante pointed a finger at him. "My parents are dead, dude. Maybe they-" he stopped mid-sentence.
"Did anyone named Eva come to this school? Some 20 years ago?" he suddenly felt guilty for not remembering his mother's maiden name. It was something along the lines of 'Dunderbore', impossible. 'Dumbertone'? Not likely.
The giant stared. "Eva Dumbledore?"
That's what it was!
"Yeah, yeah! Dumbledore! You knew her?"
"She was a good friend o' mine. Died some three years ago."
Dante snorted mirthlessly. "Believe me, I know. So she was at that school?"
"Yeah. But….what's that to yeh?"
"She's my mother."
The giant looked…really looked at him for the first time.
"Sir, can I talk privately?" he asked his teacher with as respectful as expression as he could muster. He had to get this guy alone for a while, and cocky words wouldn't get him there.
The headmaster hesitated, looking uncertainly between the boy and the giant sized figure. Dante gave him a reassuring nod, and he stood from his chair, leaving the room with a simple "I'll be right outside."
"Dante or Vergil?" the giant finished.
"Dante. Vergil's dead." He said bluntly, "You don't know that your friend's family's been burnt to the ground?"
To his surprise, the guy's eyes grew moist. "I though' yeh were all dead…" he said. "No one knew yeh survived. Not 'ven yer grandfather."
Dante's heart skipped a beat before starting an erratic pattern, breath coming out in short inhales and exhales. He forced himself to take a couple of deep, steadying breaths.
"I have family? A grandfather?"
"Yeh. His name is Aberforth. An' a great Uncle. Albus Dumbledore. He's the headmaster in Hogwarts, and the finest wizard o' the century."
"Brilliant." He muttered. "And this whole time, I thought I had nowhere to go."
He hadn't meant to say it as seriously as it came out, and he certainly hadn't meant to set the guy off. But the giant burst into tears and gave him a hug that squeezed the life out of him. Dante bit his lip. If he was a human, he would've had a broken bone or two by then.
That umbrella could've come in handy now, he thought, as teardrops soaked into his hair.
Finally, he pulled back, and simply breathed for a moment. The giant looked apologetic.
"Forgiven." He gasped out. He stood, pushing the hair out of his eyes. "Count me in." he said, gesturing to his letter.
End of Flashback
The choice was made, no going back. He'd have to buy some things, and then, on September 1st, he'd be off to London. Giant hadn't said why he was going to a school in London, but he guessed it was either that there was only one wizardry school, or it was because his mother's uncle was the Headmaster, or because he was actually born in England.
Maybe this would be an improvement, maybe not. He'd wait and see.
Dante threw his coat towards the hook in the corner, not bothering to check if it had flown true, he never missed. Then he lay down fully dressed on his bed and waited for his roommate to fall asleep so he could go finish the shadowy demon running amok.
Chapter 2: Welcome to Hogwarts!
Dante slowly felt for his wand in his pocket. It was there. 14 inch, dragon heartstring core. It was made of beautiful, shining ebony.
He pulled his hand back, pulling out his ticket as he looked around. Platform 9 and 3/4, there had to be someone who could point him in the right direction…
A girl's voice alerted him to the presence of a couple standing beside him. The voice was from their child, a bushy haired girl about his age.
"I know it's the right place, mom! The Professor specifically told me-" she spotted Dante with his trunk and edged closer to her parents, lowering her voice. "Come on, dad! Trust me on this!" Dante's demonic hearing picked up every word.
"It's just-" the man looked uncertain. "It's a brick wall, Hermione!"
"Oh, I know, but I've read about it in my book. The wall was enchanted by-" she stole a glance at Dante, who had his arms crossed and was making no move to hide he was listening. "Not here." She said, tugging her parents by their hands.
"No place like here." Dante said, spreading his arms wide to block their way. "Looks like we're going to the same party."
Dante sat beside the window, across from Hermione, who was struggling to heft her trunk on the top.
Dante watched her try for a full minute, before saying dryly, "You know, all you gotta do is ask."
She glared at him, and spoke through gritted teeth, "Would you help me lift the trunk?"
Figuring a 'please' would be too much to ask, Dante stood and pulled it up for her. A sigh escaped her as the trunk was settled on the top.
"Excuse me, do you mind?"
A boy was standing in the doorway, with a faint blush coloring his cheeks as if he had just done something bad as he gestured to the seat. "Actually-"
Hermione waved him in. "It was your seat before we came here, right?" she said, waving a hand towards the third trunk that was already placed on the top. "I can leave if you want." She said.
"No, no, no!" the boy's blush deepened. "It's okay. You can sit here."
Hermione smiled a bit to ease the boy's discomfort, and Dante patted the seat next to him, edging close to the window to make space.
"I'm Hermione Granger." She said once the boy was settled. "And you are?"
"Neville Longbottom." The boy said. Dante coughed to hide a laugh.
Hermione's glare turned on him as Neville blushed even more.
"Tony Redgrave." Dante introduced himself, not bothered one bit about the glare.
Hermione still fumed for a moment, before turning to Neville and resuming her conversation with him. Dante found himself staring out the window, suddenly feeling lonely. If Vergil was still here, maybe they'd be in this school together. He could imagine Eva beaming, and even his father, whom he had never really forgiven for leaving them, was there in his vision, smiling with an arm wrapped around their mother as the twins walked in the station, side by side and grinning at each other-
"Which house do you want to get sorted in?"
Dante was startled out of his thoughts by Hermione's voice. He looked to find Neville and her staring at him expectantly. Dante stared back with a puzzled look.
"Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw or Slytherin?" she elaborated.
Dante resumed his blank stare. Hermione sighed in exasperation.
"Haven't you read anything? Hogwarts has four houses! We'll be sorted into them in the sorting ceremony, according to our inner abilities."
That got his interest. "Which for which?"
"Gryffindor for the brave, Hufflepuff for the loyal-" Dante mentally ticked that one out of the possible houses for him, "Ravenclaw for the intelligent-" that didn't seem his type, either, "Slytherin for the cunning."
"I think I'll go with Griff- the first one." Dante said, shrugging.
Hermione lit up. "Me too! I think it'll be a good one."
"So," Dante crossed his legs at the ankles, "How are they gonna know who's got what abilities?"
"That was not stated in the book, but it did say Gryffindor had set a system in place-"
"Wait, wait, I thought Griffin core was a house?"
Hermione gave him a cool look. "It's Gryffindor, and you don't know the four founders of Hogwarts?"
"Well…" Gotta be it, four houses named after four founders."Griffin boar, Huff and Puff-"
It was Neville this time who coughed to hide a laugh. Hermione didn't look so pleased.
"Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff!"
Dante waved it away dismissively. "Raccoonclaw-"
Neville laughed out loud before sending an apologetic glance at Hermione. Dante winked at him.
Hermione was giving Dante a scathing look. "SLYTHERIN!" she cried in exasperation. "Salazar Slytherin!"
"Whatever. Get a sense of humor, will you?"
Hermione turned her head away to stare outside, her glare redirected at the window glass.
"Anyway, so they made this place?"
"Yes." She said coldly, turning her nose up. "Forgive me if I don't find insulting four of the greatest wizards and witches of all time 'funny'."
Dante sighed, running a hand through his hair. How much longer till Ho- What the…?
He grasped at the slimy thing over his head with his fingers, frowning as he pulled it down. Neville lunged at his hand, snatching the toad out of his grasp.
"Trevor! You shouldn't be jumping around and disturbing Mr. Redgrave like that!"
"Just Tony, thank you." Dante said distractedly. "Wait, this is yours?"
"Yeah! Isn't he cute?"
Dante groaned inwardly, burying his face in his hands. "You gotta be kidding me."
Hermione reached out and cradled the toad. "Yeah, he's cute!" she stammered, poorly hiding her disgust. Neville didn't notice, though, and smiled shyly.
"Anything from the trolley, dears?" a fat woman asked them, pushing a tray full of food.
Dante was suddenly reminded of the gold coins jiggling in his pocket. His mother had left him a fortune at Gringotts, the wizard bank.
He grinned. "Got any pizza?"
The woman shook her head. Dante's smile faded. "Strawberry sundae?"
"No, sorry, dear. Come over here, pick what you want."
Now a scowl in place, Dante walked over, but it faded as he saw all the food. He grinned again. "I'm starved!"
"Bertie Botts every flavor beans?"
"Every flavor." Hermione confirmed for Dante. "There's Chocolate, Peppermints, Onion…."
Dante grimaced at the last part. "So basically, the good and the bad."
"Yeah. You gotta take a gamble." Neville chimed in.
Dante hesitated for a moment, before reaching down and taking a bean, popping it into his mouth. My first ever try at gambling…
He spat it out a moment later, coughing. "That's just my rotten luck." He said. "Rotten tomatoes."
Hermione smirked. "That's what you get for making fun of Great Wizards."
It was Dante's turn at glaring at her. "So you're gonna get a delicious flavor for worshipping the ground they walk on? A bunch of dead old farts can't change food scent."
Hermione kept her eyes on his as she pulled out a bean, tasted it and chewed at it with a smile. "Chocolate."
Dante flopped back on his chair with a sigh. My first ever at gambling couldn't have been worse…
"You do have bad luck." Neville said. "There's a lot of good flavors in this box."
"How can you tell?" Dante asked.
"By the colors!" Neville answered as if it was obvious.
Dante whipped his head around to look at Hermione, who smiled serenely.
"That's why you should read books." She declared.
"I'll pass." Dante grumbled, crossing his arms behind his head and leaning back.
"Actually….only a few handfuls can be told by colors…Oh no!" Neville exclaimed. Hermione jumped.
"What's wrong?" she asked anxiously.
"Trevor's gone!" Neville shook Dante by the arm. "Can you move over a bit?"
Dante bit back a sarcastic remark as he said as politely as he could manage, "If he was under me, I would've known."
Hermione had already finished looking under and over the seats. "He's not in the compartment." She said. "Don't worry, Neville, I'll bring him back." She moved out.
Dante sat up with a yawn. "How dramatic." He said under his breath. "Rescue mission, huh? You're gonna need a hero here… I'm in."
He checked a few compartments before coming to one where three boys were sitting.
"Hey," he called, "Did you see a toad?"
A silver haired boy looked up. "Why, if it isn't the cast out American!"
Dante stopped dead in his tracks. "What?"
"You know, the boy rejected by the American ministry. What, you don't even know? What about those freakish powers for which they cast you out? Or maybe you don't know about that, either?
He laughed, the other two laughing along with him in a monotonous rhythm.
Dante narrowed his eyes. He didn't know what they were talking about, but he was going to find out. But all of that would have to wait.
"Too bad you don't have any powers, freakish or normal, huh?" he said with a nonchalant air. "That's why you have to keep those idiots with you at all times."
The boy flushed in anger. "Watch your mouth, tourist."
"Anything to keep my eyes off your ugly nose."
The two boys lunged at him on command. Dante deftly ducked and their heads collided. The two slumped to the floor.
He shook his head in comic resignation at their skills and looked up at the boy who had been talking. The boy was backed up, suddenly looking scared. Dante smiled in a friendly way that didn't quite reach his eyes. "That wasn't a particularly nice beginning, but we can just start over. Tony Redgrave. A pleasure to meet you…?"
The boy drew himself up, his eyes now glinting in anger. "Wait till my father hears of this, scoundrel. He'll send you back to whatever place you've come from!"
Dante snorted. "Daddy's boy, right? Well, if he can really put up with all of your whining then he's gotta be a formidable force. Whatever, do as you please!" he left the compartment, smirking to himself as he stepped over Crabbe and Goyle's slumped forms. He estimated they would be back to normal in a few minutes.
This incident was definitely the best thing that happened to him since he had gotten on the train. Suddenly Hogwarts didn't seem so boring anymore.
He stuck his head in the next compartment. "Anyone seen a toad?"
He had finished searching his part of the compartments when Hermione came back with Neville, looking excited. She already had her school robes on, and Dante groaned.
What a joke…he thought, staring at the black robes. He had known the moment he had bought the school robe that wizards and witches had poor fashion sense, but actually seeing it on someone…
"Found the toad?" he asked.
Hermione tilted her head towards Neville. The boy was cradling his toad in his hand. He looked even more excited than Hermione did.
"Tony, Harry Potter is in this train!" he cried. "We'll be in the same year!"
Neville's eyes grew as round as his face. "You don't know who Harry Potter is?"
Dante shrugged. "Potters aren't my type. Gunsmiths, on the other hand…"
Hermione closed her eyes, rubbing the skin between her eyebrows, finally looking defeated. "Don't bother. One thing though: are you a muggleborn?"
"Nevermind!" she exclaimed. "You're hopeless!"
"Muggleborns are wizards with non-magical parents." Neville supplied helpfully.
"Oh." Dante said. "My father wasn't a wizard, but my mother was a witch, if that's what you're asking."
Hermione's shoulders slumped. "Oh, I'm so sorry." she said. Dante realized his use of past tense had given it away that his parents were dead.
He waved it off. "No probs. What about you?" he added in an attempt to shift the unwanted attention.
Hermione shrugged a bit. "Muggleborn." she said. "My parents were very excited when they learned I was going to a wizardry school, though."
"Oh." Dante looked at Neville.
"My parents are wizard and witch." He said softly. Dante looked at him more intently. There was a hint of sadness in his tone…..
"I'd say you should change into your robes. We're getting close." Hermione interrupted.
"Tell me again when we arrive." Dante said coolly, inwardly shuddering at the thought of wearing the clown dress. And the black hat….
His esteem of the wizards was getting lower by the second.
Dante got in the same boat as Hermione, Neville and a big girl with black hair. The water beneath them was like crystal, and he dipped his hand in the water, laughing lightly as it cut through the current.
"There are dangerous beings in the lake." Hermione warned. "I've read about them-"
Dante smirked devilishly, drawing his hand back and-
Hermione yelped in surprise as the water hit her face, and quickly reached with both her hands to wipe her eyes, dropping the lantern in the process. It disappeared in the water with a splash; Neville cried out in surprise as the water soaked his robes. The boat would've been bathed in darkness, were it not for the light coming from the other boats.
Dante was laughing. Hard. "Serves you right!" he gasped. "C'mon girl, live a little!"
Hermione angrily pulled out her wand, placing a drying charm on herself and Neville. Her eyes reflected the fire of the lanterns nearby as she turned to look at Dante.
"Look what you've done." she accused, looking around the lake. Dante turned to see everyone nearby staring at them.
He smirked. "Getting famous! This just keeps getting better and better!"
Hermione only scowled. "I really hope I don't get in the same House as you."
"Hey!" Dante protested. "Whatever House you get into, you're not gonna find another boy as handsome as me."
"And as irritating." she said. "I hope so, at least."
Dante shrugged. "Well, unlike you, I like to live in a lively manner."
She rolled her eyes and looked away.
"Welcome to Hogwarts." The woman on top of the staircase greeted them all, looking at them over the top of her glasses. She was wearing a deep green robe, and her hair was pulled back into a tight bun. Dante had the impression, out of nowhere, that this was probably the Deputy Headmistress, McGongall. The one who wrote the letters.
Dante frowned a bit as Neville pressed into his side, obviously nervous. Not only him, in fact the whole crowd was pale, looking around nervously, sticking close to each other.
What's the big deal?
"The start-of-term banquet will begin shortly," said Professor McGonagall, "but before you take your seats in the Great Hall, you will be sorted into your Houses. The Sorting is a very important ceremony because, while you are here, your House will be something like your family within Hogwarts. You will have classes with the rest of your House, sleep in your House dormitory, and spend free time in your House common room."
Just get on to it, grams…
"The four Houses are called Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. Each House has its own noble history and each has produced outstanding witches and wizards. While you are at Hogwarts, your triumphs will earn your House points, while any rule-breaking will lose House points. At the end of the year, the House with the most points is awarded the House cup, a great honor. I hope each of you will be a credit to whichever House becomes yours.
"The Sorting Ceremony will take place in a few minutes in front of the rest of the school. I suggest you all smarten yourselves up as much as you can while you are waiting."
Her eyes lingered for a moment on Dante's absolutely messed up hair. Dante stared back coolly; her eyes hardened before she turned her gaze to the others.
"I shall return when we are ready for you," she said. "Please wait quietly."
As soon as the professor was gone, Hermione began muttering about all the spells she had learned and wondering which one would be needed. Dante rolled his eyes and stuffed his hand in his pocket, pulling out a small headphone and placing it over his ears.
"You can't bring that in-"
"They're not gonna kick me out for this." Dante cut her off. "And they won't even know which house to cut points from."
His loud voice had attracted attention, but Dante didn't care. Instead he tapped his fingers on his other palm, waiting for the rock song. It didn't come.
He frowned and looked down. The device wasn't working.
Hermione gave him a haughty look. "Electronics doesn't work here." She said by way of explanation.
Dante scowled. "Wizards are weirdos."
Then he turned to watch the decorations of the Entrance Hall. He couldn't really bring himself to care about the sorting, and certainly couldn't imagine himself failing a test of bravery. The last time he did that was three long years ago. He could still remember that, huddled in the hole in the wall, pale and trembling as he felt the whole house shake….
Fearful screams brought him back to the present. He looked up to see about twenty ghosts gliding in through a wall, conversing amongst themselves, not even noticing the students.
"Fogive and Forget." A fat, short ghost was saying, "I say we should give him a chance-"
"Hey, no one ever told you it's rude to ignore people?" Dante called, pulling down his headphone and stuffing it back in his pocket. "The least you can do is to introduce yourselves."
All the ghosts turned to him as one. Dante didn't have to look to know the other students had taken a step back. The ghosts weren't really bad looking, let alone menacing. Really, it seemed impossible to be afraid of them when the most harm they could probably do was going straight through one's body, which couldn't really damage.
The ghost who was talking laughed merrily at his words. The laugh was nothing like what the horror stories would suggest, it sounded perfectly human. "New students!" he said, still smiling. "We did not see you, young ones. I apologize for that. I'm Friar-"
"Fat Friar, if you don't mind." said another ghost, wearing a ruff and tights.
"Thank you, Nearly Headless Nick." The other one said, but his smile remained, "I'm the Hufflepuff House ghost."
"Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington at your service." said the other one with a pointed glance at his friend. "Resident ghost of Gryffindor Tower."
"Haunted Houses?" Dante adopted a panicked expression. "Are there ghosts on the other house too?"
"Of course!" Nick said happily, completely missing the joke. "The other's are Bloody Baron, the Slytherin House ghost, and-"
"Move along now." McGonagall was back. "The Sorting Ceremony is about to start."
"Nice meeting you!" The Friar called before he disappeared with the rest. "Hope to see you in Hufflepuff!"
After the ghosts were all gone, McGonagall faced the students. "Now form a line, and follow me."
"These aren't real ceilings." Hermione said as they moved through the crowd, back in her lecture mood. "It's just bewitched to look like the night sky. I've read about them, in Hogwarts: A history."
Dante didn't answer her, but had to admit, the school was more impressive than any other structure he'd seen. He took in the thousands of lightened candles, the ceiling that looked like the sky and the sheer size of the hall. The older students were already at the tables. Dante guessed the four tables were for the four Houses; he could see the banners over them. If he had to pick, he would've chosen the red one, if only because it was his favorite color and lion seemed preferable to otters, birds or snakes.
They reached the table, and Professor McGongall stopped beside a tool with a worn looking hat on it, which soon began to sing:
"Oh, you may not think I'm pretty, but don't judge on what you see,
I'll eat myself if you can find a smarter hat than me…"
Dante fidgeted, his hand itching to throw something and knock off the stool. The hat had a horrible voice. But something told him the lot at the stuff table wouldn't like that.
"…There's nothing hidden in your head the Sorting Hat can't see,
So try me on and I will tell you where you ought to be.
You might belong in Gryffindor, where dwell the brave at heart,
Their daring, nerve, and chivalry set Gryffindors apart;"
Dante was already sure he had found his House, minus the chivalry.
"You might belong in Hufflepuff, where they are just and loyal,
Those patient Hufflepuffs are true and unafraid of toil;
Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw, if you've a ready mind,
Where those of wit and learning, will always find their kind;
Or perhaps in Slytherin you'll make your real friends,
Those cunning folk use any means to achieve their ends.
So put me on! Don't be afraid! And don't get in a flap!
You're in safe hands (though I have none) for I'm a Thinking Cap!"
The room burst into applause. Dante snorted. "Talk about hat-tricks."
"When I call your name, you will put on the hat and sit on the stool to be sorted," Professor McGonagall said, pulling out a large scroll. "Abbott, Hannah!"
A blonde girl stumbled over to the stool.
Dante kept an ear out for his own name, while he scanned the staff table. His gaze fell on the headmaster's chair first.
"Is that Albus Dumbledore?" he asked.
"Yes." Hermione whispered back.
That's my mother's uncle? Dante took the guy in. They had only one thing in common….the silver-white hair. As the Headmaster's warm blue eyes fell on Dante's icy ones, the former's eyes softened, and he gave a nod of acknowledgement. For whatever reason, this guy recognized him even though Dante never remembered meeting him.
'We got a hundred things to talk about.'Dante mouthed. Dumbledore nodded back, signifying he understood.
The sorting continued as Dante continued to size up the other staff, noting that the two boys that had tried to pick a fight with him were sorted into Slytherin. The two brutes were named 'Vincent Crabbe' and 'Gregory Goyle'.
Hermione ran over, sitting on the tool and placing the hat on her head.
She smiled broadly, jumping off and sitting at the selected table. Dante noted Gryffindor was the House with the red and golden banner, and the symbol of a lion.
Yeah, I can definitely live in that house…
Neville tripped over his own feet in his haste. Laughter sounded all over, and Dante was certain that both the Slytherins and Ravenclaws looked actually relieved when the hat shouted, "GRYFFINDOR!"
The silver haired boy he'd met earlier on the train swaggered up to the table, and put on the hat, which didn't wait a second before shouting, "Slytherin!"
Dante watched him join his lackeys on the table, who looked healthy enough by then. He shrugged, and decided to occupy himself by staring at the ghosts. A bloodied ghost sat at the Slytherin table, looking decidedly ghostly. Blank, haunting stare, cold face. Bloody Baron…name fits!
On the Ravenclaw table was a female ghost. Dante had to give it to her: She was good looking. Her eyes were sad, and she sat without a word. Nick didn't get the chance to tell him what the Ravenclaw ghost's name was, he remembered. Either way, these two Houses looked somewhat reserved, the Slytherins even a bit unhappy.
The hall suddenly fell silent. Dante turned his head to see everyone focusing on the boy now walking to the hat. Then whispers broke out everywhere. Two redheads were already on their feet at the Gryffindor table. They looked exactly alike, so Dante guessed them to be identical twins.
A relatively ordinary looking boy with big glasses was settling on the top of the stool. As he pulled it on, his hair was pushed back a bit, and a lightning shaped scar could be seen on his forehead.
"It's him!" several voices whispered.
"He's the one!"
Dante raised his eyebrows. The hat was perfectly silent. Maybe Harry's messy hair was a much more comfortable place than the cold stool.
A whole minute the students waited with bated breath. Dante was finally making up his mind to cry, "Did I go deaf or everyone else mute?" when the hat cried, "GRYFFINDOR!"
The noise that followed was nearly enough to really deafen him. The twins screamed, "We got POTTER! We got POTTER!" and the other Gryffindors were also jumping up and down, making room for Harry to sit.
Nick the ghost patted Harry's hand, from the looks of it, the boy didn't enjoy the contact.
Dante shrugged to himself, and continued his surveys of the Hall until:
Dante saw Dumbledore and Hagrid both straighten. He walked forward, sat on the tool and pulled on the hat.
"Hm. Very difficult. Two very different sides inside, one ambitious, but the other one exact opposite, a pure heart and boundless courage-" Why's it talking so loudly?
'Hey,' Dante whispered mentally, 'Can the whole room hear you?'
"Eh? No, of course not. Now, these are very conflicting, these two sides, constantly battling for dominance. But the latter of them seems to be more prominent, and I can see you want to keep it that way, so the best choice should be….Ah, yes, I know…."
The hat paused before shouting loudly, "GRYFFINDOR!"
Dante smiled in genuine delight, standing and making his way to the table where the students were now cheering. The hat had declared his human side as the dominating one, and he wouldn't have it any other way.
He shook hands with a tall boy with a 'P' badge, whose hair was a fiery red. He introduced himself as 'Percy Weasley'. He could see the identical twins, also Weasleys, probably, cheering. He sat next to Hermione, opposite Nick. The ghost smiled at him and reached out to pat his hand. Dante tried to grasp it. His hand went straight through, leaving his skin cold as ice.
"Forgiven." said the ghost. "It's good to see you here. Then again, not many first years have the courage to talk to ghosts…I thought you might be in here."
"Why's that? You people seem a merry lot."
Nick gave a surprised chuckle. "Well…thanks."
Dante turned to Hermione after that. "Now I'm interested." He murmured. "Who the hell is Harry Potter?"
Hermione frowned at him, motioning to her side, where Dante just noticed that said person was sitting.
"It's not like we're badmouthing him." Dante said dismissively. "So who is he?"
"The Boy Who Lived." Neville supplied. He was sitting to the left of Hermione.
Dante ignored the cry, frowning at Neville. "Got the tense wrong, buddy. The boy still 'lives'."
A snicker caught his attention. He realized it came from Harry Potter. He noted the action; the boy was probably more interesting than met the eye.
"Harry Potter is-" Dante had to force his ears to listen to Hermione, "-the boy who was targeted by You-Know-Who-"
"Actually, I don't." Dante interrupted. Harry chuckled again.
"-But his spell rebounded off his forehead. Harry Potter still has a lightning bolt shaped scar where the spell had hit him."
"That doesn't explain a thing, you know that, right?"
Hermione tried again. "The Dark Lord-"
Hermione, for the first time, gave a blank look. "Who?"
"Nobody. Who's the Dark Lord?"
"You don't say his name!" Neville said, wincing. "He's the darkest wizard of the century!"
"That bad looking?"
Hermione cuffed him upside the head. "Ow! What the-"
Harry was grinning from ear to ear, though. "His name's Voldemort." He said quietly.
Dante raised his eyebrows. "Voldemort isn't a bad name." he said loudly.
Gasps echoed all around. Neville slapped his hands over his ears.
"Don't say that, Tony!"
"Why the hell not?" Dante asked, genuinely puzzled.
"Just trust me on this, okay?" Hermione murmured, looking really scared, though it was probably because she didn't want to draw attention. "Don't say that!"
Dante shrugged. "Whatever you say." He said. "Oldy Voldy, then."
Harry snorted with laughter. "I can-" he began.
Dante's heart skipped a beat. What…? Impossible! Vergil is dead…right?
But there he was, walking up calmly, white hair pushed back, cold eyes fixed on the hat.
Neville gasped. "Tony?" he asked. "He looks just like-"
Dante snapped his jaws shut, aware that he had his mouth open. "He's my twin." He whispered, suddenly feeling weak at the knees. The hall became blurry in front of his eyes, and he lowered his head, angrily swiping at his eyes.
Not now, not now… he chided himself, suppressing his overwhelming urge to simply run over and put his arms around clenched his fists, don't go weak, you can talk to him later…don't make a scene.
"You never told us you have a twin!"
"I…" Dante cleared his throat, trying to get rid of the tightness in it. "I thought he was…that is-"
The hat cried, "SLYTHERIN!"
Dante grimaced, watching his brother make way towards the table at the other end of the Hall. He'd have to wait even more to talk to him. He tried to catch Vergil's eye, but the boy didn't look in his direction even once.
Distantly, he heard another name called, "Weasley, Ronald."
The redheads all jumped to their feet, including Percy. Dante looked up at that and saw a redhead make his way over. They had to be brothers, he thought.
The boy took the seat between him and Percy. Dante moved over to make room and turned his attention back to his twin, who was sitting rigidly in the Slytherin table.
"That's very uncommon." he heard Nick say quietly. "Brothers are usually in the same House, but twins to be sorted into different Houses…"
"What twins?" he heard Ron ask.
"Tony, and his twin." Percy answered. "Vergil Sparda. He's been sorted into Slytherin."
Ron gasped. "What?! Tony, you sure he's your twin? Maybe he's a look-alike…"
Dante glared at him. Ron hastily looked away. "Unless he's a name-alike, yes, I'm sure."
"But he's got different last name!"
"Ron." Harry Potter warned. "I don't think he's in the mood."
"Yeah, but come on Harry, how many twins do you see getting sorted into different Houses?"
"My sister went to Ravenclaw." said an Indian girl.
"Yeah, Ravenclaw, not Slytherin!"
Dante whipped his head around. "What's wrong with Slytherin?"
It was Ron's turn to glare. "Oh, now you're interested?"
"Shh!" said Percy. "Professor Dumbledore is going to say something."
Dumbledore had his arms spread wide, like he was going to engulf all the students in a bear hug.
"Welcome!" he said. "Welcome to a new year at Hogwarts! Before we begin our banquet, I would like to say a few words. And here they are: Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak! Thank you."
"Is he…a bit mad?" Harry asked.
"Hell yeah." said Dante, staring. "What kind of a professor calls his students Nitwit on the first day of school?"
"He's the finest wizard of modern time!" said Percy. "But yes, he is a bit mad. And Tony, Professor Snape will most definitely call you all a 'dunderhead' on the first class. I wouldn't call him the example of good professor…Dumbledore's nothing like him, though. Potatoes, Harry?"
Dante turned to find the empty dishes now filled with food.
Incredibly, he wasn't hungry. He scooped up a few spoonfuls of potatoes, fries, roasted chicken and Yorkshire pudding onto his plate. He pushed them around for a moment, before pausing with a fry halfway to his mouth.
There was Vergil, sitting beside another silver haired boy, who looked eager to converse. Vergil wasn't talking much, finishing his food quietly. Dante swallowed, Vergil used to be just as enthusiastic about food as he did. Now he was obviously eating just to keep his stomach satisfied.
He didn't know where Vergil had been all this time; he left the night Eva had died, saying he'd avenge her, and never came back. Dante had assumed he was dead. Maybe luck hadn't been as kind to him as it had been to Dante. Maybe he didn't get to stay in an orphanage, lived on the street or something. Whatever had happened, Vergil had changed. Not for the better. Even from this distance, he could all but feel the coldness radiating off of him.
Then he looked up suddenly, and their eyes met. Dante felt his widen. Vergil's eyes were cold, like ice. They turned piercing when locked into Dante's, and it was like staring down two silver swords.
"Alright there, Tony?" It was Percy.
Dante tore his eyes away, reluctantly breaking the staring contest. He dropped his chicken fry back on the table. "Yeah, not hungry." He mumbled.
"Yeah, he's eaten a lot in the train…no offense, Tony." Neville added the last part hurriedly.
Dante waved his hand. "Pride myself on it." he said. "Oh, by the way, Percy, which one's Snape?"
"There." The prefect pointed. A hook-nosed, greasy haired man was talking with a nervous looking young man with a huge turban.
"Looks pretty nosy if you ask me." Dante observed. Percy chuckled.
"Don't let him hear you say that." he paused before adding, "Good observation, though."
"Who's the nervous chap?" Dante asked, pointing to the one talking to Snape.
"Oh, that's Professor Quirrell. He's the new Defense Against Dark Arts teacher."
"What was wrong with the old one?"
"Nothing much. Quirrell's going to leave this year too, no one can stay in this job for more than a year."
"No one knows. But that's what's been happening since my parents were here."
Dante watched the foods disappear and deserts take its place. He spared it only a glance, even when he saw the ice creams, before turning his gaze back to the Slytherin table. Vergil was impatiently tapping his fingers on the table.
At long last, the deserts were gone, and Dumbledore stood up
"Ahem — just a few more words now that we are all fed and watered. I have a few start-of-term notices to give you. First years should note that the forest on the grounds is forbidden to all pupils. And a few of our older students would do well to remember that as well."
Dumbledore's twinkling eyes flashed in the direction of the Weasley twins. Dante tried to catch Vergil's eye. This place was definitely going on the top of his 'places to visit' list.
"I have also been asked by Mr. Filch, the caretaker, to remind you all that no magic should be used between classes in the corridors. Quidditch trials will be held in the second week of the term. Anyone interested in playing for their House teams should contact Madam Hooch.
"And finally, I must tell you that this year, the third-floor corridor on the right-hand side is out of bounds to everyone who does not wish to die a very painful death."
Harry laughed, but he was one of the few who did.
"He's not serious?" he muttered to Percy.
"Must be," said Percy, frowning at Dumbledore. "It's odd, because he usually gives us a reason why we're not allowed to go somewhere — the forest's full of dangerous beasts, everyone knows that. I do think he might have told us prefects, at least."
"What's a prefect?" Dante whispered.
Percy stared as if it was a crime not to know.
"I was raised in the muggle world." Dante said hastily, not wanting to draw attention.
"Prefects have the honorable duty to ensure that the peace of their House is not being-"
"Ahem, Percy-" One of the twins said.
"I don't think he wanted to hear the oaths of the prefects."
Percy shot them a look. "Cut it out, Fred, George."
"Yes, Percy the Perfect Prefect." They chorused.
"And now, before we go to bed, let us sing the school song!" cried Dumbledore, making words appear out of his wand and hover in the air.
"Everyone pick their favorite tune," said Dumbledore, "and off we go!"
Dante didn't pick much of a tune, he began saying the lyrics in the rock song style, drawing a few strange glances.
"Hogwarts, Hogwarts, Hoggy Warty Hogwarts,
Teach us something please,
Whether we be old and bald
Or young with scabby knees,
Our heads could do with filling
With some interesting stuff,
For now they're bare-"
He stopped right there. Bare and full of air? No way in hell I'm singing that.
He waited for it to finish, and finally Dumbledore said, "Now, bedtime. Off you trot!"
Dante jumped up, broke ranks and all but ran to his brother. Vergil had stopped on the other side as well, taking in his twin. Then he turned and made to walk away.
What did I do, now?
He broke into a run to catch up. "Verge?" he called softly once he had reached him. "I thought you were-"
"Not now." Vergil said sharply. Dante faltered a bit, taking in his twin's expression. There was something very unwelcoming in the blue depths of his eyes.
But the warning vanished from Dante's mind as soon as Vergil had begun to leave. He grasped his brother's arm, turning him around. Vergil gave him a withering glare, making Dante take a step back, releasing the arm immediately.
"What the hell's your problem?" he asked, bewildered.
"You are, Dante." Vergil hissed through clenched teeth, and this time he did walk away.
Dante stood in stunned silence for a moment. Finally, he turned to follow the other Gryffindors. As he did, his eyes caught Dumbledore's from across the Hall. The old wizard's eyes were sad.
Dante swallowed again; then hurried to catch up with the rest of the Gryffindors, falling into step beside Hermione.
"What happened?" she asked.
Dante shrugged. "What?" he asked. "We met. But their prefects were calling, so…"
"You thought he was dead, didn't you? I saw how you looked at him when he was called to the hat. You must have had a hundred things to talk about! But the two of you just…turned and walked away!"
Sighing, he said, "Look, I'm tired. Can't we just….postpone this or something?"
Hermione eyed him, chewing on her lower lip. "Okay."
The Gryffindor common room was a comfy setting, Dante thought. Decorated in red with plush armchairs, this looked like a great place to sleep in.
But Percy had other plans. He guided the first year boys to the left side, where they had to go up a spiral staircase to get to the dormitory. It, too, had plenty of red.
Dante sat on the bed and looked around. His bed was one of the middles one among the six four-posters. He would be sharing the room with Harry Potter, Ronald Weasley, Neville Longbottom, Dean Thomas and Seamus Finnigan. To his left was Ron, trying to get his rat off his pillow. To his right was Neville, already snoring softly, clutching his toad to his chest. His hold was slackening, though, and Dante had a feeling the round-faced boy's panicked cries would serve as his alarm clock the next morning. Seamus and Dean were changing behind their posters.
"Great food, huh?" he heard Ron mutter. "Too bad you missed it, Tony."
"Yeah." Dante suddenly felt a surge of anger. Why would he worry over his brother when that prick didn't give a damn about him?
"Regretting it already." He answered Ron. "Wasn't worth it."
And forcefully shoving Vergil to the back of his mind, he kicked off his boots and went to sleep, not bothering to change.
Dante woke up to panicked cries.
"Cut it out, Neville." He groaned, passing a hand over his eyes.
"I'm not Neville!" snapped the voice. Female voice.
"Hermione?" Dante lowered his hand. "What're you doing here?"
"Get up! The first class is in three hours! You haven't read a thing!"
"Hagrid's probably forgotten the letter that gave us homework before class." He retorted, burying his head under the pillow and pulling his blanket close.
Both were gone a second later.
"'Mione!" Dante spread out his arm and rested his head on it. "Can't a guy get some peace here? This is the boy's dormitory!"
Hermione's voice could now be heard on the other end. "Neville, up, come on. It's six o'clock already!" her voice was loads softer, Dante noted. "Oh, where's your toad?"
A creaking sound made him realize Neville was up from his bed. "Trevor? Oh no, Trevor!"
Dante stood from his bed, grabbing his blanket and pillow and sending an envious look towards the loudly snoring Ron. Then he crept out of the room, and made a beeline for the girls' dormitory. Hermione's bed was surely vacant.
He took the first step on the stair….
And fell, blankets and all, as the stairs smoothed out to form one long slide.
He could hear screams from upstairs. Incredible…they're already up? Or maybe Hermione made them get up too…
He set his eyes on the couch, stumbled over to the one beside the fireplace and curled up, pulling the blanket over him. His head was resting on something especially comfortable and slimy…
He grasped the toad, dropped it to the ground and let his eyes fall closed. He was asleep in a second, red blanket blending in with the red couch and acting as camouflage.
"Tony! Oh, where'd he go?"
Hermione ran down the stairs, looking around frantically. Neville was doing the same thing, but not for Tony.
"Trevor!" he ran to the little frog and cradled it. "There you are!"
Hermione sighed loudly. "Maybe he's down to the Great Hall already." She left, Neville in tow.
Dante was woken by loud commotion.
"Merlin!" someone screamed. "What in the name of-?"
Dante pulled his blanket down from his head. It was Percy.
"You're up?" he asked blearily.
"Tony? What are you doing here? I almost sat on you!" said the prefect.
"Almost?" said a twin.
"More like, 'bounced off you'." said the other one.
"Told you that looked a bit larger-"
"But of course, you're the prefect-"
"What are you two called again?"
Percy answered Dante. "Fred and George. I'm sorry, Tony, I-"
"Okay, Fred, um….Hermione nearby?"
"Okay. Then I'll just catch a bit more sle-"
"But it's breakfast time already, Tony!" said Fred(or George).
"It is?" Dante pushed off his blanket.
"Yeah, it actually started five minutes ago-"
"Wait, I think ten-"
Dante had heard enough. He ran upstairs to get dressed.
Fred and George shared a smirk before sitting on the sofa just vacated. "Best sofa in the whole common room." said Fred.
Dante arrived at the table to find most of the students already there. He scowled, deeply, because it was obvious he hadn't been late at all.
"Where have you been?" Hermione asked as he took his seat next to her. "Couldn't find you anywhere."
"That was the idea." Dante retorted, buttering his toast. "What've we got today?"
"Classes? First Herbology, then Charms."
Dante nodded, before focusing on his food. To be frank, he was looking forward to class.
Professor Sprout seemed a happy little witch. She took the roll call and smiled at Harry when his was called. Dante frowned again, unable to grasp why everyone was so excited about a boy who had obviously just set foot in the school.
Once the roll call was done, she moved on to their lessons. Nothing really big, separating two kinds of herbs and placing them in the specific baskets. She said it would be needed for the infirmary, and Dante couldn't help wondering if magic healed humans faster than his own natural healing rate.
Charms was somewhat more interesting. A tiny wizard standing on books to see over his desk turned out to be the teacher, named Professor Flitwick. As he called Harry's name, he squealed and toppled over.
Dante rolled his eyes. "Very charming."
Harry, sitting with him, looked downright worried though, relaxing only when Flitwick stood with the help of Hermione.
"Thank you, Miss Granger." said the tiny wizard. "Now where was I? Oh yes, roll call! And it's a pleasure to have you in class, Harry Potter! Now….yes…" and he began taking attendance again.
"Cause an explosion," Dante suggested to Harry, who had taken the seat next to him. The poor boy looked really overwhelmed by the reactions his name was causing everywhere. "I bet he won't be pleased then."
Harry laughed a bit nervously. "I wish I knew how to do even that!"
The first task looked really easy. Everyone was given a glass of water, and their task was to make the liquid move with their wand, without actually touching it. But soon, Dante realized it was actually pretty hard.
"I thought wizards were supposed to chant little rhymes?" he muttered to himself, but Harry heard.
"You're from the muggle world then? Good to know I'm not the only one."
"Hermione's a muggleborn."
"But she knows more than Ron." Harry reminded him. "She knows it all by heart."
Dante turned to see Hermione making the water slosh around. He nodded slowly.
And that was all he remembered.
"Tony! Tony, get up!"
"Don't sleep in the classroom!" Hermione chided him. "The professor is leaving!"
"Oh." Dante rubbed at his eyes, stood with his bag slung over a shoulder, and began walking out.
From behind him, he could still hear Neville muttering the spell under his breath. Dante sighed, this boy was really trying to prove himself, but he didn't see the point-
A loud sound caused him to look down. His bag was torn off, and everything had fallen to the ground. Over it all was his mother's photo.
Dante knelt down quickly, letting out the breath he didn't know he had been holding when he checked the frame over and found it intact.
"Tony, I'm so-sorry…" Neville whispered.
"Wouldn't forgive it if this was broken." Dante began to pull up his books, tucking them under one arm. He held Eva's photo on the other one. He had brought it on a whim. He really needed his mother to be with him for some reason, maybe he was a bit nervous…
The photo was suddenly snatched out of his hands. Dante jumped up, eyes fierce as he saw Vergil holding the frame.
"Give that back." he hissed.
"You're not worthy of that." Vergil retorted. "Not when it's because of you that she's dead."
"Can you guys…excuse us for a moment?" Dante whispered to Neville, but his voice came out like a low growl. "We're having a brotherly discussion, and things are going to get personal."
Neville left. Hermione adopted a stern expression.
"No spells in the corridor between classes." She said. "Professor Dumbledore specifically said-"
"I said go." Dante said, giving her his best glare. Hermione's eyes widened a bit.
"Okay." She said, turning. "But no spells." She did her best to march off, but Dante could see her legs shaking.
Dante waited until her bushy hair had disappeared from view before turning back to his twin. "So that's what this is all about? You're angry because of that day, when I hid while you fought?"(1)
"And I was close to finishing them off!" Vergil hissed back. "If you had come out of your little hole and helped me, Mum would be alive today!"
"You don't know that!" Dante said, but his resolve was waning.
"I do know that your cowardice cost mum her life, and that you-" Vergil pointed a finger in his direction, "refuse to take responsibility for that."
"You think I don't regret it?" he swallowed to keep his voice from cracking, "You think I don't think everyday about what would've happened if I hadn't listened to mom when she told me to hide?"
"Reflection won't do any good." Vergil said, his voice icy. "It's not going to change the past."
Dante clenched his fists in anger. "I…"
"Well, well, well." said a silky voice. "What do we have here?"
Dante turned to see Professor Snape standing in the doorway. Any other time, and he would've thought of a hundred insults concerning his hair alone, but none of it crossed his mind now.
"That's none of your-" Vergil started.
Snape ignored him in favor of Dante. "So, Mr. Redgrave, insulting a fellow student? Thought you would make up an image to your housemates by fighting Slytherins? That's a point you've lost for Gryffindor. Move along, Mr. Sparda."
Vergil didn't move just yet, still glaring at his brother as Snape stalked away.
Which turned out to be a wise move, because Snape hadn't gone five feet when Dante lunged at his brother, trying to get the photo out of his grasp. Vergil blocked his hand with his forearm, bringing his other hand down and just missing his brother's left shoulder-
And then they were both flying back, their heads crashing against the walls with small, identical thuds.
"Five points from Gryffindor."
Snape had swiveled around and had sent a spell, knocking the two into opposite walls. "I believe the Headmaster has not been clear about wrestling on corridors, but I can assure you it's against the school rules. Now move, otherwise both of you will get detentions!"
Dante took a few steps away from his brother, still fuming. "He's got my photo!"
"And of course, this-" Snape flicked his wand, and the photo flew over from Vergil's grasp, "is going to my office. Maybe when your," he looked at Vergil, "behavior is worthy of my approval, you will get your prized possession back." He strode off, robes billowing behind him.
Dante and Vergil shared a glance. First and last mission together: Getting the photo back from the office.
The plan was laid down the very day, after lunch.
"To be executed Friday." They said in unison, sharing a smirk. Nothing had changed, they were still rivals and Vergil still hated Dante, but on this one thing, they were partners.
The two were awake long after night had fallen, staring up at the ceiling and listening to their respective roommates snoring.
The next day, when they were passing Slytherins on the way to Transfiguration, Dante walked forward to fall in step just behind Hermione. He tapped her on the shoulder. She turned with a frown.
"There's something I need you to keep, just until I can take it back."
Her gaze turned suspicious. "Whatever you are up to, I'm sure it breaks rules. If you are caught-"
"I know! Look, this is serious. Just for a week, okay? I promise the thing's not anything harmful, or even unlawful."
"Then why would you need me to keep it?"
"Because that's the-" he sighed. He seemed to do that too much around this girl, he noted. "Just do this one thing, please?" he had to grit his teeth at the last word. Hermione shrugged, still eyeing him suspiciously.
"Okay." she said finally.
Dante breathed out, almost sagging in relief as he caught Vergil's eye from across the line and gave him a nod. Vergil nodded back as they walked past.
Dante had just taken his seat when the door opened, and the stern Professor McGongall walked into the room.
"Cool!" Dante shouted, enthusiastic, as the Professor changed her desk into a pig and vice versa. His voice was drowned out by other students cheering.
"Thank you." The Professor said, moving around to stand in front of her desk. "Now, I want you to listen to what I say very carefully. Everyone, parchments and quills out."
There was shuffling all around. Dante rolled his eyes, and pulled out a pen. "Better than quills any day of the week." he muttered. The pen was a ballpoint, so hopefully it wouldn't be a problem…
"What is this, Mr. Redgrave?"
Professor McGonagall had stopped beside Dante's bench to check the matchstick he was given to transform into a needle. It had a gentle, silver shimmer now, which was more than he could say for anyone except Hermione.
But it seemed it would escape the professor's attention, because the professor had seen his notes and was now eyeing him coldly, a finger tapping against the parchment.
Dante squinted at the point on which her finger rested. "Looks like an 'A'…"
The students snickered. McGongall stopped them with a single look.
"I admire your accurate knowledge of the alphabets, but I was referring to the ink, Mr. Redgrave."
Dante nodded. "I see it." he said, voice serious.
"Did you use a quill?"
"I did!" Dante said defensively. "On Ron when he refused to get up. His ear's pretty ticklish if you ask me-"
Full out laughter. McGongall drew herself to her full height, eyes blazing.
"Five points from Gryffindor."
Dante muttered, "Uh-oh."
"I expect you'll know when not to push your limits from now, Mr. Redgrave. It'll be ten points the next time you do what you just did."
"Not using a quill?"
"And disrespecting your professors. Is that clear?"
Dante nodded obediently. Brilliant introduction, Dante, he scolded himself.
"There will be no wand-waving or silly incantations in this class." Severus Snape drawled as he strode into the room, black cloak billowing behind him.
I swear, he's gonna get tripped in them one of these days….
"You are here to learn the subtle science and exact art of potion-making. As there is little foolish wand-waving here," Snape began lecturing in a silky voice, "-many of you will hardly believe this is magic. I don't expect you will really understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses. . . . I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, even stopper death — if you aren't as big a bunch of dunderheads as I usually have to teach."
Dante bit his lip. If that guy didn't stop his rambling, he'd have to make him, and he didn't look forward to that after what had happened with McGongall. On another note, he probably owed Percy a thank you for the heads up about the speech about dunderheads.
He did roll his eyes at Hermione, though, who was on the edge of her seat and looked desperate to start proving that she wasn't a dunderhead.
"Potter!" said Snape suddenly. "What would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?"
Hermione's hand shot up. Vergil gave her a cool look. Dante looked between the two. Obviously his brother was disgusted about the showing off. He had to fight a smile at that thought; everyone who knew him and his brother would know how big a show-off they both were.
"I don't know, sir." Harry said quietly.
Snape didn't stop though, and asked him two more questions, of which Harry didn't know the answer. When he was done shaming Harry, he snapped at Hermione to sit down and gave the first potions task.
Dante, sitting just behind Crabbe and one seat away from Malfoy, pulled a glass vial filled with a black mixture…he didn't know what it actually was, but Vergil seemed to think it would work- out of his pocket and uncorked the vial. He pulled the hand back, and threw the delicate glass bottle with precise angle. It bounced off Crabbe's head and fell on the inside of Malfoy's cauldron, and exploded, poisonous liquid flowing everywhere.
Chaos ensured. Dante saw Vergil sneak out the door.
Snape was quickly trying to calm the situation, but it wasn't much help. Dante breathed a sigh of relief as he saw Vergil come back with something tucked under his robes.
Snape was saying threatening words about what he was going to do when he caught the mischief maker, but Dante couldn't bring himself to care.
Class finished, and Vergil handed him the photo with a cold, "Only for a week."
"Then we'll fight it out." Dante finished. He quickly went over to Hermione, giving her the photo.
She gasped at seeing it. "She's beautiful. Your mother?"
"Yeah." Dante said. "Believe me now? It's not gonna burn you. Just keep it in your dormitory. Until further notice." He walked off without another word, even when he heard Hermione cry, "Tony! Was that you who caused the-"
"Yeah, yeah, just don't spread it around!" he called over his shoulder, smiling knowingly. Hermione hated those who broke laws, but he was her only friend and he knew she wouldn't tell on him.
His second potions class was even more eventful.
"So, Mr. Longbottom, what was this mixture supposed to be at this stage of brewing?" Snape asked silkily, his eyes taking in the liquid inside the cauldron.
Neville bit his lip. "G-green, sir."
"And what is it now?"
He mumbled something.
"Louder, Mr. Longbottom."
"Your incompetence hasn't gone unnoticed by me the previous class, Longbottom. If you think that you're so good you can excel in your studies without opening your book once, then I'd say that you-"
"Says the Potions Master who thinks he knows everything, but can't make a simple mixture for his own hair." Dante scoffed.
Dead silence all around.
"What was that, Mr. Redgrave?"
Dante cocked his head. "Need one for your hearing, too? Don't worry, sir, I can get Madam Pomfrey to use a spell to cure it."
Muffled chuckling. Dante realized it was coming from most of the Gryffindors, though Neville was ashen faced.
Snape turned his head around with a billowed "Silence!" the room stilled.
"Detention, Mr. Redgrave." He said as he turned to Dante, voice shaking with rage. "Let's make it certain: I don't care what lineage you're from, if I hear one more word coming out of your mouth intended to insult me, you will pay dearly, believe me."
Dante suppressed the urge to shrug. That would only make it worse.
"Can I trust you to keep quiet now? Or maybe a trip to the Headmaster's office is in order?"
What a tattletale…
"Please," Dante said, "I got a thing or two to say to him myself. For starters, I'd love to watch you try to explain bullying students in your class."
He regretted the words the moment it was out. But it was out, so no taking it back. He heard horrified gasps, but kept his eyes focused on his professor. Better to watch out for incoming attacks…
Professor Snape was white as chalk.
"20 points from Gryffindor." He turned back to his desk, even as gasps from Gryffindors filled the room. "Now, as I was saying…"
Dante watched the proceedings absently, even as he tried to ignore the looks of shining admiration from many of the Gryffindor students and pure contempt from the Slytherins.
"You shouldn't have done that." Neville exclaimed the moment they were out.
"Wicked!" cried Ron at the same time. "You're bloody brilliant, mate!"
Dante waved away Neville's words. "You think I did it for you? That snake was really getting on my nerves." To Ron, he gave a mock bow.
"You insulted a professor, Tony!" Hermione said. "You shouldn't be disrespectful to your teachers!"
Dante frowned at her. "Don't tell me you think he didn't have that coming."
She fell silent with a frown. Dante grinned. "Got my answer!" he said cheerfully. "Now if you'll excuse me….I gotta go see what task Snape's gonna stick me with."
Neville chewed on his lower lip. "Good luck."
Dante's smirk faltered when he saw the worry on the four students' faces. "He…um…he doesn't actually hurt students?" he asked worriedly.
"No, no!" Ron said hastily. "Not that I know."
As it turned out, Professor Snape could be a lot more evil than Dante had ever dreamed.
Physical pain he could handle, but that wasn't what he had to endure. No, it was getting stuck being an assistant of Filch for fourteen nights straight.
"Getting stuck with a sword would be less painful…." He grumbled, only to trail off as he saw Hermione's horrified expression, "Eh, don't take that at face value." He added hurriedly.
She stalked on ahead, her bushy hair hiding her face from view. Dante couldn't for the life of him figure out how she was walking this fast with books all over her arms. He quickened his own pace to catch up with her.
"Hey, I was kinda hoping you'd help me with something."
She turned to him. "What?"
"Harry Potter's story."
She sized him up. "Go to the library." she said. "Reading will do you some good. Oh," her eyes suddenly widened, "What was Professor Snape saying about your lineage?"
Dante slowed to a stop. He hoped Snape had meant Dumbledore, but he couldn't be sure that it hadn't been about Sparda. Besides, he knew being a relative of a professor could change the way the students viewed their peer, so he didn't want them to know about his great uncle just yet.
"Forget what I said." he hurried off, pretending he didn't want to be late for his flying lesson.
Dante looked down at the broomstick. Witches flying on brooms, huh, where have I heard this before?
The smile creeping across his face was wiped right off as he heard their strict teacher's voice. Madam Hooch. Dante had long since given up on hearing a simple name for these wizards and witches; there were so many odd names that they just didn't surprise him anymore.
"What are you waiting for? Everyone stand by your broomstick. Come on, hurry up. Stick your right hand over your broom and say 'Up'!"
Picking it up would be so much simpler…. but Dante did as instructed, placing his hand over the broom and saying 'Up.'
The broom jumped up. He caught it deftly, smirking again. No fighting instrument had ever failed him….and he had learnt from his mother that brooms could be a handy weapon that'd cause even Dark Knights to run in terror. He glanced around. Vergil had managed on the first try, and so had Harry. Oddly, Hermione had yet to pick hers up.
Malfoy got it on the second try. Ron got it on the fifth, as it smacked him right on the face. Snickering, Dante turned to see Neville's broom already in hand, along with pretty much everyone.
Madam Hooch then showed them how to mount their brooms without sliding off the end, and walked up and down the rows correcting their grips.
"Look at that. Doesn't have a clue how to hold a broom."
Dante looked forward at Malfoy, who was smirking at him. "Sorry?"
"This is how it's done, watch and learn!" Malfoy answered him, showing his own grip.
Dante snorted. "That's wrong."
"How would you know?" Malfoy challenged.
Dante shrugged. Because my instincts on these sorts of things are never wrong. "Because I do."
"What's this?" Madam Hooch had come forward.
"Just adjusting, ma'am." Dante answered with a slight twitch of his lips.
"I'm showing him the correct way to do this, Madam Hooch!" Malfoy chirped.
Madam Hooch glanced down at Dante's hand on the broom, and her brows rose in surprise.
"You've flown before, I assume?"
"No. Is my grip wrong?" Dante asked, allowing a hint of smugness to creep into his voice.
She shook her head, apparently choosing to let his tone slide. "No, it's perfect. One would think you were doing it for years."
"What?" Malfoy protested. "But I've been doing this for years!"
"You were doing this wrong for years." she snarled. "Don't try to tell me how to hold a broom, young man!"
She moved down the line, and Dante raised an eyebrow at Draco Malfoy. "Don't try that with me, Draco. You'll lose every time, and your professors would get bad impressions, and what would your father think of that?"
Malfoy lunged at him, and he was about to move away, but then, seeing the boy was about to slam onto his broom, he quickly caught him by the arms and set him back on his feet.
"WHAT'S GOING ON!" Madam Hooch yelled.
"Malfoy attacked Tony, Madam Hooch!" Harry said immediately.
"He was provoked!" Pansy Parkinson shouted hotly.
"He stumbled." Dante cut in. "Can't you see I caught him?"
The Gryffindors looked sharply at him, and he ignored it.
Madam Hooch scowled and moved to the front. "Very well, but if I hear one more-"
Dante and Malfoy both shook their heads quickly, and she trailed off. Dante whispered to Malfoy, "That won't be done all the time, Draco. Tread carefully."
"Now, when I blow my whistle, you kick off from the ground, hard," said Madam Hooch. "Keep your brooms steady, rise a few feet, and then come straight back down by leaning forward slightly."
Dante readied himself on his broom, feeling somewhat stupid. Oh, if my roommate could see me now…
"On my whistle — three — two —"
But Neville, nervous and jumpy and frightened of being left on the ground, pushed his broom off before the whistle had touched Madam Hooch's lips. (2)
"Mr. Longbottom." Madam Hooch said sternly as the round-faced boy began to whimper. "Mr. Long…." Her voice turned shrill, "Mr. Longbottom!"
Neville was at least 15 feet in the air, hanging onto his broom for dear life as it spiraled out of control, going straight up.
Dante ran off ahead, hoping to catch Neville, keeping just below the boy, until Neville suddenly came down and rocketed at them.
Dante timed his jump. He had to catch the broom…only one shot at this….He dove forward. Neville's broom's speed suddenly increased…..Dante missed. He put both hands forward to catch his fall, jumping back up on his feet to find the boy teetering on his broom. He ran forward again.
Neville was already beginning to slide off his broom; he was going to fall any second.
Can't afford to miss this time…
He was almost six feet away when the boy began plummeting towards the ground from over thirty feet.
"Shit!" Dante cursed aloud as he dove again, Neville trying to grasp at the air, flailing in panic, and falling straight into his classmate's outstretched arms.
Dante grimaced, balancing himself by throwing his weight forward, and then turned on the balls of his feet. "Jeez, you really should get a diet chart, Neville." He said, as the boy peered up at him, his eyes wide. "Okay, that about translates to….get off me!" he added, setting the boy on his feet and rubbing at his arms. That was when he realized the whole class was staring at him.
"What?" he asked, looking down to see if some of the ground dirt had robbed off on his clothes. It had; he could see the gray glaring up at him from the black sleeves.
"Ah, that. If that really bothers you, I can change it out. Got spares in my pack…."
Neville had turned an interesting shade of crimson beside him. Dante threw up his hands.
"What the hell's the prob-"
"15 points to Gryffindor." Madam Hooch said, finally finding her voice, at the same time the Gryffindors erupted into cheers. Dante stared at them for a moment, before allowing a confident smile to grace his face as he bowed. "Thank you, thank you, you've been a lovely audience." Then he groaned. Now the professor's gonna take points off me for that….
"But no display of arrogance in my class from now on. You understand?"
Dante sighed in relief. "Yes, ma'am." He said meekly, as his gaze fell on the boys who were staring at him stonily. Namely, about the entire population of the Slytherin house, including his brother.
"Show me your arms." Hooch ordered.
Dante rolled up his sleeves. "It's fine." He protested nonetheless as she grabbed his arms to check for bruises. Fortunately, there weren't any, otherwise it probably would've disappeared in front of her eyes and he'd be left with a hundred things to explain.
"Remarkable." Madam Hooch murmured. "You're very, very lucky, Mr. Redgrave. You could've done serious damage to your arms."
Scanning Neville turned up quite a bit of bruises and cuts. Dante moved away, grateful to be out of the spotlight. The hateful stares from the Slytherins were already growing on his nerves.
"Everyone keep their feet firmly on the ground when I take Mr. Longbottom to the hospital wing." Madam Hooch spoke up. "Understand? If I see a single broom in the air, you'll be out faster than you can say 'Quidditch'."
"Quidditch." Dante muttered to himself. Just a figure of speech, surely…
"Give that here, Malfoy."
Dante turned to see Harry faced off against Draco Malfoy, the latter of which had a glass ball in his hand.
Malfoy smirked at Harry. "I think I'll leave it somewhere for Longbottom to find." He took off with his broom. "How about-up a tree?" he asked as he reached some 50 meters above ground. "Come and get it, Potter!"
Harry glared at him, before readying his own broom.
"No!" Hermione screamed, making her way through. "Madam Hooch told us not to move- you'll get us all into trouble!"
Harry didn't even give her a glance before kicking off.
"What an idiot." she muttered.
Harry went up, and a short battle of words ensured that ended with Malfoy saying, "Catch it if you can, then!" and throwing the ball in the air. Dante almost mounted his broom, but changed his mind as Harry shot off towards it. The boy needed his own show, if only to justify the widespread whispers his name started everywhere.
Dante smiled as Harry caught it a moment before it was going to hit the ground. The brunette smiled triumphantly, staring at the glass ball, and touched the ground, where the Gryffindors were already running forward to greet him.
Dante watched with a slight smirk, but he had to admit to himself that he had felt a surge of admiration. What Harry did took guts, especially considering that he was not a half-demon whose injuries healed in minutes.
It was Professor McGongall.
"Follow me." She said, striding off. Harry followed glumly.
Dante watched Hermione put her hands on her hips and stare after them. He suppressed another small smile. The girl was overly lawful, but he didn't have to look too hard to know that Hermione was more afraid on behalf of Harry at this moment than actually irritated about him.
After the class was dismissed, Dante heard the news. Harry was getting to play for the Gryffindor house team. He heard it from the Hufflepuff ghost, who was chatting with the Gryffindor house ghost.
So? he thought. What's the big deal? There's always seven players….and…
He turned just in time to get a glimpse of Fred and George's face before they shoved him in an empty classroom. "Got you a gift." Fred said, handing a small box out to him.
"Yeah, one almost too valuable to give up-"
"-then we thought we can live with one sacrifice-"
"You put Snape in his place, after all." They both saluted gravely after the last statement.
Dante opened the box, frowning at the sweets neatly arranged. He sniffed it, then handed one out from the bottom with a generous smile. "After you, good sirs."
George adopted a hurt expression. "You don't trust us?"
"Why, of course I…..don't." Dante said, his expression going from joyful to a scowl. "I know you tricked me with that breakfast thing, and I want you to verify this for me." He shoved the sweet under George's chin. "C'mon!"
"If you insist." George put it in his mouth, chewed, swallowed, and then wiped at his lips. "Mmm….delicious."
"Hey! I want one too!" Fred called after him, even as Dante sped off with a 'thanks'! Then the twins shared a chuckle.
"Could make a good addition." said Fred, still smiling.
1: Will be explained in chapter 6.
Dante was getting ready to go to his first detention ever. Preparation included closing his eyes and taking long, calming breaths. Filch was a nightmare, everyone knew that. And Dante knew if he tried to smartmouth, Snape would just throw in another detention. He had to be civilized, to Filch.
That had to be the worst part.
The door to the dormitory opened with a click. Neville stepped in, his face white.
"Professor Snape's here to see you." he stammered.
Dante shrugged. "Tell him to come up."
A half minute later, Neville came back with Professor Snape, the latter's gaze wandering about the walls as if he expected something to jump out.
Dante snapped his fingers. "I'm over here, sir!"
"I see you, Mr. Redgrave." Snape ground out, "Mr. Longbottom, do excuse us for a moment."
The boy scurried off.
"These are all your belongings?" Snape questioned.
The question took Dante aback. He had hidden Rebellion and his guns away under his mattress, but how would Snape know that?
"Really?" Snape strode up to him, bringing his face down until he was nearly nose to nose with Dante. "Don't play games with me, Redgrave." He whispered. "Where is the photo?"
Dante hid a smirk, and crossed his arms. "You lost it?" he accused.
"You know the answer to that, Mr. Redgrave. Now are you going to keep resisting, or will you be sensible for once and save yourself some humiliation?"
"I don't have it." Dante said coldly. "Search for it if you want."
Snape pointed his wand. "Accio Tony's things!"
Cloths and books flew towards him, falling at his feet. No photo.
"Right. I forgot." Snape smirked, flicking his wand again.
"Accio Dante's things!"
Dante froze. "No!" he cried sharply as he dove forward blindly, for the second time that day.
His hands grasped at the blade of Rebellion, and he clung onto it with as much force as he could muster. The sword was still threatening to slip from his grasp, blood trailing down his wrists as it tried to go full force at Snape, who had jumped back in shock.
"Cancel the damn thing!" Dante hissed through clenched teeth, both from effort and pain. Snape snapped out of it, flicked his wrist, and the sword went limp in Dante's hands. The half-demon lowered it down to the ground and immediately clenched his hands into fists, placing them behind his back in an effort to hide them from Snape's prying gaze.
"Show me your palms." Snape's words were a bit less cold than usual, but Dante assumed it was due to the shock.
He took a step back, and nearly slipped on the drops of blood at his feet. "No way." he said, all too aware of how childish he sounded. "And you can't make me."
"We're going to the hospital wing, then." Snape said, turning. Dante felt his eyes widen.
"No, wait! You can heal this type of wounds, right? Then let's do it here!"
Snape smirked triumphantly as he took the boy's hands in his own. The smirk disappeared a second later.
"What….?" Only a shallow cut was visible. "There's no way this much blood can come out of…." he stopped again. Dante peered in, hoping it wasn't what he had thought, but that wasn't to be.
The cuts were healing…even then. Dante tried to snatch his hands back, but Snape held fast, watching with astonishment.
A minute later, not even a faded scar could be seen. Dante kept his gaze on the floor, suddenly realizing the gravity of the situation he had found himself in.
"Mr. Redgrave…." Snape said softly, too surprised to even let his usual contempt show, "We're going to the Headmaster."
Snape was quiet as he led Dante through a series of hallways and moving staircases. Usually Dante enjoyed leaping through the moving staircases when no one was watching, but tonight he found no joy in it.
They stopped in front of a large Gargoyle, and Snape looked up at the tall gargoyle and stretched his arms. An ugly shade of violet spread over his cheeks as he prepared to say the password. Dante fought not to gap as he realized the professor was blushing.
That broke through the haze of worry, and Dante burst out laughing as the Gargoyle moved aside.
"Chocolate Frog?" he choked out. "I can like this old fart."
Snape whirled about with a cold look. "Believe me when I say, Mr. Redgrave," he began in a silky voice, "that you're in enough trouble without adding 'insulting the headmaster' to the list of crimes."
Dante shrugged. "There's nothing insulting in calling an old fart old."
Snape didn't answer as he strode up the stairs to a door, though Dante could almost hear the grinding of teeth as his teacher knocked on the door.
Snape swept inside, hissing to Dante, "You wait outside. When I need you, I shall call."
"Hey!" Dante protested indignantly as the door slammed shut in his face.
"I want to know what he is." Snape said without any preamble.
Dumbledore looked at him with twinkling eyes that only served to further infuriate the potions master. "A little more specific, if you will, Severus."
"This night, I found a sword in his possession." he paused to let that sink in before adding, "He cut his hands on the blade, and healed instantly. This is not common, even in the wizardring world."
Dumbledore sighed, before turning his blue eyes on the closed door. "Tony, come and join us." he called.
Snape's eyes blazed with anger as he was overruled, but he said nothing as the door swung open and Dante stalked in.
"Now, this matter is very personal, so I must ask for his permission before I relay this answer to you." he looked at Dante. "I trust you know what I am talking about?"
Dante crossed his arms over his chest. "Tell him." he said. "If you think he can handle it."
Dumbledore turned to Snape, who looked even more angered, if that was even possible, at what he clearly thought as an outright insult from his student.
"Dante, and Vergil," Dumbledore began, "are both half-demons. Human mother, demon father."
Snape's jaw slackened. He looked at Dante, and back to Dumbledore.
"Demons?" he breathed. "Your niece was married to a demon?"
"Named Sparda." Dumbledore said calmly. "And he did save humanity 2000 years ago-"
"Don't give me fairytales, Dumbledore!" Snape spat. "A devil will always be a devil!"
"So, basically what you're saying, Severus, is that once evil, always evil?"
Snape stared angrily, his nostrils flaring. "So now we're admitting demons in our school to study with our students?"
"Half-demons, Severus, and they wouldn't be the first non-humans to study here."
Dante looked between the two with wide blue eyes. A lot of words were going unspoken, he was pretty sure of it.
"What if they lose control over their instincts?" Snape countered.
"That, my boy, only time can tell. But in the meantime, I see no reason to deprive them of what is rightfully theirs. All things considered, we can never tell who will stay on the good side and who will go down to the dark side, can we?"
Snape clenched his jaw and sat down heavily on a chair. "You understand the ramifications if the ministry gets word of this?"
"I do not see how that's possible, Professor, as none but the four of us knows about this."
"'Four'?" Snape emphasized. "Who else?"
"Besides you and me? That'll be Hagrid and Poppy. And I hope I can trust you to keep it that way?"
The blue eyes were holding the black ones intently, and Dante had to suppress a growl of frustration at the wordless communications. Wizards and their mysteries...I'm starting to really grow tired of these know-it-alls.
Finally, Snape gave a stiff nod, and brought out Rebellion from his long cloak, placing it on the table. He then turned on his heels. "Come on, Mr. Redgrave."
Dante planted his feet firmly on the stone floor. "Oh, no, you don't," he glared at the Head of Slytherin House, "coz I'm going nowhere without answers."
"He can stay, Severus." Dumbledore cut in. "Close the door behind you on your way out, will you?"
The door slamming shut answered him. Dante whirled around to face Dumbledore, arms crossed over his chest and eyebrows raised. The elder wizard leaned forward in his chair, giving Dante his full attention, and Dante would've squirmed under his gaze if he wasn't used to the penetrating ones from his father. As it was, he met the older wizard's eyes with an intense look of his own.
"So you're my great Uncle." he started. "Why haven't I ever seen you before last week?"
"Well, my boy-"
"Don't give me that. It's Dante." You're not gonna pet me, old man, until I determine if you really deserve that kinda privilege.
Dumbledore's eyes went sober, the twinkling vanishing. "I have a lot of enemies in the Wizardry World, Dante, and many of them would like nothing more than to get any leverage against me, by any means necessary."
Dante groaned. "Now where have I heard that before?"
Dumbledore nodded. "Entirely true. I can only imagine what it'd be like to have two ancestors like me and Sparda. Your grandfather never really approved of the choice your mother made, but believe me when I say I was really happy about it. Sparda was a wonderful..."
"Boy?" Dante supplied helpfully. "That's what everyone seems to be to you."
The twinkling was back in the headmaster's eyes. "Oh, I'm afraid even I won't call your father that. He was a good 1,903 years older than me at that time, if my memory serves me. Anyway, he was a wonderful demon," Dante snorted at the choice of words, "And despite the enemies haunting him, he tried to stay with his family for as long as he could. He confessed to me before he had left that, he had found evidence that the Emperor was stirring in the underworld. He was afraid they might come after his family. I told him to use the Fidelius charm."
Dante frowned. "What's that?"
"It's used if wizards need to keep someone's location a secret. A person is chosen to be the secret keeper, and unless he or she gives up the information, no one will find the person they're hiding, even if they enter and search the room their intended victims are actually in. To them, they will be invisible.
"I suggested myself as the secret keeper. Sparda tried to protest by saying that he himself would be the secret keeper, so that even if he had died in the fight, the secret would be safe. I ultimately convinced him that even the strongest person could break under torture, while Mundus will never suspect me as a secret keeper. Sparda finally relented.
"The next year, your mother came to me and requested me to lift the charm. You and your brother were old enough to go to school by then. She wanted you to have the same environment any normal child grows up in. I considered it, and eventually had to concede hiding your whole life was not an option. I withdrew it, but set up wards that were designed to prevent any full demon from entering. But that was a weaker spell, and ultimately proved futile. Mundus managed to get to you and-"
"Kill my mother." Dante finished, sighing. "A lot of good magic's gonna do us, then."
"For all of the tales of the heroes of the Wizardry World," Dumbledore said quietly, "We are very feeble when it comes to demons. There are spells that can kill the low-ranking ones, but very few that are much effective when used against stronger ones. In fact," his eyes twinkled again, "I seem to recall a particular incident when your father and I engaged in a sort of dueling practice. But it turned out to be nothing more than a target practice, as your father put it. He dodged most of my hexes, and the rest all but bounced off of him, the wounds left healing instantly. He even wanted to see if the killing curse would have any real effect on him. I told him I had no desire to be subjected to exactly that from my dear little niece."
The mental image of Dumbledore running for dear life while Eva chased her uncle around the Sparda house with a wand made Dante burst out laughing. Dumbledore smiled, then became grave again as he continued.
"After the two of you were born, for your safety, our communication lessened to the point of one letter each month. But that letter was always sent at a specific date of the month, so that I may know that she was well.
"When I didn't get my reply letter in time, I came to find you, only to find the house in ruins." there was profound sorrow in the elderly wizard's eyes, but Dante had his own head bowed and therefore couldn't see it. "I found both human and demon dried blood splattered throughout the house. I, naturally, came to the conclusion that none of you were alive.
"We found you during the school admittance process. Each year, we look out for more students capable of magical activities, in order to be admitted in the school, and you can say that we stumbled upon you and your brother. The American Ministry of Magic notified me that there was some sort of essence with your accidental magic that they couldn't identify. And the American school refused to take you in for that reason even though you were wizards. It was then that I suspected it might be one of you."
Dante nodded to himself. So that had been what Draco Malfoy had meant when he said that the American ministry had rejected him.
"So I sent Fawkes," Dumbledore went on, gesturing to a beautiful bird that had just came sweeping down from outside to land on his shoulder, "to investigate my suspicions. After confirmation, I sent Hagrid to you, and went to Vergil myself."
Finishing with a sigh, Dumbledore said, "Does that explanation satisfy you, Dante?"
Dante shrugged, wiping his eyes on his sleeve in a quick motion before looking up. "I guess it'll have to do. Vergil won't be so forgiving though, I gotta tell you already, old man."
Dumbledore nodded. "I know."
The two fell silent for a moment. Then Dante asked with a frown, "What's the deal with that severe snake?"
A crease appeared between Dumbledore's eyebrows. "Sorry?"
Dumbledore was suddenly thrown into a coughing fit. "I'd have to ask you to be more respectful to your teachers."
Dante grinned. "As much as that nickname fits?"
"I'm not really sure what you want me to say to that."
"I'll take that as a 'yes'. I can't blame you for not answering, though, that guy's scary."
"Indeed, that is one way of putting it. Which brings up the question: What happened tonight between you and him?"
"Oh." Dante shrugged. "Like he said, I got my hands cut on my sword. He saw the cut healing, decided it was a crime to heal so fast, and here we are."
"The problem here is, my boy, I've seen your father's skills: and I find it very difficult to believe an offspring of his might cut their hands accidentally."
Dante blew out a breath. "Oh, to hell with it. Snape decided to dig out all my belongings. He used some kinda summoning charm, and that sword went flying towards him. I tried to grab it by the handle, but instead grasped the blade. So there."
Dumbledore's eyes were twinkling madly. "Ah. Very courageous, my boy, but it was not needed. The Summoning Charm always summons the objects in such a way as to not harm the caster. Professor Snape was never in any real danger."
Dante stared, and then covered his face with his hands. "So I'm in this mess for nothing."
"Basically." Dumbledore confirmed with a sympathetic smile. "Any other queries?"
"One." Dante finally plopped down on a chair, putting his feet up on the desk. Dumbledore flicked his wrist, making the shoes fly off his feet and towards the door. The door opened by itself, sending the boots outside and then slamming shut.
Dante was on his feet in an instant; glaring daggers at Dumbledore, who merely smiled serenely. "I wasn't enjoying the view, my boy. It seems you have been to many dirty places lately."
"Green house." Dante muttered. "Blame Professor Sprout. Anyway, what was I saying:" he sat down again, now crossing his legs at the knees. "I want to know what's up with Harry Potter."
Dumbledore nodded. "I thought you might inquire that. You know who Lord Voldemort is?"
"Some kind of Dark Lord who everyone seems to think has an unspeakable name."
"Lord Voldemort is the most powerful Dark Wizard of this century. He rose to power almost thirty years ago by gathering minions and all manners of dark creatures and offering them protection and wealth. Ministry could do nothing but watch helplessly, their power far too insignificant. His minions were known as the Death Eaters. Harry's parents openly and vehemently opposed Lord Voldemort and were active fighters in the war against the Dark Side.
"It was getting to the point where it seemed that nothing could stop Voldemort's reign, when Harry Potter was born. Lord Voldemort targeted the infant."
"That, my boy, is a story for another day."
Dante pouted a bit. "Come on, gramps?"
Dumbledore laughed. "I'm afraid not, Dante, though I must wonder how your parents managed to keep you in line with the priceless look you have there."
"They couldn't." Dante said easily. "Not completely, that is."
"Back to the story: Lord Voldemort targeted the boy, and when Harry was one year old, attacked the house. James and Lily Potter died trying to protect Harry, allowing Voldemort to get to the boy. He sent the killing curse straight at Harry's forehead. It rebounded off and back to its caster, leaving Harry with a lightning shaped scar. We took Harry to his only relatives, his mother's sister Petunia Dursley and her family. That's where Harry grew up."
Some part of Dante couldn't help but feel a bit jealous. Harry had a family, at least, unlike himself. Shut it, he thought, he's lost his parents when he was one. You had six years with both of them.
"What makes that so extraordinary?" he asked.
"The Killing Curse is not a spell one can simply block or deflect using another spell, Dante. To date, there is only one person who survived the Killing Curse, and that is Harry Potter."
Dante took a moment to contemplate that. "So that's why they call him the Boy Who Lived. Got it. And my father wanted that tested on him? Could've used a lesson in self-preservation." He looked up to meet his professor's blue eyes. "What happened to Oldy Voldy?"
Dumbledore's eyes widened a tiny bit, before he chuckled. "That's a good name." he approved. "Many are inclined to think he died, but I personally am of the opinion that he is somewhere out there, waiting for his chance to come back."
Dante nodded slowly. "But he's a human, right?"
"Yes. But do not take him lightly, he has invented a lot of spells, performed a lot of rituals on himself, and might be capable of causing significant damages to even demons."
Silence reigned. It was Dante, again, who broke the silence. "Chocolate Frog?"
Dumbledore's eyes returned to its twinkling. "Why, yes. I find them delicious."
"Snape didn't seem to like it."
"Professor Snape never approved of my passwords named after subtleties, just like most other teachers. Unfortunately for them, I never relented."
"So you got those things in here?" Dante asked, eyes bright with hope. "Do you have Strawberry Sundaes?"
Dumbledore looked confused. "What?"
Dante gaped at him like he had grown nine heads. "You don't know what Strawberry Sundae is?!" he shook his head. "That's it, what's the fastest way to get to a Muggle town?"
"Floo." Dumbledore said. "The fireplace. But-"
Dante didn't look at all deterred by the prospect of stepping into the fire. "Then what are we waiting for?"
Half an hour later found Dante and Albus Dumbledore back in the office, Dante balancing eight strawberry sundae glasses while Dumbledore placed a cooling charm on an airtight box.
They arranged it in, and Dumbledore declared with a smile, "That was the most delicious subtlety I have ever tasted."
Dante grinned. "Told ya."
Dumbledore sat back at his desk. "As enjoyable as our time together has been, I'm afraid it's past your bedtime, Dante."
Dante scowled. Hard. "Tell that to Snape." he said. "I got detention. Work with Filch for fourteen nights straight."
Dumbledore's eyebrows rose involuntarily. "What brought that about?"
"I tried to bring his oversized ego down to eye level, so..."
"Ah. Be careful then, Professor Snape can hold grudges down to the next generation."
Dante gaped. "You're not joking, are you?"
"So he's got something against Harry's dad or mom?"
Dumbledore straightened. "What has he done to make you think that?"
Dante shook his head impatiently. "C'mon, don't tell me you didn't notice the way he glares at Harry all the way from the stuff table."
"True. Then I have to admit you're right about Harry's father. Professor Snape and James Potter were together in Hogwarts, and they never saw eye to eye."
"Together?" Dante gaped.
Dumbledore's eyes twinkled, but he still managed to tame it down enough to send a disapproving look. "You know what I mean, Dante."
Dante shrugged. "So, was it like some kind of rivalry?"
The old wizard hesitated. "In a manner of speaking."
Dante narrowed his eyes. "So, it was picking, wasn't it? Bullying. Either Snape picked on Harry's dad, and…nope, Snape thinks Harry's a spoiled brat. So, Harry's dad was a spoiled brat and he picked on Snape."
Dumbledore's eyes were slightly wide in surprise. "You're rather shockingly perspective when you want to be, my boy."
Dante puffed out his chest in reply, but inside he was turning the information over in his mind. It didn't make much sense, in his opinion, that Snape would choose to bully students after being subjected to the very same treatment. He shrugged, giving up, and said, "So, I get the picture now…sort of."
"Speaking of pictures:" Dumbledore stood. "I have a photograph of your mother, Eva. If you want it-" he opened a drawer and handed a framed photo to Dante. "You can have it."
Dante felt his mouth drop open as he looked at the frame. His mother was wearing her trademark long red coat, but she was moving! She was currently waving at him with a soft smile, her long blonde hair fluttering gently.
"Mom?" he called tentatively, not sure if his mother could answer him.
She didn't speak, but reached out a hand against the frame. Dante automatically reached with his, the fingertips brushing against cold glass instead of warm skin.
He bit his lip, and nodded wordlessly, signifying he did want the picture, and then pocketed it. Blinking furiously to get rid of the glassiness in his eyes, he cleared his throat and met Dumbledore's eyes.
"Thanks." he muttered.
"You're welcome, Dante. Now off with you, Argus does not like to be kept waiting. One thing: Keep an eye on Vergil for me, will you?"
Dante nodded. "You don't say."
"And," Dumbledore handed Rebellion to the boy, "I trust I don't have to mention that this stays between the two of us?"
Dante numbly tucked the sword beneath his robes, speechless for once in his life. Then he made for the door, and turned back, simply stood for a moment, raising his hands, dropping them, and raising them again.
"Oh, blast it!" he exclaimed finally, and embraced the headmaster. Smiling, Dumbledore returned it. Finally, Dante let go, his face pink, and ran off without another word.
Albus Dumbledore walked over to Fawkes, stroking the bird's feather, and chuckling. "I couldn't have asked for a better grandnephew, don't you think, Fawkes?"
Morning found Dante missing two of his classes through sleeping.
He was just about in time for their Defense against the Dark Arts class, taking his seat beside Hermione a split second before the door opened to let in Professor Quirrell, with his typical garlic scent. Dante grimaced.
"That guy's seen too much Dracula." he muttered under his breath to Hermione, who glared at him.
"Even you gotta admit that's not normal." Dante countered. Hermione simply frowned, before turning his eyes back to their professor.
After the attendance had been taken, a blonde girl raised her hand.
"Why do you always wear that on your head, sir?"
"Oh, that. That was g-g-given to me by a p-p-prince of Africa after I k-killed a zombie that was c-c-causing p-problems for them. I wanted t-t-to honor the g-g-gift, so I a-always wear it."
Dante snickered. "Guy's got nervous syndrome. On top of stuttering, that's the most ridiculous thing I've heard in my life."
"Shut. Up." Hermione hissed through clenched teeth. Dante fell silent with a scowl.
"Chocolate Frog!" McGongall said to the gargoyle. It didn't budge.
"Albus must've changed it again." She murmured, annoyed. "Let's see, Borttee Botts every flavor beans, Sugar squeal, butter beer, sherbet lemon….." The list went on.
Five minutes later, and McGongall was still searching for the password, when Dumbledore himself approached her from behind.
"Oh, dear." He said, looking apologetic. "I forgot to tell you: the password's been changed. Let me see." he turned to the statue, "Strawberry Sundae!"
The great lion moved aside, leaving McGongall blinking.
"Why, Minerva," Dumbledore said brightly, "Don't you like it?"
During the first week of detention, Dante discovered a lot of things: The trophy room would make for a great dueling place, Filch's cat could tell him apart from his brother, and Bloody Baron, the Slytherin ghost, wandered about the school all night long.
"How'd you die?" he asked the ghost one night when Filch wasn't around. Mrs. Norris sniffed and meowed, he patted her head. "Quiet, milady."
She fell silent. Dante had to spend a long time in the school grounds searching for rats, but it was worth it, for Mrs. Norris now liked him more than she did her owner. It was a handy advantage.
Bloody Baron glared at him for a moment.
"C'mon, please?" pleaded Dante. "It seems like quite a fight, what were you, a knight?"
The Baron was still for a moment, before he shook himself and went straight through Dante in his haste to get away. Dante, wheezing, feeling like a bucket of ice-cold water had been dumped on him, yelled with a scowl, "Thanks a lot for that!"
Mrs. Norris hissed fiercely in agreement.
He told Vergil about the dueling place that very afternoon, in a deserted place by the lake. Vergil agreed easily.
"You brought the photo?" he asked in clipped tone.
Dante pulled out the one he had back from Hermione. He had planned on giving it to Vergil anyway, but a fight seemed like the best way to sort the differences out between them. "Will be kept on the House Cup." he said. "Winner's trophy."
"Fair enough." Vergil pulled out Yamato from its blue sheath. It glittered in the sunlight.
"Careful with the sword." Dante warned him. "Snape almost banished mine. We can't be seen."
"We won't be." Vergil said, looking his sword up and down, before sheathing it with a clang as Malfoy and his gang came up to the lake, snickering to themselves over some awful joke.
"What was that?" Malfoy asked, eyes narrowing. "What are you hiding?"
"What're you sniggering about?" Dante shot back.
"None of your business, Redgrave."
"Then keep your ugly nose out of ours." Vergil told them, frowning in distaste as he subtly moved the sheath inside his robe.
Setting the photo on the Cup, the twins took up positions six feet away from each other. Locking eyes, Dante allowed his lips to break into a cocky smirk, but deep down, he had to wonder at the sheer amount of hatred in Vergil's eyes. It gave him room to worry a bit about his life.
Just as the first clang echoed off the room, there was a small cry.
Dante got his sword into a vertical position to parry Vergil's second thrust, gripping the handle of his sword with both hands. His brother didn't press, only rested Yamato lightly on Rebellion's blade as they turned to face the onlookers.
Hermione Granger had her hands clapped over her mouth, Ronald Weasley and Harry Potter were both gaping and Neville was chalk white as the four gathered in the entrance.
"What are you doing here?" Dante asked, voice unnaturally loud in the thick silence.
"N-never mind!" Neville stammered. "We'll just…we'll go somewhere else, right, Harry?"
"So you're the leader of the pack." Vergil said in his usual, stone cold voice, addressing Harry Potter. Neville tugged on Harry's clothes again, but Harry didn't move.
"Er…Harry?" Ron tried. "I think there's a real duel taking place here." He eyed the large swords nervously.
"Are you trying to kill yourselves?" Hermione had finally found her voice, and it came out shrilly. "Where did you get these swords? This goes against all rules!"
Vergil drew Yamato up and walked slowly towards the girl. Hermione froze, her mouth open.
"What I do with my sword is not for you to meddle about, hu-"
Dante stepped between them, his own sword up. "I think it's in your best interest to leave." He said to the four Gryffindors, relieved Vergil didn't get to finish 'human'. "We're playing a game that brings risk to the audience."
"And we'd appreciate it if you do not breathe a word of this to anyone." Vergil finished, his eyes flashing warningly at Hermione. "Also in your best interest."
Ron suddenly looked angry. "Pretty worried over our best interests, aren't you?" he cut in.
Harry held up a hand to stop him. "I'm here for a duel." he said finally. "With Draco Malfoy."
A light laugh shattered the tension. It was Dante. "Malfoy?" he choked. "You think that guy's got the guts it takes? He's snoring in his bed! Vergil had to tiptoe around him to come here!"
All traces of anger vanished from Ron's face as the four exchanged glances. "If that is the case-" Hermione said slowly, "Then he's been planning this. He never intended to come, he-"
A voice echoed in the hallway.
"Sniff around, my sweet, they might be lurking in a corner."
The six of them exchanged a glance. Flich? Mrs. Norris?
They silently walked towards the door, Dante sweeping the photo up and tucking it in his pocket. He and Vergil gently put their swords back in their places. They had just turned the corner when footsteps indicated that Filch had entered the trophy room.
Dante went pale. "That cat knows my scent." He mouthed to Vergil as they crept along.
Before his brother could answer, Neville had screamed in fright and toppled over Ron who toppled over a suit of armor, bringing it down with a clash.
"RUN!" Harry cried, and made good on it. They moved through corridors after corridors,
Dante breaking into a grin as he realized they were heading for the third-floor corridor.
They stopped near the Charms classroom, the brothers not even out of breath, the others gasping for air.
Dante winked at Vergil before making a gesture towards the end of the corridor. Vergil returned his smirk with one of his own, nodding slightly.
They were going there tonight, as soon as these four were out.
"I told you." Hermione wheezed, bent over. "I-told-you."
"We got to go back to the Gryffindor tower." said Ron. "Quickly as possible."
"Malfoy tricked you." Hermione said.
"We heard, Ms. I-told-you-so." Dante cut in. Ron snorted. Hermione glared daggers.
"Let's go." Harry said.
But Peeves came hurtling towards them, cutting off their way. Dante grimaced, this ghost was nothing but trouble.
And so it proved when he gave them up in half a minute by screaming "STUDENTS OUT OF BED!"
They ran again, this time towards the door at the end. Dante exchanged a glance with Vergil.
"This is it!" Ron exclaimed as they slammed into the door. "We're-"
Vergil pushed him away roughly from the door, pulling out his wand and saying 'Alohomora' under his breath. The door swung open. They got in and closed it behind them.
While the others strained to hear outside, Neville reached up and tapped on Dante's shoulder. Dante nodded, putting a finger to his lips and shifting to place himself in front of the terrified boy. He pulled out Rebellion silently.
A three headed dog was standing there, covering the space between the floor and the ceiling. It was perfectly still, three sets of eyes fixed on the six intruders. It was sizing them up, Dante could tell. Out of the corner of his eyes, he saw Vergil bring Yamato out. The brothers crossed their swords, their eyes on the dog's own.
"He thinks the door is locked." They heard Harry whisper. "I think we'll be okay…"
"Depends." Dante said. "How good are you guys with pets?"
Silence followed. Dante could tell Harry had noticed the dog, but he didn't take his eyes off….he would rather not be taken by surprise.
The dog lunged just as the door was opened by Harry, only to get a slash to the face by Yamato. Rebellion followed swiftly, cutting deep across the toes. Howling in rage, the monster grabbed for them again. Exchanging a look with Vergil, Dante flipped back and out the door, landing on his feet in the corridor the same time as his twin. Harry, Ron, Hermione and Neville were trying to keep the door shut….and failing as the dog was pushing from the opposite side. Vergil went forward and joined them, slamming the door closed and locking it.
They ran together until the end of the corridor, where four Gryffindors went for the upper staircase while Dante accompanied Vergil to the lower one. After the four students were out of sight, Dante and Vergil jumped down the rest of the way to the first floor, landing on the balls of their feet and without a sound.
"We gotta clean these." said Dante, motioning to the swords. Vergil whipped out his wand and muttered another incantation, vanishing the blood. At times, it impressed Dante how far ahead Vergil was of the other first years in Charms and possibly, DADA. He didn't know about Hermione, though.
"You noticed the floor?" Dante asked quietly.
"I'm surprised you did." Vergil replied, moving down the stairs to the dungeons. Dante kept up with him.
"Why always the entrance guards are dogs? Look at the fairytales!"
"As always, your curiosity is misplaced."
"Hey," Dante said defensively, "I did think about it. That dog's probably Hagrid's. We gotta know what Hagrid's been up to this summer, coz this corridor wasn't forbidden last year."
Vergil actually looked impressed. "I think I have an idea." He said, striding towards the common room entrance. "There's been a bankruptcy this summer. Gringotts. I know Hagrid's been there, I've been with Dumbledore the last month before school started. I was there when Dumbledore told Hagrid to withdraw something. Whatever the bank robber was looking for, they didn't find it, that vault was emptied."
"So they bring it into a school?" Dante shook his head. "Brilliant idea, gramps. So, are we going?"
"Let's just find out if it's worth it." said his twin.
"Worth? I thought we're doing this for fun!"
Vergil shot him a cool look. "Now that we know there's some precious things down there, if we get caught, trust me, we will be expelled, Dumbledore's relatives or not."
Dante bit his lip. "Right. And there can be other things guarding it, so…that's out of the list. For now. So what about the photo?"
"Keep it." Vergil said. "Until the rematch."
Dante smiled. "Until the rematch." He echoed.
Vergil said the password to the wall in front of them and went in. The wall grunted shut. Dante began making his way back, yawning slightly. Even with his mind buzzing with thoughts, he knew not getting sleep was not something he needed to worry about.
"Swords?" Ron whispered for the fourth time. "Real swords! Honestly!"
"It could be just practice, Ron." Harry tried.
Ron snorted in disbelief. "C'mon, Harry! Did you see the murderous glare they were shooting each other? Tony nearly attacked Hermione, too!"
"It was Vergil." Hermione cut in. "Tony has a different voice. And they were fighting over something."
Harry paused halfway to the dormitories. "What?"
"A photo." she said. "It was- it was personal."
Ron blinked. "What, a girlfriend?"
"No, but why would they fight over-" she shook her head, walking to the girls' dormitory without another word spoken.
Tony came up the stairs, frowning. "You guys are still here?"
"Just going." Harry said quickly, and together they made their way up.
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The next day, Dante headed out in time for the first class, Double Potions with the Slytherins, He opened his homework for a last check as he walked; only looking up when he nearly careened into Neville. The boy grasped at Dante's arm to right himself.
"Sorry." Dante apologized nonchalantly and made to walk past, but the boy quickly stopped him with a hand on his shoulder.
"You still fought your brother?" Neville asked.
Dante shook his head. "Later." he didn't want to be even a second late for potions.
Just as Dumbledore had warned, Snape had shifted his attention to Dante in the potion's class, stalking past him frequently and keeping a hawk's watch on his potion. But Dante had discovered something else: He had a photographic memory. He didn't know if that was inherited from his father or mother, but it was paying off. He actually studied for potions, doing homework and memorizing the recipe of the potion he'd have to make the next class. That still didn't save him from Snape's sudden and terrifyingly difficult questions, but he still managed to get a few right, much to his teacher's surprise. Even Hermione was fairly impressed at his performance in class.
"You don't even try at the other classes." She accused him after they were outside.
"The others don't give out detentions." Dante said, busy stuffing his books in his bag. "I can't believe we got three classes today. It's Halloween, for goodness's sake!"
"That's going to be celebrated at night." Hermione said. "In the meantime, there's no reason to fall behind in our studies."
"There's a life outside studies, you know." Dante muttered, slinging his bag back over his shoulder. "What else have we got before lunch?"
"Charms." She said. "Try not to lose points…..again." her hair bouncing, she stalked ahead, Neville in tow.
Dante shook his head and hurried to catch up.
"Wingardium Leviosa!" Ron shouted, waving his long arms like a windmill. Dante quietly moved out of striking range, biting his lip to suppress his laughter. His own feather was in front of him, looking relatively harmless, but Dante had a feeling it would explode if he tried anything. His mistakes were always more destructive than anyone else, probably because of his demonic powers, and he had turned out to be laughably bad at Charms. Fortunately, he had Harry as the partner, and he was adequate, though not as good as Hermione.
Speaking of whom…
"You're saying it wrong," Hermione snapped at Ron. She was Ron's partner. 'You're a very lucky man', Dante had said in congratulations when they were paired, and he was only half-joking. "It's Wing-gar-dium Levi-o-sa, make the 'gar' nice and long."
"You do it, then, if you're so clever," Ron snarled.
"I think she will, mate." Dante snickered.
Hermione rolled up the sleeves of her gown, flicked her wand, and said, "Wingardium Leviosa!"
Their feather rose off the desk and hovered about four feet above their heads.
"Oh, well done!" cried Professor Flitwick, clapping. "Everyone see here, Miss Granger's done it!"
Dante grinned a bit. "Told ya." He said, amused at the sulky expression on Ron's face. "Look on the bright side: at least she made sure your feather didn't blow up in your face!"
Laughter floated through the classroom as everyone craned their heads to look: Neville and Seamus were mournfully staring at their feather, or rather, what was left of it, faces stained with ash. Ron looked even sourer.
Harry managed it a few tries later after actually following Hermione's instructions, and thus the class went by. Dante collected his things and hurried on ahead, his mouth watering at the prospect of lunch.
He almost didn't notice Hermione running on ahead.
"Hermione!" he yelled. "Hey, Hermione! Where're you going?"
She didn't reply. Dante shrugged at Neville. "Probably has to look something up in the library."
Hermione didn't turn up for lunch. Dante didn't think much of it; she just might have been too occupied to notice the time. He finished his lunch ravenously, and though he was surprised when Hermione didn't come to Transfigurations, he brushed that off too. Maybe she had finally learnt how to fall asleep in the library.
He smiled at the thought; if that was the case, he'd make something of her yet.
Dante had to admit, there was no shortage when it came to decorations in the Great Hall. And the food!
He was halfway through his turkey, when he felt Neville scoot closer to him.
"What is it?" he asked. "You want some?"
"Hermione," Neville said, looking ashen. "Parvati says she's been crying in the bathroom all afternoon."
Dante frowned. "What? Why?"
"I don't know, but Ron said some bad things earlier after Charms. He said Hermione's a nightmare and so no one can stand her."
Dante shook his head. Girls…who cried at this kind of trivial stuff? Though he did have to admit that not having friends sucked, there was no reason to miss a perfectly good feast over it. If she was in the girls' bathroom, there was nothing to be done anyway, he wasn't about to go looking for her and ruin his own meal.
So he continued to swallow down his food and tried to push down the concern he was feeling. She was being stupid, anyway. Dante actually considered her as a friend, and he saw no reason why she wouldn't understand that.
But the food didn't feel as delicious as it did before. Dante scowled and bit down into the meat more viciously. His stomach felt full.
"Oh, hell." He hissed finally, pushing his plate away. "Neville, take some food up to the common room for me."
"Where are you going?"
"To knock some sense into a bushy haired idiot." He stood, and left the Hall, feeling the Gryffindors' eyes on him as he did. Well, he would stare too if someone left the Halloween feast just when the more delicious foods were coming up.
He found the cubicle locked. Frowning, he knocked.
"Go away, Parvati!"
There was a short pause. "Oh, Tony!"
"Five points for impeccable answer!"
"What are you- why are you here?"
"I'm starting to wonder that myself. Out of there, Hermione. The feast is in full swing."
"You're here for me?" she asked in a small voice. It really didn't suit her. "You're missing the food!"
"Which is why you're going to stop your ridiculous moping and come out and back with me to the hall. Get out on your own, or I swear I'll go in and drag you out."
There was a moment of silence. Dante really hoped she'd understand the message he was trying to send. Just classmates didn't give anything up to help their peers. Only a friend would miss a feast to help her.
And then…"Give me a minute."
Dante smirked. "Sixty seconds. One, two, three…."
He was rewarded with a choked laugh. He felt a grin spread over his face, but kept counting.
"That's not fair! You skipped!"
The door opened to reveal a disheveled Hermione. Her eyes were bloodshot and teary, and her hair was wild, but she was smiling.
"You're impossible, Tony." she said.
Dante bowed. "Thank you. I do try."
She smiled weakly, and walked to the sink and washed her eyes and face, muttering a charm that quickly untangled the knots in her hair.
"You…uh…" Dante gestured with a hand, "You understand that Ron was just letting his mouth run away with him, right?"
She bit her lip and didn't say anything.
"I mean, you're really annoying most of the time and you get bossier than Professor McGonagall sometimes, but no one thinks of you as a 'nightmare'. I don't think. And besides, you've got friends, like Neville and…um, me I guess?"
Dante staggered back under Hermione's weight. She had thrown herself at him, flung her arms around his neck and was renewing her cries. On instinct, he wrapped his arms around her, even as he tried to think what could've caused this sudden onslaught. She was just fine a moment ago! Jeez, he was never, ever getting a girlfriend. Not that his single status was helping right now.
"It won't hurt to lower that bossy attitude, though…" he finished lamely. "Um…Hermione, you're choking me."
"Oh, sorry." She pulled back hastily. "It's just…thanks for coming after me."
"I'd really thank you to get a move on." He advised, sending her running to the sink again to fix her appearance. He chuckled at her haste; she really didn't want him to miss the food. Or maybe she didn't want to miss the food.
Suddenly, his ears perked up. "Hey, did you feel that?"
Hermione was drying her face with a towel. "Feel what?"
"Felt like earthquake." He paused. "There!"
Even Hermione could feel it now, a tremble that shook the walls and the floor. She cried out and crouched under the sink to protect herself should the roof come down. Dante spun around in a circle, looking around. He could hear a thumping sound now. It was like something- or someone, most likely- very heavy was coming this way.
"Hagrid?" he wondered, walking forward.
A giant troll stuck its head in.
Dante stifled a yelp of surprise, and instinctively moved back.
The troll entered. The door slammed shut on its own.
Dante blinked. Did someone else shut the door, or did the troll have magical skills? Either way, they were in a world of trouble.
"Hermione," he whispered, taking the few steps necessary to move in front of her, blocking her view of the approaching troll, "Close your eyes. Don't move. Don't even breathe if you can help it."
"Shut up and do as I say!" he hissed. Hermione fell silent and obeyed, to his immense relief.
Dante was feeling a bit of excitement and a bit of dread. The rest was simply adrenaline, and his demonic energy pumping through his veins. He edged his way forward, and waited for the troll to move away from the entrance before running to the door and leaning back against it. He whistled. The troll whirled about, club raised over its head, ready to strike. Dante dove away. The club smashed the door to pieces.
Hermione screamed. Dante ignored it; he had no time to reassure her. He whistled again, waiting until the troll's eyes were fixed on him and then threw a piece of debris at its head, making it howl in rage and confusion. When the thing finally calmed down enough to poise its club for another strike, Dante ran past it and out into the corridor, now confident that the troll had its full attention on him. Sure enough, he heard the pounding footsteps behind him. Well, at least Hermione was now out of the way.
But then the thing stopped, and Dante paused and looked over his shoulder. He barely reined in a foul curse he'd heard his mother say once.
Ron and Harry were standing near the end of the corridor, eyes the size of saucers as they looked between Dante and the mountain troll, the latter of which, now that its attention had been diverted, looked rather conflicted, glancing at Hermione, then Harry and Ron and back at Dante before repeating the cycle all over again.
A plan formulated in Dante's head. It really wasn't much of a plan, but it was the best he could come up with. He raised his hand, closed his eyes, and called to his sword, Rebellion.
"Hey, you two, get Hermione out!" he yelled to Ron and Harry. "I'm getting this away from the door!"
"Tony?" cried Ron, seemingly only just snapping out of his trance. "What are you- yeah, Hermione, right!"
Dante whistled at the troll, "Hey! Over here!"
The troll hesitated, looking between Ron and Harry, and back to him.
"That's a ladies bathroom." Dante said, pointing with his thumb; then pointing over his shoulder. "Gents is over there."
Harry and Ron's jaws had fallen open. The troll took large steps towards Dante, who bit his lip as he backed away, leading the troll out of sight of the bathroom door. Ron and Harry were tiptoeing towards the bathroom, and they were nearly to the threshold, but if the troll turned back now, it'd still see them.
Where's the blasted sword anyway?
"Good plan of action though." Dante wrinkled his nose. "You're in mortal need of a bath. Not that you care about being proper." Seeing Harry and Ron go out of sight, he breathed a subtle sigh of relief before putting on a look of confidence. "Ever heard of clothes?"
The troll threw its head back and roared, most probably in confusion, and suddenly Dante's blood turned to ice in his veins. Not because of the troll, for another reason altogether.
His sword Rebellion was in the Gryffindor dormitory, safely locked in his trunk, which was made of iron. He had taken to keep it there after the fiasco with Snape. The sword had probably torn through a couple of robes by now, but it had no way of coming to him.
He was unarmed, up against a mountain troll, and so screwed.
He looked about for anything that could be used as a weapon. There was a classroom nearby….
He ran inside, slamming his elbow down on a bench and smashing it to pieces. Grabbing a piece of splinted wood, he turned to face the big troll, gulping as it came within a few feet of him.
"Um….sorry?" he tried.
The troll drew its arm back in reply. Dante performed a side roll as the huge club smashed against the floor, rolling to his feet in one smooth movement.
"I'll take that as 'apology not accepted'." he said under his breath, brandishing his wooden weapon.
Wooden weapon…my wand!
He pulled it out from his pocket with his left hand, jumping out of the way of yet another aimless strike. He was quite sure McGonagall had mentioned this during the first class, a spell that changed a blunt wooden thing into a blade of similar shape…he ducked under the now spinning club, thinking….
He pointed his wand at the wooden piece in his hand, trying to remember the hand-motion. "Acies Acuta!"(1)
"Well, damn." he tried a swirling motion. "Acies Acuta!"
Nothing. A blind sweep nearly took his head off.
Frustrated, Dante made a cutting gesture with his left hand, imagining it was the troll's neck he was cutting. "Acies Acuta!"
When he looked down at his right hand, the piece of wood had been transformed to a shiny, small, two edged blade.
Dante laughed in surprise, but then his eyes narrowed in concentration as he looked back at the troll. He waited for the arm to come down again before leaping onto the hand, climbing up fluidly. The other hand repeatedly tried to grasp him, but he managed to dodge it.
Reaching the troll's shoulders, he braced his feet against the hard skin, leaning his body to the left to avoid another swipe, and thrust the wood-turned-blade as hard as he could into the space between the collarbones.
Blood flew everywhere, and Dante jumped out of the way to avoid the flailing arms…but he wasn't quick enough to dodge the club that the giant threw off as it clutched at its throat with both hands.
The heavy weapon smashed into his chest, pinning him to the floor, and Dante gasped as the air was knocked out of him. Fiery pain shot through his torso, an all-too-familiar pain that he recognized as cracked ribs.
It was Harry's voice, breaking through the haze of pain. Looking up, Dante saw the troll wavering dangerously, about to fall. He gritted his teeth and pushed the club off of him, jumping out of the way to let the huge monster fall to the side. The force of the fall shook up the whole classroom and sent pieces of debris up towards the ceiling. Dante crouched down, wrapping his arms about his head as he waited for the dust to settle.
Once the whole thing was finished, he pushed himself up using the wall for support. He turned to look down his nose at the troll.
"That's what you get for not having the courtesy to accept a simple apology." he breathed. He turned to Harry and Ron, trying to catch his breath while at the same time trying not to jar his ribs too much. "What took you guys so long?"
"It was pretty hard to get Hermione out of there." Harry explained. "She seemed to be in a bit of a shock."
Ron studied Dante carefully. "You look like hell."
Dante's retort was cut off as footsteps sounded.
"Professors!" Dante said, looking around desperately for any kind of escape route. None found.
Professor McGongall first came in, on her heels Professors Snape and Quirrell. Dante gulped at the expression on her face. Quirrell sat down on a toilet with a whimper, clutching his chest. Snape bent over the troll, checking.
"Dead." He announced, standing up.
Dante didn't even have the luxury of rejoicing over his first ever big kill. McGonagall hissed, "What on earth were you thinking of? You're lucky you weren't killed." Her gaze fell over the dust coating Dante's robes. "Why aren't you in your dormitory?"
Dante swallowed. "Well, it's…" Was the feast over already? Why would he be in the dormitory?
"Please, Professors." It was Hermione, standing in the doorway. Her cheeks were still flushed and eyes still red from crying. "They were looking for me."
The deputy Headmistress stared. "Miss Granger!"
"I went looking for the troll because I- I thought I could deal with it on my own, you know, because I've read all about them. If they hadn't found me, I'd be dead now. Tony lured the troll away while Harry and Ron evacuated me from the dead corner I was in. They didn't have time to fetch anyone else."
The three boys practically gaped at the girl, only turning at McGongall's voice.
"Well, in that case…Miss Granger, you foolish girl, how could you think of tackling a mountain troll on your own?"
Hermione hung her head. Dante bit his lip….Snape was still searching the troll, and he could only thank God he didn't have the sword with him. Snape would've definitely confiscated it himself this time. As it were, the man was glancing suspiciously at the blade and back to him.
"Miss Granger, five points will be taken from Gryffindor for this." Hermione bowed her head further, and Dante sent her an incredulous look. You get points for your House every class! Except Potions…five points isn't a problem.
"I'm very disappointed in you." said McGonagall. She addressed the boys then. "If you're not hurt at all," Harry shot Dante a look, to which Dante shook his head, not wishing to draw attention to his injury for fear of his half-demon status being discovered, "You'd better get back to Gryffindor tower. The students are finishing their feasts there."
Hermione quickly walked off, head still bowed and shoulders slumped.
Dante grinned a bit at the prospect of food, and then felt his eyebrows rise as Professor McGongall turned to them and said quietly, "Well, I still say you were lucky, but not many first years could've held their nerves while facing a full-grown mountain troll. Potter and Weasley, you each win your house five points. Mr. Redgrave, despite your incredibly foolish choice of tackling the troll on your own, I daresay only a select few grown up wizards could have single-handedly-" she raised an eyebrow at Harry and Ron, to which they both nodded, "-killed this creature. Where did you get this blade?"
Dante managed to hide a smile. She would like this answer. "I transfigured it from a piece of wood. Remember that incantation you mentioned in the first class?"
Professor McGonagall stared in disbelief. "You…but that's very advanced transfiguration…" she shook her head. "Of course. I should have expected." Dante knew what she meant. From the little he'd read about Dumbledore, he knew that his great-uncle used to teach Transfiguration in here. "You win Gryffindor ten points for protecting your housemates, and another ten for the successful casting of an advanced spell. Professor Dumbledore will be informed of this. You may go."
Harry and Ron left the room. Dante was also going to when he smelled blood. Human blood.
His eyes drifted to Snape, who was limping off to check the dent in the floor. Dante laughed outright.
"Ha! Knew you were gonna trip in your cloak one of these…." He was suddenly cut off as white-hot pain shot through his chest, and he doubled over with a gasp. McGonagall looked up sharply from where she was repairing one of the benches.
"What…?" her eyes fell on Dante, and she pursued her lips. "Where are you hurt?"
Damn it, Dante…perfect time to get a sense of humor. "My chest." Dante said slowly, standing straight. "I think I cracked a rib or two."
McGonagall shook her head in…disbelief? Exasperation? Amazement?
"Come with me, Mr. Redgrave." Snape cut in. His eyes conveyed easily, Don't think I haven't noticed your little jab.
Dante nodded, just relieved that he was being escorted by someone who already knew of his demonic heritage.
As he passed Quirrell, he started. There was a dark aura about that guy…almost suffocating. The feeling lasted for only a second, but left him with a new feeling: That he was being watched.
"So what happened?" Dante asked once he was outside. "Why are you limping?"
"Your ribs were damaged by the club?" Snape asked him, ignoring the query.
Dante shrugged and winced. "Yeah."
"Come over here."
He mildly crossed the short distance to stand in front of his professor. The elder wizard pointed the wand at his chest and murmured something. A soft blue glow emanated from where Dante assumed the injury was, and then diminished. The pain didn't lessen even a bit, and he frowned accusingly at the Potions' Master.
"A diagnosis spell." Snape told him nonchalantly, pocketing his wand. "It's a fracture, not just a crack. How long does it take to heal bones?"
"Pretty long. A day or two."
"Walk slowly, then." The professor snapped as he started down the corridor "A punctured lung is the last thing we need right now."
"Wow, someone's worried." Dante smirked.
Snape whirled about. "What was that, Mr. Redgrave?"
"You're worried." Dante repeated. "Why's that so hard to admit?"
A vein seemed to throb in Snape's temple, but Dante noted, to his great satisfaction, that Snape still kept his strides short to let him walk slowly.
Next morning found Harry, Ron and Hermione walking leisurely by the lake. It was a holiday; students were all over the school grounds, some sitting on the grass, some admiring the view and some feeding the fishes in the lake. The sun was bathing the grass with its rays, making it shine. The top of the young trees swayed in the gentle breeze.
"When're they gonna release him?" Harry asked Hermione.
"Madam Pomfrey said she was looking forward to be rid of him." She answered. "I think she probably already did. I kept the leftovers from the feast for him, just in case he wants it."
"He will." snickered Ron. "You should've seen how fast he was eating at the feast!"
"You're one to talk." reminded Harry. "Good thing you weren't there, Hermione. It was kind of disgusting."
Hermione smiled a bit, but her eyes were far away.
"You're thinking about last night." said Harry.
"Yes," she said absent-mindedly. "Tony handled the whole thing so well….one would think he'd seen things like this before."
"You're reading too much into this." said Ron. "He's just got better nerve than you."
Hermione blushed furiously. "Gosh, I can't believe I actually panicked!"
"That's really nothing to be ashamed about." muttered Harry, sending Ron a mild glare. "We had fair warning, and still we were afraid."
"Tony didn't panic."
"Tony's a rare species." Ron shrugged, actually having the grace to look ashamed for his earlier statement. "Remember him before the Sorting ceremony? He actually made conversation with the ghosts."
Harry laughed suddenly. "Yesterday, Tony lectured the troll on civilized behavior, remember?"
"He told him to use the correct bathroom." Ron chortled.
Hermione looked stricken. "Merlin's beard! He was lucky trolls don't understand humans."
"Hey, I apologized!"
An ear-splitting grin lightened Hermione's face. "Tony!" she ran off, arms already lifting from her sides before she glanced down at her friend's torso, remembering the injury, and, restraining herself at the last moment, simply shook hands with Tony. Harry and Ron shared a glance and grinned. "About last night-" Harry began.
"Thanks." The four said in unison. It was hard to tell who said it to whom. All of them had contributed in some way.
"You alright?" Harry asked Tony, who shook his head with a scowl.
"Who spread it around that I fought a troll?" he complained. "I can't even yawn without five students running to call madam Pomfrey!"
Laughing, Harry was about to reply, when he suddenly broke off. Tony's spitting image was striding towards them with a purposeful look.
"We need to talk." said Vergil. Tony didn't turn around to face his brother.
"Not now, Verge."
"Yes, now." Vergil turned on his heels and began to walk towards a small tree, obviously expecting his brother to follow.
Tony threw his hands up in an exasperated gesture, before following.
Three pairs of eyes watched them go. "I don't like their attitude towards each other." Hermione said quietly. "The two act like they're mortal enemies."
"That's true." said Ron, to both Harry and Hermione's surprise. "Brothers aren't supposed to be like that. Something's really wrong."
"What?" Dante asked irately.
"Which professors were there after you took down the troll?"
"Snape, McGonagall….and Quirrell, I think."
Vergil's brow creased. "Anyone injured?"
Dante's eyes widened. Snape was, but why would Vergil….
"What's this about?" he asked. "Yesterday, when Snape was taking me to the infirmary, your prefect came and told Snape she couldn't find you anywhere. So you weren't at the group that went back to Slytherin, and you sure as hell weren't with me. Where were you last night?"
"None of your-"
"You need the information. Play fair, Verge."
Vergil stood still for a moment, before taking a quick glance around and saying, "What I'm telling you is for your ears alone. No one else can know."
Dante opened his mouth to protest, but a look from Vergil was enough to convince him that his brother wouldn't have it any other way. He nodded.
"Professor Quirrell went into the third floor corridor last night. I followed him, but the cat smelled me on the stairs to the third floor. I didn't go any further, but I saw Snape taking the stairs to the third floor when I was coming down. I need to know…"
Dante had a good idea of where this was going.
"If any of them was aiming for the trapdoor." he finished his twin's sentence. "Snape was limping. I think I saw blood. But why would they-"
"They have a dog protecting the trapdoor." Vergil reminded him. "Something is being guarded."
"And Snape does seem the villain type." Dante mused. "But looks can be pretty deceiving, just look at us…and there's something pretty fishy about Quirrell too…"
"Quirrell was in front, remember?" Vergil said, "Snape followed a few minutes later."
Dante straightened. "Wait, you're telling me Snape was trying to stop Quirrell?"
"Or trying to take it before him."
"Yeah." Dante said, scratching his head. He had never tried to use his head much, and he felt like it was heating up.
"I'll leave the thinking to you, then." He grinned suddenly, his eyes falling on the dense forest just outside the school boundaries. "You know, we gotta hit the Forbidden Forest sometimes."
"And I'll leave that to you." Vergil retorted without missing a beat. "Find a spot. We have to finish our little game."
First Quidditch match arrived faster than they had imagined.
Dante was pretty excited. Vergil was nonchalant, saying he'd spend the day practicing moves with Yamato - his inherited katana.
"Wow, need prepping for the duel?" Dante smirked. The fight was scheduled that very night, in a very strange spot….over the Forbidden Forest, on two broomsticks. They had both agreed it'd make things much more interesting, or, as for Dante, 'a helluva lot' more interesting.
They had both handled the brooms as easily as they would any devil arm. Their natural talents had not been explored on the pitch, though, and they had never even thought about playing Quidditch for their house teams, both agreeing chasing a ball around would be a waste of perfectly good skills, not to mention the fact that first years were not permitted to participate in team tryouts. That didn't mean there was no fun in watching how a new game worked. Dante had seen plenty of action movies, and even though he could almost always do better than the heroes in the movies and came up with a lot of errors in the moves the characters used, he still enjoyed many of the films.
"Only so Yamato's thirst is quenched enough to pull back in time to avoid taking your head off." Vergil replied. They were standing by the lake, the cold wind whipping about them. The cold was bone chilling; no one was outside. A few water drops from the frosts caught in their hair. Dante blew a breath, watching the white puff it created before dissipating slowly. Vergil rolled his eyes at his brother's antics, smoothing his hair back with one hand. None of them even shivered once from the cold.
From the warmth of Gryffindor tower, Ron was looking down at the two figures.
"See, Hermione?" he said. "They're up to something, I'm telling you."
"Like how to sneak in a snow skate for the upcoming December?" Harry suggested. He and Hermione were playing Exploding Snap, and Hermione was winning. A frown creased Ron's brow.
"What's a snow steak?"
"Snow skates," said Hermione, "is a muggle playing instrument. They're designed to slide on snow. It's fun to play."
"Doesn't seem as fun as Quidditch." Ron said with a dismissive shrug.
"Maybe." Harry agreed. "But it still looked fun when my cousin played…" he trailed off.
Hermione paused her mulling over her cards. "Ever played it, Harry?" she asked.
"No." Harry admitted. "My cousin, well, they had their own team."
Hermione looked at him sympathetically. "Oh." There was a short pause. "Tony, well…you know, Harry, you two have more in common than you think."
"Like what?" Harry asked distractedly as Hermione turned her card over.
"For starters, he too had lost his parents, and from what I heard, grew up in an orphanage. He once gave me a picture of his mother for safekeeping…"
"Why would he give that to you?" Ron interrupted.
Hermione bit her lip. "Oh, I shouldn't have told you that."
"Oh, maybe his brother's making a grab for it?"
She sighed and relented. "It's not 'maybe', he is. Remember that fight in the trophy room? They were fighting over their mother's picture."
"Blimey." Ron muttered, looking suddenly thoughtful. "We probably need to be careful. His brother, well, he gives me the creeps sometimes. Tony killed a troll with a piece of wood….and I can bet his brother matches his strength. They're powerful, Hermione, and it's better to be safe."
"But they're not inclined to be dark wizards." Harry said thoughtfully. "I've overheard them saying Vold-"
"You-Know-Who's name. Tony even made fun of him." He grinned as he won the round. Hermione bit her lip again.
"Harry," said Ron, "if they want to be greater dark wizards, they're not going to obey You-Know-Who. Like I said, they're both powerful. Tony's in Gryffindor, though, I don't think he's evil."
With these uncharacteristically thoughtful words, he fell silent, continuing to watch the two dark figures by the lake.
Despite his words, Vergil came to the stands to watch the game. Dante smirked a bit; walking away from the Gryffindor stands to join his brother. He enjoyed Ron and Hermione's company, but it was Vergil whom he could share all of his thoughts with. Dante knew with absolute certainty that not one player over the field matched their skills with a broom, but if he were to point out where they were going wrong and grin over it, everyone except Vergil would give him strange looks.
His brother didn't smile on seeing him, but Dante had the feeling he was pleased.
"Gryffindor is going to win." Dante declared.
"Don't be so sure, brother." Vergil replied, eyes fixed on the players.
By the first five minutes, Dante had yelled at Harry a total of 20 times. All in his mind, of course.
"What's his problem?" he hissed out loud finally. "I spotted the snitch 20….21 times now! And I'm watching from the stands!"
"Human sight, Tony…" Vergil murmured, also looking exasperated. "Weaklings."
As if hearing them, Harry suddenly saw the snitch. Dante bit his fist as his friend dove forward….and started doing odd dance moves on his broom.
Dante stared. Then snickered. And stared some more, now worried. He looked about. No one had noticed yet. He looked beside him at his brother.
"What's going on?" he asked. "You know anything?"
"It's called jinxing." Vergil said casually. "A wizard is controlling the broom from outside."
"Who?" Dante exclaimed, alarmed.
"Check the teachers' seats."
Dante did, and saw Snape muttering with his eyes fixed on Harry.
"It's Snape, then?"
Vergil sighed dramatically. "Where's Quirrell, Dante?"
And it was then that Dante realized the problem, Quirrell was nowhere to be found. But he could've sworn he was there when the game had started.
"What is with these two?" he murmured.
"One of them is jinxing, the other anti-jinxing." Vergil informed in his monotonous voice. "Otherwise, the broom would've fallen by now."
"Quirrell's doing it." Dante breathed. "He's jinxing. I bet you. I sensed that dark aura that-"
"How good are you at gambling?"
Dante snorted in good humor. "Right. Then it's probably Snape." he looked about. "Let me go check."
Vergil lifted one shoulder in a shrug. Dante ran off to the Gryffindor side, searching for Ron and Hermione. It wasn't hard to spot them, they were cheering beside Hagrid.
"Hey," he said to Hermione, "Saw Harry?"
She looked up and almost squealed in fright. "What….?!"
"Look, you gotta throw off Snape. He's muttering at Harry, Vergil said it's called-."
"Jinxing." She finished. "Have to be." She took the binocular, focusing on the teacher's stand.
Dante nudged her forward. "Well, get moving then." He himself left to take Quirrell. The guy wasn't too hard to find, he was standing off to a side, whispering, eyes fixed on Harry. Dante gave him a light shove and made him lose his balance.
Harry gained control as soon as Quirrell was thrown off. Looking out, Dante did a face palm; his plan couldn't have gone worse. Snape had been thrown off at exactly the same time, now busy extinguishing flames from his clothes.
Just incredible, Dante! He quickly said an apology for knocking the DADA professor over, to which he said, "N-no problem." Then he turned back to go to Vergil's side.
"Well, Hermione's timing was off." He told his brother.
"Your timing was off." Vergil retorted. "She didn't know she needed to time anything."
Dante accepted this with a scowl. "So, back to scratch."
"No." Vergil answered coolly. "We know who did the jinxing."
Dante stared. "How?"
"Think. You actually know how to, despite your relentless attempts to forget it."
"Why should I? I've got both you and Hermione for that."
Vergil glared at him. "Because I won't tell you anything."
Dante furrowed his brows. The one who jinxed the broom had planned it in advance. And if he planned it, he'd take precautions not to get caught muttering or to be bowled over while he was jinxing.
The solution was actually very simple.
"Quirrell left the teacher's seat because he had to jinx Harry." he realized. "But why would he-"
Harry was on the ground, the snitch in his palm, now holding it up. Dante pointed his thumb downward at Vergil, laughing. Vergil rolled his eyes and turned away.
"Three cheers for Gryffindor!" yelled Ron.
Harry, Hermione and Dante echoed it. They were drinking tea a safe distance away from the fireplace. The thing was massive, so the heat was like furnace. Dante was sprawled out on a sofa with Hagrid's great black hound's head on his knee, absently scratching it behind the ears. Fang was already half-asleep.
The dog had first sniffed and barked at the half-demon nervously, tail between its legs and ears flat against its head. Dante had to lean forward in his seat and beckon to the pet a couple of times. Hagrid had locked eyes with the boy, and Dante could tell the half-giant had guessed what Fang was so anxious about.
"It's 'kay, Fang." He had said. "He's a friend. Go ter him."
The dog had taken cautious steps forward then, and finally had gotten close enough to allow Dante to pet it. The rest had been easy enough. Too easy, even.
"Hey," he nudged at the dog to wake it, clicking his tongue, "No drooling. We clear?"
Fang simply stared at him for a moment before resting his head back on his lap and falling asleep. And drooling.
Ron filled Hagrid in on what had transpired at the Quidditch pitch.
"Rubbish." said the gatekeeper. "Why would Snape do somethin' like that?"
Harry, Ron and Hermione looked at each other. "Actually-"
Hermione was interrupted by soft knocking on the door.
Hagrid opened it a crack. "Ah, Vergil. Come right in."
"Actually, I was looking for Da-" his gaze fell on the three sitting inside. "Tony." He amended.
Hermione almost visibly perked up.
Dante lifted the hound from his lap and carried it to the fireplace, only remembering halfway that human kids weren't supposed to carry large dogs around. He made a show of effort the rest of the way, but Ron's suspicious gaze still followed him as he left the hut.
"I don't like it." Ron said slowly. "Did you see how scared Fang was of him?"
Hermione was frowning. "Was that his name his brother was saying?"
As it turned out, Vergil wanted to fix the spot for the dueling. They did it from the ground, scanning the treetops and finally setting their sights on a large Willow tree.
"Over that." Vergil decided.
Dante agreed. "Okay. Tonight. 12 o'clock."
The door to Hagrid's hut opened at that moment, followed by Hagrid's loud voice, "An' yeh forget abou' Nicholas Flamel, got it? 'S no business o' yours what Fluffy's guardin'."
The brothers shared a look. The dog was called Fluffy, and someone named Nicholas Flamel had something to do with whatever was beneath that third floor corridor.
1: My own invented spell! Latin for 'sharp edge' I think.
How about that comment, then?
Dinner was a quiet affair for the twins. Dante actually shared smirks with Vergil from across the hall, and to any onlookers it would look as if all differences were sorted out.
There were only two at the staff table who found this ominous. The headmaster, Albus Dumbledore was eyeing the two for some time now, his food forgotten on the table.
"Albus?" McGonagall inquired from his immediate right. "Is something wrong?" As she said it, her eyes followed Albus's line of sight and fell on the twins.
"It seems to me that they're getting along much better." She observed. "Do you see anything different?"
"See? No." Dumbledore turned his eyes back to his food. "Feel? Yes. Enjoy your meal, Minerva."
"Severus, everyone else's dinner is almost finished!" Flitwick said to his colleague.
Snape pushed his plate away, taking his eyes off two particular students at two ends of the hall. "I'm not the Headmaster, Filius, I do not need to stuff myself with food six times every day." He left the table, black cloak billowing behind him.
Dante pulled his broomstick up, maintaining level with Vergil as they rose above the trees, keeping his eyes locked on him. With his free hand, he held up Rebellion. Lightning flashed across the sky, light glinting off the blade and illuminating the side of Vergil's face. It was going to pour. Very unusual for this time of the year.
Dante made a slight detour and pulled out the photo from his pocket, setting it down on a bird's nest he'd seen earlier on a treetop. Of course, he had his own photo of Eva by then, and he was planning on giving this one to Vergil regardless of who won. But he wasn't about to speak it out and ruin the fun for both of them.
Beneath them, the treetops were cast in the white light for a fraction of a second before again being engulfed in ominous darkness.
Vergil's hand shone with blue energy as he channeled it into his broom, and Dante's flashed red. The twins circled the willow tree once, the outdated brooms going as fast as the wind itself. Satisfied, Vergil stood up on his broom, directing it with only his toes. Dante also stood and let out a whoop of delight. He spread his arms to his sides, going straight upwards and then turning the tip downward, before bending to the side, riding it like a roller coaster. Vergil smirked as he watched his brother.
"I'd advise you to save your brimming energy, because you're going to need every last bit of it, and more, tonight."
"We'll see, big brother!" Dante laughed as he finally stopped his broom a foot in front of Vergil. Yamato was now out of its sheath and flashing blue.
This duel had never been about the photo. It was simply a contest, or even a game, for Dante. For Vergil, it was an opportunity to give Dante his 'just desserts' for taking his mother away.
Dante started it, lunging forward with his sword horizontal. Vergil leaned slightly left and swung Yamato towards the back of Dante's shoulder blades, the red-clad boy ducking under the thrust and slashing at Vergil's legs, but Vergil pulled his broom up at the last moment and Dante was off balance for the briefest of seconds. Vergil used that second to ram his broom into Dante's midsection with full force. Dante just barely managed to avoid the follow-up blow with Yamato's sheath, propelling his broom backwards even as he clutched at the sore spot with one hand, gasping for air. It took him a second to recover.
The distance between them was now no less than six feet, and Dante steadied his breathing before going forward again.
He headed for a clash; the swords this time actually meeting each other with a metallic sound, sparks flowing off. Immediately both of them pulled back, Dante blocking Vergil's sword a couple of inches from his face. Vergil swung Yamato back and switched hands, bringing it forward again in a blur. Dante guided his broom up to dodge it, and his brother was suddenly there on the tip of Dante's broomstick, slashing across his abdomen. Dante rolled off to the side, falling off his broom and onto Vergil's, which was passing a few meters down on the same diagonal line. He pulled up, coming around in front of Vergil, who threw a slash from Yamato, making Dante jump up again to let it pass him by. His jump took him over Vergil's head, and he managed a strike in mid-air, which was blocked, before sending a kick that sent Vergil falling back to his own broom. Dante grabbed hold of his own broom again, going forward, but stopping as he heard a heavy thud of something falling. The silver arc of energy from Yamato that he managed to dodge a moment before had slashed through the tree below, causing a branch to fall.
It's not like trees can talk…so it can't give us away… Dante thought absently as his glance fell over the Willow, which was swaying perhaps more than it ought to in the roaring wind. Then he was almost thrown off his broom as Vergil's sword cut deep into his left leg, all the way to the bone. Dante gritted his teeth against the pain, using the gap the attack created to bring his own sword down into Vergil's arm.
They both stumbled back, clutching their respective injuries, and glared daggers at each other.
"Ooh, did I hurt my big brother?" Dante drawled mockingly.
"Don't flatter yourself." responded Vergil coolly.
The battle raged on for another few minutes, swords and broom moving faster than eyes could see, before they entered a deadlock for the third time.
Dante's hands were trembling with fatigue; Vergil had managed to get in far more hits than he did. Something had changed within his brother, Dante could feel it the moment he had locked his sword on Vergil's in the trophy room. There was some sort of strength within him that hadn't been there before.
Then Vergil raised his sword up, and sent Dante's flying out of his hands.
Dante breathed heavily, clenching his fists. He had lost. He knew from the look in Vergil's eyes that his brother wasn't finished, that there would be something really painful in store for him.
Vergil whispered 'Accio photo' and caught the frame neatly, smirking as he pocketed it. But then he did something that his younger twin would've never seen coming; eyes gleaming with cold hate, he brought up his wand with his free hand and muttered 'Reducto' under his breath.
Dante cried out in surprise as his broom shattered beneath him, and he went plummeting towards the ground approximately three hundred feet below, a strange, blue and white demonic face the last thing his eyes could make out before he felt a pain unsurpassed by anything he had ever experienced, followed by blackness.
"Dunno what happened, professor…found him like that near the forest, an' there was a broomstick, broken….looks like the Willow's pummeled him bad."
Dante blinked his eyes open, to be met with the soft blue of his great Uncle.
"Welcome back, Dante." Albus Dumbledore said softly.
Dante tried to sit up, but fell back with a gasp of pain. "Vergil…?"
Dumbledore and Hagrid exchanged a glance. "So he was there." said Dumbledore.
Now you've done it, Dante… "What time is it?" he asked in a pathetic attempt to change the subject. He was feeling a sense of dread at the knowing glance Dumbledore was giving him. He grew even surer that Dumbledore knew exactly what must've transpired when he actually let him shift the topic.
"It's 8:30 in the morning. You already missed your Charms lesson."
"And I'm going to miss Potions." Dante moaned. "Snape's going to-"
"Professor Snape, Dante."
"Stick me with Filch again!"
Dante did a double take. "Knows what?"
"That you were injured. In fact, Professor Snape was the one to come to my office and notify me that your brother was not in his bed. Professor Snape, Hagrid and I started the search immediately, and as you must have gathered, Hagrid here was the one to find you. We found Vergil back in his bed a few hours later, so even though we knew that he had gone out after curfew- a punishable offense in itself - we did not have conclusive proof that he had actually been to the Forbidden Forest…until now. Madam Pomfrey has been here to see you once; we- that is, Professor Snape, Hagrid and I all agreed it wouldn't be a good idea to let you go to the hospital wing; there's not enough privacy. You still have some wounds that are mending at a rapid rate. We do not want to cause a stir."
"What's wrong with being a half-demon?" Hagrid asked. "I'm a half-giant and I was allowed in….Back off, Fang!"
Fang had probably just woken up, because now he was running towards Dante with the full intention of jumping on him. Dante turned his head to look at the black hound, only now realizing he was lying on his side in a bed that was just the right size for him- must have been Dumbledore's work- in Hagrid's hut. The dog was now being held back by Hagrid. Dante stretched his hand to pat its head, feeling a touch of amusement when Fang's eyes fell closed.
"-still prejudiced." He caught the end of Dumbledore's sentences. The old wizard glanced at Dante's curious expression and for his benefit, continued, "Demons are something far beyond our control, you see, demons are feared by wizards for the same reason that we are feared by the Muggles. Prejudice stems from a lack of understanding, and coupled with fear, it can be very destructive."
Dante pondered on that for a few moments. It made sense, in a twisted sort of way.
"What's wrong with me?" he asked Dumbledore.
"Your left leg and left arm was broken in five different places- already mending, courtesy of the spells Poppy had given. They're working somewhat slower than normal, due to your resistance to magic. Four ribs broken from the Whomping Willow's branches-"
Dumbledore was looking very grave; Dante found it uncomfortable. "It appears a demonic energy caused one of the Whomping Willow's branches to be cut off. That specific tree does not take very kindly to disturbance."
"So it beat me up." Dante finished with a sigh.
"Indeed. And your spine is broken."
Dante's eyes shot open wide. "What? You mean literally?"
"Yes, my boy. It seems this would take a full day to heal, even with the aid of the potions and spells, judging by the recovery rate."
You gotta be kidding me…
"Foun' this hanging on a branch." Hagrid said, holding up the broken pieces of a broomstick. Dante let his eyes fall closed.
He was caught.
"You going to kick me out?" he asked Dumbledore tiredly.
"Should I?" the Headmaster replied just as quietly, blue eyes piercing Dante's icy ones.
Dante held the stare, but didn't say anything. He could see disappointment radiating from the blue orbs; he felt ashamed, but just barely managed not to look away.
"Not today." Dumbledore said finally. "But this is your last warning."
"First, too." Dante muttered.
Dumbledore kept his eyes fixed on Dante's as he said, "Could you excuse us for a moment, Hagrid?"
The gatekeeper, with a glance over his shoulder, left the room.
"I expected you to be more sensible in your use of this." Dumbledore said, flicking his wrist. A second later, Rebellion was there in his hand. "Unfortunately, now I have no other choice but to keep it in my office, until you have given me proof you can be trusted with it."
Dante opened his mouth to protest, but then shut it again. "Right." He said gloomily.
"And I have to take your brother's as well, I'm afraid, because it appears it was Yamato which has cut the branch of the Willow."
Dante grinned. "Suit yourself."
Dumbledore's eyes softened suddenly. "It seems Vergil has harbored more dislike towards you than I had imagined at first. The spell used to destroy this broom was one specifically used for reducing objects to dust. How far above the ground were you?"
Dante pressed his lips together. "Tell ya what, next time I'll bring a meter scale, okay?"
Dumbledore smiled at that, and dropped it.
Potions class started off like any other, Snape stalked in the classroom, took attendance, but skipped over Tony's name.
"Excuse me, professor!" Hermione cried. "You-" she trailed off. Tony really wasn't in the classroom.
"Yes, Miss Granger?" Snape asked silkily.
Hermione shut her mouth, turning beet red. The Slytherins snickered.
"A point from Gryffindor for unnecessary interruption." Snape said, turning his eyes back to the paper.
"How can that be?" Hermione whispered once Snape had started taking attendance again. "Tony never misses potions! And how could Snape know that he's not-"
"I'm not color blind yet, Miss Granger, so I can see only two persons with silver hair in this room." Snape hissed through gritted teeth. "And both of them happen to be wearing Slytherin ties. Five points from Gryffindor for second interruption and five more for saying a professor's name disrespectfully. One more interruption and it'll be twenty. Are we clear?"
Hermione went redder, if that was even possible, biting on her quivering lower lip.
"Are we clear, Miss Granger?"
"Y-yes, sir." She whispered.
Satisfied, Snape continued, completely ignoring the hateful glances he was receiving from the Gryffindors.
Once done, he began to give out instructions for today's potion. They were to be divided into pairs. He seemed to be in an even fouler mood than usual; pairing Hermione with Crabbe, Harry with Malfoy and Ron with Goyle.
When it came to Vergil's turn, always Snape's favorite despite not being nearly as good at the subject as Tony was, the professor sent a cold glare at him. "You," he snapped, "Get paired up with Neville Longbottom. I want both of your potions flawless, and the marks will be on both of you."
Ron gasped, incredulous. Vergil moved to make space for Neville, giving him curt instructions while squeezing juice out of his own tree roots. His eyes were clouded in thought, and he seemed rather unfocused on his own task. Their potions ended up a mess, and Snape vanished both and gave them identical zeroes, looking rather triumphant.
Lunch found Hermione disheveled at the Gryffindor table.
"He's not in the library, in Gryffindor tower or on the grounds." She announced.
"Snape's probably killed him off." Ron said, shuddering. "Tony was the only one who ever acted that boldly towards him. Maybe-"
"Shut up, Ron!" Hermione hissed.
Dante absently stared out the window of the hut, adjusting his pillow as he did. His thoughts were constantly straying towards the one thing he was trying to, above all others, keep out of his mind.
He hadn't told Dumbledore, but he had an idea of just how high up he was when Vergil had destroyed his broom. Judging by the fact that they were over the willow, he put the distance at about 350 feet. He wasn't supposed to survive. And Vergil had to have known that…right?
Maybe, Dante decided, Vergil hadn't noticed. That sounded lame.
Maybe caught up in the heat of the moment? The adrenaline rush? Dante remembered the way Vergil's eyes were flashing. Now that, he decided, that was a probable solution. Maybe it was the right one.
Dante really hoped so. The alternative was unfathomable.
Dinner found Harry, Ron, Hermione and Neville in front of Vergil. Well, Neville was behind the others, so not exactly in front of Vergil.
"Where's your brother?" Harry asked.
Vergil gave a cold smile that chilled him to the bone. He didn't say anything, just pushed past them and strode down the corridor.
Ron gaped after him. "I told you, that guy's creepy."
"Hospital wing!" Hermione suggested, growing pale. "Maybe Tony's in the-"
Harry was already walking down the corridor. With a shared glance, the other three hurried after him.
Madam Pomfrey shooed them off, but not before curtly telling them that the only student that had came in today was a Hufflepuff girl who had slipped in the bathroom.
"How can a student just disappear?" Harry hissed, frustrated.
"Harry, seriously," said Ron, "What if Snape decided Tony's a threat to his plan? You know, with the way he acted, and he's powerful, no denying that."
Just that morning, Harry would've brushed it off, now he felt only dread at the prospect.
"We'll wait until morning." He decided. "After that, we'll go to Professor McGonagall."
Dante tossed and turned in his bed, his closed eyes squeezing and brows furrowed.
"Dante! Vergil!" their mother screamed. "Hide in the place your dad showed you! Go!"
Dante stared at Eva with wide eyes. "Mum, what about you?"
"I'll be fine! Go!"
He believed her. He couldn't really think. Another blow shook up the front door, and plasters fell from the ceiling. He ran to his own bedroom and touched a spot on the lower left corner of the wall. A part of the wall swung open, revealing a hole just about big enough for an eight year old boy to stay crouched in. He squeezed in just as the first cry of the demons shook the walls. Dante slapped his trembling hands over his ears and shut the small door. An eerie silence engulfed the place.
He sat trembling, arms around his knees. It was as if time had ceased to exist. All he wanted was to pretend none of this was happening, that it was a vivid nightmare that would go away as soon as his mother shook him awake.
But finally, he uncurled his fingers from around his forearms and blinked to focus. This was real, he told himself. This was real. This was happening. And he had to respond.
Where was Vergil? Was his twin hiding in his own room? Or was he already dead, fighting the demons?
Fighting the demons…
A realization shook him to the core and sent a shiver down his spine.
Mum doesn't fight!
Dante threw open his door. The house was so silent. He ran to Rebellion and then out the door, holding his sword tightly with both hands.
He stepped over the threshold and into the dining room. Their plates were exactly as they had left them, laden with half-eaten food. And by the foot of the table, there was Vergil, lying face down on the ground, a thin trail of blood soaking his silver-white hair.
Dante rushed towards him and knelt beside him, putting Rebellion under his twin's nose. The blade blurred.
Vergil was breathing. But where was his mother?
He moved on to the bedroom of his mother. The door was ajar, and there was…
So much blood. Way too much blood inside. On the floor. On the bed. And by the dressing table was…
"MUM!" he screamed.
Her golden hair was matted with blood. Her beloved red coat was torn to shreds, and the white shirt underneath was soaked in red as well. And where the smooth skin of her stomach was supposed to be, there was a gaping hole. And the insides-
Dante shuddered and moved his eyes to her face. Her eyes were open and staring at the ceiling.
He shuddered again, and slowly made his way to her side, keeping his eyes away from her midsection.
"Mum?" he called her, softly, as he knelt beside her.
She was still.
"Mum? C'mon, wake up. Vergil is hurt. You need to patch him up."
She didn't reply.
"I would've told you that you need to patch yourself up, but you don't care about yourself, do you? You never do."
She remained motionless.
"Look, mum-" he ignored what his brain was practically screaming at him. She wasn't dead. She couldn't be dead. "Are you angry? I know I didn't ask you for permission before I went out today, but I swear I'll never do it again. Just wake up. Please."
She didn't respond.
"Mum…" his voice broke. "C'mon, didn't you tell us off yesterday for being rude to the girl who came to visit? Isn't it rude to leave without saying goodbye? You won't be rude, right? Right?"
His eyes were now burning. "Mum, please…just say something. Anything. I'm so sorry for everything I ever did wrong. I swear I'll always listen from now if you only…"
He trailed off as sobs overcame him.
"You won't come back, will you?" he told her once he had finally calmed down slightly. "Just like father. No, you did it for us. I guess that's something. Not like father, then. I'm sorry I called you rude. I'll just do what you forgot to do."
Tears streaming down his face, he closed her eyes with a featherlight touch of his two fingers, pulled off the bedcover and covered her with it so that no one could see her…injuries.
And then footsteps sounded from the doorway. Dante looked up to see his brother.
"No." Vergil whispered, looking paralyzed for a moment. Then he was running forward. Dante moved back slightly, biting his lip as more tears cascaded down. He looked away as his brother threw off the cover and screamed at the sight.
He watched his brother cry over their mother, murmuring to her just like he himself had done. Then he moved forward and pulled Vergil into an embrace and sobbed on his shoulder. Vergil went still for a second before he, too, broke down sobbing.
An eternity seemed to pass while they were locked in that embrace. Even long after their tears were exhausted, neither of them were moving away, just drawing whatever comfort they could find by clinging onto the only family they still had. But then, abruptly, Vergil shoved him away and stood. Dante stumbled and regained his balance, wide-eyed at the sudden fury on his twin's face.
"Where were you?"
Dante felt paralyzed. "In…my bedroom."
"Why didn't you fight?"
Dante didn't reply. His cheeks burned. "I…I was-"
He was what? In denial? Too scared to come out and help his mother? Too stupid to realize she was lying to him?
Too much of a coward to defend his own mother?
Vergil stared at him for a few moments. Then he said quietly, "Coward."
Dante shut his eyes.
His eyes snapped open as he felt Vergil grasp his collar. His brother stared at him for a few moments, and then threw him to the floor and walked towards the door.
Dante immediately got to his feet. "Wait! Where are you going?"
"I'm going to avenge our mother."
"Incapable of it? Powerless? Well, at least I don't hide when foes come to our house!"
Hurt. Dante thought, but didn't reply. Instead, he took a few steps forward and blocked Vergil's path.
Vergil's hands clenched into fists, eyes flashing in anger. He gritted his teeth, and slammed the hilt of Yamato into his brother's stomach. Dante fell to his knees, gasping for air. Vergil used the flat side of his blade to knock him aside. Dante slammed into the wall. A sickening crack sounded, and his head exploded in pain.
Vergil turned and walked out the door.
Dante pulled himself to his feet, ignoring the stabbing pain at the back of his head. "Vergil, alright, I'm coming too! I can help!" he called as he ran out the door.
Vergil was standing just outside the door. He turned to face him.
He looked older. Like he was eleven instead of eight. And he was wearing black robes.
"Yes. Yes, you can. Just stand still, like this."
Dante did as was asked of him. Vergil pulled out Yamato and smiled coldly at him.
"Everyone responsible for mum's death will have to die, Dante. Everyone. Even those who were too much of a coward to prevent it, has contributed to her death."
And the strange blue-white face took over Vergil's normal features and he stabbed Dante through the heart with Yamato, laughing coldly.
Dante jumped up on his bed, breathing fast. He groaned at the sharp pain that shot up and down his back. He rubbed his right hand across his face, trying to make sense of what he'd just seen.
It was largely what had happened, only the last bit…it wasn't true. When Vergil had gone out, Dante had been dizzy from the pain of the cracked skull, and by the time he had pulled himself up and went outside, Vergil was long gone.
He had had this nightmare many times, but never with that last bit.
He lay awake for the rest of the night.
Breakfast was a silent affair for all of the four Gryffindors. First class was Herbology, and they gathered their books and started for it once the bell rang, talking quietly among themselves.
"All classes finish at 1 o'clock." said Hermione. "We're in luck. Last class is Transfigurations."
"Yeah, right." muttered Ron. "Never thought I'd say having McGonagall's class is 'lucky'."
They had hung back a little, and just as they were going to enter through the door, Neville whispered, "Tony!"
The other three turned back towards the ground. Tony was standing a foot away from his brother, the latter of whose eyes were slightly wide. No one else was now out in the open. Everyone had already gone inside the greenhouse.
"Aren't you happy to see me, brother?" Tony asked, his lips curled into a smirk but eyes as serious as they had ever seen. "You look like you've seen a ghost."
Vergil's eyes became hard.
"Ghosts are no longer an unnatural sight to me, brother, but I must admit I am surprised."
"Because ghosts stay dead, and you can't say that for me, right?" Tony scoffed. "You made a mistake, Verge. Not destroying my broom," Harry and Ron exchanged a look, "Your mistake was leaving me. Not that you should've stayed and helped, but you should've made sure I'm really dead!"
Tony stared hard at his brother for another moment before moving away, fists clenched at his sides. It was only then that he saw the pale faces of the four Gryffindors. He paused for a moment, swallowed.
"Tony…?" Hermione choked out, eyes shining. "You-"
Tony pushed past them, nearly knocking off Ron, and made a beeline for the tables arranged for lesson inside the greenhouse. Taking up place beside Seamus Finnigan, he looked down at the wooden surface, breathing hard, hands curled into fists and shoulders slightly shaking, as if he was holding back sobs. There was a slight limp in his step, and his right sleeve was a bit tighter than his left, as if he was wearing something underneath- a bandage, most likely.
The small group stood in stunned silence for a moment before slowly filing inside in complete silence.
"His brother….you don't think he actually tried to….kill him, do you?" Ron whispered to Harry as they separated purple seeds from blue ones.
"You know, I think he did, Ron." Harry murmured back.
Ron surveyed Vergil with wide eyes. "And to think, I thought having Percy as a brother was the worst thing that could happen to someone….I'm going to buy him a chocolate frog on the way home."
A small cry from Professor Sprout caused them to look up.
"Careful, Miss Granger!" she exclaimed, looking down at Hermione's shattered glass bowl.
"Sorry, professor." Hermione said in a quiet voice, bending down to pick up the seeds.
As soon as class was over, Dante moved through the queue to fall in step beside Hermione.
"After classes end," he said in a low voice. "Meet me outside. And bring these three." He knew it was better to get on with the interrogation.
"You don't have to talk if you, you know, feel too uncomfortable." piped up Neville. Hermione nodded quickly.
"No, it's alright." Dante shrugged, walking off as casually as he could. His healing vertebrates were still hurting him, but he was determined not to let that show. What was hurting him the most was, fortunately, invisible to everyone: A deep ache in his chest that seemed to grow more and more prominent. He tried to brush it off, Vergil wasn't worth it, but the more he tried, like a raw itch, the more it hurt.
"Ten questions allowed." Dante said to the others, leaning back against a tree in a casual way.
"Only ten?" said Neville.
Dante held up a finger. "Nine."
"Oh." Neville shut his mouth. It was after lunch, and they were sitting by the lake, practically buried in warm sweaters and mufflers.
"He actually tried to kill you?" the question came tumbling out of Ron's mouth.
"I don't think so." said Dante, and he was pleased to find he meant it. "I was a bit too excited earlier to see him, I guess. He probably just wanted to shake me up a bit. Anyway, eight. Next question?"
"What really happened?" it was Harry.
Dante sighed. "Well, we wanted to finish our fight, so we picked a spot over the Forbidden Forest-"
"What do you mean over?"
"Six. We fought on broomsticks."
Ron's mouth fell open. "On? You mean you fought, with swords, on a broomstick? How can you hold a sword if you're holding a broom?"
Dante grinned. "Three." Ron groaned.
"We didn't really grab the broom….we just, you know, used our toes to direct it. That left our hands free." Dante really was enjoying the bragging, and the reaction it brought from his listeners. And he didn't even need to say anything more than the truth!
"Impossible." said Ron.
Dante smirked. "Come now, how much skill can you really see in a flying lesson?"
"I've been following internationals for-"
"Later, Ron." Harry said. "Then what?"
The smile slipped off Dante's face. "We fought for a few minutes, but he won and disarmed me. Then he destroyed my broom with some kind of spell. I later heard it was only used for breaking things. The word he muttered, I think it was 'reducto'."
Hermione's eyes were the size of footballs. "Then he really meant to throw you off!" she cried. "From that high up… I can't believe it…"
"Neither could I." Dante said grimly. "It's a handy spell though, teach me sometimes." he added to lighten the mood. It didn't seem to have worked. "Anyway, I fell down, was knocked out. Hagrid found me later. Dumbledore said he wouldn't tolerate any more disobedience from me, meaning I'll be expelled if I want a rematch."
"But you don't want a rematch." Neville said in a small voice. "Right, Tony?"
"I don't know." Dante confessed. "Not that I can, anyway; they took my sword and said they're going to take Vergil's too."
"That's a very good idea." Hermione declared. "You shouldn't be carrying swords in a school anyway."
Dante rolled his eyes. "Swords aren't any more dangerous than Neville with a wand."
Neville blushed. Dante clapped him on the shoulder. "I'm kidding!"
"Well," Ron said after a moment of silence, "You gotta prove to us that you're not lying."
Dante adopted an indignant expression, which, after seeing everyone's unconvinced looks, soon morphed into a smile.
"Fair point." he said. "I'll show you guys someday. Just make sure no Heads of Houses are nearby this time." He winked at Harry. "Oh, by the way, nine questions are done already. Hermione, go next."
"Where have you been all this time?"
"But….Why? Why not the hospital wing?"
"No questions left." Dante grinned again. "Too bad."
That was the turning point in their relationship though. Dante started to fit in quite easily with Harry and his redhead friend while still keeping up his closer friendship with Hermione. Ron had effectively shaken off any doubts he had about Tony Redgrave, and the four of them became inseparable.
Thoughts on the duel? Or aftermath?